Two major developments in the past week have underscored the urgent need for international action to end the grave repression being meted out by the Eritrean government against its own people.
The first is an urgent appeal by Eritreans in North America to the United Nations Secretary General, the Security Council and others to do something to stop human rights abuses in Eritrea. The statement by the Eritreans in North America said despite the heavy sacrifices and the ultimate price Eritreans paid for independence and self-government during the 30-year struggle, the nation of
Eritrea is being ruled under the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, led by one of the world’s most enduring totalitarians, Isaias Afwerki.
The North American Eritreans further stated, “The oppressive regime, authoritarian rule, and dictatorship have led the state of Eritrea to become ‘a nation where human rights are non-existent. Fear and repression have been the awful reality for over two decades for the Eritrean people, forcing Eritreans to flee their beloved nation in droves.’”
The second development that warrants serious international action to save the Eritrean people is a report by Human Rights Watch which reveals that an increasing number of European nations are traveling to Eritrea to make deals with that cruelly dictatorial regime to stop migrations of Eritreans to Europe. It is said that Eritreans are, after Syrians, the second largest group of migrants seeking desperately to enter Europe.
But instead of opening its doors to these persecuted, frightened and hapless people fleeing wicked oppression from their own government, these European nations, including Britain, Denmark and Norway, are making deals with the brutal Eritrean regime to stop its people from leaving the country. This, according to Human Rights Watch, could result in the Eritrean government instituting a “shoot to kill” measure against Eritrean migrants.
We strongly believe that instead of surrendering the suffering and terrified Eritrean migrants to the brutality, including murder, forced military conscription and even rape and enslavement by their own government, these European nations should do at least two things: First, unite with other European nations, those around the world and the UN Security Council to institute sanctions and other punitive actions against the Eritrean regime to force it to stop the repression.
Second, these European nations should open their doors to Eritrean migrants to save precious lives. The one thing they should not do is to encourage the Eritrean government to close its borders, as this would only expose Eritreans to even more human rights abuses and hopelessness. Europeans should remember the millions of their own citizens who fled Europe for the United States for one reason or another, including disease, famine, religious persecution, political repression and even economic reasons. Never once did the United States shut its doors to European migrants or encourage repressive regimes to inflict more terror on their own people.
We recall that in the late 1970s when the murderous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was slaughtering his own people and turning millions into refugees, it was Tanzania’s President Julius Nyerere, whose country hosted millions of Ugandan and Southern African refugees, took up arms against Amin and drove him out of Uganda.
We are not asking Europe to declare war against Isaias Afwerki. But surely there are many things European governments could do to bring pressure upon him to stop this brutal repression against his own people.
But the one thing Europeans should not do is to punish further the desperate and hapless Eritreans by unleashing them to murder and mayhem in their own country. In all of Europe’s historical troubles of whatever kind, no one did that to them.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is already aware of the political and human catastrophe in Eritrea and has spoken out against it. We call on him to do one thing more: urge the powerful nations of the world and other nations to take all measures possible to stop the repression in Eritrea.
Surely something can and must be done to stop it.