Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Confessions of an Eritrean army deserter - Haaretz.com

Confessions of an Eritrean Army Deserter

Eritrean 'army deserters' have not deserted their people, but the dictatorial regime who persecuted them, and must be granted asylum


Teklit Michael Apr 24, 2017 8:06 AM

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File photo: An asylum seeker in Israel's Holot detention center.  Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Fleeing Eritrean army not grounds for refugee status in Israel, judge rules

Editorial Your place is unknown

Israel restricts asylum requests despite being signatory to UN refugee convention

An Israeli court ruled earlier this year that desertion from the Eritrean army may not in itself be a valid reason for receiving refugee status in Israel, and therefore returned the question to a lower court. This decision shows a fundamental lack of understanding of army service in Eritrea, and how it operates to oppress the people rather than to serve and protect.

I am an Eritrean army deserter. 

I, as every Eritrean, know the importance of national service and of protecting one’s nation. I know that is the obligation of every citizen to serve our people and our country. We cannot rely on foreign forces to protect and defend our nation. I know my duty, just as every Eritrean knows. We Eritreans were raised upon a strongly rooted tradition, with generations of family tales, of protecting our country and culture from oppressors and colonizers.

Even in my own family, I lost five uncles in the 30-year war with Ethiopia for independence and freedom. My own father served in the army for years. I was raised by my grandparents; not because I lost my parents, but because my grandparents were left alone after losing their sons in the war. I grew up watching their tears day and night. They raised me to be responsible, forgiving and caring. No one needs tell me my responsibility to my country. I know I have the responsibility to serve my country and am even ready to pay with my life, as so many of us Eritreans are prepared to do. There are many Eritrean army “deserters” here in Israel who once fought bravely for Eritrea’s freedom for years, standing on the frontline, ready to give their life willingly for their beloved people and country.

If these people have fought for freedom and for the safety of their country for years, why have they left their country now?

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The purpose of the Eritrean military has become corrupted. One small group has hijacked the freedom of the country and has begun to rule by fear, not by law. Since our country’s independence in 1991, we have not seen a single election. The dictatorial regime – who were once “freedom-fighters” and leaders of our revolution – have now imprisoned thousands of Eritreans without any due process of law. The regime systematically conscripts men and women, from the age of fourteen to seventy, to serve as slaves to the regime, with their bodies enslaved and their minds diverted, too controlled to resist.

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.785285

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