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Eritreans Declare Initial Victory In Geneva

Freedom and justice loving Eritreans declared initial victory against repression in Geneva; future opposition activities, and confrontation with the regime of Isaias Afwerki, will be measured against the victory of June 26, 2015, which has become the yardstick.

The Geneva rally has represented the true face of Eritrea; no such diverse crowd of Eritreans assembled in one place, around a united cause, in the last twenty years.

After so many years of activism, telling the world of their agonies and sufferings, and chronicling their losses, Eritrean freedom and justice seekers worldwide feel vindicated, and partly compensated, by the United Nations and the world community. Still, they hope for one more thing from the UN and the world community: taking the necessary steps to help stop the Eritrean nightmare that has been going on since 1993.

In general, Eritreans have always been skeptical of the UN. They widely believe they were subjected to the unnecessary thirty-year destructive armed struggle because the UN ignored their plight and appeals. The UN didn’t raise a hand to protect the federal arrangement between Eritrea and Ethiopia when the latter violated it, though it oversaw the process of its implementation and was supposed to be the guarantor to prevent its violation. Unfortunately it neglected Eritreans when the Ethiopian emperor systematically eroded the federal agreement and finally declared Eritrea, a sovereign state, a mere province of his empire.

For years the Ethiopian emperor was systematically dismantling the federation, while Eritreans watched as their national flag was lowered, as their parliament and their laws were dissolved, as their freedoms were curtailed, and as they were bombed out of their villages to end up refugees in Sudan since the late 1960s. The UN and the super powers did nothing to alleviate the situation. Worse, they provided the feudal emperor and his successors, the military junta that deposed him, a tacit support in repressing Eritreans.

Like all other citizens, the current ruling elite in Eritrea is driven by that grudge and apprehension of the injustices that befell Eritrea, only they took their skepticism a bit too far and allowed it to develop into a crippling malady. Coming out victorious from the long years of struggle, the regime felt it was invincible and adopted a confrontational pose against the international organizations. The general skepticism worsened as the regime became more repressive and embarked on a cycle of military adventures in far places, and confrontation with all its immediate neighbors. This behavior finally led to a devastating two-years border war with Ethiopia from 1998 to 2000.

The border war with Ethiopia stopped only after tens of thousands of soldiers from both countries lost their lives. The war further resulted in a no-war-no-peace situation that gave the Isaias regime an excuse to keep the youth in trenches and slave labor camps indefinitely.

Eritreans have been going through untold injustices and have been escaping from their country in the thousands for the last thirteen years as the behavior of the regime isolated the country from its region and the world at large. Its repressive policies have fragmented the Eritrean population and weakened opposition to its authoritarian rule.

The most serious damage the regime inflicted on Eritreans is on their pride, the fame and respect they nurtured with their resilience and dedication in the years leading to Independence Day is damaged. Observers wonder: why are Eritreans who faced the world’s strongest powers with meager resources putting up with the repression of the Isaias regime?

Indeed, it is an embarrassing observation and a mind boggling question. Eritreans are resilient, patient, and they love their country, but Isaias took advantage of that and spread fear among the heroic people of Eritrea. The true character and resolve of Eritreans is captured in Dan Connell’s book entitled, “Against All Odds”. That is why the 1991 victory was an authentic and heroic Eritrean achievement, against all odds! And in 2015, Eritreans are determined to remove the Isaias regime by summoning their natural resolve to do the task, against all odds!

2015 is a watershed year, and the Geneva demonstration of June 26, is a landmark. Eritreans have renewed their trust on the UN and the world. The recent CoIE report was a therapy to many Eritreans who immediately began to trust the world community.

As far as Eritreans are concerned, there was hardly new information the CoIE report provided. Being a small country composed of a small, tightly knit population, almost every Eritrean knows a victim of the Isaias regime. Details of the atrocities and violation of human rights of Eritreans has been a daily staple in Eritrean social gathering for over two decades. But the CoIE report validated the information that Eritreans knew all along. It contributed greatly in making the world community become aware of the plight of Eritreans. It puts the Eritrean predicament on the right path to be addressed legally, politically, socially, and economically. The report vindicated the tireless activists who felt alone in raising awareness about the suffering of Eritreans and exposing the criminal nature of the Isaias regime.

Looking forward, Eritreans hope to see the findings in the CoIE report taken to its natural end: making the perpetrators  accountable for their misdeeds, and ushering an era of reconciliation and peace in Eritrea. In turn, that will certainly usher justice, freedom, and prosperity for Eritreans who have paid dearly for these causes.

The happiness that Eritreans have been expressing for the authentication of their grievances by  the CoIE is unprecedented. It’s undoubtedly the most significant achievement that an overwhelming number of Eritreans have celebrated with full confidence, and hope. The first sign of its effect is that the report has now become a rallying material that is helping unite the fragmented groups of Eritreans arrayed to reclaim their country. It has become a benchmark to measure future activities and accomplishments.

To express their happiness, Eritreans residing in many parts of the world have demonstrated in support of the CoIE and its report. On June 19, a massive demonstration was carried out in Washington DC. That was followed by a demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel,  on June 25, and another in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 26, concluded with a major rally in Geneva, Switzerland, on the same day.

The Geneva demonstration is the most representative as many Eritreans travelled from all over Europe, from the Northern tip of Norway, and Scotland, to France,  to Italy and all countries in between. The Eritreans spirit in Geneva was unprecedented and it further motivated freedom and justice loving Eritreans to double their efforts to bring about the end of the repressive Isaias regime in their home country.

The June 26 demonstration in Geneva was carried out against the backdrop of the demonstration that was carried out by the supporters of the Eritrean government who expressed their love for Isaias Afwerki: “We Are Him, He Is Us.” They were joined by hundreds of Ethiopian opposition members, members of groups stationed in Eritrea. At the end, the 1200 or so pro government supporters left Geneva feeling proud they expressed their support for a tyrant and for the injustice meted on Eritreans. Worse, before they left, they demonstrated their brigandage by harassing and threatening the CoIE members. In one incident, commissioner Sheila Keetharuth was encircled by a gang of government supporters in her hotel and one of the gangs beat her leg. This and other crimes are now being investigated by the Swiss police. But the Eritreans conscience has already condemned their street habits, their criminal nature, and the chain of violations that they have committed for many years.

Such developments will certainly empower Eritreans who are living under the tyranny of the Eritrean government. The prevailing situation in Eritrea should not be allowed to continue. Perpetual fear, destitution, and lack of justice and freedom should come to an end.

Regardless of what the Diaspora Eritreans do, the final blow should be dealt by Eritreans in Eritrea. The sheer number of millions of Eritreans should not be silent to the victimization by a tyrant and his handful of enablers. Understandably, the chaos in many countries around Eritrea is feeding the anxiety of Eritreans, and the Isaias regime is exploiting the situation in its fear mongering propaganda which have been effective so far. But not anymore. The suffering people would finally have to be guided by an authentic Eritreans adage: you can’t avoid sleep for fear of bad dreams!

About Awate Team

The PENCIL is's editorial and it reflects the combined opinions of the Awate Team and not the individual opinion of team members.

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  • Solomon T.

    Hello AT,

    Did all the team members sign on to the following entry in your report? If so, it is a good beginning!

    “… the regime… embarked on a cycle of military adventures in far places, and confrontation with all its immediate neighbors. This behavior finally led to a devastating two-years border war with Ethiopia from 1998 to 2000.”

    • Saleh Johar

      Hi Solomon,
      What is the “good beginning”?

      • Solomon T.

        Selam Saleh,
        To my understanding, the statements in the quotation indicate you guys (AT) agree on the fact that the war with Ethiopia was the regime’s (Isaias’) fault. I heard that you opposed the war from the very beginning and I assume this was your view all along but I had some debate with one of your AT colleagues about the war and he used to argue that Ethiopia was equally responsible if not more (through earlier provocations and escalation of the). That is why I considered his signing onto the above statements (if true) a ‘good beginning’. In my opinion, the starting point for reconciliation between the two nations (assuming you care about that) should be for the Eritrean elite to accept the war was PFDJ’s fault and that it was wrong.

        • tes

          Dear Solomon T.,

          Let me have my say in your point.

          I think you are hibernating from reality for such long time. 17 years has passed since the beginning of the war. Who started it? there is no need need to talk about the first skirmish war of May 1998. The two regimes were in war between each other for a different reason. One wanted a bigger but new state and the other wanted for domination and absolute control: Expansionist Vs hegemonists. I believe you know who is who.

          saying that, elites of the two countries have no say here but to reconcile without pre-condition. The era of expansionists and hegemonists exists no more.

          What we read now is countries who are thirsty of “Peace and development”. I can confidently say even the x-hegemonist wants it dearly but he has no means at all. The expansionists has dropped that line of thinking and are in the process of building their internal politics, peace and development.

          Therefore, the elites should have no pre-condtion for “RECONCILATION” All they need is mutual respect and outlining common strategy for peace and economic prosperity of the nations.

          Even the border issue should not be a hindrance. ho knows one day a rich wo/man will buy the land and builds his own state there.


  • Bayan Nagash

    Dear Mike,

    No apologies needed. I see in you myself when things didn’t make sense I stuck my nose out, and would get in trouble with the likes of Gidewon Abbay (GA) and many others who took upon themselves to play the “Guardian Angeles”, who is now way on the deep end of a point of no return. I remember arguing with him way back when the Jehovah Witness adherents were one of the nascent government’s victims, who were collectively punished without any kind due process of law, and the likes of GA were saying TsbbuQ konu…TsbuQ geberuwom, etc.

    So, dear Mike, please keep that spirit of intellectual curiosity on. You are not violating any modicum with your questions. In fact, it is these kinds of questions that will lead us to think critically of subject matters that may appear complicated or may truly be complicated, but it does not mean they should not be asked. I am humbled by your respectful tone, and more so by your genuine questions, questions that are best left asked than not. So, young man you are doing the right thing. There will be a whole lot more that we will continue to discuss, some will have to take a backseat and some must be kept in the front burner, such as the one I mentioned earlier in that keeping our attention like a leaser beam on what matters most: How to rid of the menace at home and replace it with one that would allow young men like you to thrive, to think, to ask, to know, and to learn. There is nothing more I wish for Eritrea’s future than that.


  • Bayan Nagash

    Selamat Michael,

    I hear you brother, I hear you loud and clear. What Tewedino posted says it all with a touch of humor. Indeed, the demise of nsu will be the ultimate vindication for those of us who are on the side of justice. When people value political up-manship over the life of thousands and thousands of innocent lives, something is terribly wrong with that mindset, the mindset that is way too prevalent in nHna nsu, nsu nHna crowd. It will be interesting how they are going to square that circle when nsu is gone, gone he will – soon…

  • Bayan Nagash

    Selam Michael,

    Forgive me for moving the thread to the front here. I just got tired scrolling down trying to find your note Michael. The one million NaQfa question that you pose is “why such strong unity for justice was not possible before?” There are so many factors and variables that trying to answer this important question in definitive terms will be a folly of colossal proportions. But, I believe any social and
    political justice movement has its own unique trajectories. The civil rights movements in the U.S. for example came at the time it did because of so many historical, social, and political dynamcis before its culmination in the sixties that made it ripe to ripple in the culmination of “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. Attended by some 250,000 people, it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage.” One can go way back to slavery and move forward temporally and chronologically to until we arrive at “The March on Washington…[of] 1963.” Consider this: The Emancipation Proclamation, the founding of KKK, the Jim Crow South, the founding of NAACP, the various supreme court landmarks that were passed, the Brown v. Board of Education to desegregate schools, etc., etc., etc.

    The take away point for me personally is that June 26 came of many unfortunate events, such as the
    Lampadusa, the Wedi Ali Fortos, and the endless suffering of young Eritreans who have been made victims of the traffickers; Even ISIS found reason to victimize Eritreans for crying out loud. I will literally get dizzy and nauseated trying to enumerate what has befallen Eritreans since independence.
    So, Michael, the question prominent in my mind is how to transition this historical momentum from Geneva to Eritrea. We now know the outside world is with us and Eritreans in Diaspora are finally realizing mobilizing and galvanizing in unison is the only way to defeat the menace at home. The task at hand is to move toward shifting the fight inside Eritrea’s proper – now that’s another one million NaQfa question that we collectively must an answer to.

    • Michael Tesfamariam

      Selam Negash bro
      Agree, it may be slow and dynamic process, but I particularity agree when you said we should be thinking how this historic rally for justice is going to be replicated right in Asmara. I am afraid this would requires courage, coordination, and good will of those army commanders in Eritrea.
      Negash, if you don’t mind let me ask you one more question, I don’t know your views about the fact that Eritrean intellectual in the Diaspora are always less represented in the mainstream media in the west. I mean, despite the issue of Eritrean refugees and other humanitarian incidences have become some of the most debated topics and headlines in major news media in the west, it is extremely rare to see able Eritreans like you and certainly from awate team, who can easily address the root causes of the refugee problem in Eritrea, appearing on TV channels or debate those who deliberately misrepresent the situation in Eritrea. For instance, there some foreign individuals who travel to the country, pretending as “independent journalists” or ” self funded researchers” , managed to establish good relationship with the regime in Eritrea and now engaged in spreading lies and distorted info to audience in the west to please Issais and his clique. I know there are some individuals like them who support anyone who appears to be anti US or the West just to satisfy their twisted and sick extreme political ideology. But, they are the one who frequently appear on TV in the West to promote Issais’s vicious propagandas. Already you might have heard of some of them; they are; Thomas C Mountain, Afshin Rattansi (RT), Bronwyn Bruton, Ray Ja Fraser, etc. As yo know very well, it always extremely difficult for anyone who wants to gather genuine information in the country, but this guys are now using their platform to misinform may viewers in the West and elsewhere in the World. Why is it prolific writers like you and awate team do not appear on the main stream media?

      • Bayan Nagash

        Hey Mike,

        For a young man who has only been out of the country for four-years-and-a-half, you seem to have your pulse on the right questions. This one is no exception. To get on the Rolodex of mainstream media in the West requires a whole lot of shenanigans that we Eritreans on the side of justice have not been good at, whereas the other side, some of whom you named above, have the financial backing of PFDJ coffers that makes it easier to navigate the mainstream media outlets.

        Unfortunately, huddling in our little bubble, and seldom venturing out to the discussions that are held in the mainstream media, if nothing else, at least you would think we would be in the web based discussions, but it is rare that we do that, and that in estimate is to the detriment of our cause.

        Oftentimes, our scholars, I know of so many who are in universities across the country who did not establish credible resumes of showing independent thinking as they were too busy advocating for the liberation front, which was understandable then because they saw their role as fighting with their mighty pens in making the case for Eritrea’s independence. Needless to say, that loyalty continued post-independence as though the-liberation-front-turned-government could do no wrong. This is no different, by the way, than those you see now who seem to be stuck in their respective pre-independence front loyalties as though it was a brand. Most of their analysis is premised on that brand loyalty.

        The problem, however, rests in the fact that our educated lot could’ve been leaders who could’ve become instruments of the much needed paradigm shift of objectively assessing the shortcoming of the then nascent nation, they failed on that count. You know Michael, I wrote about three pages in response to your query. However, I see it serving to deviate rather than advance the prudent objective, the dogged focus we should latch onto, which is to say, what we can do today in this space to help unseat PFDJ. And my scathing account of our educated lot would not help one iota in this regard. Thusly, I will confine my thoughts to what I have stipulated so far and I am thoroughly happy say that most are on the side of justice, albeit inattentively and inactively. But, I would rather have them be sympathetic to the side of justice than advocate on the side of the Amen Corner.

        You’re an astute observer when you wonder why it is our intellectuals never venture out to fight the good fight in the mainstream media. Well, consider Dan Connell (DC), who has been a friend of Eritrea for so long, who is not as good as some of the Eritreans that you see here at Awate, who can dissect Eritrean body politic like no other. I mention DC because I heard him speak on NPR, and it was so surface level talk it left me puzzled. He made the issue only about the endless national service. Here it is,give it a listen and you will see what I mean.

        So, Michael, it is our own undoing, we never bothered to stand on the side of justice when it mattered, by the time we turned the corner, it was too little too late, no credibility left in us to establish a rapport with the mainstream media. This is my interpretation of it, I realize there might be other explanations, but that’s my best judgment of it if I am to keep the core of our fight in mind. There will be time for far more scathing analysis of Eritrean intellectuals, not at the junction though.

      • tes

        Dear Bayan,

        Though our focus was moved with 100% attention to Geneva demo, victory registered in Washington DC is also one of the recent victories in US.

        If we see this video starting from the first minute, I think you are in the front row. Am I right? This is great Bayan. PFDJ should be kicked off from all lands.


  • selam

    Dear Mr.saay
    I need your help if you can , please do not say no.There was one article that awate staff wrote, actually it was a kind of letter
    to meles , it was written around August or September 2012 . I want it badly , I try to click in awate home page section article but I couldn’t get through , can you please help me get that article ,IT WAS LIKE Dear Prime minster meles.
    Please help me get the link. No question why I want it.

    • saay7

      Selamat Selam:

      Not exactly, but I can give you the keys to the mekzen (archives)so you can go searching yourself. If you don’t find it, you will find something even more interesting than the one you were looking for:*/


      • selam

        Dear Mr.saay
        This was more than I asked , thanks

    • AMAN

      Here it is
      Fortunately I have saved a copy of it.
      It says
      ” Ato Meles Yeqoferut Tiliq Gudguad ”
      and there is is a big dark cave like a black hole in the galaxy in the picture.
      Hope it will be of much needed help.

    • Aron

      Dear Selam
      The title is “dear Mr Meles” by awate staff soon after Meles passed away. Very balanced, piercing and powerful letter.

  • Tazabiw

    As long as we are fighting the woyanes and pfdj in a non-violet political opposition struggle why does it matter whether one is in Eritrea or in other place/abroad ?

    The present struggle is quite unlike the armed struggle of the 1961 – 1991 period; thus it can not be taken as model for the present struggle nor can its methods be adopted today or in today’s struggle.

    What is needed today is firm statesmanship and political resolute and ability to counter cyber war and cultural aggression than AK-47 or men in trenches.

  • selam

    Dear sahle

    Oh , no one will dare to bleed , you know it and every body know it. Here comes the sanction . Poor Eritrean people will pay the price while PFDJ continue killing, double swords.
    They believe UN will bring change with out any formidable organisation. Sad but true

  • tes

    Dear AT,

    Two lecturers at Law School in Eritrea are all who took the responsibility to draft and finalize PFDJ Recent Civil and Penal Codes.

    Sophia shikor, the worshippers temple guardian wrote:

    “Justice Habteab Y. Ogubazghi, a judge at the Court of Final Appeal of Eritrea and an adjunct lecturer of penal law and criminal procedure at the School of Law of the College of Arts and Social Sciences in Eritrea and Mr. Senai W. Andemariam, a former judge and a Fulbright scholar, and lecturer of criminal procedure and evidence law at the School of Law, are just two examples of those who have been doing tremendous work in revising and finalizing the draft penal code and draft criminal procedure code of Eritrea and in adopting some of the sentencing characters of indigenous Eritrean laws into the draft penal code.”

    Is it a hand-out lecture materials?

    At least it could have some sense if the guardian of the worshippers temple wrote the two were among those who put efforts to finalize.


  • saay7

    Selamat Awatistas:

    The Human Rights Council has extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea for 1 more year to investigate the “systetematic, widespread gross human rights violations” inflicted by the Gov of Eritrea against its own citizens, as per its report. It calls on the Gov of Eritrea… Well it gives it a long, long list but in summary to cooperate with CoIE and implement its recommendations. We all know where this train is heading.

    Awate will update the front page with link to HRCs resolution.


    • Hayat Adem

      Thanks Saay,
      When I was thinking of asking you while reading through your updating note, I saw this on the last line. [“yes, also investigate if there were crimes against humanity”] That is a killer headline, not a post script note.

      • saay7

        Selamat Hayat:

        Actually the words are even MORE serious:

        @saayounis: “…with a view to ensuring full accountability including where violations may amount to crimes against humanity…” Full accountability = ICC. The slow-moving unstoppable force (the train) is headed towards the immovable object (the turtle.)


        • Semere Andom

          Hi Sal:
          I am wondering if you can share with us if PFDJ can get credit for reducing infant mortality, managing malaria ?

          • saay7

            Hey cousin iSem:

            That was really random. Of course it can get credit and it does–for those of us who live in the fact-based society ( or whatever the name of Mahmudays org is.)

            I know where u are heading thou. Wait for my article: my reservation about Ethiopia was not because they are Ethiopians but because they are not Eritreans. Same thing applies to the whole HRC COI NGO world–they belong in the passenger seat of the Eritrean Justice Movement and not, where they are now, in the driver seat.

            Happy now? More to come:)


    • Berhe Y

      Thank you Saay, wonderful to hear. I was worried this may take sometime and we may lose momentum but I am glad to hear they extended the mandate. Well done everyone.

      All the sudden, after 15 years of denial of their existence of Eritrean opposition, the likes of Sophia Tesfamariam were tweeting, the Eritrean demonstration was ignored by main stream media….really…

      What I don’t understand is how this suppose to be educated Eritrean, the likes of Dr. Ghidewon, Sirak Bahlibi and others will do anything to save a MAN who is the misery of all our problems. And his record showed that he has squandered every opportunity that was given to him and come out victorious but rather takes the “opposite” action to what rational.

      For example, we have this group called “E-SMART – Eritrean Sanctions Must be Annulled and Repealed Today”, who spend the last 4 years trying to lift the sanctions by barking at the wrong tree.

      In the first place, when the UN peace keeping mission was there, they were discussing the mission at the security council every six months (at least) and it was costing the UN a lot of money. In stead of making the UN as comfortable as possible, so their fight was with Ethiopia and pressure Ethiopia to demarcate, they were picking fight with the UN….Even Annan when he visited Asmara, he had to wait at the Air port for hours wanting to meet the president and he wouldn’t recieve him, finally he send Gual Menqoriyos to meet him and probably give all kind of useless excuses. He said publicly…there is “No war they are not needed them, they don’t keep any peace” or something…sometimes denying them flying rights, sometimes fuel, sometimes their ration..

      This gave the UN a perfect opportunity to wash it’s hands and leave. Has there been any discussion at the Security council with regards to this mission ever again. NO…so the ruling can collect DUST as long as necessary unless Ethiopia does something with it, willingly…or a full scale WAR started…

      Next, Ethiopia was fighting Somalia, Al Shebab or what have you, instead of seating on the sideline and enjoy the show and wait until what happens…he accepts the entire Somalian leadership including those on the UN and US watch list….Not only that he organizes a conference in Asmara…

      Then he got slapped with Sanctions…the biggest impact is, the mining sector. Just because the reports say, Eritrean under UN sanctions, NO body really wants to do business…if it was considered a stable country, there would have been 10 or 50 Nevsun companies doing business…

      And now with COI…instead of allowing the commission visit and co-operate..they will spend their time demonstration and barking at the wrong tree….but nothing really happens… And they don’t seem to really get it where the problems are…

  • Papillon

    Selam Awatewian,

    Would you say it is a far fetched to assume that, Yemane Monkey is the de facto President of Eritrea? Think about it. The tyrant has been stepping back from the limelight for a while and Monkey is pretty much the face of PFDJ and the government. I see a pattern. What do you think?

    • Semere Andom

      Hi Papi:
      Anyone can be, to be president of Eritrea it takes this: cruelty, proximity and access to money, which will mean access to security.
      I also know Sal, our analyst will say no, how do I know this? because we discussed it before, not with YM, though.
      Military experience is also preferable, but since IA want to screw Eritrea he will groom someone who can protect his legacy and over write our true history to supplant it with his falsehood. And IA will not care if the next president will take care of Eritrea, it matters only if he perceives him to take care of him

    • Hayat Adem

      Papi Haftey,
      The best way to describe Isaias’ self perception is godlike: perfectly equipped with everything, know-it-all, instant fixer, omnipotent, non-aging, sickness-free, prudent-decider…Eritrea has everything what she needs in him. He is the kind of person who laughs at the world for not seeking a piece of his wisdom. So he needs people for following orders and doing stuff for him, not for playing his role. He would never allow a de facto actor under his watch unless he is totally incapacitated.