Intimidation and Harassment, how the Eritrean Embassy in Nairobi React at the Meeting of the Diaspora

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Our Special Correspondent
Saba Makeda
Nairobi 22 February 2015

Eritreans in  Nairobi  have  established  the Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa ( EDEA)  to promote the interests and the  welfare of Eritrean citizens in  the East Africa Region and  help them to  benefit from the hospitality accorded to them in the region. The executive committee had planned an inaugural meeting to be held on Friday 20 February 2015.

Key topics for the meeting were:

  • Current  situation  of Eritrea and the Region  – to be presented by Ambassador Andebrhan Woldeghiorgis –  Former Eritrean Ambassador to the  EU;  former Commission for  Co-ordination with  UN Peace  Keeping Mission Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE)  – author of the book  Eritrea at a Crossroads
  • The role of the  Diaspora  in promotion of peace and  cooperation  to be  presented by Dr Wanyama Masinde – Senior  Lecturer  and Director Institute for  Regional Integration and Development – the Catholic University of East Africa

cartello giant prisonThe meeting was to be opened by Mr Elias Habte Selassie (an Eritrean academician, lawyer and an expert in conflict resolution and development) and   closed by Dr Asefaw Tekeste. (Public Health Director School of Medicine Touro University   )

Guest of honour were:

  • Ambassador  Haile Menkerios  – UN Special  Representative  to the African Union;
  • Ambassador Dr. Monica Juma, MBS was appointed and sworn in as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Defence on 27th June, 2013. Prior to her appointment as the Principal Secretary, Amb. Dr. Juma was Kenya’s Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Djibouti and Permanent Representative to the African Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Amb. Dr. Juma holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, Master of Arts (MA) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of Nairobi and Certificate in Refugees Studies from Oxford University. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria (South Africa); an Associate with the African Programme of the United Nations-affiliated University for Peace, (Costa Rica); and an Adjunct Faculty member at the African Centre for Strategic Studies of the National Defence University, Washington D.C., (United States of America).[1]

At the last minute the inaugural meeting of the EDEA did not take place. There was much confusion however what has emerged is that somehow the Eritrean embassy  lodged a complaint with the Kenyan authorities.

Haile Menkerios

In addition to lodging a protest with the Kenyan authorities, the Eritrean Embassy has also engaged in a campaign of intimidation of Eritreans in Nairobi by sending them mobile text messages. The message states that: the Eritrean Embassy has received complaints from concerned Eritreans about the meeting organised by the EDEA and in particular the nature of the discussion to be held there.  The message further states that no Eritrean should even dream of participating in the meeting. If Eritreans do participate no Eritrean embassy anywhere in the world will provide them with any services.

Andebrhan Woldeghiorgis

Typically the message is a God Father like threat and very divisive. We should note that the key purpose of EDEA is to promote the welfare of the Eritrean citizens and the diaspora and in so doing to address the issue of so many of our young people   running from a ruthless uncaring government in Eritrea.

The reaction of the Eritrean embassy to the initiative, can only  demonstrate to the Kenyan authority  how  Eritrean Government  treats its people, it   should be taken as a sign that EDEA is on the right path,  it should  create  international  alliances carry out the work it has set out to do  seriously – the youth of  Eritrea is watching .

Makeda Saba
makedasaba@ymail.com


[1] http://www.presidency.go.ke/index.php/devolution-and-planning/14-state-departments/242-amb-dr-monica-juma-mbs

In the pictures up Haile Menkerios, down Andebrhan Woldeghiorgis.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Was the ‘Hon George Soros’ on the list of guests too?
    And why would a UN special Rep to the African Union the ‘South African, H Menkerios’ be on a guest of honor?

    Kudos! to the Embassy, well done!!

    • Yes.Not Only Kudos But Keep it Up Yehewat and Embassy of Eritrea. No Real Eritrean wants to listen to those Halewlew Kedemeti. Eritreans are not fools and will not fall for such tactics. You can call ur organization whatever u want but No Eritrean will ever go attended such event or organization. Ajokum Deki Eri..

  2. A Response to comments on my article – Intimidation and Harassment, how the Eritrean Embassy in Nairobi React at the Meeting of the Diaspora.

    First and foremost I welcome the comments that have been made and the opportunity to interact. An opportunity that was denied to the Eritrean community in Kenya because the meeting of the Eritrean Diaspora East Africa ( EDEA) was cancelled pending further notice.

    I note from some of the comments received that some welcome the fact that the meeting did not take place and fully support the actions taken by Eritrea Embassy in Nairobi, including the threats to Eritreans, to stop the meeting. Accordingly the opportunity to have a dialogue and an exchange of views would continue to be denied most of our fellow Eritreans. Such comments only serve to highlight how far back we have fallen and how much work has to be done to rebuild our own independent internal dialogue

    The formation and the planning of the launch meeting of the Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA) came about in response to the very real need of a new generation of Eritrean’s in the Diaspora. Mostly this new generation is composed of our young people fleeing Eritrea. The needs and the aspirations of these young Eritreans are not being met. Their voices are not heard in Eritrea and are not being heard in the Diaspora.

    In 2014 the Catholic Church in Eritrea asked us “Where is your brother?” We must work toward a reply that says “right here next to me – safe – educate, healthy – with aspirations for the future “. This is not the case right now. Our brothers and sister are doing slave labour at home, their children unattended, others are dead in foreign deserts at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea. Others again are in unknown jails within the country and possibly many of them are dead and buried in unknown graves.

    In the future when our children ask us about these events what will we say? Will we say “Ay Melketeni / Av sey Melketeka deti atu?” – Do not enter into things that are not your competence – Do not stick your nose into things that are beyond you ……

    Over the last 20 years of independence we have forgotten how to talk to each other without the mediation / monitoring of the Government. We have forgotten that before the People Front of Democracy and Justice ( PFDJ) we had independent trade unions, independent papers, that the other liberation front was the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and within it there were factions and alternate voices. For sure the multiplicity of voices may have been chaotic and it may not have been efficient , but it was egalitarian and within it people could raise their issues and concerns and consensus was more often than not reached.

    The Eritrean Government behaves as if it owns the Eritrean people and as if the Eritrean people are there to serve it. We must remind the Eritrean Government that in fact it is the other way around. The Government is there to serve the People at the behest of the People. It is not there to threaten us, to use us or to silence us .

    I hope that the Eritrean Community in Nairobi will regroup and go ahead with their plan to support Eritrean youth.

    Makeda Saba

    Makedasaba@ymail.com

  3. Makeda. You Can Cry all you want not a thing is going to change. Although I hate to steal you moment on the spot light here is the truth if u can deal with it.
    1) Since when does a person who sold out his nation and even went as far as to change his nationality has as right to attend let alone to be as key speaker regarding Anything about Eritrea?
    2) As to the astounding collection of Foreign nationals who were lined up to speak about Eritrea, a country none of them has set foot in their life time, What gives them the right to discuss or even mention Eritrea? I will not even go into a break down of their true characters and revelers what’s ooblivious to you.
    3) Any such gathering should and will be done by our representatives which is the Eritrean Embassy in Kenya not by ur rag tag group of Traitors and sell outs trying to mask ur true colors. Look at who was the first to comment on ur amusing little article ….Yes, Meron Estefanos. That says it all I think.
    Awet Nhafash
    Nab Lebeki Yemeleseki
    Teddy

    • Dear Teddy

      Meron Estefanos is a sister who is carrying the burden of listening, documenting and following up on the many horrific stories of our young people who are; kidnapped, trafficked, tortured, mutilated. These stories are uncomfortable but they are real. We may not like to hear them and we may choose to disbelieve them. However much we run away from them we can’t run from the fact that our sister Meron is bringing to the light the sins of the fathers, the sins of the elders against the our children, against the future. We may vilify and her for this – But the question remains when will we defend our children?

      At the meeting in Nairobi of Friday 20 February 2015, there were two guests who were not Eritrean: (a) Ambassador Monica Juma – representing the host country ; (b) Dr Wanyama Masinde – Senior Lecturer , Institute for Regional Integration and Development – the Catholic University of East Africa. Dr Wanyama Masinde was to speak on the topic of “ The role of the Diaspora in promotion of peace and cooperation” – please note that this is a topic of generalised interest in Kenya as it is host to a number of regional diasporas – South Sudanese, Somali, Ethiopians, Eritrean, Congolese.

      As a matter of history Eritreans have multiple nationalities , this includes some of the members of the present Eritrean Government so the fact that a number of the Eritrean organisers , special guests and participants have citizenships other than Eritrean is not unusual it is our history.

      Given the fact that on a per capita basis Eritrea is currently producing one of the largest number of refugees weather either the Eritrean Government or the Eritrean Embassy is truly representing Eritreans or their interest is a matter of debate and is questionable .

      Makeda Saba
      Makedasaba@ymail.com

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