A man walks in front of a church in Eritrea.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The so-called Eritrean government signed a peace deal in July with the Ethiopian government. For the Eritrean people, nothing has come from this deal other than an intangible concept of peace. After the deal, Eritreans were ecstatic. After all, the Eritrean people sacrificed everything for decades to obtain peace. Every person who had been monitoring the situation hoped imminent change would come after the deal, but this hope has been in vain.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, “The peace treaty that was recently signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea can accelerate the continuation of the removal of infiltrators from Israel.” This has caused a tremendous amount of psychological pressure for asylum seekers in Israel who have been waiting for years for an answer to their asylum applications.
Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel and around the world didn’t flee our country because of war with Ethiopia; we Eritreans fled our beloved home because of the tyrant, Isaias Afewerki, who oppressed us – and his regime is still in power.
For decades, the totalitarian Afewerki worked very hard to break the Eritrean people. He dismantled all governmental institutions, public sectors, educational systems and health systems and divided the Eritrean people; the imprisonment, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, rape, murder, and enslavement of youth designed suppress our hope are all still in place. Afewerki declared a war against the Eritrean people secretly and publicly.
The Eritrean government continues to deny its crimes. Instead, the totalitarian regime has been using the peace deal with Ethiopia as public relations tool for lifting the sanctions imposed on the country by the international community.
Since the peace deal with Ethiopia, hundreds of Eritreans have been seeking asylum each day in Ethiopia. If peace with Ethiopia were the solution to the problem, why has the number of Eritrean people leaving their country doubled?
I can assure you the absolute peace for Eritrean people and demolition of the totalitarian regime is not far off. For years, the tyrant regime tricked many Eritreans into paying 2% of their salary by using the name of war with Ethiopia and development. For many others, especially those who are in Israel, the tyrant regime forced them to pay 2% through fear. The Eritrean government uses the threat of deportation, demolition of their property and even worse threats to their family back in Eritrea to make people support it unwillingly.
When the Eritrean people ask repeatedly about the political prisoners, the Afewerki government tells the Eritrean people “they are traitors” to their country. Now it’s clear to everyone that the tyrant is the real traitor to our people and country.
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The Israeli people and people of the world will witness the Eritrean people returning home voluntary after the implementation of sustainable peace and absolute political change. Until then, we are asking the Israeli government to recognize the pain of the Eritrean people who suffered for decades under the oppressive regime, and to graciously allow us to stay as guests in a country where we are protected. We don’t want to see the Israeli people support dictator regimes, or force the deportation of refugees which would endanger their lives. Instead, we want the Israeli people to stand with us for the people who are oppressed and to become the world leaders for the justice and protection of refugees.The writer, an activist and community organizer from Eritrea, a former athlete and educator in his church, also spent over a decade as an asylum seeker in Israel with no legal status, where he spearheaded numerous community outreach initiatives and worked with several human rights organizations in pursuit of social justice for his community.
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