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EMDHR Workshop Statement Pretoria – South Africa

1. Preamble

We, Eritreans coming from different parts of Africa, Australia, Europe and North America, representing a number of civil organizations and in our personal capacity, debated and deliberated from 9th to 11th May 2014 on issues of national concern at a workshop with the theme “Strategic Thinking on Political and Socioeconomic Crises in Eritrea: Implications, Scenarios and Responses” and came out with this statement.

1.1. Having criticallyexamined the deep reaching crisis bedeviling our people and our country;

1.2. Having considered the lessons of our recent past with regard to the involvement of authoritarianism in Eritrea;

1.3. Deeply believing in the Eritrean ownership of the problems, efforts and solutions, we agreed to closely work together towards the establishment of democratic constitutional governance in Eritrea.

1.4. Therefore, we arrived at the following consensus.

2. On the Rule of Law and Constitutionalism

We, the participants,

2.1. Recognize the historical root of the current challenges of rule of law and constitutionalism;

2.2. Are aware of existence of division and factionalism within and among our political groups in the pre- and post-independence of our country;

2.3. Acknowledge that there was a culture of intolerance and impunity pre- and post-independence;

2.4. Note the imposed uniformity undermining our political, social and cultural diversity;

2.5. Underlinethat the PFDJ regimedeliberately pursued a strategy against the development of the rule of law and constitutionalism in Eritrea by betraying the ideals and aspirations of the Eritrean people.

We, therefore, agreed to

2.6. Work together in breaking the barriers of intolerance, silence, intimidation, unquestioning obedience and indefinite national military service;

2.7. Empower social and political movements, particularlyyouth, women, professional associations, and grassroots, through civic education;

2.8. Work for the establishment of constitutional governance inclusive of all Eritreans that respects and protects fundamental human rights and the rule of law.

3. On Socio-Economic, Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis

We, the participants,

3.1. In respect to the National Economy

3.1.1. Highlight that the dictatorial regime has been engaged in highly destructive practices, including PFDJ monopoly of the economy, illegal appropriation of citizens’ savings in hard currency and properties, using slavery –type of labor of the youth – has destroyed the nation’s economic infrastructure and our peoples’ industriousness and creativity; and

3.1.2. Note that the dictatorial regime continues to function without any national budget, any semblance of transparency and accountability in management of the national revenues, especially from the mining sector, and expenses.

We, therefore, agreed to

3.1.3. Conduct research on the economic impact of the above practices for more effective lobbying and advocacy.

4. On the Socioeconomic, Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis

We, the participants,

4.1. Express our deepest concernabout the far-reaching consequences of the dictatorship in disintegrating and destroying the social unit (the family), hence social capital of our society; absence of rights to family life; increased vulnerability of Eritreans; deepening culture of dependency; militarization of the education sector; and collapse of health service.

We, therefore, agreed to

4.2. Conduct research on the performance of the state of Eritrea in relation to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

4.3. On Humanitarian Crisis

We, the participants,

4.3.1. Alarmed by and concerned about the mounting humanitarian situation of Eritreans, especially the refugees, and the continued detention and denial of protection by host countries; continued human trafficking.

We, therefore, agreed to

4.3.2. Develop a plan to assist refugees according their expressed needs and coordinate advocacy initiatives aimed at upholding the rights of Eritrean refugees for protection and leading decent life;

4.3.3. Forgeworking relations with similar Eritrean organizations and creating strong partnership with international organizations to mobilize resources to support Eritrean refugees in need.

4.4. On Human Rights

4.4.1. Deeply worried about the increasing violation of human rights of Eritreans at the hands of the dictatorial regime;

4.4.2. Therefore, agreed to continue documenting human rights abuses and conduct research for a concerted advocacy campaign and litigation purposes;

4.4.3. Cooperate with the national and international media to advocate and raise awareness on human rights issues;

4.4.4. Establishingcoalitions of Eritrean Human Rights organizations in Diaspora and creating partnership with international human rights organizations.

5. On the Road to Democracy

We, the participants,

5.1. Recognize the need for a strategy that is aimed at bringing fundamental democratic change in Eritrea;

5.2. Note the damaging effects of the divisions and conflict among forces working for democratic change;

5.3. Underline the need for creating a bridge among all Eritrean movements for change;

5.4. Emphasize the need for developing a common understanding and unity of purpose among forces of change;

5.5. Believein the collective struggle of Eritreans for democratic change;

5.6. Underline the importance of avoiding leadership havoc and establishing leadership with strong integrity and commitment for democracy and national interest.

Therefore, we

5.7. Encourage the emergence of leadership at all levels that is transparent, accountable and with integrity;

5.8. Emphasizethe need for a free and focused media serving the truth and for Eritrean unity;

5.9. Underline the need for strong conflict resolution mechanisms to constructively resolve conflicts within and among forces of democratic change;

5.10. Striveto ensure for the inclusion and meaningful participation of the people at the grassroots level;

5.11. Acknowledgethe right of Eritreans to resist the repressive regime;

5.12. Encourage and work foran inclusive and meaningful dialoguesamong Eritreans on issues related to the political transition in Eritrea at all levels;

5.13. Work hard to expose the PFDJ regime at local, regional and international level by forming diplomatic relationships with governments and influential individuals.

6. OnTransitional Justice and Peace Building

We, the participants,

6.1. Deeply concerned about the destructive effects of the deepening division and disharmony among Eritreans;

6.2. Critically analyzed the causes and implications of the deepening divisions among Eritreans, especially its implication on the ongoing struggle for democratic change in Eritrea.

Therefore, we

6.3. Underline theneed for earnest reconciliation process among Eritreans both before and after political change in Eritrea;

6.4. Work for the establishment ofEritrean Forums for Dialogue (EFDs) to serve for dialogue among Eritreans; and restore and strengthen the social cohesion of Eritrean communities;

6.2. Recommend the inclusion of provisions on national peace and reconciliation in future constitution with the mandate to spearhead dialogue and reconciliation by dealing with past atrocities and violence;

6.4. Recognize the importance of the role of indigenous infrastructures in reconciliation process among Eritreans at community level.


Pretoria, South Africa

On the 11th of May 2014.

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