Inform, Inspire, Embolden. Reconcile!

Hitting the Enemy Where It Hurts the Most

An issue that often comes up in political discussions on Eritrea is whether political change in the country will be achieved through the efforts of domestic forces/elements or those of the exiled opposition movement. A general sense of ongoing debate on the subject seems to suggest that current political opinions are largely based on the implicit assumption that only one or the other of the two forces can bring change in Eritrea.

This type of exclusionary and fragmentary approach to political activism cannot lead to consensus on best strategy for effecting democratic change because it overlooks two important factors: Firstly, to be meaningful, planned (or expected) roles of political forces must pivot on a country’s existing sociopolitical conditions, i.e., realistic political roles can neither be assigned nor claimed in the abstract. Secondly, so long as they do not pursue antagonistic agendas, domestic and exiled actors should all have appropriate roles to play in the struggle for change. Such an inclusive and unitary approach would permit the forces of change to identify suitable roles for themselves and to optimize their respective contributions to the cause.

When applied to Eritrea’s ongoing struggle for democratic change, this pragmatic approach reveals an important truth: The critical question today is not whether opposition forces should all have a role in the ongoing struggle, but rather how best they can contribute to its success. This article attempts to address the latter question with specific reference to the Diaspora opposition. It proposes that, in view of the fact that much of the government’s power derives from its illicit overseas “assets,” the exiled opposition is ideally positioned to challenge the legality of these assets and their operations. It further argues that doing so would weaken the grip of the police state on the population, hence foster home-grown resistance to its tyrannical rule.

Focusing on such actionable ideas would give the opposition camp respite from the detrimental practice of engaging in seemingly interminable recounting of transgressions of a rogue regime long proven to be hopelessly irredeemable. There is also a dire need for shifting political discourse away from the currently pervasive tendency to harken back to past episodes of the regime’s decidedly autocratic history. If the struggle for change is to succeed, it must be guided by a strategy that draws on lessons of the past, focuses on the realities of the present and promotes actualization of our people’s hopes and dreams for the future.

Sizing Up the Regime’s Source of Power

It is widely known that Eritrea’s PFDJ government is bent on impoverishing the country, nurturing exaggerated fear of external threat and militarizing society as instruments for subjugating the population. The apparatus that integrates these instruments into a formidable police state is the regime’s notorious intelligence and security establishment whose surveillance and spying tentacles are felt in every sector of the population. Having put such an autocratic system in place, the regime has been trampling civil liberties and human rights to an extent that makes other dictatorships look benevolent by comparison. It routinely engages in arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings of innocent citizens as a way of clamping down on dissent and stamping out any opposition to its rule.

Given the enormity of this undertaking and the multitudes that engage in its operations, one cannot help but ponder over the question: How has the government of one of the poorest nations on earth managed to bear the cost of running such an oversized and complex surveillance system? It is common knowledge that the country’s economy is in ruins; that the private sector has been driven to near extinction by a regime with blatant hostility towards investment and private business; that, as the largest employer, the state has engineered a stunted productivity and pittance for wages to go with it; and that the country’s underutilized labor force is more of a drain on the national treasury than a booster of its revenues.

The answer to this legitimate question is to be found in the UN Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) reports on government compliance with provisions of Security Council sanctions resolutions. One of the Group’s principal findings is that the regime generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually from an illicit overseas economy managed almost entirely offshore through an intricate multinational network of companies, individuals and bank accounts. The regime is also beneficiary of a separate revenue stream that its political supporters in the Diaspora generate in various forms and under a variety of pretexts. As such the regime’s total offshore revenue does, in some measure, reflect the level of its external political support.

The implications of the SEMG findings for the political and socio-economic conditions in Eritrea were outlined in a recent article posted on awate.com. The article emphasized that the absolute power with which the PFDJ regime continues to impose its tyrannical rule on the people is, to a large extent, sustained by revenues from its illegal activities in foreign lands. Specifically, some of these ill-gotten funds are used to maintain a state security system that terrorizes the population and crushes the slightest manifestation of political activism with utter brutality.

Time for the Diaspora Opposition to Prove Itself

The PFDJ regime runs overseas affairs that include a wide range of illicit financial operations (as revealed in the SEMG reports) and political activities aimed at building support and stifling opposition among Diaspora communities (as exposed in Dutch court cases involving regime supporters).[1] These activities are closely intertwined and not amenable to neat classification into purely financial and political categories. For instance, regime supporters in the Diaspora engage not only in recruiting party cadres and silencing critics, but also in raising funds for the regime (as communities) and facilitating its illicit financial operations (by selected members).

These realities do afford the Diaspora opposition opportunities for playing a crucial role in advancing the struggle for democratic change. Such a role would entail formulation and systematic execution of an action plan designed to undermine and, if possible, thwart altogether the regime’s overseas operations. For ease of identifying some specific tasks of such a plan, this article uses the regime’s ‘mode of operation’ as a basis for grouping its varied overseas activities into: (i) those undertaken openly, and are therefore known to the opposition (overt operations) and (ii) those that are carried out clandestinely (covert operations).

  1. Overt Operations

A task that must be given priority in the movement’s agenda is ending the political and financial support that the regime draws from its control of Eritrean community organizations abroad. Activities undertaken by these organizations for the benefit of the regime include soliciting and collecting 2% tax and donations from Diaspora Eritreans, facilitating the transfer of hard currency remittances, organizing fundraising events and staging pro-regime rallies and demonstrations.

Regime activists accomplish most of these tasks by resorting to extortion, intimidation and harassment of anyone opposed to their political agenda or their underhanded tactics. Worse yet, community centers have turned into recruitment and indoctrination centers where fanatical ruling-party supporters are bred by poisoning young minds of Diaspora youth-groups dubbed YPFDJ. It must be noted that most of these activities and their underlying objectives are (at least in Europe and North America) contrary to requirements for nonprofit status and eligibility for state funding; and some are outright illegal. Thus, the opposition movement can capitalize on these breaches/violations and force community organizations to desist from serving as political tools of the regime or risk losing privileges and benefits they currently enjoy.

Opting for more aggressive measures, one can find two possible ways in which the opposition can prevent pro-regime elements from exploiting Diaspora communities to further their political agenda. One is for members of the opposition to get elected to majority leadership positions at communities and pursue an agenda of depoliticizing these organizations by steering their activities toward programs that are purely and exclusively sociocultural. Alternatively, they could establish in their respective cities substitute community organizations which are genuinely apolitical in orientation and exclusively social/cultural in function.

Many Diaspora Eritreans flock to PFDJ-sponsored community events not so much in support of their underlying political objectives as out of passion for the social and cultural entertainment they provide. So, by emphasizing the latter, opposition-led community organizations would easily win over most Eritreans in their respective localities. This would give their leaders leverage to put pro-regime rivals ‘out of business’ by claiming exclusive rights as genuine representatives of their constituencies, hence eligibility for state recognition and funding.

It must be acknowledged that, having challenged the status quo along the lines outlined above, opposition activists in some European and North American communities have achieved successes in empowering grassroots opposition and undermining the interests of the regime. These efforts must certainly be applauded for what they accomplished locally and for having produced models of activism that other communities could emulate. But to ensure the movement’s overall success, the fight against regime proxies abroad must be waged at a much higher level of efficacy – in terms of geographic extent of target areas, the persistence of the struggle and the intensity and vigor with which it should be undertaken.

  1. Covert Operations

As noted earlier, multinational operations of the PFDJ-owned business enterprise generate huge financial gains that continue to serve as the mainstay of the regime’s absolute power in the country. But, the documented illegality and criminality of these very operations (see SEMG reports) constitute the dark underbelly of the tyrannical regime. Opposition groups in the West should therefore seize on these revelations and bring legal action against the regime’s partners in crime operating in their host countries. However, unlike the regime’s overt operations, its covert ones are complex and require the acumen of professionals (in such relevant disciplines as law, finance, business management, etc.) to decipher.

A serious impediment to SEMG investigations was the regime’s secrecy, the opacity of its financial system and the resulting dearth of documentation on even the most basic aspects of the country’s economy. The Group had therefore to unravel the economic mystery by zeroing in on the government’s revenues and scrutinizing their sources, transfers, offshore bank deposits, allocations and spending. For obvious reasons, not all such fine details of the investigation are included in their reports. But, a close reading of those reports suggests that the Group would be predisposed to share them if requested through official channels by a legitimate entity. This is where the role of Eritrean professionals/intellectuals mentioned earlier comes in. Their status, the prestige of their institutions, their professional contacts and their privileged access to info/data are crucial for gaining access to the invaluable unpublished findings of the SEMG and for possibly augmenting them with independent information.

The expertise of such professionals is also indispensable to the process of compiling and evaluating the facts and evidence so obtained. This process must be undertaken to identify: (i) business operations that the regime undertakes contrary to stated policy and/or in violation of the laws of the host country, and (ii) local entities i.e., agents, business partners, front companies, etc. that collaborate with the regime in these operations. Based on results of this review, activist professionals would build cases against the regime and its local business associates in the form of lawsuits (to be filed with the courts) and appeals and petitions (to be lodged with appropriate authorities) of host countries. These initiatives would then be buttressed with mass action in which the rank and file of the opposition movement would mobilize in support of the cause by engaging in such activities as making telephone calls, signing petitions, lobbying the authorities and staging rallies to demand justice and/or government action.

One may appropriately ask: “How many such cases should the Diaspora opposition pursue to undermine the regime’s grip on power?” The answer is: Ideally, as many as circumstances permit. But at a minimum, a couple of carefully-planned, skillfully-executed and well-fought cases can trigger a concatenation of events that would jointly lead to substantial erosion of the regime’s dictatorial power. This would inevitably entail weakening of the political stranglehold that the security establishment has put on the population. Such regime setbacks would certainly embolden the population to break out of the fear that has griped them for too long and begin to fight back against the regime’s cruelty and oppression.

Conclusion

Eritrea’s evil mafiacracy is pushing ahead with its satanic mission of destroying the country and emptying it of its population. This at a time when the Diaspora opposition movement is in a state of paralysis for lack of clear sense of direction and owing to failure of its constituent factions to find common ground for effecting political change. In consequence, the country’s continuity as a nation-state is increasingly coming into question. And any effort for averting such a prospect will have to be undertaken in a state of an ever-narrowing window of opportunity.

To this end, Diaspora opposition groups must first redeem themselves and imbue their existence with political relevancy by reforming their institutional framework and rethinking their strategy. They can no longer hide behind the stale notion that it is the people inside the country who should rise and bring about political change. These groups would do well to admit that the very resources which enable the regime’s security apparatus to keep the population virtually shackled is being generated right in the Diaspora’s ‘home turf!’

It is often remarked that Eritrea has its fair share of intelligentsia among its sizeable exiled population. However, with few notable exceptions, members of this elite class have remained seemingly indifferent to the plight of their people and are known to have done very little to bring about their emancipation from tyranny. Many of those have evidently been living in a bubble of comfort, ambition and self-interest from which they have willfully erased any memories of their past. But then, there are others for whom the meaning of life goes far beyond the pursuit of one’s selfish interests and who still have an ear for the cries of their suffering people. It is members of the latter group that are being called upon to dedicate some of their time, effort and talents to the lofty cause of rescuing the country and its people from passing into oblivion.

References:

[1] A Mafia Group Masquerading as Lawful Government
[2] UNSC—SEMG Sanctions Committee (work and mandate reports)

 

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  • saay7

    Selamat Awatistas:

    In case you missed it, this is what Berhe Y wrote:

    Politics is just an accident for me that I have to deal with.

    My dream and passion is to be a developer and turn Eritrea / Massawa to a tourist heaven, and enjoy our blessing with the rest Ethiopians and the rest of Africans.
    I look at Italian and French Riviera, I just dream there will be a day.

    For those of you to whom “politics is just an accident” what would you do if Eritrea was just another African country? By “just another African country” I mean one that is poor, yes; with authoritarian gov, that doesn’t fully respect its citizens civil liberties, yes; but one that doesn’t exile 25% of its population and doesn’t press its youth into indefinite conscription and doesn’t have its sole senior high school within the confines of a military camp?

    Thanks Berhe for the eye-opener. I always assumed you were a geeky computer nerd and it turns out you are a wheeler-and-dealer.

    saay

    • iSem

      Hi Sal:
      You know how PFDJ used to call the opp members and any Muslim Eri terrorist, now the PFDJ are called and labelled terrorists, the PFDJ used to call us Woyane, now the name stuck to them. PFDJ used to question the identity of any one who opposed them. Now we question the identify of any who supports the murders and abuses of Eritreans by siding with PFDJ.
      And so, no one is going to ask you if you are from Adi- Nefas, once PFDJ is gone that ugly thing they “pioneered” will also be gone.
      Let alone in the cities, even in the villages people only asked where some one is from not for racist reasons, not for the purposes to discriminate, but to know, to avoid to getting married to some one related in many of the highlands and in the lowlands to know the extended tree to solve disputes, “yehwat endinna” and so on
      So let us give credit” when credit is due, to PFDJ, like riding on the Woyane tanks that Semere T accuses us of, this ugly thing was “pioneered” by PFDJ
      BY accidental politician? No, he is just saying that but in truth the geek thing was accidental, when he was in young, BY used to hand write notices, rules, procedures, “this is illegal, this is not allowed” and posted them on the door of his parents business and later in Canada in early 1990s he told a friend that after he finishes school he would go to Eri and to found a news paper, the friend asks why? BY replies to give the government hard time so they do not become comfortable, the Massawa and tourism thing is brand new

      • Berhe Y

        Dear iSem,

        Saay, you know I do not want to say it but the “accidental political thing” was after I met iSem in late 90s. Before that I avoided Eritrean politics like a plague. He is correct about the full time complaining business (news paper) to make public figures accountable.

        You see iSem visited Quebec city way before me..but his mind was hypnotized by human creature and he forgot to notice the beauty of the city and it’s architecture. When I visited years later, I notice the resemblance with Asmara (the city attracts 5 million tourists a year) and all I could think about was, how to turn Asmara like that.

        You know you have to know your audience and know what you are talking about. When I am with iSem there are a couple of things that I don’t discuss. Sports, any any thing related that requires your hand. His hands are very well manicured and I think they are better than the presidents hand. I suspect he uses, gloves even when he washes his dishes. I don’t think he poses any tools even as simple as screw driver. So I may not have shared that passion with him (or he forgot purposely) but he knows with a friend when we visited Eritrea in 2000, we had a plan to electrify and build the country and were ready to move there.

        saay,

        You have motivated me, and if you (the smartest Eritrean believes in me) to plan something. I wanted to take the project and restore the governor palace in Massawa and the city. I will research and study what’s that require to restore historical places, how to get the funding etc…..please do share any information that you have…

        Berhe

        • iSem

          haha BY
          Correction. Early 1990s
          I visited QC before you. True
          sports, I also run 10K before you, but you are correct, not intersted in the foolish game where big men sinkia ball into basket, wht is it called?
          About forgetting the architecture and focusing on beauty of human being stamina was in Germany, the Colgen Dome, when I wondered, about those who toiled to built it with bare hands with no insurance and safety
          About the hands: it is not manicured, it is the Bikram Yoga;-)

  • tes

    Dear Yohannes Zerai,

    One

    You are gracing us with highly professional articles. Without doubt you are of a unique technocrat that can help us to shape our chaotic political atmosphere. Indeed your early professional experience with UNESCO in Eritrea will be a great revelation to know that you had a unique input in the early development of sovereign Eritrean government structuring.

    Knowing you to work with our late tegadalit Mihret(Mahmud Saleh – expected to write an euology, write down your comrades history), do you think there could be some relation between the self-suicide of Mihret, as an early responsible for UNESCO Eritrea, and today’s highly advertsied UNESCO heritage recognition of Asmara City?

    I am suspecting that she could be down played at this stage of recognition that she could feel betrayed again for her over-all sacrifice in the making of better Eritrea?

    Just linking the anecdotes.

    Two

    At this time of political evolution, I have a strong belief that everything is mixed in the Eritrean Opposition Political landscape. Some of my opions:

    1. Civic Societies are feeling morally superior to political organizations and they hate any politicalorganization.
    2. Community Centers are trying to act as Political Organizations with “Can Do Anything Mentality”
    3. Political Organizations are looking mercy from Civic Organizations – in fact their members are rushing to please Civic Societies
    4. Independent Technocrats are acting as big bosses and police of every rush to political power.

    Now this being my observation, I am shaping my views to come out with an ideology that can shape our today’s and future political journey.

    Ismail AA and I did a wonderful discussion. It seem that we have lots of concurrence. Ismail AA is without doubt a professional politican and historian(I am not sure if he belongs to any political organization at this time) while you seem to be an independent Technocrat.

    I would like to invite you therefore to give me your opinion in today’s opposition composition and the mechanism to separate them in their respective groups to bring a tangible change.

    I appreciate your response.

    tes

    • Ismail AA

      Dear tes,

      I am glad to read that you are still in the pursuit of your plan. I know the centrality of the problem you have embarked on to sort out. If I understood you well, your missing is to first analyze the forces that are currently dispersed across the so called opposition landscape, and cap it up by classifying those forces in accordance to their social specifications that enable them to play their roles in the greater national endeavor to effect positive change by defeating the dictatorship. On the surface, it could be surmised that this may seem to many of us just personal apiration that belong more to theoretical than practical purpose. But I am one of those who believe that this is a dilemma that had bewildered the opposition arena. Forces that pull in different directions cannot move a heavy weight.

      Now, what I want to say is that careful reading of Johanne’s article and the ideas and messages it delivers do fit in the work you are set to accomplish. I was just reading the comments Johannes and Haile have exchanged a couple of comments down the screen; that is the impression I got.

      While you want to streamline the current forces in the opposition arena, Johannes’ articles addresses the broader sector of the population to which we usually refer as the silent majority. He wants the constituencies that comprise this sector to mobilize and organize in social and cultural communities, especially in the Diaspora. In that manner they could constitute an effective and driving force. I agree with him, and I assume you do too, that there is no way of defeating the dictatorship without full engagement of the silent majority behind credible task program and national leadership. The alternative can only be a military junta putsch whose endgame mission could be worse than the current dictatorship.

      I would like to end this brief remarks by noting that what you (tes) want to do can be considered as first step task that could be complemented by what Johannes is proposing. In my humble judgement, the ideas of both of you can converge on a third task. Once your actor specification task has been accomplished, Johannes’ mission of rallying and organizing the justice seeking population could be meaningfully launched. Both pursuits had then to link up to a nationally supported leadership that transparently operates and guides the struggle under verifiably set code of rules enshrined in a national task program.

      Regards

      • tes

        Dear Ismail AA,

        There is no doubt that you are reading me 100%. I am still on this project though not in hurry. I believe that to spread an idea, it needs a persistent push till it gets some attraction. I am working on this at different levels.

        As you said, Yohannes Zerai is a very knowledgeable person as a think-tank master in the change that I am looking for. All his articles written so far are coming with the kind of information and data that I am greatly attracted to use them. I hope he will continue to grace us with his high level thinking. And there is no doubt to see the point of our convergence.

        Just to share with you how much I am serious on this

        Since the time I started to shape my thoughts in line to liberal democrats philosophy, I found the mix we live in are the source of conflict between similar and different clusters*. For example, I found that there is a bitter conflict betwwen our leading Human Rights Activists and Defenders. I believe that the conflict that immerged at a very small circle has impacted tremendeously our collective advocacy for human rights. At the doors of UN, we are reaching divided. It is visible to anyone. I have witnessed it in Geneva 2015 and then 2016. After carefully analyzing who is who within these conflicts I wrote an open and public call for reconciliation to specific individuals whom I believe are great players for the cause we succeeded to deliver it to UNHCR. This call is part of the overall work that I am pushing to streamline our energy against the common enemy. I believe that so much energy is wasted unconsciously in the conflicts that that emergy from these mixed opposition actors.

        A gist of such move is nothing but to put reconcilation at the center and part and parcel of the process that I am shaping for. Without reconcliation we can develop the thoughts that we are discussing. Therefore it is idea plus practice.

        On the same take:

        I am so glad to be with me in this thinking process haw Ismail AA. In addition, saay7, who is a champion of Civil liberty advocacy and one of our gifted political analyst, who has always stayed in his right position as a thinker and technocrat, hopefully will enrich us also in this discussion. For sure he will be a champion in shaping our opposition political at;osphere. Hopefully my article(already sent for publication) that will bring critiques of Amanuel Hidrat’s thinking will enrich my thoughts further.

        For me 2017 will be a fully dedicated year in shaping this project. And definitely it will help me to move from problem oriented writings(PFDJ Ideology) to solution oriented strategies.

        tes

        * During my masters studies I have learned what clustering is and what strategy can be applied for creating the clustering. My professor from Romania on this subject is a well known scholar and business manager in this field. The system he introduced is shaping food economy and marketing in Romania at this time.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Tes,

      I thank you for your positive comments and would like to respond as follows.

      1. The passing remarks that I made earlier on how I came to know the late Ms. Mehret Eyob may have been somewhat misleading in ways more than one. I was never directly associated with the Ministry of Education (MoE) or the UNESCO program in Eritrea at the time. Rather, I was working in the natural resources development sector, and Mehret was one of three officials/professionals who represented MoE in a series of workshops held in support of my national project.

      As for the question of whether her death may have been linked to her role at the Commission, I cannot say. For one thing, my contacts with her had ended in 1998 and I am not even sure if her association with the Commission continued thereafter and, if so, for how long.

      2. I am not certain if I will be able to adequately address the multiple interrelated issues you raised in your comment. For now let me casually thrown in quick thoughts on some of them. I kind of liked the roles/responsibilities you prescribed for both political parties and for civic organizations as you explained in your recent exchange with Saay, i.e.,

      Political Organizations – change the government and control political power;

      Civic Organizations – create alliances that pressure PFDJ to uphold the rule of law; cooperate with political organizations and ensure that the desired changes will materialize with time.

      I believe the fragmentation of the Eritrean movement for change – comprising political groups, civic organizations and other groupings – has been the most serious impediment to advancing the cause. This problem of division within the movement is being aided and abetted both (i) externally by the machinations and sabotages of enemies of the Eritrean people hailing from inside and outside of the country, and (ii) internally fueled by conflicting ambitions, greed, self interest and narrow mindedness of actors/factions within the movement itself.

      However, even in the context of these existing problems, one would ordinarily expect civic organizations to be less susceptible to floundering simply because they operate within a highly-structured and standardized regulatory framework in which well-defined human rights and other social laws enjoy universal acceptance and support. Unfortunately and despite these clear advantages, Eritrean civic organizations have not been spared the squabbling that is familiar to all of us. In contrast, political organizations have open to them a wide range of options as regards ideology, strategy, tactics, etc. as they try to formulate positions that are tailored to the Eritrean situation. Consequently, even under normal conditions, polarization of political opinions is something that is an unavoidable aspect of the struggle for political change.

      Be it as it may, and regardless of whether observed divisions are instigated or imposed by the process, the critical question is “how should a movement minimize or streamline the divergence of ideas and political agendas?” A time-tested, though not easy-to-implement, solution to the problem is ensuring active participation in the political process of the population (inside Eritrea) and of the silent majority (in the diaspora).

      • Saleh Johar

        Hi Yohannes,
        I do not comments on your article because you make most of what I was thinking irrelevant by, what do they call it… kab afey menTilkaya 🙂

        Indeed, the vague line that separates the “civil associations” and the political parties is to blame for all our ills–and we are all guilty for not preventing this from developing to where it has reached now–regardless of the consequences which couldn’t have been worse than where we are now.

        Since as along as I remember, the political organizations suffered from lack of visible public support–they survived with the fragmented support they had, and which were influenced by many factors–old political affiliation, sectarian, regional, etc. We cannot hide that. However, I know the political organizations, despite their partisan squabbles, agreed that they need to garner wider public support–and that is why they wholeheartedly supported the formation of civil associations. Unfortunately, once they were formed, those “civilians” were used by many forces for partisan goals, and their egos became bigger: they became unruly and lacked discipline.

        Later on, the political parties reached a conclusion to include the associations in the struggle through an umbrella organization (many civic societies also worked hard to realize this goal). The result of that endeavor was the convening of the Hawassa congress in which all Eritreans forces of change attended. Unfortunately, immediately all hell broke lose: the “civic associations” wanted to lead the umbrella and became aggressive contestants for power. It didn’t work. In short, the ENCDC was born deformed and in no time, it became crippled.

        Branches that were assigned/elected to represent the ENCDC in several regions of the world positioned themselves as autonomous leadership of their respective regions equal to the Executive branch of the ENCDC. The squabble further made the ENCDC immobile. Then, some of the so-called civic associations held their own congress in Debrezeit and came up with a parallel umbrella. In not time, a political party was formed, soon an armed wing appeared from nowhere, soon, a split, soon each side formed its own branch in the diaspora, soon, each splinter or created side opened a Paltak room to advance its cause, soon, the squabbles among the new entities got uglier, and soon aggressive intellectual and media support made them feel invincible, soon, the struggle was reduced to the constituent parts of Eritrea and its struggle…. and the destructive cycle is continuing as I write this comment—while the PFDJ is nowhere in the agenda. That is why I am happy with your input and clarity. Thank you.

        Dear Yohannes, after all of that, I am hoping you know how to pray 🙂

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Dear SGJ,

          Glad to hear that! The first sentence of your comment gives me confidence that, on the whole, I may not be too far off the mark with my comments after all. But, another problem I still need to worry about is my growing inability to respond reasonably quickly to comments directed at me (although there are valid reasons for it). Consequently, not only am I getting sick and tired of having to apologize for my unending tardy responses, but frankly my “supply of apologies” has now dwindled to almost nothing. So, I am sending my last remaining ounce of apology your way and please ”aytestewaHdo, kindy buzuH re’ayo” 🙂

          Thank you for providing an encapsulated account of the recent (the last few years’) history of the actors in Eritrea’s opposition movement – essentially the plethora of contending political groups and civic associations. My understanding of this history was sketchy at best and your brief account has helped me upgrade my knowledge of the subject by filling in critical gaps.

          Sometimes the political turmoil of our Diaspora opposition movement and the whirlwind actions of its constituent factions can be quite draining even at the level of mental appraisal of our political situation. One minute, you get the feeling that you have gotten a handle on what is going on within the movement and why; the next minute, you are thoroughly confused and readily admit that you are just too assuming in your outlook! It may perhaps be my naivete, but I find it difficult to even imagine that the roles of a civic association would be interchangeable with those of a political party. For far too long, the so-called “opposition parties” have failed to produce a single, coherent economic or sociopolitical analysis of professional quality regarding Eritrea under PFDJ rule. Or come up with proposals/position papers on how some of the country’s daunting problems must be addressed/resolved – the conflict with Ethiopia, the unresolved conflict with Djibouti, the UN sanctions on the country, etc. Or present possible administrative models, options, ideas, tools, etc. that would deal effectively with the country’s internal problems – jump start the moribund economy, controlling inflation, attracting foreign investment, etc. An organization that considers itself a political party cannot expect to enjoy much following by merely criticizing the actions of an incumbent government and not providing alternative views and solutions.

          Thank you.

  • Haile S.

    Hi Yohannes and All,
    Thank you for the great exposé፡ as usual. All the therapeutic avenues you listed are pertinent and if employed with the upmost discipline (you stressed it well), no doubt the fight for justice will march in the right direction.
    One thing I want to highlight and bring to the front is the idea of reclaiming the community centers present
    embedded in your article. The boycotting (mostly forced) of these communities has given PFDJ a free rein, a large terrain to gallop and a tranquility to proselytize their Hade Lbi-driven hard-core ‘pensée unique’. Before 1991, community centers were the heart of the struggle. I am sure many of you in this forum struggled to build and maintain these communities and you know your huge contribution and efforts were big assets in the struggle for Eritrean independence.
    In the country I lived few years before and after independence, from my voluntarily isolated corner, I was able to observe a certain positive dynamics in the Eritrean community there. They were lively, had a certain diversity of composition and idea. Ideas were thrown, exchanged and debated though the pro-EPLF leadership mostly dominated the decision making. It was not a perfect world, but there were people who had guts able to absorb the venom and always ready to interject and find compromises. Unfortunately, now that is history, and everywhere communities are depleted of all these brave colorful diversity. The communities lost their essential spices, those that thought, entertained, toiled and tolerated and maintained diversity. Unfortunately, all these brave men and women threw away the sponge in despair and vacated the centers since long.
    Yohannes, you had mentioned the possibility of influencing and depoliticizing those communities; if not possible, you also added establish other separate communities. I know that this was not a lightly-take proposition on your side. However, It looks to me creating parallel communities would make it harder to sway and bring along those adherents. I know of community that are separated and you cannot imagine the energy wasted in ‘spying’, in small talks and on the exchange of niceties at each other mimicking that of the pro-PFDJ and anti-PFDJ churches. I think it would be better (though admittedly much harder) to target and try to join and revitalize those classical pro-PFDJ communities and participate in their discussion with the utmost discipline and as you said with the objective of “depoliticizing … steering their activities toward sociocultural programs”. The majority of followers of their followers are astute observers and they have many unhappy sides that are not different from those pronounced by the opposition. However, it seems our people are still attached to having a leader with a name and a face, and perhaps as the result, it happens our people cling to the Satan they know, and are not able to get persuaded by the many faceless opposing angels murmuring at them from far. I have the strong feeling that if the old angels of the communities are back to the sitting benches (forget the podium for now), the community members will gradually follow their steps, diversification will be realized and eventually reclaim their community for use of their own community first.

    Finally, a nice story you might know of similar one in your own corners: In my area I know of a fierce opposition and ELFer individual who never fails to attend the Eritrean Martyrs day celebration prepared by the pro-PFDJ. He goes with his own candle to avoid buying it from them. Those who notice and talk of him say “enQuA d’a mexe ember nay shmA’us deHan rinalu” (አንቋዕ ድኣ መጸ አምበር ሽምዓኡስ ደሓን ርኢናሉ); you see the hearts of or brothers and sisters are open, perhaps their mind certainly their mouth are closed to reason talking!

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Haile S.,

      I thank you for your comments and I apologize for my inability to respond to it sooner.

      I found your comments on the past and present state of Diaspora Eritrean communities very informative, and I appreciate your concern about effective ways of harnessing community organizations to advance the struggle for positive change in our country. Specifically, you expressed unease with the idea of establishing alternative community organizations in localities where existing organizations are being exploited and abused by pro-PFDJ forces to advance their political agenda.

      Needless to say, existing realities (i.e., political, social and financial conditions) differ widely among Eritrean communities in the Diaspora. Accordingly, there could be no basis for attempting to sell a one-strategy-fits-all idea to opposition groups or their communities. Rather, it should be left to pro-democracy activists in each locality to decide the best strategy/option for effectively reforming their respective communities in a manner that benefits the ongoing Eritrean struggle for democratic change. The article did propose two possible ways of empowering communities: Proposal #1 – Get elected to the leaderships of community organizations and work to reform them from within; Proposal #2 – Create an alternative community organization and win over the majority of the community by running activities that are purely/genuinely socio-cultural.

      However, these proposals were thrown in for discussion/consideration as possible options and not, by any means, as the only options available to the opposition movement. Explaining the basis for your concern, you wrote “…. it happens our people cling to the Satan they know, and are not able to get persuaded by the many faceless opposing angels murmuring at them from far.” I fully concur with this statement as an accurate reflection of the sentiments of our people. Indeed, it is because the article takes this fact to heart that it advocates for community organizations led by local, elected officials and which cater for the cultural and social needs of their membership; NOT organizations that advance a political agenda dictated to them by PFDJ authorities in “FAR AWAY” Asmara!

      • Haile S.

        Hi Yohannes,
        Thank you for the clarification. I completely agree. Obviously my reaction was influenced by my environment.

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Selam Haile S.,

          There were a few points I had wanted to include in my response to your comments of a few days ago; but they were left out in my rush to send off my already-late response. I believe it is still not too late to share them with you now since they are directly related to the role of community organizations we both raised in our comments.

          From my brief exchange with you, I sensed that you may be an old hand at the task of assessing the nature and operations of Diaspora community organizations either as a participant in their activities or as an independent observer thereof. So, you may already be familiar with the following cases which in my opinion reflect the political dynamics in some of those communities. Anyways, for whatever they are worth, here they are:

          a) Sometime in 2015, I believe, members of the opposition in Boston, MA got elected to the Executive Committee of their community organization by campaigning against the much-abused voting by a show of hands and for its replacement with voting by secret ballot. Once in office, they kept introducing changes that pulled the once avidly pro-PFDJ organization to the center. For instance, (i) video shows of IA interviews were to be supplemented with those featuring interviews with opposition personalities, (ii) the community center’s current subscription to Eri-Tv to be expanded to include one major news channel. I did not follow other changes that may have been instituted subsequently, or how the takeover fared in later months. But this was a clear case of OPTION #1 as defined in our earlier exchange.

          b) Members of the Eritrean opposition in Las Vegas, NV established an independent community organization in 2015/2016 (?). When they organized a Grand Opening of their new community center, pro-PFDJ members of the old community organization tried to derail the event by: (i) removing announcement flyers from windshield of cars at the venue of an Eritrean wedding, and (ii) organizing a hastily-prepared party (featuring Wedi-TKHul and sponsored by the Eri Embassy in Washington D.C.) on the same evening as the event. Interestingly, all of the conspiratorial PFDJ efforts of the time failed miserably; but I have not followed any progress that the new organization may have made since. Obviously, this case corresponds to OPTION #2 of our earlier discussion.

          NOTE: Each of the above cases was reported at the time on some opposition websites.

          c) Finally, let me share a story narrated to me by a friend who resides in San Diego, CA and is one of the activists who tried this year to reform an existing pro-PFDJ community center from within. The reformist group comprises: (i) young recent arrivals from Eritrean, (ii) middle-aged people who had withdrawn their membership in the organization and (iii) a few older people who still retain their membership therein, but are unhappy about the organization’s agenda. As the most desirable of several options it has planned for its pro-change agenda, the group decided to approach the leadership of the organization and seek membership for all is members. However, after repeated negotiations on the issue, the Executive Committee told the reformists that “yes, your applications for membership will be accepted; you will have the right to elect officials of the organization; but you will not have the right to be elected to office FOR THREE YEARS!” – A typical case of “Kilite goraHat Hamukishti sinkom! The reformists are said to be considering now other planned options for achieving their objectives.

          Thus, given the lessons to be learned from the foregoing experiences, I would like to reiterate what I proposed in my last comment. In their effort to advance the agenda for change, change/justice seekers must necessarily adopt strategies that are well-suited to the unique circumstances of their respective constituencies and realities of their respective localities.

          • Haile S.

            Hi Yohannes,
            Comments like these are never too late. Thank you for the great additional illustrations of the complexities of the problems our communities are facing by citing concrete exemples. I didn’t know about these events.
            I am an independent observer and haven’t participated directly in community activities. However, due to close family and friends that do, and the sheer amount of info that arrives with them voluntarly, I felt I know sufficiently, which obviously is not the case. Thus my reservation and take on what you said (now succinctly clarified) was rather frustration-driven reaction. Before your spot-on article arrived, I was brainstorming along the lines you exposed, in search of any possible remedy to the weird politically motivated separation of the community in my area. It was my individual contemplation in reaction to the regular news flowing following any kind of community or church activity. In my comment, I must admit, I was kind of preaching things I am not doing myself, but it was an attempt to come out of the lethargy that is afflicting me in these regards and not in any way to giving lessons (I am saying it, I know it didn’t brush your mind).
            Your solution-oriented positively provoking articles are very enjoyable to read and percuting on the brain. Please continue doing that.

          • Yohannes Zerai

            Hello Haile S.,

            I very much appreciate your feedback. I must point out that both of my comments on the issue of community organizations were prompted by your first thoughtful comment on the subject. Your views helped me to learn more, to connect the dots and to beef up my own thinking on the issue. I thank you for that. That is what debates/discussions are for, and we are fortunate to have Awate.com providing a wonderful forum where such exchanges and engagements can take place to the benefit of all.

  • tes

    Selam saay7,

    You wrote,

    Is our message “because you, PFDJ, haven’t delivered this and are unlikely to deliver it, you should step down!” Or, is it, “We demand that the PFDJ/President Isaias, bring about rule of law, accountability, civil liberties…”

    And then you pointed that the later, We demand that the PFDJ/President Isaias, bring about rule of law, accountability, civil liberties… , we will have more partners.

    I think this will bring to my center of political interest

    Political Parties/Organizations Vs. Civic Societies.

    And this is where our struggle will be defined for meaningful success or not. I think you are aware what is happening in Cuba and North Korea. Those partners you mentioned are working but no change. Castro family and Kim Family.

    This is my proposition:

    1. Poltical Organizations should work to change the government and control the power
    2. Civic Organization should create alliance that pressures PFDJ to be abided by rule of law as well as copperate with political organizations to make sure that the changes they are looking for will be implemented.

    therefore it is the merging of the two proposition you pointed can bring the required change. In fact, Civic Organizations should also channel their energy to build a trusted and strong opposition political party or patries that can replace PFDJ or be a stand-bye political power.

    The discussion I did with Ismail AA( Father Ismail AA I am working on developing my thoughts) falls in this line.

    tes

    PS: I still oppose reforming PFDJ

    • saay7

      Hi Tes:

      I think we may have an overlap of ideas here. Consider the difference befween these two statements:

      Demand Statement 1: We demand that the government introduce constitutionalism, political pluralism, respect for civil liberties and rule of law, unconditionally release all political prisoners:

      Conditionalities:

      A) either the current government fulfills the request
      B) or a future government fulfills the request

      Demand Statement 2: we demand the resignation from power of the PFDJ and subjecting itself to the judgement of the people

      Conditionalities

      1. Either the government fulfills our request
      2. Or we force it to fulfill our request.

      In demand #1, the goal is rule of law, constitutionalism, etc. Explicitly. In demand #2, the goal is change of the government explicitly, and rule of law, constitutionalism, implicitly.

      Demand #1 is backed not just by the opposition but a big slice of the silenced and all international orgs because it is eminently reasonable. Goal #2 is not even supported by all of the opposition (including some of the means used to force change), never mind the additional partners needed to meet critical mass.

      I agree wholeheartedly with your definition of civil society (advocacy) and political orgs (compete for power.). What I am adding here is that the natural place of ethnic and religious organizations is civil society and not political orgs.

      saay

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Dear saay,

    I thank you for your positive comments on the article. I also greatly appreciate your lucid and in-depth analysis of the existing realities regarding the roles that internal and external opposition to the PFDJ regime have been playing, the expectation of each on the other and the relationship/coordination that must exist between the two. I am particularly delighted to see you embark on skillfully (albeit briefly) narrating the tangible contributions that both internal and external opposition forces have been making. As you know, a major concern to us all has been the damage that is being done to the struggle by some so-called “members of the opposition” who relentlessly belittle the accomplishments of opposition groups and the opposition movement as a whole. But these self-proclaimed “change seekers” are, in fact, enemy agents who are on a mission to derail the struggle at the behest of the PFDJ and other external enemies sworn to prevent democratic change from taking root in Eritrea. By notoriously presenting opposition groups as “do-nothing” entities and the overall movement as a failure, they are desperately trying to blunt – or worse destroy – the enthusiasm, hope, determination and confidence of progressive Eritreans in the movement. But, time will show that these futile enemy-objectives will amount to nothing more than wishful thinking of their promoters. Propelled by the untold suffering visited on them and the ugly oppression under which they live, the Eritrean people – both the population inside and their exiled communities abroad – will, once again, stun the world with a second unimaginable triumph over their domestic and foreign enemies!

    You have beautifully articulated thoughts (and aired concerns) that many of us at the forum have about the present status of the ongoing struggle and the direction in which it ought to advance. I once again thank you for it and hope that you will, through your writings, continue to tell the truth to the face of the naysayers.

  • MS

    Selma Yohanes & SAAy
    Yohanes thanks for this great article. As usual, I find it to be unique and well articulated. I anticipate great discussion between you and SAAY.
    Dear SAAY, The fact that You have choosen to dedicate a well developed article, downsizing it into a comment says it all. You valued Yohannes’ article. However, I must register my teqawmo that this comment is so robust that it shoul have been made to an article.

    • saay7

      Hi MS:

      Teqawumokha temzgibu alo:) The thing with my articles: I have yet to learn how to write one that is less than 6 pages and doesn’t have 20 links/footnotes. The list of articles I started and gzien kunetatn zeyHageze:

      1. Eritrea & The Hood: 2016 Year In Review
      2. Yes, Sanctions Will Be Renewed; Yes, SEMG Mandate Will Continue: A Series
      3. No, There Will Never Be Another Constitution, But A National Charter Updated
      4. Bicycling In Eritrea: In 10 Years They Will Talk of Eritreans Owning Cycling The Way They Do of Ethiopians/Kenyans Owning Marathons
      5. If You Don’t Appreciate The Genius Of Abrar Osman, I Worry About You
      6. Nesun’s Pre-Go-Away-Settlement (aka Court Case Filed By Eritreans) Begins in Canada
      7. How To Appear Unique: Just Add “Iye zblo ane” Isaias Style When Pronouncing Mundane Stuff
      8. Help! I can no longer tell apart Eritrea’s new singers
      9. I Just Saw TPLF-Run “Tehadso” And No Wonder They Were EPLF-Bosom-Buddies For So Long
      10. What Is The Singular Of Agazian? Geez?

      saay

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Mahmuday,

      I thank you for your comments and I agree with your evaluation of saay’s early contribution to the discussion. As a matter of fact, I do enthusiastically SECOND your “teqawmo that this comment is so robust that it should have been made to an article.”But no problem; It still can be done, I am sure. Indeed, that is exactly what I urged him to do in my response to his comment of which you speak (i.e. the one above).

      You wrote “I anticipate great discussion between you and SAAY.” I am sorry to disappoint you, but I feel I have completed my job – and a very successful one at that! I have skillfully woken up a giant from his slumber (regarding this specific topic, that is)! What more do you expect of me 🙂 But that does not however mean you are off the hook — Need I remind you that there is a lot to be expected from you too?

      • MS

        MarHaba Yohannes
        I think I have made several remarks to the effect that the cream of your thought is often derived from the great engagements you conduct with the forumers, notwithstanding the fact that your articles are a class in themselves.
        Having said that, I am bit down with the news of the passing of the great MeHret Eyob. I’m sure many who knew her are touched by this sad news. When I occasionally digress into speaking of gherkin or EPLF, many think I have IA and his cohorts in mind in spite of the fact that I have repeatedly said IA was carried to power by the sacrifices of the likes of MeHret had made. Those unsung heroes and heroines were everywhere and in all branches of the organization; in the mass organizations and in the field. I know it may seem a self-reference but compared to MeHret, I’m a tiny speck. They sacrificed so much of their lives to end up in this shape. It is a shame. I know many families who are going through these experiences, and it hurts. What is even more hurting is witnessing an orchestrated campaign to lionize a man who has practically squandered the end result of the sacrifices MeHret and her likes had made. To add insult to injury, they talk about the right to assembly when they have muzzled the right of a nation to assembly and to the sense of semblance. Sorry, for veering off the article, but I have to tell you that I found your article useful, but could not carry on a coherent conversation. There are so called heroes that people have seen in written and audiovisual and there are unsung heroes in the underdog world who are passing quietly enduring misery inflicted by a government they had fought to establish. It’s the story of Eritrea. Very Sad.

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Dear Mahmuday,

          It is with a heavy heart that I remember Mehret Eyob with whom I had a brief professional acquaintanceship when she served as secretary to the “Eritrean National Commission for UNESCO” within the Ministry of Education in the late 1990s. I therefore do not find it too difficult to imagine how devastated you must be feeling at the loss of someone for whom you had utmost respect, and with whom you shared life’s experience in pursuit of a lofty national cause. Mehret’s contributions to the struggle for independence and her sad post-independence experience certainly make her memory part and parcel of the struggle for justice that we keep discussing here. It is therefore a great honor for me (and, I am sure, for many others here) to pay tribute at this forum to a woman who gave so much of herself and, sadly, suffered so much for it! Farewell and RIP my dear Lady!

          Take care of yourself, brother.

        • Ismail AA

          Dear Mahmoud and the rest,
          I wholeheartedly join you in sharing the sorrow with the passing away of our sister. Nowadays it has become our nation’s almost daily lot to mourn the loss of dear son or daughter somewhere be it inside or outside. The only difference is just a fraction of them make it to the media and become aware.
          Your are perfectly right that, irrespective of their political affiliation, those who have fulfilled their obligation with excellence and dedication to the nation in times of its dire need are heroes and heroines we have to mourn and whose contribution we solemnly celebrate. And the late MeHret is one of them.
          May she rest in eternal peace.
          Regards

        • Hayat Adem

          Mahmuday,
          I am well informed about Barakhi. But never was about Mihret. I am trying to see Mihret through you sorrow which feels so real. I am sorry we might have been misunderstanding you unfairly that when you spoke of your tegadelti friends, we always think of only the EPLF as if it was not made of people, most of them innocent and selfless heroes.
          Interestingly, yesterday after the news of her death, an Ethiopian friend aroused my curiosity telling me about an Amharic book written about Mihret. Really?
          Not about Mihret per se but about thr Eritrean struggle in genersl but the story in tge book features a good deal around Minister Barakhi and Mihret’s life and family. In fact, the lead character is Mihret’s daughter. I am told the book is a “real political fiction”.
          I thought books are either science, history or fiction. I don’t know if “real fiction” is a new class of books.
          But even without that an Amharic writer publidhing a book centered on the Mihret family really had me. Her death, the way Pfdj media covered it (no mention of the cause of her death, no mention of her husband, no mention of her kids etc) triggers a de javu.
          The Amharic book called AURORA by a certain best selling author in Ethiopia by the nnme Habtamu xxxx put me into a flaming curiousity. I didn’t want to do anything else yesterday but find that book and read it. Unfortunately I couldn’t spot it in all the Habesha stores nearby. I had to yell at the friend who boiled up my mood and left me alone wandering in the cold.
          Well, he promised to pull it from Addis in weeks time. But weeks are too long. If some of you in this forum (Amde, Horizon,Abi, Fanti or others, obviously, I am not expecting Eritreans to be even aware of the existence of such a book let alone read it) If any of have read that book, please share the story with us, especially the part that features the Mihret family.
          Hayat

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Hayat,
            I read the book recently—but I will not tell you anything, wait for few weeks–I say that in solidarity with the poor writer 🙂

          • Hayat Adem

            The Hon SGJ,
            In solidarty? HAHA.. I will buy the book for sure, regardless. Other awatistas will also be curioys to read it like me. So….
            Thanks for Shaara’s books. Defnitely, I will read one or two of his known books. But if it is a history novel, I’m more into a setting i am so proximate or familiar with or else very curious about it.
            Thanks
            PS: i imagine of you as spending the best part each single day devouring books of all kinds, but still i am pleasantly surprized you have read this obscure book.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Hayat,

            Amanuel Eyasu was her student. He wrote a poem in memory of her. He read it and broadcasted it through his radio assenna. Listen to it. It is really heart wrenching episode as to how family of prisoners are going through such ordeals.

            Regard

          • Hayat Adem

            Sure Emma. I defnitely will listen to that. Thanks for the heads up.
            Hayat

          • MS

            Dear Hayat
            Thank you for the pouring sympathy. MeHret represents the REAL essence of the non-ideological non-cultish fighters, the common tegadelti who had no ambition whatsoever of lording over their people, simple folks who wanted to go home once the job of liberating Eritrea was completed. They never expected to be compensated, they never expected to be sung. They just wanted to get on with their lives. Many left the government once they found the means. MeHret was one of them. She was very polite, energetic, optimistic, down-to-earth, funny, and always with big smile. She was one of those few people you encounter in life who consistently go beyond the call of duty, she was resourceful, and innovative. BeraKi was a man of few words, a nononesence guy; but deep inside he had a big heart. On two occasions, I saw him wiping tears when he heard some of his students had been killed in action. MeHret filled in a moderating and modulating role. They really loved each other.
            What hurts me most is that MeHret was harmless. I lived with MeHret for years and I never saw her quarreling let alone trying to hurt someone. MeHret was one of the few who never looked down to “US”, the majority Chegar Danga who hailed either from rural Kebessa or from the MetaHt. I’m who I’m in part because MeHret and many others who acted like MeHret set for us the standard for decency. I don’t know if you read it, but there was an article I wrote in Tigrigna, addressed to Ambassador Tesfankiel Gherahtu (may be last year), and in that “letter”, I mentioned four people. Alganesh Gebrehiwet, MeHret Eyob, Ayne-Alem Markos, and Roma. And sadly, all are dead except Roma. Alganesh died right after independence of natural cause; Ayne-Alem (we called him Joe, because he grew up in Ethiopia and educated in the USA, he had hard time pronouncing Eritrean names and the Tigrigna language, so he would call everyone he had met “Joe”); the late Joe was the husband of Aster Solomon, the sister of Petros Solomon. Joe was denied to unite with his family in the USA (Aster had been here for education and his children made it out of the country like any other children- fleeing across the border); the family tried to get him out on medical necessity, he was severely ill. But they could not. He was Denied exit visa. Finally, he succumbed to his illness days after friends had finally secured for him an exit. He was due to unite with his wife who he had not seen for a decade on 10/28/16, but he died on 10/26/16. And the question is what did poor Joe do to deserve this? Nothing except being the husband of the sister of Petros Solomon! Joe was a jolly, sweat, harmless; he had no qualms for politics; I learned America and its history through Joe during those long nights under the watchful eyes of the clear skies of Sahel. He was a character that you would miss if he went away for a duty. Roma, of course, is the wife of Haile Weldetensae (Durue). In that “letter”, I was mentally conversing with Wedi-Gherahtu, a man about whom I would say a lot of good things had he not ended up serving the regime that has torn apart the lives of MeHret, Joe, and Roma. In the “open letter”, I asked Wedi Gherahtu what privately would he say to MeHret and Roma. “Would you tell them that BeraKi and Durue were traitors?”, I asked him. BeraKi and Durue were the two people who had protected and mentored Wedi-Gherahtu. Anyway, sorry, for the long reply, but that’s the sad part of the Eritrean story. Who said “Revolution devours its children?” He was right.
            I would really like to read the book; I will also search for it in the Ethiopian stores around here.
            Thanks again.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Hayata,

            Yesterday, I had a beautiful moment reading yours and Yohannes’s last exchange of the day. How both of you packed so much in so little space was amazing. I understood iSem better when he bolted out the other day promising not to read anything after experiencing what I now know must have been similar to what I experienced yesterday evening.

            However, you blew my mind a moment ago talking to MS with the following.

            “…when you spoke of your tegadelti friends, we always think of only the EPLF as if it was not made of people, most of them innocent and selfless heroes.”

            There are several reasons why I am so attracted to this sentence, but mostly it is because it gives me a chance to better show you a little part of my mind why I occasionally shrink back from YG’s otherwise excellent articles. Although I respect and admire him for most of what he writes, the fact that he undermines the necessity of ghedli somehow takes away from me the kind of experiences and personalities Mahmuday sampled above, at least, in the emotional level.

            I once witnessed a young lady in Khartoum who collapsed stone cold right in front of my eyes from exhaustion during an EPLF event. She had worked three days none stop from cooking and serving to furniture arranging and cleaning. Omnipresent, always smiling, and never complaining during the entire event, she had forgotten herself completely. Now, multiply that and the MeHrets, and Romas, and the Awates and the Osmans, and many more like them by the thousands, and you can’t help but realize how ghedli truly was the telescope that showed most of us who Eritreans really were.

            I didn’t mean to go dramatic on you, but I wanted to show you how much that sentence meant to me while giving me a chance to say to Mahmuday “I know exactly how you feel.”

            PS:
            I don’t have Aurora, but I know a friend who does. Let me know if your friend disappears after two weeks or you need a helping hand dealing with the “Book Sellers Club.”

          • Abi

            Hi Fantish
            I have a different take on this sad story and many other similar stories.
            This sad story among others told by many people, proves to me beyond any reasonable doubt that the Eritrean revolution did not have Eritreans at heart. It was a madness that culminated in a total failure.
            I believe what I see. Both the means and the end results are total failures.

          • sara

            Ato Abi
            i don’t know why you haven’t been recognized by the forumers as the honest Ethiopian in this forum, kind of truth teller.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Abisha,

            I wish it was that easy.

            Imagine what we would be talking about had Eritrea had a forward looking leadership capable of emotionally unstocking itself from Sahel, friendly with all its neighbors in which citizens of all its neighbors vacation at Assab and Massawa, Eritreans working, trading, teaching, and learning freely in their country as well as in their neighbors’, Eritrea’s economy growing more and better every year. Imagine what our regional intellectuals would be writing about today.

            If it was possible to take us back to the late 50s and early 60s and critically examine every internal and external political issues of that era, I can assure you that you would have the opposite perspective you have today regarding Eritrean struggle. There were political moves and counter moves that got us to the date of the federation, and what we didn’t know then was that it was our last chance to get everything right.

            As if fate conspired against all of us, we didn’t get it right. One small mistake caused a bigger one to take place and so on until we all arrived at the gates of ruin. It would take volumes of books to understand the challenges, the whys, the consequences, the prides, and the regrets, but we can at least do one very simple and decent thing in the meantime: respect and understand each other’s feelings. We need time to heel from our wounds before we can talk what was a mistake and what was not.

          • Selam Fanti Ghana,

            Don’t you think that somebody from tplf and eplf should write about the politico-economic plans of the two fronts for the day after they controlled power in addis and asmara respectively, for they fought together and came to power together? It is impossible to imagine that they never discussed or they did not have a plan about their future politico-economic relations they would have liked to implement in both countries. It seems that this has brought the two on a head on collision, with all the consequences we see today. I believe that nothing happens in a vacuum. Something, somewhere and for an unknown reason to us, seems to have gone wrong. The plan if any seems doomed to fail, and it failed in a catastrophic way.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Horizon,

            I am celebrating my ‘annual tax day curse’ at the moment, but I will be back late tonight.

          • Abi

            Fantastic
            This time last year you were shutting back and forth to your tax preparer. Bad habit.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Abisha,

            I almost had it right and on time this time except for one minor detail. I promise to not mention ‘tax’ next year.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Horizon,

            “It is impossible to imagine that they never discussed or they did not have a plan about their future politico-economic relations they would have liked to implement in both countries.”

            Totally understandable assumption, but believe me, there was none. Remember, although both side understood the advantages of cooperation to expedite DERG’s fall, there were several minor tactical and ideological differences that were pushing them apart quite often way before 1993. They could have had occasional hypothetical and broad discussions about economy and relationship such as “you will use Assab for free as long as you like,” “you will sell your goods in Ethiopia as much as you like tax free,” and so on, which we can term as fantasies instead of plans, but nothing detailed or concrete enough to be a plan and pin point now for examination.

            Until 1993, Eritrea officially was Ethiopia and Eritreans Ethiopians. You can imagine how time consuming the separation process can be even when everything is going smoothly. The five years between 1993 and 1998 were not long enough for them to have had clearly defined boundaries of their relationships. What we all learned eventually was that there were too many assumptions and expectations from both sides and they failed to work out their differences before the advent of Badme.

            So, considering the nature of EPLF/TPLF relationship history, the speed toward the end with which DERG fell, time EPRDF would have needed to consolidate power, time EPLF would have needed to form a new nation, I don’t think they had long enough time to have had ironed out future plans. 1991-1998 seems time of learning on the job to me. What role hardliners of both sides could have played to the eventual fallout is, of course, a different story.

          • Abi

            Hi Fantastic
            Let me help you summarize your book.
            “ሌባ ሲካፈል እንጂ ሲሰርቅ አይጣላም”
            You welcome

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hi Abi,
            “budda.”

          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Fanti Ghana,

          • Abi

            Fantastic
            I’ll get back to you after the game

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Fanti Ghana,

            If the emperor would have listened to his prime minister Aklilu Habteweld not to abort the Federal arrangement, rather if he would have introduced a new federal system to Ethiopia to match with that of Eritrea, the Ethiopia and Eritrea of today would have been in good positions, economically and institutional, and as such would haven been a good example to African countries which are wrecked with metastatic conflicts.

            Now the bygone is bygone, how can we act together with the new realities on the ground as two sisterly countries. Understanding the pains we went through, healing the wounds are the basis to everything we could cooperate together on economic challenges. Though the process is not easy, it will happen as there is no other alternative to both sides to live as peaceful neighbors. The issue is how fast we come to terms.

            Regards
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • Selam Amanuel Hidrat,

            Years ago, I could not remember how long, I had asked Semere Andom, if the federation would have survived if the king had not dissolved it and if gedli could have been avoided. His simple and straight answer was that, the eritrean revolution would have happened any way.
            Personally, I support his position, because the eritrean struggle started a year earlier before the federation was annulled, and eritreans felt that they were the ones who lost a lot from this marriage, because they believed that the ports were everything and ethiopia got them for nothing, and they were certain that she could not survive without them. Moreover, they felt that they were more educated and sophisticated than the backward feudal ethiopians, despite the fact that they got university education for the first time in ethiopia after the federation (may be in cairo university too). Therefore, the federation was doomed to fail right from its inception, whether the king anulled it or not, and it never should have happened in the first place.
            Now that we are where we are, you are right when you say that the best thing we have got to do is to salvage whatever is possible, peace between the two countries being the most important thing. As much as major co-operations and possible new federation or anything else in the future are concerned, these are out of the question, at least for the foreseeable future. This generation of ethiopians and eritreans are not the type of people who can cooperate on major issues, unfortunately.

          • Abi

            Hi Horizon
            Good points. Eritreans also did not want to share the beautiful city , Asmara, with the backward Ethiopians. That is what was in the minds of the founding fathers like WelWel. His remarks after visiting the “backward ” Addis said it all.
            I believe both ports and Asmara were the major problems of Eritreans.
            I don’t buy this sisterly brotherly BS when it comes from the old generation Eritreans who were instrumental for the Egyptian causes. Some of these የአረብ ጉዳይ አስፈፃሚዎች were educated in the country they betrayed. Some were mass mobilizers, some of them were armaments receiving agents at Port Sudan, etc.
            I don’t trust them for a second.
            It is easier to deal with the likes of Gheteb and Nitricc who are always straight forward. They never flatter you.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Horizon,

            The problem is when something is told many times, it appears to be the truth. I can’t speak for all Eritreans but what you are saying as “Ethiopia has no choice but to use our ports – Horizon”, that “we don’t want to share the beautiful Asmara with that of Ethiopians – Abi”, attributed to have said by Welwel, I doubt it’s true.

            Tedla Bairu, Tedla Uqbit, Asfah Woldemichael and few others were committed fully to the union and gave everything to the Ethiopian leaders. Personally I blame the Eritrean leaders than the Ethiopian leaders, for failing us, for leaving us an ugly legacy by not looking at the interests of their people and they failed us.

            For all intense and purpose, Assab was Ethiopian, they developed it, they used it primary and no body have any issue with it. Massawa was shared between Eritrea and the norther part of Ethiopia.

            The problem was revenue distribution, as the Eritrean administration depended on the Ethiopian administration (there was delays, there was withholding etc..) not have a say in the sharing of revenue (Kagnew Station etc)…

            Horizon, just for the record which lead to the armed struggle.

            1957 – Tigrina and Amharic was replaced with Amharic.

            1958 – Eritrean flag was lowered and replaced with Ethiopian flag

            1959 – Eritrean Government was replaced with Eritrean Administration

            1960 – Ethiopian Education took over Eritrean Education

            Many peaceful demonstrations, where turned violent and loss of lives.

            All this happened before the armed struggle started.

            Berhe

          • iSem

            Hi Horizon: Yes, I said the ghedli would have happened, but would not have succeeded. What made ghedli succeed was Ethiopian rules themselves, they scared the 50% who were supporting them, had HS stayed cool and did not jump the gun and just did the work and campaign, selling the federation and the united Ethiopia, when the federation expired and the vote was in, it was almost sure that again the Kebessa would have overwhelmingly voted to stay in the union. Remember at the time the Eritrean identity was just forming, gelling, crystalizing, it was mere 60 years and belonging to a nation is not just a bunch of people and real state banded together, it is also the “software”, the collective thinking of belonging to the same place It was not until 1975 that the Kebessa joined the ghedli in numbers that tilted the balance in favor of separation and it was a matter of time, and when the stars were aligned with the collapse of that SU, Ghedli buoyed by the momentum that was building on, with the hate towards those who by then were perceived as occupiers and kilers climaxed to separation.
            About the superiority and education, well if Eritreans were part of Ethiopia, then they had the right to be educated in the Ethiopian universities, no brainer. About the superiority, that is later phenomena, for God’s sake, people were naming their kids Shewanesh, Shew-englzaw, Abeba, Hibret, Ethiopia, Semaynes, Alganesh, Bitweded etc. You do not name your precious kids after someone you think is inferior. As the brutality of HS and Dergi intensified, instead of targeting those who were carrying the guns, the ghedli obviously capitalized on that as the Eritrean belonging formed, as the hate to the crimes intensified, Eritreans started pounding their chests and sang “assafihka motte, tokermikka motte”, you die if you do not oppose and you die if you oppose, what is the difference and joined Gheldi.
            Again HS, Dergi were visionless, and they harvested what they sow. Simple! the logic of superiority is foolish as it started much later. How about the Tigray, did they feel superior when they stared Woyane and initially wanted to separate?

          • Selam iSem,

            Chauvinism and arrogance are the lethal diseases of a habesha. There is difference between chauvinism and hate, of course. One can acquire the first from within the the family and the society, while hate is usually the consequence of an unpleasant experience. In my opinion amhara, tigrayan and eritrean elites are the habeshas that suffer from it, more than others. The unique and the quintessential, the golden race and the superior race are all the delusional beliefs of these elites, and the main reason that has brought them in conflict with each other for so long. Therefore, the idea of being superior had surely played a role, whether it came earlier or later.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Horizon,

            No I don’t agree with Sem on this matter. In late 40s the only uniting solution for the division of Eritreans. If the emperor didn’t abrogate the federal arrangement, our fathers were okay with that arrangement knowing their differences. Second, in the year earlier before the final annexation, the Ethiopian government were using a force to neutralize those who oppose the manipulation of the emperor using his Eritrean surrogates and the dissolution of the parliament. Idris Mohamed Adem and Ibrahim Sultan who were Eritrean MPs and who initiate with their colleagues the armed struggle was after the dissolution of the parliament. So you have a wrong info about how ghedli had started. In short I do not believe the armed struggle would have started if they would let the federal act intact, so that the Eritrean people could administer themselves.

            Regards

          • Selam Amanuel Hidrat,

            What do you think when some people say that the matchmaker (the UN) had done a grave mistake, because it should have known that a federation of two countries that are not similar in their landmass, the size of their populations, their economy, and that only about 50% of eritreans supported it, should not have come to existence in the first place? In addition the federation was that of two mutually contradicting systems, that of an absolute monarchy, and the other a parliamentary system, given to it by the UN.
            In his comment, B.Y. said that language, the eritrean flag and education were the first victims, long before the federation was dissolved. The absolute monarchy had replaced all the other ethnic languages in ethiopian schools with amharic, and it could not have done differently in eritrea, despite what it might have promised earlier, and despite the federal arrangement. That is why some people say that the federation was a wrong arrangement, which would have led to conflict and failure, as it did, and eritreans should not have hoped for what ethiopians were not getting themselves, and they should not have voted for federation.
            Regards.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Horizon,

            You wrote “The absolute monarchy had replaced all the other ethnic languages in ethiopian schools with amharic, and it could not have done differently in eritrea, despite what it might have promised earlier, and despite the federal arrangement.”

            A small problem there Horizon. Eritrea had a constitution and in its constitution, Arabic and Tigrina are the official languages. And that’s what the king agreed to respect when he signed the agreement.

            He didn’t have the power to change the Eritrean constitution.

            Berhe

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Horizon,

            Yes Eritrea like all African countries was a colony of Italy for over sixty years. Eritrea should be given its independence after the defeat of the Italians during the Second World War. First the hold us for ten years under the protectorate of the British. In those ten years Ethiopia and the big powers of that time conspire over the legitimate demand of the Eritrean people for their self determination. Their interference divided the Eritrean people. It is under such circumstances, the Eritrean people found that federal arrangement is the only that hold them together, and they went for it. Second what ever the nature of the arrangement was, Ethiopia aborgated it and annexed Eritrea against the wishes of our people. Third, two country to be federated, population, size of the landmass, and nature of the economy should not necessarily be matched. It is fully depend on the desire of the people of the two entities who opt to be federated. It has nothing to do with requirement.

            Regards

          • Hayat Adem

            St. Fanti and Luel Ras Abi,
            Thanks Fanti. If only you knew how much of an addiction you are becoming to me! Eplf may have done lots of things, but how can one not admire and symphatize with Mihret, and the young lady that fainted helping the struggle. I always seriously consider and ponder on what Leul Ras Abi said below about the futility of everything almost on daily basis. It is true pfdj/eplf failed. Not only pfdj failed but it turned itself to become the very enemy of Eritrea and Eritreans…this is like achild growing to be the enemy of the very parents.
            And then I ask, was the entire ghedli history, struggle and sacrifice worth it? But this is only now, from vantage point of a hindsight. If Eritreans knew, this would be the outcome, no Eritrean would have sacrficed a peny let alone a life. If a parent knows the child he will have will have some defects before any act of the conception, will he ever be willing to go ahead and participate in the firtlization of the sperm-egg? I wouldn’t think so. In that analogy, Eritrea and Eritreans wouldn’t know what kind of child would Eplf become. But from the point of then and there, it sounded and felt reasonable to have a child and nurture (resist and persist). Then chain of actions and reactions took thier own life and here we are.
            Try to see the argument from the other side. If Derg knew this would be the result, they would never sent out a single soldier up there to die. But they thought they would win eventually and they thought keeping Eritrea was worthy of killing and being killed. If Derg could have won the war even if at the price of totally ruining and impoverishing Ethiopia’ and Ethiopians, they would still be cherishing. And always the victory of Eplf and the defeat of the Derg were NOT absolute inevitabilites.
            I’ll take this parent/child – Eritreans/Eplf analogy a bit farther: if Eritrea is a mother and the Eritrean people “is” the father, Elf if the oldest child, Eplf the 2nd child. That 2nd child murdered the elder. But the parents, however they were pained by the loss of the eldest child, they couldn’t disown their only child and had to stick with the remaining and the only. If a parent has raised a child to the wrong end, can the parent easily reach a level of conviction where s/he can openly come out to regret of the birth and the entire parenting as a mistake? It is or it must be a dilemma. The parent will have no qualm declaring that something went wrong and an honest parent will also admit his or her own parenting mistakes. But i have yet to read about a parent regretting the birth and the parenting experience. I would be surprized if any problem observed in the grown up child would push the parent as far as regretting of the very having of that child no matter what the child does or even if that child has biological or cognitive limitations. However, traumatized the first parenting experience, that parent woud be very very careful before or if and when considering to have another child.

          • Abi

            Hi The Queen
            You missed a very important point in your otherwise great comment.
            The conceiving process of this child was done through artificial insemination at Cairo fertility laboratory.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Hayat,

            I think we are just one breath away from becoming a normal African country. I don’t know we need to super analyze the situation we are in. We just ended up with ruthless dictator who was corrupted by power.

            Would you ask an American if their war of independence was worth it?

            My guess would be defiantly yes.

            Eritrea could might as well turn to be a democratic country the same way it turned out an autocratic country.

            You know that we have tried to live peacefully with the union (woldeab Woldemariam, Ibrahim sultan, tedla bairu, saleh sabe, abdela idris, Isayas afeworki, but all they got was “dula or else”.

            I think it’s worth looking at the “dingay ras Abi mesay” leaders who they gamble with their future.

            Berhe

          • Hayat Adem

            Hi Berhe,

          • Abi

            Hi The Queen
            Forget everything for a moment. How about listening to Emahoy’s piano? Isn’t she a genius!!!
            Her piano was a background music for many radio programs. Specially for the weekly “ከመፃህፍት ዓለም) program. I’m talking about 30 years back.
            Thank you for mentioning her at Awate so that some ቅል ራስ people like Hawuna Berhe appreciate something other than politics.
            God bless Emahoy and The Queen.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Abi,

            As a matter of fact, she is one of my favourite. I have the best of Ethiopiques collection album and I read about here over 10 years ago. “kemeSahft Alem” was one of my favourite program growing up, and because that I believe I have read few Amharic books when I was in Addiss getting ready to leave (sabela, Tangut, Tamra Tor).

            Politics is just an accident for me that I have to deal with.

            My dream and passion is to be a developer and turn Eritrea / Massawa to a tourist heaven, and enjoy our blessing with the rest Ethiopians and the rest of Africans.

            I look at Italian and French Riviera, I just dream there will be a day.

            One mor thing, I want Disc Don and 300 Asmara symphony Orchestra to play and record there.

            Berhe

          • Abi

            Hawuna Berhe
            I always knew you were smart.
            I wish your dreams come true.

          • Abi

            Hawuna Berhe
            You failed to pay attention one more time. I’m promoted !!!!!
            It is not “dingay ras Abi mesay “. Please pay attention. It is Leul Ras Abi!!!
            I’m disappointed. I worked hard for this promotion .
            በቅርቡ ኤርትራን መሾሜ አይቀርም!
            እድሜና ጤና ለንግስቴ እመኛለሁ::
            ልዑል ራሥ አቢ (የኤርትራ ጠቅላይ ግዛት ተጠባባቂ ገዥ)

  • Hayat Adem

    Dear friends,
    The other good news, at least from my perispective, is what IA said in the interview he made with the Oromo boys. In part 2 of that interview, he said that he regretted very much that he didn’t do much more than what he did to intensify the disturbances that took pkace in Eth last year. He said so creavingly that he missed an opportunity to contribute significantly including physically (yes physically) to the violence. And what is interesting is he publicy said that he learned his lessons now and he announced without any attmpt to restrain himself that he plans to be involved including physically in instigating and helping such public protests in Ethiopia.
    I don’t know if there are legal consequences for such announcements made by a leader in public but I consider it as a good news thinking he may be serious about such intentions and anticipating the punitive reactions from the Ethiopians. If Ethiopia warns, only warning is enough, the mining companies in Eri to pack and go, it is more likely than not that they will heed the warning. Ethiopia needs only a reason to do that and our crazy leader seems to be providing Eth with that excuse.
    It is a fact, the mining revenue has become the financial backbone of the regime. Without the royalities from this sector, Pfdj has literally zero export economy per se. And insignificant investment and private sector to tax. Remittances have come down to a minimum level. Pfdj has very meager tax base and tax economy. The only revenue it depends on other than the mining is from renting its dirty hands to other governments to work for them on the many laundary jobs they don’t want to touch themselves. The rest are from what the author of this article told us: its covert/overt busine$$ and extraction engagements abroad.
    But the mother revenue is the mining one and that can be shut down by a single word from the Ethiopians. Our people will lose nothing except the chains and slave work.

    • saay7

      Hayat:

      My impressions of the interview which I posted somewhere else, which I will now self-plagiarize:

      +++++
      President Isaias Afwerki (IA) interview which u didn’t listen to. It’s alright I will give u the lolights:

      1. The reason it takes forever to get thru IA interview is because he is redundant. Just listen to the first question and answer. And according to psychiatrists, people are redundant when they have a strong sense of not being heard. So why won’t u guys make him feel like he is heard and what he said was important and relevant. I mean you the Justice-Seeker: clearly the PFDJ and YPFDJ are “tiHuzat” and he doesn’t care about what they think, just like you don’t.

      2. In Tigrinya interviews, IA’s favorite phrase is “iye zblo ane” and sure enough in the English interview he uses its equivalent “as I like to call it.” Generally, when people use that phrase, they are coining a new phrase or new concept. But with IA, he uses that phrase even when discussing issues that are known by everyone. I mean boring common knowledge stuff. So, psychologists would say, he has a strong desire to be seen as different, visionary and instead of coming up with something different and visionary he just uses a cheat phrase of “as I like to call it.” This thing falling from the sky, or as I like to call it, rain. Ok, Prophet Isaias.

      3. He accuses the Ethiopian government of misusing public funds and being kleptocrats. Well, he calls them kleptocracies but he will master that insult in due time. (He is the King of Insults.) The Ethio gov is accused of being dictatorial, of not being loyal to rule of law, of exaggerating the economic growth in Ethiopia, of presenting a false image of being invincible. Psychiatrists call this “projecting”: denying the quality in yourself by attributing it to others.

      4. Also the TPLF/EPRDF era is over. “Game over,” he says. Well, sure, he has been making that prediction since 2005 but reference to points above: redundancy, new phrases for “I like to call it” (game over, straight from the Arab Spring) and projection.

      5. Today’s Oromo Media Network (OMN) is yesterday’s Ethiopian Review. Remember when the magazine “One Ethiopia” placed IA, a man who dismembered Ethiopia *AND* helped place in power people with radically opposite decentralization ideology from the one envisioned by the centralizers of “One Ethiopia”? The word irony jumped out of the dictionary and said that’s it I give up. Now we have OMN, looking for salvation from the guy who helped destroy OLF and its 20,000 armed men and women. Good luck.

      ++++

      Hayat, that whole “I didn’t do anything, it was popular uprising” was to skate SEMG: Remember he is banned by UN Resolution of 2011 from doing anything to destabilize the neighbors. The man so wants to be relevant and instead of doing it the legitmate way the way his peer Kagame did it (by sheer power of intellect), he wants to do it by being the sugar daddy of all rebel groups, despite his massive string of failures with Darfur (three failures) and Somalia (two disastrous failures.)

      saay

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Saay,

    How do you expect positive change from a criminal regime? It has never happened and will never happen in the future. A criminal regime knows all the criminal act it committed, even-though they will not admit publicly. Criminals do not commit suicide because of fear of death. For criminals to change the course for positive change, it is strictly committing suicide. Hence criminals do not commit suicide, rather they are rigid to the end to sustain the power they hold until they are root out by a voilent resistance force. That is the rule of the game with despots and dictators. Until we recognize realistically the nature of dictators we are doomed to disintegrations and migrations. The current struggle requires tightening your belt, showing full commitment, and ready for sacrifice for the ultimate cause for freedom and liberty. Without that nothing will happen in Eritrea. The regime already understood our lack of commitments to pay the ultimate sacrifice to bring the change we believe in. A voilent regime can only be removed by a voilent resistance force. To do that, the resistance force must establish a well organized and formidable armed force, to shake the two pillars of the system of the regime – the military and the security apparatus.

    Second, I advocated and still advocating the role reversal on the prime drivers of change to the conventional premises that says “change from inside as the dictating factor to the change we believe in.” Whether the driving force for change will be from inside or from outside, it is determined by the nature of realities inside the nation. Two things will give us to determine the facts (a) the continuous failed attempts by the forces of change from inside (b) the intensified flow of migration of our youth – the prime force of change, are quintessential signals to change the orgin of our driving force – from outside to inside. There is none conducive environment at all from inside that makes, the inside force of change to be the driving force and the outside as supplentary to it. Keep in mind that both the inside and outside forces of change are complimentary to each other. What we are talking here is which one is the driving force (the primary) and the supplementary driving force (the secondary). The secondary will be effective when the primary create a conducive environment for it. Realities show us that the inside force of change are handicaped by the stiff security apparatus of the regime and the extremely centralized system they built in, to play the leading role for the change we believe in. Fortunately or unfortunately, however we see it, the leading role for change we are looking for, depend on the outside forces of change, unless we want to outsource it to inside, the unrealistic realities as we speak, because of our lack of commitments – the outside force.

    For Saay and me, this is a continuous argument we are unable to see eye to eye. Saay believe on the conventional premises – the inside as the driving force, where there is no conducive environment and position calling for role reversal – the outside force as the driving force for change. So I expect Yohannes and other forumers to participate for this critical issue to debate and to come to a common understanding.

    Regards
    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Fanti Ghana

      Hello Mr. Amnuel & Saay,

      I am always intrigued by your and Saay’s discussions, because I highly value your opinions and I end up agreeing with both of you and not really seeing the difference you both assume is there; at least, not to the extent you think.

      You believe, and I concur, that PFDJ have created layers of divisions and mistrusts among elites and the masses alike that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to organize an effective force from within.

      Saay in the other hand is saying that the opposition should reconstruct itself to reflect a true representation of Eritrea to reassure Eritreans that the opposition is indeed representative organization as opposed to what it has been looking like to the innocent bystander.

      You are essentially saying that the internal force is too polarized to be an effective force, and technically, Saay’s position addresses that very problem when he suggests that the opposition should present the eternal force with a unified and all inclusive external front. This suggestion is very strong. If the internal forces pick up the hint and effect change quickly, great, and if not, the opposition has nothing to loose but everything to gain by reforming or adjusting to be truly representative Eritrean. So, Saay’s suggestion has no downside.

      So, then, here is the issue: real or imagined, there is a widespread mistrust among Eritreans. Your assessment of nothing positive coming out of PFDJ is also understandable. However, who then, if not the opposition, should spearhead the process of defusing that mistrust? While you are correct in your observation of the internal division and the hurdles it is creating, Saay is not necessarily denying that at all, but presenting what he believes is one solution given that impasse among several other reasons.

      You have nicely defined the reasons why a formidable force from within is unlikely in your second paragraph. That can still remain true but there is no reason to not accept Saay’s suggestion because his recommendation does not contradict or deny that fact. I strongly suggest that instead of looking at each other’s positions as two opposing ideas, it may help to look at them as you, Mr. Amanuel, defining the problem, and Saay presenting one possible solution.

      If I am totally mistaken about your respective positions I will blame it on my lack of proper sleep last night!

      Happy Easter!

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Dear Fanti Ghana,

        Thank you for engaging and trying to bring us closer on the issue at hand. I have no problem with my friend Saay on the weakness of the opposition and his recommendations on what should be done. What I was hinting to him, that there is no conducive environment for the inside forces of change to be the driving force of change for the reasons I mentioned. I am completely convinced myself about that, unless there is something I could not see what Saay could see it. That is possible. The exodus of our young generation make me to change my position on that issue. We go by our reality and not by the general rule of engagement that says “change must come from inside.” I wish it was possible from inside. We are simply hurting our compatriot from inside to carry the burden in unrealistic environment. It is heart wrenching to let them die in prisons. Thank you Fanti Ghana, your point is well taken.

        Regards

      • Berhe Y

        Dear Amanuel,

        If you don’t mind, please we are brain storming at this stage and there is no right and wrong idea. Let’s focus our efforts in finding a solution and let’s leave the arguments that which option is viable to follow its natural path.

        For example had wedi Ali succeeded in the Forto incident don’t you think that’s a welcome end to the regime. Are you convienced that there are totally no other wedi Ali left.

        Happy Easter
        Berhe

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Berhe,

          Isn’t it part of the strategic engagement for “a solution” that we are debating for? What do you mean by “its natural path”? Do you mean let history takes its own course?

          To answer your question: if the Forto operation would have succeeded, yes of course I would have been delighted and welcome it. Second, It will make very foolish to rule out any probability (even the remote possibilities that include another 25 years ) of similar incident. But that doesn’t also mean on your side to argue as sure probability in the horizon and the only discourse to go for it. In short my point is: let us not outsource our obligations when we are at a better position than our inside compatriots.

          Happy Easter to all,
          Amanuel Hidrat

      • saay7

        His Fantiness:

        One of my favorite hobbies at this forum is trying to guess which part of what I wrote will my friend Emma misunderstand, misread, or both:) And if so, could I have written it better. I wrote this:

        The big question is: what is our message. Is our message “because you, PFDJ, haven’t delivered this and are unlikely to deliver it, you should step down!” Or, is it, “We demand that the PFDJ/President Isaias, bring about rule of law, accountability, civil liberties…” ,strong> even as we know that it won’t because then our cause is not “regime change” but “positive change”?

        And Emma replied:

        How do you expect positive change from a criminal regime? It has never happened and will never happen in the future

        I was saying that we should articulate our goal should be positive change (constitutionalism, rule of law, free political prisoners, respect for civil liberties, power devolution) not regime change (replacement of one government by another.) This in my view is sound tactically and strategically. This is how you sap whatever support the government has and this is how you show your future partners (Eritreans and Mzungus) that your motivation is not the crown but the well-being of your people.

        saay

        • Dear saay,

          Sorry, it is not my business to ask, but i could not help it. How is it possible to negotiate with a an authoritarian regime from a position of weakness and signs of defeat, when one says that ‘regime change’ is not on the agenda, but ‘positive change’, even though one knows that the regime is not going to accept any other formula other than ruling the way it knows best, which is an authoritarian rule? Even if the regime were to accept ‘positive change’, don’t you think that still it should be from the position of its weakness, rather than from the position of its strength? How can you trust a regime that has always functioned in the winner takes all or how dare you ask, fashion? Was what the g15 asked any different from ‘positive change’, and they ended up in prison without any knowledge of their where about? Don’t you think that ‘positive change’ could create an atmosphere of complacency, and it could make the opposition even less effective? When one speaks of a willful (benevolent) change from an opponent, one is not in control of the situation. Why would people (supporters and the silent majority) change their position, when they see no shift in strength towards the opposition or any other organization for that matter, while the side of the regime remains as strong as ever, and it is non-compliant, and most probably, it could continue to say my way or the highway? Again, sorry for asking, because I do not have the right.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Horizon,

            Any entity which looks negotiation with a dictator, the entity is always the loser. Because (a) the dictator is negotiating with its institutions intact, hence any negotiation is always for buying time to strategize the fight. Essays is so good at it. We experience him during ghedli era. He comes to negotiation when his organization is in bad circumstances and then he goes his own way when he knew in good position (b) If the oppositions chose to negotiate it is because they are weak and have no option. That means they are negotiating from weak position and will be surely losers. The opposition can only win from strong position and that is sticking with dismantling the institutions of the regime and the apparatus of it oppression.

            Regards

          • Abi

            Selam Ato Amanuel
            I need your help here
            How are you trying to dismantle a formidable organization like pfdj while you are breaking up into pieces?

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Abi,

            It is the same how we defeat to dictator Mengstu Hailemariam, that is winning in the war front and in the political front. There is no alternatives with dictators except defeating them decisively with all the tools available.

            Regards

          • Abi

            Selam Ato Amanuel
            If you measure your success by the defeat of derg then your explanation must be very low . Derg was busy cutting its right hand by its left. You need more than that do defeat pfdj. Derg was an open book. Pfdj is very secretive.
            However, your major hurdle is you are not ( opposition groups) close to EPLF in organization, structure, membership etc. EPLF was a formidable force fighting derg. It was focused in achieving independence. I don’t see the current opposition camp as strong as EPLF was .

            As I said before, reforming pfdj is the safest, and quickest way out.
            Sorry for my zibazinke.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Abi,
            Congratulations. For a change You made a sound argument that is only possible with generosity of words. Does that trigger a decision to kick you out of the TsaTse club of “decipher my monologue club” ? 🙂

          • Abi

            Selam Ato Saleh
            Yeqenyeley
            Gadi gives Gadi takes.
            I did not know that I was a member of the አውራ ጉንዳን ክለብ
            That means you understood less than 13% of my zibazinke.
            Eway wurdet!

          • Abi

            Hi Horizon
            As a person who read most of the Saaytanish verses I can help you what is Saay is saying.
            1 Always remember Saay is a reformist
            2 Most importantly, Saay wants Eritrea to be just like any African country .
            Now that you are armed with the most important information I shared with you, try to reread his comments. It makes sense.
            I hope Saay agrees with me. If he doesn’t, this won’t be the last time I messed up.

          • saay7

            Hey Abi:

            “saaytanish verses”? Ere tew : there are people who will remember the book and be reminded of the fatwa that was placed on the head of its author.

            But still very clever. We have to promote you from duke (Ras) to archduke (?) for a day.

            saay

            * how do you say archduke in Amharic?

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Saay,

            I think it’s Bitweded, the very much adored.

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            You know I agree with you most of the times than I agree with myself. 😜
            I humbly accept the promotion!!!!!!!!
            ልዑል ራሥ አቢ

          • saay7

            Hey Leul Ras Abi:

            You know how much I like you when you know how much I have to overcome to refer to you as Leul. Bad childhood memories of Ras Mekonnen. That was the name of a school in my city. I think it’s now called Ibrahim Sultan.

            Ah, what were the lyrics from Teddy Afros most brutal smack down of Weyane in his “Jah yasteseryal? “Addis negus enji, LewT mecha meTa?”

            San Antonio showing Memphis how it’s done, Ras.

            saay

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            Ibrahim Sultan? Who is he? What did he accomplish ?

            Champions league second leg today and tomorrow.
            What is basketball again?

          • Berhe Y

            Hi Abi,

            He is an Eritrean version of Lincoln and Gandhi put together.

            Berhe

          • iSem

            Hi BY:
            You forgot thing to tell Abi: I.S against sefrdom, the Tigray vs. Shimaglay (Serfs and Feaudals respectively) in the Tigre ethinic group. There was serfdom, where the Tigre people will milk the cows, will harness the camel and Shimagle sits and enjoys the toil of the Tigray, if you are from Shimagle you cannot even milk your cow even if you are starving and you have to look for Tigre to do that for you, as an obligation before and later as a fav. But fight against serfdom is unheard of in Abi’s country until an other Tigre came along
            And guess what, I think when Ghedli decided to name the 9 groups, it was deliberate to name the entire Tigre speaking people as Tigre ( after the serfs and not after the feudal)

          • Abi

            Hi Sem
            Now, what kind of Tigres are you waiting for to free you from self imposed slavery? Any idea Mr Agazian?
            BTW, I think Lincoln emancipated slaves in America. In Ibrahim Sultan Eritrea slavery became a norm.

          • iSem

            Abi:
            No, am not waiting for any Tigre, remember I am ONE. Thank me

          • Abi

            Hi Sem
            So what is holding you back from freeing yourself from slavery?
            “ጠንቋይ ለራሱ አያውቅም”
            ጉራ ብቻ!

          • iSem

            Abi:
            I do not speak Amharic so do not talk to me in that language and the reason I do not speak it is because it the language of murderers and rapists, of people who kiss the cross after killing and looting all day
            Not only am I free, I helped free u too.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear iSem,

            Please take it back. Generalizing and implicating a whole ethnic group does not help to make your point.

            There are thousands and thousands of Eritreans today being hosted in adi Amhara. They are more free than their own country, we can’t deny this fact.

            Berhe

          • iSem

            Hi BY:
            I am not generalizing, I am saying, the people who did all these things spoke Amharic, that is our generation remember, they might not be Amhara ethinically, but they spoke the language, that is what I am saying

          • Abi

            Hi Sem
            Don’t worry about “that language “. It has millions of worthy speakers.
            Have you noticed you called millions of Amharic speakers “murderers and rapists ” ?
            Anyway, I do not expect any better from you.

          • iSem

            Hi Abi:
            good for your
            But do not lie, I did not call million of Amhara speakers murders and rapist, I said the people who looted, raped and murdered millions spoke Amharic, it is how my generation and the generation before me saw, people who looked likes us, people who spoke Amharic,raped, looted, burned and killed.
            Still confused?

          • Abi

            Hi Sem
            No I’m not confused. Why should I? Nothing is confusing. You said it very clearly.
            What else is new?

          • saay7

            Horizon:

            I don’t know why you don’t have the right: this forum is an equal opportunity platform and everyone has equal rights to discuss any topic, subject to the interest of fellow forumers (awatistas).

            Imagine one group of people carrying signs which read “Free Prisoners!” “End Impunity Now!”, “We Demand A Constitution!” ” End Indefinite National Service Now!”

            And a second group carrying signs which read “Down With the Dictator!” And “Isaias Must Go To ICC!”, “PFDJ Kills”, “Enough Is Enough”, “The People Demand The Removal of the regime!”

            Both are making demands (asking) for change. One is focused on what must change the other is focused on who must change. And therefore an immediate followup: by whom. One is easier to explain, one is harder (in a continent where three neighbors have been in power longer than Isaias).

            Both are demands (asking as you call it) whether it’s from the position of power of weakness depends on the strength of the organization making the demands, and not on the demands it makes. For example, the Eritrean liberation fronts told the world they were fighting for Eritreans right to self-determination when we Eritreans knew that was code for independence. But “right to self determination” is an internationally recognized right whereas independence isn’t. Same thing here.

            saay

          • Fanti Ghana

            Selamat Saay,

            Beautifully clarified!

            I will now submit my candidate for “best bumper sticker of the year” competition summarizing your posts on this topic and using no more than 50 characters (I counted mine first).

            “Look, talk, and walk Eritrean; demand for all that is missing!”

          • saay7

            His Fantiness:

            To clarify it even more beautifully, the Eritrean revolution called for Eritrean’s right to self-determination when it was a tiny organization in the 1960s, and it asked for the right to self-determination when it was a giant, in the Carter talks on the eve of the fall of the Derg.

            Here’s my candidacy for a bumper sticker: “What and When are More Important Than Who. Who Gave Us Nsu.”

            saay

          • Kim Hanna

            Selam Fanti Ghana,
            .
            There was an Amharic “teret” or saying that admonished not to fight about obscure points in the future that may or may not come about while the heavy lifting is staring you at the moment. I couldn’t remember it.
            In lieu of that perfect bumper sticker, I will throw in the following.
            .
            Cross the bridge as you get to it, NOT BEFORE.
            .
            Mr. K.H

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello my most cherished KH,

            እንደምን ከረምክልኝ የኔ ኣስተዋይ፤
            ከጎርፍ ነጎድጓዱ ተመሳጠርክ ወይ፤

            ከገነት በታች ከመሬት በላይ፤
            መካሪ ጠፍቶ ገልጋይ፤
            ኣለሁ እንደተውከኝ ዛሬም በስቃይ፤

            ኣትበላ ኣትጠጣ ላም ኣለችኝ በሰማይ፤
            ገለባም ኣልሰጣት ወተትዋም ኣላይ፤
            ኣለ ብልጣብልጡ የኛው ሳይ፤፤

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Fanti and Amanuel,

      First off, I offer my apologies for a rather tardy response to the issue you both raised in your comments.

      Although my reading of the ideas presented by Amanuel Hidrat and by Saay is somewhat at variance with that of Fanti, I concur with his contention that the two gentlemen are not that far apart in their views on the subject after all.

      Amanuel explicitly pointed to the complementarity of the roles to be played by internal and external forces of change. On his part, Saay sees as indispensable the task of creating linkages between internal and external forces that are based on shared values – i.e., (i) a shared goal of removing the present system and erecting a free, democratic system in its place; and (ii) a shared identity that reflects the ethnic, religious, etc. make up of the country. From where I sit, both of these concepts are similar in their essence, hence my agreement with Fanti’s contention that the positions of their proponents are really not far removed from each other.

      As for the question of which of the two forces will play the primary role and which the secondary one, there are really no hard and fast rules for apportioning roles to these forces. Amanuel correctly notes that a given force must enjoy a “conducive environment” in order to play a role that can be identified as “primary” relative to that of the other force. The presence or absence of such an environment is, of course, a function of a multiple of factors which are difficult to predict. Consequently it is obvious that, as these factors change with time, they would create an environment that is more conducive for one of the forces than for the other. As such, the responsibility of playing the primary role may shift from one of the forces of change to the other as time goes by and as outside factors continue to change. The realization that ought to come out of all these, therefore, is that the struggle for change will have to be undertaken under a continuously changing set of conditions. This in turn obviates the need for getting preoccupied with the question of who will play the primary role at a any given time.

      • Fanti Ghana

        Hello Yohannes,

        You left me no choice, but to confess a small detail I intentionally dodged during my post somewhere below: who will play the primary/secondary roles.

        At a glance I thought that can be determined by the amount, progress, and effectiveness of the campaigns and the fellowship and trust they generate.

        Day to day progress of internal movement is difficult to gauge. In fact, the internal movement in this context is an assumption. A strong one, yes, but it is still an assumption. There is no single entity inside the nation the external opposition camps can negotiate and coordinate with.

        Internal movements under dictatorship are necessarily secretive and their presence is usually felt or seen in a single jolt such as an attempt to overthrow the government or disobedience by an armed faction of the military. Unless there is a direct link between well-defined internal and external forces we can reference, the opposition has to assume the primary role and lead the movement.

        Naturally, an organization organizes itself to lead not to follow. If there is such an organization inside the nation Eritreans can follow, then the outside forces become automatically secondary. By the same token, if Eritreans organize themselves under the external forces out of necessity and conviction then the external force is playing the primary role.

        All this boils down to: it is not useful to try to define primary and secondary roles at this time especially, when one is invisible.

        • Saleh Johar

          Hi Fanti,

          Though I generally agree with you, I think the variables that could trigger a move or an all-out revolt are “unknowables.” Before any coalescence of internal and external forces is even considered, the unknowable threshold must be reached. Once there, the internal forces will realize that they need external agents to coordinate with and for sure, one side will initiate serious talks/contact on how to go about the next step. As it is, while the external forces are ready, the internal forces are not.

          Eritreans inside the country are living under a brutal police state and cannot easily plan their moves. If there are elements thinking about that, they are certainly are facing difficulties on who to trust and who to suspect due to the alienation and frictions the PFDJ created within the society. In addition, the heavy doses of propaganda that promotes isolation, exaggerated self-confidence, and arrogance have blinded many from seeing the reality; they may not see the need for change easily. But when that single matchstick is ignited, and the threshold is reached, things will move much faster. Don’t forget we have elements who are waiting silently to be summoned to assume power–be it groups or individuals, and they will hasten the communications for their own end, all of the silent and not-so-silent ones. All the pro-PFDJ elements who patronize the “foolish activists” will shed their silent skin and weave stories of how they have a cell they command inside Eritrea. But that is good because it serves the cause regardless on how we as a people and organizations deal with the repercussions later on.

          In short, until the threshold is reached, predicting what the internal forces will do or how/who they will reach out to remains a harmless speculation.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Merhaba Saleh (SGJ),

            You stated “the External forces are ready.” In politics to say something is ready, in this case the external forces (political organizations), two requirement must be ready (a) the objective reality must be matured. Which means, the consciousness of the people towards the change needed, and becoming the driving force to the change (b) The subject matter, the requirement of leadership – a matured leadership capable to lead with a winning strategy for success, by uniting, mobilizing, coordinating the whole energy of the people to the cause. Now if we agree on this premise to this nature of readiness, then, while the objective reality is matured and ready for change, the subjective matter isn’t there – by that it means the objective reality could not produce capable leaders to lead the forces for change (the people) to attain the needed change. So when we say they are “ready” it must imply to these two concepts of “consciousness of the people towards change” and the “issue of leadership.” For both of them, there are political metrics to measure their readiness. Just as a note.

            Regards
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Emma,
            Okay. Let’s not go on a circle on this one because you know that I know what you are telling me. But I take it back, let’s change it wit “they are receptive and easier to mobilize “. I said that relative to those inside Eritrea and hoped all will understand it that way. But thank you for the correction.

  • Hayat Adem

    Dear Author,
    I think you’ve successfully identified a role for the opposition in diaspora if struggling for change, and not mere exiling, is the purpose they want to persue. And this includes everyone of us. There are many examples in history real game changer roles in politics were played from abroad. But like you put it well in the article, there is a unique situation in our case that supports your argument in a fundamental way. A significant part of the financial and propaganda support lines for the regime come from outside. The opposition or the general change seekers are best suited to challenge this parasaitic regime to deny them those. And that will weaken the regime; and it will have a domino effect in triggering similar actions of challenge in and out. I am simply repeating what the article described more acutely and seriously.

    Isayas was touring overseas in 1993 and meeting and conferencing with Eritreans. And he said half-jokingly to the partcipants “eten genzeb emo, amtSe’ewn deHan, kali’e baElina alenalu.”. Bring me the money, and leave the rest to us..or sorts. That is exhibit 1. Exhibit 2: when IA sits for those marathon interviews, he always go to detailed mentions of the earnings of individual Eritreans repeatedly, like, hade keydu shiqil shiqil abilu ab hamyshte amet gelle 20, 30 shiH dollar awhlil entebilu… if an Eritrean immigrates and saves 20, 30k dollars by working hard in 5 or so years… I would say such utterances might show where the dictator’s heart and mind have always been, and by extension where the turf for hitting is located, as Yohannes put it.

    Mahmuday somewhere told us a very important point, the ability of pfdj on developing tactical adabtabilities. Learning comes in many ways. You learn from the wisest, you learn from your own mistakes, you learn from the enemy. Pfdj’s adaptability is amazing. The behavior remains constantly the same, and that the pfdj remains a predator hyena. That never changes, and it is like a first nature of the front. We only noticed later. But one should admire the cunning capabilities of the pfdj in its all nocturinal operations. One example of this that i heard a couple of yrs ago comes to mind. In 1997, pfdj wanted to open a bank in Addis and placed an official request. Ethiopian law puts restriction on reserving the sector only for citizens. But hagos kisha etal pushed the agenda reasoning eritrea should be treated as a citizen economically speaking as it was using birr. The ethiopian officials firmly rejected citing the only citizenship that mattered, the legal one. If pfdj is blocked through the front door, it comes through the back door. It went recruiting individuals ethiopians of pfdj affiliation and gave them money from its coffers, made them signed as if it was a loan, collataralized and tied it to their property and went ahead setting up the privately owned bank and named Horn International Bank. The ethiopians were late to learn the real deal behind this new bank, but acted to close it after they knew, dont know after how many weeks or months of operation. Two points of this example can relate to the article under discussion. One, the adaptability of shifting modality by the pfdj and how the opposition should also develop mechanisms to adjust, two, how the parasitic nature of the pfdj makes it also vulnarable for the hard hit in all the turfs.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Hayat,

      I wholeheartedly support your contention that the opposition groups (or the movement as a whole) need to learn from experience, improve and upgrade their overall capability of getting things done and carrying the struggle forward, and develop skills and techniques that would enable them to outmaneuver the enemy. But we should be careful not to let our biased impressions of PFDJ lead us to grossly overestimate its operational skills and capabilities. True, stories abound on supposedly spectacular performances and accomplishments by PFDG that are nothing short of miraculous. A few of them may be exaggerated truths. But for the most part, such accounts are dramatized myths largely created by PFDJ’s own propaganda (and those of its supporters) for purposes of building an aura of invincibility around itself. Please note that I make a clear distinction here between the EPLF’s record of achievements and that of the scandalous PFDJ.

      Another important point to consider is the basis for PFDJ’s few real successes, as exaggerated as their significance may be, and for its apparent ones. Whatever successes the party/organization claims to have achieved, they were (i) registered against weak, poor and/or unassuming entities – many specific examples of this can be cited, and (ii) were based on its deceptive (and at times illegal) tactics rather than on effective skills. Nothing can illustrate this fact more than the post-independence “success record” of its “skillful and brilliant” mastermind, President Isaias Afewerki.

      a) He has failed to find a resolution to the border conflict with Ethiopia he triggered 15 years ago.

      b) He has neither the dignity nor the courage to acknowledge another conflagration he ignited with Djibouti in 2008. Nearly 9 years after the country had a number of its young sacrificed in the war, the dictator has yet to admit to his people that he is in conflict with the neighboring country.

      c) Eight years after the imposition of the UN sanctions on the regime, IA has abysmally failed to steer his country out of the sanctions. Instead he has broken the world record for the honor of having accumulated the highest number of sanctions – so far Three, and COUNTING!

      d) President Isaias is nothing more than a caged beast – caged not even in his capital city, but in a small village away from the seat of his “government” and controlling his cronies only remotely. He is a non-factor in the economic and geopolitical affairs of the region – For more than 15 years he has never attended (sometimes not even represented) at important regional, continental and global meetings and summit conferences: IGAD, COMESA, AU and UN meetings; EU-Africa Summit, U.S.A-Africa Development Summit, China-Africa Summit, India-Africa Summit, etc. For years, he never traveled except to his new Arab benefactors (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, U.A.E. and Egypt); He never hosted a head of state of any country. He is always left out of national independence anniversaries and presidential inaugurations of countries in the region – ISOLATION AND IRLEVANCE AT THEIR BEST!! If these facts represent SUCCESSES, I do not know what UTTER FAILURES are!!

      • Hayat Adem

        Yes Yohannes,
        Those are indeed failures of a grand scale when seen from a point of national or even partisian duty. Pfdj is not one such that works with a national purpose. It seems it has no purpose at all except surviving moment to moment. The total failure is even glaring when you see it this way: a purposeless political organization is normally declared dead. I am agreeing on everything you said, here. But, it seems to me this criminal group has another petty and selfish purpose of its own that has nothing with benefitting the people or the nation, and that is surviving moments of death as much as it can and using anything that works for the moment. Its skills of adaptability is in reference to such, like preserving its mafiaso existence. Failures such as the ones you listed are typical political failures that a normal political party could suffer from and be evaluated against when inventary of performances and discharge of duties are made. But pfdj is not a normal party.

  • Dear Forum Members,
    In response to your request we have republished Yohannes’s article. It is now on top of the stack until another article pushes it back.

    Enjoy the delicious portion again

    • Ismail AA

      Dear forum moderators,
      I join others to thank you for taking note of the significance of Johannes’ important article. I was wondering before I logged in today that whether this serious thread would be supersede by passing news-worthy matters. Beside relieving this forum from being thwarted by less relevant topics on ancient history that actually belong to the realm of historians and research, the points Johannes raised are crucial and reason enough to be given more space to be sufficiently discussed. The moderators deserve to be commended for recognizing this.
      Regards

      • Yohannes Zerai

        Dear Ismail AA,

        Thank you, brother for helping me to behave in a civilized manner and fulfill my obligations:) Thank you also for your views on the merits of the article.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear All,

      I, of course, read on time the decision of Awate Moderators to give my ailing (or is it dying) article a new lease on life:) But, given the unavoidable cultural chores and routines of the Easter Holiday, I was largely preoccupied with the thought of whether I would be able to make reasonable inputs to the anticipated discussions. But, the need to be civilized and thank the Moderators for their considered generosity never crossed my mind, to be honest:)

      But when I read comments from forumers appreciative of the decision (like the one below from brother Ismail AA), it dawned on me that, through my inaction, I have been guilty of dereliction of duty:) But then could I really be accused for having failed to do so? After all, my love of the forum (and my gratitude for the privilege of using it) are so overwhelming that it is so tempting to assume they are plainly obvious to all, not least to the Moderators:)

      At any rate, it does not hurt to confirm the obvious, and I hereby explicitly and loudly say THANK YOU to Awate.com for having given my wobbling article a second chance:)

      On a more serious note, I do offer much belated thanks to the Moderators.

  • saay7

    Selam Yohannes;

    I will come back to your article (I promise) but now I want to share something I promised I would provide over the weekend* to Horizon and Simon. The subject was “ethnicity” and the Eritrean definition for it (based on language only) and I had said that I had seen a series of videos, courtesty of Ahmed Raji’s facebook page, a more expansive definition of ethnicity that includes RACE.

    Incidentally, Horizon (and Abi), this provides an answer to a question that has perplexed many Ethiopians forever: on what basis did Eritrea claim to be a Nation separate and distinct from Ethiopia?

    Also, speaking of Ethiopia, I heard Teddy Afro’s new song, “Ethiopia” and the lyrics include this: “ኣልፈው ሲነኩሽ ባህርሸን ተሻግረው” What “Bahr”?

    Anyway, here’s the promised video. You are welcome, Emma: this is probably your favorite subject:)

    https://youtu.be/ALI_w2ZrxfQ?list=PLpa4t6FdGBCx4zUnIoYLn1e4clULQPmPA

    saay

    * Berhe Y and I have to petition to change Awate’s ban on links on weekdays as it is a conversation-killer.

    • Fanti Ghana

      Selamat Saay,

      Since I wasn’t in the referenced discussion, let me forward an apology ahead in case I end up talking to myself.

      I gathered three points and a nice quotable statement from the video.

      _ Revolution born, Ideology based nations such as Soviet Union, USA, France. (May be Eritrea too?)
      meaning that as long as a group agrees on a common purpose and destiny under a common agreement it may successfully form a nation.

      _ States can/may be born based on their prevailing passion such as ethnicity, religion, and/or language. Hence, the TshAte Biherat?
      Ethnicity cannot possibly be defined by spoken language, but it may be used interchangeably for lack of vocabulary.

      _ And finally, nations are modern political entities! (I said so, therefore, I am?).
      A common event that unified a group of states as defined above may be used to form a nationhood. This obviously brings colonialism as one factor.

      _ And now, the quote: “A nation means building a political roof over your cultural head.”
      My interpretation: modern political entities who build a roof over their cultural head are called nations!

      • saay7

        His Fantiness:

        I am the worst to ask this question because I am extremely biased towards you. You can count one to ten in some random language and I would think it is the perfect post. The Yankees call that man-crush (hush, don’t tell anyone.)

        Yes Eritrea joins the Soviet Union, USA, and France as “ideologically born” but it is the ideology espoused by Semere and Gheteb: the anti-liberty duty-now-rights-later suffocation of low-rent ideology a far far cry from Liberty Frafernity of the French and American revolutions. This is why Thomas Mountain, an American Marxist from Hawaii, talks about his home in Massawa and I can’t visit home.

        You should listen to the rest of the videos when u get a chance. An eye opener. I think Emma is in heaven: these are his virgin brides 😂😂😂😂

        saay

        • Fanti Ghana

          Selamat Saay,

          Oh! I didn’t see there were series of them. I will, I will.

          PS:
          Can one safely say “I man-crush you too” Especially, when one is from the Bay Area?

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Ahlen Saay,

      These are a red meat to my argument. If time permits, hopefully, I will write an article on “nation and Ethnicity” on an Eritrean context. I am reading books and some research papers on the issue.

      Where is Amde who was arguing with me on this issue (on Ethiopia’s ethnic federalism), it is a must listen speeches for him.
      Thank you saay.

      Amanuel Hidrat

    • Abi

      Saaytanish
      I haven’t listened to the music yet. If he is talking about a ባህር it must be The Red Sea. What else?
      Sooner or later we’ll take it back.
      I’m in a holiday mood. So I skipped to answer what makes Eritreans different?
      ሙድ አታቆርፍድ
      Happy Ester everybody!

    • Dear saay,

      Our discussion was on ethnicity and race, and if indeed race was the subset of ethnicity. I think that race as a biological definition is different from ethnicity and nationhood. The last two have relationships of one sort or another, with both concepts flowing into each other.
      The speaker has given ethnicity a broader concept, cultural, linguistic and other distinct qualities. It seems that he uses kinship as race, which is a very narrower definition. He calls the conflict between blacks and whites in north america as racial, which is right.
      From what I could understand, a nation could be a large group of people of one ethnic group, or a conglomeration of different ethnic groups (multi-ethnic), with different languages, cultures, or as the speaker said, could be religiously or ideologically oriented characteristics, etc, who have the desire to live together and form their own nation of an extended community with shared connections. This he calls, a political roof over a cultural head, although he did not say if that cultural head is one or many.
      Racial ancestry through blood line is equivalent to ignoring that there is no purity of race, but a combination of bloodlines, which attests to human development over thousands of years, especially when it comes to people of the same race, as defined broadly due to their external characteristics on which racial differences depend.
      Even dna study cannot clearly define differences between racial groups, let alone people (nations) of the same race, as are the white europeans or black africans. Is there a specific gene that determines a person’s race? I do not think so. How then could citizens of the former soviet union prove that they have german blood beside the language and culture, which could be learnt and adopted by anybody? Did the proof depended on a piece of paper approved by the german embassy, which said that the grandfather of the grandfather of the interested person was once upon a time a german. These are difficult things to prove, I think.
      Finally, the nationhood of eritrea is not in question, provided that the different ethnic groups have the wish to live under one political roof, a nation, as defined in this video.

      • saay7

        Selamat Horizon:

        I have promised the author of the article where our comments are appearing that we would not threadjack his article. Short note for now:
        (a) My point was that when the Eritrean revolution started in 1961, the widely-accepted definition of ethnic group was one based on linguistics or kinship. The lecturer in the video confirms it, and that’s exactly what the fronts did and there is no reason to criticize them for it;
        (b) the issue of the lecturer is not ethnicity per se but “ethnic conflict”: analyzing it to figure out a way to avoid it. Since people grouped linguistically are occasionally at war with each other if they have different religions (Kashmir, Irish), different race (Americans), then we need to redefine ethnic group: this is what started happened in the field of social science 20-30 years ago, according to the lecturer.
        (c) Some States, instead of re-defining ethnicity, have decided more radical approaches: in Eritrea and Rwanda discussing ethnic politics is a huge taboo; in fact, it is a crime in Rwanda.
        (d) This is a good segue to Yohannes article of “what is to be done.” I will argue that ethnic politics is one of the biggest obstacles.

        saay

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Saay,

          I found the following quote in the series of speeches of the scholar in the link you provided us, that explains to the ultra-nationalist Eritreans: “Man is not rational animal. Man is national animal.” Very interesting modern description of man and his action. I am still listening the remaining video clips.

          Regards

        • Simon Kaleab

          Selam saay,

          In general, people look for similarities between each other. But, the flip side of finding similarities with someone is finding differences with others.

          The lecturer in the video makes some mistakes [due to laziness] when he talks about the conflict in Northern Ireland. The cause of the conflict is not religion. If it was religion, why isn’t there a conflict between Catholics and Anglican Protestants in England now?The conflict is between the ‘aboriginal’ Irish [who happen to be Catholic] and those whose ancestors are settlers, who came from Scotland and England to Ireland with William of Orange’s army to take Irish land [these happen to be Protestants].

          • saay7

            Selam Simon:

            One of my pet peeves is public speakers (particularly lecturers, interviewers) who come ill-prepared. It was clear from the presentation that the lecturer wasn’t ready for prime time: he hadn’t mastered his subject: he kept referring to his notes every other sentence. There is another lecturer on same topic (also Indian) at Colombia or Yale who is much smoother.

            Now, let me float an idea to you and Horizon: race is indeed a subset of ethnicity and not the other way around. Let’s see what is the flaw in my logic:

            1. Race is a description of people’s physical characteristic: shape of their nose, melanin count in their skin, average height, average weight, etc. It is, as we agreed, a social construct.
            2. Ethnicity is a description of a people’s culture, customs, language, beliefs, etc. It evolves, but slowly.

            Now, an ethnic group that is very open to intermarriage with people who are of a different race, will, over time change that race and change its own race. Its ethnicity will be constant, but its race will evolve. This is very common in the US, extremely unusual in places like Japan. Ergo, preseto, ethnicity is more constant than race.

            Thoughts?

            saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Dear Saay,

            Well put, I can’t agree more. This subject must be learned, debated for a nation is defined as a “politico-cultural entity.”

          • Dear saay,

            I think that only if one equates ethnicity to nationhood (a country with its own government composed of one or multiple ethnicities) may ethnicity outlive race. Today most ethnic groups are not self-governing sovereign nations known by others. The trend is for different nations to unite and form one bigger nation for economic and political reasons.

            Every person wears his/her own racial and ethnic garb. If they lose the one, most probably they will lose the other. The usa is a multiethnic nation, while japan is a nation state, (with cultural and ethnic oneness), where one single homogenous ethnic group has its own country and government.

            Intermarriage between races may lead to a raceless or a single race world over thousands of years. This is one of the reasons far-rights and white supremacists are opposed to racial intermarriage. The outcome of such inter-racial marriage could be a one race world, the ‘brown person’, dominating the world of the future. Cultural and ethnic differences are going to decline with time; and this could be the end of racial and ethnic myths.

            In today’s white dominated usa and europe, different ethnicities who live there are minorities in the country and continent dominated by the white race, and they are expected to adopt the culture and language of the dominant white race, by abandoning their own. How much a usa born ethiopian or eritrean is a habesha, outside his/her family and church within the greater usa society, could be difficult to answer.

            Of course, intermarriage within the same race is not going to change anything. Suppose that ethiopian ethnic groups continue to intermarry as they had been doing so over centuries and may be millennia, the effect will be a future generation who would say that they are the product of marriage between ethnicities. An example is a group of people in ethiopia (millions of them), especially in big cities like addis, who find it difficult to fit into one ethnic mold, although they have no problem with their biological racial identity.

            The future world could be the world of one racial group (the brown race) and one united culture and language, and a world of technological advancement, that would care less for race and ethnicity differences. Of course, this does not mean that the white supremacists will give up without a big big fight.
            (just thinking loud).

          • saay7

            Selamat Horizon:

            Let’s forget everything we were told about race by either The Bible or the Supremacist. Let’s use the scientific definition of race, which is entirely physical: features, colors.

            Now, way way back (except when the men went on their pillage and destruction war)people stayed within 1 mile of where their ancestors were born. And a “race” was a constant, as was ethnicity. But with globalization came intermarriage and you have bi-racial, multi-racial people who proudly call themselves “mutts.” But, with the exception of the “melting pot” that is the US, everywhere else, as people intermingled, one ethnicity would be dominant–as ethnicity includes language, customs, beliefs.

            This is what leads me to theorize that ethnicity is more persistent than race. Ethnity deals with psychology, race deals with biology—except that due to religious books* and supremacists, biological distinctions were given psychological dimensions.

            saay

            * I refer to one of Noah’s children being cursed for seeing him naked and being forever dark faced. Dark = evil; light = good.

          • iSem

            Hi Horizon and Sal:
            The globalization and marriage across races in changing the definition of race and even ethiniciy, but still overwhelming majority of people marry into their own. The one race, one color, one language boring as it is, it may solve a the conflicts. At the heart of every war, every conflict is race, religion and the fight to dominate, so it is not just the white supremise problem,
            let us take Ethiopia and Eritrea. The first was burdened by Amhara supremacy , which used the country as a platform for the showcasing of Amhara culture and language and the rest were relegated to destitution and poverty. The Eritrean struggle was saddled with ethinic and religion issues, a demon that still haunts the country. To give you an example about Eri: in 1986 a prominent student leader (now in prison in Ela-Ero) told one of his comrade to: “please slaughter the goat by positioning it toward Giblet..”, a couple of people heard him and were shocked.
            Some times in 20012, there was a competition about general knowledge in Eritrean culture and in the program was being taped at min of Info and moderated by Tigre Eritrea. when one man was asked a question about the Tigre enthnic group, the middle aged man blanked out on the name, but instead of giving up, he said, ” men ekka tibleom ezome sehabti Gemel Yehwatnna…”

            I bring these examples to say that every soceity has its supremists, every culture has its a bigots. If we keep these people in their corner, not allow them to hold power, we can have the beauty of diversity, the different colors, language and culture to enjoy

          • saay7

            iSem:

            Aytere’de’an’n. Where are you going with this? In para one you say “the one race, one color, one language boring as it is, it may solve the conflicts.” In last para you call for keeping bigots in their corner. You might want to flesh this out. La’muakheza ya’Ani 🙂

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Sal:

            “La’muakheza ya’Ani”? Wo la Yehummek;-)

            I am saying, there are supremacists and bigots every where, not only the white supremacists that we all love to hate and rightly so, if society keeps these people, the ignorant, the bigots, the insensitive as in the two Eri examples, we can have our colourful diversity to enjoy instead of molding into one boring language, color and race and ethnicity. But if humanity was one race, spoke one language, were one ethnic , and one faith, it would solve conflicts, but it is boring

            We will never get rid of the bigots and those who think that their language, colour, faith and ethnicity is superior, but if they are not in power, if we cage them we can have our cake and eat it, we can have our beautiful, diversity and still be at peace, devoid of conflicts

            WogaEleka?

          • saay7

            Hala iSem:

            Let me put it this way: what makes a supremacist a supremacist is not his race but his ethnicity. Clearer?

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Sal:

            No!

            So white supremacist? Is white race or ethnicity then?

          • saay7

            Haha iSem:

            What is in a race, that makes one a supremacist? Is it the shape of his forehead? The slope of his nose? How can your appearance dictate your behavior? It can’t: what dictates is your belief about all things, including the superiority of your looks, which then direct you to believe that someone who is Super-Good (like the Son of God) must be blond and white.

            By the way, related to that you should watch “Whitewashing” by John Oliver (available on YouTube): it relates to how Hollywood changes historic figures Genghis Khan, Last Samurai, King of Egypt into white people. It’s insanely funny rant.

            saay

          • iSem

            hi Sal
            Thanks
            Makes sense, the hardware does nothing without the software:-)

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Saay,
            It’s a known fact that races are fluid–though the evolving is a long process that may take centuries. Whether we accept the creation theory (humanity traces its ancestry to Adam and Eve) or the evolutionary one (humanity traces its ancestry to the Ape), is immaterial because regardless, races evolve. But does understanding and accepting this fact negate the racial relations between humans. For instance, would a Black person in America forget about racial differences believing we will all evolve into a different race anyone, maybe we could be one race? I don’t think so. I am saying, we cannot underestimate the races of tody because of what will happen in the future, or because we remember our ancestry is the same. Even if we evolve into a totally different races, the conflict of interest will remain–even melting pots do not melt it enough 🙂

            With that in mind, how would we address racial issues? As they are, as they were, or as how they will be?

            You know my weakness (and aversion) to theories which I think are insignificant to the majority of the people who yearn to resolve their problems in pursuit of freedom, justice, peace and stability.

            My major question to you hoping you will expand on it: Since you said, “Ethnicity deals with psychology, race deals with biology….and supremacists, biological distinctions were given psychological dimensions.”

            Don’t you think the psychological aspects of ethnicity are greatly influenced by racial (biological) factors? Don’t you think the two have a super glue in between them?

            I am soliciting Ammanuel to this so that no one attempts a joke, it’s dead serious question 🙂

          • saay7

            Hi SGJ:

            Science says race is skin deep: the difference between a white person and black person is the melanin count in their skin: more, darker. It is skin and its features–eye shape, nose shape, height, weight. All are superficial differences.

            I know you don’t like theories but in African-American studies what you mentioned is: “race doesn’t matter, but racism does.” It’s racism that teaches children at a very young age that certain races are superior–more beautiful and I read somewhere that one of the most frequent cosmetic surgeries is Asian American changing the eye-fold to appear more Caucasian, not to mention operations to make people taller, etc.

            In ethnicities that have a very strong sense of themselves–these have no influence because they believe they are beautiful. Remember one lady dear to us used to refer to blond people “cheguri Ayni zeyblom”:)

            When you are done with the series of dry videos, hop on to Ted Talks and search “race and ethnicity”. There is one I like called “What I am learning from my white grandchildren.”

            saay

          • Simon Kaleab

            Selam saay,

            A Set is a collection of things that have clearly defined, commonly shared characteristics.

            According to the customary definition of Race [which is not based on DNA], Races are mutually exclusive.

            A given Race contains different ethnic groups within itself. Clearly, a Race is a bigger Set and an ethnic group is a Subset [a smaller Set].

            You needn’t consider Race mixing, because it is an operation that is not closed i.e. produces outcomes that lie outside both Races [Sets].

          • saay7

            Simon:

            Agreed on the mathematical formulation of sets and subsets–if we accept the definition of race. That is to say: the criteria used to describe the four races (major races) is arbitrary as it deals with physical traits: high cheekbones, narrow skull etc. As you know, “race” was originally developed to differentiate animals. And then some scientist got carried away. Does anyone still use one of the races —Mongloid, for example?

            This is one the UN stopped using the word and just uses ethnicities to categorize people.

            saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Saay & Simon,

            Saay : Though the Indian scholar from the link you provided us, explained race as a subset of ethnicity, I tend to agree with Simon the reverse, that ethnics are a subset of race. I will again go to listen all the video clips, if there are plausible argument to it in his presentation.

            Simon: unless reviewing again the clips, changed my mind, this is our first time two contrarians agree on one specific issue.

            Regards
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Hey Emma:

            It looks like I have stumbled on my own Swedish researcher, except he is Indian 😂

            There is another easier-on-the-ears short (6 minutes) video called “Race and Ethnicity” by the University of Washington. Watch it and tell me what you think. It is a video on the uselessness of race categorization:)

            saay

    • Berhe Y

      Dear Saay,

      I second your motion and support your petition.

      I saw this video on you tube yesterday and I thought I would share it.

      I think the video is done nicely but shows the way our country is decaying and the opportunity that we are losing as people.

      Why is it so hard to fix the former governor home in Massawa. Take a picture take a video what ever, but for god sake, let’s move on. Same with the millitary hardware, take it to the scrap metal and take a picture for museum, and history books.

      I am convinced that the PFDJ are set out to break our sprit and our hope as people and destroy us and made us extinct from the face of the earth.

      Thank you Yohannes, for this wonderful article and we need from narrating the crimes of the regime to an action and actively fight back.

      Saay, Teddy Afro is taking about Djibouti.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2YdevL7Ayc

      Berhe

      • saay7

        Hey Berhe:

        In 1992-93, there were quite a few Eritrean businessmen who were organizing deals with scrap metal merchants….but enda hgdef gave an emphatic NO answer. Answer: money.
        The Massawa building I think they are waiting for it to be declared a UNESCO heritage site. Answer: money.

        Teddy was talking about Djibouti? 🙂 let’s see the line before the one I quoted is: ስንት የሞቱልሽ ልከብርሽ ዘብ አድረው. Were there enemies who fought Ethiopians after entering via Djibouti? Could be, my Ethiopian history is rusty. As rusty as the Asmara Tank Graveyard. Oh, the Graveyard does have a huge propaganda value now: we are so traumatized by war with Ethiopia we can’t have normal state with constitution and finite national service. Plenty of Mzungus buy that.

        saay

        • Berhe Y

          Dear Saay,

          If it was money, I can guess the Eritreans who offered were also offering some. If it’s not enough that was different matter, but you don’t waste land and resources as such to waste. I believe the later is truth, just to sell the “no democracy” to the westerners.

          Do you think if they asked for unesco recognition they would be denied? I don’t know if unesco does not recoginze such places then what is its purpose.
          Even if they don’t recognize it or they don’t fund it, what was the purpose of building airport to no where, road to Asab (with no purpose) and all good for nothing mini dam or what ever he is doing?

          Teddy Afro, may be he is thinking Hargesa or Mumbasa.

          Anyway, which baher did the protect by their blood and against whom? Otman, Egypt, Italy, the British ?

          Berhe

          • saay7

            Hey Berhe:

            Eritrea applied for the historic perimeter of Asmara and its modernist buildings (2005) and QoHaito architecture (2011) and is awaiting response. Just this week, it also (courtesy of Norway) began conducting “intangible cultural heritage” which will be a ” three-month fieldwork in community-based inventorying of intangible cultural heritage in the nine ethno-linguistic groups: Tigrina, Tigre, Saho, Rashaida, Nara, Bedawiet, Afar, Kunama, and Blin.” (while you were sleeping, Beja became Bedawiet: where is SGJ:) Anyway, I think this one funded by Norway replaces the one that was funded by the World Bank (Cultural Assets Rehabilitation Project, or CARP) that Isaias shut down because the funding source would not name him the patron (so said wikileaks)

            Eritrea has not submitted anything for Massawa, to my knowledge.

            Berhe, tsk, tsk, you are forgetting your “Ye Ethiopia Tarik.” Remember Gurae, Dogali? Which port did the invaders (Italians, Egyptians) use? Tsk, tsk: don’t upset Abi.

            saay

          • Abi

            Hi Saay
            Ras Abi will never be upset by Hawuna Berhe. What does he know about The Great Ethiopian History? He left his country at a very early are and he was busy “making dollars “. He never pays attention to things that Ethiopians hold near and dear.
            I’m tired of teaching him Eritrean history ( 1991 to present)

            “ቀይ ባህር በራችን አሁንም ቀይ ናት
            ጀግኖች በደማቸው እስካሁን ያቆዩዋት!!!!!!!!!”
            Soon, very soon….

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Saay,

            I know about the places you mentioned and it make sense to Ras Abi who does not know the map of Eritrea.

            As far as I know digali and gura, way past the Red Sea. How is that defending the bahr.
            They have never been to the bahir, for at least 500 years until 1952.

            Off course Eritreans have paid dearly those battles and anything that come from the sea.

            Abi,
            Thank you for the history lesson, I get it now. You are talking about Yemen and Hanish islands. Is that song worthy ? Saay, reminds me Elaine of sienfield, spongy worthy 🙂

            Berhe

          • saay7

            Abi.net:

            More history lesson. Super recent one. Remember when I found a pic of the Dogali monument flying the Eritrean flag and Eyob was so touched and he went all Habesha and started shedding tears? And then Ahmed Raji came to say, well, no, the Ethiopian-built Dogali monument was blown up to smithereens by Shaebia and what is actually there is a monument to commemorate Eritrean friendship with Italy (because, I think, some short term loan was coming) and Eyob got so shocked he left awate for 3 months? Remember? Ah, good times.

            Here’s the monument, flying the Eritrean and Italian flags:

            https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSxo1aAHwR-sb641M4PuhAZudgn8L7PG4DMAb-CW0XWGNXJSRCw

            And please do not tell me to explain it.

            saay

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            I think that toothless comment was said by the toothless Vet Mahmud. It is not by Ahmad Raj. Well, it’s been a while.
            Anyway, the Dogali monument is permanently erected in every breathing Ethiopian heart. No amount of ፈንጂ will demolish it.
            Sorry to disappoint you.

          • saay7

            Abi.net

            Man, your memory… I am worried.

            A message from 8/9/2014, in the article “Dejen: A Chosen Man”

            +++++

            Selamat Eyob:

            I had shared a couple of Semna-Worq when you were awol, related to your hero Tiqur Sew.

            Not sure that “I would rather have my son spend time with Muslims than a drunk friend” counts for Great Moments In Diversity but not surprising for a man who passed an edit that it is wrong to commit murder “Galam bihon.”

            Now, a couple of follow-ups in the interest of full disclosure.

            1. Yesterday, I promised you a pic of the house in Asmara of the family of Blatengeta Ephrem Teweldemedhin, Ethiopia’s foreign minister in 1941-42. When I was a kid, we were told it belongs to a very important man. The attached is taken from a poor angle, it shows the “back years” not the beautiful villa. It is in the Geza Banda Tilyan neighborhood, right over the open space when Asmarinos learned how to drive in the tiny Fiat 600s provided by the Auto Scola.

            The Derg confiscated the villa…then the PFDJ continued the tradition of thievery.

            2. A couple of months ago, I shared with you images of Massawa and you were pleasantly surprised to see that the statue to Dogali is still standing. I have been corrected. Here’s the actual story. The Italians built a statue to Dogali to honor their fallen. When Mengistu came, he also built a statue to Dogali to honor the fallen Ethiopians. There were two statues. When the EPLF took power and they were in the blow-up statues mode, guess which one of the two statues they blew up. They blew up the statue that Mengistu built to honor Ethiopians. This will probably result in a 7-part article by YG and, for once, I wouldn’t have a rebuttal. Maybe Mahmud Saleh has the answer. Or maybe the information I was given is wrong although the source is unimpeachable.

            saay

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            Why are you worried? Are you expecting me to remember every comment from three years ago ?
            BTW, that was an article by Tes. The first of a two-part article. You see I still remember things sometimes.

          • Abi

            Hawuna Berhe
            I’m having hard time locating Eritrea on the world map . Where is it in relation to Ethiopia?
            Berhe, Eritreans DID NOT fight anybody. They just let any ነጫጭባ through their towns.
            “አንድ ጊዜ ክንዴን አቅምሻቸዋለሁ!
            ዳግመኛም ከመጡ እደግማቸዋለሁ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
            (ራሥ አሉላ አባነጋ)
            The best General EVER!!!!!!!!!!
            You are desperately uninitiated.

          • saay7

            Abi.net:

            Put down the bottle and slowly walk away.

            saay

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            ok.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Abi,

            I am not going to belittle the heroic Ethiopian people. But the song is provocation and don’t expect I take it lightly.

            As to the Eritrean people and our history and including our contribution saving the Ethiopian empire, why don’t you read your history and that of emperor Glawdios.

            Berhe

          • Abi

            Hawuna Berhe
            What song are you talking about? And what is that you don’t take lightly?
            BTW, are you having a kitfo dinner?

  • Fanti Ghana

    Hello Everyone!

    I thought this article opened a great opportunity for discussing PFDJ’s strengths and weakness and how to tackle them, but you got diverted too soon with the breaking news regarding YPFDJ. Although time strapped myself, I was expecting several great discussions from you, my beloved, so I feel cheated. Comeback and discus this topic a little more or I will post this every four hours until AT kicks me out or until you comply.

    Thank You!

    • Saleh Johar

      Hi Fanti,

      Thank you. This gives me a chance to express my admiration for the clarity of the article. Indeed, Yohannes is an excellent thinker and his article shows he thought enough of it. I agree with you we need to discuss it more. But the situating being what tey are, sometimes we are diverted and miss the opportunity of discussing other important issues. Shoot.

      • Fanti Ghana

        Hello & Thank You Memhir,

        I too always admire Yohannes’s clarity of thought, and ironically, this wasn’t the first time we got diverted immediately following one of his fantastic articles.

        Anyway, I was thinking that this topic opens a chance for exploring and identifying what PFDJ’s strengths/weaknesses really are and how they might be used to expedite its thorough reform, oops, who am I talking to, I mean its removal.

        For instance, is it really a priority or one of several tools trying to financially starve PFDJ? How might that help the oppositions’ struggle versus what the side effect to the common Eritrean at home might be? What are the top three strengths/elements sustaining PFDJ at the moment?

        1. Layers of Fears
        a) Ethiopian opportunist invasion.
        b) Fear of one another based on their differences such as religions, ethnic, and localities.
        c) Lack of connection to high officials.
        d) The Diaspora: afraid of consequences to their families at home in the event they disobey or contradict the government.

        2. Financial Sources
        a) Exploitation of natural resources.
        b) Investment, mostly by citizens.
        c) Tourism.
        d) Aggressive Solicitation of Diaspora Remittance.
        e) Human Trafficking.

        3. Successful Propaganda
        a) Oppositions are [ELF] Revenge Seekers.
        b) Oppositions are Weyane Messengers.
        c) Oppositions are Jihadists.
        d) Oppositions are Power Hungry Zealots.
        e) We are building dams, schools, and other infrastructure
        f) If only… we were not sanctioned!

        Briefly, these and many more similar points could be discussed, and in the process, whether the opposition is doing enough or not could also be learned.

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Dear Fanti,

          You have listed (in a systematic manner, I must add) a number of pertinent topics around which discussions can be carried out to enhance our understanding of the situation, identify some of the existing problems and begin to see possible solutions for them. Hopefully, commenters will pick topic(s) closely aligned with their interests, knowledge and expertise and share their views with other forumers.

          For now, I would like to make a brief comment on item #3e. The PFDJ regime and its supporters have been distorting, and continue to distort, the true nature of and the circumstances surrounding the UN sanctions on the PFDJ regime. Mind you, logically and truly speaking the sanctions were imposed on the regime and NOT on the people. The UN sanctions resolutions were passed essentially in response to the regime’s (a) military support to Al-Shabaab in Somalia (as well as other armed opposition groups in the region), (b) denial of its border conflict with Djibouti (including its incursion into Djiboutian territory, holding prisoners of war, etc.) and its refusal to resolve the problem through mediation and negotiations.

          The regime has not to this day admitted these transgressions and problems to the Eritrean people much less to have sought their prior approval and consent. Equally important is the fact that the sanctions basically prevent the regime from buying and selling arms and facilities & equipment for military use; providing training and other forms of support to armed groups; transferring/diverting funds to these groups; extorting 2% tax and “donations” from diaspora Eritreans. There is NOTHING in the sanctions provisions that can be called economic sanctions or which negatively affect the civilian population in the country. Even the mining sector which is heavily financed and operated by foreign mining companies continues to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the regime undeterred by the sanctions regime. The UN Monitoring Group has simply been keeping an eye on the revenues from this sector JUST to make sure it is not diverted to supporting armed groups in the region in a variety of ways.

          There has undeniably been a major weakness in the opposition movement regarding this issue. They have been unable to explain clearly and convince the Eritrean population in the country and in the diaspora the exact nature of the UN sanctions; and they have failed to expose the regime’s lies and distortions aimed at deceiving the population into thinking that they are the targets of the sanctions.

          Thank you.

      • Yohannes Zerai

        Dear SGJ,

        I greatly appreciate your complimentary comment. As for the article itself, please see my response to Fanti Ghana. Thank you.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Fanti,

      Thank you for your attempt to redirect attention to the substance of the article. As you may guess, the article was written over a period of several days and was submitted for posting the same day that the first news report came out on the planned rally against the YPFDJ conference in Veldhoven, The Netherlands. I thought this was a welcome coincidence since (at least at the level of concept) the planned rally tied in nicely with the actions and strategy that the article advocates. And, setting aside the tactics employed* for the moment, the rally did confront an affiliate of the regime – the YPFDJ and its “EriBlood” gang – whose main agenda is spying on and intimidating anyone who opposes PFDJ policies.

      For these reasons, I too had expected to see much more vigorous debate than the trickle which actually transpired. What was unquestionably deserving of an extensive debate was not so much the actions proposed in the article but rather the notion of the need for confronting and fighting the regime externally as a sure way of creating a conducive environment for internal resistance to break out and gather momentum. But then, I am also a realist and fully realize that the fate of a post in this forum (or any other forum, for that matter) is largely a function of the interest, mood and agenda – not necessarily expressed openly – of the readership. That happens to be the rule of the game, and I certainly have no qualms about the way things turned out vis-à-vis the article.

      But I thank you for your appreciation of the effort and the thinking that the article represented.

      * this too ought to be discussed as part of the effort that needs to be exerted for ensuring the success of the ongoing struggle for liberty and justice

      • Fanti Ghana

        Hello Yohannes Zerai,

        I am glad you mentioned “…the planned rally tied in nicely with the actions and strategy that the article advocates,” because that was actually one of my reasons for daring to “demand” we discuss this topic farther.

        Although I am a strong supporter of all efforts by Eritrean Youth to familiarize themselves with one another, with their ancestral land, and their culture whenever and however possible, I believe that it would have been more productive to discuss that separately from how PFDJ exploits the young and their families as a policy. However, Holland was news, out of anyone’s control, and here we are.

        I am not and I can’t blame anyone for following where the discussion takes us, but I had to mention that the recent Holland event can be discussed here along with the points you raised in this article. Then, perhaps, discuss the advantages of Eritrean Youth meetings separately and as free as possible from any politics. These were the thoughts that generated my plea.

        Thanks.

        • Abi

          Hi Fantastic
          One of the best articles by Yohannes had only 11 comments.
          “Accommodating Tyranny A Historic Mistake ” is by far the best article.
          It is about 2 years ago. I wish AT brings back the article.
          It is one of “ever current ” articles.
          Yohannes is one of a kind just like Atse Yohannes!!!

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Abisha,

            Exactly! I guess, as they say, timing is everything!
            I strongly recommend all of his articles if possible, but at least selected ones should be re-posted whenever time permits. Your long term memory is amazing by the way.

          • Abi

            Fantastic
            He is my favorite writer.
            I read that particular article several times. Unfortunately it was not debated enough to benefit out of it.
            Sometimes I reread my favorite commenters . ( not you, no Sir) I said my favorite commenters.
            Happy Ester.

  • iSem

    Hi Yohannes:
    Excellent read.
    The overt attack on the financial support that PFDJ syphons from the diaspora to fund its mafia empire has been tried and unless like what the word does to Eri what it did to Apartheid South Africa, the regime will find ways to minimize the damage of the 2% collection ban in some countries. And PFDJ had the Eritrean diaspora by their throats.
    As you said, the PFDJ can only be defeated by integrated struggle with those inside the country, the diaspora and the international community like the CIO report; no matter how slow and meek the process of the latter may seem, it will have a gradual effect on degrading the legitimacy and highlighting the criminality of PFDJ
    On the opposition; we saw the malfunction and disarray of the opposition for the last 25 years, and almost all the blows that PFDJ has sustained were self inflicted.
    As you alluded to, we should not be fooled by the crowd size in PFDJ gatherings, many of the people come there to socialize, some are brained washed and yet some, entire families have been selected by PFDJ as a flagship, are secretly groomed, encouraged and directly benefit from the regime, some financially and some emotionally for regional and regions satisfaction
    The opposition’s must shift gears and focus on the Eritrean people if they really want to have a country called Eritrea after PFDJ is gone, they should direct most of their resources in saving the people from poverty and ignorance as they languish in the refugee camps in Sudan and Ethiopia. Entire generation of Eritreans is getting uneducated and that will have a negative and lasting impact on the future and unity of the country. The opposition must save Eritreans from the kidnaping, drowning the sea and becoming the the victims of the people like Rashaida and their PFDJ collaborators, just like the Eritrean Ghedli declared war on the spies and those who become Ethiopian agents, the opposition must declare war on the kidnappers and human traffickers
    One day we will wake up to find PFDJ has collapsed and the opposition but it does not seem that we are prepared for the void and the reason is that we are focused on PFDJ and not Eritrea and Eritreans. We have to decide what we really want from this needled country, the 50 years’ struggle does not seem to have united us and the evidence in the secretariat overtones of in the opposition and in PFDJ and even in the community at large. We cannot even agree on the identity and what we should be called. It is worrying, if you do not think so, if you think that we will just glide on the reputation of the semi-successful ghedli, remember that the Agaazain movement, the ELL, the ethnic based opposition did not come out of the thin air. Even in 1961, when the Eritrean identity was in its nascent days, when the people did not know about each other deeply and when Awate launched the armed struggle in the Low Lands, they did not call it ELL (Eritrean Low Land Liberation), they called it ELF- Eritrean Liberation Movement. To me that is regression no progression

  • Ismail AA

    Selam Johannes and all,

    The significance of this well-written article rests in the fact that it re-ignites the debate on the how best to organize the struggle the opposition against the despotic regime. It is clear the debate on this matter has more and more been showing
    signs of fatigue. This is mainly due to failure of the Diaspora opposition to gather its acts together, which affects the to be
    reckoned with opposition inside the country. The latent state of the latter is unarguably excusable given the rampantly oppressive control the regime exercises. Reason dictate that the onus for activating and emboldening of the domestic front is squarely on the diaspora side of the opposition equation because its enjoys broadly liberal space for operation and source of resources, which the internal segment direly lacks.

    The notion that the burden of initiating and consummating change should be carried by the internal front lacks honesty if
    it is not dubious because it might have been used as a shell behind which its proponents hide their own failure. This might have made sense had the external front played its role fully by first closing ranks followed by making progress against the regime to the extent of becoming source of emulation and encouragement to the internal forces.

    It can not be gainsaid that the mission of external and internal fronts is indivisible and cannot be devolved to multiple actors. The two arenas of the struggle are mutually accommodative since the endgame involve the redemption of the country whose future has increasingly become worrisome, as Johannes has rightly asserted.

    But it’s clear that a crucial point of anchor that bridges the internal and external fronts of the opposition has elusively been missing. It is at this point that the “existing sociopolitical conditions” Johannes noted come into play. Whether we admit or shun it, the source of the current disarray of the opposition forces can be traced back to social and political background of our nation. The unification of the opposition forces across the nation and harmonization of their endeavors have to be sought in proper assessment of what those sociopolitical conditions are, in the first place, and evolving a nationally
    accommodative mechanism on which the different role players for one and the same cause should and have to contribute their efforts and resources to build a formidable national opposition capacity capable of stirring both internal and external fronts.

    It should be underscored that this regulative and coordinative national opposition mechanism should translate itself into code of conduct that should supersede any other programs of whatever nature. The owners of the latter should freeze their
    activities in the interest of redeeming the nation, and relegate their aspirations to rights and duties the future constitution will have to provide.

    Now, the legitimate question that should be asked is how do we reach the point of getting to the venue at which the instrument of the rules of conduct should emerge. The immediate response to this question is a national opposition dialogue should be the path to that venue. The previous platforms or venues had so far failed due to misconceptions about what regime change politics ought to be and misplaced competitions for leadership roles at wrong and places and times. I am of course alluding to the processes up to the 2011 Hawassa congress, which was spoiled by a malaise that could be diagnosed as striving for power in conditions where there was no place and opportunity to exercise it.

    But still there seems that there is no any other alternative to dialogue and realism to obtain suitable conditions for harnessing the domestic and external national efforts and resource into unified pool of national endeavor capable of challenging and defeating the current dictatorship. The aspirants of change and freedom currently find themselves on a kind of sea unworthy boat that could sink.
    It will be in the interest of all to re-assess the experience of the opposition during the past post-independence decades. It is at junclure that the segment of the elite and intelligentsia Johannes has referred becomes indispensably relevant. As model and leadership providers, the members of this group should stir the stagnant opposition waters by offering objective appraisal of the current situation and drawing the proper way of leading and managing the opposition to transform into a performing national movement in the framework of the “existing sociopolitical condition” Johannes had noted.

    Thank you Johannes for producing this thought provoking article.

    Regards

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merhaba Ismailo,

      The existing organizations and civil society are the product of our society. Hence, all the ailments of the organizations is the reflection of the ailments of our society. The reason why I stated for the obvious one is, because there among us who want to seperate the behavior of the organizations and the society as if there is no dialectical connections between the two. Any attempt to seperate the relationship of the two can not address the problem rationally and realistically. Don’t agree with me Ismailo?

      Regards

      • Ismail AA

        Ahlen Aman,
        Sure, I agree. It is obvious that some of us are not really candid in recognizing that matter. Without acknowledging the problem and finding proper context for it, all attempt to address our remain to become superficial; it is like treating the peripheries of the wound rather than cleaning it and dressing it with right medicine.
        The point that provoked me to comment on this threat with unusually expanded paragraphs was Johanne’s courage in recognizing the existence of sociopolitical conditions that should be taken care off if unifying the opposition would be possible. That was a great point and core issue we have to accept.
        Regards

  • Shabbash Kerenite

    Hi Awatistas:
    I believe the 2% income tax as indicated by the SEMG is no more important source of income for the regime. First of all, Nobody knows how much money is collected from the 2% tax, so as to prioritize ceasing it, as it was done in Canada. Even if we guess the total sum collected from this illegal 2% tax. It wouldn’t be more than the amount collected from taxes of money transmittance. It wouldn’t be more than the amount paid to the regime, by the candanian and australian mining companies operating in the country. It wouldn’t be more than amount given by the arab nation for the use of port Assab. More importantly, the 2% tax doesn’t matter when the regime is holding each and every penny of the whole population after the currency change introduced a year ago. Few years ago, when SEMG reported for the first time, yes the regime financial source 2 % tax was significant. But not any more….
    The regime, is always few steps ahead of all oppositions groups together, they have identified the threat on their financial source long ago, and they have moved to other sources, where all opposition together couldn’t even do a thing to change that.

  • Abrehet Yosief

    Selam Yohannes,
    Good article. On the overt operation suggestions, many in the diaspora are getting more and more active and organized. I think highlighting the demonstrations, petitions and confirming that they are not useless or waste of time is important. Many people get discouraged after participating in a few ones. PFDJ is also active in spreading false information and disseminating that such activities are worse for Eritrea in the long run or that they are hopeless endeavors. On the suggestions for covert operations for the most part either the corporations are in places like South Sudan where there is no way to bring legal action against them or if it is in democratic or law abiding countries the ones in the know are implicit in the crimes. It is hard to find information unless the diaspora engages in a serious discussion of granting immunity.

    • Brhan

      Hello Abrehet,

      I believe cover operations in countries like South Sudan can be investigated from democratic and law abiding countries. What we need is our independent media to take investigative journalism seriously and the public to assist these independent media financial and professional resources.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Abrehet,

      I thank you for your comments. It may well be that the regime benefits from a sizable revenue-stream originating in South Sudan. Both the SEMG reports and recent news stories coming out of opposition outlets assert that the government extorts large sums of money as “donations” from wealthy Eritreans running major businesses in Juba, South Sudan (as it does in Uganda). But SEMG say nothing about any major illicit business activities that the regime may be sponsoring in South Sudan.

      What the UN monitoring reports do reveal, however, are: (i) Human trafficking, arms smuggling and cross-border contraband trade involving the Sudan are major financial sources for the regime; (ii) The largest portion of the money-flow that reaches the PFDJ’s financial hub in Dubai, U.A.E. – and ends up in accounts the regime maintains with international banks there – are transferred from banks in the U.S. and few key European countries.

      The reports further state that these transfer-funds were generated right there (in the U.S and Europe) through clandestine financial operations involving such illegal procedures as money laundering, tax evasion, etc and camouflaged by “front companies” operating in those countries. You will be surprised to read in the reports that some small businesses that Eritrean nationals “own” in specific U.S. cities are in fact PFDJ assets that regime agents run as registered/licensed business owners.

  • Saba

    Hello Yohannes,
    Your solution seems reasonable. But you need REAL opposition for REAL change. Many Eritreans do not see the current opposition & the elites putting efforts to help them bring democracy. Their idea is vague, other than the usual jargon. A lot of people here in this forum defined the opposition as ANYone who oppose the PFDJ regime. That means the justice seekers, TeGhentSelti, dictator wannabe, etc. What unites them? May be HaMuKushti? As my saying goes KiLiTe YeWahat GhoGho sinkom:)

    • Brhan

      Hello Saba,
      Your depiction for the opposition as HaMukushti is not worse than what the two former Ethiopian regimes called to our fighters then as “wenbedewoch”. The point is that the opposition has a cause: for rule of law and democracy in Eritrea. Once you have a cause change is unpredictable: sooner or later, sure for both

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Saba,

      The problem you have noted in your comment is a source of serious concern for all those who want to see an end to Eritrea’s problems. But removing the present failings of opposition groups is an integral part of the overall struggle for democratic change. We all need to engage in the activities of groups we believe have better chances for reforming themselves, and help bring about the needed changes by cooperating with like-minded members of those organizations.

      • Saba

        Hi Yohannes,
        You can do activities in groups but there is no uniting message. There is no vision. As Abrehet said: “Many people get discouraged after participating in few ones”. If PFDJ fails you expect a democratic movement to take over. But there is no democratic movement so the outcome could be similar to PFDJ dictatorship or worse. Why one would spend energy for “Sakt”? The current political movements are NOT democratic, they do not have transparency, no vision. If you ask them a simple question their behavior remind you of PFDJ system.
        De novo is the solution. Organize a new movement, free of the old hierarchy, EPLF/ELF thing.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selma Yohannes,

    Good reading as usual. Thank you for your forward looking and solution oriented piece. I hope it will direct us from the none sense Adulisian legendary history, whose truth is not ascertained, to the cause of our current struggle.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Thank you Amuni,
      What a wonderful message!!!

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Hello Amanuel,

      Thank you. You have been a principal proponent of the idea of focusing discussion on Eritrea’s existing problems and possible solutions thereto. I hope this article will represent one tiny step in that direction.

  • Brhan

    Hello Yohannes,

    Thanks for your article.

    My input is that not only the opposition parties but also an independent media can play a big role in disclosing PF(JD) overt and covert operations abroad. It is clear that a civic society such as a community center is obliged to be non-partisan if it is partially or fully funded by any level of governments. Our role as communicators is to visit these centers and participate in their events to cover if they are partisan. And investigative their ambiguous activities.
    Community centers that are not funded by any level of governments cannot run a civic activity and at the same time support PF(JD)’s programs or events. They are unlucky. Because any activity they do is one way or another way has a role in prolonging of the many human right abuses committed by the dictatorial regime in Eritrea. As communicators we have to cover this point and win the public opinion that is significant factor for policy makers.

    Brhan

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Brhan,

      Thank you. Your comment on the potential role of independent media in exposing illegal overseas activities of the regime is spot on. Although I did not state it explicitly, the media and other “secondary” actors was what I had in mind when I wrote that a bold legal action initiated by the opposition movement would “trigger a concatenation of events that would jointly lead to substantial erosion of the regime’s dictatorial power.” The thrust of my argument regarding this particular point is the following: If the struggle for democratic change is to make inroads, any effort directed against the regime must have Eritrean ownership (i.e., it must be lead by Eritrean political “parties”, civic organizations, human rights activists, advocacy groups, etc.). These activist forces will, of course, have to seek out and secure the support of the independent media as well as those of human rights and pro-democracy organizations/movements everywhere. Put differently, we can expect international actors to lend their support to the struggle, but not to do the job for us.

      As for the rest of your comment, I am in full agreement with your take.

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