Elsa Chyrum:The True Voice of the Voiceless

By Tecle Wolde, United Kingdom, 07/03/07


This should have been a time when we Eritreans be living in our beloved country in peace and with abounding hope and happiness. But, due to the irresponsible and evil acts of the ruling regime in our country, they have shattered every bit of hope and dream we envisioned in an independent Eritrea. As the entire world is witnessing today, Eritrea has become a failed and hopeless country. Our people are living in despair and our youth are leaving the country in droves every single day because of the unwarranted misery inflicted on them by the regime.

I am one of those forced to leave my beloved Eritrea behind me and seek refuge and protection in a foreign country. And like any Eritrean fleeing the country is experiencing today, I passed through some gruesome and dreadful conditions before I finally reached to a country I believed would offer me a refuge. But things did not go right for me in the UK. My claim for asylum was rejected altogether. A solicitor I had withdrew from my case and there was nothing that I could do on my own as I was being held in immigration detention centre. I was destined to be forcibly returned to Eritrea. It is the worst thing that would have happened to me, for I know what was awaiting for me there as I set my foot at the airport.

It was when I was in such a hopeless situation that my case was brought to the attention of Elsa Chyrum, a human rights activist living in London. So when Elsa knew about my situation she immediately got me a solicitor who in turn managed to cancel my removal order and subsequently appealed to the High Court on my behalf. But the appeal was deemed out-of-time by the high court and once again my removal back to Eritrea became imminent. Worse of all, the solicitor said that there was no other legal right left  she could challenge the decision with and as such opted to withdraw from my case. Elsa pleaded with the solicitor to take the case to the European Courts of Human Rights (ECHR) but the solicitor was not familiar with taking immigration cases to the ECHR and unequivocally told Elsa that no other court can reverse the decision that was served on the case.

Elsa would not however be discouraged by the lawyer’s comments and took over my case and lodged an appeal to the ECHR on my behalf. She was convinced that she had a genuine case in her hand and didn’t hesitate to do what established law firms didn’t think was possible. It is an extraordinary thing for a mere human rights activist to do. No question that it took her a great deal of effort and time to make the case admissible by the highest court in the continent. What seemed impossible became possible thanks to Elsa’s competence, commitment and devotion.  Here it is now she won the case for me, she is vindicated for her unreserved and tireless efforts and I have been able to walk freely after such a long time in a detention centre.

It is an outstanding achievement for Elsa personally for what she achieved in this case, a victory seasoned and highly experienced barrister would have been proud of winning.

Unlike the legal practitioners who charge high fees for their services, Elsa’s reward is the moral satisfaction she gets by helping misfortunate compatriots.

It has been a while since Elsa appeared on the public stage and became the voice of the voiceless and defender of the defenceless. She has undoubtedly been our human rights champion for some time now. And she deserves our utmost appreciation and admiration for doing this challenging job out of mere moral reason and obligation. God bless her for her determination, courage and selflessness. She is a shinning star and a true Eritrean daughter. It is ladies of Elsa’s stature and determination, and not the pathetic ones who are happier to become nominal ministers and administrators that our beloved Eritrea needs today. And I think it is time that we wake up and be courageous to support and encourage the noble work that the likes of Elsa are doing. That is the only way that we can show our true concern and love to our brothers and sisters who are unfortunately languishing in various detention centres in many parts of the world.

So why not contact Elsa and ask her to share with us her experiences in doing this daunting national task and also show our readiness to support her in any way we can. Is this not a sacred thing we can ever do in our life time? And I believe that human rights activism is more of humane than a political issue.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank you Elsa, for the unfailing support and encouragement you extended me all along the incredibly difficult days I was in a detention centre. Because of your intervention and miraculous efforts, my life has been spared and now I am in a situation where I feel I have every reason to be hopeful and positive about the future. I owe that all to you.

I know I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for me and the hundreds of beleaguered compatriots, but the least I can say about you is that you are among the few finest citizens that Eritrea could ever have. And I’m of  sincere belief and hope that one day, in a just and democratic Eritrea of course, that the Eritrean  people have the privilege of duly honouring you for the noble work you are doing in promoting, defending and advocating the basic human rights of your fellow country men and women. You are the finest cornerstone at the foundation of Eritrea’s human rights establishment. 

Keep up the sacred work and God Bless You.

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1 Comment for “Elsa Chyrum:The True Voice of the Voiceless”


    A highly literate and obviously educated man like yourself should have stayed home and helped to build his country against all odds but instead you chose to flee to the West where you noW sit and insult those who do stay home and build their country. LIAR! I am slowly learning what an evil lot the African dispora are! YOU AND ELSA CHYRUM are the living nightmares of our noble martyrs.

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