By Embassy Media,
On the occasion of the 14th Anniversary of the international ruling made by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, British-Eritreans and Friends of Eritrea held a demonstration in London on Monday 12th December 2016 outside the office of the Prime Minster, No. 10 Downing Street.
The purpose of the demonstration was:
- To call, as generations of Eritreans have done before, for the cycle of historic injustices against Eritrea to end.
- To call for the guarantors of the Algiers Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia to shoulder their legal responsibilities and take necessary measures to force Ethiopia to vacate the occupied Eritrean territories.
- To call on the UNSC to annul and repeal the unjust and unfair sanctions imposed on Eritrea.
- To call on the British Government, as a permanent member of the UNSC, to play its responsible role in pressuring Ethiopia to abide by its treaty obligations.
The demonstration started at 11:00 am and went on until 3:30 pm. Eritreans and their friends came from all over the United Kingdom, including Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, Nottingham, Coventry and Birmingham. The turnout was estimated to have been in excess of 1500 at its peak.
Such a high turnout on a Monday morning, at very short notice, was indicative of the unity and dedication of the people to the cause. Among the demonstrators were friends of Eritrea who joined in the chanting. The police confirmed that the demonstration was peaceful and commended the orderly work of the group leaders.
The demonstration, while peaceful, was loud with chants and placards that read: No to Intimidation and Provocation, Stop Selling Arms to Ethiopia, We Stand against War and Terrorism, Stop Appeasing Ethiopia, Ethiopia – Vacate Eritrea’s Territory Immediately, Annul Unjust Sanctions, No to Sanctions based on Lies, Long Live Eritrea, Long Live President Isiass Afeworki and the Government of Eritrea etc. was vibrancy to make themselves heard as far as the offices of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, across the road.
Two thousand fliers were distributed to members of the public passing by which included civil servants, tourists and others. The flier highlighted the historic injustices against Eritrea in chronological order and listed the reasons for the demonstration.
A delegation led by Ahmed Mohammed Mahmud, chairman of British Eritrean Community Organisation & Network (BECON) will present a letter together with a petition signed by approximately 5000 people to the Office of the Prime Minister, Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the coming couple of days.
At 2:30 pm, Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Mahmud, Chairperson of the Eritrean British Community Organisation & Network (BECON), conveyed clear and direct message of the growing anger and frustration felt by Eritreans from all walks of life as a result of the injustices that the people have been subjected to. He explained how British policy has directly contributed to the abuse of basic human rights of the Eritrean people, citing specific examples. He noted, with great sadness, that this has been the case historically and called on the Foreign Office to rectify its policy towards Eritrea.
Mr. Ahmed Mohammed, also highlighted the absurdity of the sanctions imposed against Eritrea, the known political motives of the controversial figure heading the Monitoring Group and the lack of morality of the British Government in relation to the arms sales to Ethiopia while imposing an arms embargo against Eritrea in blatant violation of its right to defend itself against unprovoked attacks.
He said, “we are here to remind Prime Minister Teresa May, that 14 years after the rulings of the Boundary Commission, Ethiopia still continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territory in violation of the Algiers Agreement, a final and binding international arbitration verdict, various international laws and several Security Council resolutions. Prime Minister of Britain’s legal obligations as a guarantor of the Algiers Agreement and called on her to ensure Ethiopia’s compliance with its international treaty obligations and UNSC resolutions and withdraw from occupied Eritrean territory”.
He continued that the Prime Minister to call for the annulment of the unjust Security Council sanctions imposed on Eritrea and redouble the government’s effort for the establishment of a comprehensive peace in the Horn of Africa.
BECON Chairman, Mr. Ahmed Mohammed. also urged the British Government to shoulder its responsibility as a member of the European Union and as a permanent member of the Security Council and take measures to ensure that the final and binding decision of the Boundary Commission is implemented.
Representing the younger British Eritrean generation, Mr. Auet Melake from Manchester, candidly expressed the embittered feelings of his peers who he said are proud to be British as much as they are to be Eritrean, by highlighting a fundamental inconsistency in the policy of the Foreign Office in its approaches to the Eritrea-Ethiopia and Eritrea-Djibouti boundaries. He also noted how it seemed to him unreasonable that the Foreign Office was effectively supporting sanctions on the basis that Eritrea would not engage on dictated terms instead of evidence supporting the accusations against Eritrea.
The peaceful demonstration was concluded with great display of unity, after five and half hours long standing, shouting and making speeches. The organisers have made it clear that this peaceful demonstration is the first step of working together at UK level, for peace and stability and will be working hard in the future to strengthen our unity so that we can create a peaceful, stable and developed Horn of Africa where all the people can coexist respectfully of each other. As the slogans pasted on to the placards that soared high up in the air said it, it is a case, as usual, of one heart one people. Finally, the overall messages rang loud and clear: No matter what the Eritrean never gives up or as Wedi Elias and Fatna Abdella from Leeds said it: I am an Eritrean – I Persevere.