EMDHR Commemorates 18 September
The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) held a comprehensive seminar on 15 September 2011 as part of its commemoration of the 18th September 2001 when Eritrean reformists widely known as G-15 and independent media journalists were kidnapped and disappeared since. While the date marks the disappearance of these brave reformists and journalists, the commemoration includes all those who are illegally and immorally disappeared, tortured, killed, and imprisoned innocent Eritreans. The ruling regime has turned Eritrea today into the most horrifying dungeon where its innocent citizens suffer. The EMDHR calls upon the international community, and all freedom loving people to do everything in their power towards the release of all prisoners of conscience and held those perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable.
The commemoration held in Johannesburg was attended by Eritreans from cities and towns in Gauteng and other provinces of South Africa. Participants opened the memorial seminar by lighting candles in memory of the thousands of Eritrean citizens that have died and disappeared at the hands of this terrible regime. After a minute of silence was observed, a list of thousands of Eritrean prisoners of conscience was circulated which painted a grim picture of the last 20 years. Emotions were high when participants were allowed to go through the comprehensive list with names, year of arrest, and detail of some the victims.
As part of the solemn commemoration, a comprehensive seminar was given by the Transitional Executive Committee members of the EMDHR. The chairman of the committee(Mr. Kulubrehan) highlighted the importance of 18 September as a day that dashed our flickering hope for democratic change in our own country and opened our eyes to the atrocities committed even before 2001 against thousands of Eritrean citizens by the regime. He said, “remembering 18 September provides us with the opportunity to remember not only the reformist and journalists but also all the countless Eritreans disappeared, tortured, and killed by the cruelest regime ever. It also challenges and reminds us of our moral obligation to defend for their rights and call for justice.” Participants also expressed their sadness and pledged to do everything in their power to expose the crimes perpetrated by the regime to the wider world and tell the stories of our fellow victims.
The TEC members presented the prevailing social, economic, and political situation analysis besetting the Eritrean nation. They spoke about how the regime is hell-bent to destroy the social fabric of our people by promoting and forcing Eritrean youth into immoral and disgraceful military servitude and slave labour. It has worked for the last two decades to crush the Eritrean people’s spirit through starvation and malnutrition. Politically the regime has shown its complete hostility to the rule of law, justice, and constitutional democracy. This is a travesty and shame for our nation which has been continuously rolling backwards by any social, economic, and political measures. The tormented faces of the Eritrean youth in refugee and detention camps and worse, the images of Sinai, Sahara, and the Mediterranean sea show in clear terms the tragedy inflicted upon the great Eritrean people by a heartless regime. The seminar underscored that there is no hope for our people unless we rise up in one voice and confront this brutal regime with everything we have and shape our destiny as a united force for democratic change.
The TEC called on all members and the Eritrean people at large to actively participate in the struggle for freedom and democracy. To this end, the TEC explained, the EMDHR will play its crucial role with renewed commitment and spirit. The seminar discussed the challenges the organization was facing in the years since its founding congress and assessed the work done to revitalize it. As part of this new initiative, the TEC stated that the former Executive Committee members: Mr. Samuel Bizen, Mr. Fanuel Mesfin, Yoel Alem, and the former General Council speaker Mr. Haileab Kidane have resigned from their positions. They were replaced by the seven transitional executive committee (Mr. Kulubrehan Abraham, Eyasu Andemariam , Mr. Meron Okbandrias, Abdelwasia Shimondi, Michael Berhie, Meron Semedar) who will serve until the coming congress. Moreover, the seminar discussed the way forward and pledged to work towards strengthening the EMDHR to contribute significantly in the struggle for freedom and democracy. Various suggestions were made in the debate that was characterized by renewed enthusiasm and dedication from EMDHR members and freedom loving Eritreans.
Finally, participants commended the organizers of the seminar and vowed to commit their expertise, time, and resources to realize the mission of the EMDHR and the struggle at large- to achieve freedom, democracy, justice, dignity, peace, and prosperity for the entire Eritrean people. On this occasion the EMDHR calls upon all Eritreans and our friends to join forces to call for the release of all prisoners of conscience and the attainment of freedom and constitutional democracy in Eritrea.
Justice will prevail!
EMDHR Executive Office
18 September 2012
Pretoria, South Africa