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An appeal for Amnesty to the prisoners of conscience in Eritrea: implications of the change of geo-politics in the Horn

 An appeal for Amnesty to the prisoners of conscience in Eritrea:  implications of the change of geo-politics in the Horn By Petros Tesfagiorgis On behalf of concerned Eritreans and the justice loving people the world over

 An appeal for Amnesty to the prisoners of conscience in Eritrea:  implications of the change of geo-politics in the Horn

By Petros Tesfagiorgis

On behalf of concerned Eritreans and the justice loving people the world over I ask President Isaias Afewerki to give amnesty to the prisoners of conscience in Eritrea.    I beg with humility the supporters of PFDJ to appeal to the president to show magnanimity and set free at least the mothers who are yearning to see their beloved children year in and year out.  As supporters they are best placed and can be listened.  What they need, is the will and the determination to stand up to the injustice.  After 15 years in jail will their children ever see them alive?    The women spent their youth fighting for the independence of Eritrea but they are denied to live in peace in the country they liberated.  They are Aster Fitzehatzion, Aster Yohanness, Senait Debesai, and Miriam Hagos. Of course there are thousands prisoners of conscience unlawfully detained and deserve to be released. Among them is General Bitweded Abraha who has been in prison the longest, 25 years.

Christmas is not just about religious rituals.  It is about spreading joy and hope in the heart of people. Every Christmas mornings I developed a habit of tuning to BBC radio to listen to Carol and prayers.  This year I enjoyed the moving talk by the priest in charge.  I quote, “Let us be drawn by hope not driven by fear.”   “Let us have a glimpse of light no darkness can extinguish”   He was preaching that higher consciousness exists beyond the material realism and we have to open our heart to the poor and disadvantaged.

Concluding his address to the people the priest said “Let us pray for peace and justice throughout the world.  Let us pray for the people of Syria. Let us pray for all the refugees, immigrants, the homeless and the poor.   He particularly stressed to pray for the refugees in Calais/France many of them are Eritreans.   Currently they are under severe strain because their area (known as the Jungle) is flooded and has become an emergency area. The situation was reported by a BBC journalist reporting from the compound of the Eritrean – Ethiopian church.

What is so difficult to grasp is the fact that there is very little concern of the Eritreans in the UK about the grave situation of Eritreans in Calais/France.   In London alone there are many amorphous groups, associations and communities who get together with lavish food and music but show no inclination or attempt to mention, sympathise or help Eritrean refugees on humanitarian considerations. They could have given little money that could go to charities that help refugees languishing in refugee camps in Sudan and Ethiopia.    To mention some associations are, those who came from Kuwait – during the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam – they are called “Eritrean Community Association – Rahwa Support Group.” Those who left or deported from Ethiopia are called “Sinit”.   “Eritrean Self Help Association” is the biggest and very well attended. It funds funeral expenses to the families of the dead or transport of the deceased in a coffin to Eritrea.   St. Anthony Eritrean women associating – the Jeddah association- Abashawl association and many more associations based on ethnic, religion and region. To form association for get together is OK but looking at it in retrospect it has become the main tool of conspiracy of silence.  It is forbidden to talk about politics in these associations and helping refugees is politics. Even praying for those drown in the Mediterranean Sea is politics.   It has a side effect of de-politicizing the Eritreans.  They have internalized a new culture not to bother about the pains and sufferings of Eritreans and are comfortable about it. In UK during demonstrations the number of participants is dwindling every year. Their mind is colonized by the ethos of indifference – it is commendable that Tesfaye Seyoum of Eritrean Global Solidarity (EGS)   has   raised the issue of de-colonizing the mind in his article some time ago.  It has to be developed more.

There is a serious need of pedagogical teachings in order to raise the level of consciousness of the people in Diaspora.  There is one person who can do it, Amanuel Sahle who writes pedagogy. But he has to structure his collective works into teaching materials to be discussed in the form of study groups.   With some help from academicians it can be done.  It is a long term venture but it worth taking it.

The unfortunate thing is that British Eritreans   have the possibility and the means to contribute to the welfare of the refugees solely on the basis of humanitarian considerations.   This is not to deny the work of the “Stop trafficking in Sinai Campaign” composed of Eritreans and British. These campaign group do regular visits to Calais carrying worm clothes and other materials. On Sunday 28 September 2015 –   I witnessed the celebration of the Holy day of Meskel with the refugees and took with them traditional food and fed more than 500 refugees. Thanks to Feven   Hadera and co who spend nights making “Injera” and   “Zigni” in London and carried to the jungle in vans. For me it was an unforgettable moment and quite fulfilling.

The words of the priest, during the x-mass carol, have a profoundly honest ring for they rest on experience too deep to ignore. It has reflected the reality facing Eritreans, their pains, their suffering and the poverty they are facing at the moment.

In addition, giving Amnesty to the helpless prisoners is to the advantage of the president. It lends credibility to the decision of some forces pouring aid money and giving him political and diplomatic support.  They are bent to paint him a human face in their attempt to legitimize their support in the eyes of the international community who are aware of the gross abuse of human rights in Eritrea.  The 200 million Euro aid money by the European Union is supposed to be based on improving the human rights situation in Eritrea.  Ambassador Cohen of the United States is ushering an aggressive campaign to convince the international community that labelling Isaias as a brutal dictator is not true.   The recent visit of a mission to Bisha mining site run by the Canadian company Nefsun is a form of campaign to put a humane face yet again.  The mission was composed of Ambassadors of USA, Canada, South Africa, EU and United Nations representative.  They reported that human right is observed in the work place and the mining is creating employment critical to the economic development in Eritrea.

Today, because of the civil war in Yemen between the Government of Hadi-Buhan and the Houthi-GPC alliance,   the geopolitics in the Horn of Africa has changed. Saudi took side against the Houthi and it is involving many African countries including Eritrea in the war which concerns the people of Yemen only.

The San’a-based NGO Mwatana Organization for Human Rights has released a new report on the Saudi-led coalition’s targeting of residential areas and civilian infrastructure in several parts of Yemen. The report “focuses in particular on 44 incidents of aerial attacks conducted by the Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition which targeted civilians in nine Yemeni provinces including Sana’a, Ta’iz, Lahj, Ibb, Hodeidah, S’adah, Hajja, AL- Baidha and Dhamar over the period from March to October 2015.

The Saudis have offered help to PFDJ for using the port of Assab as launching pad to bomb in Yemen. Some concerned Britons are accusing the British Government that the Saudis are bombing civilians in Yemen using bombs supplied by the British. Thus UK has become complicit in the loss of lives and the destruction of properties in Yemen.  Eritrea is a small country and it is devastating to participate in a proxy war. Where will this lead Eritrea in the future?   Cry my beloved Eritrea!

There is another dimension to the plight of the people of Eritrea.   There is an article written by Martin Plaut and Mirjam Van Reisen about the famine in Eritrea.  It is an early warning to the international community unless the drought situation in Eritrea is recognised and addressed it may develop into a silent famine as the link below indicates. It is extremely frightening.

It is about time that the opposition political parties hold meetings to discuss the implication of the change of geo-politics in the Horn.  It goes without saying that the priority of the West particularly the mining, petrol and arms manufacturing companies’ motivation is profit and not the welfare of the people.  But in the West there are people and institutions who fight for justice in the third world and could be allies on the front for justice and human rights.  As the leading American civil rights activist Martin Luther King said in 1967.  “The United States governments has structurally installed and financially supported dictatorships, simply because democracies provide less long-term trade security.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year:  We hope 2016 will be a year of peace and justice.  The struggle for justice   will continue:

Review overview
  • AHMED SALEH !!! December 26, 2015

    A country run by organized criminals in the name of sovereignty who
    have no shame to condemn patriot women rot in dungeons after national
    contribution they made that touched Eritrean lives and the whole world .
    They are victims of the government and the ungrateful comrades that
    betrayed them to suffer alone for selfish material purposes .
    May God show them the path to repent their sins and the mothers released
    to smell aroma of freedom .

  • Solomon December 27, 2015

    Unseat him and not beg him for anything. That is the only way. ናይ ሰብኡት ስርሑ! I wish you would stop this habit of begging. That is what got us into incarceration in 2001. Isaias Afewerki will never have any mercy for anything or anyone that is Eritrean.

  • Berhe Tenesea December 27, 2015

    To ask Iseyas for amnesty for Eritrean prisoners is equal to asking a mountain to move few meters for a road construction.
    Iseyas , has no heart or pity towrds Eritreans. He hates and despises Eritreans.
    He is only interested to loot and rob Eritrea.
    Ideyas is a modern day Wube, who came to terrorize Eritreans.
    Iseyas will never ever have mercy on any Eritrean as long as he lives.
    The only solution is the retarded people need to grow up and know who is working for their interest.
    The Eritrean people need a teacher, to educate them about the words such as simple love, enemy friend, brother and so on.
    The Tembein strong man is not yet done and he will continue to create havoc for years to come.

  • Hailemariam Tesfai December 28, 2015

    I understand Berhe’s and Solomon’s concerns. Petros knows well the president’s behavior and actions; but he is putting PFDJ members into a historical spotlight to exercise their civic duties and responsibilities and act by asking their president to do them a favor by releasing the prisoners of conscience, and the mothers-at least or shame themselves by remaining silent until the last day of the regime. I would add an appeal to the clergy of the orthodox churches and their followers to convey the message to “nab zmilketom akalat” “La’elewot sebe sltan” as well!

  • Yemane December 28, 2015

    We need to find away to help out brothers and sisters that are spread all over the world. Maybe a Red Cross type of help that focus on Eritrean and have a political wing that would fight from their rights. As for Eritrea time for talking is over. We have a full fledge dictator in office. He played everyone including the thousands of Herod that would have been building the country. He said I am a man a lion Coke take the power, I will not give it to the people or anyone. So far he has won. He forgot he would not be anything of many didn’t die for the country. So now let’s organize and get this demon out. Muslims, Christians all tribes and regions. This guy only cares about his power, nothing else. He doesn’t care about Eritrea or tegadelti. He made it clear no need to talk to Chinese guy in English if he doesn’t understand, let’s speak his language of killing then he will sit down because he understands that language. Now as we are creating this new country let’s make sure we will not be played again…

  • Simon G. December 29, 2015

    You know better than that. What are you trying to do?

  • yohannes December 29, 2015

    Even Assenna don’t like me , every time I am writing they are only able to cancel it.
    Eritreans are already in the road of distruction. the Kebesa people are bread and spaghetti while the low land Is Bamya.
    there is no any more Gogo and Kicha of the high land the Gaat of the low land.
    assenna I am sorry the road is lost and you will say and write but the jock is over , and the Eritrean half cast are the winner/ you assenna you will talk but I am sure Eritreans are not series ” hoy Mariam Hagezini” is already finished / Even Maria is run away from us , because we are no more good people/
    we have collaborated with Egyptians and has been completely destroyed in Guraa . and Ras Micheal was the collaborator of that people to handle the country to the Egyptians , the brave Tigrigna people have dismissed the Ismailia together with Ras Michael.
    The( Mbi yale woldu) are again trying to sale the country to Ismalits and wait you will see the result.
    As you know history always repeat itself