Eritreans march in DC for border demarcation

From Africa News Dimension, Feb. 15:

Around 10,000 Eritrean-Americans marched from the White House to the Department of State in Washington , DC to urge the U.S. government to ensure the enforcement of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) “final and binding” decision to demarcate the border between the two countries.

Carrying banners with the slogans “Demarcation Now!”, “The Rule of Law Must be Respected”, and “Eritrea wants Peace!”, these peace march participants reaffirmed the EEBC’s decision and role as the only just and legal option for peace and stability in the region. The participants passionately called on the U.S. government to uphold its legal and moral obligations as a witness and guarantor to the Algiers Peace Agreements, and make sure that Ethiopia abides by the EEBC’s ruling without further delay or precondition. In a tremendous display of unity, they also advocated for the implementation of the EEBC’s decision to avert further conflict in the Horn of Africa, a region of strategic importance to U.S. security and the global war against terrorism.

Eritrean-Americans of all ages, braved the weather and traveled from all over the East Coast, as well as the Midwest and West Coast, and were united in a spirit of enthusiasm and activism for this historic event. Eritrean-Canadians were also remarkably well-represented at the march. The youth in particular, helped to lead the masses in spirited chants and maintain the crowd’s soaring energy and morale.

Mr. O. Thomas Johnson, Counsel for the State of Eritrea before the EEBC, confirmed that Eritrea has only demanded that the rule of law be respected in the demarcation process and defended the immutable importance of the EEBC’s decision. In addition, Mr. Ron Phillips, f ormer Senior Policy Advisor and Professional Staff Member of the House Armed Services Committee declared his pride to be a part of the peace march and emphasized that the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure that the EEBC’s “final and binding ” decision is implemented. Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Jim Moran (D-VA) also submitted statements in support of the peace march and the importance of the EEBC’s “final and binding ” decision.

Ambassador Yamamoto was presented with 22,000 signatures of concerned Eritrean-Americans and Friends of Eritrea, as well as signatories from all over the world, adding their voices to the thousands who are calling on the U.S. government to ensure immediate enforcement of the EEBC’s ruling. Furthermore, d elegations of Eritrean-Americans also met with their respective Congressional representatives and their staff members to convey their concerns and demand that the U.S. government guarantee strict implementation of the EEBC’s decision to demarcate the border.

Eritrean-North Americans stood together and spoke with one voice, demonstrating their solidarity with Eritrea and commitment to take action to fight for its people and interests. The peace march was a beautiful exhibition of pride and fervor and all who participated, whether in person or in signature, must be commended.

The march comesas the United Nations has formally protested to Eritrea over the arrest of 13 local staff members employed to monitor the disputed border. Another 30 staff are in hiding, in fear of being detained as well.

Recently Eritrea has clamped down on UN operations, in retaliation for the failure to implement the border ruling by an independent commission which ended the 1997-2000 war with Ethiopia. Ethiopia has not withdrawn its troops from the disputed border town of Badme, which the commission awarded to Eritrea. Eritrea wants the international community to put more pressure on Ethiopia to comply with the ruling.

Last year, Eritrea banned UN helicopter flights and called for the expulsion of Western peacekeepers. Then in January, Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki refused to allow a team of US diplomats and army officials to visit the border area.

Talking about the weekend detentions, Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu said, “We will not allow Unmee to be a sanctuary for fugitives,” he said. (BBC, Feb. 15)

Eritrea says the UN workers detained were not arrested, but picked up for “national service.” Eritrea’s ambassador the United States, Girma Asmerom, told VOA the employees taken to serve in the army, or in a medical or agricultural capacity. (VOA, Feb. 16)

Speaking on the Eritrea-Ethiopia tensions, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Jendayi Frazier told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s Newslink for Africa “both are in violation of implementing the Algiers agreement… Eritrea has violated by not allowing UNMEE [United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea] to carry out its work of observing the border, and Ethiopia has violated it by not allowing the demarcation to go forward.” (Eritrea Daily, New Jersey, Feb. 15)

See out last posts on Eritrea and Ethiopia.

  1. Boarder Demarcation
    This should have been Ethiopians march. They have a lot to loss from a dialogue as proposed by the Ethiopian PM than from a mechanical demarcation that Eritreans are asking. Dialogue will bring damaging deal on economic, trade and movement of persons that will hugely favour Eritrea. However, if there is a mechanical demarcation, the demarcation will definitely transpire into social, political and economical demarcation. It is only after that the two countries, as independent sovereign states, can start to discuss how to deal with the fact that they are neighbours with significant cultural, linguistic and political differences. ‘Demarcation First’ should be the Ethiopian slogan.

    The UN & International community was fooled by daylight robbers, murderers and modern gangs (weyane & shabia) working with world class Lobby groups and agents. Before we go into demarcation issue, dose any one asked himself or tried to figure out the reality, legitimacy, ethical, morale, historical and legal background how Shabia(ruling party in ertira)declared independence. One should have to question how UN involved, the then UN Secretary of UN Butros Galley role and mission, who was behind the scenario? Who represented Ethiopia at UN that time? This is where all facts lay.

    ***Freedom or Slavery*** were the options for referendum.. People denied options with real facts.. ***Live with Ethiopia or Live in an independent free state.*** so the referendum was not free & transparent, lucks legal background. During that time no mechanism worked to scan the voice of Ethiopian people on referendum issue.
    The party dealing the referendum on behalf of Ethiopia was weyane-TPLF (tigray people liberation front) ethno centric narrow nationalist group forged, created & grew up under shadow of shabia. Both gang groups (weyane (TPLF)-shabia) are from same tribe, speaking same language “Tigrigna”. They were assisted by Arab states and finally supported by the US and UK to seize power with out blessings of Ethiopian people. Both ill separatist minded rebel groups fought side by side & together against Ethiopian Government lead by Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam. weyane-TPLF leader & PM, Meles Zenawi is cuisine to Isaias Afewerki of ertira(current leader of ertira). Both Meles & Isaias praised by the west as new breeds of African leaders end up as dictators of 21-century
    In 1991 Ethiopian National Army & security forces disband intellectuals and politically active members of the society denied the right to take part in politics.. Lots of crimes against humanity committed by current ruling party & Ethiopians still suffering, media was under full control of TPLF-EPRDF. Those are few pictures & facts hidden from entire world or a facts western world tries to cover-up
    Shabia is an old fox playing triques that we know for decades, why rushing for demarcation now? The TPLF-EPRDF regime of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia now days stick on power by force. The regime lost May 15, 2005 election to landslide victory of opposition parties. Any group, individual or Leader seeking peace and stability for his own people always make deal with stable & legitimate government. ******Any deal concerning territorial integrity of Ethiopia with the regime of Meles is VOIDE by the Ethiopian people****** Is Ethiopian Slogan!
    Indeed, the regime serves the narrow interest of a small segment of the Ethiopian society; that of the Tigrean ethnic group, led and controlled by the TPLF leadership. A human being should always feel the burdens and pains of the people who have been facing the brutality of the EPRDF’s administration in Ethiopia. Let feed reality & facts to the world, let be open to ourselves. Remove dictators from power then talk about borders. You lived for century with out demarcation, don’t rush to tragedy

    Ethiopia Tikdem! from Ethiopian Lions Club

    * Actually the demonstration figure was much exaggerated, as the part of the petition presented were compiled from the petition lists posted on Ethiopian sites for different purpose