Eritreans in Oakland, CA held Candle Light Vigil for Italy Boat Victims

October 5, 2013


The entire world and in particular Eritreans watched and heard with horror the images of dead Eritreans off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy.  Images of several bodies lifelessly lying at the shore have been displayed all over Facebook.  Other images shown include those of people who were found alive looking gravely injured and a young exhausted woman with an oxygen mask. 

Eritreans from all over the Bay Area frustrated over the news and these images immediately rallied together to honor the victims found dead off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy.  Most of the victims have yet to be identified, yet several reports indicate that majority of the victims were young Eritreans in search of a better life. Stories and pictures of the victims are slowly emerging on Facebook and other news sources. 

More than 100 American-Eritreans gathered at the intersection of Telegraph and 51st street in Oakland, CA for Saturday’s vigil to pray, light candles, show support for all the families and friends of the victims.  The people gathered were mourning the loss of young lives with all their dreams and hopes.  Several were moved to tears as speakers provided details of the accident. Others who attended the candlelight hope that this is a wake up call for all Eritreans.

Eritreans have faced many tragedies in recent years.  In 2011, approximately 400 victims mainly Eritreans died in a similar circumstances.  In 2012, several Eritreans suffered and were killed in the Sinai dessert.    These incidents are in addition to the ones that do not capture the headlines.  It is believed that there are several other victims that die crossing the Mediterranean Sea or the Sinai dessert to escape the brutal dictatorship in Eritrea. 

Participants of the candle vigil night said that all these deaths are starting to take a toll on the community and this incident has brought the community in Oakland together. Eritrean-Americans are searching for ways to end the root cause of these unnecessary deaths.  Several organizations including, Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC) are grateful for the Italian authorities that continue to search for more victims.  In addition, EYSC is urging that the Eritrean government, through its Embassy in Rome, cooperate with the international community and provide these Eritrean citizens a final resting place in their homeland.  

In closing remarks one of the speakers asked that Eritreans all over the world do more than candle light vigil to honor these vicitims.  He added, “we know the cause: it is the oppression, brutal dictatorship of Isaias Afeworki, and we need to work hard to bring about change otherwise we will continue to have several candle light vigils for more victims”
During the event flyers that explains what happened to our brothers and sisters in the Mediterranean Sea and why it happened was been distributed to those non Eritrean  mostly  Americans whom were walking by the event place.

Candle Vigil Organizing Committee-Oakland.


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