Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Letter from a Togolese Refugee

The following is a letter that a Togolese friend sent to the U.S. State Department regarding the latest developements in his homeland. Please also refer to my earlier post "A First Chance to Make Good on the New American Promise".

This past Saturday, the Togolese people hoped that the disappearance of their bloody dictator of 38 years would mark the start of a genuine change in their political fate. Their hope was short-lived. The 69-year old Eyadema passed while on his way to seek medical treatment in Israel. Few hours after his passing, his tribal army conducted a military coup to promote Eyadema's 39 years old son Faure Eyadema to the presidency. Under criticism from the African Union, the European Union and other international organization, the parliament (made up of Eyadema’s family and friends) outperformed the military Sunday by instituting a constitutional coup of their own, elevating Eyadema's son to the parliament's top post and somehow, retroactively to the presidency.

How Togo has come to such aberrations remains difficult to understand. The country became independent from colonial rule in 1960 under the leadership of Sylvanius Olympio. In 1963, Togo became the first post-independence African country to experience a military coup in which the president was assassinated. Nicolas Grunitzky took over for three years before being deposed in 1967 by then Lt. Colonel Eyadema. Since 1967, the regime has excelled in the common feats of all dictatorships mainly the dilapidation of public funds, the brutal repression of all dissent and nepotism in the management of public affairs. Further, the country became deeply fractured along ethnic lines (primarily north and south). Eyadema, who is Kabye from the north, built an army made up of his family members and tribal mates. The regime uses the military to kill at will, suppress popular uprisings and commit human right violations as documented in many reports by the U.S. State Department and Amnesty International.

The recent developments in Togo can only degrade the aspirations of freedom loving people all over the world. As we go about our lives here, millions of people in Togo and all over the world are resigned to hunger, fear and other degrading sentiments. Moreover, the situation in Togo has all the ingredients of horrible bloodsheds in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra-Leone just to name a few. The Togolese people now more than ever need the support of the international community. While military conflicts have helped some countries reach democratic rule, others were equally helped by international awareness and support. Hope is the latter would prove true in this land. These coming days present a great but small window of opportunity to advert another human catastrophe in Africa. Please help by building public awareness around this issue. A reversal of the situation would save the UN and US millions of dollars in future peace keeping missions, rescue efforts and other political pressures. In addition, a public stand by the US or UN in favor of freedom could go a long way in reversing this situation. It would also help the US stated policies of advancing freedom in the world.



Post a Comment

<< Home