WITNESSES HAVE LOST CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS
(SWB 4 Mar 95 [VBME in
Tigrigna, 2 Mar 95])
as broadcast by Eritrean radio, of a Ministry of Interior statement
regarding Jehovah's Witnesses
may be recalled a presidential statement was issued on 25th October
1994, regarding Jehovah's Witnesses in Eritrea. Some groups have
used the said statement to try to portray the government as an
oppressor and abuser of human rights, and for the past two months
they have been spreading misinformation about the government.
However, the accusations by the Jehovah's Witnesses have no basis
whatsoever and are total lies. The truth is the following:
Jehovah's Witnesses lost their right to citizenship because they
refuse to accept the government of Eritrea and its laws. The
government has refrained from taking action against them, hoping
they would cease their repeated unlawful actions.
The Eritrean people have felt the consequences of 30 years of bloody
war and have lost over 60,000 people, with 20,000 crippled and over
700,000 forced to flee. [Words indistinct] therefore those who
watched silently while the Eritrean people were killed
indiscriminately, cannot talk about morality now when the only
action taken [against the Jehovah's Witnesses] is sacking them from
their jobs. There is no family that has not lost loved ones in the
war. Those who are not affected are the Jehovah's Witnesses. They
refused to take part in the struggle. As a result, the Eritrean
people developed a strong hatred of them.
In 1991, when the people of Eritrea were casting their votes during
the referendum, those people [Jehovah's Witnesses] refused to cast
their votes, saying they did not recognize the so-called government
of Eritrea, but only the heavenly bodies.
The Jehovah's Witnesses cannot speak about human rights regarding a
government they do not recognize. They have lost their right of
citizenship as a result of not recognizing the government of Eritrea
and accepting its laws. What everybody should understand is that the
rights of individuals go hand in hand with national obligations.
The people of Eritrea were angered when the Jehovah's Witnesses
refused to vote during the referendum and asked the government to
take the necessary action against them, while some people took
action of their own against them. The government, including the
president himself, tried to calm the situation and warned those
people who were taking action against the Jehovah's believers.
The Jehovah's Witnesses refused to do national service.
Finally, the government stated that they [Jehovah's Witnesses] would
not have rights equal to those of any other citizen since they had
refused to accept the government and its laws. [Passage indistinct]
Patience has its limits. Based on the above points, the Ministry of
Internal Affairs has no option other than to abide by the statement
issued on 25th February 1994 [date as heard].
of Internal Affairs, Asmara, 1st March 1995.