May 24 –Eritrean Youth Movement (Egypt): The birth of “Hope”

Our tribute, respect and salute to the “May 24 – Eritrean Youth Movement (Egypt)”, for their second successful historical event. Just one month ago, on May 22nd,   2011 they conducted a very successful demonstration in front of Eritrean Embassy in Cairo, for the first time in Egypt after Eritrean independence. The demonstration was attended by hundreds of Eritreans composed of youth, women, men and children who shouted the demands of their legitimate rights. This historical day marked the solidarity and support day of our oppressed compatriots inside and outside Eritrea. The first demonstration’s slogan was: “defending and supporting of the oppressed” and it marks a milestone in the history of resistance against the PFJD and their puppets outside Eritrea. 

The second demonstration was conducted on June 20th, 2011 (Eritrean Martyr’s Day), attended by hundreds of Eritreans in front of the “Press Union in Cairo” in protest and demand of the legitimate rights of the Eritrean people i.e. demise of the regime, write a new constitution and the release of all prisoners of conscience and to materialize the principles of social justice and freedom. This second demonstration and protest received extensive media coverage and some newspapers reported the historical event extensively.

Mr. Fathi Zard, from the Qatari newspaper “Al Arab” reported on the 21/06/2011 issue, saying:

The protesters, who call themselves “May 24 – Eritrean Youth Movement”, came to the stance of mourning for the lives of the Eritrean martyrs of liberation from the Ethiopian occupation. The 20th of June 2011 marks the “Martyrs’ Day” after 20 years of Eritrean independence.        The Eritrean youth demanded the Eritrean regime several of the demands voiced by the youth of the Egyptian Revolution. They presented several demands as the ones asked by the Egyptian revolutionaries and came in the forefront the following:

  • To provide political reforms leading to freedom and democracy on the political life in  Eritrea.  
  •  Eritrea to be governed by a constitution that emanates from the will of the people.
  •  The immediate release of all prisoners of conscience who are languishing in the regime’s prisons since tens of years. 
  • The “Youth Movement” also called for the provision of social justice and safeguards the dignity of the Eritrean citizens. 

In the same context Mr. Aman Yasin (a member of the Eritrean Youth Movement) confirmed to the “Al-Arab” by saying: The aim behind this publication is to raise the awareness and consciousness of the Eritrean people to the importance of freedom and democracy, amid the “Arab Spring” of revolutions sweeping the Arab and African countries.
He added that the movement had already organized a protest outside the Eritrean Embassy in Cairo and we have submitted our demands to the Eritrean ambassador, Osman Omar who refused to receive our written demands, then we attached them on the Embassy’s door  ​​to be seen by the officials there.

Mr. Ali Hassan from the Egyptian Arabic newspaper “Youm7”   issued on June 20, 2011 wrote:  Eritrean refugees organized a protest in front of the “Press Union” building in Cairo, on Monday evening, to commemorate the Eritrean martyr’s day. They demanded the enacting of a constitution that stems from the will of the people, and condemned the blocking of TV channels that broadcast news of Arab world revolutions, all means of communication and the Internet to prevent the will of the people from being influenced by the popular uprisings in the region. The Eritrean refugees stood in front of the “Press Union” and exposed flags of Eritrea and denounced the deportation by Egyptian authorities of 45 Eritrean refugees on board of several flights over the past two weeks, without allowing the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to interview them, stating that the deported will face either killing or arrest by the Eritrean authorities. The Eritrean authorities prevent citizens from moving between cities without government permission, for fear of the people’s uprising against the regime.

After the demonstration for several hours outside the “Press Union” building, the Eritrean protesters attended the symposium arranged by Egyptian Press Union in collaboration with the Eritrean May 24, Youth Movement. Several Egyptian human right activists, researchers (from Egyptian Research Centers) and Eritrean men and women presented their papers. A  Session on Africa was held at the Press Union on Monday evening after the demonstration. Several people presented their speech and to mention few examples, we present the following excerpts.

Mr. Malik Adly, Egyptian human right activist from the Hisham Mubarak center, said: The Egyptian regime  should change its outlook towards the African people, demanding the file of the refugee affairs to be handled outside the state security apparatus, and to be affiliated with the Ministry of Solidarity or the Foreign Ministry. It should be handled away from the dictatorial state security system which had close relationship with the dictatorial regimes in Africa that are producing many of the refugees who escape from being imprisoned simply for criticizing the oppressive regimes.”

Dr. Badr Hasen El-Shafei, researcher at the Institute of African affairs mentioned that the previous regime failed to give the necessary attention to the Nile Basin countries, even within COMESA, and the level of import and export dropped significantly despite the ease of communication through the Red Sea.

Ms. Fatima Aman an Eritrean activist, who represented the Eritrean women, presented an excellent speech about the crimes, difficulties and hardships facing women in Eritrea, under the dictatorial regime. She said: The dictatorial regime forces the Eritrean women to participate in military service and make them climb mountains and if they refuse or fail to execute orders they are subject to prison or murder.  I wonder why is this happening to the Eritrean women?  She confirmed about the injustice falling on girls, especially during the military service, pointing out that mothers are imprisoned because they refused to let their daughters go for rigorous military training camps.

Ms. Fatima added that women had been humiliated because they tried hard to preserve their entity and dignity. After independence women were neglected because they said “no” to oppression, consequently have been fallen upon them injustice, grief and the most heinous crimes. They are being abused and used as private properties in the hands of the officials and generals of the Eritrean army. If she accepts and gives up forcefully and executes commands of the officials, she survives a lot of penalties and punishments. If she is able to escape and flees the country, her mother is imprisoned. Also several of the youngsters are exposed to death by risking their lives by drowning and death while trying to escape from Eritrea to different countries of the world. She also demanded the honest and sincere Egyptians to stand at the side of the Eritrean people, to say “no” to the regime’s injustice and to say “no” to the humiliation of the Eritrean citizens. Ms. Fatima announced her support of “May 24 Movement” to liberate Eritrea from the oppressive regime.

Why is Egypt, so important to the Eritrean history?

Historically Egypt played crucial roles in the history of the Eritrean people and it had directly or indirectly some influence and below are few examples of such roles.

Egypt had been a center for “education” for more than 100 years, and thousands of Eritreans went there for education on foot, river, sea and planes. It was the center of enlightenment and very crucial events initiated from Egypt which had great effect and influence on Eritrean history.

The foundation of the Eritrean Students Union in Cairo, in 1952, was the first Eritrean students union outside Eritrea. This union was/is the center of illumination and culture for the Eritrean people. It was the center of Eritrean nationalism, resistance and opposition especially during the early stages of our revolution. Eritrean politicians such as Ato Woldeab Woldemariam, Sheikh Ibrahim Sultan, Sheikh Khiar Hassen and Sheikh Idris Mohamed Adem were living as political refugees in Egypt and it was a center of great political activity for the development of the Eritrean nationalism and resistance.

The ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front) was established in July 1960 in Cairo (Egypt) led by Eritrean politicians and students. Hundreds of students and graduates from Egypt initiated and joined the Eritrean revolutions in all ranks and files as leaders and soldiers.

Several historical events happened in Egypt (Cairo) amongst them, the attack on the Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo.  The Eritrean students attacked the Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo on 12/11/1962.  The British newspaper “Observer” posted on 18/11/1962 the event by stating:

The Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo shot the Eritrean students and wounded two students and one Embassy guard, when more than 100 Eritrean students demonstrated in front of the Ethiopian Embassy against the union of Eritrea with Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Embassy (Meles Andom ) claimed he shot in fear from the demonstrators to defend himself. The three wounded people were taken to one of the Cairo hospitals. (Source: Kifah Eritrea page 162)

We would like to present our respect and appreciation to the May 24 – Eritrean Youth Movement, for all their commitments, devotion and loyalty and for all their successful efforts. Now after the departure and uprooting of the dictatorial regime of Mubarak, Egypt once again became the center of enlightenment and “hope” for the Eritrean people.

 Congratulations… to our young heroes in Egypt and all over the world for their national awareness and uprising. You are the future and hope of our free and independent Eritrea, and the Eritrean people are awaiting and expecting a lot from you…be ready to be up to the challenge and bear your historical responsibility, because you represent the birth of “hope” to our people.

Farajat Team

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