London 23-09-2013: Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE) has strongly condemned a new threat and intimidation campaign currently underway against the participants of the Bologna Summit 2013. The campaign started on Friday 14 September 2013, via two Eritrean Paltalk Rooms and continues until this day. It aggressively targets conference participants who gathered at the Bologna Summit in Italy during Aug 30 – Sept 1. The Summit was attended by over 90 Eritrean and non-Eritrean activists from the USA, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Malta,to discuss how to end the authoritarian rule of the PFDJ and establish democracy and human rights in Eritrea.
HRCE reports that an Eritren who goes by Mr Solomon Araya in Sweden, his real name is Kebrom Gebremichael (Korerima), his Paltalk nick name is William_Walase1976, his Facebook name is Natnael Koram,) resident in Sweden, is openly leading the campaign against fellow Eritreans who are and mostly human and democratic rights defenders. He is actively supported online by some other Eritreans who are mainly residing in Europe, and two of them are living in Norway and the Netherland. HRCE is gathering the necessary information about them.
“The level of sexism and extremism the campaign contains is dangerous and unacceptable”, Elsa Chyrum, director of HRCE says. “I myself and other activists have become the direct target of personal insults, public intimidation, and death threats by the ring leader Mr Solomon Araya. Female participants and activists in particular were targeted by Mr Araya in a mass campaign in which we were repeatedly insulted as prostitutes and public toilets.
These are highly sexist insults which can be challenged in a court of law here in Europe, especially since this is a public campaign that continues and the evidence is well recorded and documented.” Ms Chyrum stresses. “I myself was a participant of the Bologna Summit and have been insulted for the scars on my face, which I received during an incident in my childhood, and Mr Araya claims that this was my punishment by God. Most women that have been directly targeted are also parents, and our children should not be subjected to public harassment of their mothers.
” But we want to stress that all Bologna Summit participants and activists are the target of this campaign, and a separate Paltalk room, going by the name of ‘ Eritrea Funny Politic muslunet hasewuti’ was opened by the ringleaders stating that the room would remain open until all Bologna participants have been defeated.
The conference participants were defamed and insulted as the collaborators of the authoritarian regime, as cockroaches, brainless creatures, infected with leprosy, and as bed bugs that need to be cleansed and wiped out. Open calls were made to visit visit each house of the over 90 conference participants in order to get rid of them; it was stated that they would not rest until that was accomplished. These are clearly and publicly made death threats.
” Campaigners are breaching European laws, but also a key clause of the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights Defenders: “States have a responsibility to implement and respect all the provisions of the Declaration. In particular, States have the duty to protect human rights defenders against any violence, retaliation and intimidation as a consequence of their human rights work. The duty to protect is not limited to actions by State bodies and officials but extends to the actions of non-State actors, including corporations, “fundamentalist” groups and other private individuals.” (Adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1998)
Sadly, we have seen many people joining the campaign or using political competition among several opposition groups as lame excuses or justification. The fact is that this is an organized and still ongoing public campaign that can be charged as a criminal offence. Our work against the oppressive regime is a fight for democratic rights such as the freedom to assemble and to openly express ourselves.
We are struggling against the crimes, appalling human rights violations of the regime, and a political system that is based on fear and intimidation and we will not stand by to watch similar patterns unfold among Eritreans here in the West. Our human rights defenders have the right to work free from verbal and physical attacks and fear.
We strongly call for an immediate end of the campaign by these individuals and ask all Eritreans to remain vigilant, outspoken, and on the side of justice.
We call on the authority of the host countries where the perpetrators reside to monitor such kinds of dangerous behavior and development as it is against the very basic values and the laws of their countries.