Demonstration against the PFDJ Festival in Melbourne commences

Farajat – Melbourne
January 5, 2007

Amid a rush of large crowds, at exactly 4:00 p.m. local time Melbourne, the fifth demonstration organized by the Eritrean community in Australia against PFDJ annual festival has commenced.

In a precedent the first of its kind this year witnessed a demonstration of the presence of representatives of human rights organizations and the state of Victoria, Australia, in addition to the participation of a representative of a local newspaper published in Vietnamese and other media outlets. In addition, some members of Amnesty International, delegates from The Socialist Alliance have participated and held separate discussions regarding the human right situation in Eritrea. The protest organizers gave them an overview and clarification about the crimes against citizens in Eritrea by the PFDJ ruling regime and its arbitrary policies. The organizes have also highlighted to the delegates the dire humanitarian situation in Eritrea and particularly the suffering of prisoners of conscience who have been arrested without due process.

The demonstrators raised banners calling for justice and freedom in Eritrea and demanded that cultural festivals should reflect the spirit of the people and not tthat of the diabolical practices of the dictatorship. The demonstrators also distributed hundreds of publications copies of the press statement read in the demonstration by the activist Ahmed Abubaker Abdelrehim.

According to the statement, which calls for refraining from providing all forms of support for the dictatorial regime in Eritrea, conducting of such festivals by PFDJ and designating it as cultural is only an attempt to collect funds from Eritreans abroad in addition to gain legitimacy. The statement further urged everyone and particularly influential organizations to do everything possible to stop all kinds of funds to the Eritrean dictatorial regime, and find ways to support the people of Eritrea who are suffering much oppression.

The demonstrators highlighted that what lead them to demonstrate against PFDJ Festival is the lack of legality and constitutionality of the totalitarian system in addition to the crimes and clear violation of human rights and obscured freedom and the blocking of all independent newspapers and its flagrant violations of religious freedom and the clear dominance on all economic and commercial activities in the country. In addition to its criminal policies in the areas of culture, women’s freedom and equality which was confirmed by the reports of many international organizations working in Eritrea.

Addressing the demonstration veteran Professor Mohamed Nur Ahmed, who expressed pride in participating in the demonstration and said that the Eritrean community in Australia marked on all Eritrean communities abroad to organize this annual demonstration to express great solidarity with the Eritrean people at home, and condemned the crimes against the Eritrean people and said that their united stand today confirm solidarity with the oppressed and persecuted people of Eritrea.

The President of the Eritrean Community in Australia Dr. Burhan Ahmed expressed his happiness to address the demonstration, and stand for the sake of humanity, especially those in need of protection to stop wars and injustice, and said that life in Eritrea today is not just, and added that the PFDJ government has stolen the people’s liberty.

Also speaking on the occasion was Rowaa, the daughter of martyr Mahmoud Hasseb, her colleague Aida Towelde on behalf of EritrYANA, an organization dealing with the Eritrean youth. The two young ladies warned young people not to be fooled by the PFDJ regime’s deception and asked the youth to play the leading role in defending the rights of the persecuted and tortured in Eritrea.

During the demonstration, which was held in front of municipal buildings, documentary videos and films were aired that reveal the suffering of Eritrean people, as when the documentary prepared by the Australian journalist in 2002 dealt with rape camps in Sawa military training.

During the demonstration, the Burundian singer William who attended to show solidarity for Eritrean artists and people entertained the protesters in English song. As the Eritrean activist and singer Ahmed Abdelrehim moved their spirit with his energetic and enthusiastic style of singing and performances. Songs and Freedom, peace and Justice filled Melbourne skies for the night.

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