By Petros Tesfagiorgis
Festival of shame is the title of a report of a popular German news agent called Bild The report is of a festival organised by the supporters and embassies of the repressive regime in Eritrea. It took place on 6 -9 July 2023 in Giessen, Germany. Bild boldly labelled it the Festival of shame because it meant to raise funds for the regime to continue subjecting the entire people of Eritrea to gross human rights violations and intimidating the opposition in Diaspora dispersed all over the world. At the same time the festival is used to preach hate against the people and Government of Tigray.
One thousand police were deployed to stop the demonstration. Helicopters and drones were flying over the Giessen skies. It just looked like a war zone.
The police tried to prevent the demonstrators to go near the festival where they intended to protest peacefully. But it resulted in clashes with the police arresting more than 120 protestors. 22 police officers were also injured. The police stopped the festival half way asking the participant to clear the hall. It was an amazing victory for the demonstrators and their legitimate causes.
The Eritrean regime’s profile of brutality has never been exposed like this before. This festival was widely covered by more than 10 news agents including CNN and BBC.
The youth movement Brigade Nhamedu (BN) proved to be the most powerful voice of the oppressed people of Eritrea. Protests against the rogue-festivals spread like wild fire all over the countries where diaspora Eritreans live. The Next festival supposed to take place in London UK on 15, 16 July was also cancelled.
The London Brigade Nhamedu demonstration was named the mother’s hub. The participation of women in the protest was extraordinary. They carried out most of the logistics such as the preparation of all the food and drinks for the protesters particularly for those who came from outside London.
Few days after the cancellation of the festival there was leaked information that the festival organisers had plan B to do it secretly in a Hotel. The protesters committed to foil the plan were able to gathered in front of the hotel shouting slogans attracting the attention of passers byes.
The supporters of the regime started walking to the hotel lowering their heads. It was a show of defeat of the festival organisers.
What happened next was fascinating. The protestors got the chance to dance to the music and lyrics of defiance. It gave them a chance to connect and know each other better and consolidate their unity and strengthen their resolve ready for more future activities.
The cancellation in Germany and in United Kingdom was repeated in many other places such as Stockholm, Minnesota and Toronto. The protest was covered extensively by Fox News, CNN, BBC and many other Newspapers such as the Washington Post and the Guardian of UK. The repressive regime failed totally in its endeavour to raise funds and intimidate the opposition.
The success created a momentum to be seized to raise many relevant issues. To demonstrate against the refusal of the regime to call the Eritrean troops home. The UN commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea reported that “Since 1991 Crime against humanity has been committee in Eritrea by Eritrean authorities “the commission referred the matter to ICC but it was ignored by the UN security Council.
That is why the then UN special rapporteur Sheila B. Keetharuth in her address to the UN General Assembly bitterly blamed the UN for letting down the people of Eritrea. The opposition must lobby to raise the issue again at a time when Eritrea in collutions has invaded Tigray and committed crime against humanity.
Another burning issue is that of the plight of the Eritrean refugees. In Ethiopia the refugees are being mass arrested and deported to Eritrea. UN experts urged Ethiopia to halt mass deportation of Eritreans. Thousands of Eritrean refugees are caught in the civil war in Sudan. Those who cannot leave Sudan are starving and are at the mercy of looters, smugglers and even rapists.
The success of Brigade Nhamedu would definitely inspire the just seekers to get more active. For example, there is a need to support the Eritrean refugees who found themselves in such crises because of the war in Sudan and in Ethiopia. So far the opposition are doing very little to help the refugees languishing in those countries. They can form a special committee to focus on helping the stranded refugees.
Other point is to challenge the legitimacy of the regime in power. This was debated by the successful “Regime Change” symposium in Washington DC on July 14-16 2023 organised by Seedling for Peace and Democracy in Eritrea (ፈልሲ). For that I congratulate the organisers for launching conference, at a time when the impact of Brigade Nhamedu demonstrations is making a lot of difference in the campaign to isolate the regime worldwide.
Among the speakers who were mostly Eritrean intellectuals there were Dr Michael Rubin former advisor of Secretary of defence at the Pentagon USA. He gave advice to Eritreans not to side with one camp or the other in their foreign relations. This is fundamental to Eritrea’s security and also to the rest of African leaders to avoid proxy wars to take place in their countries, instead to concentrate on social and economic development to relieve the people of Africa from famine and underdevelopment.
Dan Connell and Martin Plaut were also speakers. They are long-time supporters of the Eritrean struggle and frequent visitors to the Liberated Base areas. In their books, reports and seminars they have immortalized the history of the Eritrean people’s struggle for independence.
I feel it is appropriate to recommend readers to buy the book written by one of the top leaders and battle hardened fighters of EPLF, Mesfin Hagos with Awet Tewelde Weldemichael. The title is AN AFRICAN REVOLUTION RERCLAIMED. Mesfin from his perspective is in a position to highlight the strength of the EPLF – the amazing commitment of the Eritrean people’s struggle defeating one of the strongest army in Africa and the EPLF’s dark side that gave birth to a brutal dictator, Isaias Afwerk in a quo d’état he carried out by arresting most of the prominent EPLF leaders called G-15 in September 18, 2001. That was the black day of Eritrea when the EPLF manifesto to give power to the people was betrayed by Isaias preventing the nationwide election the prisoners demanded. Most of the leaders being in prison, Mesfin is one of the few left to tell the inside working of the EPLF leadership.
To continue 20/08/2023