16 November 2017

Ethiopia: Eritrean Refugees Protest Political Repression, Religious Persecution

Photo: Ethiopian Herald
Eritrean refugees protesting in Ethiopia.

Exiled Eritrean political communities and refugees living in Ethiopia staged a rally to protest the harsh political repression and religious persecution in their homeland.

During the rally staged near the African Union Headquarters, the demonstrators called on the African Union Commission (AUC) to stop its silence and indifference.

Through various slogans in Tigrigna, English and Arabic, the expatriates demanded the Eritrean regime to end its interference in religious affairs and indefinite military conscription.

The demonstrators also submitted their petition to Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of AUC.

In the petition, they highlighted the continuing predicament of a beleaguered nation and the latest wave of terror that has engulfed Eritrea, including the arbitrary detention of innocent children and elders.

This latest violence, as indicated in the petition, erupted after another senseless government decree to close down all religious schools in Eritrea. The appeal notes that the arrest of a 93 year old man, Board Chairman of a religious elementary school, by government security forces triggered a peaceful demonstration in Asmara on October 31st, 2017.

The demonstration, as noted in the appeal, was followed by a massive crackdown, including arrest and disappearance of dozens of children and elderly people.

The organizers explained that the Eritrean regime has so far contemptuously disregarded its obligations to all international and African Union (AU) treaties, conventions, protocols and charters, including the AU's Constitutive Act, its Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children, Africa's Charter on Human Rights and other treaties to which Eritrea is party.

"Today's petition and demonstration is our fourth, but, sadly, all our previous appeals for help have been met with silence, indifference and inaction. And this has only emboldened the government of Eritrea to intensify its reign of terror," said Eritrean refugee Dr. Bereket Berhane, a pathologist at St. Paul Hospital's Millennium Medical College.

Bereket, who also headed the ad hoc committee of the refugees that organized the demonstration, added that the refugees are now calling on the AU to call on the government of Eritrea to put an immediate stop to the latest violence and release all prisoners arrested and detained without charge, including children and elderly people.

The refugees also called on the Asmara regime to implement the recommendations of the United Nation's Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea and to appoint a special commission under the African Peace and Security Council that puts Eritrea on its agenda.

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