Newsmakers of 2012
This article was being prepared when the events of January 21, 2013 invigorated our souls and spirits. Forto 2013 reinforced what we all wanted to believe but had denied all along – that despite the
This article was being prepared when the events of January 21, 2013 invigorated our souls and spirits. Forto 2013 reinforced what we all wanted to believe but had denied all along – that despite the outward absence of any sign of opposition within Eritrea that it is in fact bubbling just beneath the surface.
Diaspora opposition has taken cue and anted up its campaign against the regime. Some question how effective these actions are but judging by the confused reactions from the regime and its idol worshippers, indeed it is has been very effective. After all, the regime is busy “jamming” Al Jazeera for covering Eritrean opposition; putting itself on a head-on collision with its main benefactor – Qatar. The agitated minds of regime supporters are now pulling out all stops to slow down the momentum gained from Forto 2013.
Regardless, the heroic acts of Col. Saleh Osman, Wedi Ali, and company are entrenched into the history of Eritrea – and, for Col. Saleh, it wasn’t his first.
For the first time in 22 years, PIA missed the Fenkel celebration in Massawa except to lay a wreath at a war cemetery in private affair. Here is a man concerned about his security after the incidents of Forto 2013 – an event that didn’t happen according to idol worshippers but confirmed by State Media itself. Notable from the absence at the Fenkel celebration, as some have already observed, is Gen. Sebhat, Min. of Defence, at the wreath laying event. In fact, no representation was made from the army (only Navy). The spark for freedom and justice that was relit on January 21, 2013 will bear its fruits in not so distant future.
Alenalki.com and Meskerem.net are now tasked with “jamming” reinvigorated Diaspora opposition. Meskerem.net, trying to prove its worthiness to the regime, is just a louder version of Alenalki.com. Meskerem.net is trying in futile to create noise by sounding false alarms about Ethiopia’s military movements, then feigning outrage over Forto2013 occupations of Eritrean embassies claiming diplomatic violations, then the unfortunate incidents in Sweden, and now going back to its two-year mission to drive a wedge within the opposition through character assassinations and innuendos. There is no bigger tragedy in life than losing oneself – losing those core beliefs that make us decent human beings – peace, love, forgiveness, patience, justice, respect oneself and others, etc…
According to RJ Rummel, during the last 100 years far more people have been killed by their own governments than by foreign armies.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth. Abraham Lincoln
Government is formed out of an EXPLICIT contract between the people (citizens) and its government, through Constitution, to govern the affairs of the society or state as agreed by the people. Anything else, a godhead or Pharaoh, which usurps the power of the people claiming to do good, is a recipe for misery.
PIA consistently derides ‘Western’ democracy. However, the first question should always be, ‘Is there a rule of law in Eritrea’?
2012 PIA VOCABULARY WATCH
Words/Phrases forgotten for over 5 years
- Warsai Yikealo
Words/Phrases on their Way Out
- Hizbawi Mekete
- Al Jazeera
Words/Phrases Still in Vogue
- Serving the Truth
Words/Phrases on their Way In
Words/Phrases Coming Back
- Virtual Demarcation
- Foreign Oppositions
Words/Phrases Always Implied — VIRTUAL
- We have “VIRTUAL demarcation”
- “VIRTUAL full employment” – PIA derides the West for having 10% unemployment, claiming that Eritrea has achieved full employment – through slavery.
- “VIRTUAL Peace” – PIA and supporters claim that Eritrea is an oasis of peace, except it is a virtual peace gained by turning the country into a giant prison.
- “VIRTUAL Economic Development” – PIA tells us that Eritrea has “achieved a lot but still has a long way to go” (trademark PIA reply that means nothing; the art of talking without saying anything). It is a country without electricity, water, basic staples and other basic necessities.
- “VIRTUAL Rule of Law” – ask PIA’s employees (aka. Ambassadors and others) and they challenge you – with straight face – as if there is a rule of law in Eritrea.
- “VIRTUAL War” – the alarmist Meskerem.net, acting on behalf of its benefactors, is sounding its false alarms about Ethiopian military exercises around disputed area, thus alluding to imminent conflict. When it comes to potential conflict, it should be Ethiopia that should be concerned about a politically isolated and desperate regime facing growing internal resistance, armed with over 300,000 soldiers within 6 hours of drive from the conflict areas, and getting funny ideas about its illusionary enemy in transition after the death of its brilliant leader.
Year 2012 Newsmaker #1: Continued sufferings of Eritrean Refugees
The character of a country – who we as a people, is not judged by the roads we claim to build or the excuses we make for abusing our own people. A strong and enduring nation is one that is built on compassion and rule-of-law.
In 2012, some 3,000 Eritreans escape every month PIA’s slavery campaign into the hands of waiting vultures that abuse them and demand extraordinary sums from their families for their freedom. A nation unable to tender and nurture its young ones – its torch bearers – is a dying nation. Those who turn their blind eyes become part and parcel of the cruelties and crimes of those are meting out these punishments.
Asmarino.com deservedly declared Ms. Elsa Chyrum as ‘Woman of the Year’. Ms. Chyrum could easily be ‘person of the year’ for each of the last decade. Her unrelenting efforts and campaigns are inspirations to all of us. As part of her efforts, the UN Human Rights Council has appointed a Special Rapporteur to Eritrea to look into human rights abuse in Eritrea. That can only be yet another omen to this brutal regime.
UN sanctions against Eritrea are ostensibly for meddling in Somalia. In reality, it is a punishment for bad behaviour by a troublemaker. Above all, the US and the West are punishing the regime for abusive human rights records, which is not only a domestic Eritrea issue but has become a human tragedy on global scale. Eritreans being taken as hostages for global organ trafficking, ransoms being extracted in the millions of dollars by unknown groups using this money for unknown purposes, tragedies on the High Seas, and asylum seekers in mass in the Middle East and Europe are all international issues, NOT just an Eritrean issues. PIA is exporting human tragedy!
The Canadian and other governments’ efforts in the year 2012 to stop the flow of remittances to the regime have little to do with Somalia (but being used as a pretext) and is more about addressing human tragedies.
Year 2012 Newsmaker #2: Chipping Away at the Regime
The most under-reported Eritrean movement is ‘Arbi Harnet’, and yet their unrelenting efforts to mobilize domestic opposition through of robo-calls are what effective campaigns are about. These are the types of actions that chip away a deeply entrenched regime.
There are those who say that an entrenched regime can only be removed by an organized armed force. This is but an excuse to do nothing. The main Diaspora opposition groups are totally absent in this campaign to chip away at the regime.
Arbi Harnet’s very transparent manner of operation gives us a clear understanding what its contributors funds is buying in its campaign.
One wonders if only a small portion of the money spent on flying around on less productive opposition activities is contributed towards these causes that we could be chipping away at the regime.
Others who are chipping away at the regime (in Diaspora) include:
- Human Rights Organizations, esp. Ms. Elsa Chyrum
- Radio broadcasts and cyber news organizations
- Individuals bringing legal actions against the regime (2%, etc…)
- Rallies & demonstrations by independent campaigners
- International Organizations such as Reporters Without Frontiers (RSF), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others
Some say that the various demonstrations and rallies before and after “Forto 2013” do not achieve much. Again, this is an excuse for doing nothing. In reality, PEACEFUL RESISTANCE and MASS ACTIONS, which are the bedrocks of future democracy, are about engaging in activities that do not yield immediate results, unlike armed battles, but yield results by applying constant pressure over time. DEMOCRACY can only be attained, and more importantly MAINTAINED, when we disconnect mass actions from immediate results, but believe that constant actions are needed to maintain future benefits and results. These demonstrations and rallies weaken the regime over time by:
- Countering the regime’s propaganda which gives the false impression at home that Eritreans in Diaspora support it, which the regime hopes weakens resistance at home. Such resistance in Diaspora WILL only push along the campaign against the regime to its critical mass – a point where unstoppable reaction takes place.
- Emboldening foreign governments to take corrective or punitive actions against the government. These foreign governments know the level of discontent among the Eritrean population by the number of Eritrean fleeing the country. But they need to know that we stand for our rights to fully support our efforts.
- Further weakening the idol worshippers who find themselves in defence. Crowd mentality, i.e. being emboldened because others are around you with same motive, among idol worshippers is reduced when these idol worshippers notice the crowd around them are shrinking everyday due to switching sides, disengaging, etc… can only weaken them.
- Continuing with the last point, whereas dwindling crowd is weakening idol worshippers, the ever increasing participants in opposition rallies can only embolden other fence sitters or silent opposition to join in the action.
On related observations, most OPPOSTION WEBSITES are not designed for action. If our philosophy is that ONE ACTION is worth thousands of meetings and political blabbers, the layouts of every opposition website should fully reflect this by giving PERMANENT and PROMINENT exposure to these activities on their websites. A rally and a blabbering political article, such as this article, shouldn’t be given the same ‘First-in, First Out’ website space. Some websites have separate columns for other purposes but not to promote actions, such as Arbi Harnet, human rights actions, etc… Eritrean political junkies know about these actions because they check these sites daily. But for casual observers who peruse these websites, the chances of noticing such resistance actions are totally random; unless such a person is diligent by digging into opposition websites’ archives.
Year 2012 Newsmaker #3: Floodgates have opened (Exodus)
Eritreans, esp. young ones, have been fleeing Eritrea in droves for the last ten years. What makes 2012 different is that high officials and professionals have joined the ever increasing exodus.
It is alleged that Emperor Haileselassie said that Ethiopia wants Eritrean land, not its people. The irony is that it is PIA and his idol worshippers who are making this happen.
As articulately said, when people can’t vote in ballot boxes, they vote with their feet. Some of those who have fled PIA’s giant prison called Eritrea are:
- Min. Ali Abdu – Minister of Misinformation
- 17 members of Team Eritrea – Uganda, Dec. 2012
- Captains Yonas Woldeab & Mekonnen Debesai – Personal Pilots to H.E. (i.e. His Emperor) PIA, who flew PIA’s private plane to Saudi Arabia
- Dr. Desbele Ghebregiorgis – Eye Surgeon and Medical Director of BirhanEyeHospital
- 4 Summer Olympians at London 2012
- Ministry of Misinformation has lost too many staff – too many to list here
- These are many other embassy officials who have abandoned the regime,
Year 2012 Newsmaker #4: Newsmakers themselves Newsmakers
True to form of every authoritarian/totalitarian regimes, propaganda is the centre piece of their population control. This is a psychological warfare full of veiled threats and false hopes. But the days of total control over media is over. Ever since printing press became popular in the Middle Ages and with the advent of radios and televisions, dictators were able to control all media outlets and use them to advance their wicked agenda. Those days are over!
A State media called ERITV financed with war-chest of over $5 million dollars to broadcast its stale messages worldwide is met with a much cheaper and yet more potent technology called social media; facebook, twitter and other cyber media. The Arab Spring is an example.
Although there are few radio broadcasts into Eritrea, Assenna website and radio and ERENA are said to be the most popular in Eritrea. Personally, demo.assenna.com is the most active journalist that has made the most difference in the opposition movement – and deserves to be one of the Newsmakers of 2012.
What sets demo.assenna.com apart from most others is that it actively attends and participates in political activities for the purpose of ‘live’ reporting. No other cyber media is engaged in such activism other than occasionally engaging in phone interviews or chat rooms – or may rarely engage in face-to-face interviews if they happen to meet prominent person ‘along the way’.
Definitely demo.assenna.com can take credit for one thing no other opposition has been able to do: make PIA respond directly to opposition action. demo.assenna.com’s speculation as to the state of PIA’s health, and even possible demise, forced PIA to appear on ERITV to dispel rumors. Some members of the opposition criticized demo.assenna.com for inaccurate reporting but in reality demo.assenna.com was simply doing its job – connecting the dots and keeping a close watch on a regime that attempts to suffocate any information from leaking out. Those who were accusing demo.assenna.com, such as Alena, are themselves engaged in deliberate misinformation within the opposition camp, which demo.assenna.com doesn’t do in its reporting.
The criticisms against demo.assenna.com are unwarranted:
- Accuracy of its ‘news’ – in totalitarian regimes where there are permanent news blackouts, there are higher degrees of inaccuracies in reporting news. The totalitarian system is designed to totally control the flow of any news, events or activities. If one is waiting for voluntary news or factual disclosures upon request, one will be waiting forever if one is trying to verify the accuracies of these rumours, or news. This is what the regime wants! News outlets have every right, if not responsibility, to disseminate information (or rumours) within laws that reflect the ‘freedom of speech’ without infringing on the rights of individuals (i.e. without engaging in defamation, etc…). It is up to individual reader to discount the information (or rumours) based on their own weighing scales.
Moreover, it should be remembered that political news is as much a propaganda, misinformation and achieving other political agenda as they are providing accurate information. For instance, Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF) is very active in disseminating information about the internal situations within PIA’s regime. Whether accurate or not in its reporting, ENSF is doing its job by carrying out a VERY effective propaganda war against the regime. In this psychological warfare, it is not the job of other opposition members’ to act like ‘boy scouts’ and become ‘fact-checkers’. We should leave the job of responding to these ‘inaccuracies’ to the regime – i.e. keep the regime busy lest these inaccuracies become facts.
- ‘Sensationalism reporting’ – Awate.com’s criticism of Assena.com for engaging in ‘sensationalism reporting’ is unwarranted. In fact, and in practice, ‘news reporting’ is by nature about sensationalism. ‘News reporting’, as opposed to “investigative journalism”, are largely predicated on disseminating information about misfortune which is then reported in a manner that draws emotions, ire, or other feelings a reporter or news organization wants to convey . These are what hit our headlines! Of course there are other types of news: sports, entertainment, business, developments, etc… but these are usually found at the end of ‘sensational’ news.
‘Investigative journalism’, which most us respect or idolize, is mostly possible in societies where there is a degree of ‘openness’. “Investigative” suggests that a reporter takes time (days, months and even years) to collect evidence by interviewing various people from both sides of stories and researches through legal and documentary evidences to build up his or her reports. ‘Investigative journalism’ is not possible in totalitarian states. In fact, if there is any ‘investigative journalism’ in Eritrean space, it is this writer’s belief that, possibly, demo.assenna.com (i.e. Mr. Amanuel Iyasu) would be the only one who qualifies. Mr. Amanuel is very actively involved by interviewing various opposition leaders, visiting, or participating in major opposition meetings and reporting ‘first-hand’ on the working of the Eritrean opposition world. Moreover, Mr. Amanuel appears to have NO outward affinity towards any political organization, other than his commitment to push the opposition towards achieving its ultimate aim.
One other point pertains to one accusation that demo.assenna.com’s quick reports jeopardize the refugee status of asylum seekers – implying that demo.assenna.com should delay reporting such matters until asylum is granted. The counterargument is that quick news exposure of asylum seekers in fact helps in publicizing around the world on the plight of these individuals. For instance, when the 17-members of Eritrean National Football team defected, world publicity forced the Ugandan government to take their cases seriously and, more importantly, act quickly. In case of Min. Ali Abdu, the regime must have known what Min. Ali Abdu was up to and took whatever action long before demo.assenna.com reported it. It would disingenuous to allude that whatever happened to Min. Ali Abdu’s family is due to demo.assenna.com. But regardless, demo.assenna.com was doing its dutiful job!
Constructive criticism is always good! But dismissive-type criticisms only weaken all of us.
- Its professionalism as journalist – Awate.com denigrated demo.assenna.com’s professionalism as journalist. Of course, it would be interesting to know how Awate.com defines ‘professionalism’ in journalism.
Professionalism is a word thrown around without clear definition, but is generally used to differentiate from amateur ones who have either less education in a given area or less experience. In general, professionalism is about displaying certain behaviours consistent with job being performed. Naturally, that behaviour must be complemented with job proficiencies and skills. But behaviour is the most critical component, and despite even lacking full proficiencies, a behaviour that projects professionalism can be earned much faster.
In denigrating demo.assenna.com’s experience as being limited to working within Ministry of Information and nothing else, Awate.com is pursuing a slippery road. First, Awate.com didn’t elaborate what makes demo.assenna.com less professional than others. Second, dismissive attitude towards others, esp. those in the media, is reflective of repressive regimes and is not encouraging. Considering that Awate.com occasionally propagates similar dismissive attitudes towards Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (stating that this is the only view it shares with a major opposition leader) is quite disconcerting. Just because one feels shafted from the very organization one “founded” is no reason to dismiss an entire sector. What makes this view or attitude any different than a regime that is dismissive about everything it disagrees with?
We can only disagree on many issues. But ‘respect’ is what enables us to come closer and work together despite our differences. No one needs validation from any other.
Although criticising Awate.com for its unwarranted criticism of demo.assenna.com, no one denies its outstanding reporting and contributions towards the opposition campaign to bring about change in Eritrea. Unfortunately, like life, it takes seconds to destroy what it took to build thousand days or years. Broad-brushed criticisms that are poorly postulated create unnecessary ill-will, and create slippery slope towards intolerance. No one is above criticism, but such criticisms should be constructive and devoid of underlying sarcasms or ill-will. SUCCESS IS ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER, WHICH IN TURN REQUIRES MUTUAL RESPECT. The most important lesson that we, the older generation, can teach the younger generation is positive and respectful attitude. Everything else – the political savvies, negotiating and other skills – are all secondary.
Year 2012 Newsmaker #5: Opening Up the regime
There may have many interviews in Eritrean news media in the year 2012. But in this writer’s view, two interviews stand out above all others – interviews with Mr. Tesfai Temnewo (Radio Wegahta) and Mr. Kuflom Dafla (demo.assenna.com).
Until few friends strongly recommended that I listen to Mr. Tesfai, I was reluctant to spend so many hours listening to the stories of ‘gedli’ era. After all, some previous spoilers who qualify more as fiction writers trying to make quick bucks had closed our appetite for such things. But the apparent sincerity of Mr. Tesfai coupled with his detailed accounts of that part of our campaign for independence was so well presented that it was irresistible to listen to the whole interview in one shot. It is important that our history – the good, bad, and ugly – should be recorded.
Our history of ‘gedli’ or our current struggle for change shouldn’t be framed by sole discussion of ‘how bad is/was PIA? He is/was so bad that …” In this writer’s view, Mr. Tesfai presented a balanced and historical dynamics of the various Eritrean liberation movements and stated many times that there are enough blames to go around. It is NOT just one person but our collective behaviours which are responsible for our current predicament. It would be superficial and naiveté to wind back the clock in our discussions today and suggest that somehow our current predicament would have been different if the Eritrean revolution had taken a different path. Examining human history, revolutionaries are known for becoming the worst abusers of the people they claimed to protect. This is the rule rather than the exception – and Eritrea is no exception. There are many PIAs within us who want to grab power. Our struggle is against a totalitarian system in general and not just PIA. It is about transitioning into a modern nation from liberation era followed by a totalitarian system. In this writer’s view, PIA played an indispensable role in bringing about independence and nothing will erase that. Our quarrel is with post-independence PIA – and if debates are needed, it should just be what could have been done to control a dictator created during the struggle period – and not much could have been done would be our only conclusion. The dynamics of an armed struggle coupled with lower level of political enlightenment, oppression under previous regimes and poor economic conditions among the Eritrean population in general are all contributing factors leading to today’s predicaments.
While on the topic of EPLF/PFDJ, it is worth reminding idol worshippers that the last EPLF/PFDJ Congress was held 20 YEARS ago in 1993, and the last EPLF/PFDJ Central Committee meeting was held in September 2000 – i.e. nearly 13 years ago. There is no ONE PARTY STATE in Eritrea but PIA & Family Private Limited Co. (PIA & Family PLC) – with personal funds, i.e. Eritrea’s wealth, deposited in Fubon Bank of China.
Equally important and irresistibly enjoyable interview was conducted with Mr. Kuflom Dafla, who had key positions with Himbol Financials, Treasury Department, Red Sea Corporation, Tax Department, Eritrean Airlines, as well as serving on the various boards of PFDJ ventures. His interview was timely as it was broadcasted around the regime’s ‘Investment Conference Drama’.
A key component of the struggle against the regime is to counter every propaganda disseminated by the regime. The two components of the propaganda relate to ‘Hizbawi Mekete’ (National Defence) and ‘Self Sufficiency.’ The opposition have largely failed to dispel this propaganda and thus allowing the regime to gain the benefit of the doubt among the general population, esp. those in Diaspora. Instead the opposition has chosen to simply harp on ‘how bad is PIA?’ propaganda – thus among others, the popularity of fiction writers such as Alena.
A strong and most capable opposition would have used Mr. Kuflom’s, as insider as one can get, interviews and willingness to educate the Eritrean opposition, to hammer into the Eritrean people, esp. those in Diaspora, how badly the regime’s economic policies are failing. Unfortunately, the opposition struggle is so fragmented that the efforts of one group or individuals are totally ignored by others, probably because that would be construed as giving credits to others. Instead, the opposition should be feeding on each other in positive ways.
Year 2012 Newsmaker #6: NO Respect for Idol Worshipers
The death of Mr. Naizghi Kiflu, a veteran fighter, one-time Head of Eritrean Ministry of Information, and head the regime’s security organs while in Great Britain and the regime’s refusal to repatriate for burial in Eritrea was a shocking ‘wake-up’ to the idol worshippers.
Here was a guy that supported the regime ‘through-and-through’ and largely remained a supporter, with some alleged small complaints against PIA, and yet was condemned for unknown reasons. Some suspect that Mr. Naizghi’s occasional complaints against the regime were the cause. Others attribute his persona-non-grata to one major occasion when Mr. Naizghi made comments to PIA that landed Mr. Naizghi in foreign hospital with busted face.
Inadvertently, in campaigning for Mr. Naizghi’s return to Eritrea for burial, Meskerem.net occupied the top half of its website for over 4 months and, in the process, spooking the regime’s supporter by reminding them everyday with running clock. Equally interesting, Mr. Naizghi’s fate spawned so many articles that it kept the cyber opposition writers busy for few weeks.
Before leaving this newsmaker, it should be reminded that Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE) had launched a complaint in Great Britain against Mr. Naizghi before his demise. This goes to show that Eritrean human rights organizations, news organizations, and individuals outside of the established opposition political organizations are the only action oriented movements that are effectively campaigning against the regime.
Year 2012 Newsmaker #7: Much Ado about Nothing
Possibly to counter the ever increasing economic and political isolation, the regime conducted two rounds of ‘Investment Conference Drama’ in August and then December 2012.
Although much can be said about PIA’s investment drama, and which was eloquently addressed by Mr. Kuflom Dafla, it is suffice to quickly reiterate two projects that illustrate how the regime is disinterested in developing Eritrea’s economy.
For instance, in the latest PIA news, the Ministry of Agriculture claims that it has budged Nakfa 5 billion to expand food production in Eritrea over the coming 5 years. This is only $25 Million a year; which is small change! Moreover, the regime is trying to achieve self-sufficiency by employing slave labor, thus its efforts aren’t sustainable. We should recall that Eritrea managed to produce 78% (over 450,000 MT) of its grain needs in 1998 without tying up 300,000 youths in slavery campaign and “economic plans”. No one is asking what is different between 1998 and today.
Electricity – Nothing is more telling of the neglect of Eritrean infrastructure than the capacity of Eritrea to produce electricity. Eritrea is currently suffering from severe electrical outages (shortage) although it has no sign of economic life. There is such severe electrical shortage that the 300,000 Ton/year cement factory near Hirgigo doesn’t receive sufficient electricity to produce full time.
What is the regime doing about it today? Nada, zilch, nothing! Is there any plan to expand electricity capacity in the next, say, five years? Nope, nada, zilch, nothing!
Ashegoda Wind Farm in Tigrai will produce 120MW of energy. Before the end of 2013, Tigrai alone will be producing over 420 MW (nearly 4 times Eritrea’s capacity) of electricity from hydro and wind energies. When Takezze II goes operational in few years, Tigrai alone will produce over 870 MW of electricity.
The question to idol worshippers and the Real Wives of PFDJ remains, what are the infrastructures PIA is building?
Cement – Tigrai is producing over 900,000 ton of cement while is struggling to produce 300,000 ton, although Eritrea has significantly more advantages. As Mr. Kuflom informed us, even Chinese companies have been beseeching PIA to grant them production licences as far back as mid-1990s.
What happened to Eritrean Airlines? It was banned in 2012 from flying into Europe.
WATCH THE ETHIOPIAN RAILWAY PROJECT HERE
Among other benefits, Ethiopia intends to mine Potash in its Afar/Denkelia region. What is PIA doing? This is a case of North Korea vs. South Korea. Sixty years after the end of the Korean war, North Korea is still living in 1953 hoping for another rematch with the South. In the meantime, the Kims are living the life while the population lives in misery.
Privatization of State businesses – what are you really buying? It is suffice to say the privatization process is not transparent. For instance, the offer to sell 4.5 million ordinary shares of Telecom Eritrea at a subscription price of $50 per share lacks transparency. The offer is closed to foreign investors. What is missing is an official prospectus telling investors what stake $ 225 Million US will buy them in Telecom Eritrea. The regime is loath to divulge any financial information about Telecom Eritrea. It is asking Eritrean investors to buy share through faith only. Is this how business conducted?
Eritrea is poor by PIA’s choice for unknown political end!
Year 2012 Newsmaker #8: It is not Personal; it is only Political
In March 2012, Ethiopia invaded the areas around Lailai Deda (Badme Region) and occupied it for few days before withdrawing. Many Eritrean soldiers were killed and captured. PIA licked his wounds and kept quiet. The Lion of May 13, 1998 has been reduced to small cat – bitter lessons of the last 14 years. For PIA, who is well known for keeping grudge he did what no one expected – signed condolences book, through his representative, for PM Meles.
Eritrea’s Deputy Ambassador to the AU, Beynam Berhe, signed the condolences book for PM Meles Zenawi on August 27, 2012. This is significant news that was reported in Eritrean cyber space but in a very low key manner.
As attributed to Lord Palmerston, nations do not have permanent friends nor permanent enemies, but permanent interests. Those who wish to portray the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, even at the government level, as Horn of Africa’s Armageddon should think twice.
The whipped up frenzy of hatred against the Ethiopian regime among idol worshippers under the guise of ‘Hizbawi Mekete’ is nothing more than a ploy to breath life into a dying Eritrean regime. No one is more active in this frenzy than Meskerem.net. It is so active in trying to sow doubt about the viability of post-PM Meles Ethiopia on behest of its benefactors that it is campaigning on this account more than the regime.
Meskerem.net and other idol worshippers remind us the story of a man who discovers a genie in a bottle and was told that he would be granted any wish, except whatever he receives that his neighbour would get twice as much. Idol worshippers wish for the genie to take out one of their eyes so that their neighbours lose both of their eyes.
It is only ‘temberkektis’ that would flame hatred. Eritrea’s existence is not threatened because of economically strong or united Ethiopia. Border demarcation would come in due time among amicable regimes, as happened between Nigeria and Cameroon. After all, the (virtual) delimitation is defined enough to be addressed in the future. Fortunately, land can’t be moved.
A strong and viable Ethiopia is good for Eritrea and all its neighbours. As Eritreans, we can only wish peace, stability, and prosperity for Ethiopians – and nothing else.
Year 2012 Newsmaker#9: Meeting to Cement Irrelevancy
No news would be complete without reviewing the performance of the opposition camp, and especially the opposition umbrella group Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC).
Some may consternate over revisiting this flaring failure as if raising it again would only weaken the regime. In my view, sweeping this issue under the rug is tantamount to setting ourselves up for perpetual failure. It is not the incident itself but the behaviour that is a deep concern.
Let us cut to the chase! The 2nd regular meeting of ENCDC held at the end of November 2012 was unmitigated disaster. Eritrean opposition needs success story. Putting it all in perspective, ENCDC’s failures are not recent but the same mistakes being repeated from EDA and other earlier experiences.
As many have already eloquently stated, ENCDC should not have spent 4 of its 6 days discussing whether to penalize DMLEK (Kunama Movement) for declaring that it doesn’t accept Idris Awate as a hero, while more urgent issues facing Eritreans both at home and abroad as refugees are kept in the backburners.
Of course, the fact that the leadership of DMLEK has chosen such a critical juncture in struggle to rock the boat within the opposition camp is a reflection of its poor political judgment. However, the bigger reflection is on the ineffectiveness and lack of political savvies of ENCDC’s leadership.
The bigger concern is, if ENCDC leadership gets bogged down on simple issue such as this one, how could it manage more complex issues? What has it achieved in its two years of existence?
The interesting question is that the entire political opposition is, as we are told, predicated on picking and choosing political platforms, and yet working together for bigger cause. Some refuse the 1997 Constitution and Eritrean flag as EPLF/PFDJ. We have celebrated Awate as a hero and September 1st, 1961 as symbol of our armed struggle as far back as we can remember. But the question remains, does something become a de-facto symbol or law simply from conventional use only, or do we still have an unfinished business of creating a legitimate people’s assembly that would endorse all these?
The fundamental question is whether ENCDC regards itself as an umbrella organization or as government/parliament in exile. The answer to this question has a fundamental impact on the decisions taken against DMLEK. If ENCDC is simply an umbrella organization then its members have every right to kick out one its members as may be permitted by its internal laws. If the leadership of ENCDC took actions against DMLEK which are outside or beyond the authority given by its internal laws, then it is up to its members to take it up as an issue. According to some dissenting members, it appears that ENCDC leadership took discretionary actions that don’t bode well for rule-of-law.
However, if ENCDC views itself as government/parliament in exile, then leadership or membership doesn’t not have the right to suspend its members unless explicit laws are enshrined in its internal constitution giving it such authority. It is equivalent to suspending a member from a national institution, i.e. from a Parliament, which would be fundamentally undemocratic.
To reiterate, if ENCDC is simply an umbrella organization, then the fiasco within ENCDC is just another internal matter to be dealt with by its members like any other organization. Of course, we would still have our observations on competencies, prudence and political judgement. In contrast, if ENCDC is supposed to be microcosm of Eritrean parliament, then such acts, i.e. suspension of fundamental rights, would be viewed as dangerous precedence for Eritrean democracy. Overall, Eritrean democracy has an uphill battle.
Finally, this writer would like to address another of Awate.com’s dismissive attitude towards the youth movement as being no different than the older generation. This criticism is totally unwarranted because the observation is clumsily stated. The older generation, including Awate.com and all of us – including this writer, have failed the younger generation. Nation building is like a relay race, where one generation passes the baton to the next. The younger generation doesn’t start from clean slate but with all the negativities, failures, and shortcoming of the previous generation. We haven’t shown them how to skilfully resolve conflicts, how to negotiate, how to organize, and how to become prudent politicians – and worse, we haven’t shown them how to behave properly, which is a breakdown of the most basic values. We just need to look at how our ‘politicians’ of both sides of the aisles behave – embarrassing! We have failed them. What the next generation brings is significantly less ‘excess personal baggage’ which has become a shackling burden on the older generation. On the rest, they have an uphill struggle, first digging Eritrea out of the hole created by the older generation, and then building a prosperous Eritrea – indeed a long journey. Unfortunately, they won’t have prudent leaders like the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (PMMZ) to hold their hands. The G-15 and many other political prisoners were the same calibre as PMMZ but they are largely silenced now – and that is a deliberate effort to destroy Eritrea of its rich human resource.
Political opposition in general
- is in serious need of leadership – what we have is a flock without a Sheppard, all going astray in various directions.
- International diplomacy is very poor. However, EPDP, ENDF, human rights organizations and private citizens have done better.
- Poor campaigning on the part of organized political organizations – for instance, after the events of Forto 2013 when international interest had peaked, no major leader of the political opposition inserted himself into the world scene to raise the profile of the opposition camp. The strong campaigning initiatives have come from non-political opposition.
- Eritrean Legal Society (organized in Diaspora) has not yet taken bold initiatives to put pressure on the regime. There are many initiatives that can be taken.
- Failure to take strong moral positions, and failing to take advantage of situations to publicize one’s values among the general population by expressing concern or even condemning suspected violent acts such as in Sweden.
- Use the Obama factor – camapaign and campaign hard among the general public, then do something! ENCDC, for instance, is lulling itself and the rest of the opposition camp into sleep.
May the seeds of Forto 2013 bear its fruits soon!
May Forto 2013 become a repeat of 1990 Fenkel Operation!
March 08, 2013