To: The Honourable John Baird
Minster of Foreign Affair Canada
RE: 2% Is Undisputed.
After reading your article and listening to you on CBC Radio and Television, I realize your concerns about the alleged extortion is much appreciated by many although it seems you are misled.
Your approach to the issue made many Eritreans feel threatened and baffled by your suggestion of closing the Eritrean office in Toronto.
Honourable Minster, the issue of 2% tax that was raised last year, and the allegation that the Government of Eritrea is diverting these funds to help the insurgents of Somalia, turns out to be false. The monitoring group stated that, they have no hard proof that the money is being diverted to Somalia.
Presently, there is the accusation that the 2% revenue that the Government of Eritrea receives from citizens with duel citizenship in the Diaspora is considered extortion.
Honourable Minister, if one is a supporter or in opposition of the Government of Eritrea, the 2% is acceptable and undisputed. Why, because it is a service charge and based on the wisdom of obtaining dual citizenship, as Eritrean Canadians we pay dual taxes if we work in foreign countries. Do we consider it extortion? The answer is a resounding no, because it is legally justified to pay taxes when services are rendered.
Honourable Minster, unlike other Countries in the world, in Eritrea education and medicare is free.
The question is Honourable Minister, have you ever asked yourself where does Eritrea get the money for education and medicare with its limited resources?
On the other hand Honourable Minister, when did your government assist Eritrea in a form of Humanitarian Aid or in any other form? Where the whole world has a pledge to assist the impoverished countries in the world. Your answer most likely will be none.
Eritreans by and large has more grievances and concerns against the existing Government and its system of Eritrea than you can count, however, the 2% is not one of them.
Honourable Minister, as I stated above your concern and advocacy to help Eritrean Canadians is always welcomed, however, if you can and are willing to raise the border dispute issue with Ethiopia and to put an end to it, that is getting Ethiopia to surrender the occupied zone to its rightful owners, this would be far better that disputing the 2%. Eritreans would then encourage the Government of Eritrea to:
- Put the constitution in place, and work accordingly,
- Recognize prisoners of conscious
- Provide for Freedom of Press and freedom for the people to speak out,
- Create a workable frame work that all Eritrean can benefit from,
- Advocate on behalf of Eritreans based on being the victims of human trafficking in Sinai.
- Open a dialogue with Eritrean counterparts like Sudan. Egypt, and Israel.
- Limit National Service to 18 months only, etc.
So, Honourable Minister as we speak, Eritrea is a hostage of the world and Ethiopia maybe promoting this mis-understanding. Therefore, if the world could enforce the verdict of 2001, where Ethiopia has to abide by the Algeria Accord then Eritreans at home and in the diaspora will accelerate the change our people needs so badly.
Closing the Eritrean Office in Toronto is not the solution. On the contrary, it will only serve to increase the burden and the expenses for those wishing to travel to the U.S.A.
Honourable Minister if you do your homework unbiased and not listen to the rumor mill, you will find the truth.
Mr. Nazareth Yemane
Voice of Eritrea CKDU FM 88.1