Many of us might remember the hopes connected with Eritrean independence back in the early 1990s. I myself remember reading about self-reliant development, the formation of cooperatives, and in general about Eritrea taking a path which would not rely on international institutions such as the World Bank, which drove many other countries into huge external debts. However, 14 years later the situation looks entirely differently, and this issue of The Broken Rifle can only give a glimpse of what is actually happening in the country. When War Resisters' International first received information from the Eritrean Antimilitarism Initiative, we were shocked. Forced recruitment and imprison- ment/execution of young people -- men and women -- who avoid military service seems to be a daily feature for Eritrea's youth, with exile the only "alternative".
War Resisters' International's contacts in Africa are still poor. Four years ago, in 2001, we highlighted the situation in Angola on 15 May (International Conscientious Objectors' Day). Prisoners for Peace Day 2005 with a focus on Eritrea is therefore a good opportunity to reach out to African antimilitarist groups, where they exist. The articles in this issue -- the interviews with objectors -- show very clearly how urgently Eritrean war resisters need our support. More information on the situation in Eritrea is available in a documentation published on WRI's website at http://wri-irg.org/news/2005/eritrea-en.htm. Feel free to download and distribute.