By Sophia Tesfamariam,
The Special Rapporteur (SR) and the Commission of Inquiry (COI) presented their reports on 28 and 29 October respectively. As the Eritrean Ambassador to the United Nation’s said in his presentation, it was basically the same report being presented twice, since the SR is also a member of the 3 person COI.
It is not this author’s intention to revisit the New York proceedings or the orchestrated media and other activities that accompanied the COI in the United States. Suffice it to say that it has been an eye opener for many naïve Eritreans, especially the youth, who are at the center of the issues being raised by the COI in its reports.
They are experiencing first hand the machinations that take place in the halls of government and its agencies. For the jaded, the SR and COI, are a culmination of an orchestrated 15-year long defamation and vilification campaign against the State of Eritrea, its government and people that began in earnest during the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict.
The Eritrea Ethiopia “border conflict” ended with the signing of the Algiers Peace Agreements in 2000. In accordance with the Algiers Agreements, the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) was established with a mandate to delimit and demarcate the Eritrea Ethiopia border. The Commission delivered its final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions on 13 April 2002 and November 2007 respectively.
Rejecting the EEBC’s decisions, the minority regime in Ethiopia employed various gimmicks and tactics to amend, revisit and revise the decision which awarded Badme, the casus belli for the conflict, to Eritrea.
The EEBC tolerated the regime’s belligerence, its gimmicks and ploys that began with the “Request for Interpretation, Correction and Consultation” in May 2002. Ethiopia even asked the UN for an “alternative mechanism” to replace the EEBC, a request that was rejected.
On 24 November 2004, while continuing to militarily occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, the minority regime’s advisors and lobbyists came up with another time-buying political and diplomatic gimmick, baptized “The New Ethio-Eritrean Peace Initiative”, and became known as the 5-Point Peace Proposal (5PPP); The Ethiopia regime’s latest ploy “dialogue”. Since the EEBC delivered its decisions, the minority regime in Ethiopia has sought to bring discord within Eritrea and has actively supported individuals and groups opposed to the government of Eritrea.
The sanctions against Eritrea and the appointment of the COI are also part of the ploys to reverse the EEBC’s decisions and undermine Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
It was around this time that the Eritrean Diaspora was introduced to individuals and groups, self-professed “Intellectuals and Professionals” and the many “human rights” and “democracy” NGOs that mushroomed in cyberspace.
Over the years, they burnt the midnight oil churning out reports about Eritrea and claiming to have the support of the people, in Eritrea and the Diaspora, partnered with international NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and began the campaign to undermine Eritrea’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Their stated goal was to deprive Eritrea of all development and humanitarian aid as this excerpt from one of their many articles shows:
“… Eritrean-Americans will need to organize and petition the US, EU, other governments as well as non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, as part of a sustained political, diplomatic, and economic campaign …Like minded Eritrean-Americans with a firm dedication to democracy will need to build an informal and consequently formal network that is action-oriented … Through this network, letters will need to be drafted, finalized, and distributed to US government representatives, World Bank, IMF, Amnesty International and other organizations...”
Today, what makes up the bulk of the COI’s Report comes from the reports produced by these individuals and groups, whose activities were funded, not by the Eritrean people, but by agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and others.
When the Eritrean government announced the Warsay-Yikaalo Program for Development in 2002, these groups and individuals labeled the program “slavery” and campaigned to thwart its progress. As the youth worked to rehabilitate and rebuild Eritrea’s economic infrastructures, the defamation and vilification campaigns increased and an aggressive campaign to lure Eritrea’s youth out of the country began in earnest. The baits varied. Some were offered scholarships, some “won” DV lotteries, those who were studying overseas were enticed not to return to Eritrea upon completion of their studies, and were given asylum in Europe and the United States. But the majority was lured out with false promises of asylum-as higher asylum quotas for Eritreans were announced by the US and its European allies. And as with most campaigns, the “scholars” and “intellectuals”, crafted the narratives, which the cyber NGOs disseminated through their “networks”, which include the various media groups.
Eritrea’s youth touted as being the nation’s “Army corps of Engineers”, responsible for the massive infrastructure improvements all over the country, and who were the primary beneficiaries of various development programs in education and training, healthcare etc. were targeted by Eritrea’s enemies.
The ugly campaign to depopulate Eritrea, deprive the nation of its most productive population, began in earnest. Human traffickers joined ranks with these “human rights” and “democracy” activists and the result is the sad plight of Eritrea’s youth in Israel, Sinai, Italy and other European states.
Eritrea’s youth were deprived of not just their security, but also their development and dignity.
Their youthful years, which could have been spent developing themselves and their nation, are languishing in refugee camps in Ethiopia or in detention centers in Europe and the United States, while they await for their asylum processes to be completed. There are some who have re-united with family members and are trying to establish themselves and begin their lives anew in exile, but they are a small minority.
Hundreds are seen in train stations across Europe, dazed and lost. Many have lost their minds, unable to reconcile the dream with the reality they are facing. But the worst part of it all is that, thousands have died, drowned in the seas, trying to reach Europe, chasing elusive dreams.
But it is not just the youth that are struggling, trying to reconcile the facts. The COI is struggling to prove its allegations against Eritrea, as the facts coming from many UN agencies who have a presence in Eritrea, tell a different story than what the COI has in its reports.
While the COI claims to have testimonies from 500, there are tens of thousands who categorically reject the claims being made. While the COI has never been to Eritrea and had to rely on “cut and paste” documents prepared by anti-Eritrea elements, there are many who have been able to visit Eritrea and do not share the COI’s assessment of Eritrea.
The COI, since its inception has been operating on a politically motivated agenda that prevents it from accepting any deviations from the prepared narrative. Therefore, the differences in the COI’s report with that of the reality in Eritrea, will remain permanently irreconcilable.
After enduring arduous journeys across deserts and seas and other harrowing experiences, once in Europe and the United States, these youth are threatened and abused by the very same individuals and groups who wave the “human rights” and “democracy” mantras. The vulnerable newcomers are continuously harassed, intimidated and even isolated.
For many, suicide seems to be the way out of the destitution, depravity and loss of dignity in their new environment. Today, the members of the COI and the very same individuals and groups responsible for the plight of Eritrea’s youth, want to feign concern and point fingers at the government of Eritrea, even the Eritrean Diaspora, and blame it for what has befallen the youth.
For all the statements and presentations about Eritrea’s youth, and the daily obsession of the western media, no matter how well the narrative is written, or how many times it is repeated, the fact is that nobody, not the UN, or the United States government, or any of the European governments, or the international NGOs and their Eritreans surrogates, and least of all Ethiopia, has the best interests of the youth, and has invested in and for Eritrea’s youth, more than the people and government of Eritrea. Not a single entity. So the NED and other such entities can stop wasting tax payers’ monies to fund dead end groups with no constituencies and the COI can stop shedding its crocodile tears at every forum.
Finally, neither the sanctions nor the machinations at the UN Human Rights Council will amend, reverse or revise the final and binding decisions of the EEBC. The UN Security Council whose resolutions, over two dozen, have been rejected and ignored by the regime in Ethiopia, ought to enforce its own decisions and that of the EEBC’s, and restore Eritrea’s sovereignty.
If the UN Human Rights Council is really interested in promoting human rights in Eritrea, it ought to terminate the politically motivated mandate of the COI and the Rapporteur, and work with the government and people of Eritrea to achieve full economic, social and political rights through development. The agendas, like the differences, are irreconcilable.