NewsPosted by Admin Dec 01, 2017 09:07:03
To end the
dictatorship of Jorge Ubico
Beginning in 1931 Jorge Ubico ruled Guatemala with an iron fist with
the help of the vicious secret police. He admired Hitler’s tactics. By the
summer of 1944, a
similarly brutal dictator, Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, was overthrown in
the face of a widespread nonviolent campaign in nearby El Salvador. This
campaign served as a template for Guatemala’s own movement.
In Guatemala, the
campaign began mildly. In May of 1944, forty-five lawyers petitioned the Ubico
government for the removal of an arbitrary judge who tried political opponents;
Ubico responded by asking for the specific charges against the judge.
A day before
the annual teacher and schoolchildren parade in honor of the dictator, two
hundred teachers petitioned for a raise. The leaders of the petition were then
arrested and charged with sedition. To this the rest of the teachers responded
with a boycott of the parade; these teachers were fired.
On June 7, 16
students of San Carlos
University petitioned for
a change in faculty. Ubico agreed to the students’ demands. These students then
escalated their demands. Later, on June 20, opposition groups declared the
creation of the Social Democratic Party in a manifesto that supported
opposition parties, social justice, and the lifting of the terror and hemispheric
solidarity. Two days later, the students wrote a proposition for sweeping
university reform, and threatened Ubico with a student strike if these demands
were not met within 24 hours. In response to this threat, Ubico suspended the
articles of the constitution that guaranteed individual rights, including
public assembly. On June 23, both schoolteachers and university students held a
once declared that if three hundred Guatemalan citizens asked him to resign, he
would. Therefore, on June 24, Ubico was presented with a petition (Memorial de
los 311) asking for the return of constitutional liberties and explaining the
reasons for the civil unrest; 311 prominent citizens of the capital signed the
petition. This document was not printed in the newspaper El Imparcial until
July 7, when the liberties were returned. At noon on the 24th, students marched
with their arms behind their backs in a peaceful demonstration purposefully
passing in front of the U.S.
Embassy. That evening, a peaceful assembly called for Ubico’s resignation and
the organizers distributed leaflets explaining the movement’s position. That
night, the police beat, shot and arrested hundreds during a neighborhood
religious and social celebration.
morning of June 25, soldiers, cavalry, tanks and machine guns made their
daunting appearance in the streets of Guatemala
City. Dissent leaders Federico Carbonel and Jorge A.
Serrano (who had delivered the Memorial de los 311) were summoned to meet
government officials in the National
Palace. During this time,
demonstrations continued even though the campaigners were menaced with guns and
tear-gas bombs. Women dressed in mourning clothes congregated and prayed at the
Church of San
Francisco in the center of Guatemala City. Once there the women formed a
silent, peaceful march. The cavalry fired toward the crowd, killing Maria
Chincilla Recinos, a schoolteacher. She became the movement’s first martyr for
she was both symbolic and physical evidence of Ubico’s brutality.
By June 26,
all of Guatemala City
joined in the struggle. The citizens responded to Recinos’ killing by shutting
down the economy. Everything closed, workers struck, railway workers joined in
a sympathy strike; streets were desolate. The week of June 26 to June 30 the
strike, entitled Brazos Caídos (Fallen Arms), took control of the commercial,
industrial and service sectors of Guatemala
City. On this day (June 26), 50,000 campaigners and
supporters congregated around the National
Palace urging Ubico to
resign at the top of their lungs.
respectable members of the opposition followed and their cars taken away. He
also ordered the deportation of foreigners who closed their businesses, and the
police intimidated business owners to keep their businesses open. Ubico issued
a decree stating that all personnel of transportation and communication
companies were under military law. But all this was to no avail; the capital
was shut down by the general strike. The opposition issued Ubico a letter of
unanimous desire that he resign and return constitutional liberties. The
dictator’s power was quickly disintegrated; only the U.S. Ambassador and the
army remained loyal. Impotent to restore normalcy on the streets or to stop the
petitions for his expulsion, Ubico resigned on July 1, 1944.
however, handed the government over to a military triumvirate, headed by
Federico Ponce. Early in October it became evident that Ponce would not allow free elections to take
place. On October 16, students and teachers handed out leaflets calling for a
political strike. On October 18, students and workers aided young military
officers to seize control of Guatemala
City. In early 1945, a new constitution was adopted and free
elections were held. Dr. Juan José, a
liberal democrat, was named president.
NewsPosted by Admin Nov 19, 2017 21:18:54
Lumumba was born in Onalua in the Katakokombe region
of the Kasai province of the Belgian Congo, a member of the Tetela ethnic
group. Raised in a Catholic family, he was educated at a Protestant primary
school, a Catholic missionary school, and finally the government post office
training school, passing the one-year course with Honors. He subsequently
worked in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) and
Stanleyville (now Kisangani)
as a postal clerk and as a travelling beer salesman.
After traveling on a three-week study tour in Belgium, he was
arrested in 1955 on charges of embezzlement of post office funds. His two-year
sentence was commuted to twelve months, and he was released in July 1956.
When Lumumba was released, he became increasingly more
active in politics. In October 1958 he founded the Congolese National Movement
(Mouvement National Congolais; MNC), the first nationwide Congolese political
party. In December he represented his party at Kwame Nkrumah’s first
All-African People’s Conference in Accra,
Ghana, where he
met nationalists from across the African continent and was made a member of the
permanent organization set up by the conference. The conference further
solidified his Pan-Africanist beliefs.
In 1959 the Belgian government released the Congo from its
colonial rule, and held elections in December 1959. The nationalists regarded
this program as a scheme to install puppets before independence and announced a
boycott of the elections. The Belgian authorities responded with repression. On
October 30, two months before the election, there was a clash in Stanleyville that resulted in 30 deaths. Lumumba was
imprisoned on a charge of inciting to riot.
The MNC decided to shift tactics, entered the
elections, and won a sweeping victory in Stanleyville
(90 percent of the votes). In January 1960 the Belgian government convened a
Round Table Conference in Brussels
of all Congolese parties to discuss political change, but the MNC refused to
participate without Lumumba. Lumumba was thereupon released from prison and
flown to Brussels.
The conference agreed on a date for independence, June 30, with national
elections in May. Although there was a multiplicity of parties, the MNC came out
far ahead in the elections, and Lumumba emerged as the leading nationalist
politician of the Congo.
Maneuvers to prevent his assumption of authority failed, and he was asked to
form the first government, which he succeeded in doing on June 23, 1960.
When the Belgian King came to speak to the nation and
hand over independence, Lumumba was not allowed to speak. He sat quietly until
the Belgian king started talking that shit about the brilliance of King Leopold
– the same man that chopped off hands and bled the country dry for its rubber.
Lumumba interrupted the kings speech with his own speech – called Blood and
Men and women of the Congo,
Victorious independence fighters,
I salute you in the name of the Congolese Government.
I ask all of you, my friends, who tirelessly fought in
our ranks, to mark this June 30, 1960, as an illustrious date that will be ever
engraved in your hearts, a date whose meaning you will proudly explain to your
children, so that they in turn might relate to their grandchildren and
great-grandchildren the glorious history of our struggle for freedom.
Although this independence of the Congo is being
proclaimed today by agreement with Belgium, an amicable country, with which we
are on equal terms, no Congolese will ever forget that independence was won in
struggle, a persevering and inspired struggle carried on from day to day, a
struggle, in which we were undaunted by privation or suffering and stinted
neither strength nor blood.
It was filled with tears, fire and blood. We are
deeply proud of our struggle, because it was just and noble and indispensable
in putting an end to the humiliating bondage forced upon us.
That was our lot for the eighty years of colonial rule
and our wounds are too fresh and much too painful to be forgotten.
We have experienced forced labour in exchange for pay
that did not allow us to satisfy our hunger, to clothe ourselves, to have
decent lodgings or to bring up our children as dearly loved ones.
Morning, noon and night we were subjected to jeers,
insults and blows because we were “Negroes”. Who will ever forget that the
black was addressed as “tu”, not because he was a friend, but because the
polite “vous” was reserved for the white man?
We have seen our lands seized in the name of
ostensibly just laws, which gave recognition only to the right of might.
We have not forgotten that the law was never the same
for the white and the black, that it was lenient to the ones, and cruel and
inhuman to the others.
We have experienced the atrocious sufferings, being
persecuted for political convictions and religious beliefs, and exiled from our
native land: our lot was worse than death itself.
We have not forgotten that in the cities the mansions
were for the whites and the tumbledown huts for the blacks; that a black was
not admitted to the cinemas, restaurants and shops set aside for “Europeans”;
that a black travelled in the holds, under the feet of the whites in their
Who will ever forget the shootings which killed so
many of our brothers, or the cells into which were mercilessly thrown those who
no longer wished to submit to the regime of injustice, oppression and
exploitation used by the colonialists as a tool of their domination?
All that, my brothers, brought us untold suffering.
But we, who were elected by the votes of your
representatives, representatives of the people, to guide our native land, we,
who have suffered in body and soul from the colonial oppression, we tell you
that henceforth all that is finished with.
The Republic of the Congo has been proclaimed and our
beloved country’s future is now in the hands of its own people.
Brothers, let us commence together a new struggle, a
sublime struggle that will lead our country to peace, prosperity and greatness.
Together we shall establish social justice and ensure
for every man a fair remuneration for his labour.
We shall show the world what the black man can do when
working in liberty, and we shall make the Congo
the pride of Africa.
We shall see to it that the lands of our native
country truly benefit its children.
We shall revise all the old laws and make them into
new ones that will be just and noble.
We shall stop the persecution of free thought. We
shall see to it that all citizens enjoy to the fullest extent the basic
freedoms provided for by the Declaration of Human Rights.
We shall eradicate all discrimination, whatever its
origin, and we shall ensure for everyone a station in life befitting his human
dignity and worthy of his labour and his loyalty to the country.
We shall institute in the country a peace resting not
on guns and bayonets but on concord and goodwill.
And in all this, my dear compatriots, we can rely not
only on our own enormous forces and immense wealth, but also on the assistance
of the numerous foreign states, whose co-operation we shall accept when it is
not aimed at imposing upon us an alien policy, but is given in a spirit of
Even Belgium, which has finally learned the lesson of
history and need no longer try to oppose our independence, is prepared to give
us its aid and friendship; for that end an agreement has just been signed
between our two equal and independent countries. I am sure that this
co-operation will benefit both countries. For our part, we shall, while
remaining vigilant, try to observe the engagements we have freely made.
Thus, both in the internal and the external spheres,
the new Congo
being created by my government will be rich, free and prosperous. But to attain
our goal without delay, I ask all of you, legislators and citizens of the Congo, to give
us all the help you can.
I ask you all to sink your tribal quarrels: they
weaken us and may cause us to be despised abroad.
I ask you all not to shrink from any sacrifice for the
sake of ensuring the success of our grand undertaking.
Finally, I ask you unconditionally to respect the life
and property of fellow-citizens and foreigners who have settled in our country;
if the conduct of these foreigners leaves much to be desired, our Justice will
promptly expel them from the territory of the republic; if, on the contrary,
their conduct is good, they must be left in peace, for they, too, are working
for our country’s prosperity.
independence is a decisive step towards the liberation of the whole African
Our government, a government of national and popular
unity, will serve its country.
I call on all Congolese citizens, men, women and
children, to set themselves resolutely to the task of creating a national
economy and ensuring our economic independence.
Eternal glory to the fighters for national liberation!
Long live independence and African unity!
Long live the independent and sovereign Congo!
That speech sealed his death warrant. Only three
months later, after being arrested, beaten and tortured, Patrice Lumumba was
shot and killed by firing squad – an act that was committed with the assistance
of the governments of Belgium
and the United States.
The Belgian government officially apologized in 2002, but the United States
refuses to this day to admit wrong doing.
NewsPosted by Admin Nov 19, 2017 19:06:17
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
According to the history books, 100 years ago on Sept. 21, 1909, Kwame
Nkrumah, the founder and leader of the African independence movement and the
foremost advocate of Pan-Africanism during his time, was born in the western
Nzima region of the Gold Coast, later known as the independent state of Ghana.
Nkrumah was the first head of state of an independent post-colonial
nation in Africa south of the Sahara, after he led Ghana to national liberation under
the direction of the Convention Peoples Party in 1957. Educated at the
historically Black college of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania,
Nkrumah became involved in the Pan-African movement in the United States
during the 1930s and 1940s as a leading member of the African Students
Association, the Council on African Affairs, as well as other organizations.
After leaving the United States
at the conclusion of World War II in 1945, he played a leading role in
convening the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England—a
gathering that many credit with laying the foundation for the mass struggles
for independence during the 1940s and 1950s.
During his stay in England
from 1945 to 1947, he collaborated with George Padmore of Trinidad,
a veteran activist in the international communist movement and a journalist who
wrote extensively on African affairs. Nkrumah was offered a position with the
United Gold Coast Convention as an organizer in late 1947 and made the critical
decision to return to the Gold Coast to assist in the anti-colonial struggle
that was intensifying in the aftermath of World War II.
After being imprisoned with other leaders of the UGCC for supposedly
inciting unrest among veterans, workers and farmers in the colony, he gained
widespread popularity among the people, who responded enthusiastically to his
militant and fiery approach to the burgeoning anti-imperialist movement. After
forming the Committee on Youth Organization, which became the best organized
segment of the UGCC, Nkrumah was later isolated from the top leadership of the
Convention, who objected to his demands for immediate political independence
for the Gold Coast.
On June 12, 1949, Nkrumah and the CYO formed the Convention Peoples
Party in Accra, Ghana, at a mass gathering of tens
of thousands of people. They were prepared to launch a mass struggle for the
abolition of British colonial rule over the Gold Coast. During this same
period, Nkrumah formed links with other anti-colonial and Pan-African
organizations that were operating in other colonies of West
Africa. When the CPP called for a Positive Action Campaign in
early 1950, leading to massive strikes and rebellion throughout the colony,
Nkrumah was imprisoned by the colonial authorities for sedition.
The executive members of the CPP continued to press for the total
independence of the colony, eventually creating conditions for a popular
election in 1951 that the CPP won overwhelmingly. In February 1951, Nkrumah was
released from prison in Ghana
and appointed Leader of Government Business in a transitional arrangement that
eventually led to the independence of Ghana on March 6, 1957.
Vision of Pan-Africanism, socialism
At the independence gathering on March 6, Nkrumah—now prime
minister—declared that Ghana’s
independence was meaningless unless it was directly linked with the total
liberation of the continent. This statement served as the cornerstone of
Ghanaian foreign policy during Nkrumah’s tenure as leader of the country.
George Padmore became the official advisor on African affairs, and was
placed in charge of the Bureau of African Affairs, whose task was to assist
other national liberation movements on the continent in their efforts to win
political independence. In April 1958, the First Conference of Independent
African States was convened, with eight nation-states as participants. This
gathering broke down the colonially imposed divisions between Africa north and
south of the Sahara.
In December later that same year, the first All-African Peoples
Conference was held in Accra, bringing together
62 national liberation movements from all over the continent, as well as
representation from Africans in the United States. It was at this
conference in December 1958 that Patrice Lumumba of Congo became an internationally
recognized leader of the anti-colonial struggle in that Belgian colony.
By 1960 the independence movement had gained tremendous influence
throughout Africa, resulting in the emergence
of many new nation-states on the continent. That same year, Ghana became a
republic and adopted its own constitution, making Nkrumah the president of the
However, there arose fissures within the leadership of the CPP over
which direction the new state would take in its economic and social policies.
Many of Nkrumah’s colleagues, who had been instrumental in the struggle for
independence, were not committed to his long-term goals of Pan-Africanism and
socialism. Consequently, many of the programmatic initiatives launched by the
CPP government were stifled by the class aspirations of those state and party
officials who were noncommittal about a total revolutionary transformation of
Ghanaian society and the African continent as a whole.
NewsPosted by Admin Nov 09, 2017 22:34:15
EDP has been working on for a peaceful transition of Eritrea from a dictatorial rule to
a constitutional democracy (Good Governance) from the start. In order to elevate
the awareness of our people concerning the advantages of nonviolent struggle compared
to violent struggle, we are going to post many examples of successful struggles
from around the globe in the coming weeks.
first one in the series is the SALT MARCH
Salt March, which took place from March to April 1930 in India, was an act of civil disobedience led by
Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) to protest British rule in India. During
the march, thousands of Indians followed Gandhi from his religious retreat near
Ahmedabad to the Arabian Sea coast, a distance
of some 240 miles.
The march resulted in the arrest of nearly 60,000 people, including Gandhi
himself. India finally was granted its independence in 1947.
SALT MARCH: BACKGROUND
Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple in the
Indian diet. Citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from the British,
who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of
salt, also exerted a heavy salt tax. Although India’s poor suffered most under
the tax, Indians required salt. Defying the Salt Acts, Mohandas Gandhi
reasoned, would be an ingeniously simple way for many Indians to break a
British law nonviolently. (British rule of India began in 1858. After living
for two decades in South Africa,
where he fought for the civil rights of Indians residing there, Gandhi returned
to his native country in 1915 and soon began working for India’s
independence.) Gandhi declared resistance to British salt policies to be the
unifying theme for his new campaign of “satyagraha,” or mass civil
SALT MARCH: 1930
March 12, 1930, Gandhi set out from his ashram, or religious retreat, at
Sabermanti near Ahmedabad with several dozen followers on a trek of some 240 miles to the coastal
town of Dandi on the Arabian
Sea. There, Gandhi and his supporters were to defy British policy
by making salt from seawater. All along the way, Gandhi addressed large crowds,
and with each passing day an increasing number of people joined the salt
satyagraha. By the time they reached Dandi on April 5, Gandhi was at the head
of a crowd of tens of thousands. He spoke and led prayers and early the next
morning walked down to the sea to make salt.
had planned to work the salt flats on the beach, encrusted with crystallized
sea salt at every high tide, but the police had forestalled him by crushing the
salt deposits into the mud. Nevertheless, Gandhi reached down and picked up a
small lump of natural salt out of the mud–and British law had been defied. At
Dandi, thousands more followed his lead, and in the coastal cities of Bombay (now called Mumbai) and Karachi, Indian nationalists led crowds of
citizens in making salt. Civil disobedience broke out all across India, soon
involving millions of Indians, and British authorities arrested more than
60,000 people. Gandhi himself was arrested on May 5, but the satyagraha
continued without him.
May 21, the poet Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) led 2,500 marchers on the Dharasana
Salt Works, some 150 miles
north of Bombay.
Several hundred British-led Indian policemen met them and viciously beat the
peaceful demonstrators. The incident, recorded by American journalist Webb
Miller, prompted an international outcry against British policy in India.
January 1931, Gandhi was released from prison. He later met with Lord Irwin
(1881-1959), the viceroy of India,
and agreed to call off the satyagraha in exchange for an equal negotiating role
at a London conference on India’s future.
In August of that year, Gandhi traveled to the conference as the sole
representative of the nationalist Indian National Congress. The meeting was a
disappointment, but British leaders had acknowledged Gandhi as a force they
could not suppress or ignore.
India’s independence was finally granted in August 1947.
The 78-year-old Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist less than six
months later, on January 30, 1948.
NewsPosted by Admin Nov 03, 2017 12:11:54Eritrea's Asmara city hit by rare student protest
Rare protests broke out in Eritrea's capital, Asmara, with reports of shooting in the city
Security forces responded by firing shots to disperse protesters,
unverified video footage widely circulated on social media shows.
The protests were staged by students who were angered by government
interference in the affairs of a community-funded Muslim school.
Information Minister Yemane Meskel downplayed reports of violence.
"Small demonstration by one school in Asmara dispersed without any causality hardly
breaking news," he said in a tweet.
However, the US
embassy in Asmara
said it had received reports of gunfire in "several locations" on
The authorities also appear to have cut the internet in the wake of the
unrest, as no messages are being received from people in the country, the BBC
Tigrinya service's Tesfalem Araia says.
Could pariah state Eritrea come in from the cold?
Why do so many people want to leave Eritrea for Europe?
The protests were staged by students of Diae Al Islam, one of the best
private schools in Asmara,
following reports that its chairman, 90-year-old Hajj Musa Mohammed Nur, and
other members of the school board were arrested after fiercely resisting
government efforts to regulate the school.
According to a video circulating on social media that appears to show Mr
Musa speaking before his arrest, he said that the authorities had demanded that
the school, which offers both secular and Islamic education, drop religious
teachings, ban the hijab and stop the separation of sexes.
The military has reportedly rounded-up of young men overnight,
especially in the Akhria area of the city, where the school is located.
Anti-government demonstrations in Eritrea are extremely rare because
of restrictions imposed by President Isaias Afwerki's government, which has
been in power for 26 years.
Eritrea does not have a constitution that guarantees the rights of
citizens, including the right to protest.
The UN Human Rights Commission accuses the Eritrean government of
committing human rights violations and crimes against humanity.
It strongly denies the allegations, and insists that it treats its
NewsPosted by Admin Nov 03, 2017 11:40:04
1 Nov 2017
Security forces killed at least 28 people in rare
protests in the Eritrean capital, an opposition group has claimed, raising
concerns from human rights groups and activists.
The violence witnessed in demonstrations in Asmara on Tuesday also prompted a safety warning from the US embassy in Eritrea, which confirmed receiving
reports of gunfire and advised people to stay away from areas where protests
were taking place.
The opposition Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization
wrote on its Facebook page on Wednesday: "This uprising has left 28
martyrs and 100 wounded … we call on the international community and human
rights organisations to bring those involved to justice."
Activists told Al Jazeera that the protests began on
Tuesday after the government ordered an Islamic school to ban the headscarf and
halt religious education.
The violence centred on the predominantly-Muslim
neighbourhood of Akriya, where the Diaa Islamic School of Asmara
of 3,000 students is located.
Displays of public protests are rare in Eritrea, a
country often criticised for human rights abuses.
President Isaias Afwerki has been in power since 1993.
Hundreds of students reportedly joined the protests,
and the crowds continued to grow later.
embassy has not confirmed the deaths.
hawk dawn moment'
"The government attempted to confiscate Al Diaa
Islamic School, an institution established in the late 1960s," Meron
Estefanos, an activist based in Sweden,
told Al Jazeera.
"The current unrest was triggered by the
government's arrest of Haj Mussa who was the honourary president of the Al Diaa
She claimed that security forces beat students, who
retaliated by throwing stones.
"Soon, the rallies spread to the streets of
where the security forces used brute force to quell the protests," she
"This moment is the true meaning of a bottled up
feelings and years' worth of oppression that is now surfacing. I believe the
people of Eritrea have tolerated so many things for so long and now it is time
to express and stand up for their rights."
But Yemane G Meskel, Eritrea's minister of information,
dismissed the reports of casualties.
"Small demonstration by one school in Asmara dispersed without
[casualties] hardly breaking news," he tweeted.
Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti,
often features towards the very end of indices on freedom of expression, close
to countries such as North
"I think it's a draconian measure, yet again in
controlling the Eritrean public and squeezing out any public space and any
freedom of expression," Selam Kidane, a London-based activist, told Al
"Asmara is a peaceful city, but this has been
described as a black hawk dawn moment - nursery school children were being
chased through the streets."
She said that young people have "taken matters
into their own hands" because Eritrea is a "country ruled by
"People are taking enormous risk and it's a
courageous step to take," Kidane said.
In June this year, Sheila B Keetharuth, UN Special
Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, said citizens suffer
arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, enforced disappearances, and a
national service system that amounts to enslavement.
Tuesday's protests have "opened a big door",
Saleh Gadi Johar, a California-based author and activist, told Al Jazeera.
"They [people] snapped. Even if it's quelled for
a time, it will rise again. I expect others are inspired. All denominations of
Eritreans - particularly the young -have joined."
Johar, who also edits awate.com, a dissident website,
said he believes the Eritrean government would arrest anybody it didn't like.
The warning from the US embassy, he said, was not a sign
of a major political development.
"I don't expect anything from US and West when
Eritreans are suffering. It's politics as usual.
"Being an Eritrean, I don't wish any bloodshed of
violence for my country - people have gone through a lot. I wish for a peaceful
transition to calm. But if that doesn't come, then such appeal should be
expected. It's sad its happened, but it was bound to happen."
NewsPosted by Admin Nov 03, 2017 11:21:28
28 killed in rare protests in Eritrea, opposition group says
By ELIAS MESERET, ASSOCIATED
PRESS ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Nov 1, 2017, 9:33 AM
At least 28 people have been
killed in rare protests in the capital of Eritrea, one of the world's most
reclusive nations, an official with the largest Eritrean opposition group said
more than 100 people were injured in the protests in Asmara that began on
Monday and escalated on Tuesday, spokesman Nasredin Ali with the Red Sea Afar
Democratic Organization told The Associated Press, citing sources on the ground
in Eritrea. The group is based in neighboring Ethiopia.
U.S. Embassy in Eritrea late
Tuesday reported gunfire "at several locations in Asmara
due to protests" and advised U.S. citizens to avoid the downtown
area. The statement did not say why the protests occurred.
claims of deaths and injuries could not be independently verified. He said the
demand by Eritrea's
government to control a Muslim community school in Asmara led to the clashes.
the refusal to hand over the school, some 40 people were arrested and this led
to the massive protests," he said, adding that Asmara was tense on Wednesday as a funeral
ceremony took place. "The army is bringing forces from outside the
Eritrea's Information Minister Yemane
Meskel downplayed the reports of unrest, saying on Twitter that "small
demonstration by one school in Asmara
dispersed without any casualty hardly breaking news."
officials at the African Union mission in Ethiopia's
capital, Addis Ababa,
were not immediately available for comment.
small East African nation is a major source of migrants arriving in Europe. Its government has long faced criticism by human rights advocates over its harsh
military conscription laws. The government has denied allegations of abuses.
to a State Department report in 2016 on
international religious freedom, roughly half of Eritrea's population is Sunni
Muslim and the country's government includes Sunni Islam as one of four
officially registered religious groups. Other practices of Islam are banned.
The report also says religious education is allowed in private schools but
religious groups are prohibited from any involvement in politics.
NewsPosted by Admin Jul 30, 2017 16:11:33
T. Zere is the executive director of PEN Eritrea in exile.
years ago today, Eritrea's 30-year war of independence
with Eritrean freedom fighters marching to the capital, Asmara.
Unfortunately, it took less than a decade for the grand hopes and
ideals that Eritreans initially had for the future of their country
to evaporate into thin air.
international media has limited access to the country and, as a
result, their coverage of Eritrea is
limited to a shallow narrative focusing on "indefinite military
conscription" and "refugees".
the Eritrean story is far more complicated than these one-dimentional
independence the country gradually descended into a fiefdom,
serving as a grand laboratory for the negligent and oppressive
government experiments of President Isaias
his clique. Over the past two and a half decades Eritrean authorities
have been accused of a variety of abuses. These accusations
culminated in a report by the the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human
Rights in Eritrea in 2016, which declared the Eritrean state
guilty of "crimes
a result of short-sighted economic policies, the country has been
mired in abject poverty. Citizens are left with two options - flee at
any cost or stay and slowly rot in their homeland. In a country that
is not even close to supporting itself on local commodities,
importation of goods has been outlawed since 2003. The ruling party
(PFDJ) and its organs are allowed to import and ration basic food
items - they ration chewing gum at the party's stores and alcoholic
drinks at bars.
is no rule of law or constitutional underpinning in the country. The
president long ago shelved the national constitution that was
ratified in 1997 after a four-year drafting process. Yet, in
in 2014, he announced that another constitution would be drafted.
This ended up being just another excuse to buy time and divert
attention from the country's problems.
has devolved into a prison state where military commanders maintain
underground prison centres to extort money from innocent
than 360 prison facilities operate
in this small country with a population of fewer than five million
from the extortionary prison centres, the other means of generating
money is human trafficking, with some Eritreans paying as much as
$6,000 to be smuggled out of the country.
is a nation ranked last (No 180) eight
in a row on the Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index,
and named the most
on earth by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
they have done for many years, Eritrean authorities continue to
ruthlessly restrict and punish
both independent and state journalists.
Denial of freedom also extends to religious practices, where all
Protestant denominations of Christianity have been banned since 2002.
State interference also extends to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which
is supposed to be permitted to operate in the country. The
Abune Antonios, was ousted and placed under house arrest in defiance
of Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in
Eritrea boasts about expanding basic education and building schools,
various factors effectively have turned the schools into ghost
houses. Some schools operate with a single teacher who is expected to
do all the teaching as well as covering administrative chores.
Eritrea has been applauded for achieving some of the UN's Millennium
yet most Eritreans who can afford it seek basic medications in
neighbouring countries. All private
been banned since 2010. Most government clinics and hospitals are
regularly short of basic supplies, and patients are often asked to
get intravenous drips and other medical supplies from private
of new houses has been outlawed since 2005 despite acute shortages,
and so is fishing in coastal areas where locals depend on it for
their food and livelihood.
a society that places a high value on education, the state wages a
systematic war against education.
started in 2001 when the regime ordered most teachers to work on
national service salary, and the decline was exacerbated two years
later when the government moved the final year of secondary school to
a military training centre, Sawa, where students combine military
training with regular studies. As another impediment to education,
the only university in the country, the University of Asmara, was
closed in 2006, replaced by underequipped, semi-military colleges.
the systematic discouragement and prohibition of business,
construction, private clinics and the university, much of the
country's productive human resources and capital have fled. As a
result, many of the remaining citizens, those with a small amount of
capital, have started investing in farms that aren't reliant on
imported goods. Yet, the state makes this difficult, too, by
frequently fixing prices and confiscating privately owned tractors
during the high season.
from the trivial exercise of democracy in schools (electing class
monitors), free elections have never been permitted in Eritrea. From
the smallest unit to the highest ministerial level, all officials are
appointed, not elected.
national media ceaselessly recycle state propaganda. Print and online
media have deteriorated into private photo albums of the president,
while the national TV station, ERI-TV, is essentially a giant
selfie-stick for the president.
hype has been generated about the booming
in Eritrea, yet every day the country is being pushed closer to
abject poverty. Eritrea's share of mining income and the way it is
spent is closely controlled by the president and his close
every Eritrean state action since independence has disregarded the
rule of law and worsened living conditions, the negative effect of
these policies has intensified since 2012. In addition to the regular
military conscription, the regime decreed a "popular army"
programme that requires all civilians between the ages of 18 and 70
to be armed and available to perform free manual labour at a moment's
draconian policies were coupled with local currency redemption at the
beginning of 2016. According to the new policy, Eritrean nationals
can withdraw no more than 5,000 Nakfa (about the cost of a month's
rent for a two-bedroom house in the capital) in a single month from
their savings. This rule is in effect despite the fact that the
nation's economy absolutely relies on cashflow.
the resulting severe lack of currency flow and other extreme
restrictions, prices for most items have been skyrocketing. Yet the
government, in an attempt to balance the market, forces local farmers
in Eritrea to sell their products at fixed prices. For example,
during the most recent Easter holiday, police were deployed to the
marketplace to make sure consumable products such as tomato and
onions were being sold at fixed prices.
the opposition to the Eritrean government from the international
community and the Eritrean diaspora has gradually been increasing,
geological developments in the region have been strenghtening the
regime's hand. At a high cost to local residents who have been pushed
away from fishing and other jobs in the port of Assab, Eritrean
authorities have leased that port to the United
Arab Emirates for
coalition forces to conduct their joint military operation
Another island has been leased to Egypt to
destabilise Ethiopia. Apart from President Afwerki and his group,
nobody in Eritrea benefits from such dealings.
the past three to four years, the president has been isolating
himself and growing increasingly paranoid, depending more and more on
his military and security forces. Afwerki has launched poorly planned
and researched capital projects that drain material resources and
manpower from the small nation. A blatant example of this is the many
dam projects for which the whole nation is required to provide free
labour and the president serves as site manager. He moved his office
to the construction site and handles daily presidential tasks from
his new location.
is the exceedingly gloomy situation in which Eritrea found itself
while celebrating its hard-won independence. Happy Independence Day,
Eritrea … anyways.