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Interview with Dr. Bereket Habteselassie (Part 3)

This is part three of the interview I’ve been conducting with Dr. Bereket Habteselassie. Here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2. For convenience and ease of reading, I’ve broken the final part of the interview into two parts. Here is the first installment.

Semere: I know you had a really busy schedule this summer and you’re on an equally busy Fall Semester, but it is time that we finish what we’ve started, Dr. Bereket. I’m sure most of our readers have been wondering if we will ever come back to our interview. In this section of our interview, I would like to cover the substance of the document, and although I would have liked to immediately get started it is only right that I ask you first about the recent tragedies in Lampedusa and the refugee camps in Ethiopia which have rightfully shaken our communities everywhere. When most of us thought our humiliation and suffering could not get worse, it sadly did; and we are having a difficult time making sense of all of these tragedies that don’t seem to end and only get worse. How do you see it Dr. Bereket? As a prominent citizen, elder, intellectual, scholar, academic, and veteran tegadalay, can you, at least, try to help us understand our situation and make sense of it?

Dr. Bereket: You say it is time to move to considering the substance of the constitution, and I agree. But before we do that, you have asked good questions, Semere, and raised pertinent points about the continuing outrage involving the recent drowning at Lampedusa of over three hundred fifty Eritreans, mostly youth in their twenties. The tragedy has aroused righteous anger among Eritreans throughout the Diaspora. In addition to the massive reaction of ordinary Eritreans everywhere, it has touched the heart of some prominent Eritrean businessmen and human rights activists. It also aroused Eritrean refugees in Ethiopian refugee camps; refugees in the camp Mai Aini and others decided to organize demonstrations leading to some tragic death and the wounding of some of them. At least one Eritrean refugee has been reported dead in the Mai Aini camp.

Reviewing the reports about the Lampedusa tragedy and the Mai Aini incident, I feel it necessary to separate the issues involving the two tragedies.

First of all, true to character, Isaias and his government tried to bury the news of the drowning at Lampedusa by saying that the victims were “illegal immigrants from the Horn of Africa.” How callous and outrageous! But such denial, criminal as it is, should not surprise us; but it does show how stupid the government of Isaias Afwerki has become. Stupid and desperate. Isaias is desperate because he knows that the Lampedusa tragedy and the horrific crimes perpetrated in the deserts of Sinai in which his agents are deeply involved, will have the effect of hastening the day of reckoning.

Eritreans in Europe and elsewhere, and Amanuel Iassu of Assenna have demanded that the bodies of the drowned Eritreans be sent back to their homeland for burial. I support their demand because it is proper on moral and other grounds, and should receive the support of all right-minded Eritreans.  Now the Italian state has determined to give a posthumous citizenship to the dead, and as Italian citizens, must be buried in Italy. I find it difficult to applaud this decision by the Italian government. Indeed, I find it suspicious: Isaias Afwerki has long been known to have friends in some factions of the Italian political elite, including some in Berlusconi’s family. My response to the decision of the Italian president is:  Signor Presidente, E certo che lei abbia il potere di dichiarare la citadinanza Italiana al loro corpo mortale, ma non ha il dirritto di prevenire mandere il loro corpo mortale al loro paese. You may have the power to grant Italian citizenship to the victims of the Lampedusa drowning, and thus force their burial in Italy, but you have no right to prevent their remains from being sent to their homeland for decent burial in accordance with the burial customs and mores of their country.

I suggest that we mobilize all our friends in Europe and ask them to persuade the Italian leaders to do what is right: in this case the right thing to do is to send the bodies of our compatriots to their homeland where their loved ones are waiting for them. Our Eritrean activists, including the leadership of CIDRI and others know friends who have friends at the HQ of the European Union. This is surely the best time for all the different Eritrean organizations—both political and humanitarian—to put their heads together and work in harmony for a common cause. This is no time for raising issues of contention of whatever nature, and instead to work together and utilize resources like friends and supporters to good use.

Let us decide to use the tragedy of Lampedusa to spare our youth a similar fate, for as long as the Isaias regime is in power, Eritrean youth will flock to neighboring countries and, out of desperation, make similar attempts to cross over to Europe.  Of course the ideal action is to unify our efforts and direct them toward the overthrow of the hated regime. To that end, cavalier dott. Wedi Vacaro, one of my favorite Eritreans and a former comrade freedom fighter, has launched a moving appeal to those ends. (the link to Wedi Vacaro’s interview is provided at the end of this article)I salute Wedi Vacaro and appeal to other Eritrean elders to follow his example.

The tragedy in Mai Aini raises several questions concerning the predicament of our young compatriots who are in the Ethiopia refugee camps.

(a)     First is the question: how long will they stay in the camps under living conditions that cannot be described as ideal?
(b)     What kind of facilities are available to them, including notably educational facilities to enable them to continue their interrupted education? There are complaints that the Ethiopian government is not doing its best to help provide educational opportunities and the requisite facilities. Have the appropriate authorities in the government requested international organizations to help fill in the gap?
(c)      Lately, we hear reports by some Eritreans that opportunities that were supposed to be given to Eritreans have been taken by non-Eritreans, and that government officials have connived in this action. Is this report well-founded? If so, what have the authorities responsible for these matters done to correct such practice? In addition to the Lampedusa drowning, could the incident leading to the death of one Eritrean and the wounding of many have been caused by a belief by some of the participants in the protest that their compatriots were robbed of the opportunities to go abroad for resettlement or to further their education, opportunities given to non-Eritreans?
(d)     What about the conduct of the government forces in response to the demonstrations of the refugees? Were they necessary, or did they cross the line of appropriate action? As one VOA reporter asked: Did the forces fire the bullets over the heads of the protesters before they targeted the protesters? If not, what has the government done to hold the shooter(s) accountable? And what precautions does the government contemplate in putting in place to avoid a repetition of a similar tragedy?

Those of us who have friends in the Ethiopian government need to use such friendship to get to the bottom of the issues listed above in order to find lasting solutions.

Semere: I think you’ve covered all the pertinent issues and comprehensively addressed my questions and in doing so made my job a lot easier. I don’t think I need to ask more on what you’ve well-articulated and I hope many people will rise to the challenge and join hands in doing what you’ve clearly laid out.  Most of your recommendations are actionable items.  Let me therefore proceed with the main focus of our interview.

There are many instances in history where the constitutional making process was not the outcome of democratic deliberations; but, surprisingly, some of these countries have evolved to serve as models of democracy today. The two often quoted examples are Japan and Germany. Both constitutions (1947 Constitution of Japan and 1949 German Constitution) were heavily drafted by US lawyers after WWII. Even the US constitution was the result of a within-the-elite democracy—universal suffrage came much later. What was the wisdom of taking 27 months to draft a “bottom-up” constitution which is not, according to some Eritreans, much different from the 50 plus constitutions in Africa?

Dr. Bereket: You are right that many of the constitutions of the past were not the outcome of democratic deliberations. You give the examples of the post-World War II constitutions of Germany and Japan, which were drafted by lawyers of the victorious American government. You also point out that even the much-vaunted American constitution was the work of an elite group of people, not the product of people’s convention. You then asked: “what was the wisdom of taking 27 months to draft a “bottom-up constitution (in Eritrea)?”

First of all, it is worth noting that the idea and practice of popular participation in constitution making is of recent origin. The post-colonial constitutions of much of Africa were drafted at the colonial office, or ministry in the capitals of the colonial powers—London, Paris, Brussels…The first generation of African leaders were summoned to the European capitals and presented with a fait accompli of constitutions drafted by legal experts of the colonial powers. The African leaders were given a chance to discuss aspects of the draft constitution at the last moments, but they were not adequately prepared to challenge the draft constitution. Nor were they inclined to be engaged in a prolonged debate; they were in a hurry to be installed in government and get rid of their colonial rulers.

The practice of a popular participation in constitution making in modern times is a function of the spread and universal embrace of the democratic idea. Representative democracy as a governing concept is a paramount value of our epoch, reflecting one of humanity’s great achievements. It is also worth mentioning that there are two types of democracy. The first is direct democracy, practiced by village communities, which some call “Athenian democracy.” The other is representative democracy introduced as a result of European colonization of Africa. When Europeans colonized Africa, they divided it up creating new nation states defined by artificially fixed boundaries enclosing within them several ethnic groups. These different ethnic groups were forcibly brought together and became co-citizens of a new nation-state. They spoke different languages; so upon independence they were forced to adopt the language of the colonial power—English, French, etc.—to communicate with one another. They needed new government institutions, including a national assembly composed of elected representatives of the various groups. They were faced with the problem of creating a spirit of nationhood transcending their ethnic identities. Transcending it; not abolishing it. Thus the new institutions necessarily became instruments of nation-building in addition to fulfilling other functions of governance.

Now all of this meant that in redrafting the colonially imposed constitutions, African governments and peoples focused very much on the democratic idea to achieve two principal purposes: 1) proper representation of their constituents, and 2) advancing the nation-building agenda.

The democratic idea was thus involved in ensuring popular participation in all national endeavors, especially in drafting the basic law by which people are to be governed, i.e. constitution making. In Eritrea’s case, it took almost three years of intense meetings in which the basic ideas of the constitution and their implications in national political and social life were discussed in public meetings that turned out to be highly educational. One of the side effects of such educational exercise is that it gave people a sense of ownership of the constitution.

Semere: If we judge you on the basis of the two principal purposes you’ve mentioned: 1) proper representation of their constituents, and 2) advancing the nation-building agenda; how well do you think you’ve done? I know you and I share the love of reading the Bible and the Good Book says, “A tree is known by the fruit it bears.” Where is the fruit and how would the educator in you grade Dr. Bereket and the constitutional making process?

Dr. Bereket: Your question intrigues me, Semere. Your biblical quote would be relevant to this discourse were we speaking about the record of the impact of the constitution had it been implemented. The constitution on which we labored for almost three years was thwarted and later notoriously described by Isaias as just a piece of paper when he was asked why it was not implemented. The passage you cited from my answer speaks about the democratic idea inherent in a modern constitution of: 1) ensuring proper representation of the various constituents making up the electoral division of a nation, and 2) through representation, helping to advance nation-building in former colonial territories created by European colonial history in Africa.

I am not trying to dodge the question. Far be it from me to do that. If I understand your question, it implies that the democratic idea of representation and nation-building should be applicable to the process of constitution making; and whether such criteria were satisfied in our case. In other words, was the Eritrean nation represented fully in the constitution making process? I think we have covered that issue before in our previous interview. My own idea of proper involvement of all segments of the nation in the historical stage in which we found ourselves was to invite the former ELF to participate as an organized body in post-liberation Eritrean political life. I made this clear in a booklet published a year before liberation under the title “Reflections on the Future Political System of Eritrea. (Working Paper Number 3, Eritreans for Peace and Democracy. June 1990).  Not only did Isaias reject my suggestion, but he hyperventilated condemning me for writing the book, which was banned. The consequence of refusing to allow the participation of the ELF in Eritrean national political life was clear. Former ELF members felt disenfranchised despite the participation of individual former ELF members during the process of constitutional debates. Despite the participation of the majority of Eritreans inside the country, many adherents of the former ELF (belonging to different factions) argued that the constitution that was ratified as a result of the participation of the majority of Eritreans does not belong to them. They refer to the constitution as Isaias’ constitution, even after Isaias refused to implement it calling it just a piece of paper.

My own view is that such an attitude while understandable is not constructive, particularly in the current context of the need to form a united front to depose the PFDJ regime, which is destroying the nation. I hope to say more on aspects of this predicament later in the interview.

If I have misunderstood your question, please enlighten me.

Semere: A big part of what I’m doing here is to ensure that you do not dodge my questions; you’ve not done so so far, and I can’t be more grateful. Whether in this interview or in life in general, I try to strictly follow the precept of “tefaqer kem aHwat: teHasaseb kem gona.” Love like brothers and hold each other accountable like strangers. Saying that let me clear one thing. Our struggle, unlike that of Tigray and Oromia, was a national struggle that transcended ethnicities and other parochial agendas, but in our post liberation and constitution-making process, we now have several organizations in the opposition with narrowly defined ethnic and religious agenda. It looks like we have regressed; and it does not look like the Constitution-making s of nation-building, that you’ve beautifully articulated, played a meaningful role in solidifying what was already achieved during our liberation struggle, let alone to improve upon it. This is what I had in my mind when I quoted the verse of a tree is known by the fruit it bears. What do you say, Dr. Bereket? Am I being unfair?

Dr. Bereket: Semere, your reference to the biblical verse of a tree and the fruit that it bears is an apt metaphor applicable to the chaotic condition of our post-liberation condition. In fact our case can be described as a Hobbesian condition of the war of each against all. Elsewhere, I have described the continual splitting of our political groups as part of the DNA of Eritrean political organizations. It is a curse if I may be blunt about it. At least during the armed struggle, we had two major fronts. But, following the 1981 debacle, no sooner had one of the Fronts (the “Mother Front”) left the Field than it splintered into several factions. The fate of The Eritrean Democratic Party, a new EPLF-based opposition party was not much different: not very long after its formation, it split into two, then three factions.

It seems that we are destined to go through a period of such chaos of continual splitting before we settle down to be sensible about it. We will need to work out a mode of composing our differences and concentrate on what unites us for the common aim. That common cause right now is how to get rid of the PFDJ regime and save our benighted nation. One significant way to that end is to rally behind the 1997 constitution, which with what some call its defect, can provide a rallying point in the struggle of combatting the regime. When we get to the point of commenting on some relevant provisions of the 1997 Constitution, I will address the issues causing controversy. Moreover, in hindsight, I now know that there were certain gaps in its content, gaps that when filled may help provide a solution for some of our problems as a political community. I intend to address these and related issues of controversy with the aim of mobilizing the needed support for a common struggle to overthrow the PFDJ regime and beyond. In doing so, my aim is to bridge the gap and help resolve the division among most of the major groups constituting our nation’s political life, such as it is.

For aging revolutionary confronting seemingly insolvable issues, the temptation may be to throw one’s hands in the air and cry, “I give up. A plague upon their houses!” But that is not helpful; nor is it possible for an inveterate revolutionary who has devoted most of his adult life to the cause of liberation and self-determination. No, instead I say, A luta continua. Vitoria e certa! (Semere’s note: this is similar to what we say in Tigrinya qalsna newiH awetna gna nay gdn)

Let me now focus on the central point of your question: “we now have several organizations with narrowly defined ethnic and religious agenda. It looks like we have regressed; and it does not look like the Constitution-making of nation-building…played a meaningful role in solidifying what was already achieved during our liberation struggle.”

For anyone approaching the present Eritrean condition with a modicum of social science-based analysis, and with a minimum knowledge of Eritrea’s history of struggle, the current division should not be seen as a hopeless impasse with no resolution in sight. Such despondency would not tally with the history of heroic struggle against impossible odds of which we are all proud except a few misguided skeptics. To be sure, someone must make a thorough study of this phenomenon of factional splits and hopefully provide an anti-dote. But the ethnic and religious agendas should not, to my mind, be the cause of worry; they are part of the complexity of Eritrean politics and society. They should and can be addressed as such with an enlightened and fresh approach taking into account outstanding grievances in a spirit of reconciliation and (yes) nation-building in a newly minted nation dedicated to the proposition that we are all equal in the eyes of the law as enshrined in our constitution and rededicating ourselves to such a fresh and enlightened approach. Not to do so would be another betrayal of the promise of the liberation struggle and of our martyrs.

What the issues giving rise to ethnic and religious agendas is a matter that we should all ponder seriously and provide answer as a people united by our common history and liberationist ideals.  I am sure many of your readers will hasten to provide comments regarding this point, and I do encourage them to do so.

Semere:  There are people who argue that having a written constitution or not means nothing if there is no democratic political culture to support it. In your previous response, you’ve, of course, pointed out that one of the purposes of the constitutional-making process was to help foster the necessary political culture. The same people point out that the lack of noticeable public outcry on the non-implementation of the 1997 Constitution as a self-evident proof. Do you agree that there is no strong opposition to the government for its refusal to implement the Constitution? What do you have to say to these people since they also tend to be ones who try to undermine the importance of the 1997 Constitution?

Dr. Bereket: Reading your question and reflecting on what prompted it, I was reminded of a remark attributed to George Orwell (Of “Animal Farm” fame). He said, “At age fifty, a man gets the face he deserves.” Presumably he was looking at the mirror the morning after a late night party, and was disgusted by what he saw. Extending the remark to our contemporary politics, I would say, “A nation gets the politicians it deserves.” Indeed, there is an old saying that a people gets the government it deserves. Could this be the case for us Eritreans? Speaking for myself, I do not believe that the Eritrean people deserve Isaias and HGDEF.

Concerning what you call the lack of public reaction to the non-implementation of the 1997 constitution, my response is two-fold. First, as far as Eritreans living in Eritrea is concerned, it is not reasonable to expect them to go out in the streets to protest, as other people in similar situation might do. If they did, they would be met with bullets by the security machine of a ruthless regime. As far as Eritreans living in Eritrea, therefore, the absence of protest is proof of one thing and one thing only—the iron grip with which the Isaias/HGDEF regime has ruled Eritrea. The fate of G-15 is proof positive of how protests would be treated. Eritreans inside the country have learned a lesson from the fate of G-15 and the overall treatment of dissenters by the regime and decided to become part of the “silent majority.” But there is no way that it can be said that their silence means approval of the lack of implementation of the constitution on which the vast majority worked and ratified.

Let us not forget, also that the first demand that the heroic Wedi Ali and his group made was the implementation of the 1997 constitution and the release of all political prisoners. The brittle narcissism from which Isaias suffers made him scoff at the heroic attempt of Wedi Ali and his group, pretending to rejoice at the “end of the film.” The truth is that he was thoroughly shaken by it; for its message was not lost on the silent majority in the Eritrean armed forces who are just waiting for an opportune moment. The Eritrean armed forces consider the constitution as a crucial part of the fulfillment of their struggle, as was made clear by the demand of Wedi Ali and his group.

Secondly, as far as Eritreans in the Diaspora are concerned, people have been battling mightily with all the available means, including using social media and organizing mass demonstrations in many cities of the countries where they live—in Europe, America, Australia, Canada, and the Middle East. If the target of these enormous efforts by Eritreans were a government of a democratic country, it would have led to the resignation of the government, and certainly trial of some top leaders for crime against humanity and even genocide. The record of the Isaias government of the last twenty years is filled with egregious violations of basic human rights for which he should stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The latest story of Eritreans who drowned at the Italian port of Lampadusa represents a tragedy caused by what I call constructive genocide. I call it constructive genocide because those who drowned and many others who met a similar fate at sea or in the deserts of Sahara and Sinai were driven out of their home by the callous policies of a government that has held its youth hostage in a modern servitude from which there is no exit, and the world looks on seemingly unconcerned. At least Pope Francis (Bless his heart) has sounded the alarm and the Italian state ordered a day of mourning. But no bells toll in Eritrea for these victims and no flags are flowing at half-mast!

Now, as to the claim by some people that in the absence of a democratic culture it makes no difference whether there is a written constitution, my answer is that it does make a difference. But I need to elaborate on the question of what is democracy. As I think I pointed out in a previous answer in the earlier part of the interview, there are two kinds of democracy. The first is what may be called direct democracy practiced in the village communities in Africa and in ancient Athens.

The second is what has been called representative democracy. It is for this kind of democracy that a written constitution is needed. In the emerging national situation following colonial rule, as in all of post-colonial Africa, there is no way for the nations to function properly without a written constitution. Again, as I pointed out in a previous answer in this interview, the new nations are defined by artificial boundaries enclosing within them different ethnic groups. They, therefore, need a written constitution that provides a basic framework serving a historically created political condition, clearly allocating public powers and providing for people’s rights in a way designed to promote common citizenship and nationhood. In that respect, the Eritrean case is no exception; our different ethnic groups were brought together by Italian colonization to become an Eritrean nation. The long-drawn out war of liberation waged by Eritreans in the name of an Eritrean nation added an extra value by further deepening and cementing the shared sense of nationhood. A constitution should codify such shared value clearly allocating powers among the component parts of the nation as well as providing for rights and duties under a system of law equally applicable to all its citizens.  But whether a constitution-making process helps foster the development of a political culture of tolerance and other aspects of democracy depends on factors like the dynamics of relationship among significant groups within the society such as whether such relationship was characterized by cooperation or conflict.

In the Eritrean case, the history of division along an ELF-EPLF axis and the outcome of the conflict did not augur well for a democratic culture. And the monopoly of power held by the EPLF, following military victory, as well as the intransigence of Isaias did not—indeed could not—augur well for democracy. In consequence of that condition, individuals and groups opposed to the EPLF chose to follow the line of least resistance which meant putting factional interest above national interest. This is a critical part of our sad predicament. This is not to put the blame on the opposition and to absolve Isaias and his party from the blame. On the contrary, I think the judgment of history would put more blame on Isaias. At the same time, the leadership of the opposition would not receive the Nobel Prize for putting nation before faction. To summarize, I think it bears emphasizing:

That there are two types of democracy at work today;

That underneath the foreign imposed state structure, there are local laws and customary values including in most cases a village democracy that worked well for the village communities, remaining intact during the colonial rule.

That this simple mode of governance operated under unwritten, historically evolved values of community rules. Such direct democracy existed, and to a large extent still exists in African village communities including Eritrea. For instance in Eritrea, the different ethnic groups still rely on such customary values in their local governance particularly in matters of personal law, and in conflict resolution.

That representative democracy became an imperative in Africa by virtue of the fact that the post-colonial situation of a multi-ethnic nation necessitated the creation of a government representing all the component groups of the nation on the basis of an electoral system designed to ensure equal representation at the national capital.

That it is this representative democracy that some people have in mind when they speak of the absence of a political culture of democracy. As I already said, a written constitution is needed for this type of democracy. The reason is obvious: you cannot use any one of the unwritten rules of the individual ethnic groups, because they are different; you need a unifying basic law with equal application to all of them.

This elaboration was necessary because we need a common understanding of the subject matter. Much of the disagreement that we have labored under as Eritreans flows from the absence of such common understanding. But I also suspect that a few commentators who indulge in attacking the 1997 constitution do so deliberately, falsely calling it Isaias Afwerki’s constitution. I wonder how they would explain the fact that its supposed owner has not implemented the constitution for sixteen years, and calls it just a piece of paper.

Clearly, it is time to transition from a faction-based politics to one based on a common effort in the interest of our nation. Enough of this Inklil, this dialogue of the deaf! Enough!!

To be continued…

Click here to listen to Wedi Vacaro’s call for action

 Semere T Habtemariam is the author of “Hearts Like Birds” and the forthcoming book on the History and Faith of the Orthodox Tewahdo Church of Eritrea and Ethiopia. He can be reached:

About Semere T Habtemariam

Semere T Habtemariam is an author and a columnist at Awate. He holds a BA in Government and Politics and a MA in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas. He lives in Dallas, Texas. His two books are: Reflections-History-Abyssinian-Orthodox-Tewahdo and Hearts-Like-Birds.

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  • Michael Solomon

    Semere – I respect your efforts but I find the interview to be very long and felt like I was drowning in Issaya’s hatew-tew –
    I have read and heard so many outrageous things about Bereket before but his replies to your questions on the tragedies in Lamepdusa and Woyaneland are quite fitting – he perfectly matches his former boss in Asmara! The drunkard told us those who drowned in Lampedusa were African migrants and Bereket is literally trying to justify why TPLF mowed our young in broad daylight? The man is trying to blame the victims!! How dare?
    The silent majority believes these tragedies are the result of a sustained and coordinated efforts by the two TPLFs (one in Asmara and the other in Addis) they both use the so called Eritrean opposition as fenji-regatch
    This man is nearly 80 years old and is not able to call a spade a spade? In a nut shell the mafia in Italy watched our young drown and shed crocodile tears and TPLF mowed our young with live ammunition in broad daylight!! Any Eritrean with elementary schooling knows that –
    I think Bereket in his replies is tip -toeing to keep his good standing with “his friends in the Ethiopian government” as he calls them. He has to raise his frequent flier miles to Fin-fine at any cost! No dignity!
    In my comments the silent majority is any Eritrean who uncontrollably throws up if he /she hears the words-HEGDEF, TPLF and their jointly managed opposition.
    Hawka Michael Solomon

  • Michael, B.

    ፕሮፈ. መስፍን ወልደማርያም ብ 2005 ግ. / 2013 ድክ. ባዕሉ ዝበረና ዲያ፡ ኣርእስታ “መክሸፍ እንደኢትዮጵያ ታሪክ” ሓዲስ ነገራት ተንካፊ ሓሳብ ዛንታን ስነዛንታን ይርከባ፡ ኩላ ከንብባ ኣይተገደስኩን ዘገድሰኒ ግን ኣኂሉ ዚተርፍ፡ ኣብዚ ሓጺር ርእይቶ ተዘርዚሩ ዘይውዳእ፡ ነቶም ኣውራ ዘንተውቲ ኣምሓራ ይትኩር፡ ካብ ትግራይ ወይ ካልእ ወገን ኢትዮጵያ ሓደ ምሁርዶ ሓወሰ፡ እንድዒ፡ እቶም ዚምንጽሮም ሰለስተ ወይ ዝያዳ ፍሉጣት ብሓያሎ ነበብቲ ምስጉናት ኢዮም፡ እቲ ቀንዱ ብልሳን እንግሊዝ ዝተጸሓፈ ኢዩ፡ ዲዩ፡ ክስፈት ልሳንን ዛንታን ስነዛንታን ይመዝዝ
    በዚ መዳዮም እውን ኣምሓራ ክሱፋት ከሰፍቲ ኣይነፍዑልናን፡ እክዋ ምእንቲ ርእሶም ዛንታኦም ብዘረባኦም ዘይምቕላሞም ንኣና ተማሊ ኣደራዖም ዝበጽሓና ጸላእቶም ደስ ኣይብለናን፡ ፍርሂ ዶ ሰሪ ኮነ፡ ኣብቲ ዓውዲ እንተዘስልጡልና እሞ ሕግዋታቶም መለለዩዎም፡ ንድየቶም ኪጋልጽ ከኣ ዘይተርፍ ምኆነ፡ ነዚ ደራሲ ዘሕምሞ ከኣ ኢትዮጵያዊያን ክነሳቶም ንምንታይ ብልሳን ግዋና እሞ ዘይደማዒ ግዋና (ክልቅመሉ) ጥራይ ኪጽሕፉ ይቐኑ፡ ዚብል ይኀውን፡ ኣውራ ሰሩ ጽዕንቶ ምዕራባዊ ትውፊትን ፖሊቲካ ልሳንን ኢዩ
    ደራሲ መክሸፍ ዚብሎ ምክሳፍ / ክስፈት ኪብል ኢዩ፡ ይመስለኒ፡ ብሂሉ ኣብ ገጽ 7 ንዘንብብ ብቕዓቱ ኪኣምን ቀሊል ኢዩ፡ ዋላ ንከም ከማይ ልሳን ኣምሓራ ዘየኮማስዐ፡ ዝርዙር ብሩህ! ይመስል፡ ጎደሎ ንባበይ እንተ ዘየጋገየንን ስለ ኣካላዊ ትውፊተይ ኣብዚ ኪሕውስ ነውሪ እንተ ዘይኮነንን ብሰንኪ ልሳን ኣምሓራ ከምቶም ብጀነራል/ማትሪክ ዝተደቖሱ ኣይተበደልኩን፡ ናብ “በትምህርቲ መንግስቲ” ኣይወፈርኩን፡ ተመክሮ ወለዶ ዕምሪ ራእሲተፈሪን ደርጊን መን ብቁዕ ኢዩ’ታ ዚዝንወና፡ ዝወዓሉን ብልሳኖም ኮነ ብትምህርታዊ ድርሰት-ሳይንስ-ዛንታ ወገኖም ዝተደሓፉን ማእለያ የብሎምን
    ደራሲ ዘልዕሎ ዛዕባ ሕሉፍ ኣገዳሲ ኢዩ፡ ከመይ ልሳኖም ዚቐርቦም፡ እቶም ጊዝየ ዝሃቦም፡ ኣምሓራ ዛንታ ሀገሮም ብዕሊ ኣይጸሓፉን፡ ኪብሃል፡ መን ኣይጸሓፉን በለ፡ ኣነ ሓያሎ 10 ዓመታት ኣብ ዓዲን ባዕዲን ኣናዲየ፡ እንኮ ዛንታ ኢትዮጵያ፡ ብልሳን ኣምሓራኦም ኣናዲየስ ኣይረኀብኩሎምን፡ ብኣምሆ፡ ኣብዚ ገጻት ዓዋተ ዝጠቐስኩዎ ተክለጻድቅ መኩርያ እንታይ ይወጾ ዚብለኒ እንተሎ፡ ንሱ ዝጸሓፎ እሞ ብንባብ ዘርከብኩዎስ ስነዛንታዊ ገጻቱ እኁል ኣይኮነን ምበልኩ
    ደራሲ ንተክለጻድቅ መኩርያ ብሰፊሑ ኣይመርመረን ከምቶም ካልኦት ኪወቕሶ ኣይክእልን፡ ዝርካቡ ብልሳን እምሓራ ኢዩ ዚጽሕፍ ዝነበረ ተክለጻድቅ፡ ገጋ ይኅላእ፡ ኣብዚ ሓተታ ስነዛንታ ዲዩ፡ ንኡ ኪግዋስዮ ሓያል ከሰፈ፡ ከመይ፡ ነቶም ፍሩያት ዚግምግሞም ከም ስርግው፡ ታደሰ፡ መርዕድ፡ … ኪዝርዝር ግዋሰዮ፡ እቲ እውራ ዘገድስ ኣርእስቲ ከም ሕቶ ኣልዒሉ፡ እብ ምዕ. 4፡ ታሪኅ ወይ ተረት ኪብል ሕልፊ ኩሉ ትሕዝቶኡ ከተኩረሉ እንተደለና አውን ኣይወዓሎን፡ እዚ ኢዩ ክስፈቱ
    ኣብ ገጽ 67 ጥቕሲ፤ “ወይብየ ሊቀ-ጳጳሳት ዘሮምየ ደማትዮስ፡ ኣንሰ ረከብኩ መጽሓፈ በውስተ በተ-ሶፍያ እምውስተ መጻሕፍት ወመዛግብት ንጉስ ከመ ኩላ መንግስተ-ዓለም ለንጉስ ሮም ወለንጉሰ-ኢትዮጵያ” … ነንብብ፡ ነቲ ያታ ሳባ-ሰሎሞን ከም ውጹእ ዛንታ ዲዩ ኪወስዶ፡ ስለ ፍልጠትን ጥበብን ደላይት ንግስቲ ሳባ … ታምሪን ከመልክት (ገጽ 70) መሰሉ እሞ ካልእ ውሥጣዊ ክስፈቱ ኢዩ፡ ከመይ ዛንታ ካብ ያታ (ሚቶሎጃዊ ነገራት) ኪንጽልን ኪሕብረናን ሓዲስ መርእይቲ ጽፉፍ ስነዛንታ ኪጥምተልናን ክንደይ ደማዒ ምኆነ፡ ዕላዊ ዘንታዊ ይኁን በሃጊ ዛንታ
    ስለ ምዕባለ፡ ብስለት ማሕበርን ስርዓትን ወገናት ጎንደርን ሽዋን ካልእ ልቱማት ክፍላትን
    ገምጋም ምስ መንጽሩ፡ ምዕራባዊ ስልጣነ
    ትውፊት / ወገን / ዓለት / ህዝቢ ኣምሓራ፡ ትግራይ፡ ኦሮሞ ..
    ያታ (ሳባ-ሰሎሞን-መነሊክ … ጉዲት… ይኩኖኣምላክ ምስ ሰሎሞናዊያን ዕያሉ … )
    ንኣብነት፡ ከመይ ከም ዚርእዮ፡ ብዕሊ ኪነግረና፡ አዚ ደራሲ ሓዲስ ዘድሊ ክትዕ መልዓለ፡ ከምቲ ዚጠቕሶን ዚወቕሶን ክስፈት ምሁራት ኢትዮጵያ ክስፈት አሪትራ እውን ኢዩ፡ ከመይ ኪነጀው “ናጽነት ሃገር” እክዋ ዕስራ ዓመት ምስ መመላእታኡ፡ ዘየኅፍእ ዛንታ ሃገር ብልሳን ሃገር ትግራዊ ይኁን ትግረ ወይ ካልእ ዶ ይረኣየና
    ሰብ ሓቦ ዝጸሓፉዎ ዘንእስ ርእሱ የንእስ ግዲ እምበር መዛኒን ፈራዲን ኪኀውን ኣይክእልን፡ ግን ዛጊት የብልናን መግለጽ ከኣ ክንውስኅ ኢና፡ ኣብዚ ዓውዲ ዕዋተ በርእስቲ ሓተታኡ ከመልክተልና ዚኅእል እንተሎ፡ ንመጻኢ መደብ ጽሕፈት ዛንታ ሃገር አሪትራ መርብሐ
    ደራሲ ዝርዝር መውጽእ ኣብ መውዳእታ ሓተታኡ ኣይደረበሉን፡ እዚ ጉደለት ኢዩ፡ ኣብ አሪትራ ኮነ ኢትዮጵያ ዛጊት ኣይተለመደን ይመስል፡ ንኣብነት ንአሪትራ፡ ሱዳን፡ ሶማልያታት ዚጠቅስ መንጽራት እንተሎዎ ብትኩር ኪርከብ ምረድአ፡ ርግጽ ንተደማር ጻዕሪን ባጀትን ዚምልከት ነገር ኣሎዎ፡ ብፍላይ ንሓተታ ዛንታ መውጽእ ዓይነትን ኣካልን ብቕዓት ጽሑፍ ይድምር

  • sam

    Semere thank you for discussing all important topics with Dr Bereket. I have one comment though.I agree with the idea of having a constitution, whatever its quality mabe- detailed or abstract, feasible or unfeasible. We need to start somewhere,and then build upon it and refine it to a perfect level where we can say we have a constitution;we abide by it and live under it.
    But I read Dr Bereket saying: ‘I wonder how they would explain the fact that its supposed owner has not implemented the constitution for sixteen years….’ How can we expect for the owner/ Eritrean people/ to implement a law that doesnt even have an Effective Date? Or some sort of timeline by which to put the constitution into effect; for example you could have put a statement to the effect that some time (six months or a year) after the ratification of the constitution, parliamentary and presidential elections would be held; this would have given schedule to the whole nation and also enough preparation time to create a constitutional government. But the constitution is devoid of all these. This however does not mean to absolve us- the people- from not striving envisioning a democratic eritrea under constitution; but makes me wonder how and why Dr Bereket,the author or architect of that over-shelved constitution,is trying to throw the ball of blame to, or to, the people.
    Thank you,

  • yosef yacob

    Very mature, informative, and impressive dialogue.

  • tesfai

    Ato Semere,

    1. I don’t find ur repeated quotations from the bible amusing. This is a political forum, not a religious one. Please leave the church in the village (lassen Sie die Kirche im Dorf, say the Germans). It certainly doesn’t fit here and it really irritates.

    2. My due respect to Dr. Berekhet as a scholar, and a good one at that. But his merits stop there. He was and can be a good civil servant under the patronage of a strong man, as he had demonstrated under Haile Selassie and Mengistu, as well as under our home-grown tyrant Isaias (as long as the latter wanted to use him for a specific time frame). The Roman adage “Ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia”* would certainly be fitting if one is to trace his past critically. His life axiom,just as that of his Eritrean contemporaries, as personified by such figures as the late Seyoum Haregot and the obnoxious Yeftahaye Dimetrios, to name but a few, was driven more by aspirations to make carreer under whatever given regime rather than by principle or philosophical convictions.

    No doubt though that he’s a democrat, and would play a substantial role in a parliamentary democracy, for which realization the people of Eritrea are striving. To lead, however, one doesn’t necessarily have to be a super scholar, a Cicero, as Dr. Berekhet might be. Power instict, oblation and consistency are also necessitated.

    *wherever u go I’ll be there with u.

    • sam

      Nothing to add!!

  • Michael, B.

    Maybe I offended you and other people by my expression. I do not mean to offend. Frankness and openness is desirable in discussion. Hiding, deceit and duplicity and the like is harmful, in my opinion, probably all the time.
    It is obvious or it should be for all of us that respect is due to elders and to the doctors and non-doctors, poor or rich, in any position and in any space-time. Kids deserve respect because they are complete personalities, which it appears to be a tenet contrary to our culture of qes-ilka-Ibe, though loved and cared for, people would avoid talk or discussion things with them even on matter that concern them directly. Mis qol’an aytimker … or: qol’a iyu ni-Iqa gidefo. Law that people care to have is meant to exclude any form of “might is right” situation.
    Respect is also due especially to women because they are our mothers, our sisters and our wives and I would add to correct the many abuses they have to endure in our patriarchal society and to counter the Shaebia fake equality criteria.
    I say this because if women have equality of right and opportunity they would also see the mess of the system they are living in and they would be free enough to lead a revolution, possibly eliminate the gang who is making their everyday life, their feeding, caring, raising kids daunting and would sustain the brunt of family life more easily.
    They are worthy not only of love, but of respect and love. They do not deserve contempt or silaE, they should stand with dignity in our bayto, again contrary to our traditional laws, that is for sure. It is good to be living in the 21st. century to declare that, my countryman, without offending our elders.
    We tell our elders it is cool to be equal. As a principle, respect is due to anybody you see as a person. This is a guideline you do not object and do need to be told about but I must be sincere with you, I have been telling that to myself. I feel comfortable with it, yet if I have any pretention to have accomplished anything, I am damned unless I remind myself the preaching and do something to actualize it. Easy to give advice. But it is not enough.
    People should not have and expect privilege because they are doctors, good writers or experts in something, one would admire them and use them for positive purposes, while respecting them as fellow human beings.

  • Abe

    What is the point with this interview, seriously? Can’t Semere find other cheerleading forum?Naizghi…Habteselassie…where does it end?

  • belay

    What if Ethiopia doesn’t need economic integration with Eritrea given the difference in economic growth of both countries in the past two decades?

    • belay

        Dear Moderator, It seems there is a dublicate to my Nick,the one above.Therefore ,please allow my Nick to be,Don’t know. Thankyou, Don’t know.

  • One of the main reason Eritrean politics and Eritrea is in a mess falls partly on this person Dr. Bereket. If you listen and read carefully on all three interviews – Dr. Bereket wrote the constitution knowing that it was done through duress by Issayas. As a seasoned and Law professor Dr. Bereket – you should have aborted the task once you understood clearly it was done hastily and with arm twisting. Why bother place your name on something that was done without a real deal (all participants and all stakeholders). Clearly, you worked on it knowing there was key elements missing to it. Now, you seem to be pointing, softly, a finger at Issayas – I am in no place to question your intelligence but I am questioning your lack of standing for the real deal. Last but not least- At the time I remember clearly that it was rad and reviewed poorly. It was placed to the mass as a matter of fact. the deal was done already. I read it and found lots of hole in it but – with emotions running high everyone did not ask or question and reason. So long as Dr. Bereket’s name was there it was all good for Eritreans – well, Dr. Bereket – what would you change now that you have learned a lesson?

    • sam

      Thank you, i concur with you.. When I read about the constitution and Dr Bereket, all I saw was elitism, aspirations and illicit expectations. And now when I read Dr. Berekt’s interview, all I see is nothing but grumbling about unachieved aspirations, unmet expetations and self consolation. The relationship between Dr bereket and Isaias reminds me the story about the KLTE SEREQTI HAMUKHSHTI SINQOM.

  • Eyob

    Thank you both, Dr. Bereket and Semer and the Awate team.

  • Oh people Lets give for our elders, Heroes,and intelectuals a bit of respects. People like DR. Bereket can live any where with respect and good pay. But as Eritreans he joined due time to our struggle as every body does,and he contiributed as much as he can. So many others they did the same. Some paid they dear life and some they work hard to achieve our dear goal that is our indepedence. We shuold pay some respects that they deserve. what we are saying should be edicational and benafical. Dr. Bereket was appointed to draft the written conistitution. And as we all know he did. But the dictator DIA refused to implemented it.If some one has the heart should ask the DIA why? But, beaware!the day you ask this question I am sure you will be send to ERA ERo.and according to the new culture of the dictator and likes no body will be allowed to ask.

  • Nitricc

    Can you ask the doc why he advice Menge to execute the 60 high officials in Ethiopia?
    I was talking this older Ethiopian woman and she asked me where was I from and I said Eritrea. She gave me this look and she said ” Aman Andom and Bereket Habtesilase comes to mind”
    I wasn’t planing to talk to her but I ended up talking to her over 45 minutes. And that how I know. Is it true?

    • danny

      I am curious that you are so concerned to find out about what happened to the ministers of Hailesilassie fourty some years ago at the hands of Mengistu while justifying the disappearance of 15 Eritrean parlamentaries by your master in 2001. Dont you think your pathetic nature is quite evident here?

  • Michael, B.

    Please correct and not leave but LIVE! And keep the big Luck, if you will. Thanks

  • Michael, B.

    The man has too many principles! As for his writing and ideas I am not impressed, if judged by his “Conflict and Intervention …” He could be a lawyer if he gains some poise. You may wish him good Luck, but do not tell us to recycle the federation into confederation, because you and others like me failed to overthrow the tyrant. You do not have solution. Admit. I hope Eritrea is able to resolve its own problem without adding other peoples’ problems and cooperate with countries around and be independent and peaceful Eritrea, Eritrean Eritrea. No need to be or look like Ethiopian or Sudanese in order to leave in peace. Eritrea is feasible. A feasible Nation.

  • Papillon

    Dear Serray,

    We sure are merely speculating if Isaias is trying to wiggle his way out of this unimaginable scandal by talking Italian authorities into burying the dead in Italy instead for having them sent back to Eritrea could potentially galvanize the people as overly charged emotions are blowing all over. My reading of the whole thing is that, Italian authorities are expressing the gesture out of sheer remorse for they have not been able to rescue them at the very dire moment. As a way of compensating a guilty ridden conscience that is.

    My guess is that, Isaias in fact will gamble to have them sent back to Eritrea. For a couple of reasons. First, when over three hundred souls are returning back in body bags, he will use the sad saga to scare young people off by saying that they can potentially meet the same fate should they opt to leave the country. In a sharp contrast to the stated scenario, if the pressure and momentum by the diaspora and other international agencies don’t let up, the decision to have them sent back could back fire on him if the people instead opt to take matters into their own hands and hold him responsible for the tragedies that is warping our dear country we call Eritrea and our dear people we call Eritreans.

    Remember, the Tunisian guy who brought about the downfall of a regime was in an utter hopelessness when he set his body on fire. And it is not difficult to imagine what people can do including in Eritrea in this kind of absolutely unimaginable situation. The fear that has gripped Eritreans for two decades can come to an abrupt end, when a frustrated soul sees the fact that, he or she got nothing to lose by taking Isaias out. And that is Isaias’ worst case scenario and he is weighing in if that can be translated into reality.


    • Serray

      Selam papillon,

      I have a different take. One of the things missing in Eritrea is a proper outlet for emotions. The festivals are designed to dissipate bottled up emotions in very undefined and ultimately useless way. I think the regime is pushing the italians to bury them; the italians would be callous to plan a funeral while the “government of the victims country of origin” is asking to bury them at home.

      I am hoping when the usual lekso is over and the families digest what happen to their loved ones in a contemplative way, something will push them to ask the most important question of all, why? And and hope they will recognized the face of their killers right there in front of them. If the mass funerals didn’t force the question, then we know the numbness that has gripped our people runs deeper.

  • Papillon

    Dear Semere,

    My father is a contemporary of Dr. Bereket Habteselassie where he venerated him not only for his towering intellectual acumen but for his unbridled nationalistic zeal as well. Growing up in an intellectually stimulated household, sure enough got me exposed to the caricature of Eritrea’s modern history and the trajectory mechanisms that had given rise to the protracted armed struggle as well. The reason I used the word caricature is simply because, I came to realize later on in my life that I was in a way in thrall of my father’s otherwise extreme view of what the Eritrean nationalistic or should I say ultra-nationalistic fervour was about. I parted ways. If it was an allegiance to a party doctrine, I would have been a renegade.

    Having said that however, Dr. Bereket is far from being a bigot or a zealot but a realistic who has always stood and fought for the best interest of Eritrea. My first exposure to his work was when I was an undergrad where I read his historical-novel titled, “Riding the Whirlwind: An Ethiopian story of love and revolution.”* Since then I made sure that I read every book he publishes. And I did.

    Needless to say, his take on the Eritrean otherwise complex political history has shaped up my insight about the main factors that has already affected the landscape for better or for worse and the factors that will be shaping up the future of the country as well. To be more precise, his realistic insight has convinced me with out a doubt that, regional integration including confederation is one of the best viable options for Eritrea’s best interest and stability as well. Sure enough, small men who are always inflicted with mediocrity will sell it as compromising Eritrea’s statehood or sovereignty. But if I have to state the obvious, Eritrea’s statehood or sovereignty will never ever be reversed. I pray to God the Almighty that, Dr. Bereket will live to see post-tyranny Eritrea and he will hopefully retain his mental acuity and physical strength so that he will serve as the first president (Isaias is not a president, he is a thug who runs a set of blocks) of a truly free and independent Eritrea. He has my vote.

    *If I am not mistaken, it was his first book and as the main character indicates, the book is dedicated to General Aman Mikael Andom (May his soul rest in peace).


    • Semere T Habtemariam

      Selam Papillon,

      History should guide and not constrain us and the need to be pragmatic and realistic has never been more urgent. I think we’re all evolving in our thinking and the way we view the world and that I think is a good thing. Like you, I was also a college student when I read Dr. Bereket’s books; the first one I read was interestingly his book on the conflicts on the Horn of Africa. I’ve him autograph all his books last time he came to attend a conference at SMU.


  • Dear Semere,
    First I ma glad you brought Dr Bereket to the spot light.
    With all due respect there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and I hope he will answer your questions.
    From the beginning ( while he was visiting various community centers in diaspora regarding the sell of the new constitution, he was strongly confronted for its validity.)

    The number one reason for confrontation was: why do you call such constitution is a “constitution” without popular participation? Honestly, his feet were not on the floor to answer such questions; for so, he was sad, mad, and upset to hear such comments. At one time he was even inflamed, and threw his hands into the air, push his papers aside and confronted the guy who asked him a simple question.
    The question was: Dear Dr. Bereket, with all due respect can you name one government in Africa that did not or does not advocate his government is indeed a “provisional government”, and it needs time for democracy.
    Time for these dictators means decades or may be until they die? And he continues to say that we don’t have to go too far for its kind because the military junta (Derg) fits best.

    When he heard this his eyes were red and his face turned blue. In return, he got up from his seat and asked the person how on earth do you compare HGDF with Derg? Then the meeting came into complete chaos. Supporters of the government tried to throw chairs at us.
    Fortunately there was not a blood shade.
    The bottom line is he still seems contradicting himself. Sometimes he admits that a constitution without popular participation is not that fair; and sometimes otherwise..

    ዶክተር በረከት ቖርበት ኣብ ምንታያ ተባላሽያ?
    ኣብ ምንፋሓ
    ኣብ ምንፋሓ ኣይኮነትን ፤ ኣብ ምጥባሓ።
    ኸምዚ’ዶ ክትሓትት ትክእል? ከምዚ’ዶ ክትብል ትክእል ምስ ተበሃልካ፡ ዝበልካዮ ኣይትረስዕ
    “ኣብ ዘይመንጠቢትክን ኣይተእትዋ ኢድክን” ኢካ ዝበልካ እቲ ሕቶ ከኣ ሕቶ ህዝቢ እዩ ዝነበረ። ስኑድ ከኣ እዩ።
    ሎሚ ግን ኣብ ጎድኒ ውጹዕ ዶው ምባልካ ናይ መን ኮይኑ፡

  • Semere,

    I don’t want to comment before the conclusion of the interview B/C you have already indicated as “to be continued” at the end section of your interview. But I have some questions to the good doctor. Eritrea is a multi-ethnic society like all African countries. Can you please explain how representative democracy reflect equitable political power and equal economic opportunities in a multi-ethnic society? Does the 1997 constitution guarantee equitable political power and economic opportunities to our diversities? Since the 1997 constitution envisioned a “centralized unitary governance”, how does centralized unitary governance assure equitable political power with in our diversity? Keep in mind these questions are at the core of our political conflicts while our minorities are completely scared of “tyranny of majority.” Besides do not forget the document itself was a “political document” before it becomes a constitutional document. The constitution should reflect the interest of all social groups otherwise their fight will still continue to secure their interest as well. Do you foresee a change in the structure of governance to accommodate the interest and grievances of our minorities in order to avoid mistrust among our diversities? If you try to answer genuinely, I am sure that you will adjust your thoughts to address the relevant questions I put forward to you. Yes they are questions at the center of our “mistrust” with each other – still dragging us from fighting collectively the despot of our nation.

    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Zaul


      Haile has taken your place now in the the eyes of SGJ. We Eritreans can not even agree on what to eat for breakfast, let alone a new constitution at this juncture.

      • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

        Could you tell me what my eyes are looking at, since you seem to use my eyes without my permission? How do you do that? 🙂 Explanation please. As for agreeing or disagreeing, it is not limited to Eritreans, if that happens, it is human nature… and the last time I checked Eritreans were humans. We agree on what to eat for breakfast, this morning I agreed with my wife to eat Kitcha fitfit. See! I proved you wrong 🙂

        • Zaul

          Your sudden love of Kitcha fitfit may convince some people, but not me. Seeing the world through your eyes is quite easy, all I have to do is read between the lines of your writings.

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Sudden love? Now you know when I started to love Kitcha Fitfit? Check your limbs, do you have wings and hallo over your head? Kitcha Fitfit is one of my home dishes and you think I suddenly loved it. Amazing. Now for the bonus: you claim to see through, my eyes (and read a third line when there are only two-lines) and I have another talent. I smell combative perspiration from behind the screen. Of course, sometimes I get it wrong 🙂

          • Zaul

            Yes, you’re wrong. The smell is coming from the burned kitcha in your kitchen.

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Oh, my bad. I become weak in front of people who have a sense of humor and you have it. You win.

        • yegermal

          “and the last time I checked Eritreans were humans. ”

          I would qualify it with “most Eritreans” are humans:)

  • Semere Habtemariam

    Alex and Harbenga,

    Dr. Bereket and I and many reasonable Eritreans dream of an integrated Horn of Africa region. The vision of an economic integration is not to undo what has been done but to build upon it on the basis of mutual respect and benefit. Dr. Bereket has invested so many years of his life and made the necessary sacrifices in the liberation struggle of our country and it is becoming really silly to keep on singing this old tune that supposedly is meant to be the Achilles heels of this great man. The man has built so much equity with the Eritrean people that no amount of defamation will make a dint on his national credentials.

    Here is what he said in the interview and judge for yourself if these are words of a man who is not proud of his role in the struggle or of his country and of the due sacrifices he has made:

    “Such despondency would not tally with the history of heroic struggle against impossible odds of which we are all proud except a few misguided skeptics.”


    • Harbegna


      You and Dr. Bereket Haileslassie can keep dreaming all you want but Eritrea is not going to back to Ethiopia! Period!

      And stop making excuses for Dr. Bereket will you? He said what he said. For God sake, it is on tape. He can’t deny it. It was a rare moment of candor from him.

    • Selam

      Selamattt Semere haweyy
      Thanks for the interview you made with Dr Bereket and Remember this: “The best way to punish people is to IGNORE them.”
      Thank you and God bless you

  • Ermias

    Waste of time. This man is no better than Isaias. I do not trust any wanna be leader who came through the independence war (or meda or sahel or wherever). They all have too much blood in their hands. Why is he here giving meaningless interviews? He is extremely articulate for sure but he is worthless. He knew full well and all along that Isaisas murdered so many Eritreans pre-independence and post-independence as he watched. Now he is acting like a good moral person. Shame on you to suspect the Italian govt’s intentions here. They have shown great compassion and care for the victims. Kudos Italians. Just go away dear Dr. You had your chances and you wasted them in pursuit of power because you are no different than Hiruy, Isaias, and all HIGDEFites. But then again, I am not a doctor or lawyer or historian like you so my say has no weight but I just had to vent. I am extremely suspicious and in fact hateful of all of you so called tegadelti. I did lose a brother, two uncles, and countless relatives like every Eritrean. The deceased, I honor and Salute, but the rest of you are guilty of their death and Isaias by far with the most blood in his hands.

    • L.T

      I choose a leader to Eritrea…Meles fm both Aduwa and Adi Quala and Col Samuel Teklemariam(a brother to Teclaia Aden)fm Adi Qual and Adi Abun Aduwa….both dead Ermi(Ermih Awta)
      Look in America Washington From Ben Bernanke to Janet Yellen for Federal Reserve all two are Jews.
      In Eritrea there are no Twitter than Isaias stark boss with his packet QE3.Your Weyane are OCD




      Our is better

    • Nitricc

      You are a waste time and space your self. Who the hall do you think you are?
      You have the nerve to drop your crab at Gedli and Sahil. You are too coward to know and understand about it. I hate ignorant people.

  • Semere, Job well done.
    My only concern is that you seam to communicate only to the intellectual community. A big number of Eritreans may only read and understand better Tigrigna or may be Arabic. I wish you post the int-air interview in Tigringa so every one can be on the same page.

  • L.T

    Dr Bereketaeb keshi Habteslassie Kentiba Gulbut of Adi Nefas born 1932 or reborn 1942.
    He was first a church Jesus son and than the child of protestants and than with society of Ras Hotel noblemen.He was l´Etat,but also l’Eglise,c’est Moi(disrespect for the church of Tewa-Hado is disrespect for the King of Hailesliassie).
    Alemseged Tesfai,Dr Weldaeb Issack,Prof Yordanos Tekie Fitsahatsion remember him that they one day asked to Gentleman Dr Bereketaeb that “Who was first Ethiopia or Eritrea?His replied was “Asha dia Beraki(Bereket) Ethiopia ‘e’ba Tikdem”He was Ethiopian than Kebede Micheal or Baealu Girma,Lig Micheal Emru or lig Endalkachow Mokonon , Hailab Bairu,Dt Tesfai Gebrezghi…this is his graet Dictionary of him.
    He was with Gen Aman Micheal Andom provincial Autonomy and than he was also with the masses Isaias and Huruy organ-iza-tions—so he is always from priests to Pope,from honour of Religion to State,from sovereign to before I die,from politically power to strongly royal concern(fm Asmera to Berlin).He is always a new person to his new career.Hi stime is scanals.He has no any scholars moral judgment too at all.”Beka diyom elom Ethiopia…

  • ahmed sherrif

    Mr. Semere. The Doctor is one of the few non Catholic Eritrean scholars. He served the Emperor, the Derg Junta and finally the Evil spirited Afewerki. In all his prime age didn’t serve his purpose because he was not a politician then and now. I would rather say he is a humanitarian and scholar with historical mistakes such as allowing the special courts to function at will of the dictator. Bro. Semere being a historian is different but looking for future is not as looking the past with so much work of cleaning to do. Leave the man alone and let him be an elder. Think what you could do or you did for Eritrea ? Bereket desrves historical crticism and respect for his service and his people.

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear Semere, than you.

    That was interesting. Although I am the people who wonder why even this experienced father accepted drafting the constitution at that moment, I steel believe we have a lot to gain by getting the lessons from him.

    But please ask for me one question, how the hell those intellectuals accept and think of drafting constitution? Does that mean they don’t know the group? I don’t ask such type of questions to ordinary people as I know it is tough to see what EPLF leadership was for those who were watching ahead only free Eritrea. But people like Doctor sure watching every details and are not supposed to think of doing anything before ending the era of EPLF unless they have opportunist intention.
    Why someone has to go through bad experience when his fellow citizen has paid before him, Semere? Ask for me the question.

    • Kokhob Selam

      dear semere,

      I can see the question is touched but not answered as it should. I am among the people who said there is no need of thinking of drafting the constituation becouse I know nothing will be for G-15 (with all due respect) there is nothing to ask and all before and after movements were just useless inside the country as the only way out was to take action on the head it self. and this was possible for them as they were on the top.

      you see let me be open to you Mr.Semere, in our struggle what we get is what we deserve as there people who were always for better future but we were not hearing them. it is when everybody wat touched start to cry. crime was always there and the first people to be blamed are intelectuals with such knowledge like the respected doctor.

  • Kaddis


    Speaking of being Italian after the accident, does this mean the dependants of the victims can ask for Italian/EU benefits?

    • Papillon

      Dear Kaddis,

      That is original. Absolutely brilliant. That is of course possible. It will be seen if the offer was emotionally charged or a real deal bereft of political consumption (I realize that I am stepping on the line of cynicism.)


  • woredemhret


    Sure enough you can not quote the Harbegna Dr, as saying what you alleged. Here is why:

    you wrote that the good Dr. wants to reunite Eritrea with Ethiopia. Eritrea was never united with Ethiopia. Rather, the later illegally occupied it for over three decades. Thus, a true Harbegna like Dr. Bereket can not possibly make the statement of reuniting the two countries which were not united in the first place.

    Arbegna pfdj please stop your nonsenses.

  • Papillon

    I guess Dr. Bereket needs to curb his otherwise overactive imagination. He is giving Isaias way of a credit than he deserves. Isaias probably has business dealings with the mafia at most. It is a conspiracy theory gone-wild to insinuate that Isaias may have influenced some of the in the high echelon to grant the dead (may their souls rest in peace) an Italian citizenship so that they won’t be sent back to Eritrea. Tattering on conspiracy theory undermines a well earned academic appellation.

    • Semere Habtemariam


      I don’t think it is unreasonable to make the connection that the good doctor has made, let alone to be considered a conspiracy theory. I had to reread the relevant statement and for your benefit I’m quoting it for you. (the decision is the granting of citizenship)

      “I find it difficult to applaud this decision by the Italian government. Indeed, I find it suspicious: Isaias Afwerki has long been known to have friends in some factions of the Italian political elite, including some in Berlusconi’s family.”


      • Papillon

        Dear Semere,

        Dr. Bereket may have the advantage of knowing Isaias up-close-and-personal than the rest of us so to speak but again, it seems to me he is reading too much into Isaias’ otherwise wicked mind. He said, “I find it suspicious…..”. As such, he seems to have discounted if there is at all a moral dimension on the Italian authorities part.

        P.S. Many thanks for the great interview. And could you please ask him about his over all assessment regarding the kind of Eritrea we should be expecting in the immediate aftermath of the tyrant’s removal.


        • Semere Habtemariam


          I certainly will. You will see your question in the final interview. That goes for Kokob Selam too.


          • Serray


            Both you and papillon have missed the point. It is not the granting of citizenship that is bothering Dr. Bereket, it is what comes after that. The gesture is meaningless (if they are sincere, they should grant the 155 survivors citizenship) but it paves the way for burying them in Italy. According to their prime minister, the italians are busy planning their funeral sicily. If this doesn’t bother you, it should.

  • Harbegna

    Boring! Did you ask him why he wants to reunite Eritrea with Ethiopia?

    That was his stated goal before he dies. How evil is that?

    • “Did you ask him why he wants to reunite Eritrea with Ethiopia?”

      who knows, Dr Bereket may know so many-things you don’t know..perhaps he wants to save your rear..

      • Semere:

        Well done. Good questions and way to go! The interview does provide however a window to someone’s views. I believe Bereket needs to own his side of failed constitution – I have followed all interviews and Bereket failed to make sure the constitution did include all parts of Eritrean social fabric – Dr Bereket pointed many things as a wish list and knew that the constitution to be inclusive of few other items or people that you thought are crucial in to making it stand strong but you went along because you did not “for the lack of a better word” man up to the man in Eritrea…etc . If one reads carefully throughout the scripts of the interview – Dr. Bereket seems to have just simply filled out the constitution paper work as what Bereket was dictated by either Issayas or Issayas and his juntas. Dr. Bereket – when you are creating a living document to a nation and in this time and age “The muted Eritrea constitution” and you know that it is not quite clean – your hands should have been removed from it from the get go. All along, I was sure enough and predicted that it was poorly written for this age and furthermore failed to include others in the process. It was created in a rush and never given a chance to hash out the weak points. I am sure except a handful people to this day – no one knows what it contains anyway – go interview people and I would be surprise if 1% of Eritrean population understand what is written on it.
        Dr. Bereket – you mention ELF several times in your interview. You seem to patronize these group to a degree at times. This group – ELF – spoke out against your making of the constitution and against the constitution known what was failing to include. You seem to position yourself clearly in a spot to where you are at no fault. You failed them, ELF. You were entrusted by the people of the nation not the one man gang to write a document. This group from what I know is one of the founding liberation movement for Eritrea. Regardless of their fate – the current leadership in Eritrea was born out of this group – today or tomorrow this ELF will remain as a crucial player and as such you failed to consider their plea during your days in writing the non-living/muted document. I hope and pray as you are a lot older with experience and many look you up – on the next road to making a living document you stick to what is called life- liberty- fair- just and the pursuit of happiness. Remember Dr. Bereket – at one moment you were a catalyst in making and forging what we have in Eritrea now. Own up and then look forward. Fear no one but fear itself. Eritrea is not dead – Eritrea is a parcel of mother Africa, as many have gone through similar time line, and sadly enough, If there is no one in Eritrea or outside to stand up to brutality then and only then that Eritrea also may have to go through additional painful road to reach its glory days. So far no one has seen that glory day – perhaps God has a plan…..
        Note: I remember being young and everyone pointing a finger to people in the Ethiopian regime and why they did not stand up to Mengistu….Specially we Eritreans were harsh on not having no one who could not stand to Mengistu – well now it is right in our court – no one of us have to the leaders of Eritrea – so when it is in your court it is always clear. But it is also easy to clean the house if a person wants to clean injustice – it might ask however and cost for sure a few precious lives. So Dr. Bereket – on your third interview you seem to have lost hope when you for concluded by saying “First, as far as Eritreans living in Eritrea is concerned, it is not reasonable to expect them to go out in the streets to protest, as other people in similar situation might do. If they did, they would be met with bullets by the security machine of a ruthless regime” (Dr. Bereket Interview #3). Was January 21 one of such action? To be c.
        Semere – well done again!

        May God bless the soul of our brothers and sisters who have perished for nothing.