Eritrean Sanction and Little Boy Dawit Daniel

By Amanuel Biedemariam

On a cold snowy day in February 22 of 2010, Eritreans from around the world and the US gathered in front of the Whitehouse and State Department to denounce the unjust sanction. They demonstrated to demand the repeal of the illegal and UNjust sanction the US authored and implemented against the people and government of Eritrea. Thousands showed up. Most took a day-off from work to voice their opposition. College students sacrificed and parents allowed their kids to skip class for a day in order to join that momentous Eritrean event. Eritreans from all walks of life, young and old, congregated to register their objection to the decision the UNSC made in the name of global security. Amongst them, a charismatic eight years old boy named Dawit stood out in a historic way.

The sanction measure was adopted in the name of an international body, the AU. However, for those who follow the events of the region it was easy to see who the key players and what their intentions were. Eritreans have followed the events that established the foundation to make the case for the sanction from the beginning until the sanction measure was put in place. The whole idea was hatched by the US State Department Africa desk which at the time was under the control of the Dr. Jendayi Frazer. Her initial goal was to put Eritrea in the List of Countries that sponsor terrorism. However, that met a stiff opposition in the US congress because they saw the absurdity of the lies that did not connect with the reality in the ground. Therefore, she proceeded to the next best thing, to slap sanctions on Eritrea however possible. This was taking place on the wee-hours of the Bush Administration and during the 2008 US election.

At the time, Nov 11, 2008, I posted an article on response to a hearing the US/Dr. Frazer staged under the auspices of the UN. I called the article High Tech Lynching of Eritrea. An excerpt:

On October 23rd, the UNSC staged a hearing about a border dispute between Djibouti

and Eritrea. The hearing was conducted because on June 12, 2008, Djibouti alleged Eritrean forces seized her territories militarily. On June 13 2008, a day later a call to urge Eritrea to withdraw immediately; and without examination or investigation, voices of condemnation reigned on Eritrea from the US and friends. “Their statements were suspicious, well coordinated, unjustified, fabricated and misleading. For the seasoned observer of the region however, it is clear this was fabricated and part of a much bigger agenda. There was no motive, evidence or genuine effort to understand and present a resolution. And there was not an established mechanism and ability to validate the claims made by Djiboutian authorities.”

The statement above is a clear starting point for the lies the UNSC based its sanction decision on Eritrea. In fact, the lies were eerily similar to the farce claim the Bush Administration spewed leading up-to the disastrous Iraq war that turned world opinion against the US. The US, under George Bush, pursued an aggressive unilateral policy that bullied nations into following US lead by any means necessary. And unfortunately, the hubris with which the failed Bush Administration pursued its strategic goals in the Horn of Africa resulted in genocides. Thousands were killed, millions were displaced and social infrastructures decimated for decades to come. However, when the Obama campaign preached change, engagement and the audacity of hope; Eritreans and the region were hoping for a new attitude and a change of direction by the US.

The region was hungry for peace and stability. But unfortunately for the region, the new Obama Administration appointed an over zealot hawkish Susan Rice as US Ambassador to the UN. Ambassador Rice embraced President Bush’s aggressive policies. And more importantly, President Obama elevated the UN Ambassadorship into a cabinet level position independent from any congressional scrutiny and impediments and freed her to make and implement decisions. That meant the Obama Administration pursued a more aggressive policy than his predecessor. And a year after Ambassador Rice came to power; she succeeded to slapping UNjust sanction on Eritrea based on fabrications and trumped up unfounded accusations.

Worse yet, it was sad to see the US took such a step on Christmas Eve and to deliver the news to Eritreans and the world in a most dismissive tone. Ambassador Rice told Eritreans and the world on Christmas Eve:

“I want to talk about the resolution we just adopted imposing sanctions on Eritrea. This was an African initiative. It was the consequence of a decision taken by the African Union.”

This statement is a revealing testimony that Ambassador Rice and in effect the US, is trying to deceive the world and Eritreans. Here is why: Firstly, and according to the UNSC charter; the UNSC is the principal organ that can carry out decisions on matters of international security. No other organization has authority or mandate to carry out such decisions. Secondly, it was disappointing to see the Obama Administration use a disgraceful excuse to pretend justice was being served on behalf of an international security body based on a “demand of the majority.” In this case, Africans represented-by the African Union. However, here is the fact: If it was up to the majority, Ambassador Rice and President Obama will still be slaves. And the sad part is President Obama is a constitutional scholar well versed on why minority rights need to be respected. Yet, that is how President Obama and Ambassador Rice have decided to bestow their injustice on the people of Africa in this case Eritreans. The intent is an attempt to systematically decapitate Eritrea into serfdom.

That is what motivated little Dawit Daniel, an eight year old boy, to skip class, join the demonstration and to express his views. He got up on the stage picked-up the microphone and tapped on it to make sure the sound is ok and asked the participants; “can you hear me?”... This young boy was covered by an Eritrean flag from head to toe as he stood on a stage that was facing the State Department. This is what he said:

“First, I just want to say a couple of reasons why I thank God; first, I thank God that I am part of Eritrea, people that care about their country more than anything else…and I thank God… we are all here…, because at the end of the day…we are going to make difference.” Dawit was fully aware that his presence can and will make a difference. Pumping as if he is getting ready for a fight; little Dawit continued…” Why you people are wondering why an eight year old is here in a school day because school is a priority…? I am here so people can hear my voice about what I think about the UNJUST sanction.”…

Making it clear to all why he was standing there. After a few comments and, questioning the reasons why the US and the British pushed for the sanctions he stated that these sanction have no legal basis. He went on…If the UN was to use a border dispute to justify the sanction…he asked; why didn’t the UN sanction Ethiopia while is violating a legal and binding decision? Please note this is eight year old kid asking. Continued:

…” also...I want to give a message to Barack Obama. Ok…, you know…; when you were running for president…I…loved you! You were my leader. I followed you on every stump. You were my role model. But then…, the happiness you gave me…; turned into sadness…During the inauguration… you said, you will give hand to those countries who want to make peace…Eritreans are making peace in the best way they could…how come…, you don’t give hand to Eritrea?”

This is a kid that felt betrayed by his hero.

…” I want to give a message to Susan Rice. First, you give us a present that is the sanction and then you said; you…care for us…!? Stop trying to fool us because Eritreans have gone through a thirty year war. You can’t fool us. We learned a lot of experiences…so.”

Dawit’s statements were a reaction to calloused and disingenuous statements Ambassador Susan Rice made when she announced the sanction decision on Christmas Eve. Quote:

“The United States stands with the people of Eritrea who have fought long and hard for their independence and to build a country in which we have great hope for the future. Thank you.”

Dawit is right to call-out Ambassador Rice. The US has never sided with the good people of Eritrea. To the contrary, it is the US that drowned the people of Eritrea into a quick-sand of colonialism by an African country while consciously denying Eritreans a right to self determination. The US handed Eritrea to Ethiopia for its own strategic considerations. That is a historic fact that Ambassador Rice knows well. Furthermore, Ambassador Rice was disingenuous to claim the US stands with the people of Eritrea after slapping sanctions that attempt to tie Eritrea’s hands while at conflict with a very hostile neighbor, Ethiopia - a country that survives on US aid almost entirely. And contrary to her claims, the US is hell bent on seeing Eritrea weakened and is a subservient to their client State, Ethiopia.

Concluding remarks

Imagine being sentenced to death without legal representation; imagine being convicted without a due process and imagine; once convicted, there is no process or mechanism for appeal. That is what the Obama Administration and the UNSC did to Eritrea. They sanctioned Eritrea based on trumped-up, fabricated and unsubstantiated accusations. What is ironic is, the US is a full participant in all that is taking place in the region or Somalia. The US, with a rogue ally Meles Zenawi, invaded Somalia and took part on the mayhem that took the lives of thousands and displaced millions unnecessarily. Somalia is awash with armaments in large part with arms supplied by the criminal regime in Ethiopia. This is a public record. In addition, the US, while claiming to support the final and binding Hague decision, has been supporting Ethiopia, a country that is occupying sovereign Eritrean territories in violation of international laws. Yet that is the kind of justification the powers to be fabricated to justify their sanction on Eritrea.

The decision to sanction Eritrea was a clear exposure of the injustices and failures of the UNSC led by the US. It was an overreach, and irresponsible abuse of power. The reason to sanction Eritrea has nothing to do with global security, regional security, the stability of Somalia or a border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. It is a punitive measure designed to chip-away at the strength and stability of Eritrea.

Unfortunately, Eritreans have learned this the hard way. Eritreans have suffered for decades and paid dearly with the lives of hundreds of thousands of Eritrean lives for decades. Millions have been displaced and scattered everywhere around the world as a result of these injustices. However, Eritreans have learned to turn this tragic imposition of injustice into a positive experience. Eritreans have learned to challenge them -united and effectively, regardless where they are and, regardless of the impediments they encounter in their daily lives. That is their salvation and hallmark.

It is that spirit that propels Eritreans young and old to face these challenges. That is why the little Dawits of Eritrea are sprouting incensed and ready to tell the world of this bullying perpetrated in the name of justice, democracy, stability and terrorism. They are ready to stand up to do what it takes to reverse the UNjust sanction and to campaign the US and the UN to stop their hostile unfair approach toward Eritrea.

On 20 November 2010, on the sanction’s one year anniversary Eritreans around the world will be launching the 30 days of Action for Eritrea, to call on the Barack Obama Administration and the United Nations to annul and repeal the unfair and unjust Resolution 1907 (2009) that imposed sanctions on the people of Eritrea.

Eritreans know they can not rest until this injustice is reversed. Thus, they have decided to reach out, in any way they can, to their communities at all levels be it local, regional or nationwide.

“The Illegal & UNjust Sanction must be Repealed, and repealed NOW”!