mercoledì 29 luglio 2015

No political asylum right for Eritreans in the UK.

No political asylum right for Eritreans in the UK.
The British government seems geared to totally change its policy in regards to refugees fleeing the dictatorship of Asmara. The news comes December 2014 from sources close to the Ministry of the Interior Home Office, in the wake of a visit to verify the situation in Eritrea by a British commissioner in Eritrea. Following the visit, it has been published in two official documents which relate in particular to illegal immigration and military service. Two issues closely linked are the military service, virtually indefinitely, is one of the main tools used to totally militarize the Eritrean society and consequently one of the factors that pushes more young people, boys and girls, to flee across the border.  The hope for the future and life itself will not be stolen by the regime. "Not to be slaves of the dictatorship” - as stated by an eighteen year old arrived in Italy about a year ago.

The commissioner sent from London came to different conclusions, which is contrary to the tremendous testimony described by thousands of refugees and denounced for years by organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and the UN High Commission for Refugees. To return to Asmara, the report prepared insists on three particular points:
- Military service does not involve persecution, degrading treatment, forced labor and does not last indefinitely, but it ranges from a minimum of 18 months to a maximum of four years.  Therefore, the persons fleeing to avoid the military service will not be granted the refugee status in Britain.
-Those who refuse to undertake military service in Eritrea are not viewed as traitors or political opponents and therefore it is unlikely these people are arrested on upon their return. The disciplinary action most likely taken is the obligation to return to military service.

- One law of the Eritrean government expects those who have emigrated and are living abroad must pay 2 percent tax on their income to the country of origin. This could be considered a reasonable requirement provided the request is not made with violent threats and when refused to pay or fail to comply, it cannot in itself give rise to a well-founded fear of persecution if they return.
The conclusion, "only those who were politically active and very easily exposed or identifiable in opposition to the Eritrean government can be considered at risk in their country."
On the same wavelength with London, you have Denmark and according to some media also Norway. The Norwegian attitude appears, in truth, more lenient and indeed different in many ways – almost opposite. Oslo closed its borders to refugees from Eritrea, but this year has adopted a more restrictive criteria when examining asylum applications.  As a result, the rate of declined applications increased from 13 percent in 2014 to 23 percent in the first half of 2015. The majority of "no", however, covers persons deemed to actually have close or at least non-hostile views towards the regime, but trying to "disguise" as refugees. In fact, according to sources close to the Diaspora, they conducted their own investigations of those who agree to pay the 2 percent tax, participate and support pro regime demonstrations of various kinds, even though they presented themselves as an exile.
However, Denmark is on a similar belief with the English. Published by the Immigration Authority in October 2014, the situation in Eritrea in essence would be roughly normal, without particular dangers for the boys and girls who flee the country although they are subject to the draft they can be considered as "deserters" in time of war, given the ongoing conflict with Ethiopia. After this publication, this report caused a sensation, because it was in the midst of a series of criticisms and complaints from the Diaspora following the process with the Control Agreement for Immigration signed by the European Union and by ten states of East Africa in Khartoum. However, the allegations contained in the document were based on its new policy of "closure" against Eritrean refugees from Copenhagen which were soon removed by a leading expert as cited by the Danish authorities.  Professor Gaim Kibreab, a leading expert of Immigration Studies, a lecturer at London's South Bank University, bluntly stated that his statements had been mystified or at least reported incorrectly in the report, stating that it had no doubt that young people who leave Eritrea are considered traitors, imprisoned and subjected to torture in the event they return to their homeland.

The new British report follows the Danish, despite the denial of Professor Gaim Kibreab. It reaches conclusions debatable. It makes no sense, for example, to say fleeing to avoid "prey" of the army is not sufficient reason to obtain refugee status, because "military service is not a persecution as well as degrading treatment and forced labor". To not want to serve in the army or as slave laborers, without knowing for how long, is in itself an act of political opposition. It is also absurd to claim that it is normal to mandate all Eritreans living abroad, must pay in Asmara 2 percent tax of their income.  Beyond the big flow of money, the regime needs to strengthen its power by using this tax as an instrument to pressure and blackmail migrants and their families back in Eritrea. An “underground” kind of threat that also serves to identify "friends" and "enemies".
Beyond these issues, a clear contradiction to the optimistic statements made by the British government comes from the most unexpected source: the United Nations Commission.  The United Nations Commission investigated for more than eight months on the violation of human rights in Eritrea and published a report which was released at the end of June, when the news began to circulate London has the will of "closure".  The report leaves no room for doubt on the overall situation of what is happening in Eritrea and, in particular, just some of the issues that underlie the position taken by the British.
There is not one in the hundreds of pages of the report that does not sound like a serious indictment, starting with the fact that the country is subject to a "rule of terror", marked on the "rule of fear." Going into more detail, the complaints are numerous and serious including the cancellation of the democratic Constitution of 1997, persecution of every form of dissent or opposition, unjustified and arbitrary imprisonment, thousands of people thrown in jail without charges, prisoners made to disappear into thin air with no knowledge whether they are still alive or dead including the MPs of the G-15 who were arrested in 2001 along with journalists, priests and representatives of religious groups disliked by military powers, violence, torture, murder, and endless military service, during which, anything can happen especially to young girls.  A horrible picture which paints “crimes against humanity."
This is why many young Eritreans - almost 5,000 a month, according to UNHCR - are forced to flee. All right "economic migrants". The UN indictment confirms all the complaints made by the Diaspora years ago. One wonders, then, where did this position of the English initiate, a new sense of openness towards the regime of Isaias Afewerki.  Everything leads one to believe it originates from the same principles and the same interests that led to the process of the Control Agreement for Immigration in Khartoum which directly involves Eritrea (along with other dictatorships such as those of Al Bashir in Sudan and Al-Sisi in Egypt).  In practice, asking Asmara to seal its borders completely, emphasizing even more on the actual situation of prisoners in exchange for money. A lot of money: more than 310 million euro, which the European Union has already pledged and the Commissioner for Immigration, Costantin Avramopoulos has already justified and asserted to stop the flow of migrants, the EU can agree and collaborate with dictators.
Leading this policy, along with London, there is Rome. Actually, Rome more than London at the base of the Khartoum Process and the promise of 310 million euro has the main "pressure" from the Italian government. Always the officials respond with the "justification", despite everything, they try to deal with dictatorships like that of Eritrea hoping to change the situation.  This way, it is “then  too easy” to argue and actually legitimate, without any counterpart and without any conditions on Afewerki’s absolute power primarily at the expense of the thousands of young people who are pursued and forced to flee. The UN Commission can dismantle this "justification". Just read one of the conclusions on the report of Eritrea: "No form of economic aid and cooperation will serve to improve the situation and it will not be start until a serious path is created of democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms".
The “unheard” Eritrean Diaspora have been saying for years the exact sentiment.  These words should give pause to Rome, London other European governments and Western mediators to adopt the same policy of "transparency" toward Afewerki.

Now, after the UN report, no one can say "I do not know".

Habeshia Agency

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