By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 25, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Eritrean relief association in exile has called on the international community to immediately intervene in the recent mass murders of Eritrean navy members.
Based in Ethiopia, the Red Sea Afar Relief Association (RSARA) accused the international community of turning blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Eritrean government against ethnic Afar minorities.
Some 108 Afar members of the Eritrean navy were massacred this month by the country’s border security guards along the Yemen coastline as they attempted to escape.
The navy officers were fleeing the dictatorial Asmara regime’s harsh military policies, which include forced conscription and indefinite service.
At a meeting held in Addis Ababa on Sunday, the RSARA called on the international community to condemn the massacre and press for an immediate investigation into the slayings.
“RSARA takes this opportunity to appeal on the international community at large and [the] international donor community to accuse the ongoing atrocities against the Red Sea Afar”, RSARA said.
Eritrean opposition group, Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation (RSADO) has described the killings as a “brutal genocide”.
It provided Sudan Tribune name with the names 30 ethnic Afar navy members alleged to have been killed by security forces recently.
The victims’ bodies were reportedly found along the Red Sea coast in the areas of Galalo, Marsa, Fatuma, Harena and Pori.
RSARA was established in Ethiopia one-and-a-half years ago to provide moral support and humanitarian assistance to Eritrean Afar refugees being sheltered at three camps in Ethiopia’s Afar region, close to the Eritrean border.
The association is currently operating in collaboration with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) with Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA), as well as number of international NGOs providing support through the regional Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA).
“We further appeal to support the existing efforts being made by RSARA in addressing the humanitarian suffering”, RSARA added.
RSADO opposition leader Ibrahim Haron accused the international community of ignoring the atrocities committed against the Afar people.
“We held the meeting to send a message to the world that the ethnic cleansing policy against Afars has continued”, Haron told Sudan Tribune adding more serious steps needed to be taken in addressing the issue.
Opposition officials say Afar people living in Eritrea, also known as Red Sea Afars, are routinely subjected to neglect, discrimination, repression, displacement, and in recent years to a campaign of ethnic cleansing particularly after the 1998-2000 border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
With the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea as yet unresolved, relations between the two countries remains tense.
The Eritrean government suspects its own Afar people of aligning themselves with their fellow Ethiopian Afars.
Opposition officials allege that hundreds of Afars were killed by Eritrean government on suspicion they were spying for Ethiopia.
The Afar are an indigenous pastoralist nomadic people inhabiting a triangular region spanning Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Most continue their traditional way of life and are engaged in animal husbandry, fishing, trade and salt mining.