…and by “how to speak” we mean “how to speak in public” because that’s not how government officials speak in private, among people they trust.
It’s not easy but you can do it. Here’s how to practice:
“Khartoum’s [International Conference on Human Trafficking] has not curtailed border-crossing. Border-crossing continues. What can stop it is not Khartoum Process, but the policies undertaken in Europe. And that is: “political asylum to Eritreans ONLY!” must be removed from all countries, as a policy. Then, Eritreans…there is no violation of human rights in Eritrea. Nobody is leaving the country due to fear [of persecution.] It is not due to fear [that they are leaving.] It is because they were told, “come!” And so it is because they were told you will be given international salvation or international asylum that they are leaving. And this policy must be abandoned. Thus, to date, Khartoum process has not brought about any change for us.
“So now, at this moment, those who are called “National Service”, are being paid an appropriate salary. Just like the salaries that all workers get. Therefore, the number [of border-crossers] is gradually decreasing. And the National Service are being provided with jobs commensurate with the training they were given. And those without any craft are being enrolled in vocational training and they are acquiring a skill-set. And so, in that way, they are getting their salary working in their field of training.
“So now, once they finish secondary education, and pass their matriculation exam, are being referred to colleges.These don’t have to perform national service: they go straight to college and resume their education. The rest are not assigned to anything but vocational schools. Nobody who has completed secondary education is idling in the streets. Those who are already here [in exile], it is the wish of the Government of Eritrea for them to acquire a skill-set. All possible efforts should be made towards this. If the Khartoum Process could cooperate with us on this issue: that those who are in Europe acquire a skill set, any Eritrean who is here [outside Eritrea] should not be told you will be forcibly returned to Eritrea. We…if an Eritrean is to return, it must be of his own volition. [As for] the Khartoum Process to help us expand our workforce, we need investment. And in this regard, we are having discussions with the European Union and Germany.”
Words and melody by Eritrean Minister of Foreign Affairs Osman Saleh.
In short, there are no push factors from Eritrea resulting in hundreds of thousands of Eritreans leaving their country. Not indefinite military service. Not insufficient or low pay. Not the knowledge that you don’t own your life: that is owned by the government. Not the grossed-up wages that, after deductions, result in the same net pay. Not confiscating people’s wealth and parceling it out in 5,000 Nakfa increments, if you accept their reason for withdrawing their own money. Not a country without accountable governments where anyone with the right title (from party or government) can abuse youth and adults with impunity. Not a government which invites sanctions that freezes up investment resulting in no opportunities. All these are fiction because: There is no violation of human rights in Eritrea.
No, it is all due to pull factors. It is all due to:
* the ease of asylum, due to miguided policies of Europe. (Osman Saleh)
* the human smuggling efforts of the United States (Isaias Afwerki)
But if this is true, why are so many spouses and children of government and party officials living in Diaspora, exempted from the harsh punishment the government inflicts on ordinary citizens?
New year, same old song. Government officials who can’t protect themselves from a tyrant cannot protect the people.