Wed, 22 Feb 2012 18:16:13 -0500
Dictionaries generally define persecution as the systematic harassment or habitual ill-treatment over a period of time (often on grounds of race, religion, ideology, and lifestyle), used especially for systematic ill-treatment by governments and other official bodies. As such, religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs and affiliations.
The tendency of societies or groups within society to alienate or repress different sub-cultures is a recurrent theme in human history. Moreover, because a person’s religion often determines to a significant extent his or her morality and personal identity, religious differences can be significant cultural factors.
Religious persecution may be triggered by religious bigotry (i.e. the denigration of practitioners’ religions other than those of the oppressors) or by the State when it views a particular religious group as a threat to its interests or security. At a societal level, this dehumanization of a particular religious group may readily turn into violence or other forms of persecution. Indeed, in many countries, religious persecution has resulted in so much violence that it is considered a human rights problem.
FORMS OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
Religious persecution can be considered the opposite of freedom of religion. Religious persecution may also affect atheists in that they may be denounced as being amoral or be persecuted by the religious on the grounds that they are godless. Often, it is the alleged persecution of individuals within a group – in the attempt to maintain their religious identity, or the exercise of power by an individual or organization – that causes members of a religious group to suffer. Persecution in this case may refer to confiscation or destruction of property, incitement to hate, arrest, imprisonment, beatings, torture, and execution.
Denial of civil rights on the basis of religion is most often described as religious discrimination, rather than religious persecution.
RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AND ETHNICITY
Other acts of violence, such as war, torture, and ethnic cleansing not aimed at religion in particular, may nevertheless take on the qualities of religious persecution when one or more of the parties involved are characterized by religious homogeneity; an example being when conflicting populations that belong to different ethnic groups often also belong to different religions or denominations. The difference between religious and ethnic identity might sometimes be obscure; cases of genocide of the 20th century cannot be explained in full by citing religious differences.
RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN ERITREA SINCE 1991
The Eritrean Revolution had two paramount objectives: the independence ofEritreafrom alien rule followed by the liberation of all Eritreans economically, politically, socially and culturally. Between 1941 and 1991, tremendous amount of energy was released, and enormous sacrifices paid to gain freedom from colonial powers. Thanks to our gallant freedom fighters and Eritrean as a whole our independence attained, but the revolution remained unfinished because the dream and expectation of all Eritreans for peace, stability, prosperity, equality, human dignity and democratic governance is yet to be achieved. Needless to say, Eritreans are suffering from the brutal acts of the dictatorial regime of the PFDJ.
There is unchecked religious persecution in Eritreatoday by the ruling party that people initially expected to be their human and political rights champion. I am not talking about Christians killing Muslims or vice-versa, pagans being chased by religious community or atheists being persecuted by other religious establishments. No. I am talking about what Eritrean dictatorial regime is doing: imprisoning, killing, torturing, confiscating property, and dehumanizing all religious groups in Eritrea for no other reason but just because the government dislikes their religious activities and above all because they did not summit to its whims by abandoning their religious duties. Funny enough, the regime inEritrea is a signatory member of the International Covenant on Civic and Human Rights (ICCPR). One of the articles of the Covenant state as follows:
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his/her religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
- No one shall be subjected to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
The Eritrean dictatorial regime does not care and abide by its international obligations, thus is committing gross religious persecutions and atrocities on the Eritrean people at home. As cited in an article by an Eritrean Jehovah’s Witness, below are some important international laws that the government of Eritrea was expected to respect but did not.
The article notes that iinternational and domestic laws are already in place relevant to conditions inEritrea, and it goes as follows:
- The Eritrean Constitution, adopted in July 1996, guarantees in Article 14 (2): “No person may be discriminated against on account of. . . religion. . . or any other factors.” Article 19 (1) states: “Every person shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief.” Article 19 (4) guarantees: “Every person shall have the freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice.” (These quotes are from the draft text of the Constitution.)
- The UN Commission on Human Rights issued Resolution 1989/59, on March 8, 1989, which stated: “The Commission on Human Rights (1) recognizes the right of everyone to have conscientious objections to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as laid down in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; (2) Appeals to States to enact legislation and to take measures aimed at exemption from military service on the basis of a genuinely held conscientious objection to armed service . . .”
- UN Resolution 1466 (2003) (adopted by the Security Council at its 4719th meeting on March 14, 2003) states: “The Security Council . . . reiterating the need for both parties [Eritrea and Ethiopia] to fulfill their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law . . .”
- Eritreabecame a member of the United Nations and accepted the obligations contained in its charter on May 28, 1993. The Charter states in Article 1 (3) that one purpose of the United Nations is to promote and encourage “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees in Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Article 2 states: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as . . . religion . . . or other status.” And Article 18 states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
- In the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ratified by Eritrea on January 14, 1999), Article 2 guarantees: “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as . . . religion, . . . or other status.” Article 8 guarantees: “Freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.”
- The President of Eritrea was among 53 heads of African States who agreed to and adopted the Constitutive Act of the African Union on July 11, 2000. (This Act entered into force on May 26, 2001.) Article 3 states: “The objectives of the Union shall be to: . . .(e) Encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; [and] (h) Promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.”
To fully understand the suffering Eritreans are enduring, click the link below written by the US Department of State onEritrea.
SUBMMIT TO PFDJ WHIMS OR PERISH
The dictatorial regime in Eritreaknows no rule of law, constitution, no respect for human life. Any citizen who dares to question the misdeeds of the government has to be humiliated or perish. For example, click the link below written by JONAH FISHER of BBC- NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3663654.stm
WHEN THE LIBERATOR BECOMES THE PREDATOR
The regime in power inEritreawas the force that led the final phase ofEritrea’s struggle for independence. Most Eritreans and the world community are surprised to see the liberator turned a predator. One can sayEritreais a jungle with the beast well alive looking for its next victim in this jungle. The means of survival in this jungle is either to summit to the whims of the predator that is the dictatorial regime or to escape and leave the jungle that isEritreato the frontier of the unknown hoping a better future. Click the link below written by DANIEL R MEKONNEN and MIRJAM REISEN to see how cruel and unrelenting the PFDJ is.
WHAT IS THE WAY OUT
The contemporary Eritrean crisis is political. Eritreahad no any social or nationality conflict since its inception. There was no religious conflict ever and our diversity was and is harmonious. The human rights violations, religious persecutions, question of nationalities and economic shortfall inEritrea cannot be solved unless we tackle the political crisis coordinating our efforts. What is needed as a matter of urgency today is that all political organizations, religious groups, youth organizations, women’s organizations, civic societies, professional unions, etc should coordinate their efforts to get rid off dictatorship in the country and work together with the people in the country to establish the rule of law. Friends ofEritrea are expected to give their solidarity and support to these forces.
I would like to call all forces of Eritrean opposition to unite and rally around the following Guiding Principles :
- Eritrean people’s unity in diversity.
- Eritrea’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity.
- Peaceful management and resolution of all, including political, conflicts.
- Respect for human rights.
- Respect for representative democratic governance.
- Promotion of regional fraternity between the peoples of the Horn of Africa.
- Independencefrom un-healthy external political influences and interferences.
- Promote national unity and work hard for a smooth transition from dictatorship to democracy.”
Religious and all other types of persecutions and human rights violations can come to an end inEritreaonly when the lawless regime is replaced by a democratic system that respects the rule of law.
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