By Gebre Fessehazion,
When the war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia in May 1998, more than 80 thousand of Eritreans have been deported from Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian government’s main reason was because “they didn’t like the color of our eyes“.
But I never thought such similar version of action would happen in the Netherlands. The Eritrean-Dutch citizens were deprived from their basic rights of holding their annual Festival. What a typical hypocrisy of Dutch democracy.
Every year Eritreans living in the Netherlands have been holding annual Festivals for last Ten years. The annual Eritrean Festival offers wonderful and unique opportunity to introduce Eritrean cultures and traditions, and meet and share with Eritreans from all over the Netherlands. The participants were provided with a fun and creative environment for networking and discovery. The audience also got a glimpse into Eritrean culture through colorful cultural performances, music and dance, arts and crafts, exhibitions, educational seminars, discussion forums, as well as fun activities for the children & youth.
Unfortunately, this year’s Festival, which was planned from 10th – 12th of August, cancelled due to distorted information. It is a shame to see such a move by some Dutch officials, who were misguided by couple of Eritrean “Traitors“.
I used to believe that the western democracy in general, the Dutch democracy in particular stands for the majority rather than minority. The voice of the majority is always the winner. For reasons not yet explained, they forbid the Eritreans from holding a Festival event in Zaandam.
Members of Eritrean communities across the Netherlands were outraged by the the false accusations reported on the 14 August issue of the Dutch daily newspaper-Volkskrant-, after citing certain Dutch officials and without having any concrete evidence, has accused Eritreans living in the Netherlands of sending money to Al-Shebab group based in Somalia. This is preposterous even to think of that.
Every precious human being deserves a chance to gather, to meet or have a festival as far as the public’s peace is not disturbed. There is a saying that goes “innocent until proven guilty“. This is a principle that requires the government to prove the guilt of a person and relieves the defendant of any burden to prove his or her innocence. Therefore, the Dutch officials should have studied their case before jumping to a quick decision.
Even the UN’s so-called Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia has failed to present a concrete evidence about the alleged connection between Eritrea and Al-Shebab group. The newspaper reported that Eritreans in diaspora are forced to pay 2% tax for the Eritrean government. If they don’t pay, they face a consequences. The story on the Volkskrant was biased, one sided and a outright lie.
The 2% income tax paid by Eritreans in the Diaspora in general and Eritreans in the Netherlands in particular, is not mandatory but voluntary and it is also legal as every citizen of the world does. It is important the Dutch journalists to have a first-hand knowledge about Eritreans and verify the false accusations, which was reported on the Volkskrant paper, but they need to visit the Eritrean communities’ centers that located throughout the Netherlands.
When you fulfill the request of a few traitors against the majority Eritreans, who support the Eritrean government overwhelmingly, by denying their basic rights, as it happened here in the Netherlands recently … that is what makes it so hypocritical for Dutch officials to rejoice in their decisions.