By Kidane Eyob
As a British national of Eritrean origin, I write to request that the politically motivated, unfair and unjust sanctions imposed on Eritrea be lifted without delay. By allowing the US government to consistently violate the basic human rights of the Eritrean people since 1950, the UN is acting like a helpless mother that allows her violent and abusive husband, to persistently and mercilessly beat up her daughter.
The UN must lift the unjust sanctions, UNSC Resolution 1907 and 2023 that were, systematically imposed days before Christmas of 2009 and 2011 respectively, primarily because the SEMG has finally admitted it has no evidence that Eritrea supports al-Shabaab or any other militants in Somalia. Furthermore, the government in Somalia has also admitted that it has no evidence to support that Eritrea is arming al-Shabaab or warlords in Somalia.
The abuses and violations of basic human rights of Eritreans by the US government began in December 1952 when The Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, made the following unforgettable remarks in his attempts to justify the forced and arranged underage marriage between Ethiopia and Eritrea :-
‘’From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless the strategic interests of the United States in the Red Sea basin and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country has to be linked with our ally, Ethiopia ”
John Foster Dulles and his colleagues in the State Department laid the foundation of the misguided US foreign policy vis-à-vis Eritrea and Ethiopia instigating a protracted and bloody conflict between the two sisterly countries which dragged on for three decades from 1961 to 1991. However, after heavy sacrifice, the rule of law prevailed and justice was delivered when Eritreans militarily liberated their country in 1991 and achieved their right to self-determination, thanks to their gallant freedom fighters and the 80,000 heroic martyrs who paid the ultimate price.
Subsequently, Eritrea’s independence was legally recognised by the UN and the international community in 1993, following a referendum, thanks to the wisdom of its principled leadership who deferred the declaration of Eritrea’s independence until after the referendum in order to uphold the rule of law.
As the political and military analysts in both the Eastern and Western Blocks got the Eritrean liberation struggle and the final outcome of the war embarrassingly so wrong, they have also got the current Eritrean people’s struggle for economic and political emancipation and thepromotion of social justice even more wrong.
Seven years after the two sisterly countries enjoyed peaceful neighbourliness and cooperation in their nation building and healing of wounds inflicted by the three decades of conflict, the same misguided US foreign policy instigated a bloody conflict under the disguise of a border conflict. However, the real issue was not border dispute over Badme but an attempt to undo Eritrea’s political and economic independence, through a regime change, similar to the regime change that was witnessed in December 2006 when the Ethiopian Army invaded Somalia and kicked out the Islamic Courts, who for the first time in 20 years had brought peace and stability in Somalia for the 6 months they ruled the country.
As you may be aware, Eritreans are civilized people who have admirable cultural values based on equality, tolerance, respect, self-reliance, social justice and above all the fear of God. Eritrea is a country where the rich supports the poor not with arrogance but with humility to become self-reliant, where the strong helps the weak not with pity but with compassion, and where disputes between individuals and villages are settled peacefully not in deceitful manner but in wisdom and justice.
A country where newly formed families’ basic human rights are looked after by the traditional communal law and where the whole village gets together to build them their first houses. A country where new families are given plots of land to grow their food and cash crops so that they may become self-reliant rather than depend on their extended families.
Eritrea is a country where David literally killed Goliath in defence of his people and where the youth are literally moving mountains to make ways for roads and dams to achieve food security, holistic development and promotion of social justice. It is a country where, in accordance with the Eternal Wisdom, the people pray for their leaders so they may live in peace. Also, Eritrea is a country where violence, greed, deceit and selfishness are taboo and condemned by the vast majority.
Therefore, Eritreans and those who know them would assure you that the allegations against Eritrea are fabricated and that is why the SEMG has failed to present hard evidence. Let alone the Eritrean government, even the EPLF did not resort to acts of terrorism during the darkest hours of the 30 years of the armed struggle for independence, because terrorism goes against everything Eritreans believe in.
Over 100,000 Eritrean men and women paid the ultimate price in liberating Eritrea and safeguarding its sovereignty knowing and trusting that those they have left behind will, honour their sacrifice and what they died for, take care of their families and document their heroic history for the present and future generations.
Hence, Eritrea is on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, primarily because it follows independent social, political and economic policies, based on civilized African cultural values that promote social justice. However, the sanctions are having a negative impact on the economy of the country and ordinary people are feeling the pain but if the sanctions are lifted Eritrea would achieve much more.
Since 1950s, the UN helplessly watches Eritrea, suffer in the hands of the US when:-
1./ its people were denied their basic human right to self-determination in 1950s as Eritrea was forcibly federated with Ethiopia against the wishes of its people in order to meet the US geopolitical strategic needs,
2./ Ethiopia supported by the US, consistently violated the federation and finally dissolved the Eritrean Assembly and annexed Eritrea in 1962 in violation of UNSC resolutions and international law,
3./ it ignored the Eritrean people’s call for a legal and peaceful solution to the annexation and crimes against humanity committed by Ethiopian government in exchange for a US military communications base in Asmara Eritrea,
4./ it ignored the suffering and killings of the Eritrean people by successive barbaric regimes in Ethiopia that were supported by the United States and the Soviet Union. This suffering and killing were carried out by blanket aerial bombardments and scorched earth policy of rural areas forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee Eritrea and seek refuge in Sudan, killings and torture of farmers, professionals and students suspected of supporting the Eritrean struggle for independence,
5./ it allowed the US and its allies to support successive oppressive governments in Ethiopia militarily at times with illegal weapons. These weapons included Napalm and Cluster bombs that were made unlawful but were being used by the Ethiopian Army to kill Eritreans,
6./ it ignored calls made by EPLF during the armed struggle to bring a legal and peaceful solution to the conflict with Ethiopia,
7./ it allowed what was a border conflict in one location, Badme, to escalate into a full-fledged war that killed over 20,000 Eritreans defending the sovereignty of their country before a legal solution was found. This war was designed by the US in order to carry out a regime change. Sadly, over 80,000 Ethiopian men were also killed during this conflict,
8./ it failed to implement the Final and Binding verdict of the EEBC which was declared in April 2002 and subsequently virtually demarcated in 2007,
9./ it failed to apply punitive measures against Ethiopia for rejecting the final and binding verdict of the EEBC and continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territory,
10./it allows the US designed and politically motivated unjust sanctions be imposed against Eritrea for unsubstantiated accusations that lack hard evidence,
11./ it has refused to initiate an independent investigation to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the human tragedy of the century as thousands of Eritrean youth are targeted and kidnapped by organised multinational human traffickers from the refugee camps of Ethiopia and Sudan as well as in Sinai, Egypt and Libya. Some of these refugees were killed in the Sinai and others drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 366 people – mostly from Eritrea – died when the boat carrying them sank close to the Italian island of Lampedusa on 3 October 2013. Two months after the incident and as we approach Christmas, their relatives are still waiting for the Italian government to allow them to take their family members to Eritrea for a proper burial.
By his own admission, below is what President Barak Obama said in his speech to the Clinton Global Initiative in September 25, 2012 reinforcing Eritreans beliefs that the threat to Eritrea’s national security is genuine.
“I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea. We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers. We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts. And we’re seeing results. More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws.”
The above statement begs the following questions:
a) Who exactly is renewing sanctions, the US or the UNSC?
b) Who are their partners in crime in the region?
c) How did they carry out this mission with military precision inside Eritrea?
d) And where did the human traffickers take them to, from Eritrea?
12./ it collaborates with the US and its allies who are trying to sabotage Eritrea’s mining projects, its efforts to achieve food security and the Millennium Development Goals.
With respect to the point above, below is what Nevsun’s President Cliff Davis said in 2010,
“… we are on time, under budget, and will considerably further the country’s development with the realisation of Eritrea’s first modern day mine. In the face of difficult capital markets during 2008/2009 and other obstacles overcome in 2010, we are proud of this significant accomplishment. We look forward to substantially growing Bisha in the coming months, in terms of reserves and throughput.”
What Nevsun’s President Cliff Davis rather diplomatically referred to as obstacles in 2010 in his statement above is due to the sabotage stated below that was disclosed by The Global Mining Newspaper, The Northern Miner in its March 8 -14 2010 article titled, ” Defining Mining in Eritrea”:-
”The United Nations’ late-2009 decision to impose limited sanctions on Eritrea, because of the country’s unwillingness to abide by regulations on its dealings with Djibouti and alleged arms dealings with Somalian rebels, looked set to derail Nevsun’s efforts earlier this year. Bank insurers balked at the sanctions and the company’s recently-negotiated debt facility fell through. Nevsun’s determined management team went to the equity markets instead, and raised the funds it needs to complete Bisha mine construction. And, of course, with equity funding the mine’s cash flow will no longer be impeded by financing costs and debt repayment. So Bisha is on track, on budget, and set to become Eritrea’s first operating mine before the end of the year.”
Canadian Miner, Nevsun Resources, Australian, South Boulder Mines, China’s Shanghai Construction Group Co. Ltd, other multinational mining companies and their suppliers who adhere to acceptable corporate social responsibilities will continue to do business in Eritrea where the revenues generated from the mining projects are equally distributed throughout the country for the benefit of its nationals regardless of their geographical location and ethnic or religious composition.
The peoples of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia have for many generations lived side-by-side in a brotherly and peaceful environment, mutually and selflessly sharing their natural resources. In time, their respective governments, will find a way out of this stalemate and turmoil because their common grounds and dreams, the promotion of peace and social justice, significantly overweigh their minute differences which have been magnified and fuelled by evil and greedy aliens from faraway lands whose only wish is to turn the dreams into a nightmare.
I trust the UN will lift the politically motivated, unfair and unjust sanctions imposed on Eritrea and focus on the bigger picture and help the peoples of the Horn of Africa realise their dreams.