Five MEPs have put out a press release under the lead of MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat. The Press release responds to the planned conference on 28 November in the European Parliament, which is controversial due to the fact that Eritrean minister for information, Yemane Gebremeskel, is keynote speaker. The MEPs denounce the human rights situation in Eritrea and Gebremeskel’s role in this.
The full text of the press release follows. For the original in French and English, click here.
The Eritrean community has protested the meeting by launching a petition, which has currently been signed over 770 times.
We refuse to endorse the visit of an Eritrean minister to the European Parliament
For two years now, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Eritrea has been conducting an inquiry whose results are overwhelming: the situation of political prisoners (more than 10,000 according to NGOs), the absolute lack of freedom of expression, the wholesale repression including of the Eritrean diáspora. Her last report even states that crimes against humanity have been committed in a widespread and systematic way.
Eritrea is one of the most repressive regimes in the world. A country from which one thousands of young Eritreans flee to escape of violations of Human Rights and of unlimited military service. More than 300,000 Eritreans have already fled their country. It is 5% of the population for a country of 6.5 million.
The European Parliament repeatedly denounced and condemned the risks of collaborating with this country, in particular in its resolution of March 2016 the 10th, and in several hearings in the Human Rights Sub-Commission.
We learned with surprise that one of our colleagues had taken the initiative to organize an exchange of views with the Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel, a relative of Issaias Afeworki, to the European Parliament, to talk about “opportunities for development and innovation” in this country with the consent of the UNDP representative.
We therefore refuse to endorse this initiative and would like to assure the Eritrean Diaspora and the UN Special Rapporteur of our continuing support.
Marie-Christine VERGIAT, MEP EUL/NGL
Beatriz BECERRA BASTERRECHEA, MEP ALDE
Elena VALENCIANO, MEP S&D
Ana Maria GOMES, MEP S&D
Barbara LOCHBIHLER, MEP Greens/EFA