Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Eritreans fleeing to Ethiopia | | Al Jazeera

Relations may be tense between the neighbouring countries but some Eritreans are crossing the disputed border.

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Badme, on the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia - The disputed border town of Badme is where war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998. It lasted for two years and devastated both countries. In 2002, a Hague boundary commission ruled that Badme was part of Eritrea. It was a ruling that both countries initially accepted. But Ethiopian troops continue to occupy the town.
Nowadays an uneasy standoff exists between the two country's armies along the still-contested border a few kilometres north of Badme, at the tip of Ethiopia's Yirga Triangle, which juts into Eritrea.
But now there are others moving along the border: Eritreans who travel through the region's hills, trying to keep out of sight of their own military, to escape into Ethiopia.
"After crossing at night we tried to sleep but could hear the hyenas around us," said 22-year-old mother-of-two Yordanos. "We started shouting and then Ethiopian soldiers came for us."
Once picked up by the Ethiopian army, Eritrean refugees are deposited at Badme's so-called "entry point", a compound of simple buildings that marks the start of their journey to gain asylum in Ethiopia.
With Yordanos is another mother-of-two, as well as 15 boys and young men aged between 16 and 20 who crossed to avoid enforced and indefinite military service.
"After receiving a letter to join up I hid for five months in the rural areas," said one 18-year-old. "But then I heard the government was looking for me, so I crossed."
There are 12 entry points along Ethiopia's 910km border with Eritrea from where refugees are moved to a screening and registration centre in the town of Endabaguna. Afterwards they are assigned to one of four refugee camps in the Tigray region bordering Eritrea.
"We are brothers and sisters," said Luel Abera, a reception coordinator at the entry point in the town of Adinbried, about 50km southeast of Badme. Most highland Eritreans from around the capital, Asmara, share the same language, the same Christian Orthodox religion and the same culture as Tigray's Ethiopian inhabitants.
In February 2017, 3,367 Eritrean refugees arrived in Ethiopia, according to the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs.
Ethiopia currently houses around 165,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, according to the UN refugee agency. Thousands more Eritreans are thought to live in the country outside the asylum system.
"They even come through the Afar and the world's lowest depression," said Estifanos Gebremedhin from Ethiopia's Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs.
In the Afar's Danakil Depression, a desert straddling the Eritrean border to the east of the Tigray highlands, daytime temperatures frequently soar above 50 degrees Celsius, accompanied by a fierce gale known as the Gara (Fire Wind).
"They are using every chance they can," Estifanos said.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Confessions of an Eritrean army deserter -

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.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Eritrea: Will the Dutch close the Eritrean embassy?

Dutch Protest 5
Martin Plaut

There is mounting concern in the Netherland about the behaviour of the Eritrean embassy and its staff. Last Friday’s abortive conference, held by the Eritrean regime in the Dutch town of Veldhoven, may prove to be the final straw.
The four-day conference was abandoned after a Dutch court backed the mayor of the town in closing the gathering, arguing that it was detrimental to safety and security of local residents.
Spokesmen for the majority of Dutch political parties had called for action even before the  conference opened.
News of the event, to be attended by President Isaias Afwerki’s senior adviser, Yemane Gebreab was broken last Tuesday by the Dutch website, One World.
On hearing the news of his imminent arrival Dutch MPs reacted with dismay.
“When the Turkish minister wanted to come here, public order was at stake,” said Attje Kuiken of the Dutch Labour Party. “The question is: what will the speaker (Yemane Gebreab) do at this congress? And will it be within our law?”
The Dutch cabinet also expressed its reservations about the gathering.
A statement was issued declaring that the government was “uneasy” about the conference going ahead, but could not prevent Yemane Gebreab from attending since he had an EU-wide Schengen visa.
Kubrom Dafla Hosabay, a former deputy minister of finance in Eritrea, now resident in the Netherlands, warned what would take place if the meeting took place.
He accused members of Eritrea’s ruling party of threatening anyone who refused to cooperate. “This is the message that will come from the conference,” he said. [See full statement below]
At previous European-wide conferences of the Eritrean ruling party Yemane had called for the opposition to be “destroyed.”
Fearing a repetition, members of the Eritrean community opposed to the regime protested outside the hotel in Veldhoven at which the conference was being held.
There followed a confrontation with the police and running clashes, with a number of protesters being arrested.
The mayor of Veldhoven – hearing that a further 2,500 protesters would arrive from across Europe to oppose the event, decided that it should be cancelled.
The youth wing of the ruling party (the YPFDJ) which had organised the event, challenged the ruling in court, but lost, and on Friday the four-day conference was abandoned.
Dutch politicians demand action
A number of political parties in the Netherlands had previously expressed their concern about the activities of the Eritrean government in their country and its extortion of funds from the refugee community.
They had called for action against the Embassy unless it was halted.
Last June the question was debated in Parliament.
A resolution was adopted suggesting that the Embassy should be closed if it continued to use threats and pressure to extract taxes and financial contributions from the Eritrean diaspora.
It soon became clear that the warning had not been heeded. Evidence of what was taking place was gathered by journalists Huub Jaspers and Sanne Terlingen for a radio programme – ‘The long arm of Eritrea’, produced for One World and Argos.
The journalists had gathered testimonies and documentation showing how Eritrean Embassy staff went around the Eritrean community in Rotterdam, and several other cities.  Since last December they had been going door to door among the diaspora collecting funds.
The approach of the Embassy was anything but friendly.
They demanded EU50 per person as a donation to fund the conference. Anyone who refused was warned that they would have a cross placed after their names – a clear sign of intimidation by representatives of Eritrea’s brutal regime.
Receipts for the funds were signed by Isaac Menassi – the Embassy Finance officer, using a commercial receipt book. But his signature was clear.
A handwriting expert testified that having examined the receipts, and comparing them with official Embassy receipts, he was confident that they had been signed by the same person.
When the One World journalists broke the story Dutch politicians were furious, declaring that such behaviour was completely unacceptable.
Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, from Democrats 66 said: “We no longer accept this tax collection.” “The parliament was very clear about this, after pressure from our parties. If Eritrea doesn’t listen, this could lead to the closure of the Embassy.”
These views were echoed by Attje Kuiken of the Labour Party. “This means that once again we will have to open a debate with the government on how to stop these kind of practices. We will do this unanimously: with all members of parliament.”
A year in the planning
YPFJD busses leaveThe abandoned conference was the 13th in a series of meetings held to bolster support for the Eritrean regime across Europe. Around 500 YPFDJ supporters had come to hear their leader’s message.
It had been – the organisers claimed – a year in the planning. But members of the Eritrean opposition were determined that a regime which tolerates no free speech at home should not be given a platform from which to put forward its propaganda.
When an Eritrean diplomatic car drew up the protesters staged a sit-down demonstration, preventing its progress. There were clashes with the Dutch police and over 100 protesters were briefly arrested.
Opponents of the Eritrean government informed the authorities that up to 2,500 demonstrators would arrive on Saturday, as members of the diaspora mobilised across Europe. In the light of this the mayor ordered the conference to be halted.
His decision was upheld by a court, which ordered supporters of the YPFDJ – to leave the hotel by 8.00 pm that evening.
This took place, with busses removing them from the venue. The YPFDJ put out a statement attacking those who had prevented the gathering from taking place.

An Appeal to The Dutch-Eritrean Community
Action to Foil the YPFDJ European Conference in Holland
Source: Facebook
From next Thu, 13/4 to Sun 17/.4/17, the Isaias regime has organized a European wide conference for Youth-Pfdj, its daughter organization. The Dutch authorities, including the media, are wary of this conference because it has elements inviting antagonism, that pose danger to peace and order of the Dutch public.
This is a call to all Dutch-Eritreans, whether or not, we are citizens, residents, and refugees, to use our rights, to formally register, with the police, a declaration (‘aangifte’) that the Ypfdj, poses danger to our personal safety. Because what should worry us, also worries Dutch authorities, including several parliament members (2de Kamer), and the security. Issues about the Ypfdj may cause harm to Eritreans and the Dutch.
1. That Ypfdj thugs are going door-to-door, forcing Eritreans to pay money for this conference and for 2%.
2. That they are issuing false “receipts” without legal details, means they are hiding their actions from public.
3. That they are putting on a black list and intimidating those Eritreans that refuse to pay;
4. That the infamous “Eri-Blood” gang, which is feared to be armed, is capable of physically harming anyone;
5. That a Dutch court, established last year, that Ypfdj, as a possible ‘intelligence arm” of Isaias; the public speech of Yemane G/Ab, at Ypfdj conference in Germany, being the major evidence of it.
6. That all of this has been organized, in December 2016, by high ranking officials of the regime.
Etc., etc., because of all the above, is this Ypfdj conference, is a threat to, us, Dutch-Eritreans.
That is why, we should, go and declare this facts to the police. We are being threatened by phone and in person as “traitors”. The reasons are laid down above. Let us exercise this right of ours immediately, but in any case, before the conference commences. Let us support the effort of the Dutch authorities by coming out to register officially our fear of the situation.
Your brother, Kubrom Dafla Hosabay,