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Home / Gedab News / MP Adam Bandt Presents Eritreans Peitition to Australian House

MP Adam Bandt Presents Eritreans Peitition to Australian House

On May 15,  Mr. Adam Bandt, an Australian Member of Parliament (MP), addressed a petition that was presented to the Australian house of representatives by the Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC.)  By addressing the petition, the MP brought to the attention of the Australian House “the human rights violations, including forced labour, arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedoms of speech” that is prevalent in Eritrea today.

The petition, which was organized by the ENCDC, was signed by hundreds of Eritreans who live in Australia.

Adam Bandt, who is the deputy of the Australian Greens party, was the first member of his party to win in the general election.  The 2010 victory over the Labor Party, a blowout, is an election that the Eritrean community in Melbourne contributed to.

The ENCDC, also referred by its Tigrinya and Arabic names as “Bayto” and “Mejlis” respectively, is a 127-member body which was elected in Awasa, Ethiopia in November 2011, after Diaspora Eritreans delegated representatives to hold a congress.  Its next conference is expected to be held in November of this year.

MP Adam Brandt’s speech follows:

“I rise today to speak to a petition recently handed to me by representatives of the Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change. The petition contains several hundred signatures, many from my electorate of Melbourne, and raises a number of disturbing claims of human rights violations, including forced labour,

arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedoms of speech.

“As to forced labour, the petition raises the particularly disturbing claim that Australian companies can operate
in Eritrea without being required to positively verify that slave or forced labour is not being used. The petitioners also claim that freedom of speech is being dramatically restricted and that Eritrea is the world’s worst jailor of journalists. There are also disturbing claims that a two per cent tax is continuing to be levied on Eritreans in diaspora, something which has been condemned by the US and Australia. In 2009 the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions against Eritrea; however, the petitioners call on the Australian government to add Eritrea to the countries currently named in the autonomous sanction list. I have written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to draw these claims to his attention, and I thank him for responding. It is clear that there is a strong movement from Eritrean Australians for human rights, peace and freedom in Eritrea.

“I thank the Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change for drawing these matters to my attention. I draw the petition to the parliament’s attention and I hope that the Australian government will meet with the council to discuss their requests.”

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  • dawit

    It seems ENCD is trying to raise the fund for their annual gathering in Ethiopia. Join the Caravan, it has been 22 years since it started its independence journey. You are barking in the Outback in the wilderness of Australia and is not going to stop the ‘Camel’ from moving forward to reach it destination. It is not late to join the Independence Festivity going all over the world.


  • T.T

    Your article may seem short in words but not in its contents. It is a well written true story for anyone who wants to know what was right or wrong during the ghedli days. Thanks for writing such an interesting perspective.

  • L.T

    Nothing new thing news but a usely bla bla empty words.We heard such gamling before here and there.Our mian problem are we the soluation are inside us.

    • Asmara Eritrea

      Twenty years of utter brutality and repression in Eritrea

      Thank you Mr Bandt for highlighting the gross human right abuse in Eritrea. This coming on the back of the recent report from Amnesty Internationl is very encouraging in that the world at last knows what is happening and who knows something may now be done about it. Have argued in these pages for a couple of years saying if Eritrea had just a tiny drop of the oil in Iraq, the dictator would have been removed by force a long time ago. Eritrea was better misruled by the Dergu than these mafia group who frankly live by trafficking people openly across the boarder.

      The Eritrean people on this 20th anniversary of torture ask the peace loving international community to
      remove the dictator by force as force is the only thing he and other evil dictators understand. Let’s hope this year will be the start of a free Eritrea. We will never forget 21 January 2013 and in time, I am sure, it will be designated a national day and replace 24 May.

      Eritrea for ever, death to the dictator.

  • T..T.

    A finding to be shared: In the land of turtle, time froze and people are moving at snail speed.

    In this weekend’s Dardasha/ILAL of the ELF/EPLF veterans, one of the veterans asked another if something were wrong with Isayas. Two veterans from ELF cadre school disagreed, saying that nothing went wrong because from the start to finish EPLFism was intended to remain unchanged. Was a change, then, intended for the next level (post-independence)? That could be a question to look into and answer it together. The table kept discussing and looking for convincing answers.

    Many say, one of the veterans explained, that the Eritrean revolution led by the ELF and EPLF represented two schools of thought. To explain in-depth, one has to answer why the ELF and the EPLF were two extreme opposites or two extremes of a thing, just like east and west. Of course, that was the reason the two could not come together. They could not work out their difference simply because their goals and strategies lacked convergence.

    The ELF (Jebha Aba’y), as the word Aba’y suggests, it represented all the nationals or regions of Eritrea, whereas the EPLF was/is under firm control of the two main founders, Isayas group and Ramadan group. The EPLF’s tight controls meant a practice of select and pick trusted people who could be cowed into boot-licking (Ishi Ghiata) and as well lack of openness to new ideas. Such environments and practices of the EPLF were/are characteristics of a mechanistic organization that have failed Eritrea to respond to innovations and changes as a new independent country. Yet many falsely claim that the EPLF was/is innovative and creative. It can only be said that those who are falsely claiming are blind to truth and are not helping the blind country that Isayas declared, where the one-eyed man, the king, is him (Isayas).

    No doubt, the EPLF was/is good at copying and importing new ideas that benefits its system. However, it denies implementing imported new ideas that develop and drive innovation and democracy. Unlike the ELF that framed its political program from a scratch, the EPLF political program was a direct copy from the MPLA of Angola. Many who were in Roma in 1976 may remember how and who copy-produced the EPLF’s political program in Rome, Italy.

    The ELF’s vision for Eritrea of tomorrow, which was something not of EPLF’s style, enabled the ELFers to look forward to future projects. Under the ELF’s future projects, many were sent to friendly countries on scholarship. Teachers, pilots, generals and other officials were made ready to take over once Eritrea achieved its independence. The EPLF’s lack of such vision for then Eritrea of tomorrow wasn’t the only reason for current Eritrea to have stopped or frozen in time and space. If that was not the reason, then what was it?

    The ex-cadres continued their explanations. ELF’s rank-and-file was set up for purposes of line of authority (chain of command) and not to abuse in command and treatment those with lower ranks. Indeed, in the ELF, the relationship between rank-and-file used to be described as ‘different but equal’ or all had the right to equal treatment. In many occasions, many high rankers were told ARDEN (give up yourself to investigation) for irregularities or wrong doing or abuses of power. Rank-and-files of the ELF had the following rights to enjoy every moment of their free time.

    -TIME for family visitation.
    -TIME for vacation.
    -TIME for reading and learning (growth).
    -TIME to spend with spouse.

    Although the EPLF ranks had the above right, the EPLF files and grass roots had songs that condemned those Jebhawian rights. Their sour grapes songs (for things desired but denied or forbidden) went saying ‘You Jebhawi, You’ are condemned for eating rich food [chicken with eggs, meat], getting married, having children and spending time with your family. So, to sing such songs didn’t make any sense then against Jebha nor now against the outside world – unless the ELFism (Jebhawinet) or the RIGHT TO FREE TIME was a real threat to the EPLF leadership and not because Jebha was just an open field.

    It is this Right to Free Time that was absent in the EPLF. Answering this huge question of how and why the Right to Free Time was and is absent in EPLF would solve 99% of present Eritrea’s problems. The explanation of ‘absence of time in EPLF brought a focused attention and widening of eyes with disbelief to one of veterans, recalling how upon enlistment her life had stalled for ever until the day she crossed into freedom. She confirmed that Eritrea was a country where its people froze in time and failed to make any progress. The ex-cadres dug into the early days of the EPLF to trace the lack of trust and free time to its files in its system.

    Remember how the enlisters of the EPLF used to rip from the enlistees private properties and wrist watches, one of the ex-cadres emphasized to draw the attention of the table. The enlistees upon arrival were asked to surrender their wrist watches and totally be disconnected from their family there after or forever til’1991. The effect of getting ripped off (property and time) were/are disastrous for the victims.

    Leaving the disconnectedness of the EPLA members’ asides, the discussion focused only on ripping off from them the wrist watches and its impact. Although the ripped off from each was a wrist watch, the enlistees had to give up their TIME-AWARENESS upon joining the front/organization.

    Once the time-awareness was lost, the enlistees forever became prisoners that surrendered to the whims and caprices of one person. The time-awareness deprivation was the main force that brought the invincible people in Eritrea to their knees. The veterans and Sawa graduates have no control over their time. Life has stopped forever for them while that of every one else has gone on. Attempts, if any, by some people to regain control over their lives kept sputtering till the day of the Fort Operation. Fort forced Isayas to relinquish his grip on time-awareness of our youth and veterans.

    We can say that Fort has granted back time-awareness to its owners and relieved them from the day-to-day whims of Isayas under which they kept crushing. Moreover, Fort gave Isayas two NEVERS. Never to keep quiet about abuses: (1) NEVER to say again I never saw any when indeed I did see, and (2) NEVER to say again I never heard any when indeed I did hear. People now appear to have found their tongues, visions and hearings.

    • rastaman

      EPLF was a Revolutionary Front with an Underground Party(Eritrean Peoples Revolutionary Party- EPRP)with a mandate to rule over Eritrea and beyond for good; while ELF was a National Front with a mandate to liberate the land from Colonial Ethiopia and then hand over the rest to the people, call it less sophisticated indeed. With Simur Ginbar gone down the drain, an ELF fighter saw nothing in shooting at any one other than the Enemy-Ethiopia, and courageously left the field, giving his/her blessing to the much more sophisticated fronts of EPLF and TPLF whose dreams were the hegemony of the Horn of Africa. Thanks to Glasnost and Perestroika which assured the fall of the Berlin Wall, the creation of 15 republics of the Ex-Soviet Union, the many many East European new nations and of course Eritrea became one of the beneficiaries too. In 1977 with 85% of Eritrea liberated, Independence was real feasible, until we ourselves allowed to wait till Ethiopia got the Soviet Aid.That proves that the Eritrean war wasn’t just about driving out the colonialist- Ethiopia.

      • rastaman

        please read “sophisticated” in quotation marks, thanks.

      • Rastaman,

        Where do you want to throw the “Labor party,” the underground party of ELF, which brought the demise of the organization when it took officially the whole power of the front, after the party’s organizational congress in early 1980 before the full blown civil war? Didn’t the military chief (Abdella Idris) with the chief of staffs defied the “trio-men” leadership of the party who were appointed to lead the front? Rastaman do not attempt to comment on something you don’t know. Such kind of utterance is something that creates mistrust among citizen.

        • Abe z minewale

          The foot Tegadelti of both fronts did not seem to know what the leadership does or the future plan was That makes it Awate equals Meskerem minus asmarino divided by assena

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      If eplf is not pfdj then there is still a Clear war between eplf and elf because they dont discuss their differences openly. Both hide their differences to their own Group and underline only on the removal of isayas. And this is very Dangerous because when isayas dynesti collapses, there are thousands opportunists who vow to live poor never again.

      The supporters of eplf and elf must come out from the closets and put Your differences out in the pbulic. In this matter majority and minority has no meaning because there is no such a thing called the majority kille the minority. Can you live in tollerating Your differences or not! Alqaida in Eritrea is not a peice of cake like Somalia. Both eplf and elf are good in internationla politics if it comes to the worest then the catastrophee spills over to east afrcia and the worst victim would be Ethiopia which is involved with the west too deep.

      If Your differences can not be tolerated by Your own Peoples then make a good decision how to split Eritrea with out more bloodshed. isayas is not a religious man and God knows how he is not tempted to dive himself in the alqaida sponsers. He couldnt be so desperate than now.

      • Kokhob Selam

        brother Tamrat, do you think those two fronts had ideological differences? check back and you will find out we were from the same family and no class “medeb” or ethnic line can be seen. it was no non antagonistic difference. that is the reason we don’t see them functioning today. do you how much of ELF fighters join EPLF? most of them. you will find people coming from one front and go back to the other. do you even notice that PFDJ don’t have clear political agenda still? at last the only mission and target of ordinary people was to see independent Eritrea. but they found themselves under worst group. that is what we learn from the past. today we are not fighting against the Mafia group only but against all odds that can create that type of dictator. this is the reason you see a bit mess but the train is doing fine. we are watching in all sides including those who want us to believe our struggle was useless. so be realistic and think of today. we Ertreans are not going to fight again for old ELF and EPLF. that is history.

  • Yemane Johar

    First and foremost I would like to praise the ENCD for being proactive as well for making news and last but not least kudus to the brave Eritrean community in Australia for raising awareness on the slave labor in Eritrea and for successfully bringing the illegal and corrupt gold mining contract to the Australian parliament’s attention.
    The Mining corporate are selfish and corrupt at best and the only thing they care is making money. Neither do they care of the cheap labor and nor are they concerned of the welfare of the indigenous people and the environment and the wild life at large.
    The mining companies do not start operating unless the fool African dictators sign a legal document that guarantee them free from any class action suit. These companies do contaminating the land/water with hazardous chemicals and carcinogenic agents, disrupt the landscape and the echo system. And in a mafia and corrupt government like Eritrea, if these companies incur any irreversible damage to the welfare of the people and the land, the chance for the public to sue and win is slim as they are corrupt and too powerful.
    I dont Trust any forign companies!

  • kemal Ali

    Good Job Eritreans in Australia, together we can make a sound change soon Inshallah. United we stand!