To compile and curate a photo-documentary exhibition exploring Eritrean history; from the colonial rule period, the devastating war of liberation, through the euphoria of the immediate post-liberation period, to the authoritarian and totalitarian reality that exists in the country today. A key theme of the exhibition is how the current political situation in the country, and the reality of indefinite forced conscription, is driving emigration from the country. Eritrea is one of the largest contributors to the current immigration crisis in Europe.
What is the proposed activity
To mark the second year of the establishment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eritrea, Eritrea Focus and its partner organisations will host a photo-documentary exhibition. The exhibition, which will feature photographs with text narratives, will tell the story of the making of Eritrea, including the Italian colonial rule, the brutal 30-year war of liberation, the initial years of independence where hope for a democratic and prosperous future prevailed, to the current context with the Eritrean regime having turned increasingly authoritarian and repressive. The final ‘chapter’ of the photo documentary will focus on the plight of Eritrean refugees, many of whom are seeking access to the UK.
The exhibition will include a collection of up to 150 photographs (and associated narratives) and will be formally hosted in a central London location – the exact date venue is yet to be confirmed.
The objective of this exhibition is not only to highlight the work that Eritrea Focus and the APPG has undertaken over the past year, but more importantly to promote and deepen public understanding of the current human rights situation in Eritrea, and in particular the plight of Eritrean asylum seekers in Europe and here in the UK.
Why is the activity important?
Eritrea is in many ways an invisible country. There is little coverage in the media and the voice of a growing Eritrean diaspora is rarely heard. As a consequence, knowledge and awareness of Eritrea in the UK and beyond is very low, and unlike the case with Apartheid South Africa, for example, there are no active movements standing in solidarity with the Eritrean people. At this more general level the proposed exhibition is important in highlighting issues relating to human rights in Eritrea here in the UK and in building solidarity with the peoples of Eritrea.
There is, however, a more specific issue that makes this initiative important. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has registered more than 300,000 Eritreans as refugees over the past decade with many more having passed through Ethiopia and Sudan without being counted. Conservative estimate would put the total number of refugees at close to a million. For a country of only 4-6 million people, this represents a significant proportion of the population and makes Eritrea one of the largest per-capita producers of asylum-seekers in the world. Not surprisingly Eritreans make up a significant proportion of refugees currently entering Europe across the Mediterranean.
Date and Venue of the Exhibition:
The time and venue for the exhibition is still under discussions but we will endeavour to announce them as soon as possible.
Campaign for justice and human rights in Eritrea
Eritrea Focus collaborates with a number of partner organisations in its campaign efforts to expose human rights abuses in Eritrea. Below is a campaign organised with Freedom United at the May 2017 Chelsea Flower show which has been sponsored for the last 8 consecutive years by M & G Investments who are the largest stakeholder in Nevsun Resources Ltd.