An Open Letter to Canadian Foreign Minister The Honourable John Baird
- Canadian Foreign Minister
A few days ago we read an article written by one Niamh Scallan on The Star.ca website entitled "Baird eyes shutting down Eritrean consulate in Toronto" and would like take this opportunity to set some records straight in regards to this article.
First and foremost, we believe that it is prudent to explain a few facts about this 2% tax that Eritreans living outside of Eritrea are required to pay. This tax called "The Recovery Tax" was brought into effect by a Proclamation of the Transitional Government of Eritrea (TGE) soon after the liberation of Eritrea from Ethiopian occupation in 1991. When, after a brutal thirty-year liberation struggle, Eritrea became free in May 1991, its infrastructure had been totally destroyed; it had no working factories, no exports and more than half of its almost 4 million population was living in exile the majority of whom in refugee camps in neighbouring Sudan.
Against this backdrop of destruction and lack of infrastructure and basic services, the TGE through its Community Offices in different parts of the world where the Eritrean Diaspora lived, conducted a series of meetings constantly informing its citizens of its plans to rebuild the country. One of the issues raised was how those living outside Eritrea could contribute to this process. The TGE proposed a "Recovery Tax" of 1% of the net income of Eritreans living abroad. The Eritrean Diaspora present at those meetings felt that 1% was indeed a very small amount and even though they were living in exile,we should and could do more to help our brothers and sisters living back home and support those who had sacrificed their lives to give them this freedom. So higher figures were proposed and finally it was decided to make it 2%.
Based on this feedback, the TGE went and issued the proclamation making the 2% Recovery Tax law in Eritrea. As can be seen from the above, The Recovery Tax was not imposed recently but came into effect in 1992. Since the Liberation War was fought and won on the principle of "Self-reliance" it made no sense for the TGE to then fall into the debt of foreign aid (Canadian included) after independence. As such, it called upon its own citizens to contribute whatever they could to rebuild the shattered economy and social fabric of the country.
As Eritreans living abroad will testify, it was an honour and a privilege to play in a small way, a role in the building of their country. Some went back and provided free and voluntary services, others contributed by paying their 2% tax on time and without grudge.the Recovery tax as its name implies - was used to build schools, hospitals, bring water, sanitation and electricity to villages, and at the same time keep the economy going.
Unlike other African countries in the region who are burdened with so called "Development Aid", our roads and schools and dams and irrigation projects were built by ourselves and by our own contributions.
we, undersigned, Citizens of Canada and Member of the Eritrean Canadian community draw the attention of the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs to the following:
That, we value both our Canadian and Eritrea identities. we are a hardworking and peaceful people who have contributed to making Canada a truly Multicultural society. However, to date, The Government of Canada has failed to extend its respond helping hand to the war devastated country of Eritrea, as well as create conductive grounds for a bilateral relationship.
As an Eritrean-Canadian we have been paying our contribution on time and happily because we have seen what our money/contribution have been used for back home. we have seen the infant mortality rate falling dramatically; we have read UN reports that Eritrea is one of the few African countries that has a chance of meeting the Millennium Development Goals; we have seen the road infrastructures that have been built and we have never heard of a delay of Civil Servants pay unlike in other African countries who are huge recipients of foreign "aid".
In short, to use a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, "I have been to the mountain top and seen the Promised Land... I may not get there but I know that as a nation we will get there someday." That is why we pay our taxes knowing that it is going for a good cause. As Eritrean Canadian, it is our rights to assist our family living in Eritrea, and contribute to the development of a truly deserving nation, ERITREA.
The An Open Letter to Canadian Foreign Minister The Honourable John Baird petition to Canadian Foreign Minister was written by eritrean canadian people 2 people group and is in the category International Affairs at GoPetition.