Sunday, September 28, 2014

If I was President of Eritrea for a day | Assenna.com



If I was President of Eritrea for a day



eritrean_praes

If I was President of Eritrea for a day
Let me ask you this If you were President for a day, what would you do?
If I was President of Eritrea for a day I would have done this:
  • First thing in the morning I would have set free all prisoners of conscience or any one imprisoned illegally. Then I would have apologies and beg for their forgiveness on behalf of the nation for all the highest degree of injustice they suffered all those years
  • Then bring all perpetrators to face justice in the courts.
  • Compensate and help the victims to recover quicker
  • Call the entire nation for an all-inclusive national dialog for truth, reconciliation
  • Implement the national Constitution and Declare Eritrea a free Republic that respects and upholds the rights of all Eritreans citizens
  • Conduct free and fair election
  • Build strong national institutions that protects freedom and democracy
  • End all types of forced servitude
  • Make peace with all nations of the world who want the same mutual peace and cooperation
  • Declare war on our number one enemy corruption and hunger
  • Make education and health care an absolute top priorities
  • Encourage and support business and hardworking job creators
  • Create a social welfare system so that people on poverty are not left alone to face poverty hardship alone.
  • Create a system that insures balanced distribution of investment and wealth to all corners of the country. No region should be left behind.
  • Create a well-funded national defence force to defend our national interests as well as off course the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Eritrea
  • Defend Women equality for the same right, respect and dignity as men
  • Promote for peace, harmony, tolerance and order
If I was President of Eritrea for a day that is what I would have done, and on the second day I probably would have rested have some beer and wine with loved ones and marvel at the bright future ahead for Eritrea.
Unfortunately we have no elected, people fearing president but a despotic tyrant who is on power frankly by his own power and abilities. He is not responsible nor is accountable to anyone but himself. So we cannot really expect him to do what we the people want. As far as Isaias Afwerki is concerned he is running his own state NOT a Peoples’ Republic. Until the person of Eritrea rise up and overthrows this despot there will be no real reform.
Feel free to add your ideas to the above list. If you were President of Eritrea for a day, what would you do?

Philmon Habtom

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Emptying Eritrea, Letter from Africa: - BBC News -



Eritrea migrants arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa
In our series of letters from African journalists, film-maker and columnist Farai Sevenzo considers why Eritreans endanger themselves so much to reach Europe.
The Mediterranean is fast becoming a massive watery grave for Africans.
Another 500 reportedly drowned off the coast of Italy the other week, while the attention span of the world quickly moves away.
But who are these Africans willing to risk all to reach European shores where they are not wanted?
Those of us following the story of African migration will have noticed a marked increase in the number of Eritreans being interviewed in refugee camps on the edge of Europe.


Start Quote

Farai Sevenzo

Conscription into the army has been likened by many to slavery”
Farai Sevenzo

President Isaias Afewerki is accused by human rights groups of turning the tiny East African country into "one giant prison" and brooks no opposition.
The Eritrean parliament has not met since 2002. As for elections, they have not happened since Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia voting for independence in 1993.
But is that reason enough for this tiny nation to keep haemorrhaging its citizens at such an alarming rate?
The young men and women who survive trekking across the desert and make it across the Mediterranean in wooden boats further endanger themselves by climbing on to lorries in European ports to try and find a place to make a life.
In Eritrea, they are expected by President Isais' government to do national service until they are 40.
All around them high-ranking government officials are locked up, opposition members are imprisoned, the private press has been gagged for decades and President Isaias keeps flexing what military muscle he has by constantly threatening another border war with Ethiopia.
And he has also been accused of sending his soldiers across the border of another neighbour, Djibouti.
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Map
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The Eritrean government maintains those leaving are economic migrants.
"This phenomenon where the youth are leaving their countries to go to the richer countries is an international phenomenon and it should be fought by the international community," Eritrea's ambassador to Italy Zemede Tekle Woldetatios told the BBC last year, blaming human traffickers.
He said continuing conscription was the fault of Ethiopia's refusal to withdraw from the border town of Badme, awarded to Eritrea by the UN more than a decade ago.
Kinship forgotten

But the numbers speak for themselves - a population of 6.3m is responding with their feet and emptying the country with despairing frequency.
The UN estimates that as many as 3,000 people every month are trying to leave his rule by any means possible.
These are difficult times to be a refugee.
Eritrean Christians lead a memorial service held in Tel Aviv, on 12 October 12, 2013, in honour of victims of the Lampedusa shipwreck , off Italy's southern-most pointThe Orthodox Church of Eritrea is the country's largest Christian denomination
Europe, its politicians tell us, is full. The mass of legal immigrants pouring out of the east has knocked the fate of Africans back; sympathy for the plight of those fleeing persecution has all but evaporated.
Africans have always had a complicated relationship with their leaders, but Mr Isais seems to have cloaked himself in robes of one from the 1970s - unaccountable and seemingly obsessed with power.
In June, the UN Human Rights Council set up a commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in this tiny Red Sea nation, which will report back in just under a year.
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Eritrea at a glance:

  • Gained independence in 1993
  • 6.3m population
  • Opposition parties outlawed
  • Conscription until the age of 40
  • UN estimates 3,000 Eritreans leave each month
  • Heavily dependent on earnings of the diaspora
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There are other Eritreans who left before the rush to escape.
They are dotted all over the world and may have known their land before it was forever split from Ethiopia. They talk of the kinship between nations, of how Mr Isais and the late Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi were in fact cousins.
They run little corner shops in cities like London and call them "The Red Sea".
They are a people estranged not from their country, but from their leader.
Earlier in June, Eritrea's bishops commented on this massive flight of the citizens by calling the country "desolate".
"If," they wrote, "you are in a country of honey, there is no need to look for another one."
Eritrea's High Court in Asmara, July 2013Asmara has beautiful art deco architecture
A man bowls in the Asmara bowling alley in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, on 20 July 2013This bowling alley was built in the 1950s
A man stands inside the Farmacia Centrale in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, on 21 July 2013This pharmacy in Asmara still has its old Italian fixtures and fittings
They elaborated:
"If you own a peaceful country where there is justice and where you can work and loudly speak your mind, it is obvious that we will have youths flocking back from exile but not youths eager to leave their country, for nobody would look for honey which they already have."
Amnesty International says since independence, the Eritrean government has imprisoned 10,000 of its citizens.
Conscription into the army has been likened by many to slavery and families are doing everything they can to pay the people smugglers to save their children from President Isais' grip.
Of course we would all be hard pressed to understand why such a rule has not come under more international scrutiny.
The world is far too connected now, so much so that human rights abuses in a tiny East African country will wash up as bodies on the pristine beaches of Italy, Malta and Spain.
More should be done to look at what is going on in Asmara, a city whose art deco beauty is being choked by the weeds of bad governan

Sunday, September 21, 2014

After mediation of Qatar, Eritrea releases Djiboutian soldier | Diplomat News Network

 BY TAJUDIN
Djiboutian Soldier from Groupe D'intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN)

Djiboutian Soldier from Groupe D’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN)
Asmara (DIPLOMAT.SO + Agencies ) – Over six-weeks after his arrest, and one week after the Arab League condemnation, the Eritrean regime handed the Djiboutian soldier it detained to the Qatari contingent which monitors the demilitarized zone between the two countries.
The soldier, Master Corporal Ahmed Abdullahi Kamil, was detained from the demilitarized zone as he accompanied Qatari officers on the Eritrean side of the zone.
The Eritrean government neither explained nor admitted the detention of the soldier. Unofficial sources of the government, however, stated that the soldier was spying on Eritrea for the benefit of foreign entities.
Djibouti and Eritrea clashed over a border dispute in June 2008. On July 2010, based on the “Eritrea-Djibouti Mediation Agreement” a demilitarized zone was established in the border area monitored by a Qatari military contingent. Qatar brokered the deal.
While Djibouti released Eritrean POWs caught during the 2008 border clashes, Eritrea has yet to reciprocate. And since it detained the Djiboutian soldier over six weeks ago, several high level Qatari delegation, including one led by a senior Qatari military delegation headed by Colonel Nasser Abdella, had visited Asmara to persuade Isaias Afwerki’s regime to release the Djiboutian soldier to no avail.
Qatar had close relations with both countries but recently, the Qatari-Eritrean relations has deteriorated due to the reconfiguration of political alliances among the region’s countries.
After Qatari efforts failed to free its detained soldier, Djibouti threatened to walk away from the mediation agreement that was brokered by Qatar. It also indicated it will escalate its issue with Eritrea to the UN Security Council. As part of the escalation, it lodged a complaint to the Arab League which condemned Eritrea and asked it to “immediately hand over the detained soldier to Qatar.”
News Sources said that Djibouti has called for an Arab-African ministerial meeting to present its complaints against Eritrea on the sidelines of the UN meeting in New York due next week.
Ethiopia has been sending subtle messages to the Eritrean regime that it will come to the defense of Djibouti. In an interview with Anadolu News Agency, Prime Minister Hailemarian Desalegn of Ethiopia said, “as close friends to Djibouti, Ethiopia is ready to support Djibouti in any way that helps the stabilization of the region.”
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U.S. State Department Issues Eritrea Travel Warning- oodaloop

“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea and strongly recommends U.S. citizens not travel to the country since there is increasing possibility U.S. citizens will not receive the requisite exit permit from Eritrean authorities. This replaces the Travel Warning for Eritrea of November 18, 2013 to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Eritrea
The Eritrean government continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals.  These restrictions require all visitors and residents, including U.S. diplomats (who must apply 10 days in advance) for permission to travel 25 kilometers outside Asmara’s city limits.  Permission is usually granted to areas such as Massawa and Keren, which are known tourist destinations; however, requests to areas near the borders and regions not frequently traveled by diplomats are typically turned down.  As a result, the U.S. Embassy cannot guarantee its ability to provide consular assistance outside of Asmara.
Travelers should also be aware that travel permits are only valid for the approved final destination and do not allow for additional stops along the way to, or in the proximity of, the approved destination.  Travel to religious institutions, for example monasteries, requires separate travel permission even when such facilities are located in or near approved destination cities. Foreign travelers not adhering strictly to the terms of travel permits have reported being detained by law enforcement authorities, and their drivers have been jailed.
The Consular Section is aware that there have been incidents of Eritrean officials refusing to issue exit permits to U.S. passport holders even if they were born in the United States and entered Eritrea on visas issued by the Eritrea government. 
Eritrean-U.S. dual citizens may be at risk of arrest in Eritrea. Once arrested, detainees may be held for extended periods without being charged with a crime.  Conditions are harsh – those incarcerated may be held in very small quarters without access to restrooms, bedding, food, or clean water.  The Eritrean government does not inform the U.S. Embassy when U.S. citizens, particularly dual nationals, have been arrested or detained.  Should the U.S. Embassy learn of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, the Eritrean government rarely allows consular access, regardless of the reason the U.S. citizen is being held.  U.S. citizens are cautioned to always carry appropriate documentation with them.  At times, armed persons may round up individuals who are not carrying documentation of their identity and military status.
Beginning in 2012, the Government of Eritrea began arming its citizens with automatic rifles to form citizen militias.  U.S. citizens are cautioned that these armed civilian militias patrol at night and are ordered to check individuals for documentation.  The U.S. Embassy warns U.S. citizens to use extreme caution when encountering armed citizens. 
The Eritrean government-controlled media frequently broadcast anti-U.S. rhetoric, and have done so repeatedly since December 2009, when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) first imposed sanctions on Eritrea.  Although there have been no specific incidents of violence targeting U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution, stay current with media coverage of local events, and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid travel near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the Southern Red Sea region because of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the existing political and military tensions between the two countries.  In October 2013, riots broke out in Eritrean refugee camps close to the Eritrean-Ethiopian border during a memorial service dedicated to the victims of the October 3 Lampedusa boat sinking.  In March 2012, Ethiopian troops attacked three locations approximately 10 miles inside Eritrean territory, and in January and February 2010, skirmishes between Eritrean and Ethiopian troops resulted in military fatalities.  Although Eritrean forces have withdrawn from disputed territory at the border with Djibouti, tensions in this area remain high and Qatari troops are stationed along the border. 
U.S. citizens on ships and sailing vessels are strongly advised not to sail off the Eritrean coast nor to attempt to dock in Eritrean ports or travel through Eritrean waters.  U.S. citizens are also urged to avoid remote Eritrean islands, some of which may be used for Eritrean military training and could therefore be unsafe.  The Eritrean government does not issue visas to persons arriving by marine vessel.  Additionally, fuel and provisions are often unavailable in Massawa and other parts of Eritrea, and are often scarce in the capital city of Asmara.
Piracy on the Red Sea continues to occur.  Recreational vessels are strongly encouraged to avoid the region entirely, and commercial vessels without explicit agreements with Eritrean authorities are urged to avoid Eritrean territorial waters.  There have been incidents involving the seizure of ships by the Eritrean government as recently as December 2013.  These seizures have resulted in lengthy detentions of international crew members, including U.S. nationals.  Though the incidents were ultimately resolved and both ships and crew released the concern that future seizures may occur has not abated.  U.S. citizens are cautioned that commercial/tourist ships are not allowed to dock at some Eritrean ports, even to refuel.
In August 2011, three separate incidents of piracy were reported off the Eritrean coast near the Port of Assab.  High-speed skiffs with armed persons on board continue to attack merchant vessels.  If transit around the Horn of Africa is necessary, vessels should travel in convoys, maintain good communications contact at all times, and follow the guidance provided by the Maritime Security Center – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA).  U.S. citizens should consult the Maritime Administration’s Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a serious problem throughout the country.  There are reports of accidents and incidents in which vehicles or people occasionally detonate mines.  Many detonations have occurred on relatively well-traveled roads in and near the Gash Barka region of western Eritrea; subsequent investigations indicated that several mines were recently laid.  In September 2011, press reported that a vehicle in Senafe, 60 miles south of Asmara, ran over a landmine, killing five people and injuring 34.  Vast areas of the country still have not been certified free of mines and unexploded ordnance following the 30-year war for independence and the subsequent 1998-2000 border conflict with Ethiopia.  Visitors should avoid walking alone and hiking in riverbeds or areas that local government officials have not certified as safe.
U.S. citizens choosing to travel to Eritrea despite this Travel Warning must obtain an Eritrean visa before their arrival.  Persons arriving in Eritrea without a visa are generally refused admission and returned on the next flight to their point of origin.  However, the Embassy is aware of persons being jailed for several months after arriving without visas.  The Embassy urges all U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens to obtain Eritrean visas in their U.S. passports before traveling to Eritrea and to enter the country as U.S. citizens.  The Embassy is aware of numerous cases where U.S. citizens entering Eritrea on passports of their other nationality have been detained and not permitted to leave the country.  U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens who enter Eritrea with an Eritrean ID card may find it difficult to obtain the required visa to exit the country legally.  Traveling to Eritrea even with a valid entry visa in a U.S. passport does not guarantee entry.  The Embassy cautions travelers not to stay beyond the period of time granted at the time of admission by Eritrean Immigration.
Crime in Asmara has increased as a result of deteriorating economic conditions accompanied by persistent food, water, and fuel shortages, and rapid price inflation.  The combination of forced, open-ended, low-paying, national service for many Eritreans and severe unemployment leads some Eritreans to commit crime to support their families.  Eritrean authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate crime or prosecute perpetrators.
Modern telecommunications options are limited in Eritrea and cannot be counted upon in an emergency.  International cell phone service plans do not work on Eritrean networks.  Local cellular phone service is tightly controlled by the Eritrean government and difficult to obtain.  When available, international cell phone calls are extremely expensive and only available using pre-paid minutes.  Internet cafés are widespread but often lack power.  Internet service is limited and slow, and generally does not support Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eritrea not yet emergeds from the aftermath of long war of independence ended in 1991

Eritrea country profile - Overview.Eritrea emerged from its long war of independence in 1993 only to plunge once again into military conflict, first with Yemen and then, more devastatingly, with its old adversary, Ethiopia.

Today, a fragile peace prevails and Eritrea faces the gigantic tasks of rebuilding its infrastructure and of developing its economy after more than 30 years of fighting.
A former Italian colony, Eritrea was occupied by the British in 1941. In 1952 the United Nations resolved to establish it as an autonomous entity federated with Ethiopia as a compromise between Ethiopian claims for sovereignty and Eritrean aspirations for independence. However, 10 years later the Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, decided to annex it, triggering a 32-year armed struggle.
The Cathedral and Catholic Mission in Eritrea's capital Asmara

This culminated in independence after an alliance of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) and a coalition of Ethiopian resistance movements defeated Haile Selassie's communist successor, Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Continue reading the main story At a glance Politics: The government has been accused of repression and of hindering the development of democracy Economy: Eritrea is said to be on the brink of a mining boom; it is heavily dependent on earnings of the diaspora International: Eritrea and Ethiopia remain in dispute after their 1998-2000 border war; in 2009 the UN imposed sanctions on Eritrea after accusing it of backing anti-Ethiopian Islamist insurgents in Somalia

Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
In 1993, in a referendum supported by Ethiopia, Eritreans voted almost unanimously for independence, leaving Ethiopia landlocked.
The two countries hardly became good neighbours, with the issues of Ethiopian access to the Eritrean ports of Massawa and Assab and unequal trade terms souring relations.
In 1998 border disputes around the town of Badme erupted into open hostilities. This conflict ended with a peace deal in June 2000, but not before leaving both sides with tens of thousands of soldiers dead. A security zone separates the two countries. The UN patrolled the zone at one time but pulled out, unable to fulfil its mandate.
The unresolved border issue compounds other problems, including what the United Nations has termed chronic food insecurity as a result of the semi-arid climate, periodic drought and poverty.
In recent years Eritrea has become one of the world's most secretive countries.
It doesn't have any privately-owned indigenous media, and sits alongside North Korea in global media freedom rankings.
It also reportedly doesn't welcome foreign journalists unless they agree to report favourably about the government.
Information 'black hole'

United Nations officials have complained that the country hasn't shared information about food supplies in times of drought.
While agencies warned that millions in the Horn of Africa were being affected by famine in 2011, Eritrea was denying a crisis.
"It's been a black hole for us, we don't know what's going on there," said Matthew Conway, spokesman for the UN humanitarian coordination office in Nairobi at the time. "But that's not to say it's not happening."
The World Bank says that by virtue of its location in the Sahel, Eritrea suffers periodic droughts and chronic food shortages hampering development efforts. It says however that the government indicated that it was managing food stocks carefully.
The UN has been investigating human rights in Eritrea, but its special rapporteur has been denied entry. She said in 2014 that a refugee exodus was being fuelled by alleged abuses including extrajudicial executions, torture and forced military conscription that can last decades.
In 2014 Eritreans were reportedly among the most numerous of those attempting the risky crossing from North Africa to Europe by boat.
Eritrea has become a gold producer, with mining expected to become an important source of revenue and growth.
Gold, produced by mines such as Bisha - which began operations in 2011 - has fuelled economic growth

BBC source

Eritrea not yet emergeds from the aftermath of long war of independence ended in 1991

Eritrea country profile - Overview.Eritrea emerged from its long war of independence in 1993 only to plunge once again into military conflict, first with Yemen and then, more devastatingly, with its old adversary, Ethiopia.

Today, a fragile peace prevails and Eritrea faces the gigantic tasks of rebuilding its infrastructure and of developing its economy after more than 30 years of fighting.
A former Italian colony, Eritrea was occupied by the British in 1941. In 1952 the United Nations resolved to establish it as an autonomous entity federated with Ethiopia as a compromise between Ethiopian claims for sovereignty and Eritrean aspirations for independence. However, 10 years later the Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, decided to annex it, triggering a 32-year armed struggle.
The Cathedral and Catholic Mission in Eritrea's capital Asmara

This culminated in independence after an alliance of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) and a coalition of Ethiopian resistance movements defeated Haile Selassie's communist successor, Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Continue reading the main story At a glance Politics: The government has been accused of repression and of hindering the development of democracy Economy: Eritrea is said to be on the brink of a mining boom; it is heavily dependent on earnings of the diaspora International: Eritrea and Ethiopia remain in dispute after their 1998-2000 border war; in 2009 the UN imposed sanctions on Eritrea after accusing it of backing anti-Ethiopian Islamist insurgents in Somalia

Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
In 1993, in a referendum supported by Ethiopia, Eritreans voted almost unanimously for independence, leaving Ethiopia landlocked.
The two countries hardly became good neighbours, with the issues of Ethiopian access to the Eritrean ports of Massawa and Assab and unequal trade terms souring relations.
In 1998 border disputes around the town of Badme erupted into open hostilities. This conflict ended with a peace deal in June 2000, but not before leaving both sides with tens of thousands of soldiers dead. A security zone separates the two countries. The UN patrolled the zone at one time but pulled out, unable to fulfil its mandate.
The unresolved border issue compounds other problems, including what the United Nations has termed chronic food insecurity as a result of the semi-arid climate, periodic drought and poverty.
In recent years Eritrea has become one of the world's most secretive countries.
It doesn't have any privately-owned indigenous media, and sits alongside North Korea in global media freedom rankings.
It also reportedly doesn't welcome foreign journalists unless they agree to report favourably about the government.
Information 'black hole'

United Nations officials have complained that the country hasn't shared information about food supplies in times of drought.
While agencies warned that millions in the Horn of Africa were being affected by famine in 2011, Eritrea was denying a crisis.
"It's been a black hole for us, we don't know what's going on there," said Matthew Conway, spokesman for the UN humanitarian coordination office in Nairobi at the time. "But that's not to say it's not happening."
The World Bank says that by virtue of its location in the Sahel, Eritrea suffers periodic droughts and chronic food shortages hampering development efforts. It says however that the government indicated that it was managing food stocks carefully.
The UN has been investigating human rights in Eritrea, but its special rapporteur has been denied entry. She said in 2014 that a refugee exodus was being fuelled by alleged abuses including extrajudicial executions, torture and forced military conscription that can last decades.
In 2014 Eritreans were reportedly among the most numerous of those attempting the risky crossing from North Africa to Europe by boat.
Eritrea has become a gold producer, with mining expected to become an important source of revenue and growth.
Gold, produced by mines such as Bisha - which began operations in 2011 - has fuelled economic growth

BBC source

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Eritrea: A Letter to my Parents On the 13th Anniversary of the Disappearance of the G15








By Meaza Petros Solomon

Daughter of Aster Yohannes and Petros Solomon
Dear father,
I am sure you remembered, wherever you are, to mark my 17th birthday last week.  However, I can tell you it wasn’t like my fourth birthday in Asmara when you celebrated it with me.  Unfortunately, mother missed the celebration because she was out of the country to pursue her studies in Arizona. Can you imagine, thirteen years later, knowing I cannot fully relive the events of my fourth birthday I am still trying to cultivate those traces of happy memories by hanging on to them.  The experience of that distant day, which has somehow fused together with my spirituality over the years, has left residues of love, grace, and gratitude in me. Frankly, I find it hard to explain how lucky I am to have safeguarded that very last memory which ended up depicting a portrait of you in my mind.  Without a doubt, it is that very portrait which reminds me of the fact that you are my loving father, flesh and blood, and I am your baby daughter who misses you very much.
Later in life, when I learned what happened to you on 18 Sep 2001, that is a week after my fourth birthday, the day you disappeared from my life, I uncompromisingly refused to accept the story.  It wasn’t until that dreadful day when I googled your name that things became clearer.  That day changed my life completely.  Mind you, that was the day I was left more stunned after I learned that mother was also missing. 
Again, I cannot explain to you how I felt on that day; how that day drained me of all my energy and the will to face the world around me.  Since then, once I started asking questions, I could sense my age of innocence slipped away as mistrust and disbelief began to take hold of me.  I was only ten when tragedy hit which felt like someone dropped a bombshell on me.  I wanted to go into hiding and I didn’t want to go back to school to confront my school mates.  It felt as if the pillars of my faith that supported my confidence suddenly crumbled into dust.  Oh how I needed you more in that moment, more than ever, to hold me and tell me the Internet got it all wrong.   
I am not sure if your jailers ever told you that mother is also languishing in prison like you.  She came back for us upon your incarceration only to be picked up by security agents at the airport as we waited to welcome her.  It is beyond my comprehension why mother had to end up in prison for acting in accordance to her motherly instincts - to look after her own children whose father suddenly disappeared from their lives.
Dear father, I cannot close my eyes and make the 18th September vanish from my personal organiser.  On the contrary, I have eventually learned to be strong by forcing my reality march in tandem with my wounded memories of the past.  I am not going to allow your plight and that of mother’s to deform my youth – I have to remain strong for both of you.   I must have something to keep my thoughts busy, some object in life which will fill this vacuum you left in me. Even if it feels as if the sadness is too much to bear, I need something to prevent it from wearing away my heart.  I will be the best I can be in order to overcome the tragedy and to lend a voice to your ideals.
Dear father, in your absence we have created a family tradition and lasting memories that are keeping our family together over the long haul. I will consider myself a failure only if I forget your ideals, objectives and principles that landed you in jail. I must uphold them to the best of my ability for I know a day will come when I will be in a position to carry them out with many others.  The dark powers of your jailers can only be broken by the spirit of light which is growing in me day-by-day.  I can tell you that those who have been infected by your ideals and touched by your unjust incarceration continue to set brushfires of freedom in the minds of many Eritreans.
I feel your presence around me all the time.  I can hear your comforting voice in my quiet moments.  During those quiet moments I try to tell you that you have been robbed of your precious liberty by the current leaders of the very country you and your fellow comrades liberated.   Your only crime is demanding liberty for your own people.  In my mind that is not a crime but an act of courage.  Our family unit has also been robbed in the process – a husbandless wife who has been thrown in jail and fatherless children whose upbringing has been seriously compromised.   
Before I finish, let me say that I love you and mum a lot.  I miss you so much I am ready for a family reunion now. Please send for me when you are ready to welcome me home.  
Your loving daughter,
Meaza
PS
I hope you will attend my graduation in June 2015.
In collaboration with FOP – Eritrea
POCs: Dawit Mesfin and Tsedal Yohannes