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Irob Community in North America

Jan 5, 2004

We hope that the year 2004 will be a year in which the Ethiopians living in the localities bordering Eritrea such as the Afars, the Irobs, the Kunamas and other Ethiopians get a break from bombardments and kidnappings perpetrated by the Eritrean armed forces and from international intimidation to deprive them of their citizenship and/or their ancestral lands. We also hope that other Ethiopians in Gambela and elsewhere in the country get relief from daily sufferings in their own land.

Thanks to the united effort of many Ethiopians at home and abroad, the last months of 2003 displayed a glimpse of hope to those Ethiopians in the so-called disputed areas. We take this occasion to thank the Ethiopian jurists, historians, political and civic organizations and other patriots who worked hard to hold back the preposterous decision of The Hague’s Boundary Commission. Because our history teaches us that whenever we are united no one can prevail against us, we also urge that the united struggle should continue in 2004. As a matter of fact, we survived as a nation due to our forefathers’ unity and consistent patriotism. We must not “leave it to the legal theorists to establish the boundaries that belong to Ethiopia and those that are rightly Eritrea’s” as someone suggested. We know what belongs to us and who we are and where we belong as citizens. That cannot and shall not be compromised. We already witnessed what could happen when our identity and sovereignty were handed over to the foreign “jurists” who simply portrayed the invaded party (Ethiopia) as the invader and rewarded the desperado by granting to it our land with its inhabitants.

The Irob people and many others in the border areas suffered horrible ordeal under the occupation of the Eritrean armed forces. Many peasants from the Irob region who were kidnapped during the occupation are not yet released. Their humanitarian conditions are not yet addressed by the Ethiopian government or the international community. We believe that they are still suffering as captives in the hands of Eritrean regime in the labor camps or languishing in the Eritrean prisons. They are forced to work as slaves and are eliminated whenever they are physically unable to do the horrible work or whenever they have to demonstrate some defiance. The Irob Community published a partial list of the names and dates of the abduction of those hostages and appealed to all authorities who have the ability and obligation to do something in this regard. Unfortunately, our appeals have fallen on deaf ears as no tangible steps were taken by any responsible authority to ensure the safety and whereabouts of the abductees for almost five years.

The Irob Community in North America appeals to all Ethiopians to continue, in the New Year 2004, to stand united on the side of their compatriots living in the “border” areas and for the sovereignty of Ethiopia. We also urge and call upon all Ethiopians and Ethiopian political and civic organizations to put pressure on the local authorities as well as on the International Community to address seriously and solve responsibly the critical human rights issue concerning the Ethiopian hostages languishing in the concentration camps of the Eritrean regime before any other future political negotiations.

May justice and peace for all prevail in the New Year!


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