From The Land Down Under with lots of LOVE

Once again, for the fourth consecutive year, every time for three long nights, Melbourne witnesses another Festival, and of course, another Protest. A time of the year where heated debates are exchanged, on and off the Internet, and where we read the customary reports from both sides claiming how their own event has concluded “successfully” & with “enthusiastic participation”.

I always considered myself privileged to have seen things from both sides. Allow me to repeat what I wrote once. In case those who don’t know me are wondering which side I am on, I am on the side of the demonstrators. Why? Because I believe in most of socio political debates, there is the powerful and the powerless. There is also the side that, knowingly or unknowingly, abuses the position of authority it controls. And there is the side that has been badly victimised to the point of not even recognising wrong from right in the process of trying to regain the rights they have been deprived of.

I don’t think any Eritrean in Melbourne was happy with the atmosphere in which these events (Festival or Demonstration) were conducted over the past few years. No matter how hard each side tries to convince people that their event was a “huge success” I think deep inside all of us know that we have failed as a community. We have failed to resolve our internal disagreements peacefully, with tolerance and respect. Again, I respect both sides of politics, but in this instance, I happen to strongly believe that the fault was with those who are in power and with those who have the authority and had the opportunity to make the right decisions but sadly, miscalculated.

I don’t know, I guess maybe it is just a philosophy I have that when there is a national issue of such magnitude as the one our country is going through, it is fair enough that the one to be held accountable and questioned is the one who has the power and authority to make those political decisions that led to these problems, namely the Government of Eritrea. A Government that should have put unity of its citizens first, has become an agent of division.


What ignited the Melbourne Protests four years ago were not only the GoE’s acts in Diaspora. But mostly the endless human right abuses back in our Eritrea.

Four years ago, a group of young Eritreans who often met on weekends for a football game and a get together decided, the time for talking and being afraid must end and the result was….

The Melbourne Rally has become a yearly event that is hard not to be part of. It is hard to call it a rally or a protest because it does not really look as such. It is more like an outdoor Festival. Music, dancing, singing, food, jokes, poetry, drama, debates, and even sport competitions have become part of the features of THE RALLY. One of the messages of the demonstrators seemed to be “We are proud of our art & culture. We are not against Festivals, but we are for FREE ART that promotes harmony, respect and love. Art should not be held hostage”.

This year was special because it was Christmas time. We remembered the many brothers & sisters who could not be with their loved ones during these Holly days. We sent a message of love and prayed for them.

Among the demonstrators this year there were veteran activists like ustaz Mohamed Saed Antata who has been one of the leaders in the 1958 protests in Keren. Also veteran Mahmood Jabir shared inspiring stories with the youth.

A video was shown through the projected on the big screen about the many heroes of our struggle, people who the GoE would rather we forget, including the late Seyoum O.Michael. Other documentaries revealing the sad situation that Eritreans are living in were also shown.

This year’s theme was “KIFAYA” – “YI’AKIL” –“ENOUGH”.

I can’t do a report without pictures, so enjoy. Ah… and of course, a theme song is coming soon J

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year,

Ahmed A. Abdelrehim

Melbourne, Australia

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Posted by on Jan 4 2006 Filed under Resistance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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