National Anti-Slavery March in London
By Petros Tesfagiorgis A huge demonstration against Libyan African Slave trade took place on Saturday 9 December 2017. The demonstration was called by the African Lives Matter campaign. It started at Belgrave square and marched to
By Petros Tesfagiorgis
A huge demonstration against Libyan African Slave trade took place on Saturday 9 December 2017. The demonstration was called by the African Lives Matter campaign. It started at Belgrave square and marched to the Libyan Embassy in Central London. It was in protest at the brutality against black African refugees in Libya. There were many posters. Some of them read.
Black Lives Matter: Slavery must go
No more slavery: No justice No peace:
We will not be silent: Shame on Libya
Speak up for those who can’t.
The Silence on African Slavery is deafening!
Wake up People, Wake up!
In front of the Libyan embassy, there were powerful speeches from the organisers and demonstrators. One speaker blamed African leaders for mismanaging the economy and the society that gave rise to the influx of huge number of refugees and migrants to exile, to the land of promise, where they can be free to work and make a living. One woman activist gave a moving talk saying “we are very angry this violation has to stop”.
Network of Eritrean Women (NEW) along with other Eritrean justice seekers came with both Eritrean flags and distributed information on the current situation in Eritrea. Mussie an Eritrean activist also spoke to the audience about the selling of Eritreans in Egypt and the reasons why people leave their country and find themselves in these situations. Whilst it is good to see Eritreans being pro-active we need to see more of this and it needs to be organised in a more coherent way.
There were many other African flags in display such as South African, Zimbabwean etc. and also Caribbean and many leaflets in circulation condemning Libya, by many mainstream British organisations. It was a unique show of solidarity that shames Libya.
It is the European Union that is to be blamed for funding the Libyan Government that put the life of African refugees and immigrants at risk. History of propping up repressive African regimes during the cold war is being repeated.
The issue of slavery is not new for the people of Eritrea. Eritreans are being trafficked from towns in Eritrea and are being sold to Rashaida who sell them to the Bedouin in Sinai. All these criminal acts and other forms of human rights violation, such as religious persecution and forced labour, have earned the Government of Eritrea as the most repressive and secretive nation in the world. What is disturbing is that there are reports that more Eritreans are coming to Libya. Are they not aware of what is going on there? To Africans to add insult to injury the Israeli Government has decided to deport 40,000 Eritreans and Sudanese to Ruanda. Europe wants no more to accept refuges and wanted to reinforce its “ fortress Europe” and is bribing the Libyans with money to put refugees and immigrants into detentions camps which was turned into concentration camps where Africans are sold for $400 and as little as $200.00 per person. Paying Ruanda to accept African refugees by Israel is another form of slave trade. They are selling Africans to African Governments.
Selling people is the worst form of human rights violations, it is abnormal and a disgrace. However, in Eritrea the abnormal became normal. Arresting people without bringing them to court has become normal. The middle class, the engine of economic growth has disappeared. Many are in exile particularly in Africa where it is easier to make business. There is an excellent book which exposes who and how Eritreans are trafficked. “Human Trafficking and Trauma in the Digital Era”. The Author Mirjam Van Reisen was kind enough to put it on the web for free downloading. Of course Eritreans are not fond of reading and the refugees have missed years of education languishing in refugee camps in Ethiopia and the Sudan with no access to education. Their educational achievements is very low.
Professor Gaim Kibreab’s book “The Eritrean National Service, servitude for the common good” complements that of Mirjam as an eye opener to the plight of families because of the indefinite national service. Families particularly the farming house hold are plunged into poverty when its labour power is appropriated by the Government. The peasant family is an economic unit as it is maintained by the labour power of its members. The young boys of 13,14 15 years serve as shepherds to look after the animals, those 17, 18 years plus help in ploughing the fields, selling milk and other dairy products or go to cities to work casual work such as construction in order to supplement the meagre family income. The girls help the mother in the kitchen, fetch water from a distant as there is no tap water in the villages. Such destruction of the fabric of Eritrean society by depriving the families of its labour power has no parallel in history. Gaim’s book reveals all that. It will be launched for Eritreans in London. Such books are more important for Eritreans, it is their tragic history and understanding it in depth can help them in their campaign for justice.
During the Protest against Libyan Slave trade, the one which touched me the most is, “the silence on African Slavery is deafening! Wake up People, Wake up. “. That is a message for Africans in Diaspora.
In one corner there were a group of young people with loud music. The lyrics goes “wake up stand up and don’t give up the fight “. The music is a spiritual expression against injustice. It is a famous song during the civil rights movement in America in the sixties.
When the students of Al Diaa Islamic School staged a demonstration on 31-10-2017 against the takeover of their school by the Government and the imprisonment of the selfless chairman of the school board Haji Musa Nur there was a fascinating outburst of patriotism on the part of the Eritrean Diaspora who staged amazing protests all over the world in solidarity with the brave students. There was passion in the protest displaying unity between Muslims and Christians for the common good. The student march has a historical significant, it challenged the climate of fear in Eritrea. My concern is that such momentum may not continue unless the protesters develop long term and short term plan of action. There are a lots of activities to be done. It is possible to protests in front of EU headquarters in London and in-front of the Israel embassies and to appeal to the religious leaders in various synagogues some of them have shown sympathy with Eritreans during the amazing “Refugee welcome marchers of more than 32 thousand people last year.” An appeal can be launched to the “Jews for Racial Equality in the United Kingdom”. What the UK needs is a coordinating group from the Civil Society organisations.
The Israeli Government to discriminate African refugees is incompatible with the aims and objective of the Jews for racial equality in Britain. The fact that the Israeli Government ignores the UN Inquiry commission on Eritrea and sides with the repressive regime in Eritrea is a historical blander and double standard.
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