Petition Letter By Eritrean Anti Tyranny Global Solidarity

Petition Letter
By Eritrean Anti Tyranny Global Solidarity
Feb 22, 2006, 15:50 PST
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Awate Foundation – P.O.Box 580312 – Elk Grove, CA 95758 – 0006 U. S. A.

To:            The governments of all Member States of the European Union
                  The government of the United States
                  The government of Canada
                  The government of Japan
                  The government of Australia

If this is how he treats the powerful, how do you think he treats the powerless citizens under his control?


Isaias Afwerki’s shoddy treatment of Dr. Jendayi Frazer, America’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, is not the exception, but the rule in the oppressive regime’s modus operandi. Many analysts have given various interpretations to this behavior that has antagonized distinguished diplomats from America, Canada, Italy, France, Ghana and others. His regime has: 

• accused former Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, Dr. Susan Rice, of being naive and inexperienced;
• accused Mr. Anthony Lake, President Clinton’s Special Envoy to Eritrea-Ethiopia, of being a spy and saboteur;
• accused Mr. Koffi Anan, Secretary General of the United Nations, of conspiring with Ethiopia against Eritrea and of malevolence for merely stating that Eritrea needs food;
• expelled EU Ambassador to Eritrea, Mr. Antonio Bandini, for demanding that Eritrea comply with the Cotonou Agreement;
• refused to meet with UNSC envoy, Canada’s Lloyd Axeworthy;
• refused to meet another UNSC envoy, Jean-Marie Guehenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. 

Many analysts have given various interpretations to this behavior: that it is understandable frustration with the slow pace of demarcation or that this behavior is typical of Eritreans “prickly” or “stubborn” nature. Both assessments are erroneous.


The behavior of Isaias and his regime is contrary to the norm of Eritrea’s culture which welcomes all guests, friends and even foes, with generous hospitality. Eritreans, even those of modest means, are extravagant in displaying affection and hospitality to guests and the behavior of Isaias tells us nothing about Eritrea or Eritreans but everything about the dictator and the brutish culture he is imposing on Eritrea.

The second conclusion, that the behavior is due to frustration with the pace of demarcation, ignores the behavior of the Isaias regime before, during and after the war with Ethiopia. His regime has persecuted, tortured, arrested and exiled any individual or group of individuals—parliamentarians, journalists, elderly, religious leaders, reformers, university students—who were in any position to demand accountability for his disastrous policies. 

Throughout his reign (1991-present), Isaias Afwerki has been able to position himself as the indispensable ally of the west in the Horn of Africa. It is this “pro-West card” that has inoculated him from domestic public opinion which increasingly views him for what he is: a dictator with unrestrained powers.


Demarcation between Eritrea and Ethiopia is inevitable if there is political will in both nations to demarcate their border. What is required is an environment that provides the incentive for both people to have a win-win solution and one that doesn’t deteriorate into a skirmish a week after the markers are put in place. After all, the UN is not expected to remain in the area indefinitely to monitor the border. What is undeniable is that whether the border is demarcated or not, there will be no lasting peace in the region as long as Isaias Afwerki is in power.

Those who have extended and continue to extend political and economic support to the Isaias regime need to ask themselves: if Isaias is this callous towards powerful nations who are in a position to help him, how ruthless is he to ordinary people who are merely suspected of harboring dissenting views?

It is long overdue for the West to come to terms with the fact that its assessment has been entirely wrong. Isaias Afwerki is not a positive factor for stability in the Horn of Africa; he is the primary cause of its instability. He is unaccountable to anyone, politically corrupt and ruthless in pursuing any measure that protects his power. And if the Western nations want to be taken seriously when promoting ideals of freedom and democracy, they need to disassociate themselves from Isaias Afwerki, assess him for the tyrant that he is, and establish relationships with Eritrean opposition organizations that are struggling to safeguarding human rights, political pluralism and liberty.

While the punitive measures taken by the US against the Isaias regime (following the State Department’s classification of Eritrea under Isaias Afwerki rule as “a country of particular concern” as well as his exclusion from the African Growth and Opportunity Act) are commendable, they are mere tokens and disproportionate to the magnitude of the abuse of the Isaias regime. The West needs to take additional pressure to bear, including: 

A ban on entry visas to all Isaias regime officials who seek to travel to Western nations;
Curtailing the regime’s ability to raise funds in foreign countries;
Stopping its covert and overt international commercial, banking and other enterprises.
Assist in lifting the campaign of intimidation the Isaias regime imposes on Eritreans living in the Western nations. 

The Eritrean people will bring about change in Eritrea on their own. What they need from the West and the donor nations is to reverse all measures they have taken to legitimize a government that is not elected and maintains power by brute force.

Signed in agreement to this petition:

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