Eritrean Sanctions and Little Boy Dawit Daniel

Amanuel Biedemariam

On a cold snowy day in February 22 of 2010, Eritreans from around the world and the US gathered in front of the Whitehouse and State Department to denounce the unjust sanction hatched by Washington. They stood astride in defiance to make a point to the Obama administration Eritrea is one, united. They demonstrated to demand the repeal of the illegal and UNjust sanction Washington/Susan Rice authored, passed against Eritrea.
Thousands showed up. Most took a day-off from work, college students missed classes and parents allowed their kids to skip class for a day to demonstrate. Eritreans from all walks of life young and old gathered to voice their objection against illegal, Unjust sanctions based on lies.

Amongst them, a charismatic eight years old boy named Dawit Daniel who stood out in a historic way. Dawit was literally hoisted to the stage by his dad. But once on stage, he held on to the microphone like he wanted to say something.

Dawit came all the way from New York to stand up and protest illegal sanction measure. These sanction measure had no chance of passing. Hence, and to apply pressure on China and Russia and to give them cover to vote, the sanction was promoted and passed as African Initiative.

The whole idea was hatched by the US State Department Africa desk which at the time was under the control of the Dr. Jendayi Frazer. Her initial goal was to put Eritrea in the List of Countries that sponsor terrorism. However, that met a stiff opposition in the US congress that saw it as absurd because the information provided was full of lies and did not reflect the reality on the ground

Hence, she pursued the next best thing, sanctions on Eritrea however possible. This was taking place on the wee-hours of the Bush Administration and during the 2008 US election.

On October 23rd, the UNSC staged a hearing about a border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. The hearing was conducted because on June 12, 2008, Djibouti alleged Eritrean forces seized her territories militarily. On June 13, 2008, a day later a call to urge Eritrea to withdraw immediately; and without examination or investigation, voices of condemnation reigned on Eritrea from the US and friends.

On Nov 11, 2008, in an article, High Tech Lynching of Eritrea written on response to a hearing Dr. Frazer staged under the auspices of the UN, the author wrote,

“Their statements were suspicious, well-coordinated, unjustified, fabricated and misleading. For the seasoned observer of the region however, it is clear this was fabricated and part of a much bigger agenda. There were no motives for Eritrea, no evidence was provided, and no genuine effort was made to understand the problem and present a resolution. Furthermore, there was not an established mechanism and ability to validate the claims made by Djiboutian authorities.”

The statement above is the starting point for the lies the UNSC based its sanction decision on Eritrea. In fact, these lies were eerily like the farce claim the Bush Administration spewed leading up-to the disastrous Iraq war that turned world opinion against the US.
The US, under George Bush, pursued aggressive unilateral policy that bullied nations into following US lead by any means necessary. Unfortunately, the hubris with which the failed Bush Administration pursued its strategic goals in the Horn of Africa has resulted in genocides. Thousands were killed, millions displaced, and decimated social infrastructures for decades to come.

Hence, when the Obama campaign preached change, engagement and the audacity of hope; Eritreans and the region were hoping for a new attitude and a change of direction by the US.

The region was hungry for peace and stability. But unfortunately for the region, the then new Obama Administration appointed an over-zealot hawkish Susan Rice as US Ambassador to the UN. Ambassador Rice embraced President Bush’s aggressive policies and more. More importantly, President Obama elevated the UN Ambassador position to a cabinet level position which ensured freedom from congressional scrutiny, free to make and implement decisions. That meant the Obama Administration pursued a more aggressive policy than his predecessor. And a year after Ambassador Rice came to power; she succeeded to slapping UN-just sanction on Eritrea based on fabrications and trumped up unfounded accusations.

Worse yet, it was sad to see Washington taking such a step on Christmas Eve and delivered the news to Eritreans and the world in a most dismissive tone. Ambassador Rice told Eritreans and the world on Christmas Eve:

“I want to talk about the resolution we just adopted imposing sanctions on Eritrea. This was an African initiative. It was the consequence of a decision taken by the African Union.”

This statement is a revealing-testimonial how Ambassador Rice tried to deceive the world and Eritreans. Here is why:

Firstly, and according to the UNSC charter; the UNSC is the principal organ that can carry out decisions on matters of international security. No other organization has authority or mandate to carry out such decisions.

Secondly, it was disappointing to see the Obama Administration use a disgraceful excuse to pretend justice was being served on, according to Rice, “demand of the majority.” In this case, Africans represented-by the African Union.

Fact: If it were up to the majority, Ambassador Rice and President Obama will still be slaves. And the sad part is President Obama is a constitutional scholar well-versed and aware on why safeguarding minority rights is of national importance. Yet, that is how Obama and Rice decided to bestow their version of justice on the people of Africa in this case Eritreans. That’s because justice was not the motive, the aim was systematic decapitation of Eritrea and lead-it to serfdom.

That is what motivated little Dawit Daniel, an eight-year-old boy, to skip class, join the demonstration and to express his views. He got up on the stage picked-up the microphone and tapped on it to make sure the sound is ok and asked,

“Can you hear me?”

This young boy was covered with Eritrean flag from head to toe as he stood on a stage facing the State Department and said,

“First, I just want to say a couple of reasons why I thank God; first, I thank God that I am part of Eritrea, people that care about their country more than anything else…and I thank God… we are all here…, because at the end of the day…we are going to make difference.”

Dawit was fully aware that his presence can, and will make a difference. Pumping as if readying for a fight, Dawit continued…

“Why you people are wondering why an eight-year-old is here in a school day because school is a priority…? I am here so people can hear my voice about what I think about the UNJUST sanction.”

Making it clear to all why he was standing there. After few comments and, after questioning the reasons why the US and the British pushed for sanctions he said,
“This sanction has no legal basis. If, UN is using border dispute to justify the sanction, why didn’t the UN sanction Ethiopia when it is violating a legal and binding decision?
Please note: this is eight-year-old kid asking loaded questions that penetrate deep into the sensibilities of world-leaders that he feels have wronged his people unjustly. And continued,

“Also…I want to give a message to Barack Obama. Ok…, you know…, when you were running for president…I loved you! You were my leader. I followed you on every stump. You were my role model. But then…, the happiness you gave me, turned to sadness…During the inauguration… you said, you will give hand to those countries who want to make peace…Eritreans are making peace in the best way they could…how come…, you don’t give hand to Eritrea?”

This is a kid who felt betrayed by his hero. And continued.

“I want to give a message to Susan Rice. First, you give us a present that is the sanction and then you said; you…care for us…!? Stop trying to fool us because Eritreans have gone through a thirty-year war. You can’t fool us. We learned a lot of experiences…so.”

Dawit’s statements were reaction to calloused and disingenuous statements made by Susan Rice when she announced the sanction decision on Christmas Eve. Quote:

“The United States stands with the people of Eritrea who have fought long and hard for their independence and to build a country in which we have great hope for the future. Thank you.”

Dawit is right to call-out Ambassador Rice. The US has never sided with the good people of Eritrea. To the contrary, it is the US that led the people of Eritrea to decades of colonialism by an African country while consciously denying Eritreans a right to self-determination.

The US handed Eritrea to Ethiopia for its own strategic considerations. That is a historic fact that Ambassador Rice knows well. Furthermore, Ambassador Rice was disingenuous to claim the US stands with the people of Eritrea after slapping sanctions that attempt to tie Eritrea’s hands with arms embargo while at conflict with a very hostile neighbor, Ethiopia.

Concluding remarks
Imagine being convicted without a due process; imagine being sentenced to death without legal representation and imagine once convicted, there is no process or mechanism for appeal. That is what the Obama Administration and the UNSC did to Eritrea. They sanctioned Eritrea based on trumped-up, fabricated and unsubstantiated accusations.

Washington is deeply involved on the affairs of the region and Somalia. Washington, in partnership with rogue ally Meles Zenawi, invaded Somalia and created mayhem that took countless lives and displaced millions unnecessarily. Somalia is awash with armaments in large part with arms supplied by the criminal regime in Ethiopia. Hence, Washington and Ethiopia aught to bare all responsibilities.

Instead, Washington used border dispute with Djibouti, (fabricated dispute) and Eritrea’s support for extremist group, which is a proven-lie,  as justification for sanction against Eritrea while deliberately ignoring  Ethiopia’s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories in violation of international law, the final-and-binding Hague decision.

The sanction against Eritrea exposed how unjust, broken and corrupt the UNSC is. It exposed the overreach and irresponsible abuse of power. Because, the sanction on Eritrea had nothing to do with global security, regional security, the stability of Somalia or a border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. It is a punitive measure designed to chip-away at the strength, stability and sovereignty of Eritrea.

Unfortunately, Eritreans are familiar with these injustices. Eritreans have suffered for decades and paid dearly with the lives of hundreds of thousands for decades. Millions have been displaced and scattered everywhere around the world. Despite these hardships however, Eritreans have learned to turn this tragic imposition of injustices to positive. Eritreans have learned to challenge them-united and effectively. Regardless where they live and regardless of the impediments they face, they overcome as one. That has been the hallmark and salvation.

It is that spirit that propels Eritreans young and old to face these challenges. That is why the little Dawits of Eritrea are incensed and ready to tell the world to stop the bullying in the name of justice, democracy, stability and terrorism. They are ready to stand up to do what it takes to reverse the UN-just sanction and to campaign the US and the UN to stop their hostile unfair approach toward Eritrea.

On 20 November 2010, on the sanction’s one-year anniversary Eritreans around the world will be launching the 30 days Action for Eritrea to call on the Barack Obama’s Administration and the United Nations to annul and repeal the unfair and unjust Resolution 1907 (2009) that imposed sanctions on the people of Eritrea.

Eritreans know they cannot rest until these injustices are reversed. Thus, they have decided to reach out any way they can. Eritreans everywhere are reaching to leaders at all levels local, regional or nationwide.

“The Illegal & UN-just Sanction must be Repealed, and repealed NOW”!



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