(Asmara 06/08/2014) Freedom Friday (Arbi Harnet) sources inside Eritrea report that many parents and elders in various communities across the country are resisting the indefinite national service their children are subjected to.
As reported on Assenna.com earlier this week, in the capital Asmara and in major cities parents including former freedom fighters are reported to have vowed to not send their children, from the 27th round of the national service, back to the military training centre where those that haven’t got the pass grade for entry into higher education will be deployed directly into the national service. Many will be forced to work in farms and building projects, if they chose to remain in the country. Those who opt to leave the country join the ranks of the 3-5,000 refugees that are leaving the country by crossing the border into Sudan or Ethiopia and further afield, crossing the Mediterranean Sea via Libya.
In the rural areas of Eritrea where the regime has decreed every able bodied man, including those over conscription age, should be regimented in the reserve army or Equr Serawit as it is known locally, many are simply refusing to register and some have even taken to hiding in the bushes to avoid raids. Frustrated by levels of refusal regime officials in an area known as Qohayn detained mothers and wives of those who absconded and are refusing to release them until their husbands and sons report for their duties in the army.
Communicating from Asmara a Freedom Friday Activist said ‘even pregnant women and elderly mothers aren’t spared, one woman went into labour and when she was about to give birth they took her to hospital and can you imagine what they did when she gave birth? They returned her back to the detention camp with the baby’.
Families have become even more determined in their resolve following a car accident on Monday 5th of August, where a bus carrying would be recruits, for the 28th round and teachers, overturned. Fatalities include fifteen teenagers and a teacher. Moreover there is an ongoing and grave concern about the fate of many recruits from the 26th round (2013) who were taken to the Sahel region and are still languishing there without any explanation as to what they are meant to be doing in the arid desert land.
Freedom Friday movement aims to encourage resistance inside Eritrea by linking activists inside the country to those in the diaspora.