The absurdity of the complaints is simply ridiculous. The consulate is not contacting any of these individuals and soliciting funds for 2% or otherwise. If any individual voluntarily contacts the Consulate and inquires on his/her requirements for receiving benefits or services as an Eritrean citizen, the consulate has no choice but to inform them of the requirements and direct them on how they can fulfill these requirements. How in the world can this be considered ‘extortion’ and ‘intimidation’?
Diaspora Eritreans are expressing their outrage over Canada’s Conservative Government for its unethical, arbitrary and unfair handling of the Eritrean 2% Recovery and Rehabilitation Tax (aka ‘Diaspora Tax’).
The coordinated campaigns and concerted media pressure against the voluntary tax are seen to be not only denying the right of Eritreans with dual citizenship in the promotion of development projects in their country of origin, but is also discriminator in practice. It appears the Government is seeking a ruse that would lead to severing the shaky diplomatic relations with Eritrea.
On a piece published in the National Post, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is quoted as saying the government is “ready to take decisive actions” on its relation with Eritrea.
Previous attempts to criminalize the Eritrean Government at the Canadian Parliament Subcommittee on International Human Rights for alleged use of forced labor at one of the Canadian/Eritrean owned mine was found to be totally unfounded following an independent investigation. This outcome completely reversed the portrayal by the biased Canadian media.
A presentation submitted by the Coalition of Eritrean Canadian Communities and Organizations (CECCO) representing 95% of approximately 30,000 Eritreans in Canada before the Subcommittee on June 5th 2014 categorically state that
“No Eritrean living in Canada has ever been threatened or harassed to pay the 2% rehabilitation tax to the Eritrean consulate. And those of us that do contribute to the tax do it with our own free will in recognition of the sacrifice required to rehabilitate a war torn nation.”
The rules are simple: If you don’t want to pay 2% tax towards the reconstitution of your country, don’t pay. No one will force you to do so. But if you want service from the government, you are required first to pay the said taxes, according to the law of the land.
Under international law, it is permissible for a State to tax citizens residing abroad as long as the state do not take action without the consent of the territory of another State to recover the fund.
To date, no allegations of intimidation or harassment have resulted in any charges by the Crown.
The Canadian Government, however, always tries to sideline the voice of the absolute majority. Instead, it lends its ears to a handful of disgruntled individuals as enablers to its agenda of intimidating a government of 5 million people by creating a biased and unbalanced perspective on the country, its people and government.
The latest rounds of renewed attacks against the Eritrean consulate in Ottawa and the hypocrisy around the Eritrean diaspora tax however has surprised a number of Canadians as well.
Jim MacKay from Markham, Ontario for instance stated the following in a letter he sent to the editor of the National Post:
“It seems to me that both the United States and Eritrea are following the same principal of taxing their citizens who live abroad. One we call extortion, the other we assist by handing over information. We say Eritrea uses threats, harassment and intimidation; the Americans only threaten the full sanction of U.S. law. Does the word hypocrisy ring a bell? “
Another Canadian Lynne Swanson from London, Ontario also wrote the following and called Canada’s latest rant on Eritrea as a double standard:
“The [alleged] threats and extortion used by Eritrean officials to collect a 2% tax on Eritrean citizens living in Canada is deplorable. Last year, our Foreign Affairs Minister expelled the Eritrean ambassador to Canada.
Yet, the United States threatens an estimated one million honest, law-abiding Canadian citizens and residents who were born in U.S., or have some other bizarre connection to the United States, to become compliant with its tax code. Many of these Canadians never lived in U.S., or haven’t lived there for decades.
The Conservative government recently passed a law mandating banks and other financial institutions seek out Canadians whom the United States defines as “U.S. persons” and hand over their private, legal bank records to IRS, with the Canada Revenue Agency as an intermediary.
Our government recognizes the “sovereign right” of the Americans to tax and seize bank records of these Canadians. Yet the Canadian media is silent. Is this a double standard?”
For the record, Canada has little to offer to Eritrea at this stage. Records shows Canadian foreign and humanitarian assistance to Eritrea in the last decades doesn’t exceed a couple of million dollars. On the contrary, Eritrea contributed to the Canadian economy in the hundreds of millions of dollars through its mining and exploration companies operating in the country.
The CECCO presentation stated clearly how we are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the Harper Government and its national media have done Eritrean Canadians wrong. They have dishonored, tarnished and scandalized our good name. They have treated us, the absolute majority, unfairly, cruelly and unscrupulously.”
Therefore, if the Harper Government decides to sever ties with Eritrea intending to intimidate the government of Eritrea, that would be a pathetic diplomatic move. Especially with four Canadian companies operating successfully in the extractive industry in Eritrea.