By Chris Cotter,
Hello A.G. Ephrem,
Thank you for your spirited letter about our documentary. We were all surprised to learn that you were able to watch our film which hasn’t been created yet. How did it turn out? We would love to know.
Because most of your analysis takes place in a future world that has not yet come into being, it is difficult for me to respond to your criticisms. However, on behalf of myself and my crew, I would like to respond to some of your points anyway.
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ALSO READ : Response to “The Eritrean Exodus” Documentary by A.G. Ephrem
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First, as you will learn if you see the film (when it is done), we are well aware that there is more than one side to this story. We would consider the film to be worthless if it only explored one part of a complicated issue. However, we should mention that so far we have not been successful in securing an interview with any Eritrean government official in Eritrea nor at the Eritrean Embassy in the US. Perhaps you have a suggestion to encourage them to answer our calls?
Secondly, you asked if we have some “motive on (our) part or on the parts of the people campaigning for The Eritrean Exodus”. The answer is yes. Our motive is to tell the stories of refugees who have fled from Eritrea because most of them lack the freedom and resources to tell it on their own. They are the reason we visited the refugee camps in Ethiopia and continued to Israel. Their bravery to risk their lives by crossing the border into Ethiopia is not only courageous but inspiring. What these people go through in their pursuit for freedom is unfair and deserves the attention it will get. We hope that this awareness might keep them from being tortured and raped in the Sinai, beheaded by terrorists, or drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. If your motive is to stop such a film from being made, then this dialogue is not worth anyone’s time.
Third, we know Philadelphia is not always a walk in the park. We would be disenchanted by the promise of hope and freedom if all we could see was the sometimes cold and dangerous streets of Philadelphia too. However, the correlation between Philadelphia’s crime rate and the living standards of Eritrean refugees in Eastern and Northern Africa is just about zero. Are you suggesting that moral standards and actions should be defined and inspired by geography?
Finally, we do sincerely wonder what you think about the stories we have been told by the Eritrean refugees we interviewed. For example, can you tell us…
> Why is there a shoot to kill policy on the border of Eritrea for people, of any age, trying to leave the country?
> Why are families in Eritrea fined and even imprisoned if a family member flees the country?
> What are the conditions like in those prisons?
> How many journalists are withheld in prison and why?
> Why are so many people afraid to speak ill of the Eritrean regime?
How do you expect me to believe that these atrocities are lies when I have heard them from over 50 refugees in four separate camps in Ethiopia and hundreds of others around the world? If you can find someone who has reasonable answers to those questions then we’d love to hear from them. We might even change our minds.
I appreciate the time you spent to write to me and thank you for sharing our trailer with your friends. We are always happy to film a wedding. And by the way, you mis-spelled my name.
All the best,