Articles - English

The Commission of Inquiry on the Human Rights situation in Eritrea concludes a successful Mission to the UK

(London 04-02-2015) Over a hundred UK based Eritreans participated in giving evidence and insight into the human rights violations taking place in Eritrea to the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, during their investigative visit to the UK from the 23rd to the 31st of January.

Articles - English

Eritrea: HRC Must Establish a Commission of Inquiry

25 June 2014

We the undersigned are writing to call on the UN’s Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in Eritrea given the ongoing gross and systematic human rights violations being committed by the government of Eritrea against its own people with total impunity, and its continuing policy of non-cooperation with the UN’s human rights mechanisms, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea.

 

Articles - English

Press Statement of Eritrean Political and Human Rights activists in Great Britain regarding the so-called Seminar of Lowlanders London 20 April 2014

A seminar was held in London on 29 March 2014 where a document was issued and an organisation called “The League of Lowlanders” was formed. Because we live in Great Britain where the seminar took place, we want to avoid the risk of our silence being construed either as an act of approval or participation by association. We deem it necessary therefore to make our stand clear on the event and the ostensible organisation. Being: • respectful and loyal to the noble causes our martyrs died for during our people’s bitter struggle for freedom, democracy, justice and equality; • proud of the history and legacy of our forefathers, mother and fathers, who laid the foundation of the edifice of a united Eritrean polity; • committed to unity of our people and political stability of Eritrea; • aware of the ability of our people to defeat dictatorship and to put in its place a democratically elected political system that that rules on the basis of equality of all citizens regardless of their class, gender, ethnicity, religion and region: We hereby express our views regarding the London seminar and its outcome: 1. In preparing the document, not only did the organisers consult solely with like-minded people, but they also spoke in the name of Eritrean lowlanders without their mandate, including those who are resident in the United Kingdom where the seminar took place. Not only does this cast serious doubt on their credibility, but also their audacious decision to name their organisation—“The League of Lowlanders” is grossly misleading because it implies that they are the “spokespersons” of Eritrean lowlanders. We believe that there is nothing more undignifying than speaking on behalf of others without a mandate. 2. We believe that the spirit of seminar and the document that resulted from it are inconsistent with the aims and objectives of the struggle of our heroic people whose major aim was to guarantee the interests and fundamental rights of all Eritreans regardless of place origin, religion and ethnicity. We strongly believe that the only way to defeat the dictatorship that has been blighting the lives of our people and to establish a political system that respects the sanctity of human life, justice, equality and rule of law based on constitutional arrangement is through a united effort of all change-seeking Eritreans associated by shared core values that are loathsome to bigotry, intolerance and discrimination. 3. We believe that once a just political system based on the wishes of the Eritrean people is put in place, those who committed atrocities against the Eritrean people should be brought before justice and the victims who suffered at their hands should receive fair compensation. 4. Eritrean lowlanders have been struggling alongside their compatriots from the rest of the country in all the change-seeking civil and political society organisations and therefore their demands of justice and freedom are indivisible and integral part of the demands, hopes and aspirations of Eritreans throughout the country. 5. We believe that it is our national patriotic duty to warn against such divisive trends that can potentially undermine national unity and sow seeds of disharmony and mistrust among the opposition forces. We therefore call upon all national patriotic forces to rally behind a comprehensive strategy for change that would ensure the establishment of a just and democratic system that is capable of maintaining unity of our people and spare our country from the evils of disintegration and collapse. Long Live the Eritrean People Long Live Free and Independent Eritrea Glory to our martyrs Shame to Dictatorship With our joint struggle, we shall defeat dictatorship And build the nation our martyrs dreamed and sacrificed their lives for List of Signatories: 1. Muhammad Ali Lubab 2. Hamad Mohammed Said Kulu 3. Fesseha Ogbamariam 4. Amal Ali 5. Abdallah Heiji 6. Yassin Mohammed Abdalla 7. Mr. Abduraahman Al Sayed 8. Hamid Dirar 9. Idris Hummad Adam 10. Salah Aboray 11. Muhammad Ali Fayed 12. Khalid Kajray 13. Ahmed Idriss 14. Dr. Abdulkader Dawood 15. Khalid Ibrahim 16. Muhammad Tahir Debessay 17. Mohammed Abdu Omar 18. Abdurrahman Ghedem 19. Mohamed Nur “Burkan” 20. Yusif Suleiman 21. Idris Adhana 22. Ibrahim Omar 23. Abdulhakim Abdannur 24. Omar Suleiman 25. Nuri Muhammad Abdalla 26. Mustafa Kurdi 27. Mansur Omar 28. Jemal Saeed 29. Abdelfattah Khelifa 30. Salah Muhammad Zein

Articles - English

Letter of Condolence

Letter of Condolence

Mr. Ogbazghi Debus

The Eritrean National Salvation Front

The Chairman

London 27 March 2014

 

RE: Letter of Condolence

Dear Mr. Ogbazgi

It is with such a great sadness that I have learned the sudden death of the veteran freedom fighter and a prominent leader Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Nasser who passed away during the early hours of Wednesday 26th of March 2014.

The late Ahmed Nasser was one of Eritrea's historic leaders. He was known for his strong love of his country and his people and passed away after having dedicated his entire life serving the cause of the Eritrean people both as a freedom fighter and a prominent leader during the armed struggle for independence that was achieved in May 1991 and since then as one of the ardent fighters for the establishment of the rule of law, social justice and constitutional democratic governance in Eritrea. His death at this difficult juncture of the history of Eritrea and its people is a great loss not only to his family and to his comrade but also to the Eritrean people as a whole.

On this sad occasion, I would like to express my heartfelt condolence to his family, his comrades and the Eritrean people.

May his soul rest in peace and may Allah/God give his family and his comrades all the strength they need during these difficult days.


Suleiman A.  Hussein

The Chairperson - Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea -CDRiE

Articles - English

Profile: Suleiman Hussein, Eritrean human rights defender

 Profile: Suleiman Hussein, Eritrean human rights defender

 

 

 Mr. Suleiman Hussein is an Eritrean human rights defender, and chairman of Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea (CDRiE).

http://www.ishr.ch/news/profile-suleiman-hussein-eritrean-human-rights-defender

Suleiman grew up during his country’s 30-year struggle for independence and subsequently felt the frustration of many Eritreans when the new transitional Government failed to fulfil its promise of freedom for its people. Twenty-three years later, Eritrea is still ruled by the same transitional Government and there is no constitution, while the rule of law is non-existent. CDRiE is born out of the frustration of the Eritrean people. It came into existence five years ago when Suleiman and other like-minded individuals joined together to discuss the deteriorating conditions in the country and to explore more effective ways to contribute to the ongoing struggle for democratic change.

“Today Eritrea ranks among the top refugee exporters in the world as its citizens leave the country in their thousands to escape political repression and human rights violations.”

The Eritrean Government has continued to make life difficult for Eritreans inside the country while its foreign policies have isolated Eritrea internationally, Suleiman explains. Eritrea has been independent for only two decades, the past five of which it has been under UN sanctions.

CDRiE is part of the Eritrean people’s efforts for democracy and  strives to support the pro-democracy forces inside the country in any way possible. While the organisation has its headquarters in London it is not limited to London and has members in other democratic countries. CDRiE’s position outside Eritrea enables it to bypass the censorship within the country and voice the troubles of Eritrean people, exposing the gross human rights violations taking place within Eritrea.

“It is amazing how time flies.  Five years ago no one thought the situation in Eritrea would remain the same, but here we are.”

During the long years of armed struggle for independence, there was a prevailing culture of violence that contributed to the establishment of dictatorship in post-independence Eritrea. Today, CDRiE counters that culture of violence by pursuing nonviolent means of struggle for democracy. Despite its limited resources, the organisation has significantly strengthened its internal organisational structure and has built strong network of working relationships with many Eritrean and non-Eritrean organisations.

Recently, CDRiE partnered with World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS) to take part in the 2013 United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (

UPR).

CDRiE’s submission to the UPR raises concerns over Eritrean State agents’ direct involvement in harassing, threatening, and attacking civil society activists and human rights defenders.  Additionally, it protests against the Eritrean Government’s continued censorship of already limited internet access in the country, and the persistent practice of arbitrarily arresting and detaining journalists.

“Censoring and arbitrary arrests are not signs of the Eritrean Government’s strength. If anything, they show that people in Eritrea continue to be defiant and that nothing can succeed in silencing the voices of freedom or stop the inevitable march towards liberty.”

Suleiman remains optimistic despite the Eritrean Government’s continued violation of its people’s liberties. He says that following the UPR of Eritrea, which will take place on 3 February 2014, CDRiE plans to work with its international partners as well as with other Eritrean civil society organisations to undertake effective awareness-raising campaigns around the recommendations Eritrea receives. Suleiman also expl

ained that 

the Eritrean people, undeterred by the continued repression, will simply find even more creative ways to challenge those in power until the situation in Eritrea changes.   As we speak, there are several short-wave radio programs that have large audience and are having success inside Eritrea, Suleiman says.  There is also a new initiative by some dynamic youths in the Diaspora who make thousands of automated phone calls to Eritrea every Friday on a weekly basis. As of 2012, around 10,000 automated calls per week have being made to private households within Eritrea, with a message of non-violence, to empower and unify the Eritrean people. This initiative is hugely successful in Eritrea and is known as ‘Friday Freedom’.

Suleiman hopes the Eritrean government will come to its senses and realise that its policies have brought Eritrea from a very promising young nation to where it is today.  Suleiman says that Eritrean civil society and human rights organisations suffer not only from lack of resources but also the necessary expertise. Eritrean human rights organisations are relatively new and need more aid in terms of capacity building. Suleiman looks to the international human rights community, including the UN, to provide this assistance.

Tao Li is an Intern with the International Service for Human Rights.

For more information on the work of Suleiman Hussein and CDRiE see http://cdrie.net/.

- See more at: http://www.ishr.ch/news/profile-suleiman-hussein-eritrean-human-rights-defender#sthash.C1gIwxPJ.dpuf

Articles - English

CDRiE Statement to the UPR pre-session meeting

November 2013

Brief overview of CDRiE (Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea)

CDRiE is a Diaspora-based Eritrean civil society organisation that works for: the full realisation of democratic rights of the Eritrean people; advancement of rule of law, constitutional governance that enable the Eritrean people to elect their own leaders through free and fair elections, including full restoration of freedoms of conscience, religion, information, expression and association. CDRiE is a member of CIVICUS, a world alliance for citizen participation. CIVICUS and CDRiE have jointly co-authored the Eritrea June 2013 submissions to UNUPR working group.

Whether national consultations have taken place

 Eritrea is a country where there is absolute dearth of freedom of association and expression. As a result, there are neither civil societies nor political organisations in the country that operate openly. In such a context, no meaningful consultation is possible. All change-seeking civil society and political organisations that operate openly are based in the diaspora. Hence no national consultations have taken place. This statement is a follow-up of the documents submitted to the UNUPR (United Nations Universal Periodic Review) by CIVICUS and CDRiE jointly. The latter submission was based on consultations conducted among CDRiE’s members, academics and individuals inside and outside Eritrea. With regard to the preparation of this submission, there have been on-going consultations which continued until the final document for the final submission was completed.

Plan of statement

The issues that require immediate action in Eritrea are many. Referring to some of the recommendations suggested by different states in the first UNUPR, our statement focuses on the need to implement the ratified constitution; women’s and girls’ rights; the indefinite national service/WYDC and the plight of refugees; and children’s rights. Other diaspora-based Eritrean civil society organisations will focus on other but equally urgent issues.

Implementation of the 1997 Constitutional 

 

In 2009, Australia, Canada, Slovakia, Spain and Slovenia issued five recommendations calling for expeditious and full implementation of the constitution that was ratified by the Constituent Assembly in 1997.  Eritrea has chosen not to comment on this critical recommendation. Since then not only has Eritrea failed to implement the constitution, but it has also been violating the rights of citizens with impunity. Not only are arbitrary and incommunicado detentions endemic in the country, but no charges are brought against detainees. The G11, many journalists, followers of the minority churches, leaders of the other churches and teachers in the Islamic schools and others detained since the mid-1990s years have neither been charged nor is their whereabouts known to their families and citizens.

 

Therefore we suggest recommending Eritrea to:

 

·         implement the constitution

·         respect the constitutional rights of citizens, including the right of Habeas corpus, freedom of expression and association

 

National Service and Refugees

Argentina, Canada, Slovenia, United Kingdom, United States issued recommendations to eliminate the indefinite national service. All these recommendations were rejected by Eritrea. After the border war (1998-2000) and the introduction of the WYDC in May 2002, the 18 months NS has degenerated into forced labour and has become indefinite. The NS violates the fundamental human rights of the conscripts’ and their families’ rights to Life; Liberty; Security of person; Economic Rights; Personal rights and Legal and Political rights. Those who resist conscription on the grounds of conscientious objection have been languishing in incommunicado detention. To escape from the open-ended slavery-like forced labour, tens of thousands have been fleeing the country to seek protection and livelihoods elsewhere.

 

We therefore recommend that Eritrea:

·         brings to an end the indefinite national service

·         demobilise and reintegrate those who have completed the 18 months as stipulated in Proc. No 82/1995;

·         recognises the rights of conscientious objectors; and

·         ratifies and signs the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons

 

Women and Adolescent Girls

Eritrea received recommendations from Algeria, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Chile, Argentina, Canada and Austria to enforce the law against female genital mutilation. Although Eritrea has accepted these recommendations, they remain unfulfilled. In spite of formal prohibition, the practice has been continuing unabated. The government has been mobilising public opinion against the practice, but is not considered a priority.

 

Women and girls in the national service are allegedly subjected to rape and sexual violence at the hands of military commanders. Eritrea received recommendations from Ghana, Spain, France, Austria, and Slovenia highlighting the need for the rigorous enforcement of the laws against rape and other forms of sexual violence; to criminalise marital rape; combat domestic violence; to protect women in the armed forces against rape, sexual violence. Eritrea accepted these recommendations except those on marital rape. En route to safety, tens of thousands have been falling easy prey to ruthless human traffickers, smugglers and hostage-takers in eastern Sudan and the Sinai.  Those whose families are unable to pay prohibitive amount of ransom are killed and their organs are harvested for sale.

 

 

In order to abolish the practice we suggest recommending Eritrea to:

·         full-heartedly enforce the law against FGM

·         intensify campaign against the practice

·         prosecute those who violate the proclamation against FGM to deter others

·         recognise the problem of rape and sexual violence in the national service and the WYDC

·         criminalise marital rape

 

Children’s Rights

In the evaluation Eritrea received six recommendations on the rights of children from Norway, Germany, Argentina, Poland and Ghana. They recommended to prevent recruitment and torture of children by the police and the military; establish a minimum age for conscription of children and respect their fundamental rights; to protect children against torture and inhuman treatment, as well a provide the means by which they can be integrated into civilian life. These recommendations were rejected by Eritrea. The toxic effects of the national service have detrimentally affected the safety and wellbeing of Eritrean children. From 2003 onwards, children attending 12th grade are transferred to the Sawa military camp to combine military training with ostensible academic education. All aspects of Eritrean society, including education are heavily militarised and consequently, the standard of education has declined dramatically. The search for better standard of education has been one of the drivers of forced migration in the country. Thousands of unaccompanied minors and children approaching the age of conscription have been fleeing Eritrea and joining the refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan where they lead squalid lives. Many have also fallen easy prey to human traffickers, smugglers and hostage takers. Among those who periodically perish in the Sinai, Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea, some are some are children, including toddlers. Even the unborn are not spared.

 

 To guarantee children’s rights, we suggest recommending Eritrea to:

·         Follow up recommendations 36, 56, 57, 63, 64 and 65 by: implementing the recommendation sof the Committee on the Rights of the child; prevention of conscription of underage children and torture and inhuman treatment

·           Demilitarise education at secondary and post-secondary levels by ending the transfer of grade 12 students to the Sawa military training camp

 

Most of the recommendations from the first review (30 November 2009) are still outstanding. There has been no progress made since then, including implementation of the 1997 ratified constitution; formation of political parties; national elections; establishment of national human rights institution; invitation to all United Nations human rights special procedures; minimum age for military service; indefinite military service; conscientious objection to military service; forced labour; arbitrary arrest, detention and torture.

  

 

 

 

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