We the undersigned, members of Eritrean communities in Europe and other parts of the world, vehemently condemn the illegal and immoral actions taken by Mr. Jack Mikkers, Mayor of Veldhoven, the Netherlands, to cancel the 13th European Conference of YPFDJ.
The Mayor’s callous decisions forced peaceful European youth of African origin, several of them underage, some disabled and young mothers with children to seek shelter in a neighboring country in the middle of the night. The fact that the mayor announced the venue of the conference to the media the night before demonstrates that his actions were premeditated. The plan was to incite violence and use it as an excuse to cancel the meeting.
The excuse that the conference was canceled for the sake of “public safety and security of conference attendants” is also preposterous. The size of the group that was brought in to protest was limited and was not a serious threat to the participants of the meeting to justify a ban.
There is plenty of evidence that the decision was in fact politically motivated and laced with racist and xenophobic undertones. We are certain that a conference of any peaceful law-abiding youth like the YPFDJ members were would not have been canceled had the attendants been white-Europeans.
The state has not only a obligation not to intervene, but also a duty to take positive measures in the sense of combating that individuals are prevented by others from exercising their rights. The mayor intervened to stop, by providing the violent protesters the address for the venue and allowing them to act violently. The state has an obligation to take affirmative measures against individuals who try to violate the rights of others much less intervene to aid and abet their unlawful and violent actions as, unfortunately, the Mayor did.
The freedoms of association and assembly are protected by Article 20 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 21–22 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as Article 11 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The rights to freedom of assembly and association are not rights you give to one set of Europeans and deny others. As European youth of Eritrean origin YPFDJ has the right “to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association at all level”. Not only did the Mayor of Veldhoven infringe on these basic rights, but he and his security officials also woefully failed to shoulder their duty of preventing others from infringing on these fundamental human rights.
The criminals Veldhoven’s mayor chose to collude with are part of a group, known for its violent behavior. Not long ago the group firebombed three Eritrean community centers in Stockholm, Sweden, was responsible for vandalizing an Eritrean Community Center in Oakland, California in the United States, and like they did to peaceful women who were on their way to the conference in the presence of the Dutch media and security forces, they had assaulted elderly women and children who were attending Eritrean festivals in Germany, Holland, United Kingdom and Sweden. These violent anti-Eritrea groups have vowed to continue with their criminal behavior in other cities and towns across Europe
As a result, we call upon the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the European Union to strongly condemn this illegal and immoral action and to take appropriate measures to redress this grave injustice and prevent the violent groups from attacking innocent European men, women and children of Eritrean origin.