Last night I had a dream that you were free. Together with your daughters, I stood with my two siblings in the front row and waited for you to come through a door. You fell to your knees the moment you stepped through that door, but your girls ran to pick you up and gave you the biggest embrace ever. And we cried and cried and cried. Abie kept herself anchored to your arm while repeating the words "This is real" over and over again. The rest of us just kept crying. We could not understand that you were finally free.
Then I woke up.
A lot of people wonder why I chose to get involved in your case, and for that question I have only one answer: I had no other choice. Some wonder why I try to influence a government that they believe will never listen. I fight because I have a responsibility. Because I do not think it is a coincidence that you were imprisoned and that I grew up in a country where I have the opportunity to do something about it. For me, that is reason enough to do everything in my power to give you your freedom.
But somewhere along the way, you become more of a symbol. I fought no less for that, on the contrary, the fight for your freedom evolved to include the freedom of all of Eritrea. But sometimes I almost forget that you are my uncle, the father of my beloved little cousins, and my mother's brother. I almost forget that it's not just a symbol we are fighting for, but a human being. And when a human life is at stake we cannot take a chance, we cannot allow ourselves to assume that enough is already being done. At that moment, every possibility and every attempt to help in any way, however ridiculous, must be considered and followed through. For when it comes to human lives, all of us who have the slightest ability to provide assistance, have an obligation to at least try to do so.
Seyoum, sometimes I forget that we actually never met. I know so much about you and you are such a big part of me. The Eritrean government failed to get what they wanted when they captured you. They detained you and took away your freedom but they did not understand that your love, strength and courage still lives freely. It lives with us and it grows stronger with each new person who is touched by your story. If I were to promise you anything, it is that I will do everything in my power to make sure that the whole world has heard your story, so that all of us can unite and demand your freedom together.
But I will be honest with you, Seyoum, it is a difficult and strenuous fight. The Eritrean government ignores us, and too few people know enough about our country to even care about what happens there. This just proves to show that there is still so much work to do. But only until we have exerted every option we have, do we have the right to say that the fight for your freedom is in vain. Because as long as I know that there is at least a sliver of hope for my work to have even the slightest impact on your case, I will not think about stopping. And there is always hope.
Seyoum, I want you to know that what gives me strength to continue fighting is your courage. You knew you would be imprisoned, but you believed that the fight for democracy and freedom in Eritrea was greater than yourself. You did something that very few people would dare. You sacrificed your own life for what you believe in. The fight for your freedom may be tough, but it is nothing compared to the battle you have been waging, alone in your cell, for now fifteen years.
The first thing I did when I woke up was to write down everything I remember from my dream. I will never forget the feeling I had when you stepped through that door and embraced your girls, because it is precisely this vision that is our goal. And when the aim looks like that, when the goal is so big and so powerful and full of love and wonder, then I have no choice but to continue to give my all until the day you are free.
Trust in yourself, Seyoum. Be strong. Hold on. You've managed for so long, now there is not much time left.
Your niece Vanessa