Opposition urges Int’l community stop Yemen from deporting Eritrean Naval personnel

Monday 20 September 2010.

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

Sept 18, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – An exiled Eritrean Political organization, The Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) has made an urgent call to protect Eritreans, including naval personnel, who recently deserted to Yemen, from being handed back to the Eritrean Government.

“We have learned that among these men recently fled to Yemen, six defected from the Eritrean Navel Force with their navy patrol speed boat and the rest are students. All are from the ethnic Afar minority” the group said in a statement it sent to Sudan Tribune.

According to the statement, the Red Sea Afars from Eritrea, who fled to Yemen across the Red Sea on 2 September, have been apprehended by Yemeni Authorities in Hudayda Yemen.

RSDAO alleged that Eritrean authorities have made contact with the Yemeni government and are working to extradite the refugees.

RSADO says, the Afar land is targeted by the Eritrean regime for its geo-political significance and it rich resources.

The Afar are a culturally rich ethnic group spanning the Ethiopian and Eritrean border. RSDAO is an organization calling for their self determination in the face of what it describes as ‘ethnic cleansing’ at the hands of the Eritrean government.

In the past 10 years the Rea Sea Afar have been forced to flee their ancestral homeland in Dankali, to neighboring countries.

It is believed that some 200,000 Afars fled their homes during the past few years. There are currently 24,000 Afar refugees registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Ethiopia alone, many more remain unregistered.

RSADO spokesman Yasin Mohamed Abdella on Saturday told Sudan Tribune that his group is very concerned for the safety of the recently defected Afars and many others who remain in Yemeni detention centers.

“The Eritrean Government makes no secret of the treatment of those apprehended defectors, especially if they flee from the line of duty as soldiers,” he said.

“if apprehended, their punishment no doubt is execution in front of their military units so it will deter others from doing the same.”

Abdella recalled an incident in 2004 where four members of the Eritrean Army were executed upon deportation by the Djiboutian government.

“A 17 year old Afar teenage soldier [Mahmud Kassim Shehem] and three other military officials who made it across to Djibouti were handed back by Djibouti Authority to the Eritrean Military; these four were executed by the Eritrean Government on the spot, after they were handed over, and the Eritrean Government has acknowledged their deaths.”

He noted that there are no refugee camps in Djibouti, urging authorities to abide by international laws and to provide for Eritrean refugees accordingly.

RSADO called on international human right bodies to act swiftly and demand that the Yemeni government not hand over the refugees, but grant them asylum.

“We urge on the international Human rights organizations, such as Human Rights watch and Amnesty International to put pressure on Yemeni Government to honor international Covenant for refugees and save the lives of these helpless Afar citizens whose life remain at risk”


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