By Sesin Seyoum,
The world is now filled with outrageous travesties of justice and rampant violence that are engulfed by inequalities. But the international community and the so called powerful nations have been hypocritical with clear disregard for human lives. While the main culprits of gross human rights violations are encouraged and even rewarded, those with clear and tenacious stand against human rights violations and those who are demanding an end to the culture of impunity are being silenced and bullied.
In recent years, some serious human rights violations occurred in this world, but ignored by the international world and mainstream media.
Well known western brands are now producing their products in some third world countries and paying their workers as low as $20 a month which is not near what is considered to be a living wage. Unfortunately; the governments of these exploited countries are either silenced or bribed that they don’t stand for justice of their exploited population who are not only earning a pittance, but also live in a dire conditions. They are forced to work upto16 hours a day and seven days a week. It’s even said that there are children who stitch clothes for the European and North American clothing brands. As Jeremy Seabrook put it, “The workers are disposable rags of humanity, used up like any other raw material in the cause of production for export.”
In recent months, there have been serious gross human rights violations committed by the minority regime in Ethiopia with killings of hundreds innocent Ethiopians, imprisonments, severe beatings and torture.
The regime’s security forces are still engaged in the barbaric act of killing Ethiopian civilians. Yet we have not yet seen proper investigations by the United Nations Security Council, “Human Right” agencies, and the international community as a whole.
This is not the first crime by the minority junta in Ethiopia. In 2005 this junta massacred more than 190 innocent Ethiopians and injured more than 700 others in the capital Addis Ababa and other cities. More than 30,000 people were also detained by security forces following the 2005 election. Only because they protested against the rigged election results. Instead of punishing the barbaric junta, the international community was completely silent.
A three-member team of UN-appointed investigators named “Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea”, is now accusing Eritrea of human rights violations. A country that stood and fought against human rights violations of its people is now being accused by those who turned a blind eye when Eritreans were being run over by tanks, massacred, have their land occupied illegally, deported from a neighboring country while their properties were stolen.
The systematically prolonged illegal occupation of Eritrean lands by Ethiopia is the root cause of many shortcomings in the horn of Africa. While the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration gave a decision on 13 April 2002 by rightly awarding large portion of the disputed lands including Badme to Eritrea, Ethiopia has yet to vacate Badme and other sovereign Eritrean lands. As a result Eritreans are forced to defend their land from Ethiopian aggression. Yet instead of the aggressor, United Nations Security Council imposed two illegal sanctions on Eritrea on bogus charges that later proved wrong. This is a clear travesties of justice and human rights violation on the people of Eritrea.
Growing up during Ethiopian colonialism in Eritrea is when I witnessed human rights violations. Hearing sounds of bullets which killed many innocent Eritreans simply because they were Eritreans, when young men and women were being harassed, imprisoned and vanishing with no traces.
At the time when Eritreans were not allowed to watch and listen to any other television and radio stations except the Ethiopian television or Radio, when Eritrean women were unable to leave their houses as they were physically and sexually assaulted by Ethiopian security forces. It was when Eritreans were not allowed to speak their own languages in schools and governmental offices, when Eritrean were asked to show identity cards on streets as though they were second class citizens in their own country. The time when every single Eritrean lived in fear.
When I was 4th grade student, I remember playing in my school playgrounds of Santa Familigia with my school friends and seeing Ethiopian security forces jumping the school fence and taking away our school teacher whom was never seen since.
As young kids, we did not know the reason, but we could see the angry faces of the school director and teachers helplessly watching their colleague being taken away. Incidents like this created fear and anxiety in my family and the whole Eritrean people.
But June 8, 1990 is stuck in my head . It was during the football world cup when Argentina played Cameroon. The match was played in the evening hours at 6:00 PM and there was a curfew of 9:00 PM. Eritreans are sport loving people and after watching the game in bars and friends’ houses and on their way home around 8:30 pm; sound of bullets were heard and this time it was continuous. The next morning, bodies of more than 30 innocent Eritreans were laying on the streets of Asmara. They were massacred by Ethiopian security forces. I remember the crying, the deep sadness, anger and trauma.
This was the time when Ethiopian warplanes were bombing civilians in the Eritrean port city Massawa killing and maiming women and children with aim of destroying Eritrean spirit as well as infrastructures.
My experience in Eritrea then and now is simply not comparable. I am now able to go freely wherever I wish, I am able to speak as I wish, I am able to listen to any radio station I want, tune in to any satellite television station and access to any website. I can walk at 3 O’clock in the morning with no one bothering me. And I see women and men walking in the middle of the night with no fear. This peace and tranquility is as a result of maturity and wisdom of the Eritrean people and leadership.
Considering what Eritreans have been through, the maturity they have shown and the way they are building their nation is commendable. Instead of waiting for handouts, Eritreans have taken it upon themselves to rebuild their nation that was almost destroyed.
In the last 15 years only Eritreans were faced with Ethiopian military aggression, illegal and unjust sanctions and also psychological warfare. Yet, defying all these attacks, they remain to be stable nation and people in the horn of Africa.
Had the international community shouldered it’s responsibility to uphold the rule of law and force vacate the illegally occupied lands of Eritrea by Ethiopia, then Eritreans would wholeheartedly focus on leading their lives. Root cause of prolonged national service is failure of the international community in shouldering it’s responsibility to force Ethiopia vacate sovereign Eritrean territories.
The freedom and serenity I feel in Eritrea, I have not felt anywhere in the world and I have seen Africa, Europe, and USA. When I am in Eritrea, I enjoy the harmony between different religions. Being able to travel from one corner of the country to the other with no fear and bother is just pleasant. To see the eradication of the fear and anxiety I experienced during my childhood is heartwarming.
I am now looking forward for the international community to work in partnership with Eritrea so that the peace and tranquility can spread in Africa and the world as a whole.