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Government Bullying A Citizen: A Personal Testimony

In North America, Europe and, to some extent, Australia, the Eritrean ruling regime, PFDJ, does not wield as much power and its intimidation campaigns are not as effective as they used to be. This is because Eritreans in North America, Europe and Australia are not dependent on the PFDJ for residence and work permits. In the Middle East, however, the PFDJ remains as intimidating and as bullying as ever. What we are including below is its power of intimidation and how some brave souls are standing up to it despite the high risks associated with it.

For those who may not be aware, in the Middle east, most Eritreans hold Eritrean passports and they cannot move an inch without it. There is no room for political asylum in almost all Middle eastern countries. Therefore, Eritreans are under the full control of the PFDJ embassies and consulates, except for a few brave and daring Eritreans who risk everything and face the PFDJ injustice. In Egypt, where Eritreans have the oldest student union which has now been taken over by the PFDJ regime, many are victimized. Scholarships, travel opportunities and other consular services are denied them and there are no asylum institutions in these countries.

In the latest stint, when some Eritreans bravely demonstrated in front of the Eritrean embassy, the consul general came out to threaten them holding a baton.

In another incident, in a meeting, he threatened them that he has diplomatic immunity and carries a gun, and that anyone who comes to his consulate to demonstrate risks being shot and killed, “by my own pistol.”

Egypt has in the past years forcibly returned thousands of Eritrean asylum seekers without considering their refugee claims. This act is a breach of international laws which forbid host nations from deporting asylum seekers to countries where they could face a serious risk of persecution upon return.

According to credible sources, in the past, Egypt’s Interior Ministry officials have given Eritrean embassy officials access to detained Eritreans, including asylum seekers registered by UNHCR in other countries, to help prepare travel documents for deportation.

In another incident, four Eritreans who have refused to bow to the PFDJ have been expelled from the Union under which they have the official Egyptian recognition, and they risk their scholarships and other opportunities since they cannot get any consular help.

One of them is Hamid Adem Idris (known as Al Ajeb), a man who confronted the PFDJ injustices, and is risking his well-being. He carries an Eritrean passport which has since been revoked and he is in precarious situation.

Hamid is an activist and, together with a few of his colleagues, he has been part of the team that has challenged the PFDJ in Egypt, by emboldening and organizing the youth to hold demonstrations against the unjust practices of the Eritrean regime that wishes to oppress citizens at home and abroad.

Earlier this year, Hamid managed to secure a hearing at Mejlis Al Shaab, the Egyptian parliament, and advocated for the cause of the Eritrean people.

This triggered a letter from Sultan Saeed, Chairperson of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) (pictured.) In the letter, he lists names of individuals from the union and warns that anyone who is against the PFDJ should be expelled as well. The translation of the document, as well as the personal testimony of one of the four individuals, follows:

To the Office of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students
Cairo Branch,

nuyes1We have received confirmed information that some youth who were members of the National Union of Eritreans Youth and Students in your branch have stepped outside the political line of the union and they are against its political activities and they work to agitate its members, and are against the national policies of the Eritrean Government, and the People’s Front [PFDJ], and they are involved in smearing the name of Eritrea in foreign media outlets.

nuyes1Therefore, the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, since it is part and parcel of the Popular front for Democracy and Justice , and because it is grounded on the policies of the Eritrean Government in all its details, [has decided that] their likes should not be given membership and anyone who is against the national policies should not be protected under its wings. 

Therefore, it has decided to cancel completely the membership of the youth, whose name follows, and to exclude them from everything related to its activities. And we give you full mandate to cancel the membership of anyone who is involved in such inimical activities which is against membership [rules], and to notify the central office of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students.

[We also bring to your attention to] be alert in the face of such enmities and to work diligently in educating the youth and make them leaders, able to lead the future of their nation without falling in the designs of the enemies.

The names of the youth whose membership is cancelled are:
1.       Zaki Osman Adem
2.       Aman Yassin Ahmed
3.       Hamid Adem Idris
4.       Mohammed Nur Shems

Seal of NUEYS
Signed, Sultan Saeed



Name:                     Hamid Adam Idris (aka Al Ajeb)
nationality:             Eritrean
Education:              Completed High school and university at Azhar

Social Activities:

* Worked at the Eritrean Students Union as a member of the executive office from 2006 to 2007.
* Served as cultural secretary and Secretary of trips and Entertainment at the General Federations and Unions of African students in Egypt; also held the position of secretary-general of the Supreme Advisory Council for the same Union
* Worked as Secretary of external relations for the Federation of East African Students and member of student parliament at Al Azhar.

The first problem

My differences with the Eritrean embassy in Cairo started in 2006, when it prevented students from attending university. It was our duty to defend the rights of students to the extent that we declared a sit-in at the embassy in order to solve the students’ educational problems. But the embassy threw at us charges that we are dissenters and closed the Union. Then wrote about that on the opposition websites regarding the issue of the embassy that deprived students of university education. At that time, I served as Secretary of Sports and Recreation.

The second problem

In 2010, I wrote and reada statement at the International Symposium of Azhar graduates regarding the Eritreanregime’s policy that prevents students from attending Azhar; that statement was published in the Al Azhar Journal of Azhar and I was summoned at the embassy.

The third problem

In 2011, I participated in the formation of May 24 Eritrean Youth Movement after the Egyptian revolution began. I started to write messages for young Eritreans in Cairo on February 5, 2011. And on February 17, 2011, we announced the formation of the movement–the messages are still in the outgoing messages folder on Facebook. When the embassy learned about this, it started threatening me not to continue in the activities but I didn’t stop. On May 22, 2011, the May 24 movement held its first demonstration in front of the Eritrean embassy and some Egyptian newspapers, among them Masry Al-Youm, reported it.

On July 27, 2011 we organized a demonstration in front of the Eritrean Embassy to denounce the kidnapping of girls from the village Ad Ali-Bakhit where their parents were killed when they confronted the regime. Al-Ahram newspaper conducted a meeting with five members of May 24, and I was one of the five.

May 24 Youth Movement organized a seminar regarding human trafficking and it was attended by human rights activists and media and some ambassadors, including the Australian ambassador–the seminar was held on February 5, 2012.

On May 22, 2012 the youth movement held a demonstration in front of the Embassy of Eritrea in the presence of a large number of Egyptian police.

The movement organized an Eritrean cultural day at the Abdul Moneim Al Sawi center in cooperation with Al Shrouq Eritrean heritage and arts group.

The consequences of my interviews with television stations and my visits to places where young Eritrean who escape from their country are detained:

I conducted three television interviews with Al Hiwar television channel.

A. An interview on August 11, 2011; the episode was scheduled to air on May 24 (Eritrean Independence Day)

B. I was a telephone guest at Al Hiwar channel. The program was about the situation of youth in Egyptian prisons in my capacity as in charge of the Eritrean detainee affairs.  That was on May 22, 2013.

C. A ninety-minute interview on September 25, 2011 with Al Mehwer television channel together with two other members of the May 24 Movement. After the interview, the Eritrean Embassy sent a fax message to the channel and stated that the guests the channel hosted is a group of people who abandoned their responsibilities, are clowns who agitate tribal sentiments.

D.  On February 2, 20012, I was interviewed by Al Bagdadya channel together with a lady from May 24 movement.

E. There is a video clip shot by Al Nahar channel showing me distributing aid to detained Eritrean youth.

F.  An interview with Al Jazeera on January 29, 2013, after the May 24 movement stormed the Eritrean Embassy in Cairo.

G. On March 2013, there is a video clip by Al Shaab channel where I presented the issue ofhuman trafficking in which Eritreans are victims to the committee of African Affairs at  the Egyptian Parliament.

I visited the Eritreans detained in Egyptian prisons. During 2011 and 2012, I visited the Aswan prison three-times and we presented aid to 250 youth, women and children.

I have also visited three-prisons in Sinai: Ruman, B’er AlAbd and Al Araish prisons.

I also visited Suez prison.  I also visited Al Ismaelia prison five times; that is where more than 300 youth, women and children were imprisoned.

I have some pictures of the prisons but others I didn’t shoot.

As  a result of these activities, a fax message was sent to the Eritrean embassy from Eritrea accusing me and three others of aggression against the nation and defaming the country’s image in foreign media. The message instructed to have our membership from the student union revoked.

On television interviews I talked about human trafficking and the involvement of the Sinai Bedouins in this trade and therefore received telephone calls threatening me with revenge because, as they say, I tarnished the name of Sinai tribes. One time, they almost baited me by making excuses to help the refugees, but finally I discovered it was a trick.

In one of its meetings inside the embassy, the Eritrean embassy referred to me as a spy and accused me that I persuade Eritrean youth in Egyptian prisons not to return to Eritrea and instead go to Ethiopia.

The Issue of the Egyptian Ship Captain

An Egyptian captain was imprisoned in Eritrea when he entered the Eritrean waters with permission of Eritrean authorities due to malfunction in his ship. He  was imprisoned for several months in Eritrea when Egyptian intelligence and the presidency intervened to have him released. After the captain arrived in Egypt, the press wrote about an exchange of prisoners between Eritrea and Egypt in order to release the captain. Therefore, we met at his home in Kefr AlDewar, in Al Buheira and he told us, literally, that “…an exchange of prisoners didn’t happen but the Eritrean government had asked for a group young dissidents in Cairo, specifically you who are  holding demonstrations. You need to be very careful.”

His mother said that President Mursi told her that her son is needed as an exchanged for young people who want to do what the Egyptian youth did in the [Egyptian] Revolution of the 25th [of January.]

On March 17, 2013, there was a celebration of International Women’s Day at the premises of the Union of Eritrean Students and I went there. But before the opening of the ceremony, a person from the embassy staff took me to the corner and told me that I am required to leave the place. I asked why. And he told me that the Women’s Union does want me there. Thereafter, I contacted the President of the Women’s union and asked her why she didn’t want my presence. She said, “We in the Union did not object to your presence, it is the consul who objected…. “

We at the May 24 movement wrote a statement on our newsletter condemning the intervention of the Embassy in the affairs of the Women’s Union and we characterized the actions of the consul as cowardly and his interference as childish and since then I do not go to places where there are a group of Eritreans who support such actions.

Based on the above, I am now under a threat from many parties:

First, the regime in Eritrea has accused me of aggression against the nation and of distorting the reputation of the state and of arousing tribal grudges–this is a direct threat from the Eritrean regime.

Second: The Bedouins of Sinai are following me after I mentioned them in several television interviews to the extent that they tried to trick me to travel out of Cairo on top of their threatening calls.

Third: the embassy wants to harm me under any pretext and on one occasion they have threatened they will use thugs to get rid of me.
inform.  inspire.  embolden. reconcile.

About Awate Team

The Awate Team is a group of individuals who collaborate in preparing editorial contents that mainly appear under the PENCIL signature and other columns that carry the Awate Team signature. It represents the collective team's view.

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  • gebrihiwet

    why all Muslim asked one person? he is also from muslim family. I say I do not know. he asked again who know I answer no body know.

  • Gebre

    Dear The Truth,

    I wonder if there is a scintilla of truth in your nickname.

    Hamid is a courageous man who does things on the real ground, much better than the superficial cyber warriors who shout out loud from safe haven. Courage demands sacrifice and Hamid has not hesitated to give that sacrifice to end the plight of the innocent Eritrean people without delay.

    Mr Truth, it is an open secret how you and your likes who are bowing before the dictatorial regime have become huge impediments to remove the dictatorship in Eritrea. In the name of national pride, security or whatever reason, you have become the right hand of dictatorship disregarding the wellbeing of every Eritrean at home. Many Germans and Italians also supported Nazism and fascism in the name of national cohesion and committed the most heinous and barbaric crimes against innocent defenseless people. They also gave bad names to their victims to overcome the moral barrier that a sober mind would otherwise have which prevents people to commit crimes against humanity.

    The first thing dictators, fascists, oppressors, and their followers do before they commit atrocities by eliminating their opponents is to degrade, humiliate, and violate their human dignity and integrity. One of these methods is comparing the innocent victims with animals and dehumanizing them. This gives their dirty mind the peace of mind that they are dealing with animals and NOT human beings.

    Let me give you, Mr Truth, a reminder of the ugly history of man from the last century only:
    -The Nazis called the Jews rats preparing their minds to commit the atrocities against the Jews.
    -The Hutus called the Tutsis cockroaches in order to eliminate them without moral barrier.
    -The Apartheid regime in South Africa called the ANC and other freedom fighters terrorists in order to justify shooting them blanket in the streets of South Africa.
    -And many more ….

    So, Mr Truth, your calling Hamid, who stood up to defend the Eritrean people, a “rat” is not new science to us. It the dirtiest method which helps incompetent people to eliminate their opponents because they cannot defend themselves in a scholarly and civilized manner

    • bukretsion

      thank u and god bless u

    • TheTruth

      Says the cyber warrior whose been waging a battle against PFDJ for how long. The opposition is a sad mix of cowards, traitors and naive dimwits.

    • gebrihiwet

      dear Gebre do not you know Hamid is a courageous man who does things on the real ground, much better than the superficial cyber warriors who shout out loud from safe haven?wake up bro.,kkkkkk

  • Kokhob Selam
    • rodab

      Could you tell me what that is about Kokhobe?
      Only if google had audio translation….
      (I like someone to surprise me and tell me google indeed does audio translate :- ))

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear rodab,
        Yes, let me put it in Arabic. you may find better translation and bellow i have put my own translation, somehow it will give you the most needed information.

        هجوم بالأسلحة الثقيلة على احد المخازن فجر اليوم التي تحوي مجموعة من الارتريين وقاموا بتحرير خمسة ارتريين داخل المخزن والقبض على ثلاثة من الحراس دون أي مقاومة من المهربين وتم نقل الارتريين إلى منزل الشيخ محمد المنيعي وكذلك الحراس وتم فك قيود الارتريين وربط الحراس بها تمهيدا لتسليمها إلى مفوضية او لتسليمهم إلى شؤون مفوضية اللاجئيين من أمم المتحدة

        A group of Salafi Bedouins having four wheel vehicles and a large number of heavy weapons launched an attack one of the smugglers store at dawn today which contains a group of Eritreans. There was no resistance from smugglers and They were able to arrest three smugglers and transferred the Eritreans to the home of Sheikh Mohammed Malik in preparation in handing over to UN commission refuge affairs.


      • Wediere

        The report talks about a local sheikh attacking the human traffickers and rescued 5 Eritreans who he has delivered to the UN to deal with them. This is the story in short, until someone gives a better translation.


  • Kokhob Selam
  • rodab

    Abraham Afewerki (RIP) would have been proud to watch this vid”

  • TheTruth

    I hope they find this rat and teach him a lesson. We have no room for cowards and traitors in Eritrea.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Mr. Truth,
      Please lend me the eye glass you wear for a moment so I can see the lion(Hamed) converted to rat, and any supporter (rat)converted to lion.

    • belay

      Mr Truth,
      The man is standing up for his right and for others in Egypt,friends of Mr Isayas Afworki.
      And you call him a rat,give the man a respect,i think he is a hero.

      • TheTruth

        I guess you set the bar pretty low if you think he’s a hero.

  • H. FEREG

    It seem that you are in precarious situation> No proper papers, No Place to go and no safety. I would recommend you approach the Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo and relate your saga. May be they can help. Contact the human rights office in Cairo.

    wish you success

  • Kokhob Selam

    Congratulation Hamed,

    Yes our people in Middle East are under PFDJ. We can’t blame Middle East countries for having their own rules and regulations which was prepared by the authorities for their own interest. If you want to survive in Arab countries you need to follow the rule and system. No refuges settle as refuge and for them you are here because you want to work and earn money. They don’t know or care if you have PFDJ type group leading your country or not. No blame on this. “ wey zbeluKhA geberelom wey adom gdefelom”

    But our people in Arab countries are suffering for different reasons being main cause PFDJ. There are a lot of painful stories untold. If you try to find out you will cry by hearing the experience our people are going through. Those who try to face PFDJ Embassies always were in trouble as most of the people are silent. They are silent because they thought there is no way out and think their problem will be solved. It is said that where there is storm in desert, the ostrich buries his head in the sand hoping that the storm will go away if he ignores it – but finally he found himself unable to get breath buried under a heap of sand and dies. Some among our people think the problems don’t exist or if even they see their own country man it is none of their business. One of the problems that have delayed victory is selfishness. See all those prisoners in Eritrea. The people use to call them “our heroes” but when they were in prison few stand with them. This is the main problem we have. It is time to stand with our heroes like Hamid. We need to break fear now and forever. We have to create an atmosphere where everyone’s problem is for all of us.
    Every Eritrean has gone and is going through difficulties and obstacles. Some time it seems this is a fate given to us. Yet the degree differs and also every individual has taken his problems as personal and try to solve it in his own way. Here is where being “Hade liby” should work not the way PFDJ try to use it in destroying the truth. Here is where kindness is needed. The helping hand that each one of us shows will minimize our troubles. It is just a crime to see others suffering just because someone has managed to escape a little bit far. And there is always the price to be paid for ignoring your brother in dark moment.
    Now, we need to study thoroughly the situations in Middle East and find solutions for all those in trap. There we have people who challenged PFDJ and are not renewing their passports. They still have Eritrean passport. There in Saudi-Arabia we have children who are not able to go to school not only due to money but also due to expired resident permit. There we have fathers and mothers in their old edge who don’t know what to do (they have served their country during their young days). There we have ex-fighters who has paid their young edge for Eritrea and who are unable to face the job market. There we have ladies of different edge in trap. If you visit embassies you will see few Eritreans working for money and ask for payment with rude words “gubeka fetsem” it is painful to hear such words from someone who was not around the struggle.
    Solving the problem in middle east will give another strength in our internal problem. The mafia group should be isolated form Middle East countries and we should free our people. It is just part of our task.

    • Kokhob Selam

      please read-Solving the problem in middle east will give another strength in solving our internal problem.

      • Kokhob Selam

        and please enjoy ……….ከ ው ኽ ብ ቲ….. in our Jebena today.

  • Seare

    Confronted and not bowed …
    I never confronted and always bowed to PFDJ (payed 2% and so on and so forth) and still I could not get my ER passport renewed. Because the ER consul (not in the middle east) at that time wanted to teach me a lesson. I learned my lesson properly and got rid of my ER passport and acquired the passport of the host country. Arbitrariness florishes shere there is no law and transparency.
    I know that my example is not going to be of any help the compatriots but I wish them luck in getting rid of that yoke called ER Passport.

  • simerrr2012

    To all peace loving people!

    We have to help this courageous Eritrean not to fall in the hand of those brutal, street gangsters, mafia entity PFDJ. We can call to UNHCR offices all over the world,Sign petitions to UNHCR, American Embassy in Cairo and UNHCR main office in Geneva. May be Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo help him by printing Ethiopian Pass Port to go to Ethiopia. My brother take care and avoid mobile telephone so they can not locate your location. Try to to contact only relatives or close friends for security reasons. Monimize your contact maximum to two individuals. PFDJ is like a prostitute and the always ready to play the role of prostitute to get something.

    • L.T

      Simerrr or federal act
      Simerr replaced by union joke 2012.Your message is clear as Epapa Jhan-Hoy words”Ethiopia stretches her hands unto God”Bla bla… 2% concerned it to only Eritreans and we do care to pay more then if it possible(If Pappa Isais wishes)

  • yegermal

    Yesterday I went to see the movie “Butler” and in one of the scenes depicted young black students staging a restaurant sit-in to challenge the “separate” (colored vs. white) policy for restaurants’ sitting in the South. The scene was very powerful and inspiring and reminded me of the immense sacrifices African American made to bring about changes in the USA. It’s because of these changes that us immigrants are afforded the same rights as US born nationals. On my way home, I pondered why Eritreans in diaspora especially the youth have not been mounting sustained up-close-and-personal type of challenge to DIA’s unholy operations world-wide. I felt sad and puzzled.

    Thank you Awate Team for coming to my rescue and uplifting my spirit with the inspiring story of the brave Hamid Adem Idris (Al Ajeb). You made my day!

    Way to go Al Ajeb! You’re a true inspiration! But then am not surprised. The Eritrean revolution was sparked by young Eritreans students from Cairo universities.

    “We shall overcome, someday soon..”

    • gebreab

      dear yegermal.
      …illusionist.For the Afro-americans today they may go to the same school as white-liberal or white-racist US-Americans.They may go shopping to the same supermarkets as white-liberal or white-racist US-Americans.They may go to the same university or college as white-liberal or white racist US-Americans.They may go to the same church as white-liberal or white-racist US-americans.They walk on the same street as white-liberal or white-racist US-Amricans.They may go to the same restaurant and café as white-liberal or white-racist US-Americans .And so on and so forth.Deep ingrained habit dies hard. I think,things have never changed and will never change.the tiny things are just for decorations.And the irony is that,it is this type of creature(oppressed) which often makes trouble to the habesha people and to other new-comer immigrants.Is it associated with fear to compete with the new-comers for the crump left-overs?

      • Tamrat Tamrat

        Have you ever thought how much the life of the black americans have been changed in the last 55 or so years? Dont you know that only because of the struggel of the balck americans that the treatments of the most organized in Our world ie the white People racial based treaments against the ohter races changed dramatically for the better.

        May be the black americans struggel couldnt irradicate the race difference from the face of usa but it brings to a civilized lavel. Remeber one thing there People like you who come to usa which cracks their a** wide open to their white bosses makes the Development of racial tollerance go back wards.

        You would understnd how a ‘racist’ pakistan or an arab treats an african where ever in the world.

        • Kokhob Selam

          Dear Tamrat,

          You use to post that ELF is Arab backed front.
          Maybe this is good chance for you to learn that we Eritreans didn’t fight to be Arabs and get part of petro dollar as Mengstu and Haileslase use to propagate but we didn’t bow for Ethiopian coffee dollar either.

          We simply want our own free nation. If you were around you will not wonder today to see the dictator as the continuous long war was an adventure that never let you think of anything else. You may have to find books to read how tough was our struggle against Ethiopian Army. Yes, the ex-government of Ethiopia were not smart enough in solving it. They thought they will win by dividing our people and by killing people. They came with strong forces getting support from imperialism first and then socialist camp. All by calling us “ye areb bushuloch”. The same PFDJ is labeling us “weyane”.
          Tamrat, I never expect we will have one democratic government as soon as we enter Asmara although I never thought we will stay for 20 years under illegal group. The problems we face in those independent years are just part of our national struggle you can’t expect building democratic nation under colonialism you need to free it first and that task is accomplished.
          My friend Tamrat if you go to Saudi Arabia right in the red sea aria and tell the Saudi man you are from Eritrea, he will ask you where Eritrea is but if you tell him you are from Ethiopia he will notice you are from the country of Negashi or the country of Bllal or the country of the house maid working in his house ETC. remember Eritrea And Saudi Arabia share the same red sea. This is just to give you simple example how much far is the argument you brought in different posts.
          You may have heard some Eritreans saying we are not from Habesha. As for me I am from Habesha and I am proud to be Habesha. That has nothing to do with citizenship. Being an Eritrean I will still remain Habesha and personally I fell an Ethiopian is just my brother like every Eritrean.
          Thank you for understanding.

          Kokhob Selam

        • gebreab

          dear Tamrat Tamrat
          If your doughter or sister or both of them in some instances is/are raising the children of the people you’r admiring and protecting and your wife’s wushuma even of yours(we are living in a crazy world of democracy ,every thing is possible) is from them so I can understand your frustration and anger pointed at me.I did not mean to anger anybody,just I am expressing my opinion and by the way a Pakistani and an Arab would lecture you not to bow timidly before your…

  • Then why he doesn’t go to Ethiopia…thye’ll welcome him…that’s where the bunch of useless staff can throw them…

  • Asylee

    Is he applying for Asylum to go to the USA? Sounds like it.

  • bukretsion

    all i can say, Egyptian stood with eritrean people from the beginning of eritrea’s straggle for independence until now. god bless them from add.