In late 2015, the European Development Fund (EDF) member states were debating ways to grant 200 million euros to the Eritrean dictator in exchange for the regime to contain the massive migration that's troubling Europe to this day. Whilst, a teenage Zyada Haile (AKA Adiam) and her friends were discussing ways to elude all kinds of abuses by prison guards in Gergera (a notorious prison camp in Southern Eritrea), escape and flee the country, leaving families and friends they love dearly behind.

Adiam is now in the Netherlands. In fact, she was seen in the headlines of many newspapers and TV programs across the country. Lying down in front of a passing car to stop the right hand man of the Eritrean dictator was heroic, and indeed took courage to do it, but it might be better argued that this was a spontaneous reaction to years of oppression and mistreatment of Eritreans in the hands the brutal dictatorial regime that has ruled the country for more than 26 years. Defiantly holding her ground in front of the car and vowing “Over my dead body” was exactly what Adiam did, accompanied by dozens of other Eritrean refugees in the Netherlands. Their demonstration, more than anything, was about violations of their very basic human rights that forced them to leave their country in the first place. Their aim was to stop the Eritrean head of political affairs and presidential adviser from entering a conference that was scheduled to be held on April 13, 2017 in the Dutch town of Veldhoven. While Adiam and a few of her refugee colleagues were demonstrating outside to stop the car from entering the compound, more than 600 young members of PFDJ (Eritrea's only ruling political party) who were inside the venue waiting for their conference to start. Because of the heroic act of defiance, Adiam and her colleagues didn’t only succeed in stopping the four day conference early and abruptly but also they convinced the mayor of Veldhoven to order the more than 600 PFDJ member to leave town in less than 24 hours. It’s hard to imagine a more disastrous conference both financially and diplomatically. For PFDJ however, this failure was even worse. Now, a great number of Eritrean refugees all over the world are encouraged to become more defiant and do everything possible for bringing change to a country they hope one day will be their home again.  

Back in Eritrea, Adiam was a teenage victim of this same regime. She was kidnapped from school and was tossed around to more than four detention centers prior to Gergera: Adi kuala, Dekemhare, May Ayni, May Idaga. Her only crime was that she was suspected of fleeing the country as reported by someone at her school. She was tortured physically and mentally and carries gruesome bodily injuries and life time scars in her young body. Her family had no idea about her whereabouts for so long. Finally, Adiam may have found freedom in the Netherlands but her siblings are scattered all over the world; in Israel, Germany, the Netherlands and some in the endless national service program inside Eritrea – a typical fate of Eritrean families these days.

When asked if the EDF aid had any impact in improving the situation in Eritrea, the reaction of the sobbing, beautiful and charismatic young Eritrean was; "They can't even pay their miserable prison guards, that's why they are letting them to do whatever they want to prisoners. Apparently, they are spending close to a million euros for a conference that aims at broadening base of dictatorship here in Europe. That's where their interest is and that’s why I was demonstrating and attempting to let the world know the reasons behind my being here. I didn't escape their cruel dungeons, survive human traffickers in Sudan, risk kidnapping by ISIS in the Sahara desert and dare to cross the Mediterranean Sea in a small boat just to get harassed and terrorized again by a regime I left behind and his members here in this peaceful land of Netherlands. OVER MY DEAD BODY!!!” 


By, Dawit Tekle.

Denver, Colorado.