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DATE=4/23/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43210 TITLE=ERITREA DEPORTEES BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=ASMARA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: IN THE PAST YEAR OF FIGHTING, ETHIOPIA HAS DEPORTED THOUSANDS OF ERITREAN NATIONALS, SAYING THEY ARE SECURITY THREATS. V-O-A'S EAST AFRICA CORRESPONDENT SCOTT STEARNS REPORTS FROM ASMARA, MANY OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE FINDING IT HARD TO READJUST TO LIFE BACK IN ERITREA. TEXT: EVEN AFTER THE WAR STARTED LAST MAY, MOST ERITREANS WERE SURPRISED TO BE DEPORTED FROM ETHIOPIA -- IN PART BECAUSE THEY DID NOT THINK FIGHTING WOULD CONTINUE, AND ALSO BECAUSE MANY CONSIDERED THEMSELVES ETHIOPIANS. HAILU ALHAJI MAHMOUD WORKED 55 YEARS FOR THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT, ENDING HIS CAREER AS A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. HE FOUND THAT DID NOT MATTER WHEN THE POLICE SHOWED UP ONE MORNING. /// HAILU ACT ONE /// I WAS ELECTED BY THE ETHIOPIAN PARLIAMENT TO BE A JUDGE. THAT PRIVILEGE IS ONLY GIVEN TO FEW FORTUNATE ETHIOPIANS. AS AN HONEST ETHIOPIAN, I WAS GIVEN THIS CHANCE. I HAVE NEVER THOUGHT THAT I AM AN ERITREAN. /// END ACT /// LIKE ALL THE CIVIL SERVANTS DEPORTED, MR. HAILU LOST HIS GOVERNMENT PENSION. ERITREANS WHO FOUGHT IN ETHIOPIA'S ARMY NO LONGER RECEIVE THEIR BENEFITS EITHER. BANK ACCOUNTS ARE FROZEN. THERE IS NO APPEAL FROM ETHIOPIAN EMBASSIES ABROAD. BUSINESSMAN BELAY TEWELDE LOST EVERYTHING IN ETHIOPIA. IF NOT FOR OFFICES HE OWNS IN ERITREA AND SAUDI ARABIA, HE SAYS HE WOULD HAVE NOTHING. /// BELAY ACT /// I NEVER EXPECTED TO BE DEPORTED. THEY CAME 5:30 IN THE MORNING WITH SIX OR SEVEN ARMED POLICEMEN AND THEY TOOK ME FROM MY HOUSE. I HAD NINE DAYS OF TRAVEL WHICH WAS HORRIBLE. I COULDN'T DO ANYTHING. I COULDN'T GIVE POWER OF ATTORNEY TO MY EMPLOYEES. I COULDN'T SEE MY PROPERTIES. AND AT LAST I UNDERSTAND NOW THEY HAVE AUCTIONED MY HOUSE -- MY PERSONAL HOUSE -- THEY HAVE AUCTIONED IT. /// END ACT /// SERASH TESFA GIORGIS WAS BORN IN THE ETHIOPIAN CAPITAL. THE 20-YEAR-OLD PLAYED ON ETHIOPIA'S NATIONAL BADMINTON TEAM. SHE WAS PREPARING FOR A TOURNAMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA WHEN SHE WAS TOLD TO LEAVE FOR A COUNTRY SHE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT. /// SERASH ACT ONE /// I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ERITREA. ALL THE ERITREAN CULTURE AND LANGUAGE IS NEW FOR ME. I DIDN'T SPEAK TIGRINIAN. ALSO I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND TIGRINIAN. IT IS DIFFICULT FOR ME AT THIS MOMENT. /// END ACT /// IN THE MORNINGS, MS. SERASH WORKS PART-TIME AS A SECRETARY. IN THE AFTERNOONS, SHE IS HELPING ORGANIZE ERITREA'S FIRST BADMINTON LEAGUE. FOR THE 25-THOUSAND ERITREANS DEPORTED BY ETHIOPIA IN THE PAST YEAR, THE GOVERNMENT HERE HAS GIVEN THEM A SIX-MONTH FOOD RATION, CASH, AND HELP FINDING A NEW JOB. STILL, THE ADJUSTMENT HAS BEEN HARD FOR MANY. MS. SERASH SAYS SHE CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE MINDING THEIR OWN BUSINESS CAN GET CAUGHT UP IN SOMETHING THAT IS NOT THEIR FIGHT. /// SERASH ACT TWO /// IN THE POLITICAL SITUATION, I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ETHIOPIA OR ERITREA. I KNOW ABOUT SPORT. /// END ACT /// JUDGE HAILU STILL CONSIDERS HIMSELF AN ETHIOPIAN BUT VOWS NEVER TO RETURN TO THAT COUNTRY AFTER WHAT HAS HAPPENED DURING THIS WAR. /// HAILU ACT TWO /// IF I AM GIVEN THE WEALTH OF THE WORLD, I WILL NOT GO BACK THERE. IT IS NO MORE A COUNTRY OF LAW, WHO CAN RESPECT THE RULE OF LAW. FORTUNATELY, I AM KICKED OUT TO THE COUNTRY OF MY FOREFATHERS. I HAVE NEVER THOUGHT THAT AN ETHIOPIAN WOULD BE EXPELLED FROM ETHIOPIA. IF THEY HAD SOMETHING TO SETTLE WITH ERITREA, LET THEM SETTLE IT ON THE BATTLEGROUND. /// END ACT /// THERE ARE STILL ERITREANS IN ETHIOPIA AS THERE ARE STILL ETHIOPIANS IN ERITREA. THE ETHIOPIAN EMBASSY HERE (IN ERITREA) ESTIMATES THERE ARE AS MANY AS 80-THOUSAND ETHIOPIANS LIVING LARGELY AROUND THE CAPITAL. MOST OF THE PEOPLE ARE FROM ETHIOPIA'S NORTHERN TIGRAY PROVINCE WORKING AS MAIDS AND GARDENERS, FIELD HANDS AND DAY LABORERS. ERITREA HAS NO POLICY TO DEPORT ETHIOPIANS ALTHOUGH SOME ETHIOPIANS HERE SAY THERE IS A CLIMATE THAT MAKES THEM FEEL DECIDEDLY UNWELCOME. INDIVIDUAL ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST ETHIOPIANS INCREASED FOLLOWING ERITREA'S BATTLEFIELD LOSS AT THE BORDER TOWN OF BADAME. AN 18-YEAR-OLD ETHIOPIAN SAYS HE WAS BEATEN BY A GANG OF ERITREANS ON HIS WAY HOME FROM WORK AT A DOWNTOWN CONSTRUCTION SITE. BECAUSE HE STILL LIVES HERE, HE WOULD NOT GIVE HIS NAME. HIS FACE IS SWOLLEN WITH TWO BLACK EYES. HIS CHIN IS SPLIT. THERE ARE BLOOD-SOAKED BANDAGED ON BOTH CHEEKS. /// BEATEN ACT ONE - IN TIGRINIAN - FADE UNDER /// HE SAYS HE WAS BEATEN SO BADLY HE LAY THERE ALL NIGHT BECAUSE HE COULD NOT GET UP. HE SAYS HIS ATTACKERS TOLD HIM THEY WERE GOING TO KILL HIM BECAUSE THEY WERE ABOUT TO LEAVE ASMARA FOR MILITARY TRAINING AND DID NOT WANT HIM LIVING IN THEIR CAPITAL WHILE THEY WERE GONE. AN ETHIOPIAN SHEPARD SAYS HE WAS BEATEN AT NIGHT WEST OF ASMARA. HIS LEFT EYE IS SWOLLEN SHUT. THERE IS A DEEP GASH ACROSS HIS FOREHEAD. /// BEATEN ACT TWO - IN TIGRINIAN - FADE UNDER /// HE SAYS TWO MEN WAITED FOR ME AT NINE-O'CLOCK AND KEPT BEATING ME. HE CAME TO ERITREA BECAUSE THERE IS MORE WORK HERE. NOW AFTER SIX YEARS, HE SAYS IT IS TIME TO GO HOME. THE HEAD OF THE U-N HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCY, MARY ROBINSON, HAS CRITICIZED ETHIOPIA FOR EXPELLING ERITREANS, SAYING THE DEPORTATIONS VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL LAW. ETHIOPIA SAYS THE ERITREANS IN QUESTION WERE RAISING MONEY FOR THE WAR EFFORT OR THEMSELVES POSED A DIRECT THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY. (SIGNED) NEB/SKS/JWH 23-Apr-99 9:26 AM EDT (1326 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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