Big March to Nowhere

As an activist for Human Rights Concern – Eritrea, I believe that we have to fight against the tyranny of Isaias Afewerki’s regime in any way possible – but, I don’t believe in demonstrating just for show.

On Saturday 21 May 2011, there will be a celebration for the 20th Anniversary of Eritrea’s independence in London. But Eritrea is not independent from tyranny, hunger, imprisonment, torture, rape, disappearances, slavery and many other horrors. For this reason, various groups of protesters in London are marching from King’s Cross to the Eritrean Embassy in Angel where they will bring the short one-tube-stop march to a halt and demonstrate in front of an empty building since the Embassy does not open on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in another, part of London, Eritreans in diaspora will be wearing their best clothes to attend a musical celebration that last 12 hours. These are the people who need to be targeted, who we need to demonstrate against, and who need to be convinced that what they are doing – singing and dancing to raise funds for the Eritrean government is an insult to the 335 Eritreans who perished in the Mediterranean Sea in March 2011, and those who are dying of starvation and untreated diseases in prisons where they have been sent without trial for crimes which they have not committed.

How much more effective it would be if the demonstrators outside the empty Embassy in mostly empty street were to extend their march to the East End of London where this concert for the celebration is being held.

Hundreds of protesters outside the concert would pose a real threat, albeit a peaceful one, to those who think they can blithely ignore the pain and suffering of their compatriots. This would be a much more effective way of bringing about change by affecting this hearts and minds of those Eritreans in diaspora who have themselves become the enemies of Eritreans in Eritrea by helping to fund and support the dictatorship.
This would be protest for change, not just for show, not just for patting ourselves on the back when we watch the video or for posting it on opposition websites or to sing our own praises for organising a successful protest.

Elsa Chyrum
15 May 2011