Open Letter to Shelia Keetharuth: HUMAN RIGHT SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR TO ERITREA
By: Dawit Ghebremedhin
Dear Ms. Shelia Keetharuth,
I am an 11-year old Eritrean boy who lives in the USA. I have been informed that you are a special rapporteur for the UN from Mauritius. Human Rights issue is a monumental subject. The notion of people deserving certain rights from the central government that runs their country, nation, etc. is not like a questioning commodity that has been established. I acknowledge and admire anyone discussing about the denial of this righteous asset. There are many human right problems in the world that deserve and should lure the attention and concern of all ages, including children like me. It is such a universal matter that the whole world should cooperate through open and potent communication. I am proud that a fellow and a mother African like you could express your opinions and share information about the human rights situation in Africa. But, when I actually read one of your reports it made me want to revolt.
One of the problems is your sources. You wrote a report on human rights in Eritrea based on feeble and phantom sources. You said that the country violated the rights of our people by not supplying the inhabitants of Eritrea basic needs such as food, clothing, civil rights, and jobs. Based on an unreliable research sources your report claimed that Eritrea also abused and seized Eritrean’s hospitality rights. Your report said that the country participated in judicial treason and various other forms of vile exploitation towards its residents. After reading your report I felt a lump in my throat. It triggered multiple displeasing emotions that beat my heart to debris. To read this report first as an Eritrean and second as a child and still try to hold my composure was a blessing. The lies, fabrications, and other inexcusable unfounded contents were unbelievable and completely unprofessional of a UN rapporteur. This brought me to my next question. Where did you get all these lies?
Our seventh grade teacher tells our class that even for us kids a solid research is a very essential thing to make a story reliable and believable. A well-founded and researched report stimulates and formulates whatever presentation we are doing. I can see that from the rating of your presentation you clearly had a terrible group of sources and weak research data. I was informed that you got your sources from Djibouti and Ethiopia. You claimed that you interviewed Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and Djibouti. It was very ironic that you got your information from places that in my opinion had nothing positive to contribute with what is in fact happening in Eritrea or to the peace process in the Horn. It was also ironic that you got your information from Ethiopia that cares for the privileged few Weyanies, while the rest of its own citizens languish in misery and poverty. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Djibouti on the other hand has no voice of its own; it is merely an army base for the U.S. and France. It is also very intriguing how many Eritrean-based organizations volunteered to be sources for your report but you refused and chose to go to Djibouti and Ethiopia perhaps running away from the truth and reach your or your sponsor countries predetermined agenda. This was a good example of how you were clearly just covering up your report that was already fabricated and manipulated to spread lies. This leads to my next segment of your classic saga of telling lies in the name of my dear country Eritrea, a young country being the content of your report.
As we all know after research consequently comes content in a report. The content in your report is despicable and disgusting. It really battered my heart. The two main things that you said about Eritrea was the lack of resources for the inhabitants of Eritrea, and the absence of civil rights in Eritrea, which led to people fleeing the country and unaided children crossing the border. The first portion that you had reported from Eritrea of discontent that is not allowed by the United Nations and should be concerned of is the lack of basic resources needed and deserved by a modern citizen of a country. You claimed that the government of Eritrea undermined all the aspects of basic human needs that are supposed to be given to or supplied to by the government. Things like jobs food and clothing where not being given by the government was what you claimed. This accusation was overly absurd. Eritrea is a country that fought a 30-year war in order to gain its independence for the people and the country. Independence by itself is one of the basic rights and needs required from a government to bring about peace and justice to its inhabitants. The country’s agriculture and industry was completely destroyed by Ethiopia and its backers in this 30-year war. It is a brutal insult to the people of Eritrea that we are abusers of our own people when it comes to giving them the basic needs when in fact the human and basic rights abusers of the Eritrean people continue to be Ethiopia and its foreign supporters.
The second segment of discontent from Eritrea that you reported was that we tormented the rights of our people through judicial treason and limited rights with no voices in the government. These were the general parts of the accusation you set upon Eritrea. You started to introduce our human right denials and abuse by first talking about the history of Eritrea and how it molded to be the structure and stabilization it is now. You said that after EPLF had freed Eritrea and became the government and that the PFDJ was the only political party allowed. So what? This was the most imprudent sentence that rung through my ears and was stippled by my eyes. Eritreans do not go by political parties as we see them in many countries, which are merely just labels to represent the elite, few but fail to perform their purpose in delivering the promise to the masses. We are a country where individuals are represented by their beliefs and this is why we are a country where the people are open-minded to speak freely to any wrongdoings, including the government. Criticism and self-criticism is our cultural value passed on from generations to generations, even to me as the youngest Eritrean generation. Our leaders in the government are as simple with modest means as any common Eritrean could be. We truly see that we are not part of political groups that divide us as people from each other but it is the personal notions and concepts that differentiate us as individuals, thus making us truly having thousands of political parties.
One of the other primary human right abuse topics you had where the equality of genders and how woman are treated unfairly in Eritrea which broke my heart. Eritrean women affirmed their rights and respect through armed struggle, and no one can take it. It was not dolled to them by some magical power or party but asserted through their own struggle. They are dedicated, brave, passionate, and patriotic woman without whom Eritrea could not have been defined and alive with its present name as a sovereign nation. Their brave daughters are taking over the torch of enlightenment and struggle and will pass it on to the next generation. To say that we treat our mothers, sisters, aunts, niece, etc. unfairly is a total disrespect that shatters my heart and the heart of Eritrea. For you to say our women who are the mountain of this country are treated unfairly is very irrational.
Another topic you wrote about in your report was minority rights. You said that some ethnic groups of our country such as Afar, Kunama, and Tigre were not treated fairly and were abused with many hostile things such as rape. You must be in another universe if this is the case. Or you must be in the past where Eritrea and its people as a whole were abused by the three countries that colonized us (Italy, Britain, and Ethiopia supported by the US). Or you must be talking about another country. Perhaps Ethiopia who are true examples of denying minority rights and have a monumental amount of records of being abusive to all ethnic groups except for a few. They are true examples of this so-called report that represents injustice.
With regard to the topic on freedom of religion, you said that only four types of religions/beliefs were allowed in the country of Eritrea. Blatantly you did not write this report painstakingly because this is totally not true. It is just a mere circumstance that Eritrea is 50% Christian and 50% Muslim. If you are Eritrean it does not matter what religion you are. It matters of what your character is and whether you represent yourself with dignity to be judged in Eritrea. But never will we judge you by your religion, as this is a direct violation of our Dear God’s beliefs.
Another topic you discussed was freedom of movement. You claimed that it was very hard to transport through Eritrea and in and out of Eritrea. This was ridiculous. I have traveled in and out of Eritrea total of four times and when I was in Eritrea I had no problem going from city to city enjoying the beautiful land as a guest and as my country. In fact there were no such EZ pass or cash toll payments in order to travel on the roads from one segment of Eritrea to another, as you are free to roam the land. So please excuse yourself with this false writing.
On the issue of economic, social and cultural rights, you said that we failed to reach standards of living where the government was unable to support the majority of the people. I don’t know if you understand that we are the second youngest country in the world and still developing. In fact we are one of the fastest developing and advancing countries in the world considering the human, social and economic destruction caused by colonizers and occupiers. Our government tries to produce from below zero the best habitat for the inhabitants building schools, hospitals, roads, water dams and other fundamental things. And you are unfortunately on the occupying and destroying side instead of the building side.
Another topic you wrote was right to life and extra judicial killings. You said that we do not let our people live in a capacity where we have freedom, which is a total disrespect to our martyrs who fought in a 30-year struggle to drive out human rights abusers and colonizers and to grasp freedom for the people. It was a popular peoples’ movement with every citizen participating even as young as 16. Talk about extra judicial killings. We are not part of that category. The popular peoples’ movement continues. We are a country that respects our people’s rights and you can see it through the smiles of our people if you care to meet the people in the country.
In the case of international and regional context, you said that we interfered in border issues with Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan yet this is not true. In fact the border treaty of 2002 between Eritrea and Ethiopia where the UN sponsored Border Commission decided on the borderlines between Eritrea and Ethiopia has in fact been violated by Ethiopia. As Ethiopia has been occupying our land for 11 years, the people who live there have been treated with hostile actions. They have been tortured in slave camps yet the UN Security Council choose to ignore that illegal act and instead tries to make something out of nothing by accusing us through a sanction using a border dispute with Djibouti as a pretext. It is pity that you are part of this fabricated game to sanction and deprive the people of Eritrea including women and children. May be unaware but through these fabricated sanctions you are partly causing pain and suffering on women and children that you claim to protect. As a woman you should have championed to remove the sanction and protect the rights of women and children like me, but you failed miserably.
Another topic that really angered me was the topic you wrote about freedom of expression where you said that our government would not let the people of Eritrea express themselves freely. This is another total disrespect to our martyrs who fought for not just physical freedom but freedom in all aspects. This is a feeble indictment, for the people of Eritrea are the government of Eritrea. We run our country because together we create the potent voice of Eritrea. No way will we allow the absence of basic human rights. And we say never again for foreign occupiers and oppressors with evil designs on Eritrea and its people. We know that you overly exaggerated this article and all the points were extremely weak and were not true. In fact the nation that runs the syndicate that you work for are destroyers of human rights as they have a racial caste system through mass incarceration. Why don’t you write about those types of pure examples of denying human rights? Even Ethiopia is an example yet you choose to make a lie out of a growing and flowing newborn country. We Eritreans who are not lenient on fabricated and cooked information know that these are just lies to undermine the forward moving and independent, in its truest sense, Eritrea. Eritrea is a nation standing proud against all odds. We will keep pushing. Just know that we understand you are just collecting your paycheck and do not understand what truly aspires in Eritrea. You are just the puppet of the silly notions that your superiors try to foil. They just reflect the personalities and quantity of honor you embrace.
Chris Hedges wrote a book about true human right denials such as the destruction of the infrastructures of natives Americans in South Dakota. Michelle Alexandria wrote a book about true Human Right denials such as the mass incarceration of minorities of America mainly blacks and Hispanics yet that’s ignored in your conceptual framework or literature. You are a shame to yourself, family, country and Africa hoping you have one. We, young Eritreans, will never forget your diabolic deeds. Trying to destroy a generation of Eritrean people trying to build their newborn country and consequently attempting to destroy a new civilization and human dignity is a disgusting unfortunate thing. You could have been a prestigious character being an independent African woman speaking the truth yet you choose these fabricated lies. You try but your frail attempts will never destroy the golden castle of Eritrea. You will never break the spirit of Eritrea for it is built with the hundred thousands of martyrs - women, men and children - who gave up their precious lives to independence, freedom, justice and development.
We, young and future Eritrean generations, say never again to foreign colonizers, occupiers, oppressors and human rights abusers and their puppets that our mother and father fighters defeated once and for all!