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A Testimony On Eritrea To The U.S. Congress

I wanted to inform you that I was, on behalf of the America Team, invited to testify at a Congressional hearing last Thursday, July 9th, by the US House Foreign Relations Committee, conducted by the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair.

My part of course focused on Eritrean refugees. I am pleased to say that I believe that new awareness and concern about the situation of Eritrea and its refugees and asylum seekers has been achieved with the US Congress as result of this hearing. There was extensive questioning and discussion following my oral testimony. Some of the items brought to the Subcommittee’s attention, and discussed, were:

• Conditions and mistreatment rampant in Eritrea at the hands of the regime that cause thousands of residents to flee the country month in and month out.
• Dismal and dangerous conditions that beset Eritreans in many places after they flee the country.
• How Eritrean security agents operate freely in Sudan and seek out and haul back high-value defector targets.
• The kidnapping, torture and extortion of refugees that went on in N. Sinai, and still goes on in Sudan and Libya.
• How Eritrean refugees first went to Israel seeking asylum, then more came as victims from extortionists’ torture; and how the number peaked at 35,000 with no official hospitality and public assistance; and that perhaps 30,000 remain with many imprisoned and unwelcome.
• How perhaps 7,000 torture survivors from Sinai are now in Israel without state provision of professional psychological attention for PTSD.
• About the COI study and report; the discredited Danish report; apparent lack of attention to Eritrea by the ICC; and non access to Eritrea by the COI and the Special Rapporteur.
• About the upcoming documentary we are co-producing, Refugee: The Eritrean Exodus, to be released soon.

HouseHearingTestimony7-9-2015 from John Stauffer on Vimeo.

We hope to create an edited version of the video of the hearing, focusing solely on the Eritrean subject matter, for all of those interested in that subject matter to see. We will also make available the transcript of the presentation and the subsequent Q&A session.

Also, two of us from The America Team participated at the UNHCR’s annual conference for NGOs worldwide earlier this month, in Geneva. In addition to making many important UNHCR and NGO connections there, we conducted a side meeting devoted to Eritrean refugees, which included a discussion panel with Gerry Simpson (Human Rights Watch), Eskinder Negash (U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants), Elsa Chyrum (Human Rights Concern – Eritrea) and myself.

Attached to this e-mail is a two-page summary of the Eritrea refugee situation, that we prepared for this side meeting.

I will send you a note when more is available about the recent Congressional hearing.

Best wishes,

John Stauffer
President, The America Team for Displaced Eritreans
www.EritreanRefugees.org
office: +1-610-891-8470

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  • saay7

    To: Mr Stauffer

    cc: Bronwyn Bruton, a Sudden Eritrea Expert

    Re: Eritreans who live the country: economic immigrants or victims of predatory state?

    Please find attached a video testimony of an Eritrean who explains why she sought and received asylum in the United States

    http://youtu.be/Bys4tN_bY8I

    saay

  • Fanti Ghana

    Hello Awate and Everyone!
    Eid Mubarek!

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Dearest Papi,

    Absolutely, it was predictable for those of us who knew the nature of the organization on the field. It was ironic organization and an ironic organization surely transformed into authoritarian party and authoritarian regime. We knew it but we couldn’t prevent it unfortunately.

    Regards,
    Amanuel Hidrat

  • Dayphi

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    بمناسبة حلول عيد الفطر المجيد، اتقدم باحلي واجمل ايات التهنة والتبريكات إلي أخواتي وإخواني المسلمات والمسلمين من أبناء إرتريا والحبشة بوجه خاص سواء في داخل الوطن او المهجر وإلي عموم الامة الاسلامية علي وجه الارض باليمن والبركات والرخاء والسلام شاملا المعمورة كلها.
    May God Almighty accept your fastings on day time, and standing on portions of the nights while the imam chanting the whole 600 pages of Quran in the nights, your Zakats to the poor and needy and sharing your iftar with your neighbors. Your reservoir of faith has been charged throught the blessed month, and i pray it will continue kindled and shining till the coming Ramadan in June 2016.
    Again, HAPPY EID-ul -FITR to all.

    • Dayphi

      KUDOS to my Muslim brothers and sisters of Addis. One more time you hit the record in the entire world [ sunnies at least ] in offering your Eid Prayers of 1.5 million worshippers in the Capital Stadium and all the surrounding streets, parks, and playing ground; all in unison behind your imam. May Amllah, Geji ye Biher hullu, accept your tsolat, your tsom, your qurban, AMEEN. Your congregational Eid Prayer has become the subject of the talk allover muslim world, where some are even contemplating to kopy kat your version of أداء صلاة العيد in their respective cities. you made HABASHAS of diaspora proud. Keep the good job up forever !

  • Noah

    WHAT makes you think they care about you .
    When they DO NOT CARE for the people in their COUNTRY.

  • tes

    Dear Awatawyan,

    On the occasion of Ed, I would like to tell you that I have stopped using my Newtonian law. Let peace reign here at awate.com.

    Saying that, I close my follow-up to @selam, @Ted, @amanuel_hidrat:disqus, @nitricc:disqus

    And @Abi, be peace up on us. My last comment to you was a closing reply.

    From today on wards, if I have anything to say, I will use only thermodynamic law.

    I am so happy the way saay7, haile TG, Mahmud Saleh, Bayan Negash, Saleh Johar are advancing the discussion.

    Despite his habesha syndrome, I found Kokhob Selam one of the coolest and peace loving man. All respect goes to him. In fact I learned great lessons from his way of communication and his thirty to peace and love. Thank you KS.

    Brother Amanuel Hidrat, I am sorry to say but I am totally disappointed at you. please please please, be closer when people are coming closer to you. During reconcilation, I believe no one should drop his political stance but accept to sit with he has. Personaly, I have no problem with your line of thinking but with your way of reconcilation process. I read your lines carefully for so long and I was forced to do what I did. But since hoope is my way, again and again I will call you to RECONCILE, first with yourself and then with everybody. If you ignore my call again, we will see who will be hurted. I said this as a youth. From my observation, when everybody is reconciling, I found you very far from reconcilation.

    To close:

    Ed Mebruk to all our Moslem brothers and sisters.

    All others, as usual great respect to you. Lets harmonize our effort for the common goal. From my experience here at awate.com, I learned that our common understanding of our current dichotomy is luck of courage to debate and discuss on the issues we know for their existence.

    This is a message on the occasion of Eïd and it is meant for a renewed way of communication from tes.

    tes

    ++Nitricc, I heard your call partially(I would like to thank you). It is not because philosophy ruins life but over-reaction ruins everybody.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear tes,
      I love people who make inventory of their way in such equations. as you and me have said it earlier man is here to learn. I love your way for being you even I have objection in some. as energetic and optimistic you will have a lot of jobs to do.

      Dear tes, your understanding regarding Amuni’s Principle is clear by now. you have no objection on his principle but only on his style. The principle is very important all you have to is show your style respectfully and listen to what he was saying and what he is saying. and if you style is better sure he will fallow it and be ready if his style is better to accept it. or sometime you may find yours and his method mixed formula…all you need is just respect his principle and start to communicate friendly. I have noted that he is ignoring your posts and the reason is first replying aggressive words are not good for young and innocent man who just misunderstand him temporally – and again he is hopefully waiting to come to him with more peaceful style. don’t misunderstand me, it is only because I love you both and eager to see you both in peaceful relation.

      • tes

        Dear KS,

        The respect will be mutual. One thing though I want to stress here: people should not be worried to be ignored or not. Everyone here is for a cause. Personally, I am not here waiting or expecting people to engage me. I am here for the common cause. And I work hard to make my cause heard. Whether one wants to engage with me or not, it is his choice but I have a choice where no one can have a control over it. I can engage people if want and ignore if I don’t. The same has the other person. Directly or indirectly, we are all engaging and that is why we are here talking about others.

        Dear KS, lets not worry for being not engaged. What we should worry is for not engaging others. The moment we stopped engaging, we have lost one and losing one means losing one cell accidently from our whole existence. In this regard, I am for engagement, directly or indirectly (proxy type is one method). For example, I have stopped responding to selam but I didn’t stop to engage here through proxy method. Regarding Amanuel Hidrat, it is his choice but I am always engaging him and this is my choice too. When I do that I have a reason.

        Dear KS, the moment we stop engaging others and when it is a must, we fail. We fail because we have some common factor that binds us, in our case, the common binding factor is not PFDJ’s atrocities but ERITREA. As far as one talks about Eritrea, every other one will come and engage.

        To recap, I am for the well-being of my people. Well-being is well being and you know more than everybody through your own personal experience. Anything that comes, it is in reference to that bench-mark.

        With respect

        tes

  • Sarah Ogbay

    Dear Awateans,
    Ed Mubark !!!!

  • Ali

    I think the US is know to understand the problem of Eritreans and will stand with true Eritreans to avoid HIGDEF.
    Down to HIGDEFAWIYAN
    Peace to Eritrawiyan

    • selam

      Dear Ali
      Good luck with your US tim tom of Iraq, Afghanistan, libya. How will i put your hunger game’s look, run as fast as you can is quite possible from PFDJ but after that keep your wonder head for more bullets every where , i say this if we wait for american made solutions. America is only interested on its on interest not democracy, not justice . Waw the american team , first of their name

    • Noah

      you are SICK or DUM ERITREA and PFDJ are one and for ever .

    • Noah

      And they will BURN you . I do not hear you talking about what happen in Israel

  • T..T.

    Hi all,

    The Eritrean refugee and other crises appear fueling flames to Isayas’s favorite claim of open war or the endless “no peace, no war” between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

    On the part of Ethiopia, the problem of the Eritrean refugees pouring into the neighboring countries is part of Isayas’s strategy to regain his fantasy of the lost hegemony over the region after the Badumma war. Under different pretexts Isayas is seen crawling back to play with his mini-strategies of putting his nose into neighboring countries internal affairs. As an example, Isayas used the Sudanese Eastern Rebels to expand his regional influence in the Sudan. Tried and failed in Djibouti. Similarly, Isayas may attempt to use the Ethiopian rebels under his control to get more concessions or new dancing grounds in Ethiopia.

    Therefore, the ongoing crises (refugees, no peace no war, controlling rebels) may redefine the Badumma war as part of the never ending battles. Isayas’s claim of “no peace, no war” will give grounds to Ethiopians to reinforce the redefinition under which the stronger (say, presently Ethiopia) may engage Isayas, if there is a real threat, in a meaningful negotiation to settle the unsettled accounts and avoid a new war. Otherwise, if the “no peace, no war” becomes a source of worry and annoyance with foreign investors, Ethiopia may use the finger prints of Isayas on its internal problems to cross the border, invade Isayas’s office and change the regime.

    What the Isayasists are missing is that Isayas’s claim of “no pear nor war” may be seen to imply that the refugee flooding into the neighboring countries is part of Isayas’s protracted war with Ethiopia.

    • selam

      Dear T.T
      You are just listening to PM desalegn lezayi too much , it is bad to your ears . Eritreans will do their own work on their own intervals no need for weyane boots. Keep the bragging in your own team because Eritreans still hate weyane . It is just not right for you to repeat weyane propoganda machine. DIA will go by our own initiative not weyane boots, if weyane try it means Other thing.

      • Wedi Chided

        ሰላም ሰላም፡
        ኣብዚኣዶ ሓንሳብ፡ ወያነ ንጸልኦም ኢና ክትብሊ ከለኽስ ኣስፍሕ ኣቢልኪ ምኽንያታቱን ጭብጥታቱን እንተትጽሕፍስ ነቲ ዝቐርብ ክትዓት ክንርድኦ ምኸኣልና፡፡ ኣብ ዩኒቨርሲቲ ዓዋተ ሸለል ወይ ሽንትፍ ኣቢልካ ምሕላፍ ስለዘየለ።
        የቕንየለይ።

        • selam

          Dear wedi chidad
          I do understand your question but my answer is going to disappoint you sir. By the way what is that you think awate has ? For me 80,000 plus people’s sorrow and suffering is well alive and by the way who can forget the 20 years plus weyane evil wish against our people , who can debate weyanes evil deeds to the merit of international rule. I see weyane and PFDJ are on the same boat. They are a sick wheel one over the other , they both should thrown out . Weyane crime over our people is countless but is your right as any one else to see them as innocent.

          • abrham

            Hi Selam
            They have requested apology for their wrong doings regarding your 80k thing. You are expected to forgive now.