Lobbying for Political Prisoners: Human Rights Violations of the Afwerki Regime in Eritrea by Adam Foster (A’22)

by tuftsigl
Jun 23

I recently started my internship with One Day Seyoum, a youth-led organization dedicated to ending human rights abuses and securing the freedom of political prisoners, such as Ciham Ali Abdu and Seyoum Tsehaye. Ciham Ali Abdu is an Eritrean-American girl imprisoned since the age of fifteen for her father’s dissent against the regime, effectively in disappearing incommunicado detention. Seyoum Tsehaye is a respected war-time photographer and director of Eritrea’s first state TV channel, imprisoned by the government for over 19 years for an article urging the regime to communicate with the people and encourage peace and justice.

My work, along with that of eight other interns from Tufts, Harvard and Wellesley, thus far has been focused on researching and making presentations on various topics related to Eritrea and Eritrean History for the other interns, and will later be posted on the One Day Seyoum Website. This is primarily in order to give us a basic introduction to the topics while also providing a resource that can then be used to educate the other members of the organization. My topic was the political situation of Eritrea today, which I researched by analyzing the Eritrean-Ethiopian Peace Deal in 2018, the main actors who support and oppose the regime, the Eritrean Diaspora, and how likely the Afwerki administration will become similar to that of Omar al-Bashir and commit the next Darfur. This last subject, in particular, enabled me to draw on my notes and make connections from the Institute for Global Leadership’s (IGL) EPIIC 2020 class this past year, which focused on genocide and mass atrocities around the world.

I was also extremely pleased to work with my coordinator and head of the One Day Seyoum Project, Vanessa Tsehaye, who is an extremely valuable resource.  She provided first hand knowledge on both the standpoint of international organizations and the refugee situation in Eritrea. I look forward to working closely with her and the rest of the executive team.

My next major project and primary long-term responsibility with One Day Seyoum will be leading the lobbying initiative on behalf of Ciham Ali Abdu on the national level. I am very excited to get started with this project, not only because it could lead to the release of an innocent girl from prison but also because it allows me to work directly with policy makers in a time of political turmoil to enact real change. Overall, I am very proud of the work I have done thus far and the work I plan to do within One Day Seyoum and very thankful to the IGL’s Oslo Scholars Program for enabling me to have this opportunity in the first place.