The Killing Fields of Eritrea
The Killing Fields of Eritrea By Tesfai Yitbarek 20-04-2013 Eritrea: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2012 “Unlawful killings by security forces continued, as did torture, harsh prison conditions, and incommunicado detention, which sometimes resulted in death.
The Killing Fields of Eritrea
By Tesfai Yitbarek 20-04-2013
Eritrea: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2012
“Unlawful killings by security forces continued, as did torture, harsh prison conditions, and incommunicado detention, which sometimes resulted in death. The government continued to force persons to participate in its national service program, often for periods of indefinite duration. The government also severely restricted civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion.”
These recent days, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, is asking the Eritrean regime for a visa but she has not yet given permission to enter Eritrea.
Mrs. Keetharuth called on the Eritrean government to “consider the mandate of the Special Rapporteur as an opportunity to start a fresh and constructive dialogue on human rights issues that have been raised by the international community and other stakeholders”.
The UN Special Rapporteur to Eritrea is mandated to investigate the situation of human rights in Eritrea as the regime of the reclusive nation allegedly continues to commit widespread and gross human right violations. According to the Special Rapporteur she will present her first report on the human rights situation in Eritrea to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in June 2013.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Beedwantee Keetharuth:
As we all have witnessed in the last 22 or more years, human rights issue in Eritrea have never been observed according to the international law or even being considered as part of good governance for a country and its people. I have chosen the ‘killing Fields’ as an appropriate term to the shoot to kill policy of the regime that has continued up to this day and after all the efforts done by the UN,EU and Eritreans, ourselves to change the policy of mass imprisonment of innocent folks, political opposition, religious leaders and all rank and file of the journalists, it can be compared to the worst human tragedies caused by regimes in the world including Camphodja under the Khmer Rouge or worse than that. However Issayas who has assumed power since independence turned the nation into one of the world’s most repressive nations, thus into a Killing Field.
Human Right groups have labeled Eritrea as world’s leading giant prisons and Africa’s foremost jailer for Journalists. They have pledged for freedom of all sorts that the International law has agreed for all human beings to be free and practice all God given individual right.
President Issayas Afwerki led Eritrean government doesn’t let any opposition group to function legally and the country has never had elections since independence. The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council last July, adopted a resolution in which it strongly condemned what it said was “the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean authorities, the severe restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression, and the forced conscription of citizens for indefinite periods” and then decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur.
Earlier reports by Amnesty International and the UN Human Right Commission, also imply to excessive repression to religious and people with different believes than the officially registered 4 main religious groups in Eritrea. The vast majority of victims are fleeing political oppression and compulsory military service imposed by the dictatorial regime in Asmara.
Often described as the North Korea of Africa, Eritrea’s secretive and repressive state apparatus shows scant regard for human rights, imposing strict controls on personal freedom and a policy of mandatory military conscription often for indeterminate periods. The intolerable conditions in their homeland means many Eritreans continue to make the perilous crossing to neighbouring countries, despite the risk of kidnapping and death from the regime’s shoot to kill policy.
Some characterstics of a despotic regime are the following;
- Forced Labour and Indefinite Military Service
Eritrea is a pariah state, impoverished due to the regime’s total control on its closed economy, also policies of diplomatic isolation, and a country without free associations of workers or internationally recognized Trade Unions. The only associations formed by the government or its political party are the following: the Confederation of Eritrean workers, and are using their favored position against those who try to have free associations even outside the country: Since independence unpaid labor was decreed on the ex-fighters for 4 years until 1994,and since then on all Eritrean Youth between 17-40 years of age with the excuse of National Military Service for indefinite period of time.
b.Prisoners of Conscience
Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director Michelle Kagari said: today on 16 Sept 2011,
“This anniversary is a harrowing reminder of President Afewerki’s complete disregard for the essential right of freedom of expression. For more than a decade, he has brutally suppressed any legitimate criticism of his government.
“The ten-year incommunicado detention of these activists violates numerous rights protected under Eritrean and international law.”
“Thousands of political prisoners are languishing in dire conditions, many in secret detention, across Eritrea. We call on the Eritrean government to issue an amnesty for all political prisoners and to respect their right to freedom of expression.” and
c. Human Traffickers and HARROWING TESTIMONIES;
According to reports, kidnappings are largely carried out by the local Rashaida tribe in coordination with other armed gangs operating in and around the Shagarab refugee camps in eastern Sudan, near the Eritrean border. Victims are then sold off to Bedouin criminal networks in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula for various purposes, including the extraction of their organs. Human Trafficking as a means of Financial income to the regime’s high ranking officials is done in collaboration with the Bedouins and some senseless Eritrean individuals in the Sudan, Egypt and Israeli cities.
In the decade since the G15 prisoners were arrested, the Eritrean authorities have repeatedly used arbitrary arrests, detentions and torture to stifle opposition. No opposition parties, independent journalism or civil society organizations are allowed. By any measure, the un-elected government of President Isayas Afewerki is oppressive. It allows no space for individual autonomy in any sphere—political, economic, or religious. Arbitrary arrests, torture, and forced labour are rampant. Rule by fiat is the norm. The Eritrean government refuses to implement a constitution approved in 1997 containing civil and human rights provisions. Many Eritreans conclude that they can avoid oppression only by fleeing the country at risk to their lives.
There are no institutional constraints on President Isaias Afewerki, now in his twentieth year in power. The law and unimplemented constitution provide for an independent judiciary; however, in practice executive control of the judiciary continued, and the judiciary was not independent or impartial. Judicial corruption remained a problem. The Office of the President served as a clearinghouse for citizens’ petitions to some courts or acted for some courts as arbitrators or facilitators in civil matters. The judiciary suffered from lack of trained personnel, inadequate funding, and poor infrastructure.
The way forward
Although the Diaspora opposition struggle for a democratic change has reached its limits, and the old political groups are desperate to put their stamp on the Youth, I am optimistic that the youth can at the end of the day find ways to free itself from the tentacles of all failed machinations by the opposition in the Diaspora. Hence it is time to have a Strategic Planning Process.. i.e. Strategic planning involves defining a mission, establishing goals and objectives, and creating strategies to attain those goals and objectives. Finally Learn from mistakes done by the older generations in the struggle for independence from colonial yoke.
May God Save Eritrea
1.The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights- April 14, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA)
2.Trafficked Eritrean refugees face “brutal violence” – Amnesty April 3,2013
3.UN Human Right Commission Geneva
4.Human Right Watch.