Response to IBTimes on the Misinformation of the 2% TAX
By Tsighe Andemariam
As British-Eritrean living in UK I was shocked to read the article titled “Eritrea Extorts UK Refugees to Fund Somalia’s al-Shabaab Islamist Fighters”. As published in the website: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/495268/20130729/eritrea-shabaab-somalia-diaspora-tax-horn- islam.htm
The above article accuses Eritrea of funding the Al Shabaab Somali militants, described as “terrorists” by the west. I am writing this to inform any interested reader of the following facts.
1. Eritrea has no strategic interest in meddling in Somali affairs, other than creating an economically stable and peaceful East Africa, unlike the US and Ethiopia who supply weapons to various factions Somalia to maintain instability
2. Eritrea has always stated Somali problem should be solved by the Somalis themselves and unhelpful outside intervention by USA & Ethiopia should be stopped.
3. Eritrea has no resource to interfere in Somalia either financially or militarily. On the other hand, it is the USA through Ethiopia that has supplied weapons to various factions in Somalia whenever their interest aligns with one faction or another. Granted these weapons will fall in to the hands that don’t serve the American interests (usually these are the groups that seek re-contraction of a stable Somali government).
4. Yes Eritreans in Diaspora pay 2% tax. We do so because we expect services from our government in Eritrea. And this is in no way forced payment despite what some claim. Many other countries including the US practice this. So why is it different here?
Eritreans have been paying 2% tax for 22 years. The idea was never opposed by any government and was happening with the knowledge of all governments in the world without any opposition. Al- shabaab is not the creation of Eritrea. It is in fact a direct result of interventions by Ethiopia and US in Somali affairs since the fall of the last Somali Government in 1991. Paying 2% is our obligation and our right; it has nothing to do with al-Shabaab or IBTimes. We pay the 2% tax happily because it is our money after we paid tax to our respective host governments. We Eritreans wherever we live we do expect services from the Eritrean Government hence the reason for the 2% tax. Just like we cannot expect services from the local council and government without paying the relevant tax; we Eritreans should rightly be able to pay the 2% tax and stopping us is nothing short of hypocrisy. The people who live in Eritrea pay tax and also participate in Military service to guard its borders part of which is illegally occupied by the minority government in Ethiopia forcing our brothers and sisters to be stationed guarding our borders for many years. We consider the 2% we donate is too little in comparison.