ERITREA: HAVE WE LOST OR HAVE WE LOST?
ERITREA: HAVE WE LOST OR HAVE WE LOST? 18/04/2002 Well after reading the 135-page report on the border decision, one needs some days of reflection in order to digest the facts and finally come to one´s senses
ERITREA: HAVE WE LOST OR HAVE WE LOST?
Well after reading the 135-page report on the border decision, one needs some days of reflection in order to digest the facts and finally come to one´s senses and start to see things as they are.
The question is not whether Eritrea has gained territory or not. The question is: Has Eritrea retained its territory? And the other side of the question is whether Tigray has gained Eritrean territory or not. The answer we got from the wordings and maps submitted by the Border Commission is that Eritrea has lost substantial territory to Tigray. The answer is as simple as that. It does not require a cartographer to explain the details. Any layman can easily see what is lost to whom. We can thus say with assurance that the expansionist-dream of the Weyanes has been fulfilled.
The shape of Eritrea is changed, but not only that, some innocent Eritreans whose lives have already been shuttered by the border war have become state-less. These people who lived on the affected borders will now be denied for good the land they owned and lived on for generations. They will have either to be removed to areas in Eritrea which are new to them, or they will have to stay where they were and change citizenship. In the first case they will have to start from scratch and might come into conflict with the inhabitants of the region. The removal of such people from their natural habitat is a double tragedy. And to call this phenomenon “victory to the people of Eritrea” by Isayas is an insult to the population and a condescending attitude.
I am not against the border settlement as such, but I am against the way it has come about. Was it really necessary to offer so much in order to get nothing else, but a psychopath who wants to further destroy Eritrea? Was it necessary to offer so many precious lives of our beloved brothers and sisters in order to keep a psychopath in power? Was it necessary to go to war, the result of which became the displacement and impoverishment of thousands and thousands of Eritreans? Was it necessary to inherit devastated villages and towns in order to keep a psychopath in power? Was it necessary to loose movable and immovable property worth millions and millions of dollars, including livestock, by leaving our vulnerable borders inadequately defended as a result of poor military leadership at the highest level? Can we afford to have ONE person as defense minister, as security minister, as foreign minister, as finance minister, as planning minister and as minister of what not to run our country to total destruction? Was it worthwhile all that sacrifice just to satisfy the ego of a psychopath?
Have we really understood what has happened to us, or are we still hypnotized by this psychopath? Why wasn´t the border conflict settled legally and peacefully just before the referendum took place? Or were all the sufferings and humiliations that were to follow stored for us by Isayas and his group in order to strengthen their grip of power, and in order to deliver Eritrean territory to their Weyane relatives? The answer to these questions, my fellow Eritreans, you will find in the way PFDJ is composed and the way it treats what is genuine Eritrean and Eritrea´s. People who call themselves “Eritreans” but who behave like enemies colonize us. These are people who were born and brought up in Eritrea but who have identity crisis. And PFDJ is composed also of Eritreans who are driven by greedy motives and who have been made instruments of division on the basis of religion, tribal belonging or provincial affiliations, which are the key instruments of Isayas and his PFDJ for divide and rule.
Now that the delimitation of the boundary is over does not mean that our problems are over. Between now and the final demarcation is a tough job left. Now each side is announcing victory over the other. People are not fools; they know the actual result of the Hague verdict. Perhaps one advantage, temporarily, that the PFDJ gang might have is the fact that, at a simple glance, the shape of Eritrea seems intact. This might appease the ordinary people, the innocent mothers and fathers, who do not exactly know the details of a map, unless of course they happen to come from the lost territory. The shape of Eritrea as it will be might not look drastically changed to those innocent people who hang clocks on the wall and other ornaments at home, formed in the shape of Eritrea. They will simply say: “ Oh, it is as it was, nothing has changed, don´t give value to those who are shouting about the territory lost” Moreover, they will say: “and ABADME is given to Eritrea, so we are victorious”. This is what exactly the propaganda machinery of the PFDJ will capitalize on. Their policy is cheat, cheat and deceive!
People must know exactly what has happened. We cannot allow Isayas to go on cheating the public by saying… “Above all the people of Eritrea are the winners”. We have won nothing! We have lost our territory, our pride and above all the lives of thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters. And we have inherited thousands of disabled young people whose onetime bright future has been crashed in order to save the ego of a hoodlum. Yes, we have lost indeed, and Isayas has to pay for this. When I say Isayas, I mean as a collective name to include those hoodlums who support him and who are responsible for the sufferings and loss Eritrea has encountered. You cannot have a dictator without supporters, as you cannot have a “hdmo” without pillars.
When we voted for the total independence of Eritrea, we did so with the belief and knowledge of the boundaries that have existed for hundred years or so. These boundaries were accepted openly and tacitly and have even been used as points of reference or purpose of international applications, like in the case of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to mention an example. Anyway, Eritreans voted for independence of a geographically defined Eritrea and not an imaginary country without boundaries. Eritreans know very well their landscape. They know the names of rivers and streams. They know the names of mountains, hills and valleys. They also know the impact of nature on the landscape, and that what was hundred years ago cannot look exactly like now at the time of delimitation. They know that names of areas or streams can either change or can have double names and so forth. History remains and is carried on from generation to generation. The people who lived on the affected areas are the best cartographers. They know by heart where the limits of their fields and villages are. They know the detailed landmarks, which separate them from Tigray, or Ethiopia for that matter. Were the narrations of these people taken into consideration?
After independence Isayas was exposed when he emotionally and unconsciously revealed a secret from his hidden agenda. He said that there was no need for boundaries. Was he perhaps referring to his Greater Tigray or was he trying to hide the atrocities he inflicted on ELF together with his cousins, TPLF, and for which help the latter (TPLF) was awarded the Eritrean territory of Baduma? Now, when things are beyond his control, and when he cannot anymore speak of such things as “no need for boundaries”… Isayas said that thanks to the sacrifice of the people… etc “we have achieved the delimitation of our boundary”. What is this liar saying? Does he think that Eritreans have short memory, that they do not remember that what he said yesterday is the opposite of what he is saying today? He said that there was no need for boundaries after independence, and now he thanked the “forgetful” Eritreans for bringing about the delimitation of boundaries. The more he speaks, the more he exposes his ignorance, and the more he becomes naked. I feel ashamed and humiliated to have my country mismanaged by such a dictator.
I have included above the map of Eritrea as we know it and as we voted for it. The Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) as used by the UNMEE is also demarcated there. When I first heard that a temporary security zone was going to be established between the two countries, I believed like any other Eritrean, as normal, that the named zone was going to be equidistant from the prevailing borders of the two countries. The people of Eritrea were made to believe so by PFDJ. However, to our surprise and humiliation, we discovered that Isayas had unilaterally accepted and declared to let our troops withdraw 25 km in their own territory. This was unique! It was ridiculous and it was sad at the same time. In order to save his dictatorial position he accepted defeat from the very beginning, and he thus laid the foundation for the loss of our territory. Isayas knew what he was doing, but to save his rule a “let it cost what it costs” policy was applied. And here we see the result. All the territory we have lost is within the so called TSZ. In actual fact PFDJ negotiated from the point of view of the line that was drawn 25 km inward. In other words PFDJ shrank the area of Eritrea by more than 25000 sq. km. The size of many internationally recognized states like El Salvador, Fiji, Swaziland, Kuwait and many others does not even reach that. It is not a joke to put at stake such a big land area and the Eritreans inhabiting there. Isayas did it and he is once again responsible for it. He has to be formally accused for treason and genocide and brought before justice.
Well, fellow Eritreans, the delimitation of the boundary is over. We do not like it. A government that neither represents us nor respects our interests has imposed it on us. It is a tragedy, but I think we have to live by it. The remaining task is that of demarcation (an act which should have been implemented on the existing boundaries if justice was to be served) and it is going to be a hard task. There will be disagreements as to where the border marks or pillars, or whatever they are, are going to be placed. Who knows, the Weyane might come with “GPS made in Tigray” that shows wrong coordinates!* Let us hope, anyway, that the problem will be over for good so that we can indulge in our internal affairs. However, I am sure that Isayas with his PFDJ is going to create excuses to use the period left until demarcation to further oppress the people of Eritrea and, as usual, he will continue to incarcerate people without any valid reasons. Moreover, the question of election will be buried in the havoc of the demarcation skirmishes.
As far as the PFDJ is concerned the border question is not “solved” yet and many excuses will be created, if possible, to elongate the demarcation process. The Weyanes might do the same. Both regimes are unwanted by the majority of the respective peoples. We should not be deceived by the rhetoric they exchange in the news media. They do meet secretly and they do need each other for survival. For me they are like Weyane Senior and Weyane Junior. We failed to see this earlier and we are paying dearly for our hibernation.
The demands of Ethiopia (Tigray) seem to have been satiated. They have received a portion of land, small or big, from all sectors they claimed. This makes me feel that Eritrea was in an inferior negotiating position. Could the result be the hard work of Ethiopia´s negotiators and their agents? Of course Isayas has substantially contributed to their success, as I indicated above. Were the Eritrean negotiators and their agents the right ones? Did the negotiators get the required amount of background information and constant feedback? At least from the names of some of the agents, I have my doubts. However, since I am not a jurist, I leave that analysis to the professionals. But I cannot help wondering why the fact that a hundred-year old boundary cannot be given legal weight, why delimit now and why not demarcate?
Finally, I would like to finish for this time by saying to all peace and democracy loving Eritreans at home and abroad: let us join hands and get rid of the DICTATOR. Let us forget our minor differences and concentrate on saving our people and our land. Let us not wait until we are affected by the dictator´s atrocities, for it will be too late then. The following words of a German priest, named Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camp might help us to wake up: “When they took away the Socialists, I said nothing because I was not a Socialist. When they took away the Trade Unionists, I said nothing because I was not a Trade Unionist. When they took away the Jews, I said nothing because I was not a Jew. When they took me away there was no one left to speak for me”. It is never too late to unite and save Eritrea!
Eritrea will prevail.
Eternal glory to our martyrs.
*I was forced to write so, when I saw the expansionist map of Tigray made by Weyane.
P.S. I wrote this article, as indicated above, when the border issue was new. Now I see that what I had written has become true and the border issue is still unresolved, and Isayas has used it as an excuse for elongating his grip of power and destroying Eritrea economically, politically and socially with the collaboration of the Weyanes. The present peace offer from Ethiopia regarding the border issue is wonderful as it is. However, it should not distract us from continuing our fight for the liberation of Eritrea. The peace deal is only between Ethiopia and Isayas, since the interest of the Eritrean people is not considered, and the fact that Isayas is negotiating seems to justify the enormous damage he has inflicted upon Eritrea and its population. What has happened in Ethiopia, the release of thousands of prisoners, some of which were even sentenced to death, should equally take place in Eritrea. However, it is difficult to expect drastic improvements in Eritrea, since Isayas has inflicted irreparable damage to our country and people, which is unforgettable and unforgivable. We shouldn´t forget the fact that Isayas is accused for crimes against humanity, and that he is trying to have this fact forgotten. In fact, he should have been accused for genocide. It is never too late for us Eritreans to retain our pride and remove the dictator. The only thing we need, as I said many years back, is unity.