controls every gramme of food consumed by every member of every household, and information is fed into a database ensuring even more state control and manipulation. The programme calls itself ‘Fair Price’ but the prices are highly expensive. Some people cannot get grain in their own villages; attempting to get sorghum from elsewhere has become an illegal activity, so that even avoiding starvation has been criminalised. Even the army is underfed.

So why are there still supporters of this government in Diaspora? Why do these better-off Eritreans living in relative luxury close their eyes to the true conditions of a heartless regime which is starving its own people? Don’t they know that eventually this government will lose power and be judged historically for the despotic system it is and for the crimes it has committed? Don’t they know that they are playing a part in supporting this cruelty by financing the immoral acts perpetrated on starving women, children, elderly and disabled people, not to mention the youth who have been forcibly conscripted into an army that does not now even feed them adequately to fight his largely imaginary border war with Ethiopia? Don’t they know that they are as guilty for every death by starvation, torture, execution, for every rape, for every arbitrary imprisonment, indeed, for every act of inhumanity and all the misery that the people of their own country are currently suffering, and have been suffering for the last seventeen years, as if they had been committing these acts themselves?

Some Eritreans in Diaspora say it is against human rights to try to prevent the EU giving ‘development aid’ and ‘Cash for work aid’ to Eritrea while ignoring the fact that if the money has to pass through government hands the problem will persist as it is , and the government will continue to be perceived as legitimate. This is, in fact, an inhumane government which should be prosecuted rather than aided by EU and other donor countries. Nobody is saying that our people should continue in their plight, but that is what would effectively happen if development aid is given to a government that promotes slavery amongst other inhumanities. Development aid needs to be monitored and food aid should be filtered through NGOs to ensure that the money and food reaches the intended recipients.

Isaias Afewerki has refused food aid, claiming cash would be less representative of the dependency culture, but then he uses the money to buy arms to arm Somalis and Ethiopian oppositions to keep Eritrea at the centre of destabilization. How much longer must the people of Eritrea suffer for his power plays?
To add supreme insult to injury, and to show how distanced the Eritrean leader is from his people, he had the audacity to claim, in his recent interview (9th January 2009) on national television, that the Eritrean people are “overfed and spoilt” despite the fact that they are dying on their knees.
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea

London, U.K.

16 March 2009