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Eritrea: The Suppression of God

Collected thoughts here and unfinished ideas there; quoted materials saved somewhere in the hard drive or somewhere in some thumb drives long abandoned. The mind furiously searches for those items whose time has come for developing into one readable note or perhaps into one piece worth contemplating for.  Ismail Omer Ali’s and Amnauel Hidrat’s recent articles are both triggering this mad dash to the memory storage outside the brain and the brain is now trying hard to remember where these pieces are stored, to no avail – ok, not completely. Some are unearthed all right but how does one make them relevant. So, this piece is about unearthing, reflecting, contemplating, assessing, taking stock, and evaluating matters of the mainland from a remote land while at the same time narrating the self’s long winded life in exile which has left an imprint in my personhood in all sorts of ways.

Forget about the external hard drive, thoughts concocted from impressions upon reading articles here and others’ ideas there. How about an-honest-to-goodness-and-from-the-heart reflection, assessment, and the impact of Eritrea’s sociopolitical landscape to my person for a change, instead of looking in the outer world for an answer? Fourteen years before independence and 22 years post-independence and still counting – 36 years’ worth of marginalization; 36 years’ worth of emasculation; 36 years’ worth of imposed suppression of one’s identity, religion, culture, tradition, and heritage – that is one whopping parameter to wrap one’s head around when attempting to rectify the damage that was inflicted in. Before one begins to speak of unified opposition, one must evaluate, assess, and reflect what this all means to the personal self, to the national self, and the robust societal implication in the suppression of God. So, brace yourself reader: this is a personal journey, tour de force, in retrospect, if you will, which will show the complexity of one particular generation that left Eritrea and multiply that to several generations who have their unique stories that is part and parcel of Eritrea’s tragic history and without such reflection for a context, we will be doomed to misrepresent and misdiagnose our shortcomings.  It is incumbent upon each and every Eritrean generation to take lock, stock, and barrel assessment of the personal self before it can be translated to the national self that can unify the opposition.

It all began when I learned that my soccer teammate was planning to leave with his cousin for Sudan in several days. I, in turn, told my other friend of the plan. We had only fasted about a week of Ramadan, barely finishing our seventh grade and were about to start eighth grade soon, but times were dire.  Rumors were abounding that Derg was planning to enlist and conscript young Eritrean men like myself and put us to its military reconnaissance for possible collateral damage and become its ostensible casualties during Qay Shibbr. (Red Terror)

Accompanied by mother and three other friend, one early morning on September 9th, 1977, we took a bus toward the Blocco that would take us to the city of Keren. Four young men clueless about what the future held, but determined to save our lives from what would lie ahead if we stayed homebound. Of course, our options were limited. Fleeing seemed the best option given the circumstances and the present danger that lied ahead was more ominous. However, upon approaching my plan of leaving, my parents sat me down to say that they were thinking of the same thing, but felt rude and crude to tell their own son to leave home, possibly for good, to never see them again. And, so they both gave me their blessings and my mother made sure we reached Keren safely, and we did. She then went back to Asmara to bring the needed money for my friends (from their parents) and for me as well – reason for staying nine days in Keren so arrangements were made in the plan of action leaving Keren for Sudan. After nine days of stay in Keren we were able to find a man who would help us accomplish the task. Arrived in Aqurdat three nights later at which point there was a lorry that was going to transport us to Kassala. My life was not eventful; things seemed to work in my favor with the exception of one attack that I knew nothing about. While in Kasala, one of my friends decided to join Eritrea’s fighting forces. He made the arduous journey of three nights walking and riding on a Camel’s back, two at a time, because there were only two Camels available for the four of us. So, the fourth friend came all the way to Kasala to only join the fight in the end. Eritrea claimed him several months later as Kasala’s mosquitos seemed to want to do the same; suddenly, it seemed to me at the time I was feeling chill, fever and shiver. In that God forsaken hot weather I was feeling cold, it did not make sense. But as it turned out the mosquitos that wouldn’t dare show up to face the blazing sun during the day were doing their numbers on me in the evening as they buzzed and hissed in my ears while I curled and slept. Luckily, an Eritrean nurse gave me an injection that made me stand upright in no time. After only three weeks of stay in Kassala, I went to Khartoum where my older brother had already been staying for several months. Six months later I found myself arriving in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where my oldest brother was working and living. Three months later, my brother decided that I was too young to become a casualty of petrodollar, thus, promptly sent me to Cairo for an education. Three good years later of my stay in Cairo America was calling on me from Rome and did just that.

But, all through these rapid movements something that stayed consistent was in how inadequate I was made to feel about my religion. All of the fronts’ offices were advancing the idea that any disposition to religion was synonymous to backwardness and that believing in God was an antithesis to the liberation movement. So, the necklaces that had any symbols of religion were promptly removed. Apartments where young Eritreans lived in had no symbols of religion and were adorned by Eritrean maps or any patriotic posters depicting tegadeltis. Essentially, the ELF office replaced the Mosque and the EPLF office replaced the Church, save for the minority who transgressed that pattern – by and large, EPLF’s constituencies were Christians and ELF’s office catered to Muslim constituencies. Any which way it was sliced, there was no place for the Providence. The only way that Eritrea was going to be salvaged, it seemed, was by suppressing God. Therefore, praying openly became a taboo. The inadequacy one felt was so deep that I have very vague memories of the times I went for Friday prayers during my three years stay in Cairo. Coming to the West was even far more convenient to forget about God, because the God that I believed in was nowhere to be found here. Mosques were rare and far between. Fasting became spotty at best. A Muslim Eritrean would not openly say he is going to the Friday prayers and the same went for the Christian Eritrean, one seldom heard the mentioning of a Sunday Church Services. And so it was: life caught between what the Eritrean sociopolitical dynamism demanded and one’s belief going head-to-head in a tug of war and outwardly the former seemed to have won the battle, but not the inward war.

With the demise of the ELF from the field, a crisis of personal sorts began to emerge, because of the leadership vacuum that was created in the absence of ELF, its adherents were left clamoring to rediscover their God, their culture, their language, their heritage, thereby, slowly but surely thus began a retreat toward one’s own. The Jebertis found comfort in their own kind, the Sahos the same, the Tigres no different. This default alignment continued unabated until 1991 when Eritrea became independent. But, the systematic exclusion of Eritreans who did not subscribe to the EPLF’s political views helped maintain the defaulted alignment of each groups aforementioned, at least abroad.

After three decades of trying to call on unified opposition, it is like asking those who retreated into their respective trenches to come out of their cocoons, an impossible endeavor to accomplish. What is the incentive for each group to align with anyone, especially, those who have marginalized them for all these years? So, going back to basics may save the day. What does this mean you wonder, well hold your thoughts and I shall come back to this in due course. First thing first: some concepts on reflection.

Reflection

One delves into reflective mode in hopes of finding a viable solution to the matter that is perplexing.  Dewey’s philosophical definition of reflection as he offers it is “as a specialized form of thinking that is precipitated by a state of doubt or perplexity, leading to active and purposeful inquiry” (p. 178). The purpose of reflection, according to Dewey, is “to transform a situation in which there is experienced obscurity, doubt, conflict, disturbance of some sort, into a situation that is clear, coherent, settled, harmonious’” ( as quoted by Pine, Pp. 100-101). Therefore, one can easily surmise that there is more to reflection than meets the eye; that reflection is far deeper than we commonly give credence to, which is to say that when one encounters an event or a tragedy like Lampedusa’s, for example, the immediate reaction is not reflection but to go to the deep end from within where emotions begin to wreak havoc on the individual; and then wallowing in it without any conceivable corollary to what may follow because when tragedy of this magnitude befalls on humanity there is no chance for reflection save the few who do not understand what grieving looks like – they have no inkling ounce of human flesh to feel others’ pains – sympathy and empathy is not in their parlance let alone in their flesh and bone.

But hope is not lost because Pine asserts that though reflection is incepted “with observation made by oneself or others in a directly experienced situation, [t]hese observations, in turn, suggest possible courses of action” (p. 179). What is captivating to note here is that these reflections do bore their own “paradox[es]”, which “is that while observing situations puzzles us, causing suggestions for action, immediate direct action is withheld until the suggested actions are treated as hypotheses to be tested by mental elaboration or reasoning before action is taken” (p. 178). Reflections that Awatawyan have been engaging run the gamut. Of particular interest that captures the essence of reflection that Feldman advances in which the “autobiographical reflection, collaborative reflection, communal reflection, and existential reflection”. Now, here is the rub. At a personal level, one may arrive through one’s own personal reflections at some lofty ideals that can save us all from the political brinksmanship that we see now playing out in Egypt and Syria. However, no matter how perfect these lofty ideals maybe, if the Eritrean population is not ready to accept it, then, it shall remain that: lofty idea without ground to operate on.

The above reflection serving as a backdrop, I, too, find myself in that space between Amanuel’s and Ismail’s where I want to ponder issues of a third space as I anchor my thoughts in their ideas and reflect off of their challenging thought processes. A universe preoccupied by binaries, such as dark/light, black/white, male/female, majority/minority, Islam/Christianity, and region/nation will forever remain in a tug-of-war with its humanity, where one or the other will preponderate in matters of political power, social milieus, and thus economic empowerment shall remain in the hands of the victor or the domineering sector. Both Ismail & Amanuel seem to realize that literature is in a unique position to unearth and explicate these dichotomies through the written word. The language of the narrative in this case is the language of reflection. Amanuel, for example, frames Eritrea as being built, brick by brick, through its “ethnic identities” and therefore arrives to the conclusion that any “social grievances should be framed by ethnic grievances rather than by cultural grievances (such as religion)” because he adds that “Our endogenous social groups with their inherent cultures do exist in Eritrea long before the expansion and introduction of the two major religions. It is evident then, religion becomes an additional cultural value to the overall cultural expression for all our social groups. So our politics could be only framed from the interest of our social groups and hence their “social grievances” when their interest is not addressed properly.”

The thing is that ethnic grievances can still remain in the background and come forth to the foreground in the form of religious grievance. What then would be the solution? Whichever way the grievances come forth, one has to be able to address in its proper context. Consider; for example, if all ethnicities who subscribe to Islam come forward as one cohesive group who want their issues addressed under one umbrella, wouldn’t it even be far more manageable than if they were to come under each group. Similarly, what if the Eritrean highlanders were to forego their implicit regional differences and come as one cohesive unit to march forward with national affairs? Wouldn’t that make the dialogue between the two groups easier to handle than if they were to come under each region? One even can foresee where these two groups could come together and forming a robust opposition group that may call itself Highland-Lowland Democratic Movement (HLDM) whereby, the concerns of each group becomes the central platform by which they can abide by. Consider how Ismail takes his readers through reasoned, much as that of Amanuel’s, ideas using notions of democracy; whereas implicit in Ismail’s approach is that through democratic principles a nation can have some semblance of fairness that all can live by. For example, Ismail states that “There are two overarching concepts I [Ismail] believe that make democracy a worthy goal and a recurring motif in human history. First is the concept of equality. Second is the fact of human diversity. Belief that all humans are inherently equal necessitates a corresponding belief that they should have equal rights (not in absolute terms but in terms of opportunity). And if we believe that all humans deserve equal rights and opportunities, the question then devolves to: what is the most equitable way of managing those differences or conflicting interests? At the most fundamental level, there are only two ways of resolving conflicts: consensual and nonconsensual. The first is what democracies are all about; the second defines dictatorship.”

Conclusion

What I am coming away from all of the reflections alluded to above as interspersed with that of Ismail and Amanuel is this: No matter how lofty the ideas that we want to propound, be it liberal democracy or radical democracy, it will mean not much if we do not ground them to the reality on the ground of where we are in such a trajectory. Therefore, the aim is not about my individual belief, which may turn out to be incongruent with the public at large. Therefore, I must come down from my high horse and accept the realities as they exist. As much as I want us to rid ourselves from the dichotomies and binaries that were alluded to earlier I am absolutely convinced that one way to narrow down our internal differences – what is it now, some 33 political opposition groups? – is by finding a mechanism that will dwindle that number to less than five. Imagine – Eritrean Muslims finding a common thread that binds them together (and there are plenty that can be made to a socio-politically empowering platform); and Eritrean Christians find a common thread that binds them together (and there are plenty that can be made to a socio-politically empowering platform), thereby, diminishing the number of opposition groups to the bare and robust minimum possible. Of course, a generation that has been made to believe religion was Eritrea’s culprit and should by all means be kept at bay while the communist utopian mantra was the be all and end all, which has left certain Eritrean generations in a perpetual state of confusion to this day. I think that it is about time we come to the basics of how our ancestors dealt with one another in an ­­­­­­amicably respectful manner. I can foresee a big convention taking place this year that will bring all Eritreans into one big tent, under which we can all have a conversation, a dialogue, one that will lead to a deeper understanding of one another’s concerns, trepidations, and in the end, one that can lead to a triumphant brotherly national camaraderie, fellowship, and friendliness that would outlast us all.

About Beyan Negash

Activist, a writer and I am a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Language, Literacy, and Culture at New Mexico State University (NMSU). I hold a bachelor of arts in English and a master of arts in TESOL from NMSU as well as a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from UCLA. My research interests are on colonial discourse and post-colonial theories and their hegemonic impact on patriarchy, cultural identity, literacy development, language acquisition as well as curriculum & citizenship. The geopolitics of the Horn of Africa interests me greatly. My writings tend to focus on Eritrea and Ethiopia. I have been writing opinion pieces at awate.com since its inception (1 September 2001).

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  • Nitricc

    There was guy in awate.com by name of Exciter with very distinctive aviator of snake. That guy gave me over twenty identity and endless personality. At one time he posted an address and a telephone number somewhere in Virginia that supposed to be me. I mean everyday I was some one else. At one time exciter brought someonce’s facebook page and said that was Nitricc’s.
    The truth, I never had a facebook account, I never have one. Then he describe me some one in Atlanta with a tattoo of a camel on my left arm, which I don’t have a single tattoo in my body; I mean everyday I was some body else and I always thought Exciter was the dumbest job less waste of humanity, I have encountered in my life! Well, I was wrong.
    There is even dumbest than Exciter; named Ermias.
    Ermias is telling us what he is and what he has done.
    You see, Ermias used to write at awate forum as a Biniam, who knows may be uses more names, but that is for sure I know. Ermias, I dare you to deny that you used multiple names on this forum. I dare you. Go ahead deny it and I will shame you in front of the entire Awate community. Go ahead.
    You see, once a person is crossed that line of dignity, self worth and human decency; nothing matters and there is no shame to say and do whatever. He is accusing me all those things because he has done it and no shame to labeling others.
    Let’s assume I am who ever is saying I am; so what? What is to Ermias or is it Binyam; take your pick?
    Now, if you observe Ermias, Biniam, Thomas pick your organ; why is he wasting his time about no one and no body “Nitricc”? I mean his life can not be that boring wasting his time about nothing, really? his life is that much worthless? Nitricc is nothing but a blubbering Idiot. If you are a sane person, with a job and responsibility there is no way you waste your time to figure it out who and what Nitricc is?
    People have respect for time, it does not forgive you.
    Erimas, binyam Thomas what ever his name is bipolar. I will show you with evidence.

    • Ermias

      You said, “Nitricc is nothing but a blubbering idiot.” I rest my case once and for all. I win, I proved my case. Now, you will live in peace Nitricc. Adios!

      • Nitricc

        Yes, I am. what now?
        go play with your kids or go bit your wife. loser.

        • Araya

          “Nitricc is nothing but a blubbering idiot.”

          I am cranking up, moyte. what a confidence! You are not an idiot my
          brother, far from it.

  • Hayat Adem

    Dafla, I moved our discussion to here. I’m convinced you are a kind guy of who deserves a serious attention. I’ll quote you at length:
    Please tell me, how to contribute to make sure things like the following story about Safiya Hussaini never happens in Eritrea….”Hussaini, a divorced mother of four, was sentenced to death by stoning in October 2001 for allegedly having a child with a married neighbour. She had the child after her divorce. Hussaini said, she was the victim of repeated rape by a man, whom the Sharia court found not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence…'”

    I also know a similar story from Somalia. In 2008, a girl named Aisha fled Mogadishu and reached Kenya. Apparently, her grandma who lived in Mogadishu fell terribly ill and sent a word to her grand daughter. Aisha decided to get back to Mogadishu. She had to pass through Kismayou which was a stronghold of al-Shebab. She was rapped by gunmen. She was accused of committing adultery, found guilty and sentenced to death, execution-by-stoning. People were ordered to come out and witness the stoning to death of Aisha. Her father says she was 13 at the time.

    Yes, I would do anything under the sun to make sure that such cruel injustices don’t happen in Eritrea. Of course, this simply shows my belief, not my ability.
    Nigeria has big-size population, diverse ethnicity, diverse religion and diverse politics. There are some states that practice Islamic law. And yet you have a terrorist Islamist group by the name Boko-Haram which seeks more barbarism in Nigeria. But among Nigeria’s leading official political parties, non of them are religion-based. The country is about 50% Muslim, and 40% Christian. The Somalian and Nigerian examples show us even if you don’t allow religion-based politics, the bad guys use this restriction to mobilize sections of a society for extreme practices under the darkness. If you open it up for discussion and formal display, you get less extreme reactions. The only horrible stories you hear are from the like of dark places such as Afghanistan and Somalia where there are no enough civil political discourses and less effective formal governance. Let the public of all walks of life play a major role in politics. From the story you shared with us, “Halima Abdullahi, director of Help Eliminate Loneliness and Poverty, said, “it was a thorough embarrassment” to majority of Nigerian Muslims.” I believe majority of Muslims everywhere don’t tolerate such injustices. They will disavow them. But give them open platforms to disassociate and stand against forces of darkness.
    This tells us even prohibiting religion-based politics legally would never protect us from such sad episodes. Allowing it formally and encouraging open discussion will not mean it inviting such cruelties. But if you ask me for practical legislative suggestions, I would never give the responsibility of interpreting a law, to any entity outside the judiciary branch of government- not to the church clerks not to the sheiks. It would be difficult to find enough support for such provisions in the Eritrean political landscape. It is also my view that we really don’t have excesses of extremism to be afraid of.

    Finally, I’ve to admit my uncertainty if I’ve made any sensible point on this. I’m not an authority on the issue at all and I can’t go more than sharing my intuitive best considerations. I definitely encourage you to provide us with comprehensive materials of insights and perspectives on the issue on you part and and invite others,too, to join the discussion.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Hayat,

      What a magnet of discussion you are!! In seconding your argument I would add this: It is restrictions that ferment extremism, terrorism, and enmity? So open book discussion is always healthy and could create venues to manage any kind of differences. To the extend of our arrogance we can not understand the value of face to face engagement. Keep up eventually the public will understand the merits of decent discussion of give and take. Hayat, Nitricc is not a serious and authentic person, Know his limits and handle him accordingly.
      Amanuel

      • Hayat Adem

        Exactly Emma. Governance and religion- this matter is closer to your turf. You could focus and deal with it in your hard talk series as a continuation of the social contours. If we don’t vent on it now and build some sane views in time, it could be a monster on the wait.

      • Nitricc

        “Nitricc is not a serious and authentic person, Know his limits and handle him accordingly.”
        Amanuel; what does that mean? what are trying to say? do you have to put down someone in order to show your what ever to the other?
        what are you saying?

  • Beyan

    Ordinarily, when I write an article I try to engage readers by joining in the conversation, unfortunately, this time I was just unable to do that, but I must say with Hayat on my side, whose brain reasoning power I so
    marvel and could not have asked for anything more, thank you sister for standing to reason than rhetoric and biases that have been inwardly resting within us and all along we try to find them outside of us. That is why I enjoy Awate, where one can share his/her ideas, as it were, it is like a market place for ideas and see if it has any merit to it.
    In a different conversation I shared the following ideas that I think can easily apply in this one. It is
    that Awate is one venue in which we can clarify matters that have been too foggy for too long in our heads so much so that they can seem to have been as these “deadly fog” which could as easily have been transformed into “the cold mist of bias and ignorance” (borrowing Lisa Delpit who put it beautifully), which we don’t think twice about, which we lazily may accept as reality instead of shaking them of our hearts and mind and begin to see their genesis.

    Sometimes, the monster concocted in our head is our worst enemy than the real monster at home who has been deliberately using it to conduct his evil-genius work of tyranny in our psyche. We can no more allow one individual to wreak havoc to our sense of being. Eritrea has its mosaic cultures, traditions,
    heritages, religions, and the like, that we are proud to put on display as we march forward into the new Eritrea that affirms our diversity.
    The following is a piece that I had stashed away and was reminded by the person with whom I was
    interacting with and his ideas prompted me to unearth it from its virtual dust bin that I hope makes us realize there is a great deal that can be lost if we don’t critically refuse to dance to the tune of the evil that has been dancing in our midst for far too long. Here goes it.
    Mankind has been at the forefront in trying, not only to control nature, but also its inhabitants. The horrific way in which Native Indians were made to reach at the verge of extinction was only the beginning. We all know that Native Americans, more or less, have become ostensibly, as living ‘museums’ that one knows their existence in the Reservations sparsely scattered throughout the U.S. away from view – but one does not necessarily need encounter. Slavery was yet another horrific way in which Africans were subjugated and forcefully abnegated to a point of being denied from speaking their mother tongues; though many may wish to see it from economic standpoint I shudder at the thought that that was the sole reason. Slavery was, in fact, only one facet of that insatiable human urge to dominate and control anything, everything, and everyone. That need to control never ceased.

    We humans now control every inch of a forest in existence by aligning it in grids forms because it makes accessing it very easy; we have uniform and standard way of measuring, gauging, weighing, everything on this earth. We devised, as a mechanism of control, among other things, surnames were created for that purpose; we devised neatly manicured streets, cities, towns, in grids – square forms – which make for an easy way of controlling crowds; good luck trying to control shanty towns and favelas with maze like alleyways, pathways, and byways that could barely fit pedestrians let alone swat teams with their armors (The idea for this piece, in part, came to me when reading Thinking Like A State, James Scott).

    It is, indeed, refreshingly exciting that we are coming to recognize, acknowledge, respect, and affirm differences and in hopes it will keep on rubbing to the future generations of Eritreans. The very multicultural world that Eritrea is blessed with cannot become a mechanism by which a dictator can use as his play-toy, it is a tapestry of mosaic cultures voluntarily coming together to coexist. We will continue to fight for such an occurrence with everything that we’ve got and it needs to begin within our Eritrean Muslim ethnic groups, whom we must validate and appreciate as part and parcel of that mosaic Eritrea.

    Affirmation of differences, by necessity, requires us to first affirm our similarities. Therefore, enumerating our similarities will only serve to affirm our differences, differences viewed in such contexts become a unifying theme, not to control the “Other” but to celebrate and cherish those who are
    different, in some ways, different from us.

    Brotherly,
    Beyan
    P.S. Please forgive me for not answering to each of your rejoinders, oh, I would have loved to do so, but I just simply cannot – nothing but time constraints – hopefully, it is this time only

  • Ermias

    The curious case of Nitricc…continued. 2/4/2214

    Nitricc’s ascendance to office was the most dramatic that has ever been documented in the history of the world democracy. He won the election against a formidable rival called Sophia Tesfamariam 100% – 0%. Sophia complained of voting irregularities and claimed she was sure her parents, her husband, and her kids voted for her but apparently those votes were bought out or rigged. Nobody knows. Sophia was a mother-figure for Nitricc but he couldn’t contain his slips of tongue and called her all kinds of names during their campaign. Among the worst of which were – tenqualit, fetat, nay Janhoy flower girl, dubba, zey kem adetata. His running mate L.T. was speechless throughout most of the campaign but he made one speech that was the most memorable in Eritrean history. The
    speech was titled: ““Weyane has not the courage to come again”then got them with the horse..last say”Weyane is not
    the people that are worth to war”becomes silent!!” The Eritrean people were extremely moved by that speech and many analysts including the great Meron claim that was the turning point of the campaign.

    On his first day, Nitricc ordered a complete annihilation of weyane and anything that has to do with weyane. The next target was the USA. The USA conspired with weyane to punish Eritrea for so long but now that the courageous Nitricc was in power the USA came in droves to assist but Nitricc believed in complete self reliance. The only help he needed was to transport the entire Eritrean population to Mars with the help of the USA but the land of Eritrea and the sea had to be sold for the expensive transportation. More on this later.

    The ‘opposition’ needed to be dealt with right away. Ermias was rumored to have changed his identity completely. Yoditta was never to be found and nobody knows. Nitricc’s former sweet heart Rahwa was captured by the heroics of the PFDJ operatives and made a servant of life at the palace of Nitricc. SAAY was rumored to have sought asylum in the Cuban embassy. The list goes on because Nitricc terrorized the entire community of opposition
    toothless bastards. Nitricc had 21 children and each one of them was groomed for the throne since the date of their birth. The dynasty of the Nitricc’s continues to this day 200 years after the great Nitricc seized power and transformed Eritrea into the greatest super power that the world has ever seen.

    To be continued…(maybe, if I don’t get reprimanded by AT)

    • Araya

      I see my good friend Nitric is getting it from right and left. Hilarious!
      Ermias’s Htew-Qotew,aside, I do believe nitric will play an important role in Eritrea’s political land scape. He gets me when he talks about fairness and the importance of social justice among all Eritreans. He gets me with his unflinching persistence, right or wrong, he will role with it. Unlike the likes of Haile, who bends with every direction of the blowing winds! By the way; where is Haile?

      Ermias; get off from nitric’s back. Go play with Hayat and Papillion.

    • Hayat Adem

      Ermias, this is quite enjoyable and I wouldn’t normally expect anything like reprimand from AT. Nitricc has NOT been useful in this forum, and you are trying to make him usable this way to expose the true cluelessness of pfdjites. And, how else can you speak about elections in Eritrea at this point of time? Your piece is also a reminder that although we might transit from non-election politics to elections soon, Eritrea may have to go through some kind of farce elections before it gets to the real ones.

      • Ermias

        Hayat, Beyan praises you very eloquently and that is not in vain. What you said above in response is exactly what I had in mind but if someone had asked me ‘what’s your point?’, I wouldn’t have elaborated it is the way you did so beautifully. You have an amazing gift of reading peoples minds better than they themselves could. Thank you so much!
        To re-iterate what you said, my whole idea is how much these PFDJ operatives are bullying our people specially in the diaspora and how clueless they are in believing the bogus Eri-TV propoganda. Where I live, PFDJ literally intimidates people for associating with known ‘enemies of the state’, certain churches, certain groups, etc. hence my assertion to how the opposition needs to be dealt with right away. I couldn’t careless for Nitricc and some people might think I hate the guy or I am obssesed with him. I am trying to help fight the whole organization of PFDJ by exposing their ridiculousness. Nitricc is a poor misinformed young man. Really harmless but very entertaining to say the list. I swear, awate.com would not be the same without him.
        It is a lot of fun to use him as a scapegoat though because again he perfectly embodies a clueless, emotional, ultra-nationalistic PFDJ operator. It takes me literally less than five minutes to write and edit the stories about him but I do it with great joy and I thank awate.com for allowing me to fight PFDJ in my own style.

  • TsaTse

    Beyan,
    It is very likely we have shared a jibna, TaHini, sheHan ful dish as 4th, 5th, or 6th graders either in sejana, Eimarat or adjacent to Meridian hotel way back when with Kerenites such as Seid BeriH. At one time, you may have been present when yours truly was jailed for a few hours in Sejana after being accused to be a Jasus for shaEbia and hurled such insults such as MenkaE. Yeah, I too can tell you “Ai resaEnayan sebAn shewAten”…
    As for your twenty six and growing opposition groups…well since we are reflecting here is perhaps a positive way to look at it. t being the variable approaching infinity the number of opposition will approachs 3.5 to 4.5M. Perhaps the PFDJites were right when they stated it way back when. I do know I am taking out of context your intent which is: What is the simplest and most effective way to organize? Why bother… Entropy is not contrary to what is natural. Too many variables to deal with. I will state adamantly though that with out God’s Will, nothing transpires. God is never absent. And we need your reminder for our own soul’s sake.
    DaYimen Al Hamdu lil Alah!
    Temesgen AmlakH!
    AmEritrean GiTsaTse

  • Hayat Adem

    Selamat Dafla,
    But each of those 7 items and their sub-extensions (and other items possibly to be added) has a religious angle, does it not? Let’s take number 6: if there is a locality that has a solid consensus of being represented in the government for a provision of practicing a pure religion, and they want to send their elected representative to fight for a platform/legislation that accommodates their faith, how do you handle that? Remember: religion is not only a practice of worshiping but also a way of life. That means there is a political aspect to it, and managing that in a manner that doesn’t divide and polarize societies badly is an art of nationhood every citizen needs to contribute to. Thank you, Hayat.

    • Dafla

      Hayat,

      You said “…there is a political aspect to it, and managing that in a manner that doesn’t divide and polarize societies badly is an art of nationhood every citizen needs to contribute to.”

      Please tell me, how to contribute to make sure things like the following story about Safiya Hussaini never happens in Eritrea.

      From Wikipedia

      “Hussaini, a divorced mother of four, was sentenced to death by stoning in October 2001 for allegedly having a child with a married neighbour. She had the child after her divorce. Hussaini said, she was the victim of repeated rape by a man, whom the Sharia court found not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence. During the trial, Hussaini had no legal representation and was not informed of her legal rights.[1] The Sokoto court dismissed her testimony and convicted her on 12 October 2001.

      The verdict was wide and international protests inviting campaigns and petitions to release her. Halima Abdullahi, director of Help Eliminate Loneliness and Poverty, HELP, a non-governmental organisation, also faulted the verdict. In a statement she said “it was a thorough embarrassment” to majority of Nigerian Muslims. The group argued that the judgment was wrong because Safiya was accused of adultery instead of fornication, since she was a divorcee. Again, four witnesses stipulated by the Islamic law were not available at the trial. The verdict was passed because Safiya comes from an under-privileged class, the organisation argued. While describing the verdict as “gender discrimination of the highest order,” the group called on Governor Attahiru Bafarawa to intervene to save Safiya’s life.[2]

      Hussaini appealed and her lawyers argued that Hussaini’s former husband was the father of her one-year-old daughter Adama and that the village woman made her original statement under duress.[3] Further they said the alleged act of adultery had taken place before the sharia law was implemented in the state. Full Sharia law was established in Sokoto in June 2000, a month after baby Adama was conceived.[4][5] She was defended by Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim.

      Hussaini won her appeal on March 25, 2002 and the case was dismissed. The Appeal Court in Sokoto found that the death sentence, originally handed down by an Islamic Sharia court in October, had been baseless. The court ruled that the adultery provisions of Sokoto’s Sharia law could not be used against Safiya, as the alleged adultery must have taken place before the introduction of Sharia law in Sokoto.[6][7]

      Hussaini’s plight was later recorded in the book, Safiya Hussaini Tungar Tudu: I, Safiya (2004).[8]”

      “There have been numerous riots over the implementation of sharia law, primarily involving non-Muslim minorities in the states which implemented the system. One such riot killed over 100 people in October 2001 in Kano State.”

      Do tell me, how to resolve such issues.

  • Thomas

    Ermias,

    Just remember no one has said we are a failed state as somalia is now, but the futurity of our nation is bleak if we are not able to reverse the current situation. Simply look at how divided our people are now, a supporter/the regime operatives as spies and the opposition aggressively fighting back. Look the way the Lybians are fighting, the Gedafi supporters and the ruling party supporters and in between.

    You said you don’t have data to support/make statements, so do we. I think most of us are commenting on this issue based on our observations. It is if we do not react to the current that we could be the next Somalia. So, the regime can use a scare tactic, but our people are smart enough to see the regime is becoming the only cause of the “somaliazation of Eritrea”. The regime’s evil divide and rule method is magnified beyond proportion and our people can no more be fooled. Older/younger, educated/uneducated, male/female or in all other categories know the systematic destruction role played by the mafia regime. Obviously, we have reached to call each other “Nisatom nihna” or “nihna nisu”. How worst can that get? Deep inside no one likes the current disunity/mistrust and our people have started to realize that. It won’t be long before the regime is wiped out from the surface of our country.

  • Rodab

    On the hot seat @ the UPR gathering.
    Nations from around the world are taking our regime to task. The following are some of the challenging questions (the complete list is at the UPR website):
    NETHERLANDS
    Can the government of Eritrea indicate how it will improve the rule of law, prison conditions and counter impunity? Could the government of Eritrea give the ICRC access to assess prison conditions?

    CZECH REPUBLIC
    With reference to the Human Rights Council condemnations of severe restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of information in Eritrea, could you specify what steps has the Government taken to tackle these human rights violations?

    BELGIUM
    Is the Government of Eritrea considering issuing a standing invitation to the special procedures?

    United Kinkgdom
    In your response to the 2009 UPR report, you committed to developing freedom of the press. What progress has been made and can you explain why there has been no independent media in Eritrea since 2001?

    Norway
    What steps will the Government of Eritrea take to end indefinite national service, to stop using national service conscripts as forced labor, and to demobilize those serving for more than the statutory 18 months?

    Mexico
    Under which conditions would Eritrea consider the visits of the ICRC to prisoner facilities?

    Sweden
    Could the Government of Eritrea kindly elaborate on the measures it is taking to implement the constitution of 1997?

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Sabir and Hayat,

    Sometime ago we argued on the issue of “Developmental state” and “Neo-liberal” economic principles. I read an article written by Habtamu Alebachew that bridges our differences. The article conveniently bridges our minor divergence how we perceived to the concept of developmental. Please visit Aigaforum. It is very interesting argument.
    Amanuel

    • AOsman

      Aman,

      It would be useful to provide the link if suggesting that awatista read an article….just for convenience.

      http://aigaforum.com/articles/dev-and-secularism-in-ethiopia.pdf

      Regards
      AOsman

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Merhaba Aosman,

        Thank you very much. I should have done it. I could be wrong, but my impression was none could be interested on the subject other than those who contend my argument few months ago. Even under that impression I should have linked it for the benefit of the unknown possible readers.

  • Berhan

    Hello Beyan, I enjoyed reading your article. After the PFDJ, political parties more than two will lead to an unstable Eritrean government. In my opinion, the instability among the Eritrean opposition is primarily resulted from the existence of 33 political organizations/parties. As you suggested, if we can have only 5, it could be easier to effectively fight PFDJ.

  • Thomas

    Thank you, the article about Eritrea heading to be a failed state is very convincing, everyone follow the below url and read it for yourself:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/10/horn-africa-facing-another-collapsing-state-201310611177564655.html

    • Nitricc

      Not bright are you? Thomas!
      Do you know who and when written? Do you know who the auther is? Dumb.

      • Thomas

        Son of Sofia Tesfamariam – you need to grown up. Gasa/Eregna/Goat herder:) This is Thomas, a white man wanna be. You exposed yourself when you think the name “Thomas” is not familiar/never used to naming in Eritrea. I am sure you are one of those “Kab dembelas nab dallas’s” hahaha

  • Ermias

    The curious case of Nitricc – February 3, 2214.

    Once upon a time, there was a young man named Nitricc. Nitricc was very passionate about his country Eritrea and he fought the toothless anti-Eritrean forces who were known at that time as ‘opposition.’ A lot of the opposition movement radiated from the internet on a website called Awate.com. The internet in simple terms was a network of the interlinked computer networking worldwide, which was accessible to the general public. Can you imagine living in those days where you don’t have your own worldwide personal internet connecting with all 40 billion people in the world at one time and touching their faces in an instant? Oh, before I forget, they had this thing called Facebook and they shared pictures of themselves, their food, their daily activities – very small minded. What a dark world it was! Now you can all see me tying this message. I will explain pictures another time. That is a whole new article.

    Anyway, this Nitricc was a very courageous fellow because he was fighting on behalf of the Eritrean people from the lion’s den. While he was fighting tirelessly, he fell in love with one of the enemy’s females. Her name was Rahwa. He sold his soul to win Rahwa and he switched sides and joined the toothless opposition. But Rahwa refused in favor
    of Ermias which had no balls and to this day Nitricc could never figure out why Rahwa liked a guy with no guts and balls. Ermias irritated Nitricc so much because Ermias was the most toothless opposition because he even liked that woman named Hayat and he used to call her Hayatina. This drove Nitricc nuts because Hayat was simply a misbehaving woman. She was too strong and quick-witted. She wanted to make peace with Eritrea’s archrival Ethiopia. That is where Nitricc’s main problem comes from. Those stupid Tigryans who have no pride because they call their best ones as Eritreans. Nothing drove Nitricc more nuts than the weyanes because they were just simply unreliable.

    Nitricc ran for office to in order to weed out the entire opposition. When he got to office, he immediately ordered his military to invade the entire world, round up every single opposition member and bring them to him. Public enemy number one of course is SGJ and his cohort SAAY is no less of an evil. A mention of Haile makes Nitricc sick to the stomach. He had already secretly disappeared another opposition woman called Papillon. Hayat will have to suffer slow death for siding with that toothless Ermias.

    To be continued….

    • Ermias

      Seber zena – Nitricc has released Papillon. How long the leash is remains to be seen.

      • Hayat Adem

        Ermias,
        Even at the level of joking, Papillon is too giant for Nitricc to deal with. Find him a smaller bite that his mouth is able to chew.

        • Ermias

          I concur Hayatina. That is why I am doing the dirty work for you guys, the super stars so you can all fight the bigger fight.

    • Hayat Adem

      Hi Nitricc, what more complement would you seek? Years after when internet would be considered very outdated, you will be remembered as Nitricc. You don’t need to try hard to unlock any sarcastically camouflaged messages if you want to go home smiling. I’ll be waiting to read the next part….

  • Thomas

    The last thing Eritrean needs is religious based parties/political system. The history of religion based administrations/parties is not knew to the world, it was used decades ago and it lead to nothing but war and destruction. Let’s see what is currently going between Iraqi Muslims (Islam: Shea & Sunni), animosity between Muslim countries Iran & Saudi. War between two different religious states such as Israelis and Palestinians. Islamists in Russia, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Siriya and other countries. God bless Eritrea!! Let’s learn from other nations and let’s not entertain religions for any reason. Religious believe is a private matter, it is destructive if it is used as political matter. Religion can only be exercised within churches and masques. People – know that we are 21st century. Learn from the past, religious believers played a negative roll and were destructive………..

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Dear Awatistas,
    Al Jezeera’s report reiterate the ICG worrisome report analysis that our nation is going downhill to be the second failed state in the horn of Africa. What is our proactive role to save our nation and our people from this continuous steady negative trend? What is your say? Read the link below.

    http://assenna.com/is-the-horn-of-africa-facing-another-collapsing-state/

    • Zegeremo

      Very Disturbing! It
      tells me how much morality, honor, integrity there is left in the opposition: Zero.

      Thank you for sharing Ema!

    • Ermias

      This was from last year. Nothing new for us except for those who know little about Eritrea.

      The solution is for a brave group to take out IA and his close right hand men. The people will eat the generals and colonels alive.

      In the mean time, we in the diaspora need to continue to fight the PFDJ operatives and deprive the dictator of much needed hard currency.

      • Thomas

        Ermias,

        It is not when it was posted online, as a matter of fact it was published on oct. of last year (only 4 months). However, it was not posted on the known websites for us to see. If you have read it in any Eritrean website of course other than assenna now, bring it up………. I am sorry you came to the conclude that we know little about Eritrea. If you think missing a single news or article is adequate for such a conclusion, help me to understand how/why? You said, “Nothing new for us except for those who know little about Eritrea”. I hope you are joking on this one. However, I agree with you that we should continue fighting the dictator and his operatives. We should fight more aggressively and I am with you on that and more.

        • Ermias

          Thomas, my bad for not being clear. Nothing new for us – us meaning Eritreans engaged in the current situation. Almost everybody on this forum knows the situation. Those who know little – non Eritreans. The article seems to be written for non Eritreans in my opinion.

          • Thomas

            Sorry for the misunderstanding on my part also. Let’s break the internal enemies of our people and our nation, as it was stated on the article our nation is going down the hill let’s do as much as we can to save her. United as one, I am sure we will eliminate the evil parasite regime!! Victory is coming!!

    • Papillon

      Dear Emma,

      I would say, it is not that Eritrea as a nation going down the hill rather it is the Isaias’ regime instead. As such, it is absolutely preposterous to compare Eritrea with Somalia simply because it is tantamount to comparing an orange with an onion. There is no such a thing called “Somalization” of Eritrea but again, it is with in the sphere of reason to argue if there is such a thing called “Somalization” of the Isaias regime.

      Haft’kha.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Merhaba Sis Papillon,

        I completely agree that there is no enmity among our social groups to characterize Eritrea’s fate to that of Somalia. But don’t forget the livelihood of our people is going downhill by all measures. Also keep in mind if we don’t respond to the grievances that brought the mistrust among our social groups, you can’t take for grant to rule out that scenario. In any case my intention to bring that link was to understand the geopolitical judgement by the actors around that region and beyond. In any case welcome back, many of your readers was missing you.

        • Thomas

          Strong point, I agree 100%. The current somalia did not fall into ruin in one day. Similarly, Eritrea’s case is shaping to that. Let’s not remain in the state of denial or the consequence would highly be catastrophic.

      • Ermias

        In addition, most Eritreans identify themsleves as Eritreans – meaning not as Bilen, Kunama, Jeberti, Nara, etc. Somalians on the other hand have extremely strong affiliations towards their clans. If you sit with a group of Somalis, you will likely hear them saying so and so is Darod, Hawiye, Ogaden, what clan are you…etc.? I was doing a little reading a few weeks back after learning a close friend of mine is from a clan called Darod, I was curious and I looked it up on Wikipedia. This is what it means – ” the word Daarood means “an enclosed compound,” a conflation of the two words daar (compound) and ood (place enclosed by wall, trees, woods, fence, etc.).” Go figure!

        Again, it could be naive and I don’t want to pretend like I have done enough research on this but I don’t foresee the Somalization of Eritrea. That is scare tactics devised by PFDJ to deter people from opposing the regime. You will hear this argument from the least informed, uneducated, older, poor Eritreans. Not passing judgement but I am implying that this is how PFDJ is taking advantage of our peoples innoncence and loyalty to their country.

  • Goitom

    I believe religion and politics need to be kept separately. I also do think one’s political views can conflict
    with one’s religious views. People make decisions on what they believe, what they believe could sometimes be influenced by their religion. After all religion is political by nature and the mix-up of religion and politics is part of human history.

    There are, however, things that should be taken into account when dealing with uncomfortable issues of blending religion and politics: individual rights, social responsibilities and duties , and traditional values and cultural context.

    Both freedom of religion(Everyone has a right to have ideas or opinions, to decide what is right and what is wrong, and to choose a religion) and freedom of political affiliation (Everyone has a right to vote and take part in the government of one’s own country) are fundamental principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To ban political parties or exclude someone from political office on the grounds of faith is to prohibit them from their fundamental rights and is no better than excluding someone on grounds of his political orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or the colour of skin and other liberal values.

    People have the right to associate to and vote for whoever they favour freely and fairly. Anything else is to deny their fundamental right and will lead to the imposition of discriminatory laws and interfere further in their lives which in turn exacerbate the problem. There is a saying “A government who does not allow freedom of religious choice would cause as many problems as one that is highly fanatical about one” and vice versa.

    However Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion, and I believe religious involvement often creates more problems than solutions. Most of the time, organizations formed based on religion and ethnicity create divisiveness and reduces cooperation– and often lead to detachment, suspicion, distrust – which in turn can lead to confrontation, conflict and fighting; even though some of these shortcomings of religious organizations can also be
    found in many non-religious organizations like secular political parties, class-based groups, professional associations, trade unions, etc.

    The problem is how do we reconcile the two polarized concepts. The one thing which is clearly visible is
    that the world’s poorest and less developed (with less level of education) societies are the most religious and tend to create political atmosphere based on religion and ethnicity.

    However, I would prefer to promote education, eradicate poverty and create awareness rather than putting laws and regulations.

    H’lmi Ferihka Keydekeska Ayhdern Mechem.
    Goitom

  • Hayat Adem

    What kind of danger? The biggest political danger is the one we are living it now. Worse than that is the fact that the future from here is dangerously unknown. Let me refresh you with a lead-in story. Once, there were two traveling guys who run out of their food supply. They became so hungry and they knew they wouldn’t make it until they get somewhere. On their way, though, they saw a man eating a fresh food. One of the two hungry men (Hungry A) suggested that they approach the feasting man and ask him for a bite. His other hungry friend (Hungry B) objected for fear of being rejected by the owner of the food. Hungry A: “Why? We are hungry to death. The man has fresh food and he is eating alone. Why can’t we go and ask him for a share?” Hungry B, “Let’s not do that please. What will we do if he says ‘No, I’ll not share my food with you’?” Hungry A: “If he says ‘No”, that means We’ll still be hungry. Remember, we’re not eating now, too.”
    You all send your hairs standing when you hear about religion-based parties. For your knowledge, all religion-based parties are not bad. In some countries of Europe, they are very progressive and they take turns to hold governmental power through elections. Even the bad ones are not worse than any bad region-based or ideology based parties. In fact, there are a lot progressive religion based parties. So religion and bad politics is not as synonymous as you think.
    Beyan is not promoting religion-based politics. He is not incubating them. He is not even talking about creating them. He is talking about managing them. He is even saying about rounding them up in to fewer boxes from the multiple numbers they are now. Well, one more thing he did is, he is not in denial like few of you and he is acknowledging their existence one way or the other.

    • Daw!t

      Dear Hayat,
      You are arguing that “… all religion-based parties are not bad.” In the same breath you also
      believe that there are also “bad religion-based parties”. Here is
      what you have to say: “ Even the bad ones [bad religion based parties] are not
      worse than any bad region-based or ideology based parties. “
      You stated two
      diametrically opposed statements that if one is true the other must be
      false. Now, would you care to explain which is true and which is false because
      according to your statements both events are mutually exclusive?

      In Saudi Arabia where Islam is the religion of the state, a party based on Islamic teaching might work well. But, in places like Eritrea where there are many different religions , allowing parties based upon religion is like inviting a never ending religious war among what otherwise are peaceful believers.

      • Hayat Adem

        Dear Dawit,
        Good catch! I really thank you for alerting me on that. BY “… all religion-based parties are not bad”, I meant to say, “not all religion-based parties are bad.” It was a slip of pen on my part. I did re-edit it later. You would agree with me on the fact that there are some religion-based parties that are not bad. And of course, we also have plenty examples of bad and very bad ones. But if you take the leaderships of Nazi, fascist Japan, Bolsheviks, none of them were religion based. But no religion-based party has inflicted pain and suffering to human beings worse than they did. On the other hand a country that is closer to Eritrea in its heterogeneity is Turkey. Turkey is now being led by Islamic party and it is doing well on many accounts. Somalia: this country is blessed with religious and cultural homogeneity and yet it has been suffering from non-religious complications (clan curse). Eritrea: EPLF/PFDJ has no declared religion affiliation but look how Eritrea is suffering at the hands of this leadership. What I wanted to say is: religion should not be viewed as taboo and curse in Eritrean political discourse.

        • Dafla

          Hayat,

          The religion-based political parties in Europe were created at a time when Europe was 95% christian. If we are going to organize our politics in Eritrea according to religious affiliation, then the next question would be, what is the point of being Eritrean? Why would a christian Eritrean want to continue arguing/fighting with people who are not of the same religion, when he has co-religionists who speak the same language and share the same culture in Tigray. The same goes for the Afar, Beni-Amer and others.

          For me, it’s a secular democratic state that respects my freedom of belief or non-belief, or no state at all.

          • Hayat Adem

            Dear Dafla,
            “For me, it’s a secular democratic state that respects my freedom of belief or non-belief, or no state at all.”
            I see your point. From personal point of view, I see you from not afar. But there are religion driven undercurrent tensions and movements in today’s Eritrea. If wishing them away or denying their existence is not working, there has to be a healthy way of accomodating them. To find that healthy path, discussions about the matter must be encouraged not feared. Religion-based values and Eritreaness are not always mutually exclusive. In fact, Islam and Christianity are both part of the Eritrean national identity. And Eritrean national identity need not always be sought from exclusionist assertions with regard to other people who share some commonness with us. You don’t have to be afraid of looking the same, sharing sameness (be it religion or culture) with other people surrounding Eritrea. IMy view is that Eritrea’s identity should be asserted not only in its uniqueness but also in its sameness with its neighbors. Your line “what is the point of being Eritrean?” tells me that your mindset is anchored (like many Eritrean thinkers and elites) on “either we are different or we don’t exist” notion. I think that leads to a more dangerous leanings than openly discussing how we politically manage our religious values.

          • Dafla

            Selam Hayat,

            “Your line “what is the point of being Eritrean?” tells me that your mindset is anchored (like many Eritrean thinkers and elites) on “either we are different or we don’t exist” notion. I think that leads to a more dangerous leanings than openly discussing how we politically manage our religious values.”

            To me Eritrea as a nation (or any other nation) is not holy. If the people within it’s boundaries can not set up a common rule of law that applies to each INDIVIDUAL, then why force them to stay in an unhappy marriage? That’s more dangerous to me, When someone tries to negiotate on my behalf because of my religious background, that’s dangerous. When self-appointed intellectuals and wise men think they are sitting on a higher horse than the common people, that’s condescending and elitist. The problem of religious undercurrents in our politics is the fault of “elites” not the common people.

            what are the issues?

            1.women in the military
            2.Marriage: An adult woman has to get her father’s permission whether she can marry the man she loves (in-and-outside her own religion).
            3. Inheritance laws
            4. Divorce/child custody
            5.Official languages
            6. Representation in Government.
            7. Land (not a religious issue per se, Pastoralist vs. Sedentary)
            .
            .
            .

            Can you come up with more?

            All the best/ Tafla

      • Ermias

        Dawit, she (Hayat) meant to say “not all religion based parties are bad.” Not my opinion, just trying to elaborate my dear friend Hayat meant to say. Don’t read too much into semantics.

        • Ermias

          My apologies, I wrote before I had a chance to read Hayats reply.

          • Hayat Adem

            Ermias, what a cool friend you are! Look, if Nitricc keeps on bothering you and says anything bad about you, I’ll take it personal and make him pay for it. Nobody messes up with my friend and goes to sleep. That’s how much I care about you.
            Can you hear me Nitricc- You should get this. I don’t know though why I like talking about you even if you’re not the reason why I’m writing this feedback.
            Thanks, Ermias, for reading my mind regarding my misstatement Dawit caught.

          • Ermias

            My pleasure Hayat! Stay connected at awate. Your input is always insightful.

          • Nitricc

            Hayat, when the other day Ermias questioned your take about we are being “immature discussant” it was clear Hayat meant for Ermias and myself; when Ermias stood up to Hayat and said “ who you calling immature? I was excited and jumping up and down. I said to my self; finally Ermias grew a pair of balls; finally Ermias man-up; finally a bone to stand up, well, nop, he let no time passed to kiss her butt. even an hour did not pass; as usual Ermias placed his tail between his legs and started bumbling by saying Hayatinina, I don’t mean it; I should have said I was joking well you got the point. If that is not enough; now Ermias is a legal mouth piece of hayat and a translator. He is telling people what Hayat meant to say. Seriously! Ermias? This is the same Hayat who called you, to your face “immature”
            Now, Ermias, redeem your self, ask Hayat when she said “immature discussant” who did she had in mind? Go a head ask Hayat. Geeeeeee, I forgot; you have no gumption.
            Let me do it for you.
            Hayat, I know for a fact when you said “immature discussant” you were implying to Ermias; if not Ermias who was it then?

          • Hayat Adem

            Nitricc,
            Nice try but it was not Ermias; it couldn’t have been Ermias; if I were to call Ermias, “immature”, then it would reflect worse immaturity on me than on him because you people can judge that there would be a toilet-paper-long-list* of immature folks before you get any nearer to Ermias.. Now, to cure you from your own self-eating guess, I was not referring to any particular person and you too are safe. Now, Nitricc, go ahead and apologize to Ermias for all those uncool words you tagged to him..

            *Thanks Haile for letting me borrow that expression.

          • Ermias

            Hayat, I love that expressinon too – “toilet-paper-long-list.” It is easier to write it out than to say it though because I tried it once and I botched it.

            Thank you for taking care of Nitricc for me. I am obssessed with him but he is infatuated with me. I disagree with him on virtually every single thing but I have a lot of trouble punching him to the mouth and taking him out for good. He is poorly informed, naive, and “immature discussant.” Is discussant a word? My browser didn’t highlight is as misspelt so it must be a word. I would say “immature discussant” and “toilet-paper-long-list” – these two phrase will be number one and runner up for Awate.com phrase of the year for 2014. I don’t know which one I like better but they are both impecably placed for phrase of the year on anyone’s list. Brilliant Haile and Hayat. L.T. may come out of the cave and dwarf your phrases though.

  • said

    Al_Muwateneh Al-Sahiha, “True Citizenry,” Immadu Kulu Shai, is the Founding Pillar of All: al-Amn Il-Ijtimayee (Social Peace), and,by corollary, Al- Istikrar El-Siyasie (Political Stability), and, ultimately,Al-Tanmiyieh Al-Iktisadieh wa Al-Ijtimaieh Al-Mutawazineh (Balanced Socio-economic development). Al-Muwatineh Al-Sahiha (True Citizenery),
    Rakiizit Al-Mujtama’ Al-Madani (is the Pillar of a Civil Society), emanates from real Freedom, Justice, Equal Opportunities and the Upholding,foremost, of the Dignity of Al-Muwaten by strict observance of the
    pillars of the “Separation of Powers.”
    True Citizenry is Never attained by a hand-out, as a “Top-Down”empty slogan but is the outcome of dedicated, consistent and collective hard work with pursued with a single-minded objective, clear vision and strict
    observance and adherence, relentlessly, to unshakable constants of Higher Humanitarian Principles that are never open to bargaining or compromise.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Said,al-Amn Il-Ijtimayee may be it is social security.

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear Beyan, it has become my habit to read awate articles at least twice each. This time I start reading before watching the puzzle photo you put. But when I start reading for 2nd time my eye stopped in the photo. Watching deeply, I went back to my childhood days remembering all my friends.Searching from my file I found some pictures and I put them in sequence by edge, again by date of photo and then by the political stand of each child after he grow up etc. For those whom I remember but whom I don’t have photos I put their name. It is interesting to remember each Child’s behavior, the days spent with them. Bad and good all came in front of me. Then I start asking myself who among them is alive and who among them paid his dearest soul for freedom. All questions were answered except one and that is:- How much should I work and fight to pay the debt I have (creating democratic Eritrea)? This is very wide question with a lot of answers. The puzzle in the photos was then answered when I read again your article.

    you said “Therefore, I must come down from my high horse and accept the realities as they exist? As much as I want us to rid ourselves from the dichotomies and binaries that were alluded to earlier I am absolutely convinced that one way to narrow down our internal differences.” nice.

    The difference between those awaken and those dormant is that those awaken challenge their own self (they work on themselves) while those dormant keep blaming circumstances and others. Congratulation for being one of those awakens earlier.

    Thank you, Beyan.

  • Miriam

    Your article reminded of of what George Orwell once wrote in one of his political essays. It has great relevance to what you write here I frantically searched to find the whole passage online until I stumbled upon it, thanks to Google. Orwell was a more than likely a Trotskest, yet he wrote these words criticizing the left of which he belonged. “The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions—racial pride, leader warship, religious belief, love of war—which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action” The left’s evisceration of these powerful human concepts and emotions has rendered it weak among the poor. I believe you article is saying the same thing. I agree with you. it is time to acknowledge what moves the world politically are mostly irrational and sentimental things. The semi-superstitious nature of humans demand intellectual leftist to cater to the “unenlightened” majority’s whims even if they themselves don’t believe it.

  • dawit

    The headline ‘Eritrea: The Suppression of God’is misleading or it is distortion of Eritrean history, based on personal journey and observation both at home and in exile.‘God’ Egziabher, Rebi and Allah was in Eritreans heart throughout their struggle, what was suppressed was ‘Religion’. Eritreans all over the world prayed to Him with one-to-one in direct contact every second, every hour and every day of their lives wherever they were on the battle fields at home or in exile. Every Eritrean a Moslem or Christian worshiped and prayed directly to God instead of the indirect contact of religions through Churches and Mosque once a week prayer sermones. It is Eritreans faith in God that kept them to survive against all odds and gave them the strength to keep straggling. What can explain Eritrean Independence without the intervention of the Almighty, at a time when the whole world was supporting the enemies of Eritrea? The East the Godless group and the West with their ‘God” supplied generously the most advanced arms, the Mig and F5 fighters and the cluster bomb and napalm gas and feeding Ethiopian army with food aid only to destroy tiny Eritrea!. But God was alive in every Eritrean Moslem or Christian. Eritrea is created and is surviving by the will of God. God is still with Eritrea, despite organized religions campaigning to isolate it with cheap propaganda claiming ‘there is no freedom of worship or there is no God in Eritrea’. God Bless Eritreans!

  • Wedi Ali

    Happy Birthday PIA!!! 68 and still going strong.

    • Peace!

      I thought People Don’t Choose to Be Selfish or Clueless. But apparently I am wrong!

  • Rodab

    Dear Beyan,
    Good article. At the risk if redudancy, I am not sure the idea of Highland/lowland based party formation will work in Eritrea. As a guide, we can look at history if this type of arrangemen has worked in other countries but the thumb’s rule is that politics and religion don’t get along very well. If I am not mistaken, the written-for-nothing PFDJ party formation law forbids groups from forming parties based on region and/or religion. I think it even goes further and recommonds parties to include members from all parts of the nation. I believe that is what’s fit for Eritrea.
    But, brining any suggestion to a public discussion can only be benefitial. So, thanks for the article.
    P.S.
    Beyan, I was browsing dehai’s archives the other day, and I noticed you were an active participant there. So as a veteran dehair, you should consider stepping in and re-open dehai before it goes a complete dinosaur 🙂

    • dawit

      You are right my friend Rodab, religion and politics do not mix well. The idea that religion as common factor to organize Eritrean political system is a recipe for disaster. How it is my blood relatives my own cousins, nephews, nieces who are Muslims or Christians from Mensa or Bilen have more in common with Eritrean Muslims in Danakil or Christians from Kebesa? Our common factors as Eritreans is our belief in Eritrea and not which road we chose to go to heaven. Let us think how we can organize our country where everyone feels good about being an Eritrean, regardless of our tribal, linguistic, residence or religion associations. Eritrea is our only common heritage everything else is a political tool to divide us. They say ‘Dived and Rule’ and we have historical experiences and evidences to prove that.

  • Dafla

    Dear Beyan,
    I’m a frequent reader of your columns and appreciate your tone and conciallatory approach, But this is so dissappointing to me. Instead of trying to persuade those engaged in political Islam to come to their senses and form political parties that address all Eritreans irrespective of their religion. Your recipe is to form one united Christian political party and another unified muslim political party??!! We’ll be back at square one,Muslim League and Andnet once again. Can’t you see the danger of it?

  • said

    Thank you for your thoughtful article.

    You seem to realize
    you are a humanist, universalist and
    internationalist at heart where nations and boundaries are in your spiritual
    inclinations are of far less significance as the bond that we share as one
    race, survivors of this tiny Eritrea and tiny Planet Earth.

    Equally, and very much in line with the above, what’s at the
    essence of things and what mostly matters are the Upholding of Universal
    Values: The Upholding of Human Dignity; Justice, Freedom and Brotherhood of
    man.

    It is not the piece of land, it is the future co-existing
    with our brothering and not the dictator and Spartan Usurpers that never
    self-reconcile to the truth, never repent and are never willing to coexist in
    Peace and Harmony with our wronged populations around them. DIA regime, in their godless current concepts of Exclusiveness and the
    brandishing of the sword are Pariahs, not the model that ushers in long-term
    prosperity, equity, equality, Peace and Stability to Eritrea .As most Eritrean
    journeyed the same as your tender youth described
    , your youth eyed from the vantage
    precipice of growing up of mature old age, seemed in its full spectrum of
    apparent contradictions and lack of conformity, a complete colorful mosaic, a
    woven tapestry that suspend judgment and render it intrusive and disruptive to
    the appreciation of a full view, of the order of the natural things.

    Eritrea No Time for Celebration as Eritrean Heart Is Heavy loaded.

    Hard Labor is sweetened by the prospect of the fruits that
    one reaps at the light at the end of the Tunnel. Sacrifices are lightened with
    the commensurate gains, moral and physical in attendance for all sacrifices
    with a Purpose.

    We die many times more than the actual dead when precious
    lives, begotten innocent souls are wasted for mortals’ vanity personalizing the
    divinity presiding supreme judging the “Right” and “Wrong.”

    Fools become an attribute to prescribe to mortals, all
    mortals of the ancestral pedigree and the posterity of the progeny.

    Winners and losers are sham pretenses of feeble minds and
    empty spirits, devoid mechanical creatures.

    I cry for my lost brothers and sister in humanity, a lost
    herd ever in search of an identity best defined with the malaise and
    misfortunates of fellow humans.

    Human is a misnomer to a ferocious beast bestowed with a
    discerning organ, a brain that cannot function unless it demeans and
    dehumanizes if not self then the others.

    Many great prophets and Christ peace upon them all visited
    planet earth to cleanse mortals’ sins to only leave us at times , after his
    uplift to the celestial, with bigger and more heinous sins.

    Apocalypse, the vanity of mortals for ultimate redemption,
    is the doomsday, the Armageddon to inflict more pains and deprivation of self
    and the others.

    Men, women and children fall mercilessly in a continuum of
    the falsehood of the promise of tomorrow, a super human in the next coming that
    would never come.

    Instead, a bereaved mother all I see of claimants, fools, of
    “Rights” that are all wronged as make vanish the sweet gift of life.

  • Beyan

    Mussie G.,
    You missed my point entirely. The religious alignment is meant to writ small the rift that has been writ large by various factors, some of which I have pointed out in the piece. I think, again, if you read my responses to the others who shared their viewpoints, hopefully, you will see that the ultimate aim is for the movement to be coherent and that coherence will be galvanized to become a viable political party in the future – that is all.
    I am aware of the Lebanese model and I have no inkling intention bringing such messed up approach to governance. I think, we, Eritreans are far more sensible than governing by quotas that the current regime has been hard at work in doing and where did that get us? In fact, whereas the Lebanese are honest enough to give it a job description as to who holds what office based on their religious affiliation – which is really stupid way of balancing power. The current regime did not give it a name, but has been functioning in similar fashion to that of Lebanon – they just didn’t call it that.

    • Mussie Gebreab

      Beyan, How is I missed your point entirely. when you clearly said in block and white and urging Eritreans to build political part/organization base on their religion belief. how is political parts/organizations based on their religion belief good for Eritrea, but really stupid way of balancing power for Lebanese?
      Beyan, you are accusing the Eritrean government for being communist, Atheist, and at the same time functioning as religious(Christian, Moslem) based political organization. Your facts and logics does not add up and of course make no sense at all.

  • Beyan

    Dear Dawit,
    I share your concerns as well. The risk is there, but once Eritrean Highlanders and Eritrean Lowlanders begin to talk heart-to-heart each with its platform presenting in a transparent manner, they will find out they would have much more in common than they thought possible; and the commonality so apparent that they will combine their efforts by forming one party that would become a political party to reckon with. If done right this kind of movement can lead akin to the U.S.’s democratic party where one sees America being represented by its diverse groups as opposed to the Republican party that seems to be a party from yester year catering to one base – all one had to do was juxtapose the conventions and becomes glaringly clear who represents America who does not.
    Similarly, the Highland-Lowland Eritrean Party would be a powerful political force. But, of course, first thing first: the focus now should be as a movement we must all come together to rid of the menace at home and for that to happen it all needs to start with the alignments my article attempts to shine a light on.

  • Nitricc

    Good read! Beyan.
    Regarding the religion part; all religions should be eradicated from the face of the earth.
    One of the major reasons Eritrean struggle succeeded is in part; religion was halt in check and minimized its poisonous venom.
    I approved this message!

    • Beyan

      Nitricc, my man! Here is a bargain for you that even the Devil will join in such a ticket. Instead of eliminating all religions, how about you form Eritrean Atheists Party, but the devil is in details. If you fulfill the following two conditions, I would vote for you. Nitricc changes his name to Abdullahi. Your running mate on the ticket will be Rahwa (Iknow how much you love her) and I am sure you can convince her to change her name to, say, Ezgi-Amen.
      Now, all you would need for advertisement is vote for EAP ticket with Abdullahi &
      Ezgi-Amen at the helm. Now the devil in me will love the oxymoron in this whole
      fiasco that I would be the first one to vote for you.

      • Nitricc

        That is funny Beyan. why are you mentioning my love of my life Rahwa, like that man, lol. i am welling to change my name and what ever as long as Rahwa wears Hijab. you see, i am a peace maker. if i marry Rahwa, i will bring back Tigray and Ethiopia togather. if i make Rahwa, my love, wear Hijab, I bring Rahwa to realize Muslims are humans just like her. if my name is Abdullahi and i am married to Rahwa, then i don’t need to establish any EAP, I will bring the chrisians and the Muslims to realize we all are humans. now, here is your duty, convince Rahwa to wear hijab, help me.
        this is Nitricc, i am posting as a guest, unable to log in in to the usual way.

        • Beyan

          The plot thickens Nitricc. Let me wrap this around my head for a sec here –
          Nitricc becomes Abdullahi (equivalent to Gebre Egzabher) – his wife will wear hijab and he will be at the helm of an atheist party. The incongruity is so jarring and oxymoronic that Eritreans will fall in love with some such inconceivable narrative.

          But then Nitricc is a man of contradictions who somehow makes anything and everything
          plausible and possible. What’s up with Awate 7.0, that won’t allow you to post other than just a guest – don’t abuse that privilege. I guess you need to work to gain that privilege back first before you can even contemplate on some big matters as having Rahwa wear Hijab, eh?

          Sincerely,
          Beyan

          • Nitricc

            Beyan I will get back to you but nothing is wrong with awate forum or anything with my privillage. I was in a place where I did not want to leave my mark and I used just as a guest. I just don’t want awate-team to think something wrong with the system. The system is cool and running fine for me.

  • Ismail

    Selamat Beyan,

    Thanks for the beautiful and thought provoking article. In an ideal world, people living in one country
    would have one language, one culture, one religion, one heart and one mind. Although there are and have been countries that possess the first few attributes, to my knowledge there has never been a society in recorded history (except in ancient and primitive small tribes) whose society was composed of individuals with one heart and one mind. Formation of larger and bigger coalitions around major belief system or political platforms is therefore the next best thing to lessen fragmentation. Well done…Keep it up!

    Ismail (pointblank)

    • Beyan

      Thank you Ismail, I appreciate the vote of confidence. God knows we need to “lessen fragmentation” so badly and unfortunately, the mainstream culture still does not realize how badly it took the country to hell in a hand basket – it still believes it can salvage a country with the same old and tried and tired approach to politics where they would have Muslim names at the helm just to fulfill the quotas or use it to convince themselves that that represents the diversity they have concocted in their heads.
      This time around, the Eritrean Muslims will only come to the negotiating table in their own terms not in the terms that the mainstream culture dictates – which has been disastrous for the country as a whole. I am not arriving at this from some whimsical political ploy. This has become clear to me after having talked over the years with the Muslim Eritrean community across the U.S., and the sentiments everywhere are such that the trust is not there. Amanuel has gotten it right that that trust needs to be nurtured and cultivated and the only way that can be done is through dialog for which the time seems to be ripe and right and, I may add, urgent.

  • Daw!t

    Dear Beyan,

    Don’t you think reducing the political parties from more than 33 to two major groups as
    lowlanders (mostly Muslims), and highlanders (mostly Christians) would lead to sectarianism? Eritrean Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully side by side for many years. Why should we now divide the people based upon their religious than political affiliation? We should at least learn from Syria, and Egypt where Alawites, and Christians respectively have defended their
    regimes despite the regimes being authoritarian. They defend authoritarian governments because the alternative would at least be as worst as Afghanistan’s Taliban. Additionally, it’s impossible
    to reach a consensus if parties’ ideology is based upon religion.

    Here I am making a clumsy transition from politics to sports 🙂

    Broncos 38, Seattle18. Also, come Sunday, Peyton Manning will be throwing ducks and help his team win. Hot wings and cold Budweiser goes with the game.

  • Thomas

    Hi Beyan,
    The prescription of Democratic movement based on religion in Eritrea seems unattainable. Whether we like it or not, Eritrea can only be administrated the same way it was administrated during or before our independence war. The setting or adaptation and culture of the society nature for the unknown reasons was set for this purpose. Leave it the way it was, period! The naming and renaming, reallocation regions and sub-regions by the mafia regime did not do any help. Let the people choose how to be administrated, these can be done by a referendum. Leaders setting in their offices cannot pick and choose what residents of one region or the other need. This has been done by the mafia regime and it failed. We cannot execute the same failed system again and again. Let the people live the way they were living prior to our independence first. If any change is to be made, the concerned people need to vote for it.
    The opposition need to merge or reemerge based on these realities.

    • Beyan

      selam Thomas,
      Just to avoid belaboring the issue again, please read my responses to Ismail & Dawit, which I think addresses your points of concern. I like your point of people choosing who they want to be administered by. That’s well and good, but to get there we must first come together and your contention that “the opposition need to merge or reemerge based on” the notion you present would not work, because the Eritrean Muslims’ have been left out from the formula that your prescribe above; and Ahmed Raji’s factually based article that Amanuel Hidrat cites is one good reason why the status quo will not have a chance to bring the Muslim Eritrean side to the table for which there was no equitable beginning to begin with.

  • Ermias

    I have several issues with this article but in the end Beyan is on my side (which is the right side of history) when it comes to PFDJ and IA. At this point, that is all that matters so I will refrain from listing my disagreements.

    • Beyan

      Ermias,
      I like the fact that you see the big picture and whatever reservations you may have, you are willing to gloss over for now, which is exactly the point – unless and until – those of us from the mainstream – realize and put ourselves in the other’s shoes, if you will, making headways in this regard, bringing the Eritrean Muslims, to inject their energy into the uphill battle that exists at home will be all the more difficult. So, I appreciate your willingness to withhold judgment for now.

  • Mussie Gebreab

    Beyan, you stated, “As much as I want us to rid ourselves from the dichotomies and binaries that were alluded to earlier I am absolutely convinced that one way to narrow down our internal differences – what is it now, some 33 political opposition groups? – is by finding a mechanism that will dwindle that number to less than five. Imagine – Eritrean Muslims finding a common thread that binds them together (and there are plenty that can be made to a socio-politically empowering platform); and Eritrean Christians find a common thread that binds them together (and there are plenty that can be made to a socio-politically empowering platform), thereby, diminishing the number of opposition groups to the bare and robust minimum possible.”
    Is that all you can come up is Lebanese politics for Eritrea?

  • Hayat Adem

    Very honest, very reflective and very forward looking. What I find good about Beyan is that he is not only good at capturing the heart of ideas, but he blends them well with his personal experience and gets them glued together for actionable projects. Look how he generously walks us through the vastness of his early experiences and elevates the thoughts of Aman and Omer, not just one step further, but one step further down to earth for action. He said, “I can foresee a big convention taking place this year that will bring all Eritreans into one big tent.” It is up to all of us working on that suggestion.
    I also want to highlight and appreciate the in-built readiness of him to compromise his personal values for the greater good. This quality of him is very hard to exaggerate: “…I must come down from my high horse and accept the realities as they exist.”. Did I say something yet about his humility and respectfulness? Yes, this is a guy who has amassed through so many books; who has been in tangent and brushed off first class ideas, who has walked on hard and soft, and yet see it for your self how he still talks up on our own traditions: “I think that it is about time we come to the basics of how our ancestors dealt with one another in an ­­­­­­amicably respectful manner.”
    Even if we are not there yet to grasp their deeper ideas, it would mean a lot of improvements in building civility in our communities if we just learn a thing or two from the manners of our well experienced and well read contributors such as Beyan, display while discoursing.
    Thanks Beyan. Come more often.

    • Beyan

      Hayat, your ability to see the spirit in which a person writes is a remarkable talent that you have. One note like yours is so encouraging to hear and I am sure that has to be one of the most rewarding thing a writer wishes to hear and is a fuel that keeps him on writing, because of readers like you who are able to hone in at the root of a writer’s intention. A lot of times people reduce one’s labor of love into one irrelevant point or another, but you see exactly where I want my attempt to lead and I thank you for that.
      If for nothing else, just for a reader like you, it is indeed worth visiting Awate more often and hope to do just that – Bless you!
      All the best,
      Beyan

      • SENAYE

        Beyan,

        Thanks for the memory lane. I remember the voyage away from home vividly……..