Eritrean Youth Conference was held in Washington DCJune 8th, 2012
A two-day Eritrean Youths’ Conference was held in Washington last week. The theme: "Eritrean Solutions to Eritrean Problems" attracted over 500 Eritreans from all parts of the US. They also held a public rally outside the Eritrean Embassy in Washington DC as well as had open and lively debates on what they described as "the pertinent issues that are a cause for concern to us and our people". In a message they addressed back to the ruling PFDJ in Asmara, the participants expressed their outrage at the plight of the Eritrean people under the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) unlawful and democratic rule, emphasizing that enough was indeed enough and that they were not going to sit aside and watch as the PFDJ destroyed the country.
In their concluding remarks, the conference noted that the situation of the Eritrean people "has reached an all time low" with every aspect of Eritrean life being "marred by PFDJ’s ugly influence" and that this was endangering the Eritrean people's very existence. They said people could not work to earn a living, that Eritrean parents were denied rights to the comfort of their children, and even religious leaders were denied the right to pray and worship the God of their ancestors. Eritrea’s culture of peaceful and cooperative coexistence "is being trampled all over" and "people can’t even express their views freely". Eritrean youths were "bearing the burden of the PFDJ’s misguided policies, living under slave-like conditions where they are forced into a life of poverty and loss of opportunities including opportunities to family life". They noted the fact that those that are driven into exile are faced with hurdles that are unimaginably difficult from the hands of criminal gangs who are known for their kidnapping of people, their rape and torture, and for the charging of ransoms up to $20,000 to $30,000.
The conference expressed grave concern about the plight of "women whose modern day slavery is even worse than their male peers" as they often face "a life of sex slavery where they are abused by the rank and file of high ranking army officers". Another major concern was the situation of prisoners of conscience including journalists, religious leaders, and political leaders "who [had] called for reform and many more who are languishing in barbaric prisons with their fate and condition unknown even to their family members".
Participants recognized that the "lack of a coherent strategy" was a stumbling block to progress in the struggle against the tyranny in Eritrea. Taking into consideration the immediate need to install a democratic and just system in Eritrea, they agreed to coordinate their efforts in spirit and in action "targeting the PFDJ as the sole adversary against the Eritrean people". They agreed to be action-oriented, result-driven and united in their efforts. They agreed on the need to enhance the momentum of the global fight against "the dictator" and escalate it with immediate effect. They pledged to work "conscientiously and with relentless effort, to realize the salvation of the Eritrean people". --MFA