Loving your enemies: Lesson from Dr King

Love for our enemies may compel us to downplay their abuse, but love for the victims should compel us not to.

“Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship.”

“We must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy.

Racists are nice people….

“Dr. E. Franklin Fraizer, in an interesting essay entitled ‘the Pathology of Race Prejudice,’ included several examples of white persons who were normal, amiable, and congenial in their day-to-day relationships with other white persons but when they were challenged to think of Negroes as equals or even to discuss the question of racial injustice, they reacted with unbelievable irrationality and an abnormal unbalance. This happens when hate lingers in our minds…”

I find the writings of Dr King useful in explaining how to love our enemy-neighbours (i.e. government supporters).

[Quotes from Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, Ch. 5: Loving your enemies]

They are enemies. (Eritrean president Issaias Afewerki and high-ranking officials)

Eritrean Christians should involve in Eritrean politics

When a government in ancient Persia decided to put an end to a religion it deemed hostile to the nation (Book of Esther), Mordecai went into great mourning. Mordecai believes in God and it was this faith that fueled the campaign against him and his fellow Jews in the first place. He had refused to bow down to a government official citing religion as his reason.

Mordecai didn’t find his faith in an able God conflicting with the idea of involving in a political solution. On the contrary, his faith gave him the confidence and the courage to make a dangerous political move. He messages his cousin Esther (who happens to be a Queen) and asks her to go before the King and plead for her people. He encourages the Queen who is about to risk her life by approaching the King without first being called, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.” He continues, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?1.

In many ways, the Eritrean Church is in a similar place. Its government is out to eradicate the religions they deem hostile to their rule. Eritrean churches and individual Christians, particularly those in the diaspora, are in a situation very similar to that of Queen Esther. Mordecai’s message is relevant today: For Eritrean Christians to remain completely silent at a time like this is unacceptable! …Yet who knows whether you have come to such a position for such a time as this?

The complete silence of Eritrean Churches to officially acknowledge the oppression in Eritrea, and their reluctance to encourage the faithful to involve in political solutions is strange. I have shared my views on this topic in an earlier article:

Mute and without opinion: The Eritrean Churchs

The church must be the guide and the critic of the State and never its tool.” writes Dr Martin Luther King Jr, outraged by the silence of many American churches on the racial injustice of his time. The church, or any religious institution for that matter, should not hope to earn favours or avert scorn from government by such means as self-censoring on issues that the government labels “politics”. Especially not when the issues are well within the domain of the church’s teachings. Dr King continues and warns that unless the church recaptures its position in society as a guide and critic of the state “…it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” [Open the full article]


ተጋዳላይ–ሲቪል:- ናይ ኤርትራ ኣፓርታይድ

ኣብ ኤርትራ ተጋደልቲ ናይ በይኖም ዓሌት ኣይኮኑን። ከምኡ ድማ ንሕና ሲቪል ዜጋታት ዓሌት ኣይኮንናን። ይኹን ደኣ እምበር ብመንጽር መንግስቲ ኤርትራ ተጋዳላይን ሲቪልን ክልተ ዝተፈላልዩ ደረጃታት ዜግነት እዮም። ነዚ ኣብ ሃገርና ንቡር ኮይኑ ዘሎ ኣፋላላይ ቀው ኢልና ምስ እነስተውዕሎ፣ ብብዙሕ መዳያቱ ምስ ስርዓት ኣፓርታይድ ይመሳሰል’ዩ።

ብዘመነ ኣፓርታይድ: ኣብ ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃ: ጸዕዳ ምዃን ምንም ገበን የብሉን። ገበነኛስ እቲ ንጸዕዳ ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃዊ ልዕሊ ጸሊም ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃዊ ጌሩ ዝቖጽር ፈላላዩ ሕገ መንግስቲ እዩ።

ብዘመነ ኣፓርታይድ: ጸዕዳ ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃዊ ምዃን ዓወትን ሃብትን፣ ወይ ድማ ካብ መንግስቲ ፍሉይ ክብረት፣ ፍሉይ ምትሕብባርን ሓገዝን ግድን የውህበካ ማለት ኣይኮነን። አረ ብዙሓት መደንገጽ ጸዓዱ ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃውያን ነይሮምዮም። ብዙሓት ድኻታት ጸዓዱ ኔሮም: ብዙሓት ውጹዓት ጸዓዱ ኔሮም። እዚ ማለት ግን ኣፓርታይድ ኣይነበረን፣ ወይውን እቲ ስርዓት ኣፓርታይድ ድኹም’ዩ ኔሩ ማለት ኣትይኮነን።

ብተመሳሳሊ ኣብ ሃገርና ሎሚ: ብዙሓት ዘይጠዓሞም፣ መደንገጽ፣ ተጋደልቲ ኣለዉና። ኩሎም ተጋደልቲ ኣብ ስልጣን ዘይምህላዎም፣ ወይ ውን ኩሎም ተጋደልቲ ጥዒምዎም ዘይምህላዉ ምልክት ድኽመት “ኣፓርታይድ” ኣብ ኤርትራ ክኸውን ኣይክእልንዩ።

ብመንጽሩ ግና: ሓደኳ ሲቪል በዓል ስልጣን ዘይምህላዉ ንህላወ “ኣፓርታይድ” ኣብ ኤርትራ የርእየና። ኣብ ኤርትራ: ኩሉ ዝርኤ ስልጣናት (ከምኒ ኣመሓዳሪ፣ ሚኒስተር፣ ኣምባሳደር)፣ ከምኡ’ውን ኩሉ ‘ዘይርኤ’ ስልጣናት (ብድሕረ መድረክ ኣብ’ቲ ውልቀ-ምልኪ ጽልዋ ዘለዎም፣ ወይ ከኣ ዘተግብሩ) ብ ተጋደልቲ እዩ። እዚ “ኣፓርታይድ” ወለዶ ውን ይሰግርን እናሰገረን እዩ። ንኣብነት ነቲ መንግስቲ ልዕል ዝበለ ተኣማንነንት (loyalty) የድልዮ ንዝበሎ ናይ ወተሃደር-ነፋሪት ምብራር (ፓይሎት) ናይ ትምህርቲ ዕድል ንሲቪል መንእሰይ በጭራሽ ኣይወሃብን።

ከምቲ ኣቀዲመ ዝበልክዎ: ብዘመነ ኣፓርታይድ: ኣብ ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃ ጸዕዳ ምዃን ምንም ገበን የብሉን። ግናኸ ጸዕዳ ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃዊ ኮንካ ብኣካይዳ ኣፓርታይድ ዘይምጉሃይ፣ ዘይ-ጸዓዱ ዜጋታት ክግፉዑ ርኢኻ “ዓገብ” ዘይምባል፣ ብፍላይ ይብደሉ ምህላዎም ዘይምእማን፣ ወዘተ. ተኻፋሊ ወይውን ተጠቃሚ ግፍዒ ኣፓርታይድ ይገብረካ እዩ።

ተጋዳላይ፣ ወዲ-ተጋዳላይ ወይ ውን ዕባይ ቤት-ትምህርቲ-ሰውራ ምዃን ገበን የብሉን። የግዳስ ብግብርካ ወይ ውን ብዘይ ምግባርካ: ብ ስቕታኻ: ተኻፋሊ “ኣፓርታይድ”፣ ወይ ከኣ ተጠቃሚ ግፍዒ “ኣፓርታይድ” ኣብ ኤርትራ ክትከውን ኣዝዩ ዝከኣልዩ።


Eritrean president and  high ranking officials at Independence Day celebration in Asmara May 24, 2007.

Eritrean president and high ranking officials at Independence Day celebration in Asmara May 24, 2007. All high ranking government officials are former soldiers of the EPLF group.

ነዚ ኣብ ሃገርና ንቡር ዝኾነ ተጋዳላይ–ሲቪል ምፍልላይ ዜጋታት: “ኣፓርታይድ” ክትብሎ: ቃልብቓሉ ቅኑዕ ኣጸዋውዓ ኣይከውንን። ኣፓርታይድ (Apartheid) ዝብል ቃል ቀንዲ መቦቆሉ ካብቲ ኣብ ኣብ ደቡብ-ኣፍሪቃ ካብ 1948 ክሳዕ 1990 ዝነበረ: ማዕርነት ጸዓዱን ጸለምትን ዜጋታት ዘየኽብር ሕገ መንግስቲ እዩ። ካብዚ ዝነቐለ ድማ ሎሚ ሓደ ምምሕዳር ኣብ መንጎ ዜጋታት ሃገሩ: ዓሌታዊ ኣፈላላይ ምስ ዝገብር “ኣፓርታይድ” ብዝብል ንገልጾ።

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 Alexa.com).



[1]    Eritrean Postal Service. FAQ: “What articles are not accepted or transmitted by the post office?” Website, accessed on December 2012. http://www.eriposta.com/ (website currently Parked!)
[2]    United States Postal Service. County conditions for mailing – eritrea. (http://pe.usps.com/text/Imm/ce_029.htm)
[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. (http://en.rsf.org/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