giovedì 12 giugno 2008

Do not forget Eritrean prisoners

http://www.ipeTo: Amnesty International International Secretariat East Africa Research Team 1 Easton Street London ,WC1X 0DW, UK Telephone: +44-20-74135500 Fax number: +44-20-79561157 Dear Amnesty International Researchers, Staff, and Activists: It has recently come to our attention that Amnesty International has decided to close its files on Eritrean prisoners of conscience. We have also learned that due to the rearrangement of priorities within Amnesty International USA and others, the country of Eritrea has largely become defined as “low priority” for research and activism in the United States and elsewhere in the world. These developments profoundly concern us as Eritrean human rights defenders. While we recognize how difficult it is to receive updated and accurate information about conditions in Eritrea and the status of the thousands of people who are detained in prisons, police stations, and military camps, we strongly object to AI’s decision to close Eritrean POC files and de-prioritize work on Eritrean issues. As Eritrean human rights defenders living in the diaspora, we have worked extremely hard in recent years to raise consciousness, organize, and mobilize Eritreans around the globe on behalf of human rights. Many of us are refugees and asylum seekers who have personally suffered human rights violations. We have looked towards the work of AI and AIUSA as beacons of hope and models for activism. We are slowly working to build linkages with local groups in Amnesty International who have shown great dedication to improving human rights conditions in our country. We are at a crucial time in our own development as human rights activists. If Amnesty International abandons much of its work on Eritrea at this time, it will set back the development of our own movement, and therefore the whole struggle to improve human rights in Eritrea. Eritrean human rights defenders in the diaspora represent a major resource for Amnesty International. Through our own information networks and understanding of the situation within Eritrea, we can assist in providing the kind of information that AI requires to continue its work on behalf of prisoners of conscience and others. Our demand in this letter is that AI not abandon its work on Eritrean prisoners of conscience nor de-prioritize its work on Eritrea overall. We also request that AI fully utilize our knowledge and skills as Eritrean activists to sustain and develop its work on our country. We stand ready and willing to work with AI researchers, staff, and grassroots activists to publicize the grave violations of human rights in our country, and to assist AI in obtaining the most accurate and up to date information possible. For over four decades, Amnesty International has told prisoners of conscience around the world, “Do not be discouraged. You are not forgotten.” Please, do not forget Eritrean prisoners at this crucial time. Help us to build our own movement, and allow us to help sustain Amnesty’s work on Eritrea. In solidarity, Eritrean Human Rights Defenders Worldwide ____________________ Sponsored by Eritrean Community For Human Rights and Refugee Protection, P.O.Box 41174, Arlington, VA 22204

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