Amanuel Sahle on Eritrea

“We are born fighters, but we do it mostly within ourselves than against a common enemy. We are freedom lovers but seem to find it difficult to distinguish between personal freedom and political freedom. We have a culture of organization and have our own written customary laws and ordinances, yet we always looked for someone to dictate us to do things that we wouldn’t do if we had been left alone.

And finally we had to listen to a dictator instead of to common sense to get our independence. A well organized but ruthless group, the forerunners of PFDJ, succeeded to rout the enemy and bring the promised independence where other, less despotic, groups failed. Only those who acted like invaders could succeed. Strange, isn’t it?”

-Amanuel Sahle (excerpt from article “The Trouble With Eritrea“,

Born in 1944 in Asmara, Amanuel Sahle is probably best known for his very popular newspaper column "Hanti Alem".  His other well known works include: Comprehensive Tigrinya Grammar, Good Morning Eritrea, and The Universe According to Delphine. Amanuel now lives in Sweden.

Born in 1944 in Asmara, Amanuel Sahle is best known as a long time columnist in the Eritrean newspaper. Amanuel has authored several books including: Comprehensive Tigrinya Grammar, Good Morning Eritrea, and The Universe According to Delphine. Amanuel now lives in Sweden.

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Ten tips on how to write a successful blog

Originally posted on martinplaut:

These are suggestions I wrote up for a group of Sudanese who want to run their own blogs. I thought I would share them, in case they have a wider use.

All the examples are Sudanese, but you can swap them for examples that fit your circumstances!


Ten tips on how to write a successful Sudanese blog trainingblog

  1. Your audience: This is the key question. Who are you aiming your blog at? Who do you want to reach? It is vital that you write everything with this in mind. So, for example, a general British audience would need a map in most stories to locate Darfur or South Kordofan. An African audience would also need one. A Sudanese audience would not. But any Sudanese might find a map helpful to locate a particular village. You can use this test with any piece of information you include in the story.
  2. News

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The Best Dissident Diaries of the Year

As we welcome 2015, a brief look at the most read and most shared posts of 2014.

1. “Concentration camps of Israel” – Eritrean President


2.  They too have their story–Desiderata

3. ተቐማጦ ኣስመራ ብ ወተሃደራት ዴ.ም.ህ.ት ንዝተገብረሎም ኣገልግሎት ኣመስጊኖም::


Continue reading

We speak therefore we are –Republic no.2

A monthly underground newsletter from inside Eritrea has it’s second issue. Republic, written in Tigrinya language, is critical of the government. Criticizing the government or it’s policies is a crime in Eritrea.
You can download this new issue from here (Repuplic_Eritrea_Vol2).

Click image to download Republic in PDF

Click image to download Republic in PDF

You can follow Republic newsletter on twitter.

Is Eritrea a tiny country?

Eritrea is not quite a tiny country. In terms of land area (excluding water bodies) there are just as much smaller countries in the world as there are larger ones. Although far below the mean, Eritrea covers an area slightly larger than the median.

Eritrea’s estimated population of 6 million is  far below the mean (33 million), but this is because few countries have extremely huge population. By population size Eritrea lies almost at the median of all countries. This means if you were to line up all the approximately 200 countries by their population size, starting from China all the way to Tuvalu, Eritrea would rank 100–give or take a few.

With an area of 101,000 sq. Km (39,000 sq miles), Eritrea lies just above the median of all countries. (Data from World Bank Database).

With an area of 101,000 sq. Km (39,000 sq miles), Eritrea lies just above the median of all countries as shown in this histogram. (Data from World Bank Database).

The 2013 estimated population of Eritrea is 6 million. Just about half of wold countries have population below that. (Data from Wold Bank Database)

The 2013 estimated population of Eritrea is 6 million, just about half of wold countries have population below that. (Data from Wold Bank Database).


The perceived ‘smallness’ of Eritrea that many assume is, I believe, mainly because of its insignificance in world stage (politics, economy, trade, etc.). And not so much because of mere size.

Considering the amount of world news headlines Eritrea is  making (refugees tragedies, kidnappings, organ harvesting, etc.) and the nuisance we have become to far away countries (from Israel in the Middle East to the European Union and UK in the West),  it might not be long before our country’s size is realized. Ironic that we should achieve our dream of world recognition in this way.

By the same standards, Eritrea’s ‘smallness’ is not quite the excuse for the many hardships and conflicts we continue to face throughout our history.

Voice of the Masses: Freedom of expression and the government media

“Voice of the Masses” is the tagline of the Eritrean government media. The government, through its ‘Ministry of Information’, is the only one responsible for producing this voice.

Eritrean law guarantees freedom of speech and of the press (Article 19-2 of the unimplemented Constitution) and the government claims that no restriction is in place to limit freedom of expression in the country. The ban imposed on all private media since 2001 for example had nothing to do with freedom of press. And since the ban was necessitated by the fact that all private medias were discovered to be enemy spies, their closure could not have impacted freedom of expression in any sense.

The Eritrean government’s first media started 1980’s with radio broadcast “Voice of the Masses” from the revolutionary army’s Central Command in the mountainous Nakfa region.

The Eritrean government’s first media started 1980’s with radio broadcast “Voice of the Masses” from the revolutionary army’s Central Command in the mountainous Nakfa region.

In total disregard of these government assurances, the international community accuse Eritrea of limiting press freedom. In 2011 for example, the then US ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Susan Rice, was quoted describing Eritrea as a “black hole” in the region, where independent, verifiable information is almost non existent. On a scale of 0 to 100, Freedom House rates Eritrea’s media restriction 94. For the last nine years, the French based advocacy group Reporter’s Without Borders has ranked Eritrea as country with the least freedom of press in it’s annual World Press Freedom Index, preceded by North Korea. Probably prompting the use of “Africa’s North Korea” in several prominent news reports (for example here and here).

The government’s monopoly on information is complete. Not only has it been the only “voice” in the country’s airwaves but it also makes sure that other voices are in-line. The Ministry censures any and all documents from private citizens or organizations. It strictly enforces that all print documents go through the Ministry before being accepted by any printing press in the nation: be it school bulletins, trivial church schedule pamphlets, entertainment event posters, invitation cards, etc. The Ministry also enforces same restrictions for recorded media, all music albums and entertainment films have to get approval letter from the Ministry before a producer could publish the material.

Even international mail to Eritrea is censured. The Eritrean Postal Service prohibited items list includes “any seditious or libelous” item[1]. Any mail containing cassettes, video tapes, CD’s, books, or magazines require ‘authorization’ from the Ministry of Information or Education[2]. Contents deemed “inappropriate” by the Ministry are either confiscated or returned to sender. ‘Inappropriate’ contents include Bible, Qur’an, gospel music, Ethiopian Amharic songs or films, etc.

The internet remains to be the least controlled mass communication tool in Eritrea, however it is rarely used for purposes other than e-mail and chat communications with family and friends abroad. Eritrea was the last country in Africa to established internet connection and access to internet is highly centralized. Gaining private access through the government Telecom Company requires a special government authorization. Most users access internet from local internet cafes found in the cities. Internet penetration rate is reported to be 3.5 or 4.3 per cent (less than half of the African average)[4, 5]. In addition to access, internet speed is too slow, sometimes dropping below 10 KBps[3], making most browsing or even e-mail almost impractical. Access to prominent Eritrean news websites from Eritrea is too low to even register by most online traffic estimation tools (like Google Display Network Ad Planner or



[1]    Eritrean Postal Service. FAQ: “What articles are not accepted or transmitted by the post office?” Website, accessed on December 2012. (website currently Parked!)
[2]    United States Postal Service. County conditions for mailing – eritrea. (
[3]    Sara Kidane. The Net Effect: Eritrea’s Dictator Dilemma. PhD thesis, Addis Abeba university, 2008.
[4]    Abiye Megenta. Can it tweet its way to democracy? the promise of participatory media in africa. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, May, 2011.
[5]    Reporters Without Borders. Countries under surveillance: Eritrea. (,39762.html)

ኣይፋልኩምን ዴምህት!

መዓልካ ከይበለ ንዝዘንጠለካ ጓና
ኮር ተገምጠል’ዩ ክንድዚ መሽክንክን ልመና፣
አብ ዝደበነ ገጹ ፍሽኽታ ሰዅዑ
ውሪሕሪሕ ቁሊሕሊሕ፣ የማነጸጋም ጥቕኡ።

… ተገፋፊ

ከም ከፍቲ ናብ ዕዳጋ፣ ዝውሰዱ ናብ ማሕረዲ
ኮብኪቦም ይወስድዎም ነቶም ግዳያት መዓልቲ፣
ብዘይ ፈሪሃ ‘ዝግሄር፣ ብዘይ ንሕስያ
አሕሊፎም ሃብዎም ካን ን ሻዕብያ።

… ወተሃደራት ዴ.ም.ህ.ት.

Republic: underground newsletter from Eritrea!

A monthly newsletter being published inside Eritrea. An exiled Eritrean journalist shared the news on tweeter:

Click on image to access the January 2014 copy. I will share other versions as soon as I have them.The_republic_Eritrea


“Open your mouth for the mute” –Proverbs 31:8

An update about the campaign to show solidarity with persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea:

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (Proverbs 31:8)

By making a public pledge of solidarity with the persecuted, you have opened your mouth for the mute–for the rights of the destitute.

Throughout the month of September (the 20 year anniversary of the imprisonment of  first Jehovah’s Witnesses) 239 Eritreans have signed the pledge acknowledging the inhuman treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses by the Eritrean government and expressing their solidarity with the victims.

This pledge will have informed many, and reminded others, about the suffering of people back home and the level of human rights abuses in Eritrea.

Hopefully this pledge will encourage many to take a firm stand against human rights abuses and stir their hearts to do something about it. Continue reading

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Remarkable courage: the flight from Eritrea

Samuel N.:

I cannot live without freedom.

Originally posted on martinplaut:

“I cannot live without freedom.” This was how Henok Tekle, a young Eritrean explained just why he was driven to escape from his country not once, but twice!

HenokHenok – like thousands of his countrymen and women managed to make the extraordinary journey from Eritrea through Sudan and Libya.

He was shot at by border guards and almost drowning on his way to Malta.

“The waves were over our heads,” he said. “The captain wanted to abandon ship, with the only life-vest, but he was grabbed by a refugee, who would not let him go.”

Finally they made it to Malta, but rather than treated as refugees, they were imprisoned before being taken by troops to a plane and forcibly repatriated back to the Eritrean capital, Asmara.”You will be deported,” a Maltese officer told him.

His punishment was to be sent to the Dahlak Islands which contain some of Eritrea’s…

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