Oh Canada! The world is watching!

By Aaron Berhane June 2011 “I don’t know what to do,” said Mohmud Sheika, an Eritrean man who is on the brink of deportation. “I know I will end up in...

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By Aaron Berhane
June 2011

“I don’t know what to do,” said Mohmud Sheika, an Eritrean man who is on the brink of deportation. “I know I will end up in jail or dead if I am forced to go back to Eritrea. How come the Canadian government doesn’t understand that?” frustrated, angry and worried too much about the future of his four children aged 2, 4, 6 and 8.

Mahmoud Yassin Sheik, 65, left Eritrea to Sudan and then to Saudi Arabia and finally he made to Canada in 2011 after lived and stayed in different parts of the world. His story is a common Eritrean story. His brother is in jail for more than 10 years and no one knows his whereabouts. He could have been next if he didn’t leave right after the arrest of his brother and the confiscation of his company. Since then he has been in search of finding a safe haven to raise his kids and the children of his brother. Now, Canada dashed his dream by sending a deportation letter.
Does the Canadian government forget the horrific administration of the Eritrean regime?

Eritrea is a living hell. There is no freedom of speech, religion, movement or any sort of basic rights. The country is run without constitution; the parliament has never met since 2002; the government has never tabled any budget since 2001; there are more prison camps than schools; there are more people in prison than those who go to school. In the excuse of national service, more than 200,000 youth are kept in the army for indefinite period and forced to work for the companies owned by the ruling party.

There is a sense of lawlessness that is deliberately created by the regime too. As a result, the security agents can arrest, torture or kill anyone. They play God in the daily life of Eritrean people; they take life they give life. The government doesn’t prosecute or punish the officials; they have green light to walk in every direction.

Abhorring the regime, about 3000 Eritreans leave the country every month according to UNHCR report. They crossed the desert, they sail the sea and they take every risk to save their lives. Some are lucky to get refuge, but few hundreds weren’t. They were deported from Libya, Egypt and Sudan. All of them without any exception were arrested at the time the plane landed in Eritrean port. A big number of them have already dead and no one knows about the rest.

That’s going to be the fate of Mahmoud, his wife and his four children if they are deported to Eritrea. There is no gray area, he will be killed the day he arrived or few days later. Either this way or that way, his fate is death if he is sent.

Let’s be aware, we are trying to send him to Eritrea or ‘African North Korea’ or ‘Hell’. Is the Canadian government really saying ‘go to hell’? I hope that’s a mistake, and I hope it will withdraw the deportation letter.

We all know that doesn’t describe our value.

We are Canadian, a caring and well-informed nation. We know what is going on in Eritrea and that is why we have granted asylum to more than 99% asylum seekers. We have been a safe haven, and never send any Eritrean to a burning oven. We are known by the comfort we offer not by the misery we could cause. Above all, we don’t send people to hell, we bring them out of hell.

Whether Mahmoud has stated his case convincingly or not shouldn’t matter, he should be granted asylum because he is Eritrean. He should be given refuge because he came from ‘hell’.
So, the Canadian government should do the right thing that doesn’t contradict with the Canadian value. The world is watching to write us on or off.