Some interesting correspondence occurred among the ’Letters to the Editor’ of Irish Times recently. Reflecting on a previous letter, reader David Turner raised some important points which we would also like to share with you.
David Turner Director of Church in Chains, an independent Irish charity that encourages prayer and action in support of persecuted Christians, was reflecting on the former writing of Ray Jordan Chief Executive of Self-Help Africa, one of the few international NGOs working in Eritrea. He concluded his lines with the idea that Africa is calling for greater Irish support for Eritrea but only if Ireland supports the Eritrean people and human rights – not the Eritrean regime.
S4C wanted to share his thoughts with the readers. Here is the letter:
Sir, – Like Ray Jordan of Self-Help Africa, I greatly welcome the recent peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The speed of events – prompted by the initiative of the new Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali, in accepting the UN ruling on the disputed border without any precondition, – has been breathtaking.
These developments could lead to a misleading impression that the troubles of the Eritrean people are overand that it is time for international aid and trade to steam ahead with Ireland in the vanguard, as Mr Jordan proposes.
However, since aid and trade are only possible under the control of the Eritrean government, such an advance can only be made by trampling over the human rights of the Eritrean people. Unlike Mr Jordan, I have not been privileged to visit Asmara in recent weeks – indeed I have been warned that were I to travel to Asmara, I would likely face arrest. Why? Simply because I have spoken up on behalf of the
thousands of Eritrean Christians who have been imprisoned without trial in dreadful conditions and on behalf of the deposed Eritrean Orthodox patriarch who, now aged 90, has been held under house arrest for over a decade.
The many other human rights violations in the country – including arbitrary arrest of politicians and journalists and indefinite national service – have been described by the UN’s special rapporteur (denied entry to Eritrea) as “crimes against humanity”.
Self-Help Africa calls on greater Irish support for Eritrea. I agree, but only if Ireland supports the Eritrean people by holding to its well-established position of promoting human rights and not turning a blind eye and supporting the Eritrean regime.
Yours, DAVID TURNER, Director, Church In Chains (churchinchains.ie),