A small project has received a lot of attention. The team worked on the project to bring back to public attention the causes of Eritrean detainees whose offense is a mere exercise of their fundamental rights and freedoms. These detainees have not been afforded fair trial. Thus, the publicity is not out of order. The team extends its gratitude to all who contributed in publicity especially Mohamed Keita from the CPJ, Tesfaldet Meharena of Asmarino Independent, Amannuel Eyasu of Assena, Abdurahman A/said (Bohashem) of CDRiE and Arkakobay and Yoel Alem of EMDHR.
Now the team’s worry is that expectation is high and the team wants to moderate the expectation by revealing to the public that the film will have several inadequacies in acting, directing … etc. Consumed in logistical arrangements, some of the role players did not even have time to read the manuscript more than once. And there was no director - someone who can look at the work from a viewer’s perspective. There was almost no budget for this project although the filming industry requires millions of dollars in investment – see chart below. To think of filming without having a single session for rehearsal, equipment testing and with limited resource is thus an ambitious venture. It became reality (definitely quality is compromised) because the assistance, moral and/or material of several people who deserve acknowledgment.
The Walkers of Phoenix (Mr. and Mrs. Dave Walker) have contributed a lot. They let the team use their house (as big as the building of the Ministry of Justice of Eritrea) for accommodation and courthouse. The team used all they have to turn their villa into a courthouse. They spent weeks cooking and stacking food in freezers for the team. They left the city to make more space for the team not even bothered to be around to check how their house is being handled. In addition, they donated $600 and did all they could to reach potential funders.
Thomas Paine, a young student, was with the team with his excellent camera for a week working patiently as the team argues and at times fights on how it should go about shooting. Thomas was also giving ride to the team everywhere the team wanted to go. Likewise, Nathan Levinsky also helped the team with cameras and transportation. Roze and Candace, professional film-makers, gave the team two video cameras, several DV cassettes and importantly their priceless advice.
Prof William Paul Simmons, Director of the MA Program in Social Justice and Human Rights at the Arizona State University (ASU), left his new car for two weeks for the team and he did his best to help invite participants. The team also thanks Tosha M. Ruggles, M.Ed Program Coordinator of the same university for her encouragement. Prof. Patricia Clark provided the team with audio-visual recording materials, video editing studio and valuable advice. Prof. Patricia, expert in video production, is not yet discharged and she will have a heavy task of editing. For his encouragement, the team is also grateful to Dr. Michael Stancliff, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.
The Sandra Day O’Conner College of Law of ASU gave the team courtroom facilities for three days. In this regard the team is grateful to Prof. Laura Dickinson, professor of international human rights law and Suzanne Morris, Business Manager of the college for their assistance and friendliness.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix donated $1280.35. Hundreds of Phoenicians contributed $5/10 each. The good intention of these people is duly appreciated. The team is specifically grateful to Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray.
Janice Brunson, Ellie Anderla, Betty Sayler, Bobbi McGinn and Emily Taylor contributed $50 each. Julie Smart contributed $30. Gretchen Manker donated a free plane ticket (worth of $300) and Judge Kathy Kruse contributed $250 towards tickets. Bohashem and Dr. Yebio from CDRiE contributed $50 each and they are still raising funds from members. Three Eritrean fathers, who thought their contribution is small to be mentioned, contributed $700 in reply to a simple email. Many of the team members paid for their tickets or contributed equivalent in cash.
The Eritrean Youths for Change donated $300 and participated by sending a member, former judge Yonas Debesai. Daniel Towelde, a member of the Eritrean Youths Renaissance in DC, contributed $500. Daniel adheres to kab saesaekas tequotsatse and he did everything to make the work fine despite he was too involved in the EGS events in DC. The presence of Tesfaalem Debesai was very helpful. His gently personality fitted to president of the High Court.
The trial observers deserve gratitude for attentively following for several hours. The team is grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Gray Bevirt, their daughter Maggi, and Janice Brunson who also brought with her several Eritrean refugees recently resettled in Phoenix from Shimelba. Mohamed Keita came all the way from New York and covered half of his ticket to observe the trials. Ideas came in the middle of the shooting, they received quick approval and the team forced Mohamed to play a role. What a nice person Mohamed is!
Emily Taylor played several roles: a trial observer, a reporter, a cook and an organizer. In addition, Emily did all the driving to pickup and drop-off participants at the airport. Something must be said about Adia Kidane whom the team intercepted in New York and have her come and participate. Aida came to the States from Sweden for a visit and she abandoned some of her plans with her family to make time for the filming. Aida is engaged in documentations and the team will explore what is already in her possession.
On a short notice Meron Estefanos came from Sweden too with a baby just six months old (Nathan). Because the team is financially tight, Meron was forced to spend 24 hours in a plane and airports before she reached Phoenix. Worst, on her return she had 11 hours transit time. Her commitment is really uplifting. Nathan hardly needed a baby sitter.
Weldeslassie Abera’s family in Phoenix donated big injera and different kind of Eritrean stew. Weldeslassie drove the team here and there when needed and the team is grateful to have his daughter, Hermona, who is just 16 and participated as senior clerk. It is important to mention that Weldeslassie is from the Eritrean Peoples Party. The team is also honoured to have Abraham Yohannes and Menghis from Phoenix as trial observers.
Prof. Dan Connell in collaboration with Maria M. Aguiar, Global Program Director of Grassroots International, attempted to get the team some funds through Grassroots International for which the team is thankful. The team also acknowledges the attention it received from the American Embassy in Asmara through Ajani Husbands, Political/Economic Officer. The team is pleased to get encouraging support from the New York Bar Association’s Committee on African Affairs through Elizabeth Barad. The encouragement of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria (Pretoria, South Africa) and the MA Program in Social Justice and Human Rights at West Campus of the Arizona State University is duly noted. The team has honoured these two institutions by placing them as amicus curiae.
The team also thanks Mr. Fenta Tiruneh, reference librarian at the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress in DC for getting us important documents. Fenta went extra steps to scan and send the documents to the team.
Many other Eritreans supported the project but declined acknowledgment for obvious reasons. The team has appreciated their help.
Simon M Weldehaimanot and Semere Kesete
For the team
For better viewing see table of donations to and expenses of the Mock Trials Project
|I.#||Contributor||Amount In Cash||Amount in Kind||Remark|
|Daniel Towelde||$500||His air ticket NYC-Ph-NYC - $284.20|
|Gretchen L Manker||Air ticket NYC-Ph-NYC - $ 284.20||Simon has used this|
|Libby & Dave Walker||$600||House accommodation and meals for a week for the entire film crew|
|Emily Taylor||$50||Lunch and breakfast for the film crew and driving|
|Prof Bill (William Simmons)||Car for transport for the filming week|
|New college of the ASU West||7 Judges Gowns|
|Sandra Day O’Conner Law School, Arizona State University||Courtroom facilities|
|Prof. Patricia Clark||Audio-visual recording materials, video editing studio and valuable advises|
|Thomas Paine||A video camera, transport assistance and shooting the entire footage|
|Roze and Candace||Valuable advice on filming technicalities and 2 video cameras and cassettes|
|Nathan Levinsky||Transportation, helping shooting and camera|
|Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix||$1280.35|
|Eritrean Youths for Change||$300|
|Mr. Theclat||$200||The three un named Eritrean elders|
|Mr. Mr. Kachorsp||$200|
|Mr. Tmotec Tdopas||$300|
|Yonas Debesai||$160 His plane ticket|
|Tesfa-alem Debesai||$219.20 His plane ticket|
|Mohamed Keita||$170 Half of his plane ticket|
|Meron Estefanos||$ 155|
|Weldeselase Abera’s Family||Lunch and Dinner for the entire crew|
|Huruy||Lunch for the entire crew|
|Aida Kidane’s Ticket||$307.20|
|Mohammed S. Ticket||$294.20|
|5 Judicial wigs||$78.94|
|3 Eritrean flag||$18.48|
|Printing the manuscript (800 pages)||$75|
|Food and drinks for the crew at the law school and in other places and gas||+ $400|
|Sony DVC-60 PR/5 Premium Minidv Videocassette (5Pack)||$88.55|
The balance (donations – expenses) is being used for editing. A final financial statement will be issued in due course.