1- The state is supported by almost 90% of ethnic Tigrigna.
2- The opposition is supported by almost 90% of Eritrean Moslems (almost the same ratio as it was during self-determination era between Unionist party and Independence Block).
From the start, the EPLF represented a shelter and safe haven for those who were – for one reason or another –against ELF. After 1981, the EPLF became a single organization that confronted and challenged the enemy—not only that, but it was the only hope for freedom! That hope was fulfilled in 1991 and the state of Eritrea became a reality.
It was then that the real face of EPLF emerged, changed its name and declared its agenda which was not different – in content and aims – from that of (Nehnan Elamanan).
From the start, Isaias and his group represented Kebessa chauvinism:
- His split from team of trainees during the military course in China and he divided them into Christians and Muslims. Moreover, as the Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea noticed, Isaias “copied” all the bad lessons of Maoism!
- In June 1968 at the Aradaib conference, he proposed the division of the Army into two groups: Christians and Muslims!
- His split from the General Command of ELF in 1969.
- His refusal to attend the National Congress in 1971.
That chauvinistic approach grew slowly and gradually taking advantage of any weaknesses of the ELF and getting support from factions that were marginalized by the ELF. The rest is history.
EPLF had never been an organization of the future, its historical role should have been concluded by 1997, the end of transitional period. Berlin Manifesto (G13) and G15 were signals in the right direction and the message was: Mission accomplished! But who will listen? Who will read?
Oscar Wild said: Circumstances might alter cases, but circumstances can never alter principles.
Tigrigna chauvinism appeared on surface, used and abused all tools and values legal and illegally: ethnicity, religion, terror, deception …etc. The result is what we are witnessing today. Isaias was the right person for the wrong people (ethnic Tigrigna chauvinists)! Eritrea became a state of a certain group—no prime minister, no vice-president and no constitutional bodies. It is a one-man regime that will collapse once he disappears—either due to natural death or assassination.
Now the struggle is not only for democracy, but in essence it is for future against past; and the entire nation is looking for the future, while PFDJ is insisting and fighting to stop the clock!
The question is not only who sacrificed more, but rather, what was the outcome and how were those who sacrificed rewarded?
Let us compare the situation of ethnic Tigrigna on one hand and rest of the ethnic groups on the other:
1- The state: More than 90% of top positions were given to ethnic Tigrigna—do they say the others are not there? Not true. Hundreds of graduates from the Middle East applied for jobs but they were rejected because they don’t know Tigrigna?
2- The land: Thousands of ethnic Tigrigna were given lands in the lowlands—do they say it is no man’s land? Not true. The owners are in neighboring Sudan living as refugees for more than thirty years. The Eritrean government blocked all efforts by the UN and other International organizations to return them back to their homeland.
3- Not to mention cultural and economic domination.
Now the question is: If all that is true, why are ethnic Tigrigna youth deserting and leaving the country?
Here is my reading and understanding of the phenomenon: The main reason is the breakdown of the three pillars that used to hold the unity and coexistence of ethnic Tigrigna community.
- Sharing of power and wealth: Akeleguzai is out of the equation, Seraye is half way and even within Hamassen there is a considerable sector against the government.
- Abolishing the spiritual authority of the Orthodox church (the patriarch of the Orthodox faith) was a serious warning and a sign of the unknown that might follow.
- The unnecessary and fabricated war with their historical neighbor and ally, Tigrai; that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
To this are added the other accelerating factors: endless military service, deteriorating economic conditions, terrorism, lack of justice and democracy.
Eritrean Muslims have the honor and privilege of starting the armed struggle thus paving the way for the entire nation to join and liberate the land. They were the first to sacrifice, but the last and least to be rewarded. What is expected from Tigrigna elite and leaders is to take an initiative and approach their Muslim brothers with a new program (inclusive not exclusive) to build the country together.
We know that the PFDJ didn’t take the consent of ethnic Tigringna, neither does it have any mandate to represent them; therefore, so it is unfair and unwise to vilify the whole ethnic Tigrigna. On the other hand, it is unfair for half the population to dominate the nation; a balance should be kept. Within the ethnic Tigrigna community, the elite of Hamasen have the upper hand, and within those, the grandsons of my ancestors from Karnishim became “the kings” of Eritrea! Should I celebrate that? Not really.
The PFDJ is circulating again the old scarecrow from across the border , Tigrai, the successors of the Axumite Kingdom, the custodians of the Orthodox Church and the rulers of the Eritrean plateau (directly or indirectly) in the past, the cornerstone of the ruling party in Ethiopia—those people are being accused of preparing to invade Eritrea! Why?
The claim is that they are planning a regime change and partial occupation of the country!
Now, to verify whether that is true or a myth, we can have a quick look at the record of the PFDJ—its repeated and fabricated stories, and immature understanding of what is going on in the world! Those who live in a lawless environment do not think or believe that there is “law” outside their doorsteps! They believe that what you get by force is yours! As for the first part of the claim, i.e. regime change, it is the responsibility and task of the Eritrean people; they know how and when to do it. The claim of partial occupation though, is an insult to the conscious and political maturity of the Eritrean people.
The outside world is not accusing the ethnic Tigrigna of violating international law or destabilizing the and damaging the security in the Horn of Africa; Eritreans as a whole are guilty because the name of the state is Eritrea is involved!
Here comes the real challenge: all Eritreans must join forces to bring about change and create a state for all Eritreans and by all Eritreans. We all need to clear our names and prove to the world that we deserve what we got, an Independent state.
Serbians did it when they revolted against Milosevic and his gang; the Amharas did it when they joined the national resistance against Haile Sellasie. The ethnic Tigrigna can make it; we can make it together, because we are struggling for the future.
God bless Eritrea!