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Human Rights And Challenges In The Horn Of Africa

1. The Hon. Adam Bandt Federal MP, Cr Grant Miles, Maribyrnong council, her excellence representative of Botswana Ms. HEDDIE GOLDBERG, his Hon. Consul General Of the federal Republic of Somalia, Yanis Hashi; Mr. Chin Tan, Chairperson, VMC; Assistant commissioner Commander Ashley Dickinson Vic Police; Commander Scott Lee AFP; religious and African community leaders and invited guests, members of the African Communities, Elders and children.

2. I wish to acknowledge the elders of the Wurrundjeri people, and the Elders of other Aboriginal communities, past and present…please join me in honouring the people, land and the vibrant spirit of this nation.

3. Please also allow me to pay my respect to my elders, my relatives and friends and compatriots… particularly my dear mother…you might be surprised to know that my speech of today is inspired by her…in fact she kept telling me what to say and how to say it. So, in a way I will be delivering my mother’s speech._____________

4. In a recent article that appeared on AlJazeera, Dr. AbduSattar Qassim says, “Democracy is a culture and not a political decision; the West are skilled in it because it is their daughter and a culmination of their historical development; but us, we have a different historical experience.”

5. Two years ago I was in a Free Speech Forum in Oslo, Norway when a friend introduced me to a Sudanese “human rights activist.” We began to talk and I asked him when he was returning to Sudan. His eyes popped and he told me that he cannot return as long as Omer Al Bashir and his government is in power . Why? You are just a human rights activist! No he said. I had fled the country after the security forces discovered I was passing vital information to human rights organizations about the movements of AlBashir… and of course he implied that he knew everything going on in Sudan and that he risked his life and communicated with many groups, of course human rights groups, as you can imagine. It was too much for me: were you a spy? If what you are telling me is true, then any government would arrest you on charges of treason. I avoided him for the rest of the evening.

6. When I travelled to Ethiopia, I would go to the Hilton Hotel, the best place to meet the who-is-who in Addis Ababa at the time and I would see parking lots full or cars with “Erdata” registration plates. Of course only them and senior officials, businessmen, and women, including visitors with hard currency could afford the place. Here are respectable, selfless people, doctors who work in remote villages giving medical assistance to deprived people, people who came back from digging wells in some remote areas for the villagers… but there were human right activists on a conference, or for meeting, or on a fact-finding mission, or simply there to recruit human rights activists like our Sudanese friend, people who would report on the government secretes, of course that has become a human rights issue.

7. Elsewhere in the cities and villages of the Horn of Africa, most people struggle with day to day life, not really concerned with freedom of expression, or association, or any of the basic human rights that we in this room take for granted.

8. The concept of human rights is relatively new–the West, including Australia which is not West geographically speaking–, it came into being only after WW2 and it only began to develop after all sorts of feudalism, slavery was abolished…at least in its traditional sense–I mean we do not have cotton plantations or thirteen years old boys sleeping under the loom on a dusty floor of a factory– we now have thirteen-year olds being denied education and hope.

9. I have travelled all over the Horn of Africa except Somalia– and who can blame me for avoiding it, at least in the last two-decades. But I do not need to go to Somalia, there is an umbilical cord that ties Somalis with Eritreans, I never felt that I do not know Somalia; probably I met and know more Somalis than any of the other countries of the Horn of Africa. I have also travelled extensively around the world and I visited many countries… and why do I feel you will not be surprised when I say that the happiest enviable people from the Horn of Africa live in Australia.

10. This is my first visit to Australia and since I know almost all Eritreans living in Australia, I have heard a lot about this country and I have read enough, this visit gave me a chance to see firsthand how people live in this country. I was pleasantly shocked by the level of tolerance, freedoms, rights and diversity that I witnessed. I was amazed when I compared the diversity that this country has manufactured over the last few decades (as far as The Horn of Africa is concerned) and the natural diversity that we have in the Horn of Africa–I am not yet sure if it is a blessing or a curse! How did we fail to capitalize on our diversity? How did it turn to be a curse when Australians have brought diversity to their country, willingly they invested on it…heavy investments.?

11. I think the secret is evolution… and some evolutions turn bad, not in Australia… and not the evolution of the concept of human rights.

12. I sometimes wonder and ponder about the right wing rhetoric in my country the USA, some of whom were arguing that some regions cannot handle democracy or human rights. To the uninterested, surface observer, it might seem so. But I was offended: do they really think my people do not want to be free, to enjoy their human rights? Do they mean we can only function when we are ordered around to do things we would rather not do on our own? Do they really think, we love to be oppressed, denied our human rights? That is when I cling to the Universal Declaration of Human rights. And that is when I become disillusioned: do those who try to help us improve our condition by promoting human rights really understand our situation, what really is the crux of the matter? I am not sure most people know this.

13. Our region is part of an area, an area that is so chaotic, and God had to send the most known prophets there: David, Mosses, Noah, Jonah, Job, even one who carried my name, Saleh, Christ, Mohammed and many others. That region is about groups, about communal rights and not about individual rights. That region has been shaped by a millennia of communal  life where the interest of the group comes before that of an individual. Religion is supreme and anything that contradicts religious notions and perceptions are really not welcome. That is in my view the main problem.

14.vBut what makes it worse is ignorance: and religious indoctrination has been used for political ends on the believing communities very successfully. Traditions are very entrenched and the resistance to modernity is a tough stance.

15. The other things that is crippling the Horn of Africa is bad governance which has prevented people from evolving–there are still people who go several generation back to trace one’s blood purity, to make sure that a bride or a groom to-be doesn’t have slave ancestry. We still have prevalent use of the term “slave” to dark skinned people… Eritreans use the word “Barya” meaning slave affectionately for a dark skinned person. Ethiopians referred to Mengistu Hailemariam, the ex-leader of Ethiopia who was over-thrown in 1991 as Barya. The belittling and oppression of women is a common phenomenon. FGM is too common, and it is not even proscribed in any religion, it is believed to be inherited from the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs… and it is too common in our part, with the exception of a few places in Ethiopia.

16. Now! How do you educate of such things to a community that travels ten kilometers to fetch a pail of water, if they are lucky the well will not dry up?

17. The challenges are great, and they start with governance. Good governance ushers an era where basic justice is applied. Once that justice is there, people develop faster. Once justice is established, the main crippling enemy is ignorance. And that could be targeted simultaneously with providing basic needs such as water and medicine. Only then we can successfully eradicate all the ills that hinder the joy of maintaining the human rights of people.

18. We have governments that act as feudal lords, and we know the West could not have come up with the evolved Universal Declaration of human rights. It first had to eradicate feudalism in all its forms. The governments of the Horn of Africa are the major impediment to adopting the concept of human rights which many in our region understand to mean, justice. For under a just system, one cannot be denied basic human rights.

19. Over the last twenty years or so, Somalis were reaching at each other’s throat despite the fact that Somalis speak basically one language and are Muslims. Why? Bad governance that forces everyone to seek protection from those close to him, everyone on his own brought clan warfare to the fore. Hopefully, Somalia is going fast towards normalcy and I am confident that they will succeed because they are resourceful people. Even in the middle of fierce wars, some entrepreneurs managed to provide an impressive telecommunication survices, away from government regulations and assistance, impressive banking (mainly transfer) system, they created security outfits when the police apparatus collapsed.

20. Of course they created, the technical, a pick up mounted machine guns that challenged tanks. As bad as it is, it is innovation, even if it is crude. Good governance will certainly improve the human rights situation is Somalia, provided Somalis defend their land from modern day Messiahs, people who seem dead certain of who goes to hell and who is destined for heaven. People like AlShabab who think they are the Ambassadors of God on earth and destroy the rich Sufi heritage of Somalia. Those kind of  claimants to divinity are the only risk that Somalis have to take care of– and I am not denying they are the product of both bad governance and intolerance exported by those who think they own the truth about everything, the fanatics.

21. Ethiopia seems to be doing relatively well compared to the other countries of the region, but the flashy economic development might widen the gap between the poor and the rich– and that is a disaster waiting to happen in a country that is reproducing in an alarming speed–eighty-something million souls! But if Ethiopia suffers from poverty, I assure you it is not God’s mistake, He has bestowed on Ethiopia a fertile land, lots of water, a rich multi-cultural society and other endowments. Economic disparities might create a risk of arousing ethnic tensions.. and thus the erosion of the little relative improvements on human right.

22. Sudan is the perfect example of a bad governance–the Salvation Front government is corrupt to the core. The elite of Sudan are playing the Sudanese social and regional groups against each other. When I was young, the Sudanese were peaceful to the extent we used to make fun of their character, avoiding any confrontation. We used to make jokes about that. Thanks to the NIF, the Sudanese are fully militarized and the Sudan which used to be safe haven for all the region’s refugees has now become hell on earth. It has become the center of operation for human traffickers, hostage takers, and criminals who have established a lucrative body part trade.

23. South Sudan does not fare any better when it comes to fragility of the system; ethnic strife and conflicts have ravaged the young nation from day one. The two governments could not even agree on how to exploit the oils that is the main source of income… my knowledge about South Sudan, regarding the situation of human rights is scanty, but all the ingredients for the violation of human rights are there: an arrogant government, a trigger-happy army and warrior culture. There, I wish them luck.

24. Now I come to my beloved Eritrea; if my heart would allow me, I would have claimed I am from any other country but Eritrea: the embarrassment I feel due to the ugliness of the governance is like nothing the world has seen.

25. I have a relative who has been serving (sometimes carrying a gun and running from one battle  to another, sometimes building roads, sometimes tending to a general’s farm or building a house for him) for the last 16 years–with no pay. He was forcefully conscripted in 1997 when he was 18–now he is 34, not married, never had a chance to have a home, to pursue his education or to help his parents.

26. I know people from childhood who were arrested (no reason given) and disappeared since 1994. I cannot possibly tell you enough about Eritrea, but let me tell you about my beloved town, Keren. It was a town of about 15000 people when I left it, everyone knew everyone else. I grew in a street that started in Hillet Sudan and ended at the Dugana police station–less than a kilometer long. I can practically close my eyes and visualize every house in that street. I can also imagine their situation had they been left along in their country.

26. Most of my generation from that street are either dead during the struggle era or become refugees, Many are still languishing in refugee camps in Sudan. But a considerable number is here, in Australia. Almost every family in that street has a son or a daughter here, most probably in this meeting. And we thought that was sad–so much people being forced to leave their homes to save their lives. We were fine with it because we though it was a struggle and that was the price we had to pay for freedom, we were confident the next generation would reap the fruits. Wrong?

28. Today, the number of refugees that the Eritrean regime created (and continues to create) after “the independence” of Eritrea are many fold greater than what the Ethiopian occupation created in its thirty-years occupation. The suffering that the supposedly sovereign government of Eritrea created is many time more than the suffering and deprivation that the Ethiopian governments created.

29. In a recent report titled, “Hear No Evil: Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility in Eritrea’s Mining Sector” [Human Rights Watch]* describes how mining companies working in Eritrea risk involvement with the government’s widespread exploitation of forced labor. It also documents how Nevsun – the first company to develop an operational mine in Eritrea – initially failed to take those risks seriously, and then struggled to address allegations of abuse connected to its operations. Although the company has subsequently improved its policies, it still seems unable.”

30. Two weeks ago I went to Perth to give a speech, and I was mesmerized by the mining city, I wished all the mining contracts would be given to Australian companies with a caveat, Turn the desolate village of Bisha, where Nevsun is using slave labor, into a copy of Perth..never mind the river, we don’t have it in abundance like the Swan River, unless God sends prophet Noah’ storm to flood all the abusive regimes, and leave behind something like the Swan River.

31. Amnesty International…bless its heart; and the restless people at Amnesty and HRW often write appeals and petitions and call on people to sign a letter of appeal to, say the minister of justice Fozia Hashim, to release political prisoners or prisoners one has no way of knowing why they were arrested. Of course the world knows the Eritrean regime doesn’t give response to such niceties, appeals and petitions. If I would find anyone who listens, I would suggest the appeals should go straight to the president through those who knowingly of unknowingly finance his military machine: Qatar for example…or the IMF? or Italy where he is believed to have some sort of financial and other interests…maybe learning is due, one cannot guess the crime of the Eritrean regime.

32. My town Keren, that 15, 000 town now has twice as many people, all the surrounding villages have migrated to the town. And what I see here and in other parts of the world are mostly younger generation who fled the forced labor forces that the Eritrean government created. In such a situation, do you think people worry about freedom of expression for Eritreans… or other noble ideals when they lack the basic justice? I am afraid not, it is not in their priority… and this is why we are lagging behind on human rights, bad governance.

33. I am not done airing my views regarding Australia….maybe now I will be; but I have to congratulate Australia for its new role in the Security Council…I read PM Julia Gillard’s Roadmap for Australian security and I hope other countries would have that kind of clarity. Our region lies in the middle of a waterway that is vital to Australia’s trade and commerce. And we want Australia to be more involved in the region’s affairs and play a role that many have been considering secondary.

34. Yet, Australia needs to revise all its past relations with that area. One example would suffice: An Australian company established a fiberglass boat factory somewhere in the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. I believe some of the boats found their way to pirates in the region and you know the rest of the story.

35. There were also some mining companies that were (maybe are) dealing with the regime that uproots native people from their villages to grant mining rights to multi-nationals–the villagers get nothing. I am not going to name the companies (consider that a national interest, this is my modest attempt to show those companies that we love them, it is only their dealing with tyrants that we don’t like) I hope Australia would convince those companies under its jurisdiction not to deal with tyrants and totalitarian regimes–they are not that desperate to find a mining ground, are they?

36. What I think should happen is that the issue of human rights in the Horn of Africa (and elsewhere) should be seen in a political light, Western governments should be able to pressure, nay, threaten regimes that abuse human rights, they should use real-politics and no diplomatic niceties. I believe the excuse that some governments use, i.e. we have to maintain some sort of working relationship, should be shunned. No human right respecting government should have any relations with an abusive government. Why would a democracy need to have relations with an authoritarian regime? If I enable a gangster or a criminal, I will be implicated in his crimes, the same should apply to Western governments, that answers why many people are angry at the West.

37. Bleeding-heart organizations that claim to be exporting human right values should at least have enough cultural and linguistic knowledge about the countries in which they intend to operate. I have met some of those and if the decision was mine, I wouldn’t hire them as anything in the places they operate. Western governments should be able to deal in issues of human rights through their embassies and Foreign ministries and not through activist sub-contractors some of whom think it is another 5 to 9 day job.

38. Those who really need to help the Horn of Africa should empower people with origins from that region, with strict regulations and directives to prevent the seeping of corruption and avoid using resources meant for the benefit of the people from being used for their individual political ends.

39. Those of you here need to take note of something  motivational in front of your eyes. Pray hard to emulate the democracy of this great country and try to emulate (and spread the culture of) tolerance that you are all enjoying.

40. One final thing: try hard to export ideals of democracy, entrepreneurship, free spirit of a free human being and fight, fight fiercely fanatic and extremist views from wherever they come. Be vigilant of destructive views that might cause disruption and chaos within your new home, Australia, and your ancestral home somewhere in the Horn of Africa. Our region deserves a good governance, a democratic environment, our people deserve to live with dignity, with their human rights respected, and you have a ready system silently reminding you not only to enjoy it, but to emulate it.

41. Myself and my team are willing to facilitate contacts for Australian personalities and entities with Eritrean interest groups, to provide research, advisory and consultancy services that would help foster greater relations between those of us who aspire to see a democratic transition in the Horn of Africa and the Australian people. I am sure my compatriots are continuously working towards that end.

42. Thank you.

* I wrongly mentioned Amnesty International as the author of the report when it I should have said Human Rights Watch. My appologies for the error.

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

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  • Dawit

    Hi Salh
    Proud of you brother. Because any one from Keren expresses unity, brotherhood, liberal, and is a multicultural person, that is great. That is the fundamental thing and idology and solid foundation for the future of Eritrea. You make it clear the only enemy of Eritrea and Eritreans is the brutal Isias and his pfdjisan philosophy.

    People of Keren are not regionalisties, not religious bigots, not selfish people. Indeed the salvation of Eritrea will come from Keren.

    Dawit wedi keren

  • [Moderator: Yodit, grow up and come back]

  • baranta

    Dear Mr. Salih,

    Congratulations to see someone from Keren reached to the level you are.

    I have to be honest with you and hope you will review all the feedback.

    you were given the opportunity to address Eritrea issue in depth yet you went talking about East or Horn of Africa. It was good to provide general information about neighboring countries and compare all the political relationship between the countries.

    I wish you have prepared yourself much better than that. You should have mentioned the people who fled the country and risk their life going to Israel. You mention a lot about internal affair of Somalia which I do not see it to be your priority in your speech.

    Also ensure that your speech address the main issue as you miss to mention lots of things about Eritrea. Talking about Australia also you were not right, Australia is one of the most racist country in the world. We are treated bad, the community isolate us and we are marginalized as black and being Moslems. Australia also has bad history in treating their Aborigine.

    Try to be fully prepared and educate yourself about other people’s internal problems and please do not generalize. We, Eritreans we are the most racist community God has ever created. We call people slave as you know to all other black African people. Our Eritrean men are the most people on earth that need to learn how to treat better starting from treating well their families and that will be the start for improving our human right, respect each other.

  • berhe

    As long as people remain herd and kedaat the misery will continue,so be it.

  • Warsay

    Mr. Gadi,

    As a human rights activist, I expected that you at list mention the plight/suffering of the Eritrean refugees worldwide, especially in Sinai whose organs are sold at the market like eggs and potatos.

  • UN_Please_stop_slautering victims of Sinai

    A tragic Speech, Saleh!

    If you call yourself a Human Rights Activist, it is veryyyyy sad that you never ever mention the sufffering of your country men/women inflicted to them daily through the “human traffickers” who sell human organs like yours at the market as goods like eggs and potatos. You are hence only profiliing your image.

    This is the problem that the so called opposition groups never care about the victims in SINAI and refugees all over the world.

  • abe

    I moved to Ethiopia a few years ago to do my business.I work,make some money and live in peace with out any body bothering me.I am free to say whatever I want to say .No one interferes in my business nor my private life.I am free.I some times wonder if there is more than one Ethiopia.

  • senai

    Salah…ha what has an Arab got to do with Ethiopia. Shut up and mind about the suffering people trapped in a big prison cell, called Eritrea. For sure Ethiopia is not perfect, and never been. But which country is or has been? Even the country you now call him were once led by slave drivers.

    This so called ‘speech’ was full of bla bla bal. You have your own ‘country’ and we have ours.Also try to stick to the subject matter you know better, if any. By the way, which demographer or population economist said population is a liability to nations. Look around you: from China to America..from Germany to Russia, from Brazil to India -and see if they are any worse than your little Eritrea. If at all population has in fact a positive rather than a negative impact on economic growth. I don’t know what kinds of kids are producing in Eritrea these days (as we are told it is unique among countries), but in the ones we know every child around the world is born with two hands and a brain as others born before him/her; hence capable of not only feeding herself/himself but also creating miracle that can extend to the rest of humanity. As the book says, be fruitful and multiply. But I don’t blame you the book of Abraham is haram for people like you.

    • Point

      You are number 1 ignorant person of 20131

  • biskut Birham

    Human fight abuse both in Eritrea and Ethiopia

  • biskut Birham

    How come you failed to mention the current human right a use in Ethiopia? Both muslims and Christia activists are in prisons deprived and abused. They over 10,000 in number. Isn’t the major human right issue that you ought to mention?

  • Much to Salh’s attempt to tease us with Ethiopia’s population growth, I just came across an article by Peter West, a westerner just as the westerner who reported how people who can not build a single hospital in city-comfort had once built a mythical underground hospital in sahel..He actually stressed the fact that Ethiopia with a population density of 79 people per square kilometer still has plenty of room compared to 260 people per square kilometer in the much richer United Kingdom…Regardless, I just don’t understand how some Eritreans especially the supposed educated once boast about their country’s population freeze(if that is the case)as though they are doing it by plan, when the truth of the matter is it is some thing that is forced upon them by the abnormal state of existence caused by militarization…In a country where the most productive part of the society is stranded in sexually-segregated military camp how any one expects to have population growth as normal as the world in general is beyond me…If any thing shouldn’t you guys worry about your country heading towards being a land of the same-sex marriage? just a thought!

    • Point

      Population growth control and family planning is recommended to be at the top of the agenda of many governments. Specially for the developing countries! It has huge implication on the socio-economic aspect! Unless you want to produce many and sell them to work as servants in Arab countries! Try to understand some simple logic and facts!!

      • Don’t you think having the choice to work anywhere in the world is better than having to be mutilated for your body parts?..even worse when the supplier is your own “care taker”. read the 400 page UN monitoring report…

  • hizbawi

    The point of human right has brought fortunes to people, especially to Eritreans. Look the likes of Elsa Churum, Amaniaul Iyasu, Gezae Haogos, Meron Estifanos, Selam kidane, poules Tesfagerigis, the list goes on. If PIA to implement the constitution and hold election, all the human right shopping centers will close down. Now, why are they opposing to the very idea what is making them rich? Ah, got it, fake! The more you oppose the more the cash flows in.
    The truth is no one gives a foot to Eritreans everyone is out to enrich themselves by crying human rights, BS.

  • Girafiyori

    Yes the 15,000 Kerenite from 1975 know each other .We are the epicenter of Eritrean revolution the land of dive sty toleration and harmony.We will never forget those who abused our human right past and present.

  • RIP Abay Tigray

    LOL! ROTFLMAO! The cars at Hilton Hotel parking lot in Addis all had “Erdata” license plates.

    That’s classic! “Erdata” has the same meaning to Ethiopians that “self-reliance” does to Eritreans.

    • ali

      Is depending on remitance earned from forieghn economy and havig half of your population being fed in forieghn refugee camp self reliance?

      • RIP Abay Tigray

        All I was trying to say is “Erdata” is to Ethiopians what “Self-Reliance” is to Eritreans.

        The ugly truth is, present day Ethiopia can not exist without “Erdata.” Period!

        “Erdata” makes a large portion of the Ethiopian economy. They are so addicted to it. Funny thing is that’s what it is supposed to do. That’s what it is designed to do. Foreign aid is not altruistic in nature. It’s not charity in the true sense of the word. The West wants African countries to get addicted to foreign aid so that it will always control them. When the West says jump, Weyane says “how high would you like me to jump master?”

        Whereas Eritrea? Well, let’s just say Eritrea is truly independent in mind and spirit. It will not put up with anyone that treats it less than an equal or a partner. The West hates it! The thinking in Western capitals is, “How dare Eritrea tries to be different than the other beggars in Africa.” That’s why they are always trying to punish and humiliate Eritrea.

        But they don’t understand that it is not in Eritreans’ DNA to beg! “Erdata” will never be accepted as a way of life in Eritrea as it is in Ethiopia!

      • tazabi

        How about all these Eritreans in the west who live on welfare and abuse all sorts of government program everywhere. They are self reliant ha

    • Habtu

      One Ethiopian citizen who is knowledgeable of his country situation said regarding the Erdata, ” The economy in Ethiopia is currently going under western life supporting system (oxygen) if the oxygen was removed by any chance the ailing economy will be collapsed .

  • RIP Abay Tigray

    Palya Saleh:

    That’s a greeting among the Aboriginees in the Northern Territory I visited. It means hello, good day…etc. So it looks like you enjoyed your trip Down Under. I have watched the videos you posted and such. Glad to see there is a vibrant, patriotic Eritrean community in Melbourne. Frankly, the human rights stuff kind of bores me because I don’t agree with you. That said, I am curious to see what you thought of the country. Tell us your perceptions of the country and its people. Though Australia had a racist immigration policy in the past, the country is fairly diverse now as you noticed. Did the eucalyptus trees remind you of the countryside in Eritrea?

  • dear Salh, So do I? I am against people calling Yemane, or Mengistu Baria too, but I was specifically referring to the opportunistic nature in which you tried to use Ethiopians alone as the offenders. knowing that you are the last person to consider all east africans as Ethiopians, it was very hard not to sense why you singled out is typical of the so called Eritrean intellectuals salh, we know you guys too well, you just can’t miss any opportunity to defame Ethiopia on every platform you get. perhaps the only excuse one can give you is you might have done it sub-consciously with some thing in your “Eritrean-blood” pressuring you, which is understandable, but to say that you condemn one stereotype over the other is nothing but double standard at it’s worst..most previous generation Ethiopians who called mengistu Baria have paid dearly for not knowing about the ethnic makeups of their own country but at least the new generation seems to have learnt from it’s past mistakes and tent to be doing better in every-sense, and that perhaps is what you should have used as an example for the type tolerance you were preaching… not only it’s directly related to human right issue but also it would have redressed the utter colony inflicted arrogance you guys have shown towards Ethiopians who have now by your own admission surpassed you as people…so you have to stop and think if you are any better than those you portray as offenders….show that you are not at least repeating the ignorance you tried to opportunistically accuse Ethiopians for..We all know why and where the Eritrean Kunamas are, we all know why and where the Eritrean Afars are. First acknowledge their right to be what they are instead of force feeding them your much cherished colonial identity against their will. or at least do not cross the line and talk about an issue that has nothing to do with you..Ethiopia is not your country and furthermore you have no right to keep on belittling us for our past…It is about time you guys mind your own business……..I hope you don’t misunderstand me…saying I am against one stereotype but not the other is not enough..Thanks..

    • Point

      The old form of subjugation of ethnic groups in Ethiopia is replaced by another form of Tigrean centered ethnic racism and subjugation on the background of ethnic politics. The old form of subjugation helped Tigreans to impose their ethinic politics to address their greedy interest! This time, including the Amara elites have become victim!! Is that what you want to tell us things are getting better. The next future price to be payed for the dirty Ethiopian ethnic politics of today (the bomb you are planting today) will be high!!! Mark my words!!! The creation of Kunama…Afar…is part and parcel of the the dirty ethnic politics of Tigreans, Ethiopians.
      The hate and blame it every thing on Eritreans, who are victims of your expansionist, misguided, and exaggerated history, I even would rather call it myth, does not hold water. You need to genuine soul searching and reflect on what went wrong and try to work for the better future of the region!!! Do I have to remind you how many innocent Eritrean souls were killed by your barbaric cousins!!

      • If the old form of subjugation didn’t work for Amhara why do you think it will work for few Homosien elites?…Should Ethiopia’s ethnic federalism terrify you, it should terrify you because is a spoiler for your dream of being the new little empire in the region…a dead on arrival empire that could not even stand on it’s two feet since losing it’s early-day parasitical existence on Sidama coffee with which you built the one and only social housing(enda Korea)..mark my words, enda Koria will outlive Eritrea!

        • Ethio-Eritrean

          Eritrea, the new somalia. stateless, powerless, **less!. poor eritrea, we all love you though.

      • Point

        alex_deana, your ethnic politics, if you want to make sound sexy let me call it “ethinic federalism”, should scare Ethiopians especially Tigreans more than any body else. It looks you are in state of delusion! Your narrow minded leaders and so called economic advisors were telling Eritrean economy would not survive more than 2 wks. This was back in 1998 in the back ground of the border conflict. How many years now??? Is it not you Tigreans sucking the blood of Oromo and other ethiopian ethinic groups to satisfy your greed! Tell me who is looting the nation!!!! Do I have to remind you are number on beggars and survive on begging and looting! You receive 3 billion USD per year as direct budget. Your government has received 45 billion USD since it came to power on the shoulder of Eritreans!! If that stops you will not exist any more! You are parasite in its superlative form! The shame of yourself and Africa! Eritrea is moving forward despite double standard geopolitics, politically motivated sanction, evil agenda of you and the likes etc…wait few more years! Again Mark my word!! your blood sucking will not continue, you dream changes to nightmare!!!

  • Kokhob Selam

    ኣብ’ዛ ለይቲ ከውታ:-
    ….ተስምዕ ስምዕታ:-
    ናይ ህዝብኻ ዋይታ:-
    …ተቕርብ ኣቤቱታ:-
    ብርሃን ኢኻ ማሕታ :-
    … ናይ ጸልማት ብልጭታ::

    ሰበይቶም ሰብ ኣዮም:-
    … ካብ ርሑቕ ቀረባ:-
    ሳልሖም ሜሮኖም:-
    …ደው ዝብሉ ኣብ ጸበባ:-
    ኩሎም ብርሃና እዮም:-
    … ዘስተዩና ጻባ::

    ሰስኑልና ሓይሉ ስመሩ:-
    …ብዙሕ ኣሎ ስራሕ ገና እዩ ገና:-
    ቅረቡ ተቓረቡ ትረሩ ተረሩ :-
    …ብርሃን ወልዑልና:-
    ጉልበትኩም ኣሕብሩ :
    …ጸልማት ክግልያልና::
    ዞና ምስ ኣህጉሩ:-
    … ተስፋ ኣስኒቕክሞ ይሪኢ‘ሎ ባና::

  • Kaddis

    Gash Saleh –

    You have left a chunk of information regarding the Horn when you left IGAD and the Peace & Securiy collaboration which actualy improved the human right situations in the Horn – particularly in Somalia. You said Somalia is getting back to normalcy without mentioning how? Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia contributed heavily and IGAD was instrumental. I don’t want to sound ‘beaurocratic’ but your speech lacks the institutional and regional dynamics of the Horn.

    You could criticize or praise, I don’t care, but the West and the Horn countries contribution to the HR issues were very critical – hence, it was not wise to leave it untouched infront of politicians. Looking forward, the horn collaboration trend might also bring solutions in Eritrea, Eth, Sudan…. We should not always be fixed with solutions from the West – its good to look inwards as well.

    The West only takes us seriously when we are in a position to influence each other and are able to collaborate.

    Maybe you wanted to be politicaly correct for your undecided ( about Isu) Eritrean audience?

    BTW, is there a horn country called Keren? 🙂

    • Kaddis,

      Your point is well taken. If there is relatively peace and improvement of HR, the credit should be attributed to the west and IGAD. Who else? Stabilizing the central government to protect HR was paramount the task of IGAD and the West. There is no need to insert side politics to the facts on the ground.

  • eriman

    Simply excellent Saleh !!!! God bless you you enumerated what need to be done and where the root cause of our problems lies in regards to human rights. Keep the torch flaming

  • Mesfun


    Good speech indeed, I wish if you could take an initiative to do the same in some remote refugee camps, where thousands of Eritreans are languishing. For a start you can visit the refugee camp in Ethiopia and give hope to your brothers and sisters. Just a thought.

  • dlyet

    ሕልሚ ዋና ችክሊስታ
    ጉዕዞ ተጀሚሩ ኣብ ከረን
    ተፋነዉ ተቀዳደምቲ ብደርፊ ብሌን
    ብዕልልታን ፊስኪያን ጨብጨባን
    መለኸት ተነፍሔ ተሰንዩ ምስጥሩምባ
    ብሽክለታት ጀመራ ክሕምበባ
    ማልያ ጋንታና ትልለ ደሚቃ
    ኣስመራ ኮይንካ ትሪኦም ተጻወትና ገና ከይብጽሑ ሰርጀቃ
    ተር ኢሎም ክኸዱ ከለዉ ኣየወ ደስ ክብሉኻ
    ሓፍሓፍ እንተኢሎም እሞ መሊሶም የጸልሉኻ
    ፍቱው መገዲ ኣስመራ… ከረን
    ርሕቀቱ ብኪሎመተር ከም ናጽነትና ተስዓን ሐደን
    ኣብ ሞንጎ ዘለዋ ዓድታት መሊሱ ወጊሑለን
    ፌስታ ኮይኑ ኩለን ተሓቢነን
    ከረን… ደሮቆ.. ሓሊብ መንተል..ሩባ ዓንሰባ..ኤደን..ዒላ በርዕድ..ዓዲ በርበረ..ባልዋ..
    ሀበርንጋቃ.. ሽንድዋ.. ዓዲ ቀረጽ.. ዓተከለዛን.. ደቀምሓረ.. ጉሪታት..ደቂ ዘርኡ..ገሽናሽም..
    ሓየሎ..ዓደከሎም..ሰረጀቃ..ሽማንጉስ.. ምይ መንካዕ..እምባ ደርሆ..
    ማይ ስርዋ..ዓዲ ኣበይቶ
    ኣስመራ ኮይኑ እቶ እቶ
    ቮላታ ድርግም ናብ ፎርቶ
    ጨ? ኮና እዋይ ከሕዝና እንዳ ስመርዋታ
    ስርሒት ክብላ ተምንጠላ ፎርቶ ብሰብ ብሽክለታ
    ክትጥዕም ኤረና ምስ ፍረ ናጽነታ
    ጽቡቅ ዕድል እምነ ንሉል ኣፍሪቃ ኤርትራዊት ጋንታ
    ጽባሕ የራኽበና ደርሆ ኖቆ ወጋሕታ
    ምስ ተንስኤ ዋና ቺክሊስታ!!!

    ዘለኣለማዊ ዝክሪ ንስዉኣትና
    ዓወት ንሓፋሽ

  • sami

    very proud of u brother ,well done

  • saad musa

    My thanks goes to you, Br. Saleh, and to the
    great Eritrean community in Australia for putting the suffering of our prople and our struggle for a democratic Eritrea on the World map. Your speech has boosted my dream of peace, love and human dignity for our people and the peoples of the Horn ……

  • haile


    Very well handled. Great work, you come across as honest and straight forward person tha I believe you also are.

  • Neguse

    Human right dignity ,democracy.Horn of Africa politic HMMMM God save us from pretenders and self promoters

  • Point

    The topic is The Horn of Africa. But, the speaker was not courageous and honest enough to cover the topic without bias. As expected he was bombarding Eritrea and playing the politics of sanction…sanction….!!! Sanction mainly affects poor Eritrean. As it is expected, since Ethiopians are his masters of sinister motives towards Eritrea and Eritrean people, he deliberately did not want to cover Ethiopia!!!!????? Shame Mr. Human right activist!!!
    Instead of using the platform for promoting unbalanced and unfair political agenda, the speaker should have used it to address real human right issue without brewing it with politics!

  • belay

    Dear Mr Salih Gadi,
    I respected you for a long time, but on your speech in Australia, you said, Ethiopians called Mengust Baria (slave) .I think Mr Salih Gadi you broke Awate rule of conduct by accusing all Ethiopians as know, The Majority of Ethiopians doesn’t know what Mengustu looks like any way.It was only people who lived in the city including Eritreans (some ) who used to call Mengustu Baria.Infact Eritreans (not all ) used to call the whole Amharic people Adgi which means Donkeys, another way of, to mean Baria(slave).I respectly ask you, Mr Salih Gadi to correct your Generalising statement to the Ethiopians people as racist, to their fellow Ethiopians and African brothers.

    • Point

      Ato Belay,

      The bitter fact is there is Ethnic-racism in Ethiopian. There are many Ethiopians (if not all) from a certain tribe who consider themselves the owners of the country, they think they are the one who know what is good for the country, they look down on other tribes and be little them……saying Barya is among the simple things one would expect!
      where is Ethiopia heading with this kind of mentality???????

      • Henock

        It is the same thing in Eritrea-the highlanders consider the lowlanders as little as an ant.

  • Eyob Medhane


    How I missed awate….

    I was in Ethiopia for about a month, and I gotta say that the internet over there is not something I brag about AT ALL…

    I also missed the whole forto stuff, while I was there, because for some time, apparently, awate was thrown to the online black hole for some reason…

    I am glad I found it in it’s place, when I come back..


    What? How dare you say that we are only ‘about 80 million’?, sir? We have already hit 85 and knocking 90..In fact, if you were there, you’d feel we’re 100… 🙂

    Good to see you all!!!!

    • Saleh Gadi

      Check it again Eyob, since you left another five million were produced, tomorrow you could be knocking 100m. Boy, you are surpassing both Nigeria and India; maybe soon you will adopt the Chinese policy of two children per family. Welcome back.

  • Sabri

    What the people of developing countries including the horn of Africa need is not a type of liberal democracy we hear from the so called human right activists. Salih, i’m glad that you are able to see this fact lastly. What the people need is a responsible government who deliver the basic needs. In order to deliver such kind of service the type of government needed is benevolent and capable strong government. Even those countries who are considered as developed countries had had a kind of benevolent authoritarian government at the initial stage of their development. A justice system should be measured how far the regime is successful in delivering the  basic needs of its people not how much it is fitted to the liberal type of democracy. Fulfilling the basic need of the people is the same as fulfilling the basic human rights of these people. The concept of liberal human rights is good but it should be seen in the context of the individual countrie’s reality. 

  • belay

    I respected Mr Salih Gadi for a long time, but on his speech in Australia, he said, Ethiopians called Mengust Baria (slave) .
    I think Mr Salih Gadi broke Awate rule of conduct by accusing all Ethiopians as racist. The Majority of Ethiopians doesn’t know what Mengustu looks like any way.It is only people who lived in the city including Eritreans (some ) who used to call Mengustu Baria.
    Infact Eritreans (not all ) used to call the whole Amharic people Adgi which means Donkeys, another way of to mean Baria(slave).
    I respectly ask Mr Salih Gadi to correct his Generalising statement to the Ethiopians people.

  • good effort if only you could stick to human right issue rather than the opportunistic political rantings in between…Ethiopians might have out of innocent ignorance called Mengistu Baria(slave), but I am not sure how it is more evil than you the knowledgeable previously referring to Ethiopians as “non-colonized backwards who would keep colonized Eritreans backward”? emphasis mine..a bit too offence but just a taught!

    • Saleh Gadi

      In both Eritrea and Ethiopia and the rest of the Horn of Africa, the word “Barya” or “Abid” is liberally used and most of the time people do not even think about it when they say it. In both Eritrea and Ethiopia, we even use the word affectionately “Yemane Barya” is an example. And yes, Mengistu was referred to as “Baryaw.” I am totally against it and if you know your culture, it condones such ugly degrading names.

  • Kokhob Selam


    Although it is not less than what i expect, I am happy to see it mission accomplished practicably. as usual excellent. it is easy to see how much you love peace and well being of human beings in general . thanks

  • Birah

    Hi Saleh,
    You have delivered good speech; and I encourage you to keep doing the hard work for the sake of the voiceless. While at it, I thought you have given more wait to the human rights abuse in Somalia than in poor Eritrea. I think you should have taken that opportunity to expose the deeds of the worst one-man regime we have in the region. I hope you have done so during your face-to-face chat with VIPs.

    • Saleh Gadi

      Thanks, but the topic was the Horn of Africa as one piece, not individual countries though Eritrea is covered more than the rest. Rest assured, I live mainly for the Eritrean cause//Saleh

  • M.Ali

    Well said Saleh!!

  • Yihdega Yihdego


    You rock! You should see me now, my chin is up, my shoulders are lifted as if I am take on a fight with anybody. I am damn proud of you. I have already put my iPad on a counter-clock till I see you next giving a speech at AU then at the UN pleading on be-1/2 of the kind hearted and yet painfully oppressed Eritrean people. I ain’t kidding. You’re one hell of a gutsy dude, You can do it.