EMDHR Statement about President Isaias Afwerki visit to South Africa
On Tuesday 22nd August 2023, President Isaias Afowerki landed in Johannesburg, South Africa to attend the BRICS summit. The summit is to discuss issues pertaining to sustainable development and inclusions of the global south in multinational systems. Whilst we hope against hope for this forum to takes some important steps in changing the lives of Africans, the key people that should be at this summit are missing i.e. the African people. There can never be any meaningful development if the African people are not able to contribute to such events and provide insights into ways of resolving some of the most pressing issues affecting people.
What is ironic is that for sustainable development to take place there needs to be an environment in which civil society organisations can flourish and citizens are empowered and given the tools to develop themselves and their communities.
Africa is endowed with a lot of natural resources but the majority of Africans are not the beneficiaries of their resources. In the same vein, the recent discoveries of gold and potash in Eritrea is in no way benefiting Eritreans but the regime. Sustainable development in all spheres in society can only take place, if citizens are allowed to participate fully without any barriers. Those that are marginalised need to be able to represent their communities and their concerns especially in light of the consequences that are affecting the continent due to climate change.
Whilst Eritreans are being pushed out of their land for multinational corporations to mine for precious stones and people whose livelihood is from the sea are unable to fish as foreign military bases have taken the space, it is mere mockery to talk of any kind of development. This causes starvation in communities and those who lack the power to make their voices heard are the ones who suffer the most. The same scenarios are played across the African continent affecting many communities and forcing people to leave their country. The colonialists forced people off their lands and now dictators in Africa are doing the same thing to those people who have fought for independence and thought they had been liberated.
This is the worst kind of betrayal that any nation can face, and this is the Eritrean tragedy in which the Eritrean people had sacrificed so much. Whilst the schools and hospitals are being closed and Eritrean youth are fleeing the country in droves to escape indefinite national service, the only development that is taking place is brain drain. Whilst other nations are harnessing the exodus of Eritrean and African youth for the development of their nations, African states become poorer as the best minds leave the continent.
If we are to talk about development then we need to begin by being honest to ourselves and address pressing concerns such as governance, institution building, ensuring human rights and civil liberties are respected, ensuring justice for those who are aggrieved and having a bottom up approach to development.
Anything short of this is a mockery and an utter insult to the suffering of Eritreans and the African people.
We thank you!!