Leaked document show government estimates over half a million will sign petition denouncing UN human rights report on Eritrea

An Eritrean whistleblower that goes by the name Samuel has recently started publishing leaked government documents through a Facebook page: SACTISM: Classified documents of the dwindling PFDJ.

On April 20, SACTISM posted a seven-page document, in Tigrinya language, of a letter by Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs detailing a government plan to collect over 300,000 signatures from Eritreans for a petition that denounces the UN Commission of Inquiry and its ‘fabricated’ reports.

The letter, dated 12th of April 2016, is addressed to “All Eritrean missions” and to “Eritrean consulates in Canada and Australia” with copies to “(1) Coordinating committee; (2) Coordinator of Action Europe, Ambassador Fisehatsion Petros; and (3) Eritrean permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Ghirma Asmerom

The letter urges the responsible to collect signatures starting from 16th of April until 27th of May 2016 and fulfill their respective country’s “quota“. The document lists 25 countries including the Scandinavia region and sets the target number of signatures for the petition.

graph32

Target numbers of signatures to collect from Eritrean citizens residing abroad from the leaked government letter.

These numbers are perhaps indicative of the number of Eritreans in those countries (most of them as refugees or political asylees), and the level of influence and leverage the government believes it has on its citizens residing in each country.

The document details that this ‘drive’ is overseen by a certain “Global Eritrean Action for Justice” and all reports and copies of petitions are to be sent to it via email (eritreanglobalmekete@gmail.com). The letter also indicates that a peaceful rally will be held in relation to this petition sometime between 21st and 23rd of June.

Perhaps an interesting point is when the letter explains how the ‘drive’ will be mobilized. It indicates that “every citizen will take the petition form and collect signatures from their neighbors, friends, workmates and so on.” furthermore it indicates that during this mobilization, citizens will be “helped by groups, organizations and unions who will be leading the action.” It will be curious to know who those groups, organizations and unions are since most government organizations claim they are mere civic organizations with no political affiliation to Eritrean regime. In fact, in a recent well-publicized case, a member of one such Eritrean organization sued a Dutch professor for defamation because she claimed he has association with the Eritrean government (details of the incident here and here).

This also suggests that the signatures will be collected in a similar manner the 2% ‘diaspora tax’ is collected and Eritrean refugees are forced to sign a ‘letter of regret’ at Eritrean embassies and consulates. That is, through extortion.

The petition form reads:

“We, the undersigned reject the fabricated Reports of the Commission of Inquiry and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Eritrea and request immediate nullification of the Reports and termination of their mandates, and instead promote constructive engagement!”

petition

The petition form. Appendix 2 of the leaked document

 

A copy of the leaked document, which is written in Tigrinya language, can be downloaded here: Government_Petition2016_leak

Isaias Afewerki hides behind the term ‘Shaebia’: a selfless servant of the system

As the leader of an authoritarian government, president Isaias Afewerki is responsible for everything his government does. This is one of those very few facts that everyone agrees on — his supporters and opponents.

In spite of this fact, it is not normal for Eritreans to refer to the political system or the ‘era’ of its rule by the supreme leader (like you would for similar dictators like Mengistu or Idi Amin) or at least by its party name (like you would for the Ethiopian Derg or the ‘communists’). Eritreans refer to their system by an abstract name that attributes to the government’s political ideology–which itself is very abstract. The term ‘Shaebia‘ is the natural way of referring to their government. For example, you would caution a friend saying “Shaebia don’t like that.”; you would speak of a government supporter as “She is Shaebia.”; who killed him? “Shaebia killed him.”

Some people try to equate Shaebia with PFDJ, the ruling party, hoping to avoid controversies associated with the pre-independence elements of the current government (which is a hot potato issue and should be avoided whenever possible). But PFDJ does not feel right, and it does not cover the many ways the term ‘Shaebia’ is used. For instance, in the example above it would not be appropriate to say someone is PFDJ. PFDJ is the bureaucracy, it does not represent the ‘spirit’ of the government.

Let me elaborate this point with a true story from 2003 (or was it 2004). A sympathetic military police (MP) was escorting my friend to jail. My friend had publicly confronted a person in a cafe who reported on his brother’s whereabouts to the government that led to his brother’s arrest. A military officer heard of the confrontation and ordered the MP to take my friend to jail (a very normal Eritrean story so far). With a compassionate tone, the MP that was escorting my friend said, “You shouldn’t have done that friend, you don’t do that with Shaebia, they don’t tolerate such things.” My friend angrily replied, “who is Shaebia? is that you? you’re the one taking me to jail. Is it your commanding officer? his boss? who?”. The poor MP muttered with a deep thought for a while and struggling to find the right words he replied, “I don’t think it’s my boss or anything like that, Shaebia is…Shaebia is the spirit.”

“PFDJ is the bureaucracy, it does not represent the ‘spirit’ of the government.”

When discussing Eritrean politics and oppression, people who have not lived in Eritrea may think ‘Isaias Afewerki’, ‘the dictator’. People in Eritrea simply think ‘Shaebia’.

This line of thinking is significant because it hides Isaias Afewerki, the dictator, and obscures the personality cult that is pretty much there.  Isaias Afewerki has successfully managed to make himself invisible behind the Shaebia ‘concept’. In fact, Isaias Afewerki is simply a humble servant of the Shaebia. The appeal supporters and sympathizers see in Isaias Afewerki are that he is, apparently, a selfless servant of ‘the system’. He is a true Shaebia.

To the everyday Eritrean, using the phrases ‘PFDJ’, ‘Higidef’ or ‘DIA’ are as strange as referring to super PACs as ‘independent-expenditure only committees’. More accurate but it is as confusing and non-intuitive as the wordings in Facebook’s Terms and Conditions.

“Shaebia is an amorphous collage of things.”

Saebi

Shaebia is an amorphous collage of things.

ሓደሽቲ ስውኣት ፦ መንግቲ ኣብ ማእከል ኣስመራ ሰብ ይቐትል

ዝሓለፈ ሰንበት፡ 3 ሚያዝያ፡ መንግስትና ካብ ኣገልሎት (ግዱድ ዕስክና) ከምልጡ ኢሎም ካብ ተሰቒሎመን ዝነበሩ ናይጽዕነት መኪና ዘሊሎም ክሃድሙ ንዝፈተኑ መንእሰያት፡ ከምቲ ኣብ ዶባት ኤርትራ ዝገብርዎ፡ ብብረት ተኩሶም ሰብ ከም ዝጎድኡን፡ ካብቶም ዝተጎድኡ ድማ ዝሞቱ ከምዘለው ውን ብዝተፈላለየ ምንጭታት ክንገር ቀንዩ።

ጋዜጠኛ ማርቲን ፕላውት፡ ካብ ውሽጢ ኤርትራ ብዝረኸቦ ሓበሬታ  መሰረት፡ ክሳዕ ሕጂ ዝተፈልጠ 29 ሰባት ከም ዝጎድኡ፡ ካብኣቶም ሽዱሽተ ብቕጽበት ክሞቱ ከለዉ ካልኦት 5 ድማ ኣብ ሕክምና ከምዝሞቱ፣ እቶም ዝተረፉ ድማ ኣብ ‘ሆስፒታል’፡ ኣብ ትሕቲ ጽኑዕ ሓለዋ ከምዘለዉ ሓቢሩ። ማርቲን ኣብ ጽሑፉ ናይቶም ዝሞቱ ናይ ኩሎም ኣስማት ኣለኒ፡ ቤተሰብ ክሳዕ ዘይተርኡ ግና፡ ናይቶም ቤተሰቦም ዝተረድኡ ጥራይ ክነግርየ ብምባል ናይ ክልተ መንነት ገሊጹ፡ ንሳቶም ድማ፦

  1. ጨዓይ ሃብተስላሴ ገብረመስቀል — ኣብኡ፡ ኣቶ ሃብተስላሴ፡ ኣብ ዓዲ ጓዕዳድ ዝቕመጡ ናይ እንዳ ዓለባ ሰራሕተኛ ‘ዮም።
  2. ያፍየት ፍስሃየ መንገሻ — ኣብኡ ኣቶ ፍስሃየ ኣብ ማይተመናይ ዝቕመጡ ኮይኖም ምስ መጎዓዝያ ዝተተሓሓዘ ስራሕ ‘ዮም ዝሰርሑ።

እዞም ክልተ መወትቲ ካብቶም ክሃድሙ ክብሉ ዝተቐትሉ ኣይኮኑን፡ ኣብቲ እዋን’ቲ ኣብቲ ከባቢ ስለ ዝነበሩ ዝተለከሙ ግለሰባትዮም።

ካብቶም ተጎዲኦም ኣብ ሕክምና ዘለው 18 ሰባት ድማ፡ ናይ 10 ሰባት ኣስማቶም ከምዚ ዝስዕብ ይዝርዝር፦

  1. ዳዊት ሚካኤል
  2. ኣብራሃም ፍሰሃ
  3. ሃብቶም ግርማይ
  4. መድሃኔ ገብረመድህን
  5. ቢንያም ዘርኣይ
  6. ዮናስ ጠዓመ
  7. ሰዓረ ወልዳይ
  8. ዮናታን ዓንደሚካኤል
  9. ባሲልዮስ ዘምህረት
  10. ሳሙኤል ተክኤ

ናብቲ ኣርእስቲ ጽሑፈይ ክመለስ፡ መንግስትና ነቶም ብግፍዒ ዝቐተሎም ግለሰባት “ስውኣት” ብምባል’ዩ ክጽውዖም፡ እዚ ድማ’ዩ ዝገርም ነገር። ብመሰረት መንግስትና ነቶም ግዳያቶ “ስውኣት” ይብሎም፡ ከም ኡ ድማ ነቶም ምስ መንግስቲ ኮይኖም ሰብ ዝቐትሉ ኣብ ዝሞቱላ መ ዓልቲ “ስውኣት” ይብሎም። ቀታሊን ተቐታልን ስው ኣት ዮም። ዘስደምም።

እዚ ድሕሪ ሞትካ ዝወሃብ ናይ “መስዋእቲ” ሽመት፡ ንመንግስትና ኣዝዩ ‘ዩ ዝጠቕሞ። ማለት ቤተሰብ ግዳያት-መንግስቲ፡ ወገኖም ከም ገበነኛ፡ ከም ሓደ ዓማጺ ሰብ ብኢድ መንግስቲ ተቐቲሉ ክነሱ፣ መንግስትና ብወገኑ፡ ብዘዕባ’ቲ ዝቐተልዎ ከም ሓደ ምስ ኦም ዝነበረ፡ ከም መሳርሕቶም ቆጺሮም “ስውእ” ይብልዎ። በዚ ኸምዚ፡ ነቲ ክፉእ ስርሖምን ነቲ ብከንቱ ዝጠፍኤ ህይወትን ከነኣእስዎ ይሕግዞም። ወረ ምንእኣስ ጥራይ ኣይኮነን፡ “ጅግና”፡ “ሓበን”፡ ወዘተረፈ ቃላት ኢናተጠቀሙ… ካብኡ ሓሊፉምውን “ ሕድሪ ሰማእታት” እናበሉ ነቲ ዝገበርዎ ገበን ምንእኣሱ ጥራይ ዘይኮነስ፡ ካብኡ ሓሊፎም ንዕኦምሓደ ጠቓሚ ባእታ ገይሮምዎ ‘ዮም። በዚ መሰረት ሓደ ዓሰርተ ወይ ዕስራ ‘ስውኣት’ እንተወሰኹ፡ ንመንግስትና ይጠቕሞም እምበር ኣይጎድኦ ምንይ’ዩ።

Martyrs

ዐሰርቱ ትእዛዛት ሻዕብያ

  1. ካብ መግዛእቲ ዘውጻእኩኻ፡ ኣነ ኣምላኽካ እየ። ኣብ ቅድመይ ካልኦት ኣማልኽቲ ኣይሀልዉኻ።
  2. ፓርቲ ዘበለን ንርእስኻ ኣይትግበር። ብዝኾነ ምኽንያት ኣይትጠርነፍ፡ ኣይትተኣከብ።
  3. ስም ስውኣት ብኸንቱ ኣይተልዕል።
  4. ሃገራዊ ብዓላት ንኸተብዕል ሐልወን። ሰለስተን-ስሳን-ሰለስተን መዓልቲ ዕየ፣ ብዘይ ደሞዝ፣ ንሃገራዊ ብዓላት ግና ብሓጎስን ብጭፈራን ዘክረን።
  5. ኣብታ ምድሪ ዕድሜኻ ምእንቲ ኺነውሕ፡ ንሹማምንቲኻ ኣኽብር።
  6. ኣይትቕተል። እንተድልዩ ትሕቲ ብርኪ ተኩስ።
  7. ኣይትዘሙ። በዓል ስልጣን ኣይኮንካን።
  8. ኣይትስረቕ። ኩሉ ሃብቲን እታ መርየትን ንመንግስቲ እተቐደሰ’ዩ።
  9. ብሓሶት ኣይትመስክር። ናይ መርመራ ግዜ ከይናውሓካ።
  10. ዘይናትካ ዕረፍትን ሰላምን ኣይትመነ። ትምኒት ናይ ስግረዶብ ሓሳብ ትዘርእ እያ።

333

ኣይፋልኩምን ዴምህት!

“መንቀሳቐሲ!”
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.

ዝተመላኽዐ ዛንታ ገድሊ (ብ ዮሴፍ ገብሪሂወት)

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እዛ ጽሕፍቲ ትርጉም ናይታ “Romanticizing Ghedli (I)” ዘርእስታ ብዮሴፍ ገብሪሂወት ተጻሒፋ፡ ብ 12 መጋቢት 2008 ኣብ መርባእብ ሓበሬታ ኣስማሪኖ ዳት ኮም ዝተዘርግሐት ጽሕፍቲ እያ። ናብ ቛንቛ ትግርኛ ብ ኣዳለውቲ ጋዜጣ መሰለይ ተተርጒማ፡ “ምቅንጃው ገድሊ” ብዝብል ኣርእስቲ ከኣ ኣብ 2008 ተዘርጊሓ ኔራ። ንምርዳእ ይሕግዝ ብዝብል ገለገለ ናይኣተረጋጉማ ምትዕርራያት ገይረ ኣቅሪበያ ኣለኹ። 
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“ገድሊ”

ሓደ ካብቲ ቀንዲ ንህዝብና ኣጋጢምዎ ዘሎ ጸገማት፡ ተቐናጅዩ [ካብ መጠን ንላዕሊ ተመላኺዑ] ዝቐርብ ዛንታ ገድሊ ኤርትራ እዩ፥ መብዝሕትኡ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ነዚ ተጋኒኑን ተመላኺዑን ዝቐረበ ዛንታ ክርሕርሖ ፍቓደኛ ኣይኮነን። ምቕንጃው [ብሓሶት ዝተመላኽዐ ታሪኽ] ንሃገር ክቀትል ይኽእል’ዩ እንተ ኢልና፡ ከምዚ ናይ ኤርትራ እዩ። እዚ ሎሚ አብ ጉዳይ ሃገርና ንዕዘቦ ዘሎና ሓንቲ ሃገር ንሓደ ስነ-ሓሳብ ከተጥፍኦ እንከላ ኣይኮነን (ከምዚ እንተዝኸውን ምሓሸ ኔሩ)፥ እንታይ ደኣ ሓደ ስነ-ሓሳብ ንሓንቲ ሃገር ከጥፍኣ እንከሎ እዩ።

ገድሊን እቲ ምስኡ ተተሓሒዙ ዝኸይድ ናውትን ሓዊስካ፡ ነቲ ንነዊሕ እዋን ኣብ እንግድዑ ጾይርዎ ዝጸንሐ ህዝቢ ከቢዱዎስ፡ ኣብ ክጻወሮ ዘይክእል ደረጃ በጺሑ ይርከብ። እዚ ባዕልና ዝፈጠርናዮ ኣውሬ፡ ሃርጋፍ ሸውሃት ስለዘጥረየ፡ ሸውሃቱ ንምርዋይን ቀጻልነቱ ንምርግጋጽን ነባሪ ዝኾነ ናይ “መስዋእቲ” ባህሊ ክፍጠር ኣድልይዎ። ንሓደ ንጹር ዘይኮነ፡ ደብዛዝን ኣካራኻሪን ሕልሚ ንምውሓስ፡ በዚ ጸይቀ-ግኑን ኣውሬ ሓደ ወለዶ ድሕሪ እቲ ሓደ ክብልዑን ክሃልቑን ኣለዎም። ሎሚ ኣብዚ ናይ መወዳእታ ዕምሩ ድማ፡ ንመላእ ሃገር ንኸጽንት ኣብ ምውጥዋጥ ይርከብ። ሻዕብያ ክመውት እንተኾይኑ፡ ሃገር ድማ ምስኡ ከም እትመውት ኣቀዲሙ ወሲኑ’ዩ። ዛጊት ብዙሓት ኤርትራውያን፡ ክንዲ ነቲ ናይ ሃገር ሱር ሕማሞም ኮይኑ ዘሎ “ገድሊ” ምምራር፣ ገድሊ ድኣ ኣይኹን እምበር ንዝኾነ ካልእ ነገር ክውንጅሉን ሓላፍነት ከሰክሙን ይመርጹ።

እቲ ኣዝዩ ዝገርመኒ ነገር፡ ኣብ ዝኾነ ይኹን ጉዳይ ሃገር ቅንጣብ እኳ ክሰማምዑ ዘይክእሉ ወገናት ከይተረፈ፡ ሓደ ዘሰማምዖም ነገር እንተሎ፡ እቲ ተመላኺዑ ዘሎ ዛንታ ገድሊ እዩ። ዝተመላኽዐ ዛንታ ገድሊ ማለት፡ ንገድሊ ጸጽቡቑ ካብ መጠን ንላዕሊ ምግናን፥ ነቲ ገግናዩ ከኣ ምንእኣስን ከምዘይነበረ ምኽሓድን እዩ። Continue reading

Eritrea: Definitions you have to know

Majority of Eritrean dissidents prefer to write in English. It can be painful to follow Eritrean news and political works if you don’t know certain acronyms and popular non-English phrases. The following list should be useful to those not too familiar with Eritrean political writings.

ELF Eritrean Liberation Front (popularly called Jebha). A nationalist insurgency. The ELF started armed resistance against Ethiopian government in 1961, a year after it was founded. The ELF was the strongest nationalist group until it divided into competing groups in the 1970’s and was finally defeated and pushed out of the country in 1981 by EPLF (the strongest of its splinters).

EPLF Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (popularly called Shaebia) is a nationalist movement that started forming in the late 1960’s early 1970’s and officially formed in 1977. The EPLF defeated Ethiopian army and won Eritrean independence in 1991 . The EPLF renamed itself PFDJ in 1993.

G-15 A group of 15 prominent politicians within the PFDJ party that published an “open letter to the PFDJ” in May 2001. The open letter criticized President Isaias Afewerki. All were accused of treason and 11 members of the group were made to disappear on September 18, 2001, the remaining four were out of the country at the time and still remain abroad.

Ghedli Refers to the revolution and the armed insurgency for independence (1960’s—1991). The word is also used to refer to the era of the insurgency. Tigrinya [ገድሊ]: ‘struggle’.

Giffa The practice of raiding villages or neighborhoods (often at night) to recruit new conscripts and arrest suspected deserters. Giffa was a common practice of the Eritrean insurgencies (1960—1991), and is still a routine practice in Eritrea today. Tigrinya [ግፋ]: ‘to gather’

Halewa Sewra Shield of the Revolution. The internal security service of the EPLF. Tigrinya [ሓለዋ ሰውራ]: ‘guards of the revolution’

Hidri Suwuat Dream of the martyrs. Tigrinya [ሕድሪ ስውኣት]: ‘what our martyrs have entrusted us with’.

Isaias Afewerki President of Eritrea since 1993 and leader of the EPLF since 1975. Referring to persons with first name is proper in Eritrean culture and it is not common to refer the president by his last name.

Jebha Popular name of the ELF. Arabic [جبهة]: ‘Front’.

Menqa Dissident political grouping of mostly university students within the EPLF that started around 1973-74. The Menqa group allegedly accused the EPLF leadership of undemocratic behavior, all were made to disappear by the EPLF. Tigrinya [መንካዕ]: the animal bat.

Mieda Referring to the Ghedli revolution. Tigrinya [ሜዳ]: ‘Field’.

PFDJ People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. Formerly EPLF, it is the only party in Eritrea.

Shaebia Popular name of the EPLF and PFDJ. Arabic [شعبي]: ‘Popular’.

Tegadalay A common way of referring the Ghedli era soldiers of the insurgency (Feminine Tegadalit). Tigrinya [ተጋዳላይ]:  ‘Fighter’.

TPLF Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Ethiopian insurgency that overthrew the previous administration and assumed power in 1991. TPLF was a partner of the EPLF during the insurgency and an ally of PFDJ until the 1998—2000  Eritrea-Ethiopia border conflict.

Warsai A common name referring to the new generation national service conscripts. In contrast to the older generation of revolutionary fighters. Tigrinya [ዋርሳይ]: ‘One who inherits’.

Warsay-Yikealo the Warsay-Yikealo Development Campaign (WYDC) which was implemented in Eritrea two years after the end of 1998—2000 border conflict with Ethiopia. The campaign extended the 18-month compulsory National Service indefinitely. Under WYDC Campaign, conscripts are assigned work (military or civilian work) without salary except a nominal pocket money of 145 to 500 Nakfa. Conscripts who refuse to work are treated as military deserters and punished. Tigrinya phrase [ዋርሳይ ይከኣሎ] can be translated as: ‘The inheritor is all-capable’. (see Warsai and Yikealo)

Woyane A common name referring to the TPLF. Tigrinya [ወያኔ]: ‘revolution’.

Yikealo A less common name referring to the Ghedli generation of fighters (Tegadalay is more common), as opposed to the new generation of conscripts Warsai. Tigrinya [ይከኣሎ]: ‘all capable’ or ‘almighty’. (The traditional Tigrinya male name Yikealo is in reference to God, not insurgency fighters).

Eritrea’s Covert Government

In Eritrea becoming a government official is simply a ceremonial post. The entire visible government structure of Eritrea is fake and the real government structure is underground—entirely hidden.

Corrupt governments often employ ‘puppet’ officials and yes-men but the Eritrean government system is a step ahead. Eritrean government officials (Ministers and army Officers) don’t even qualify as ‘puppets’ of the authoritarian regime. A ‘puppet’ would imply that the position they occupy actually is part of the system. In your traditional corrupt governance, the ‘puppet master’ may have power over the puppets’ function, but the post (be it a Minister or an army General) does exist.

For example a ‘puppet’ army General orders his army in accordance to the whims of his master. In other words the puppet master controls the army through the puppet. Here the post of General is part of the system. In the Eritrean case, the post of General is not necessary since the army is not organized in a way that they take orders from a General. The traditional army structure where army rank may exist up to a Platoon or maybe up to a Battalion, anything higher is underground and the official army ranks above that mean very little.

The same structure exists in the ‘civilian’ posts such as the government Ministries or the Courts. The value of official posts changes from real to ceremonial as you climb up a ladder of any government Ministry.

The Eritrean governance system is covert and in this sense Eritrean regime is very “organic”. The visible administration structure is just for show. The true administrative structure is underground. It is occupied with people that represent the government. This is very convenient for the dictator and has many advantages, for example: It is easy for the government to dodge  accountability for actions, the dictator is not threatened by his subordinates which have zero public visibility let alone support, it is harder for the dictator’s enemies to challenge a power structure they cannot see, etc.

Eritrean government structure is best understood by comparing it to other non-traditional kinds of administration. Many characteristics of the Eritrean government structure resemble the urban gang structure. In a gang there is no standard structure or official positions. However every body in the gang and the neighborhood knows everything they need to know. Everyone knows who calls the shots and who calls the ‘real’ shots. There are no official channels and information is spread by rumors. Everyone know who does what in the gang, they know who is whose rival. Everybody knows what actions have what consequences and Most importantly, it works!  Very similar to the Eritrean government and society.

Sophia’s interview with Australian radio vs. common sense

SBS with Sofiti - Copy

Sofia Tesfamariam at SBS’s studio

In a recent interview with Australian SBS radio,Sophia Tesfamariam introduced herself as the Director of US foundation for the Horn of Africa, a non governmental organization based in the US. But if you are curious about her political affiliation, I strongly suggest a visit to her personal blog (at stesfamariam.com) and search for “pedophile“. Read a couple of paragraph of the search result for an insight on the Director’s opinions about those of us not very enthusiastic about Eritrean government.

The interview focused on issues close to every Eritreans’ heart: Eritrean politics, human rights, 2% diaspora ‘tax’ and the Eritrean refugee crisis.

In my recent article titled “the Authorized version of events” I had given examples of  typical Eritrean government responses to events in Eritrea. In that regard, Sophia Tesfamariam was not a disappointment.

STesfamariam.com

STesfamariam.com

The Covert Government

Ms Sophia Tesfamariam is an unofficial-official representative of the Eritrean government. Asked if she came to Australia on official capacity representing the Eritrean government, she explained… It happens she’s been declining invitations by the Australian-Eritrean community year after year, this time she could make it so she’s here. The program host seemed satisfied with her response. He did not press the issue further.

Even though she’s not officially a government representative, she carries her self as such.

Such is a typical standard operating procedure of the Eritrean regime. The Eritrean regime is very “organic”. The overt administration structure is just for show (even in the army). The real structure is underground. It is filled with people that represent the government one way, that is, the government works through them and everyone knows it but the government is not accountable for their actions.

Eritrean government structure is better understood by treating it like an urban gang structure. There are no official guidelines or official posts but every body in the gang (and the neighborhood) knows everything. Everyone knows who calls the shots, who does what, who is whose rival, what actions have what consequences…–very much like Eritrean society.

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(Minor edits 9/17/2014)

Eritrea: The authorized version of events

coat_of_arms_of_eritrea

The Eritrean government propaganda are so outrageous that even the hardcore government supporters have to tune-down government propaganda in an effort to make the claims seem less stupid.

Even critics often moderate many of the government’s claims just to make them reasonable enough to be critiqued (for the claims are silly beyond that possible to criticize).

The above is taken from my post a year ago, “Eritrea according to the government”. Then I discussed how the “authorized version” of Eritrea is nothing like the Eritrea people talk about. Government supporters and critiques alike routinely moderate the government’s stand on things. It’s not fair.

Below I have laid out the typical government position on various things. I am playing the sober government official. This piece is not a satire.

[These government stands are pretty much “common knowledge” for anyone who follows Eritrean government affairs.]

The authorized version of events

(1) Arrest of G-15

It is common knowledge that 15 or so high officials were arrested in 2001. Some people focus on the “how” and on minor technical details. Doing so they miss the big picture: “why?”

The G-15 were not arrested for criticizing or challenging the government. The Eritrean political culture is based on constructive criticism and discussion. Those officials were arrested for treason and for collaboration with the enemy. They trampled on the blood of our martyrs and decided to negotiate through back channels with our enemies (Western powers and Ethiopia) in order to ‘sell’ Eritrea for personal gains.

Talking on the “how” and on technical aspects of their arrest… true there might have been certain procedural oversights, or even blunders I dare say. But that should not divert us from the big picture. They deserve to be arrested. Justice needed to be done.

(2) Freedom of Press

Eritrea does not ban independent media inside the country. The closing down of the three or so non-Eritrean-government owned media had nothing to do with freedom of press. The reason these newspapers were closed in 2001 was because it was found that these newspapers were being subsidized and operated by Western elements. We have evidences that suggest they were being used by foreign intelligence agencies. Obviously we cannot allow foregn intelligence agencies to operate in Eritrea.

Various Western so called human rights and press freedom organizations have accused us of lack of press freedom. This is baseless accusation.

Reporters Without Borders  for example has ranked Eritrea as having the lowest press freedom in the world while at the same time, simultaneously, ranking Eritrea alongside North Korea. This shows the West is ignorant of North Korea.

(3) Arrest of ‘journalists’

Our constitution guarantees freedom of press and the government holds this right dear. What must be emphasized is that the so called journalists who were allegedly arrested in 2001 were not arrested for their journalistic work. No one in Eritrea has ever been arrested for being a journalist.

(4) Closing of the only University

The University was restructured to meet the ever increasing number of new students. The university was restructured and its resources reallocated to various new colleges. The new colleges were purposely installed across all regions of the country to ensure equal development of all regions of Eritrea. In short the university was “multiplied” by opening new institutions of higher education.

As a result the number of students enrolling and graduating across the country has grown dramatically. The new colleges have their own challenges: they might be less equipped, infrastructure is still basic and so on. But that is the price we are willing to pay for the future development of education for all.

(5) Detention of University students in 2001

In 2001 students of University of Asmara volunteered to work on development projects in their summer break. Accordingly the government assigned the students  to participate in the reconstruction of their country. The students were assigned to work on rural Eritrea for the summer, which they did.

Some media outlets deliberately distorted this simple fact and made outrageous accusation on the government. They reported that because the university students refused to comply to work without compensation, the  government had detained the entire student body (over 2,000 students) in a desert military camp at Wia (about 45 kilometers south of Massawa city) for months. Such reports are utter rubbish.

(6) Involvement with Al-Shabaab of Somalia

We have been accused of arming, training, and equipping armed groups including al-Shabaab. And hence become the victims of an un-just sanction by the UN Security Council since December 2009.

Eritrea supports the self determination of the Somali people and condemns the involvement of any foreign powers trying to institute puppet government in Somali.

The Eritrean government is committed to helping the Somali people by all diplomatic and political means. Other than that the Eritrean government has never armed, trained, and/or equipped any armed group in Somalia or in the region.

(7) Clashes with Djibouti

The United Nations and the Djibouti government claimed that Eritrea had military clashes with Djibouti on 10 to 12 June of 2008. Furthermore, they claim that Eritrea has refused to disclose information on Djibouti combatants killed or captured in these so called clashes.

The government of Eritrea deny there ever was any military clashes with Djibouti. The government, therefore, has no knowledge of and cannot produce the allegedly ‘missing’ Djibouti combatants.

If there was any minor border skirmishes between Djibouti and our border patrols: we deny any minor border skirmishes.

It is a shame that this false information, along with false allegations of trying to destabilize parts of Horn of Africa was used to impose UN sanction on Eritrea in 2009.

(8) Detention of Orthodox Patriarch: Abune Antonios

The Eritrean Orthodox Church is the biggest Christian denomination in the nation. Regarding the administration of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the government of Eritrea has knowledge of the following: Abune Antonios was elected Patriarch by the Holy Synod on March 2004 and enthroned as the third Patriarch of the Eritrean Church on April 2004. On January 2006 the Holy Synod decided to remove the Patriarch and elected Patriarch Dioscoros as his successor.

We have heard allegations that the Eritrean government was involved in removing the Patriarch. Some have even gone as far as accusing us of detaining His holiness the ex-Patriarch.

As matter of principle the Eritrean government does not involve in any internal working of religious organizations. We cannot comment on church internal procedures. We don’t keep track of citizens and we don’t have any reason to investigate the whereabouts of the ex-Patriarch Abune Antonios.

(9) Persecution of religions

Eritrea guarantees the freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Various Western so called human rights organizations (including the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International) have accused us of religious intolerance. We stand accused of the banning of houses of worship, torture, arbitrary arrest of persons based on religion (including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, Orthodox Christians, and Moslems). In addition we stand accused of interfering in the religious orders and the administration of the Eritrean Orthodox, the Catholic, the Lutheran and the Moslem.

We deny all accusations.

(10) Restriction of travel within or outside the country

This piece of misinformation is repeated everywhere that it is often accepted by the gullible without question.

The government of Eritrea does not impose travel restrictions. This misinformation stems from the fact that Eritreans doing their military service under the National Service are not allowed to leave the country without completing their national duty.

In addition while doing military duty, conscripts are of course subject to certain restrictions of the army barracks they are in. this is standard procedure for any country. Otherwise any Eritrean who has completed his or her National Service is free to leave and enter the country just like anywhere in the world.

(11) Shoot-to-kill border policy

Eritrea is currently in a standoff with the Ethiopian occupiers. The Ethiopian government currently has occupied land that belongs to Eritrea and has refused to heed to the the final and binding arbitration of the  The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EECB).

Due to the extensive militarization of our borders and the repeated incursion of Ethiopian army units into our borders, people illegally crossing the border risk being mistaken for enemy combatants. So far the government has not reported of any incident (accident) in which a civilian was shot at, but it would not be unprecedented if that happens given the tense nature of our borders.

People caught leaving or entering our borders illegally are brought before civilian Court and processed according to the law. It is unthinkable that any citizen risks arbitrary arrest, torture or even death for crossing our borders illegally.

(12) Indefinite conscription

The Eritrean law requires that all men and women spend 18 months of National Service which includes six months of military training. Draft dodging is a crime and is punished as such. Cases are handled on a case by case bases and I cannot comment (nor can I remember by heart) on the possible punishment handed to individuals for draft dodging, but I can definitely guarantee that any punishment the Eritrean legal system issues if fair and fits the level of the crime.

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*please e-mail me (DissidentDiaries@Gmail.com) or use the form below to send me additional topics I should address.