Ms. ELIZABETH CHYRUM AND PROFESSOR DAN CONNEL IN BOSTON
On Saturday, January 19th, 2013, the Eritrean Community Center in Boston had the privilege of hosting Ms. Elizabeth Chyrum, the founder and Director of Human Rights Concerns – Eritrea, in London, and Professor Dan Connell, Journalist, Writer, Photographer, and Lecturer in Journalism and African Politics at Simmons College, Boston. Recognizing the cruel living condition of Eritrean refugees all over the world, the theme of their speech was entitled “ERITREAN REFUGEES RISK DEATH TO ESCAPE TYRANNY.”
In attendance were Eritreans from Boston, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and many American friends from all areas of Massachusetts. Mr. Michael Eyob, the moderator, opened the event by welcoming the audience and asked Dr. Daniel Mebrahtu to introduce Professor Dan Connell. Dr. Mebrahtu, recognized Professor Connell for his tireless pursuit of advocating for Eritrean independence from Ethiopia and for his continued effort to expose the abuse, imprisonment, torture, arbitrary detention, summary execution, destitution, and mass exodus perpetrated by the Eritrean government on its population.
Professor Connell thanked the Eritrean Community Center in Boston for inviting him to speak about the country and people he deeply cares for, and for whose cause he has written about for more than 30 years. He stated that Eritrea marked 21 years of independence in 2012, but its citizens remain victimized by one of the world’s most repressive governments. Eritreans suffer arbitrary and indefinite detention, torture, inhumane conditions of confinement, as well as restrictions of freedom of speech, movement and belief, and indefinite conscription and forced labor in national service. Thousands of Eritreans, mostly of younger generations, flee the country at great personal risk to escape tyranny. They could end up being kidnapped by the notorious Rashaida smugglers to be sold to the Bedouin human traffickers who would then demand ransom from their relatives or sell their organs in the black market of Egypt. He showed horrifying pictures of refugees in Israel who have been tortured, raped and/or mutilated by the Bedouins. He concluded his vast speech by calling upon all peace loving people, and especially Eritreans, to knock on the doors of government officials and humanitarian organizations to plead for the urgent resolution of the ensuing human tragedy of Eritreans inside and outside of Eritrea.
The second key note speaker, Ms. Elizabeth Chyrum, was introduced by Professor Connell. Professor Connell praised Ms. Chyrum for her persistent commitment to bring the Eritrean human rights crisis to the attention of international organizations and governments of the world. He reiterated that peace loving people all over the world should be grateful, for Elsa’s dedication, hard work, perseverance and spirit in fighting for human dignity. He commended her determination to get the attention of the European Union, the UN Human Rights Commission and several governments of the world to end the human rights violation of Eritreans by the governments of Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt, and to take immediate action against the human traffickers in Sinai desert.
Ms. Chyrum, started by saying, ‘’It is with great pleasure and honor I accept your invitation to be with you today in Boston. It also gives me a great pride to deliver my speech in this beautiful building which is owned and operated by Eritreans in Boston. It is a pleasure to see some of the refugees I met in Djibouti have already assimilated to the new life style and seem to be very comfortable to be with their brothers and sisters at the Eritrean Community Center Boston.”
Ms. Chyrum reminded the audience, regardless of political or ideological differences, the current crisis in Eritrea is a question of humanity and moral obligation for Eritreans and non-Eritreans to stand for justice. She called upon everyone to stop being indifferent while knowing unimaginable crimes against humanity are being committed by the Eritrean government, the Rashaida, and Bedouin human traffickers. She asked all to speak out and plead on behalf of the voices of tens of thousands of voiceless Eritreans. She stressed the fact that what is taking place in Eritrea is human savagery and barbarity in its true meaning. She stated that the crimes that Eritreans face inside and outside Eritrea are beyond human imagination; that Eritreans, world governments and human rights organizations should join together to find a permanent solution. She begged everyone to do everything they can to stop this unforgivable crime against humanity. Mid-way during her speech she stopped and asked the audience to hear an audio conversation prepared by a BBC Journalist with an Eritrean held captive by the Bedouin in Sinai. The victim pleaded for immediate help and to pay his captures $20,000.00 for his release. He spoke about the hellish treatment by his captors and pleaded repeatedly the Bedouins will murder him soon unless someone comes up with the $20,000.00 ransom. Many of the audience wept and kept asking each other why does the world close its eyes and ears to such cruelty?
Ms. Chyrum also spoke about her travel to Djibouti and her visit to the prison to see the conditions of Eritrean prisoners of war. She spoke on the horrifying living condition of the prisoners. She indicated that several of the prisoners are suffering from ear, nose, throat, infections, high blood pressure, gastritis, asthma, kidney and mental conditions due to lack of proper medication. This is a summary of Ms. Chryum’s speech. To read her speech in its entirety, please visit: http://www.patriotledger.com/community/blogs/spiritual-cafe
The event also included testimonials of victims of human rights abuses in Eritrea and in Djibouti. Fourteen year old Meaza Petros Solomon told the audience of her cruel experience of growing up without her parents since both of them have been in prison for several years. She said that she does not remember her father because she was about two years old when her father was sent to prison. She told the audience she is willing to speak out anytime, anywhere, if it helps to expose and defeat the dictatorship in Eritrea.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday:
On Sunday, January 20, 2013, the Eritrean Community Center, along with Ms. Elizabeth Chyrum, celebrated the birthday of Dr. King. The Chairman of the Board of the Eritrean Community Center, Mr. Berhane Adhanom, opened the event by welcoming the audience. Soon after, young Eritrean-American students presented their written impression about the life and contributions of Dr. King. Present at the event was Ms. Jasiane Martinez, Director of the Office Refugees & Immigrants (ORI). She stated she was honored to be present for the occasion and thanked the Eritrean Community Center for organizing the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday. She said she was particularly touched by the impressive presentation of the young students and urged them to continue to be exemplary students. She reiterated that she will continue to assist in resettling Eritrean refugees and work with the Eritrean Community Center to resolve any concerns regarding the refugee resettlement programs. The event concluded with Ms. Chyrum’s eloquent presentation on the life and works of Dr. King and the lessons we should learn from his struggle to end the injustice in our country.