Cultural Genocide : Living in the Ghettoised Citadels in the West

By Sophia Tesfamariam

On 17 March 2000, the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) which continuously monitors fertility, mortality and migration trends for all countries of the world released a report titled “Replacement Migration: Is it a Solution to Declining and Ageing Populations?”. According to the Report, “Replacement Migration” is defined as:

“..the international migration that would be needed to offset declines in the size of population and declines in the population of working age, as well as to offset the overall ageing of a population…Eight countries and two regions that are treated as individual countries have been selected for this study. All of them are relatively large countries that have below-replacement fertility. The countries and regions are France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Europe and the European Union. Through the technique of population projection, calculations are made of the amount of replacement migration that would be necessary for each of the eight countries and two regions to offset the expected declines in the size of the total population and working-age population, as well as to offset the overall ageing of the population…”

So do we have a “migrant crisis” today or is this part of an elaborate scheme to populate Europe with young labourers? The European Union is discussing mandatory asylum quotas…but is that not what created the crisis in the first place?

Let us see what else the 2000 Report by DESA says:

“…During the period 1990 to 1994, for example, the European Union received an average of a little over a million net immigrants per year and, during 1995 to 1998, a little over 600,000 per year. These numbers are quite close to the numbers of migrants that the European Union would need to receive to prevent its total population from declining: 612,000 per year between 2000 and 2025 and 1.3 million per year between 2025 and 2050. However, the annual numbers of immigrants who would be needed to prevent the population of working-age from declining are about double the numbers received in the last decade…”

The Economic Policy Committee and the European Commission issued a report in 2006 estimating the working age population in the EU will decrease by 48 million, a 16% reduction, between 2010 and 2050, while the elderly population will increase by 58 million, a gain of 77%.

So here we are in 2015 and the influx into Europe is now the leading story in all the mainstream media and everyone has his or her own angle. The dust will have to settle to get to the root causes of the massive displacement of people from their own countries, and the world will watch and see, if Europe and its partners will live up to their moral and legal obligations towards the migrants and refugees on its shores and doorstep. For this sitting, it is not the root causes of these migrations that will be addressed but the grave consequences for those who make these treks to Europe.

Global population numbers reached 7 billion in 2011, just 12 years after reaching 6 billion in 1999. Virtually all of the growth is in developing countries. And the growth of the world’s youth population (ages 15 to 24) is shifting into the poorest of those countries. According to Carl Haub, PRB senior demographer at Populations Reference Bureau:

  • The great bulk of today’s 1.2 billion youth—nearly 90 percent—are in developing countries
  • Eight in 10 of those youth live in Africa and Asia
  • During the next few decades, these young people will most likely continue the current trend of moving from rural areas to cities in search of education and training opportunities, gainful employment, and adequate health care
  • One of the major social questions of the next few decades is whether their expectations will be met

Eritrean youth are no different from their peers in Africa and Asia. Most coming from homes headed by single women, as many lost their husbands during the long liberation war and during the 1998-2000 border conflict, most are risking life and limb to provide for their families. No doubt they will be used as pawns in the anti-Eritrea campaigns, but in the end, what matters most is their safety and wellbeing. Now that Europe has lured them to her doorstep, hope Europe will not slam it on them.
The world watched in horror the video which shows László Petra, a Hungarian journalist, filming fleeing refugees in Hungary. The video shows her kicking a young girl and then tripping a man and his child. The journalist lost her job, but her Twitter entries show absolutely no remorse. Her exchanges were hateful and xenophobic. In one of her Tweets she wrote, “We have a duty to keep Europe pristine & white, as mein god intended”, and when someone wrote her saying, “The curse of Allah be upon you”, she retorted with, “He can’t get me in Hungary, he is not allowed here”, and to another she wrote this about the refugees, “They want to take our way of life”. It makes it of paramount importance to all, especially the leaders of Europe, to refrain from making inflammatory statements that may fuel the fear, xenophobia and the anti-immigrant sentiments, such as those in Hungary.

In the article, “Europeans struggle with idea of ‘replacement migration’”, David R. Francis, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor wrote the following in 2002:

“…In Europe, with birth rates so low that populations are or soon will be declining, there has been much discussion about whether to admit more immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe to provide the workers needed to produce goods and services for retiring western Europeans. Without enough workers, people may have to wait until, say, age 75 or later to retire. But some wonder whether an inflow of migrants from poor countries will cause “cultural genocide,” undercutting the ideas, religions, even national identities in the countries where they arrive…”

So what exactly is Cultural Genocide?

“… Cultural genocide is the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements which make a one group of people distinct from other group…Cultural genocide is the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group. States that engage in cultural genocide set out to destroy the political and social institutions of the targeted group. Land is seized, and populations are forcibly transferred and their movement is restricted. Languages are banned…families are disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next…”

Africa bears the scars for European colonization and American slavery…and Eritreans know a thing or two about cultural genocide…they have experienced it at the hands of successive colonizers-the worst being the Ethiopians.

During the long struggle for Eritrea’s independence, villages were grazed to the ground by marauding Ethiopian forces, men, women and children displaced from their homes, Eritrean schools were stripped and Amharic, the Ethiopian language, was forced on the people. Successive Ethiopian regimes sought to destroy Eritrea’s political and social institutions and corrupted the Eritrean Church and its leaders. After independence, the minority regime in Ethiopia launched its aggressive war of expansion and occupation, destroyed Eritrea’s vital economic and social infrastructures including schools, factories and hospitals. But most of all, it introduced a culture alien to Eritreans. A culture of lying and a culture of betrayal.

At the height of the Eritrea Ethiopia conflict in 1998-2000, the TPLF regime deported over 80,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean decent and confiscated billions of dollars’ worth of their properties. The regime separated breastfeeding children from their mothers and committed untold crimes against Eritreans. Adding salt to injuries, it also desecrated the cemeteries of Eritrea’s beloved Martyrs. Despite the fact that it was the European Union, the United States, the African Union and the United Nations that were guarantors and witnesses to the Algiers Agreements signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia, none have taken action to end Ethiopia’s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme.

Neither the Europeans nor the Americans have to worry about “Cultural Genocide” at the hands of the weary migrants on their shores…least of all Eritreans. While what the Eritreans will find in Europe and America remains to be seen, almost all will agree that what they left behind is a country and a people with rich traditions and an exemplary culture of ethnic and religious tolerance, a people with ingrained values and principles.Will they salvage their cultures and traditions or will they become victims of cultural genocide and live in ghettoised western citadels, perpetually searching for illusive green pastures… only to realize…too late, that they once had it.

Allow me to end with the story of young Ahmed Mohammed, a 14 year old student who was handcuffed and hauled away from his school like a common criminal for an invention, a homemade clock, that his own teacher feared was some kind of home made bomb. This latest incident exposes the xenophobia, Islamophobia and other anti-immigrant sentiment that is growing the United States and Europe. It is a direct result of the events of the last decade or so and the so-called “war on terror”. Officials at MacArthur High School in Irving, TX alerted police because they thought the device was a “hoax bomb”. Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest brought strong criticism from the public and the young Sudanese American has received an outpouring of support. A tweet from the President of United States said:

“…Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great…”

Ahmed had this to say about the sordid episode:

“…I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. I’m very sad that she got the wrong impression of it…”

Wrong impressions, usually a result of ignorance, unfounded fear, prejudice and xenophobia.