Call For Unconditional Restoration of Basic Human Rights in Eritrea
Many countries will be sending congratulatory messages to the government and people of Eritrea, on the occasion of our 21st Independence Day anniversary. The liberation of Eritrea is one momentous achievement of the people of Eritrea, who scarified precious sons and daughters to restore dignity to a nation that was denied the right to self determination.
However unfortunately whilst the day marks an impeccable victory against injustice, it has also become a bittersweet occasion when we are reminded that denial of rights can also come from within and hence the fight for freedom continues for Eritreans.
Today’s Eritrea is a nation very much troubled by the consequences of a dictatorial system that betrayed the promise of Independence Day 21 years ago. Countless Eritreans have fled the country in search of liberty and basic human rights. Regrettably that search is marked by many hurdles including human trafficking; inhuman policies and unjust asylum systems even in places where one would justifiably expect respect for basic human rights.
At home thousands of Eritreans are detained in one of the most wide and intricate networks of prisons in the world. Every Eritrean family has been touched by the scourge of ‘disappearances’ that renders loved ones untraceable for months and years on end. Torture, degrading and inhuman treatment of prisoners is so rife that most people who escape those prisons leave the country severely traumatize.
From religious and political leaders and media professionals through to academics and business people, every sector of the community has been driven to either utter silence or submission to the system or to imprisonment and exile.
But of tragic concern is the fate of young people who are expected to bear arms and be forced into simultaneous military and development service under the pretext of National Service that commences at the age of around 17 and has no formal end. There are people who have been in ‘National Service’ since 1994. This is contrary to the stipulated 18months period; the National Service has thus become the regime’s way of controlling young people and keeping them away from political and social developments and crucially from demanding their basic rights.
Under this system young Eritreans are denied their rights to family life, their rights to make a living, their rights to freedom of movement and often their rights to freedom of worship and many other basic rights. Anyone who refuses to comply is considered an absconder and hence subjected to harsh military punishment. Needless to say this is what is driving tens of thousands of Eritreans to leave the country illegally fleeing to neighbouring countries and further afield, taking unimaginable risks when crossing each border they come to; including barbaric rape and sexual abuse of women.
We at the Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC) consider this situation totally unacceptable and have been calling for the unconditional restoration of basic human rights in Eritrea.
We are coordinating world-wide demonstrations in many countries, where we live as refugees and asylum seekers, as well as inside the country. We call upon the International Community to support us in echoing this call, through the messages of good will on Independence Day and at every opportunity throughout the year.
We want a positive future for Eritrea and we are committed to working for that change, but right now we need the support of the countries that have given us temporary refuge, to play a facilitative role in bringing forth the start of that change. We therefore call upon the International Community to condemn the barbaric act the regime has been inflicting on our innocent people, whilst congratulating our people on Independence Day.
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Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC)