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ECDC: An open letter to the Government and People of Italy.

11/05/2024 20:37 PM

An open letter
to the Government and People of Italy.
01/05/2024

by Eritrean Coalition for Democratic Change (ECDC)

01/05/2024

An open letter to the Government and People of Italy.

The Eritrean Coalition for Democratic Change (ECDC) is a coalition of 11 Eritrean political parties, movements and organisations aspiring to bring a democratic change in Eritrea.

We write this open letter to the government and people of Italy with great concern about Italy’s recent decision to sign a co-operation agreement with the Eritrean regime. Considering the historical ties between the two countries, and cognizant of the current realities in Eritrea, we believe Italy has a moral responsibility to support the Eritrean people in their pursuit of liberty, peace and prosperity.

It is no secret that Eritrea has faced immense political, economic and social debacles since the early days of independence. We strongly emphasise that any investment agreement with the dictatorial regime will be emboldening it to continue its abuse of human rights in the country and encourage more refugee influx into Europe. Eritrea has no constitution; hence, there are no constitutional provisions protecting individual freedom.

Ever since its independence, Eritrea remains a one-party state where democratic national parliamentary elections have never been held. In 2001, the regime attacked freedom of speech by shutting down the emerging free press arresting and detaining 16 journalists without trial for the last 20 years. Thousands of political dissidents including reformist high ranking officials, otherwise known as G-15, are incarcerated, and kept incommunicado with no trial. Furthermore, the only University in the country founded by the Combini Sisters Missionaries has been closed. And sadly, the regime issued and order that no Eritrean will be able to withdraw more than 5000 nakfa (equivalent of 250 dollars) from their own account.

On the 5th of July 2012, the UN Human Rights Council appointed a Special Rapporteur who has investigated and reported gross and systematic human rights abuses sponsored by the regime. In addition, Many organisations such as the EU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, US State Department, UK Foreign Office and many other national activist and human rights organisations have reported the prevalence of widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean authorities. As such, Eritrea is dubbed by many as the North Korea of Africa.

Eritrea has a mandatory indefinite national military service which human rights organisations have called modern time slavery. Many young lives have been lost in the senseless wars the regime has been involved with its neighbouring countreis. Many more have perished crossing the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea. (Reference can be made to Lampedusa incident of 03/10/2013). This misguided and abusive policy of mandatory indefinite national service has had an immense impact on the economic, social and cultural rights of young Eritreans.

Despite the international community condemnation and repeated sanctions, the regime still continues its human rights violations and arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions with impunity.

We find it unacceptable and concerning for a democratic country like Italy that has a long historical tie with the Eritrean people to overlook the suffering they are in and do business with a regime well known for its lawlessness and cruelty against its own people.

We therefore kindly and rightly ask the people and government of Italy to reconsider the decision to have any relationship with the Eritrean regime until the right of Eritrean people is recognised and respected.

With this in mind, we urge the government of Italy to:

1. Openly raise these issues with Eritrean authorities and discuss ways of resolving them and fixing the country’s political, social and economic paralysis.

2. Reach out and engage with Eritrean diaspora political parties, movements and organisations with a view to mutually help resolve issues in Eritrea.

With every good wish,

Eritrean Coalition for Democratic Change

European Diplomacy Desk

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