In his 1996 piece “ An Africa Perspective”, Yash Tandon wrote about forces, such as fundamentalism and the rise of China and the balance of economic power shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific, that were challenging the West after the break-up of the Soviet Union. He wrote:
“…Western agents want to retain their powers (over nuclear weapons, markets and resources) and sell ideas of democracy and human rights. But the West sees enemies everywhere, particularly the poor. Thus it wants to ghettoise itself in the citadels of its cities. It erects immigration barriers against bordes of people of colour knocking at its gates. The result is increasing polarisation between the white Christian, Judaic Western nations and the rest of the world. A kind of “global apartheid” has emerged…”
The headlines today reflect this reality. Europeans are said to be grappling with a “broken European migration system”, and across the Atlantic, in the United States, the rhetoric is about “a broken immigration system”. Anti-immigrant politics are threatening America’s broader political fabric and overt racism is being legitimized…Europe is facing similar moral and legal challenges.
European governments are now admitting to a “migrant crisis” and say that over 350,000 refugees have illegally entered Europe so far this year and the media says, “Europe’s borders are buckling”. As Europe grapples with an unprecedented wave of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, and it is a direct result of the foreign policy of the United States and its allies in the last decade, it is not the ordinary citizens that have adopted an anti-Immigrant attitude, but rather, it is the leadership. European leaders, like their American counterparts, have no coherent immigration policy that can adequately respond to the influx of refugees, the greatest migration seen since World War II, so they have resorted to highly inflammatory rhetoric, which camouflage deep fears and loss of control over their borders. The corporate media has done nothing to educate the public on the core issues and has instead chosen to join the fray in confusing, distorting and misrepresenting the issues.
In the United States, discussions amongst Democratic and Republican Presidential have centered on semantics. The media is obsessed with whether or not it is appropriate to use the phrase “anchor babies”, a term used to refer to a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country which has birthright citizenship. The anti-immigrant rhetoric and language is getting uglier by the day, the aghast public has been rendered impotent to do anything about it. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, undermining the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, is heard telling Black Americans, “if black lives don’t matter here go back to Africa”. Chris Christie, also a Presidential candidate has no qualms with using language that dehumanizes immigrant workers. He says he would track immigrants entering the United States “like Fed Ex packages”. Imagine if every American tourist was tagged or fitted with an electronic device when they traveled overseas.
European leaders are not faring better. Slovakia announced that it only wanted to take in “Christians”, and Prime Minster David Cameron reference to the asylum seekers and migrants, as a ‘swarm of people’, a term used to describe a large or dense group of insects, is upsetting many of his constituents. The UK’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond adds insult to injury by referring to migrants on the border as being “pretty desperate” and “marauding” in the Calais area. Such language by officials only fuels the anti-immigrant sentiment, the xenophobia and hate crimes perpetrated against these vulnerable populations.
UK’s mainstream media and their counterparts in Europe and the United States are consumed with the issue of Eritreans within their borders. Are they “asylum seekers” or “economic migrants”? Defining the terms determines whether or not the refugees and asylum seekers are granted permission to stay in, or if they are repatriated to their countries of origin or a third countries. By designating Eritreans as political refugees who are deserving of asylum, the United States and the Europeans as well as the United Nations (through its agency, the UNHCR), have put a premium on being Eritrean. Western states know full well that Ethiopians, Somalis and other Africans claim to be Eritreans in order to get this preferential treatment upon arrival, but have chosen to ignore this fact. The inflated refugee figures serve a political purpose, they advance the carefully crafted narrative on Eritrea peddled for the last 15 years. But who else is migrating to Europe?
According to Britain’s Theresa May:
“…Four in 10 of the migrants who came to the UK last year came with no job waiting for them…this “search for a better life” has had huge economic costs for the countries they’ve left behind…A third of Portugal’s qualified nurses have migrated; 20% of the Czech Republic’s medical graduates leave as soon as they qualify; nearly 500 doctors are leaving Bulgaria every year…”
While thousands are fleeing conflict and wars in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria and Somalia, no other nationality has garnered the attention of the western media as much as the Eritreans. The coverage on Eritrean “asylum seekers” and “migrants” is daily and obsessive, but the concern is not “humanitarian”. The increase in headlines pertaining to Eritreans in Europe’s asylum system is not only well orchestrated and deliberate, it is desperate. It is a futile attempt to cover up the role of western and UN agencies in the luring and trafficking of Eritreans, especially the youth, and to cement in the minds of western public opinion, the long discredited narrative on Eritrea presented in the Commission of Inquiry’s Report on Eritrea to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015.
So it comes as no surprise to see the usual culprits, headed by Amnesty International, which has been spearheading the anti-Eritrea media blitz, continue to produce daily reports on Eritrea. It is their modus operandi and Amnesty International explains its goals and how it aims to achieve them:
“…Our media team help spread Amnesty’s message through all forms of media, old and new. In 2014, we achieved significantly over-achieved our media targets. We have a target of achieving four ‘splash’ factors in a year…”
What is a “splash factor”?
According to the Amnesty International Report:
“…A ‘splash factor’ is an occasion when coverage for the same story, initiated by us, receives coverage in at least three of the following four criteria: a) at least three national newspapers; b) at least three regional papers; c) at least three online news outlets; and d) at least one TV and one radio piece. We achieved 22 splash factors in 2014…”
Its 2014 record will no doubt be broken in 2015 as the narrative on Eritrea, initiated by Amnesty International (AI), has received unprecedented coverage in several media outfits such as the Guardian, the BBC and the latest being on RT, where Amnesty International’s itself has authored a furious piece. It is angry with European states, and especially the UK for trying to adjust untenable existing polices on Eritrea, to reflect the realities on the ground, and not the unsubstantiated exaggerated narratives peddled by Amnesty International and its partners. Obviously, AI does not want any changes in European policies pertaining to Eritrea as it would negate its self-serving narrative on Eritrea, which is the basis for the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report and a culmination of its 15 yearlong effort against the State of Eritrea and its leadership.
It should be recalled that Sheila Keetharuth, the Special Rapporteur and a member of the COI, was Amnesty International’s East Africa Director. In addition, the record also shows her close association with the minority regime in Ethiopia and its handlers, who were instrumental in her appointment as Special Rapporteur. Hardly an impartial Rapporteur, Keetharuth has in the past also been involved in cases filed against the State of Eritrea at other human rights bodies. The COI and Amnesty International have a vested interest in keeping the current narrative on Eritrea alive…and each “splash factor” helps to promote that narrative.
Almost every “splash factor” states that “Eritrea is not a country at war”. Not sure what the definition of war AI and its partners are suing but any sane and sober political or military analyst would know that Eritrea is indeed at war. Ethiopia’s 15-year long occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories is essentially a declaration of war and Ethiopia’s attempts to destabilize Eritrea using its surrogates is also war by proxy. The 6-year long illegal, unjust and unfair US-Ethiopia engineered sanctions are a declared economic and political war against the State of Eritrea. The coordinated vilification and defamation campaign against the State of Eritrea by Amnesty International and its affiliates is part and parcel of the psychological war against the State of Eritrea, its people and government. So Eritrea’s youth are in actual fact, fleeing ongoing wars against the State of Eritrea.
None of AIs “splash factors” tell readers about Eritreans, especially the youth, and how they were actively courted and lured out of Eritrea by western governments and the NGO networks in their employ, in an elaborate scheme to “isolate” Eritrea diplomatically and politically and weaken Eritrea’s economy. None tell about Eritrea’s youth who were targeted and lured with false promises, or explain why European states adopted preferential policies and higher asylum quotas for Eritreans at the behest of the United States. None report on the roe of US agencies and how they have actively encouraged youth flight by offering Diversity Visas, Fulbright scholarships, NED grants, and recruited and encouraged opposition to the Government of Eritrea, evidenced in one of the US Embassy cables which says:
“…we intend to give opportunities to study in the United States to those who oppose the regime…”
Today thousands have gone to neighboring states with the hopes of getting these visas to the United States and Europe, but to no avail. Very few have been brought to the United States legally and thousands have perished trying to make it to Europe. Those who miraculously make it to Europe’s doorsteps face hostile immigration policies, and many find themselves languishing in detention centers and immigration holding cells, underground bunkers, and shipping containers, serving as makeshift prisons as they await processing. Many more have been rendered homeless and destitute, trekking from one European state after another, losing youthful years, faith and precious times, in search of illusive greener pastures…
Amnesty International and its partners do not want Eritreans to return to their country, as it goes against the ugly narratives that they have peddled about Eritrea and its leadership and the “I would rather die, than go back” stories making headlines in the mainstream media. Shattering the “persecution” narrative is the return of thousands of Eritreans to Eritrea, taking advantage of the Government of Eritrea’s amnesty for those who left the country illegally. Eritrea’s policy on returnees is clear.
“…Eritrea maintains a policy of voluntary repatriation of its national wherever they may be. And it opposes any forced repatriation or expulsions. Eritreans who are repatriated face no persecution and are encouraged and assisted to reintegrate to their respective families and societies…”
Majority of those who leave Eritrea illegally, across the border regret their decision, the minute they step on the other side. Eritrean youth in disease infested, squalor “refugee camps” of Ethiopia, abandoned in the vast Saharan desert, in the shark infested Mediterranean and other seas, in urine infested train and subway stations across Europe, or in detention centers in Cairo, Houston, and elsewhere, are fast realizing that the grass is not greener on the other side. Eritreans who have left Eritrea illegally have found very little comfort for squandering their youthful productive years, and the opportunity to produce miracles in Eritrea. Today thousands find themselves in hostile foreign states, pawns to various political machinations, praying for miracles to save their lives and sanity.
Europeans and the United States, and also the United Nations can alleviate the suffering by calling on the minority regime in Ethiopia to end the occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories and ought to reconsider the preferential asylum quotas that are at the root of the exodus from Eritrea…a stable, peaceful nation with an exemplary culture of ethnic and religious respect and tolerance.
No amount of “splash factors” can change that reality….