Eritreans Protest UN Sanctions In DC

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[Global: Africa Commentary]

On the 22nd of February 2010, several thousands of Eritreans and Friends of Eritrea took to the streets of Washington, DC to protest against the unfair , unjust and illegal Security Council Resolution 1907 (2009) and the sanctions against Eritrea.

The demonstration in Washington, DC is part of the world wide day of protest. Similar rallies were conducted in San Francisco, CA, Melbourne Australia, and Geneva Switzerland.

It is to be recalled that, on 23 December 2009-the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing sanctions on Eritrea, with full support of the United States and the British Government for the unsubstantiated allegations made in the Monitoring Groups December 2008 report which claimed that, Eritrea has provided political, financial and logistical support to armed groups engaged in undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia. Eritrea has consistently asked for the Security Council to provide the said evidences and none has been delivered to date.

According to the U.N. Security Council's Somalia Sanctions Committee, "elements of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia known as AMISOM, and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG)" are involved in arms trafficking activities. Furthermore, eighty percent of ammunition available at the Somali arms markets was supplied by the TFG and Ethiopian troops." The Committee also reported of getting details of some 25 military flights by Ethiopia into Somalia and knew that Ethiopian troops had brought military equipment into the country to arm friendly clans to cover up the failures in the world and certainly in the horn of Africa.

The Demonstrators arrived in Washington, DC, the nations capital from cities and towns across the United States. Participants from St. Louis MO drove for about 13 hours to come to Washington. Mehari Goben Tecle, Mewael Ogbe and Fisseha W/Michael came with 14 others to take part in the historical event. Tigisti came all the way from Seattle, Washington, eight year old Dawit Daniel traveled with his family from New York City and when he took the stage to speak, he had the crowd roaring. Everyone came to add their voices to the thousands of their countrymen and women who were holding similar rallies in San Francisco, Europe and Australia. They gathered at Lafayette Park in front of the White House in a colorful show of unity and determination to bring public awareness to the latest US injustice committed against the people of Eritrea.

Carrying banners and placards, they chanted catchy slogans such as Ensure food security, Defeat sanctions, Stop US historic injustice against Eritrea, No to Sanctions - Yes to Engagement. Placards directed at the Obama Administration said OBAMA: Where is the change we can believe in, OBAMA: You are on the wrong side of history and OBAMA-Where is the new beginning for Africa. At abut 11:30, they lined up in rows of 10 to begin the mile and half trek to the US State Department, as that was the main venue for the duration of the rally. Cheering and chanting catch slogans as they made their way down 19th Street past the World Bank and other key Washington institutions, they waved to workers who peeked through their windows. Several groups representing various Horn residents participated in the rally in a strong show of solidarity with the people of Eritrea.

The youth, who led the march handed out flyers and urged all to seek justice and peace for the Horn of Africa. At the US State Department, letters to Presidet Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were given to Ms. Maria Beyzerov, the Eritrea Desk Officer. 4 huge file folders containing the signatures of 107,000 Eritreans and friends of Eritrea were also given to Ms. Beyzerov.

The superior organization was evident in the manner with which the rally was conducted, the event was flawless. Buses brought Eritreans from places far and near. Busloads came from Atlanta, GA, Boston, Massachusetts, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and across the border from Toronto, Canada. The cool weather was not a deterrent and the winter coats did not hide the colorful attires. The white snow still on the ground, it contrasted well with the color and beauty of the procession, making for a great picture day. Eritrean and American flags waved in the cool wind and young and old, men women and children marched in unison calling for the annulment and repeal of the unjust, unfair and illegal US-UN sanctions against Eritrea. The rally was broadcast live on Eritrean television.

During the 30 year struggle for Eritreas independence Eritreans, such rallies were common place. With each atrocity perpetrated on the people of Eritrea, they came to voice their concerns. A rally held in 2006 brought over 11,000 to the nations capital. This time, with so many youth in the mix, the number has grown substantially.

Outside the US State Department after a brief welcoming message from Freweini, Tekeste, the Chairperson of the DC Organizing Committee,. There were also other speakers present and amongst them were several groups representing various populations in the Horn of Africa addressed the crowd. They each brought messages of greetings and solidarity.

They condemned the unjust, unfair and illegal sanctions imposed on the State of Eritrea and its peace-loving people and called on the US government to change its incoherent policies for the Horn of Africa region. They re-affirmed their commitment to working side by side with their Eritrean neighbors to bring about change in the Horn region and alleviate the pain and suffering wrought by the minority regime in Ethiopia led by Meles Zenawi, Washington’s ally in the region. The youth took center stage at this rally and they came through with flying colors.


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