A Voice for the Voiceless: Standing Up for the People of Eritrea and Tigray

Mekelle፡ 20 June 2024 (Tigray Herald)

A Voice for the Voiceless: Standing Up for the People of Eritrea and Tigray

Writteb By Selam Kidane

Today, at the 56th session of the UN Human Rights Council, I had the honour of presenting a statement that aimed to underscore the severe difficulties faced by the people of Eritrea and Tigray. It is an immense privilege to stand as a voice for the voiceless, highlighting the urgent need for international attention and action to address these grave human rights violations.

The Harsh Reality in Eritrea

The human rights situation in Eritrea is dire. Thousands of individuals, including journalists and religious practitioners, are subjected to arbitrary detention without charge, often in inhumane conditions. The freedoms of expression, assembly, and religion are virtually non-existent, with any form of dissent brutally silenced. The indefinite national service policy is particularly oppressive, driving mass migration and contributing to a refugee crisis.

Religious persecution remains rampant. The tragic death of Reverend Ghirmay Araya while imprisoned for his faith, is a stark reminder of the ongoing religious oppression. In April, 30 Christians were also forcibly removed from their homes, part of a persistent pattern of persecution spanning two decades.
Such actions underscore the need for Eritrea to stand and comply with its international legal commitments, and further to ratify the genocide convention and adhere to all its obligations to prevent further atrocities.

The Crisis in Tigray

The conflict in Tigray has compounded the suffering. Eritrean forces have been implicated in severe human rights abuses, including mass killings and sexual violence, which may amount to crimes against humanity. During a visit to Tigray in 2023, the devastating physical and emotional toll of the conflict was evident. The involvement of Eritrean forces in these atrocities demands immediate international scrutiny and accountability.

The Call for Action

The statement called upon the UNHRC and the international community to intensify efforts to hold the Eritrean government accountable. The ongoing monitoring by the Special Rapporteur and mechanisms like the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) are crucial for ensuring scrutiny and accountability. While Eritrea has shown some engagement with the UPR, sustained international pressure is essential for meaningful compliance and reform.
The Eritrean government must demonstrate goodwill by releasing all political prisoners, ending indefinite national service, ceasing involvement in Tigray, and respecting fundamental human rights. The international community must renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and continue to spotlight these issues, pressing for tangible improvements.

Consensus on the Dire Situation

The issues raised in the statement resonate with those highlighted by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, indicating a consensus about the dire situation in the country. The consistent reports of severe human rights violations, arbitrary detentions, and the lack of fundamental freedoms paint a grim picture that cannot be ignored. This consensus strengthens the call for urgent and decisive action by the international community to address these violations and hold the Eritrean government accountable.


Standing as a voice for the voiceless in Eritrea and Tigray is not just an honor but a responsibility shared by all. The severe human rights violations occurring in these regions are a stain on our collective conscience. It is imperative to advocate, intervene, and demand justice for those who cannot speak for themselves. By working together with unwavering commitment and solidarity, meaningful change can be achieved, upholding the dignity and rights of the people of Eritrea and Tigray.

Lastly, I extend my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues at Release Eritrea and the Centre for Global Nonkilling for their incredible support. Their dedication and hard work have been instrumental in amplifying the voices of those who suffer in silence. Together, we continue to strive for and where human rights are upheld and every individual can live with dignity, happiness and freedom.

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