By now, all of you must have surely heard of the Eritrean football team that has refused to return to Eritrea, and has “disappeared” in Nairobi, Kenya. For those of us who are familiar with the repressive system of the totalitarian Isaias regime in Eritrea, there is absolutely no surprise in that. Let alone these players who have fortunately found safe way of reaching the free world, hundreds of thousands of youth are risking their lives in the attempt to escape to neighboring countries. But you wouldn’t know that from what the government of Eritrea is saying to convince the Kenyan government to hunt them down, find then hand them over.
Both Ali Abdu, the Minister of information, and the Eritrean Ambassador to Kenya, are doing their best to convince the Kenyan government:
- that the soccer players are not political refugees – that they are purely motivated by economic opportunity.
- that in all of this international human trafficking is heavily involved, implying that if Kenya doesn’t turn them over, it would be involving itself in illegal action;
- that if they are returned to Eritrea, they will be welcomed with open arms, thereby further motivating Kenya to find them and hand them over.
Ali Abdu has been regurgitating these pointers since the day the tyrant has been airing them in various news outlets. And yesterday, the Eritrean Ambassador in Nairobi has been stressing these points in Kenyan TV. So far, the Eritrean government’s charm offensive seems to be working. The Kenyan police, in collaboration with the Eritrean Embassy, have been actively searching everywhere to find the soccer players. Here is what an alarmed Eritrean from Nairobi has emailed us [we are deleting name and places for safety reasons]:
“I am an Eritrean citizen who is closely following the case of the Eritrean foot ball national team players who defected to Kenya on seek of refuge on the date of December 13, 2009. These players are now …… [It] is not safe for the foot ball players for they are being hunted by the Kenyan police in cooperation with the Eritrean embassy in Nairobi Kenya. As Eritreans, we are asking for the UNHCR to do something about this and consider the safety of these players. If not at this historic moment in time it will be very difficult and disgraceful for the innocent football players to be victims of the hunting Kenyan police and the government of Eritrea.”
This is a call to Eritreans all over the world to make the loudest noise possible to make sure that the disaster that happened to refugees in Egypt and Libya should never happen again: (a) Lets inundate Kenyan embassies all over the world with our messages of protest. (b) Let’s also make sure that the Nairobi hears from us from wherever we are. (c) Let’s call the nearest UNHCR office from our area of residence. (d) Let’s also agitate as many humanitarian groups as we can. For too long a time, we have let our brothers and sisters down at their hour of need. Never again!