There is an evil regime in Eritrea operating with impunity. Because it is far from the spotlight, African activists are perhaps not aware of its practices. We have posted here, a report that highlights the plight of the people in that country: http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014/country-chapters/eritrea So now you know.
We have a responsibility to raise our voices at injustice anywhere but I am disconcerted when our voices reach the highest decibels only when we have to rail at some policeman or racist man shooting black Americans in the US. One could be forgiven for thinking that the hatred for the West by some pan Africanists trumps the value they place on African lives. I wonder at times whether #africanlivesmatter is only important when the perpetrator of an injustice is a white person or former colonial power.
I believe in Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the African Union. My perception is that for the first time in a long time, there is serious intent in that august body. I am sensing the same determination as the kind displayed when the OAU led the charge for the independence of African countries. But as Jacob Zuma once observed, it is easier to run a liberation struggle than to run a country. I want to apply this observation to Eritrea who successfully liberated themselves from Ethiopian oppression only to run in to a self-imposed cul de sac of repression.
I can understand hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Syria but I cannot accept 4 000 people a month fleeing Eritrea. The reason is simple. There is a devastating civil war raging in the former and no war in the latter. Instead, as you have seen in the world report from the link above, Eritrea has contrived to create the North Korea of Africa. The result is an imprisoned nation, and thousands of refugees trekking through the desert in the most unimaginable conditions, undergoing exploitation of the worst possible kind at the hands of human traffickers and a terrifying and horrifying death in the watery grave of the Mediterranean sea. It is unacceptable!
My appeal goes out, therefore, to all African commentators. Instead of railing against the ICC, Charleston and Baltimore, raise your voices in equal crescendo at the unacceptable situation that most African citizens, your brothers and sisters, find themselves in at the hands of despotic African leaders in countries like Eritrea.
Let there be no doubt, Africa is on the rise and we are marching resolutely towards greater economic progress than ever before. We cannot, nevertheless, fail to see who and what is holding back. On this world refugee day, my thoughts are with Eritrea and the shame they are continuing to inflict on the good name of Africa and her people as a hopeless continent and people that need to be rescued from rickety boats heading for the riches of Europe. There is nothing wrong with migration but it cannot surely be because one is fleeing repression. I have no issue with anyone moving anywhere in the world. After all, today’s Australian, Canadian and American authorities are all descendant from migrants.
What I am interested in is justice for the African. Right now it is being denied, wholesale, in one giant prison called Eritrea and this is the reason for the large scale escape of our people to the West. I look forward to the day when happy families in Eritrea can go to the airport in Asmara and cheerfully bid farewell to a son or daughter going out to discover the world. What I cannot countenance is mothers fearfully saving money for years, then tearfully entrusting their child to an odious human trafficker because they have no alternative.
Well, today, I am an alternative voice and I hope you can join me in ensuring that Eritrea becomes an agenda item at the African Union so that reforms can begin in that country. It is not just because they are holding Africa back, or bring our name in to disrepute; it is the right thing to do and our much vaunted African solidarity requires that we stand up and fight for fair trade, UN security Council reform and, yes, especially our own people, here on our own continent. Anything less is unacceptable and actually hypocritical.
The real Pan Africanist will stand up for the voiceless on the continent or be a caricature of a scarecrow in the fields, ragged and noisy, fooling no one at all. Can you pause long enough from your verbal attacks on the west to show you care about your own people here on the continent? Eritrea is waiting for you to raise your voice.
Today, I raise my voice for the Eritrean people and demand that Eritrea be placed as an agenda item at the African Union. Will you join me?