Harper Government Meets with Representatives of Eritrean-Canadian Communities

Matters affecting Eritreans should be discussed and settled by engaing and consulting representatives of Eritrean-Canadian communities
Matters affecting Eritreans should be discussed and settled by engaging and consulting representatives of Eritrean-Canadian communities

By CECCO,

The Executive Committee for the Coalition of Eritrean-Canadain Communities and Organizations (CECCO) recently met with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and the Harper government to discuss events and issues affecting Eritrean-Canadians.

CECCO would like to thank both the Harper government and DFAIT for their cooperation and for their willingness to engage the Eritrean-Canadian communities.

CECCO called on the Canadian government to approach issues in the Horn of Africa within the context of its historical role in working for peace. In this regard, it emphasized Ethiopia’s violation of international law by continuing to occupy Eritrea’s sovereign territory despite the final and binding verdict of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission in The Hague.

CECCO emphasized that Canada’s reputation for diplomacy and leadership in the world will be better served if it were to engage in a thorough examination of the geopolitical factors and unjust procedures that led to the UN Security Council sanctions (Resolution 1907 & 2023) on Eritrea. An axiomatic position on the UN sanctions will evolve to a serious disservice of justice to the people of the Horn of Africa and particularly the people of Eritrea.

CECCO is committed to our Canadian values of peace and human rights, and will continue to engage Canadians of Eritrean origin to promote a strong relationship between Canada and Eritrea. CECCO expressed its deep concern about the human trafficking in Sudan and the Sinai-Egypt and offered its support in addressing and resolving the issue.

CECCO raised the issue of the 2% Rehabilitation Tax and the misunderstanding and misinterpretation around it. The Canadian government was made aware that the recent controversy around the 2% contribution was based on distortions spread by a fringe and unrepresentative group of individuals. All issues surrounding the 2% Rehabilitation Tax were being discussed in a vacuum given that Eritrean-Canadian communities had never been engaged or consulted.

CECCO called upon the government to protect Eritrean-Canadians from being discriminated against, as was done in May 2013, when the Eritrean-Canadian community in Calgary was denied the opportunity to fly the Eritrean flag on Eritrea’s independence day. The Eritrean flag is a national symbol that belongs to all dual citizens of Eritrean descent irrespective of their political affiliations. By denying Eritrean-Canadians the right to celebrate their mixed heritage it threatens the fabric of Canada’s mosaic culture for all. In addition, CECCO expressed concern that the media’s coverage of the 2% Rehabilitation Tax is distorted and has xenophobic undertones.

The Government of Canada welcomed the meeting and encouraged CECCO to continue voicing the concerns of Eritrean-Canadians.

Background:

CECCO is an organization that represents the following communities across Canada: The Eritrean Canadian Association of Ontario, The Eritrean Canadian Community of the Prairie Inc., The Eritrean Cultural & Civic Centre of Calgary, The Eritrean Community Cultural Centre of London, The Eritrean Community in Quebec, The Eritrean Community in Winnipeg Inc., and The Eritrean Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver.