Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Civil Organisations urge African government’s to support ICC The Standard |

Updated 17 hr(s) 20 min(s) ago

By Vitalis Kimutai

African countries have been urged to rally behind the International Criminal Court (ICC) in efforts to end impunity for grave international crimes.

Thirty Civil Organisations operating in 20 countries in the African continent are urging governments to complement the ICC process by bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

They are also suggesting that an ICC Liaison office to be based in Addis Ababa be created so as to consolidate the understanding and relationship between AU and ICC

In a letter to Foreign Affairs Ministers of African countries meeting in Addis Ababa Ethiopia for the 18th session of the Assembly of African Union which came to a close Monday, the organisations called for AU and the ICC to strengthen their ties and collaborate with each other, hold regular meetings and exchange views.

"The popular uprisings in North Africa have brought to light the strong desire for justice of populations that had been subjected to repressive rule for several decades. Because of these clear aspirations, ratification of the ICC Statute as well as national prosecutions of grave human rights violations are on the agenda of some of the new governments in that region," the organisations stated.

They stated that the government changes in North Africa have the potential to bring a positive shift in the way these countries approach the ICC and accountability for grave crimes.

The organisations include – International Commission of Jurists - Kenya, Human Rights Network-Uganda, South African Litigation Centre, Amnesty International - West Africa Bar Association –Nigeria among others

They said that although the ICC was not on the formal agenda of the AU Assembly at the summit, it provided an opportunity for African states parties to Rome Statutes to informally exchange observations about recent developments and discuss concrete steps that they and the AU can take to advance justice for the victims of crimes under international law, in accordance with Article 4 of the African Union Constitutive Act.

"The year 2011 was marked by a number of important developments for justice for crimes under international law, such as a higher number of ratifications of the ICC Statute than in previous years, strong popular calls for justice in North Africa, and important elections to top positions at the ICC that will result in a change of leadership at the institution this year," they said.

Six new states ratified the ICC statutes including Tunisia and Cape Verde which brings the number of African countries to 33 with the court now enjoying support of over 120 nations around the world.

There is ongoing consideration of possible additional ratifications, including African countries such as CÙte d’Ivoire and Egypt with Mali being the first African state party to enter into an enforcement of sentences agreement with the ICC.

"The appointment of African officials to senior offices at the ICC reflects the important role that individual Africans are playing in contributing to the success of the court and is of great significance to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening cooperation between the ICC and the AU," the letter stated.

One of the challenges facing the ICC is that numerous victims in the eight countries under preliminary examinations in four different continents are still awaiting the ICC to advance justice.

These include Botswana and South Africa - in relation to the situation in Darfur, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda - in relation to the situation in Uganda, and Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger - in relation to the situation in Libya.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Deterioration in Sichuan Tibetan Human Rights - YouTube

Deterioration in Sichuan Tibetan Human Rights - YouTube: ""

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Ethiopian Jews confront psychological... JPost - Health & Science

While many former immigrants from Ethiopia suffer from deep psychological scars, state agencies have so far ignored issue.

Danny Brom, social worker Asher Mekunnet RahamimBy Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
Ethiopian Jews who endured the travails of reaching this country in the past few decades have more in common with Holocaust survivors than veteran Israelis can imagine.

Although many of the former immigrants suffer from psychological trauma reminiscent of concentration camp “veterans,” only one non-profit organization is systematically relieving their anguish with help from professionals of the same background.

State agencies have not yet gotten around to it, or perhaps even realized there is a problem.

Prof. Danny Brom, director of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma of Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem (www.traumaweb.org) never realized the extent of emotional trauma suffered by many of these immigrants until he met and hired social worker Asher Mekunnet Rahamim.

“I learned a lot about Zionism from Asher since we began to work together,” said Brom. “Ethiopian Jews didn’t run away from their native country. Theirs was a brave, Zionistic struggle, and many who had to contend with great difficulties to get here suffered intense trauma.”

“I was born in 1968 in a village of 250 Jewish families in the Gondar region,” Rahamim told The Jerusalem Post during an interview together with Brom at the center, which is located in the capital’s Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood. “I was one of 11 children and grew up on stories of Jerusalem. My father was the one of the only people in the village to listen to the radio. He used to collect the news he heard and tell us during the Shabbat meals,” Rahamim recalls fondly.

In 1973, when Asher was five years old, his eldest brother left Ethiopia for Israel in a fishing boat, eventually reaching Eilat.

“He sent us letters, but he didn’t describe all the things, including frightening and difficult experiences he went through. Today, he works in the Israel Aircraft Industries. I understand why he described only the good things that happened to him. He said: ‘With one hand you eat, and with the other hand you work.’ He wanted me to follow him to Israel so he didn’t disclose the whole truth.” In Rahamim’s village, “There was a hill that we called Jerusalem. We prayed there, and when my friends came, I begged them to pray that I would eventually live in Jerusalem.”

So it was not surprising that at the age of 13, Asher left home, a year or two before Operation Moses, when the Israeli authorities covertly evacuated some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel from Sudan during the winter of 1984/5. It is estimated that some 4,000 Jews died on the trek from Ethiopia to Sudan, whose government secretly allowed the evacuation to proceed.

Rahamim did not tell his parents he was leaving for fear that they would somehow stop him. He set off on foot with a group of 63 Jews that included one of his brothers.

But they didn’t have the money to proceed.

Rahamim lived for two-and-a-half years in Sudan, selling ice lollies, working for a local family and doing other odd jobs.

“My brother was 22 when we arrived in Sudan. We didn’t live together in the same place, but we met often. Only when we had settled did we send a letter and a photo to our parents telling them not to worry because we were OK.”

This good news, he said, must have been like the Patriarch Jacob learning that his beloved son Joseph was alive in Egypt.

Asher’s parents finally arrived in Israel eight years ago.

He attended the in the Mikve Yisrael boarding school and learned Hebrew – in which he’s now fluent – solely in Israel.

“I had been through traumatic events and experiences, but I didn’t have time to get nightmares. I was so busy. I sat in my high school classes but since I copied from the board so slowly, I was always staying behind after class to get it done. I didn’t understand most of the material, especially the math.

But I had a wonderful, incredible teacher,” he remembered. “She sat with me and saw that my grades were poor. She said: ‘I won’t look at your grades’ and turned the paper over. She was sure that I had potential. Just what she told me raised my morale.”

By the end of the school year, his grades had changed, thanks to that teacher and an immigrant from Holland, Gideon Ya’ari Cohen, who “adopted” him.

“I had not been willing to be be ‘adopted’ because that would seem as if I no longer had parents. He offered to help me with math, which was especially difficult for me, and gave me free private lessons.”

Rahamim studied in a Hebrew ulpan and was inducted into the army. After serving in the army, he studied industrial management in Ashdod. Looking for work with a fellow student who was a Sephardi of Moroccan parentage, he went to a potential workplace with him. Rahamim was offered an starting salary of NIS 2,800, while his friend – who had exactly the same qualifications – “was told he would get almost double that.” At that moment, the young Jew from Ethiopia realized that he would not be able to influence his future in such a company.

Recent news reports regarding veteran residents of Kiryat Malachi refusing to sell homes to Ethiopian immigrants and abus driver at a stop in Mevaseret Zion who called two small immigrant girls “smelly” indicate that this type of ugly discrimination hasn’t gone away.

“I studied mediation and then worked in schools around the country to help Ethiopian immigrants. But since I needed tools to really assist them, I decided to study social work at the Hebrew University. I received a scholarship and got my degree. I worked in the general community for the Jerusalem Municipality for five years.”

Then he met Brom, a former immigrant from Holland. who has been a father of psychotrauma since his aliya many years ago.

“We received money during the second intifada from the UJA/Federation of New York to hold a course for people from the various communities. Asher came to the course,” Brom recalls. “It involved helping Ethiopian immigrants to cope with terrorist attacks.”

“I regard my aliya as a luxury trip compared to what the Jews endured during Operation Moses and subsequent struggles to reach Israel,” Rahamim noted.

“Although I was so young, I was able to cope. And today, actually living in Jerusalem for the past 13 years, I get up and ask myself: ‘Is it real that I live in Jerusalem?’ I am happy.”

Rahamim got married in 1999 to an Ethiopian Jewish woman who made aliya the age of 12, in 1984, with her parents.

Together, they have four children. “They are lovely Israeli kids,” he said, in tones of awe and disbelief.

But there is still trauma. Although almost all of his family members have settled here, one of his brothers disappeared on the border of Sudan. At the end of 1992, Rahamim completed his active service in the IDF and traveled to Ethiopia and Sudan to look for him.

“He would be 56 today. He left a wife and four children, and a daughter is already married.”

There are some 5,500 immigrants from Ethiopia living in Jerusalem, but most live outside the capital, despite their lifelong love for the place, said Rahamim.

“I have worked on the psychotrauma center team since 2006. At first I was asked to cope with suicide in the community, which was extremely rare among Jews in Ethiopia, as was murder of wives. This was the antithesis of life there. There was such protection of women that when the wife was working in the kitchen, the husband stays outside to guard her. There were fixed boundaries.”

The circumstances of waiting to be approved for aliya and what happened to them afterwards caused problems, said Rahamim.

“...There is no Jewish community in the world that underwent such a long process before coming to Israel. Their marriages were exposed to many stresses during this waiting period,” said Rahamim. “And one of the major psychological traumas involved conversion, even though thenchief rabbi Ovadia Yosef in 1973 recognized the ‘Falashas’ as Jews.”

Many men, said Rahamim, were not prepared emotionally for the conversion process including ritual circumcision or a symbolic procedure releasing a few drops of blood and immersion in a mikve. They already felt Jewish, he said. Undergoing circumcision as an adult is a painful process, and it is regarded by some as an insult to their manhood and can affect a couple’s sex life.

This was an issue mainly for the Falashmura, Ethiopian Jews who were forced to become Christians in their native country.

“There are men who have become impotent as result of the process; then the man may suspect his wife is not faithful to him,” Rahamim said, noting that his own brother was “forced to get circumcised.”

Only after circumcision and immersion are they told they have “become Jews. But the immigrants feel they are already Jews.”

Rahamim himself does not wear a kippa, but describes himself as “a Jew who does mitzvot. I do not label myself as secular or religious. In my case, going to the mikva was not required; if it had been, I would not have done it.”

Another source of trauma involving the women was rape and the violent loss of their loved ones. Of 16,000 who arrived via Sudan during Operation Moses, 4,000 died.

They were killed in the transit camps or died along the way.

“Sanitary conditions in the camps were not always adequate, and some died from infections and epidemics. Dozens died in a single day. We are documenting the events by video,” Rahamim said.

The social worker recalls that in 1985/6, a gravedigger buried 3,000 Jews. In addition, flour distributed for a while among the Jews in the Sudanese camps smelled of kerosene, and the people suffered from diarrhea.

“The good flour went to the military camps. Some were afraid to talk because they had left family behind. Only now is the information being revealed,” he said.

Brom noted that the free workshops run by his staff and others in Jerusalem, Ashdod and Kiryat Gat – in Amharic – are meant to alleviate the immigrants’ trauma.

“The people from the community are our eyes and ears. The former immigrants who suffer from trauma are helped to process experiences and memories. Video interviews are carried out. Women use this service more than men, as they are more able to describe their feelings.”

“The workshops are run the same way groups of Holocaust survivors have discussed their traumatic experiences,” he said, “and they are often discussed by the family at home. The discovery that they are not the only ones to have suffered from traumatic events eases their pain.”

Rahamim’s groups meet for about a dozen sessions for three hours at a time. “They come in the afternoon, when they have time. There is a lot of poverty,” Brom said.

“The establishment should have learned from mistakes in absorbing previous immigrant communities.”

Funding for the workshops comes from private foundations, and finally, the National Insurance Institute recognized the need for them. Brom added that the relevant government ministries haven’t yet understood the urgency and have not contributed.

As much as five years ago, Prof. Zahava Solomon – a Tel Aviv University expert in psychiatric epidemiology and social work – examined 600 Ethiopian Jewish adults and found that 28 percent of them suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The average level of PTSD in the general Israeli public – which as a collective has gone through war, terrorism, road accents and other traumatic events – is 9%.

“We ask when feel they have ‘arrived’ in the country,” said Rahamim. “Some say they did immediately when setting foot here. Some said it took years to feel part of the society, while others admitted they still do not feel they are wanted.”

The recent Jerusalem and Kiryat Malachi demonstrations for the rights of Ethiopian immigrants were formative events, Rahamim said.

“This is the younger generation who were born here or arrived at a young age. They want to be a integral part of the state, to be independent and equal. The recent protests were just like the social justice demonstrations in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Street. The protesters are on Facebook and other social networks. Those who demonstrated are not angry at the country but at policies. They love the land and the state.”

The Ethiopian Jewish community were not looking for a better life when they came here, Rahamim concluded.

The Ethiopian Jewish community who came were not looking for a better life, Rahamim concluded. “I could have been a refugee in the US instead of coming on aliya. We never wanted to go there. Nobody (with maybe a tiny number of exceptions) in the community here wants to emigrate from Israel. We want to make it better.”

Africa leaders must respect gay rights: UN's Ban

Africa leaders must respect gay rights: UN's Ban
ADDIS ABABA — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an unusually outspoken declaration on Sunday, told African leaders they must respect gay rights, an issue that is controversial in many African states.
"One form of discrimination ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long has been discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," Ban said at an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.
"It prompted governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals," he added.
Homosexuality is outlawed in most African countries and discrimination against gays and lesbians is rife on the continent, with South Africa being the only country that recognises gay rights and same-sex marriage, at least on paper.
However, previous external criticism of restrictions imposed on homosexuals has attracted angry responses from African leaders, who claim it is alien to their culture.
Outgoing African Union chairman Tedoro Obiang Nguema, speaking before Ban's remarks were delivered, complained about the external criticism the continent receives.
"Africa should not be questioned with regards to democracy, human rights, governance and transparency in public administration," he told the summit.
After Commonwealth leaders refused to adopt reforms to abolish homophobic laws in 41 member nations, British Prime Minister David Cameron said last year he would consider withholding aid from countries that do not recognise gay rights.
"Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration" of human rights, Ban told the summit.
Gay rights in Africa, most notably in Uganda, made the news on several occasions last year.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but a controversial bill that calls for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts was re-introduced in the Ugandan parliament late last year.
The proposed legislation envisages stiffer punishments -- including the death penalty -- for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV.
Gay rights activists have blamed an increase in homophobia in Uganda on evangelical preachers, some of whom are close to the regime of President Yoweri Museveni.
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a group of gay activists based in Kampala, welcomed Ban's remarks.
"It holds a lot of weight that Ban Ki-moon has come to this meeting and addressed this issue," SMUG advocacy officer Pepe Julian Onziema told AFP by telephone.
"It makes a difference because it is an issue that the African Union has ignored. We have pushed them on it but they have shut us out," he added.
Ban also told leaders that they should respect democracy, noting that the Arab Spring revolutions that swept north Africa last year were "a reminder that leaders must listen to their people."
"Events proved that repression is a dead end. Police power is no match to people power seeking dignity and justice," he said.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

African Union called on to back ICC - UPI.com

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court needs more support from governments in Africa and leaders in the African Union, human rights groups said.

More than 30 human rights organizations and close to two dozen African governments said in a letter sent to the African Union ahead of a meeting next week in Ethiopia that AU leaders needed to express "concrete support for the ICC."

Kenyan leaders and the former Ivorian president are among those appearing recently before the ICC on charges of committing crimes against humanity. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is wanted on war crimes and genocide charges and former Liberia President Charles Taylor is facing war crimes charges for allegedly funding conflict in Sierra Leone with so-called blood diamonds.

The organizations in their letter to the AU called for improved relations with the court and respect for their obligations under the international statute that created the ICC.

Oby Nwankwo, executive director of the Civil Resource Development and Document Center in Nigeria, one of the letter's signatories, said the ICC needs comprehensive support in order to effectively counter some of the worst international crimes.

"It is high time African governments and the AU put themselves on the right side of history and support justice for victims, not abusive leaders," Nwankwo said.

Topics: Omar Al-Bashir, Charles Taylor
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2012/01/27/African-Union-called-on-to-back-ICC/UPI-15661327681808/#ixzz1kkNZRT5n

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Art of Non-Conformity » Upon Being Deported from Eritrea


I always knew it would happen one day.

Having successfully arrived in Saudi Arabia,Pakistan, and Angola without the necessary visas, I had been pushing my luck.

Having challenged Belarus to a blogging duel, complete with a response by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was no stranger to difficult countries.

But last weekend in Eritrea, the luck ran out.

Let’s be clear: I’m not interested in taking unnecessary risks. In each case where I’ve had to take my chances on traveling without a visa, it was because all other options had exhausted themselves. I would have much preferred to have the necessary permission instead of trying to pull off an East African wedding crasher routine. Nevertheless, sometimes the best laid plans fall by the wayside, and that’s when you have to make a decision.

In Saudi Arabia’s case, the New York consulate came through with the visa at the last possible minute—and then promptly mailed my passport back to Portland, instead of holding it for local pickup on my way out of the country as agreed. Angola just kept the money and returned my passport without a word—and without the visa.

Eritrea, however, was the worst offender of all. Having paid for the visa a total ofthree times and waited a full 90 days with my passport at their Washington, D.C. embassy without results, I was in a quandary. With only 15 countries left on my list and 13 months to go, I couldn’t keep putting it off.

I decided to go for it and travel to the country anyway. What choice did I have? Passive resistance wasn’t getting me very far.

I managed to obtain my Egypt Air boarding passes in Madrid with only minimal subterfuge. Airlines are responsible for ensuring that passengers have the necessary approvals before traveling, so I knew there would be an interrogation of sorts. I decided I wouldn’t lie if directly asked about something, but I wasn’t above leaving out a few key facts if necessary.

It wasn’t that difficult; the agent was bored and had already printed the boarding passes when she remembered to check on the visa. I showed her my paperwork with a smile (but without the visa) and she wished me a good trip. So far, so good.

After a four-hour flight to Cairo, I powered up with an espresso and chocolate muffin. While sipping the coffee and preparing to board the final flight, I thought about the possible outcomes for the night ahead, based on ten years of experience in convincing random countries to allow me to visit.

Outcome 1: It would take some doing, but I’d get the entry visa upon arrival after pleading my case to various higher-ups. Predicted odds: 50%.

Outcome 2: I would get the entry visa upon arrival without any trouble at all, and my whole concern would be for nothing. Predicted odds: 25%.

Outcome 3: I would have a serious problem, would not get the entry visa, and would be thrown out of the country or thrown into jail. Predicted odds: 25%.


We landed after 2am and I was wide awake with nervous excitement. What would happen? How would the night end? Do Eritrean prisons have WiFi?

The plane parked on the tarmac and I rode a shuttle bus to the terminal with all the other passengers, most of whom were Eritrean. I began to feel relieved as the bus made the short trip; despite the late hour, everyone was smiling. Some of them caught my eye and said, “Welcome to Eritrea!”

“Welcome home!” I said in reply. The friendliness was a good sign, I thought.

Upon arrival at the first immigration blockade, however, I quickly realized that Option 2—the easy entry without any trouble—was definitely out.

“You don’t have a visa?” the first guy asked, seeming genuinely surprised.

“Not yet,” I said, projecting confidence and wearing my only nice shirt of the trip. (I had even made sure to tuck it in before landing. When crashing a country, you only get one chance to make a first impression.)

I had no visa, but I was not without ammunition. “Here is my landing card, my passport photo, my hotel reservation, and my return ticket,” I said, presenting the papers with a flourish. “How much does the visa cost?”

This ruse often works. Four years of arguing with numerous government leaders in West Africa followed by another six years of frequent international travel has taught me the power of paper. If you don’t have the right piece of paper for the job, bring lots of other paper instead.

Unfortunately, the paper-pushing trick didn’t work on the first guy, and the second guy I was referred to didn’t even look at any of the printouts. I kept getting passed off higher and higher until I finally ended up in the office of the Chief Immigration Officer. It was here I would make my last stand.

Alas, this final challenge didn’t begin well. In another ominous sign, the Chief Immigration Officer was not nearly as friendly as the smiling Eritreans I had rode in on the bus with. I tried some light banter: “Wow, I’m really excited to be here. Do you guys have a hop-on, hop-off bus? Any theme parks I should visit?”

Despite my brilliant attempt at making friends, the boss didn’t seem very interested in getting to know me. An offer of a complimentary Turkish Airways amenity kit from a previous flight was also swatted away.

I sat and waited, feeling optimistic (“60/40 odds,” I told myself. “Maybe even 70/30″). Calls were made. Officials were dispatched to check the records to see where I had previously applied for visas at the embassy in Washington. Long conversations about me were conducted in a language I didn’t understand, although naturally I assumed that the phrases “bestselling author” and “popular Facebook page” were spoken.

The longer I waited, the more the odds improved—or so I thought. Another rule of these situations is that if you keep sitting around patiently, eventually they’ll get bored and let you in. Unfortunately, every immigration rule has an exception. All of a sudden, the waiting shifted to action, and the action wasn’t good.

In Which It All Comes To An Abrupt End

I couldn’t believe it, but after two hours of making new friends while gently pleading my case, I was going out on the return flight to Cairo… which now left in ten minutes. No way! But indeed, that was the plan, and I had no vote in the matter. I was assigned a handler, marched outside the airport, and guided around to the departure area in front. I was disappointed and sleep-deprived, but as I was given a hand-written boarding pass, I remembered to ask the all-important question: “Can you add my Frequent Flyer number?”

Yes, if I was really going to be deported, at least I’d earn miles for it. It’s 1,130 miles from Asmara to Cairo, plus any special “last minute deportation” bonuses that happen to be available this week. Lesson: never pass up miles or points when they come your way.

Everyone else had boarded and the plane was ready to go. My handler, the Egyptian Airlines station manager, and a couple of hangers-on walked me back out the tarmac and up the steps of the waiting plane. Inside the cabin, the station manager handed my passport to the purser and instructed him to return it only upon reaching the transit desk in Cairo. I never like to be without my passport, but such was the price to pay for being deported.

The plane took off and I dozed against the window, looking down at Asmara as we prepared to leave Eritrean airspace on the way back to Egypt. Exhaustion was creeping in after staying up all night, but the whole time I was thinking about one important question: does this count as a country visit?

Ask the Readers: Does This Count?

People often ask what my criteria is for visiting a country. Long story short, I don’t really have any. My one rule is that I don’t count airport stops—I can’t just be in transit somewhere. I’ve been on two flights that have touched down in Khartoum, for example, but since I didn’t get off the plane, I still can’t say that I’ve been to Sudan.

This case is trickier, though. I’ve paid to go to Eritrea on multiple occasions. I did make it to the airport, and even outside the airport. I had an extended interrogation session with several interesting people. It wasn’t like going on a tour of the interior and stopping by a few villages, but it was certainly a story-worthy experience.

Even if it probably shouldn’t count as a true visit, the honest truth is that I really don’t know if I’ll be allowed back into Eritrea, at least anytime soon. After 90 days of pestering the embassy and paying the fee three times, they still returned my passport with no visa.

The Eritreans I talked with have all been very friendly, much like the Ethiopians I know. But the government has a reputation for being hostile and highly secretive. Eritrea is in a long-standing conflict with Ethiopia, and the U.S. government is on the side of the Ethiopians. I’ve never held any position in the government and don’t have anything to do with politics, but when it comes to immigration and travel restrictions, these things matter.

When I visited Angola last year, I also had visa problems and wasn’t expecting to be able to enter the country, instead planning an extended transit. After much stress with the embassy and repeated payoffs, I had finally made my peace with accepting that the Angola visit might need to have an asterisk next to it. Much to my surprise, however, when I went there I was actually allowed free reign of Luanda—thus obviating the need for the asterisk. I’m tempted to put this visit in the same category, but I’d like to know what you think.

For those who are still reading, have I officially been to Eritrea, or will I need to regroup yet again and make another plan?

Share your opinion (yes/no/something else) here.

Go easy on me…


Next week is the final round of ticket sales for the World Domination Summit! Tickets will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis to this waiting list.