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.

Correspondence with an Anthropologist

(Updated 9/17/2014)

Dr Maximilian Forte recently shared an article which he believes is very important. He shared Sophia Tesfamariam‘s recent blog on Zero Anthropology Facebook page with the following note:

“This article outlines and denounces the work of US anthropologists in Eritrea in US-funded campaigns backing political opposition in the country. The author of the piece [Sophia Tesfamariam] is a prominent Eritrean American activist. Those involved in the AAA [American Anthropological Association] should have a close look and perhaps consider further action.

He later posted an essay at ZeroAnthropology.net explaining why he considers her work very important:

…in light of the controversy that erupted with the publication of Sophia Tesfamariam’s outline and condemnation of western anthropologists working to support regime change in her native Eritrea…

Dr Maximilian Forte is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Concordia University, Canada.

Given these circumstances, I decided on a quick read of Sophia Tesfamariam’s publication. In her most recent post, Sophia uncovers information on the identity of funding agencies that support the work of several Western scholars that write on Eritrea. To the readers’ surprise she discovered that Western agencies are the major funding sources of Western scholars. Previously this information was only available by accessing the scholars’ academic CV or LinkedIn profile.

As an example, Sophia gives the names and brief outline of nine distinguished scholars: Tricia Redeker Hepner, Dan Connell, Frank Smyth, David Bozzini, Victoria Bernal, Maryan Van Reisen, Jennifer Riggan, Sara Dorman, Kjetil Tronvoll.

***

Dr. Maximilian C. Forte

Dr. Maximilian C. Forte

As a matter of principle I do not engage with government sympathizers. I believe that anyone unable to comprehend the suffering of Eritrean people until now probably does not deserve my time.

An exception to the rule, I decided to confront Dr Forte. Following is the “correspondence” that ensued in the comment section of his ZeroAnthropology.net posting and continued on Zero Anthropology Facebook page (switched to Facebook after my last comment on the website did not appear): Continue reading

ዝተመላኽዐ ዛንታ ገድሊ (ብ ዮሴፍ ገብሪሂወት)

__________________________
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። 
_________________________________________

“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

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.

 

ዘመነ-“ሻዕብያ” ኣምጽኦ ቃላት

Orwel_newspeak

ኤርትራውያን ሎሚ: ቋንቋና (ፖለቲካዊ ቋንቋና) ብብዙሕ መዳያቱ ኣዝዩ ድኹምን ኣዝዩ ዘይገላጽን ኣብ ዝኾነሉ ግዜ ኢና ዘሎና::

እቲ ሓያል ጸሓፊ ጆርጅ ኦርወል ብዛዕ ብልሽውና መንግስታት አመልኪቱ: ምስ ብልሽውና ፖለቲካ ተተሓሒዙ ዝኸይድ ብልሽውና ናይ ቋንቋ ኣሎ: ይብል::[1] ንጨቆንቲ ስርዓታት ንምርዳእ: ነቲ እቶም ስርዓታት ዘተኣታትውዎ ሓደሽቲ ቃላትን ዘይንቡር ቋንቋን ቀው ኢልካ ምስትውዓል የድሊ: ይብል::

ቀጺሉ እቲ ጸሓፋይ: ብልሽው ቋንቋ ፍረ ብልሽው ፖለቲካ ጥራይ ኮይኑ ደው ኣይብልን’ዩ: ይብል:: እንታይ ደኣ: እቲ ብልሽው ቋንቋ ብወገኑ ንዝያዳ ዝተበላሸወ ፖለቲካ መሰረት ይኸውን:: በዚ ኸምዚ ብልሽው ፖለቲካ ንብልሽው ቋንቋን እናደረኸ: ብልሽው ቋንቋ ብወገኑ ኸኣ ንብልሽው ፖለቲካ ሓጋዚ እናኮነ እቲ ዓንኬል ይቕጽል::

ፖለቲካዊ ቋንቋና ድኹምን ጋሕማጥን ዝኾነሉ ምኽንያት ኣተሓሳስባና ከምኡ ድኹም ስለዝኾነ’ዩ:: ግናኸ እዚ ፍረ ድኹም ኣተሓሳስባ ዝኾነ ድኹም ቋንቋ ብወገኑ ነቲ ኣተሓሳስባና መሊሱ ድኹም ንክኸውን ሓጋዚ ተራ ይጻወት::

ከም ርእይቶ ጆርጅ ኦርወል:- ፖለቲካዊ ብልሽውና ንምዕራይ ብቐዳምነት ነቲ ቋንቋ ብምዕራይ እንተጀመርናዮ’ውን የምሕረልናዩ::

እስከ ኣብ ጉዳይ ኤርትራ ንፈትኖ:: ንአብነት: “አገልግሎት” ወይ ውን “ታዕሊም” ዝብላ ልሙዳት ቃላት ክንዲ ንጥቀም በቲ ትርጉመን ዝኾነ አጸዋውዓ “ወተሃደራዊ ዕስክርና” እንተተኪእናየን ዕላልና ከምዚ መሰለ:-

“ኩሉ ኤርትራዊ ክዕስከር ግድን’ዩ: ወይ አብ መዓስከር ሳዋ ወይ ዊዓ”:
“እቲ ዕስክርና ብሕጊ ን 18 ወርሒ ጥራይ’ዩ ዝነበረ”:
“ኣብ ዕስክርና ክንደይ ዓመት ገርካ?”:
“ኦይ ንሱ ደኣ ዓስራይ ዙርያ እንድዩ ተዓስኪሩ::”
: ወዘተ.

ትርጉም “ግፋ” ብሕጽር ዝበለ:- “ናይ ምንግስቲ ፍቓድ ወረቐት ሒዞም ንዘይተረኽቡ ሰባት ብኣልማማ ብሓይሊ ብረት ኣስገዲድካ ናብ ቤት-ማእሰርቲ ምውሳድ:” እዩ:: አብ ክንዲ “ግፋ” ትብል ቃል “ማእሰርቲ” እንተንጥቀም ከምዚ ምበልና:-

“ሎሚ ንግሆ ወተሃደራት አብ ገዛውትና ን ብዙሓት ኣሲሮም ወሲዶሞም:: ልዕሊ ክልተ በጣሕ”:
“ጽባሕ ንግሆ አሃዱና ክትኣስር ክትወፍር’ያ::”
: ወዘተ.

______________________________________

02/01/2013:- ኣብቲ ኣርእስቲ “ሻዕብያ” ክብል ከለኹ: ነዚ ንኤርትራ ዘመሓድር ዘሎ ስርዓት ማለትይ እዩ:: ምናልባሽ ነዚ ዘሎ ስርዓት “ሻዕብያ” ምባል ትኽክል አይኮነን ንዝብሉ ወገናት ይቕሬታ ይሓትት:: እንተኾነ ግን: ኣብ ውሽጢ ኤርትራ ልሙድ ዘይኮነ መጸውዒ (ከምኒ “ስርዓት-ህግደፍ” ወይ “ውልቀ መላኺ ኢሳይያስ” ወዘተ.) ክጥቀም ኣይመረጽኩን:: ደሓር ከኣ ብዛዕባ መን ንዛረብ ከም ዘሎና ርዱእ ክሳዕ ዝኾነ አክንዲ “ሻዕብያ” ዝብል ቃል “እዚኦም!” ብዝብል ተኪእና እንተኣንበብናዮ ውን ጸገም የብሉን::

They did not change, and that’s the problem.

{This is revised version of my article at Asmarino.com}

An EPLF Fighter-actor performing in a propaganda show in Europe in 1980’s

An EPLF Fighter-actor performing in a propaganda show (Europe, 1980’s)

“Did we choose to be rebel fighters because we like it?” a soldier of the Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (EPLF) asks his fellow soldiers during a performance of 80′s,

“NO!” the soldiers shout at the top of their lung.

“Were we born this bitter and cruel” he asks again, and again he is met with the same cry, “NO!”

The performer then recites a poem detailing the gruesome everyday life the rebel soldiers (Fighters) endure.

***

The Eritrean armed struggle (the Ghedli) was at best a horrific path that was taken only for lack of choice. At best it should be remembered with “Thank God it’s over! Now we can have what we fought for: our civilian life! Our true identity!”

God forbid it be remembered as something pure, or the history recited with a nostalgic tone.

Since the revolution was taken to protect Eritrea, then the Eritrea the struggle set out to protect is to be found in the civilian population.

In today’s Ghedli created Eritrea, The “destination” (removing oppression and injustice, preserving Eritrea’s culture and identity, etc.) stands dwarfed compared to the “path”—the Great Path. So much so that it is worth taking away parts of the “destination” for the sake of protecting the Glorious Path. A path, a horrible path, that was justified ONLY because it was the only way to the “destination” (at least that’s what those who paid their life on the path were led to believe).

I have lived and worked among EPLF Fighters (ex-Fighters). Often ex-Fighters will tell you that they witnessed, and often endured plenty of abusive treatments, but they accepted it then because the struggle (Ghedli) was an extraordinary time.

No one doubts there was no freedom or democracy in Ghedli. The absence of freedom was justified in the minds of many because the Ghedli was a military organization. An army commander does not ask his soldiers to vote on best strategy. Similarly a colonel is not appointed by public vote.

Therefore, for many Fighters it was not so outrageous that there was absolutely no freedom in Ghedli and that the line between dis-obedience and treason didn’t exist. The problem is that this Ghedli-machine took power in 1991 and did not change. In-fact independence was just a massive expansion of the Ghedli military organization. At independence the Ghedli military organization simply “acquired” the nation.

The problem is not that they changed after independence; the problem is that they did not change.

The Ghedli-organization’s attitude towards the newly ‘acquired’ nation started to manifest soon after independence. A clichéd statement that was the opening paragraph in almost every speech by EPLF officials was, “Kab bado ziterekebnaya hager” which translates to, “The nation was ‘zero’ when it was handed to us.” This statement was primarily in reference to the nation’s economy. However, often than not, the usage was in reference to the overall state of the nation: especially in reference to the civilian culture, work ethic, educations system, and so on; things they thought (and still think) the Ghedli culture was superior in.

So the problem is not that they changed after independence; the problem is that they did not change as many expected.

One good example that shows Ghedli organization did not change (except in name) is the issue of the so called G-15. In early 2000’s, a group of government officials (the 15 being most known) decided to question the president on few issues of accountability. They were promptly disappeared. This is exactly what the Ghedli organization did in 1973-74 when some in its leadership decided to question the lack of democracy. Those who dared to question, commonly known as the Menkae, were disappeared.

All the things we are complaining about: the inhuman cruelty, the oppression, the absence of freedom, etc. existed before independence during Ghedli era. There were underground dangerous, corrugated iron prisons, incommunicado imprisonments, disappearances, … you name it. All the “Otto” and “Helicopter” and “Jesus Christ” torture techniques were not invented after independence by the young ‘Warsai generation (maybe they were re-named by them). Execution and disappearance of dissenters (real and suspected) was just as common during Ghedli, if not more common.

It’s common to hear many ex-Fighters remark, “We never thought your generation would have to go through what we went through.” Such statements go a long way to express the surprise (and disappointment) that things did not change as they had hoped would.

I have found zero evidence that suggests the Ghedli-organization has changed. On the contrary they remain the same.

***

At this point I want to clarify myself that it is not my intention to side with one or the other of the two ideological sides among the Eritrean opposition (i.e. the Ghedli-Romantics or the Young-and-Disillusioned). For me they both agree on the illegitimacy of the current government. Both sides believe the administration is rotten and want to see it crumble down as soon as possible. As I understood it they disagree on “when” exactly the Ghedli-body (as opposed to the Ghedli-administration) was pronounced rotten. I hope this piece of writing does not get entangled in that argument.

So why am I interested to write about this? Because I believe there is a dire need for the opposition to win Eritreans on the intellectual level.

So far Shaebia¹ (now Eritrean government) have been victorious. Shaebia are excellent liars (excellence being measured by how much people one got to believe the lies). Shaebia’s propaganda capacity is no match for our society’s intellectual capacity. They would win even both hands tied.

I believe the battle is in opening peoples ‘eyes’. That’s why Shaebia, like all tyrants, are more scared of their own population discussing ideas freely than they are of any foreign government. Violence or non-violence, there is no doubt that the intellectual battle has to be won.

One of the pillars of lies that Shaebia has erected in the past decades is a lie that Ghedli identity is a typical Eritrean identity. This lie has been repeated over and over many times that it is now assumed true by many. This lie has paved the way for other bigger lies.

One good example is the term “Warsai”, a common name that Shaebia has dubbed Eritrean youth. Its meaning: “one who inherits”.

Effectively the Shaebia government measures our maturity with how close we come to becoming like Ghedli-era EPLF Fighters (“Teghadelti”). The danger of this type of attempt to change our identity becomes more catastrophic when you consider what identity (norms, values, ethics, religious conviction, culture, etc.) the youth have to give-up in order to ‘inherit’ the Ghedli-identity. Basically they have to sacrifice their indigenous civilian identity—i.e. their Eritrean identity.

Regardless of whether the Ghedli culture was justified or not back then, there is no doubt that it should have no place in today’s Eritrea.

_______________________________________

[1] “Shaebia” is the popular name of the EPLF, the organization now in power in Eritrea. If you don’t like the usage of the word “Shaebia” replace it by anything you like: EPLF, PFDJ, Tegadelti, or just remark, “eziom!” every time you see the word. It’s all just semantics after all.

Eritrea according to the government

coat_of_arms_of_eritrea

Oh, the things the Eritrean government would have us believe! The problem with lying is though, it is hard to be consistent.

Eritrean government propaganda are so outrageous that both, critics and supporters of the government often tune down or modify government propaganda in an effort to make the claims seem less insane.

Critics often  ‘moderate’ the government’s statements in order to make them reasonable enough to be critiqued (for the governmnet’s claims are silly beyond that possible to criticize).

For example, people (on both sides) often moderate the government’s claim about Eritrean refugees just so that they can have an intelligent argument about it. The actual stand of the government is, however, that there are no emigrants leaving Eritrea. Certainly not in numbers that would warrant a government response or even consideration. Even using the term “refugee” is inappropriate. The President and many of his officials have now and again explained: the very reason anyone would bring up “refugees” as an Eritrean issue is trying to defame “Eritrea” by bringing up irrelevant issues, or has fallen victim to the international conspiracy against Ertirea.

“What is the reason for the collapse of Eritrean economy? Failed government policy or foreign intervention ?” A topic that is often bitterly debated by both sides. But according to the government, Eritrea does not have such an economic issue to begin with. Infact all indications (published by the government) show a rapid, promising development. Just take a look at front page of Eritrean newspaper: Infrastructure, industry, agriculture, trade, the environment, anything really, all is well thanks to the government and people. Claiming that the government officially acknowledges the economic difficulty (let alone crisis) is simply inconsistent with all of what the government is officially claiming.

I think both, the supporters and the opposition should stop modifying and moderating government claims. Let the real image show.

Eritrea: the authorized version

Below are some random points that characterize Eritrea according to official claims by  the government.

  • Truly democratic: In fact the government repeatedly expresses disgust in African governments, we are not even in the same league to compare our democracy.
  • Perfect country: A growing country where the political system and the natural wealth is the envy of everyone in Africa and even in the so-called ‘developed’ world.
  • Perfect government: Rule of law and justice characterizes the political culture of the current government.
  • Perfect foreign policy: Eritrean foreign policy is characterized by its strong believe in peace, negotiation, mutual respect and honesty.
  • Perfect economic policy: Self-reliance and food security stand out bold in all economic policy and planning. Fairness and hard work are the trademark of Eritrean development policies.
  • Not secretive to its people: Transparency defines the past, the present, and the future practices of the government.
  • Warasi-Yikalo  campaign is saving the nation: The campaign was instituted only because it was (and still is) necessary  to ensure development and equity. Period.
  • The United States is “obsessed” with Eritrea: The reason we went to war with Ethiopia in 1997 was the work of the United States. They were worried because we were setting an example of development without foreign aid/intervention.
  • The United States is really obsessed with Eritrea: The so-called dissidents and opposition in diaspora are on CIA payroll. Why would they spread lies about Eritrea if that was not the case?
  •  The United States is really, really obsessed with Eritrea: The  ill rumor that President Isaias died was deliberately started by the United States government.

“The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.” ― Albert Einstein

ምንፋር ጥራይ እኹል መርትዖ ክኸውን ኣይክእልን’ዩ:: (ሓተታ-Part 1)

ሓተታ

ሓተታ

ገለ ዘደናግርዎ እንተረኸቡ ኢሎም: “አይፋል: ጸላም ጤል አይኮነትን:: ርግቢት እያ::” ነዚ ምስ ኣጣል ዝዓበየ ህዝብስ ያኢ ብዛዕባ ጤል ክምህርዎ:: ጅግና ህዝብና: ንሱ-ንሕና: ንሕና-ንሱ ኩሉ ግዜ አብ ጎንና’ዩ::

ህዝብና: ስለ ዝበረረት ጥራይ መርገጺኡ ዝቕይር: ተወላዋሊ መሲልዎም: “በሪራ በል እነሀት! ሕጂኸ እንታይ ትብል?” እናበሉ እንክሓቱዎ:: እቲ ንቑሕ ህዝብና ግን ኣየድሃበሎምን:: ለባም ህዝብና ስራሕ እምበር ሞጎት አይፈቱን’ዩ:: ተባዕ ህዝብና: ብትብዓት ይምእዘዝ እምበር ንሓለፍቱ ኣይነቅፍን’ዩ:: መን’ሞ ከምዚ ህዝቢ::

ብመሰረቱ ዋላ ትንፈር ብዘየገድስ: “ጤል እያ” ወይውን “ርግቢት እያ” ኢልካ ብታህዋኽ ምድምዳም ምዕቡል ባህሊ አይኮነን:: እትነፍር ጤል ርኢኻ አይትፈልጥን ትኸውን: እዚ ተሞክሮኻ ንበይኑ ግን: ጤል አይኮነትን ንኽትብል መሰል አየውሕሰካን እዩ::

እቶም አይጤልን’ያ ክብሉ ዝፍትኑ: ብዘይካ ምንፋር ካልእ እንታይ ህዝቢ ዘይፈልጦ ዝፈለጥዎ ነገር ስለዘሎ’ዩ? ዋላስ ዝኾነ ነገር እንተደኣ ነፊሩ አኺልዎ ጤል ክኸውን አይክእልንዩ? በዚ ጸቢብ አተሓሳስባ እንተደኣ ተመሪሕና ደኣ: ኩሉ ዝነፍር ዘበለ ጤል አይኮነን ክንብል ኢና ማለት ድዩ? ኣይፋል:: ዋላ ትንፈር ደኣምበር ጤል’ያ:: ምንፋር ጥራይ ንበይኑ: እኹል መርትዖ ክኸውን ስለዘይክእል::
ሚኒስትሪ ዜና:: ታሕሳስ 25: 2012:: ኣስመራ::