Abraham Mehreteab - an obituary
Last Monday Abraham passed away in Offenbach, Germany. For many years he had been engaged in the Eritrean Antimilitarist Initiative and recently translated the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns, as well as the book From Dictatorship to Democracy, into Tigrigna and spread them in the Eritrean community.
He was only ten years old when he suffered from consequences of the war in his country. Playing on the ground, a mine exploded in his hand. He lost his right arm and became practically blind. He was able to finish his High School and study law at the university in Asmara, the capital city of the newly founded state Eritrea.
During his studies Abraham joined the campaign against landmines and started to build up international relationships. In 1997 he partially got back his eyesight back through an operation in South Africa. In 1998 he graduated and obtained his first degree in law. In the same year he got the Rebook Human Rights Award as one of the young activists of the campaign against landmines.
Later on Abraham struggled for the Eritrean government, to put into practice the democratic constitution they had passed. This never happened. During a stay abroad, members of his group in Eritrea were arrested and disappeared. In 2003 Abraham received asylum in Germany.
We met Abraham for the first time in 2003 when we prepared and published a documentation, including interviews and background articles, about the situation of conscientious objectors and deserters in Eritrea. For this project he searched for contacts, made some translations, and finally co-founded the Eritrean Antimilitarist Initiative, together with the deserters. Now they wanted to be a voice for the voiceless: "As Eritreans we see the hard reality in our country. We are the only people who could make change there. There is still a great chance to challenge the government's policies and curb the inhuman treatment on our fellow Eritreans."
In the last years he was active in the framework of War Resisters' International, struggling for the human right of conscientious objection, for nonviolent strategies and the democratization of a country, which is formed by dictatorship and military rules, always with the hope of "achieving the great goal". In 2014, besides attending the conference of War Resisters' International in Cape Town, we visited the Eritrean Movement of Democracy and Human Rights in Pretoria to develop new common projects.
Abraham passed away from the consequences of a brain tumour. He was 44 years old.
We thank him for his unremitting struggle for peace and human rights.
Rudi Friedrich, Connection e.V., December 10, 2015
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