Asmara, 30 November, 2012: Thousands of calls were received by Asmara residents yesterday afternoon, reminding people to pull together in solidarity with prisoners and refugees and particularly His Holiness Abune Antonios the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, who disappeared in 2005, on the occasion of Hidar Tsion, the feast of St Mary.
The calls were initiated and coordinated by a diaspora based, youth campaign Arbi Harnet (freedom Friday), that has made around 50,000 similar calls over the last 12 months. 5000 out of 6800 (73%) calls were delivered successfully and a number of follow up one-to-one calls for all those who requested further information were also made, by members of the team.
The robo messages and one-to-one calls all encouraged people to congregate in the compound of St Mary’s Church (Enda Mariam), and pray for prisoners of conscience and refugees.
These calls were made possible through donations from a number of Eritreans including a significant amount received from St. Athanasius Charitable Society (SACS); an Eritrean human rights charity committed to religious freedom.
Messages were received positively by Asmara residents and reports reaching the campaign team indicate that there were significantly more people at the service in the main Church of St Mary’s in Asmara. Coordinators of the initiative said: ‘our main objective is to call people to make a communal response to what has become an unimaginably common occurrence in Eritrea’.
- Having gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1991, today Eritrea is daubed Africa’s North Korea owing to the appalling human rights records there. In June the UN Human Rights Council agreed to appoint a Special Rapporteur to look into the human rights violations perpetrated by the regime.
- ArbiHarnet (Feedom Friday) is an initiative coordinated by Eritrean youth in the diaspora with the aim of narrowing the gulf between the resistance to the government of Eritrea in the diaspora and inside the country.
- One of the objectives of the initiative is to encourage Eritreans inside the country to indentify communal responses to the dictatorship that has caused thousands of Eritreans to become refugees and prisoners.
- ArbiHanet is an inspired by the Arab Spring Revolutions, and works to inspire the Eritrean public to rise up in a similar act of defiance against injustice in Eritrea.
- Please contact ArbiHarnet on: firstname.lastname@example.org