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Prison Break: A Microcosm of Popular Uprising Against Tyranny

The inspiration for writing this article was drawn from a piece aptly titled “Seventeen years in Prison without Charge” that recently featured on Awate.com. The story of Haj Mohammed Ali Mahmoud the piece narrates is, sadly enough, also the story of thousands of other Eritrean prisoners that are wasting away in PFDJ jails for no reason other than that a police state decided they be left to rot there. It is atrocious that the arrest and confinement of thousands of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience took place without due process of law. It is even more so

that their fate is entrusted not to the dictates of the law, but to the whims of a ruthless dictator.

Arbitrary incarceration in Eritrea – along with its attendant cruelties of indefinite detention, solitary confinement, torture and disappearance – is an injustice that is linked to a host of other realities of political repression and socioeconomic deprivation. Such linkages notwithstanding, however, this article focuses exclusively on the issue of political captives of the regime. The writer takes the view that, as an instrument of oppression, arbitrary incarceration is an evil that can and must be fought on its own without losing sight of the movement’s overarching mission of bringing democratic change.

Learning From the Past; Innovating for the Future

A glaring weakness of the Eritrean opposition movement and a key factor in its lamentable state has been the absence of effective strategies for organizing its activities and for carrying the struggle forward. Indeed, sorely lacking in the movement have been political acumen, foresight and will that are so essential for prioritizing issues, developing a sense of scale (i.e., capabilities owned versus challenges faced) and getting missions accomplished. With such history of inadequacy behind it, the opposition has little to show for its nearly two decades of existence by way of accomplishments or even progress toward attainment of its goal(s). Its activities over this period have included picking, seemingly at random, a variety of often contentious issues and adopting politically opportunistic, hence discordant positions on them. At times, issues were framed and advocated in ways that promoted dissention rather than harmony within the camp.

Individual factions of the movement have not fared much better either. They too failed to prioritize issues and conduct realistic appraisals of their respective political strengths, support bases and financial resources as benchmark for elevating their future contributions to the struggle. Instead, they remained preoccupied with faulting each other’s agendas, activities and positions on issues. Needless to say, these negative factors and attendant inter- and intra-group feuding have combined to severely impair the movement’s potency and erode the capabilities of its constituent factions.

As hinted above, a political movement can succeed against seemingly insurmountable odds by optimizing its capabilities through adopting a canny strategy of tackling the problem in a piecemeal fashion. Application of a ‘problem disaggregation approach’ (PDA) to political activism provides a way of conceptually breaking down a popular struggle into its constituent elements. In practice, PDA improves chances for success by helping identify self-contained and manageable elements of the overall struggle, prepare effective plans for their sequential implementation and undertake execution thereof in a logical and systematic manner.

This article attempts to draw attention to possible operations that committed opposition group(s) could launch in coordination with clandestine cells in Eritrea to undermine the regime’s ever-expanding prison system, and to counter the pain and cowering apprehension it induces in the population. The proposed mission would advance the struggle on its own merits and by exemplifying initiatives opposition forces can take to chip away at the regime’s grip on power.

A Population Under the Yoke of Tyranny

The PFDJ government’s quarter-century rule of Eritrea has made it amply clear that the ultimate goal of the party and the political ambition of its strongman has always been to remain in power indefinitely. To ensure such an outcome, the party has championed political repression, economic deprivation, cultural degradation and national-psyche manipulation as pillars of a dictatorial system designed to subdue and control the population. The result has been a police state where an oversized state intelligence and security service (ISS) equipped with these instruments of oppression is dead set on eradicating any opposition to its rule by clamping down on dissent and crushing the slightest political activism with utter brutality.

The system’s pursuit of its barbarous agenda has so terrorized the country that the fear-gripped population has no choice but to submit to the regime’s absolute power or to join a mass exodus the scale of which continues to shock the world. The notorious ISS advances its mission by forcing ex-freedom fighters and national service conscripts to do its dirty work. These agents conduct surveillance on the population, round up citizens on mere suspicion of dissent, imprison and torture them and keep them locked up indefinitely. Ironically, these are the same forces that defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and are themselves the victims of the inhuman policies of the very regime they help keep in power.

A: PFDJ Prisons and Prison Conditions

Information provided over the years by human rights activists/organizations, defecting officials, government insiders, former prison guards, etc. has increased knowledge of prisons and prison conditions in Eritrea. It was thus long known that, by the late 2000s, there existed some 300 detention facilities scattered across the country. As the regime grew increasingly ruthless in subsequent years, its incessant roundup of real and suspected dissidents generated tens of thousands of prisoners thereby pushing the number of facilities to nearly a thousand.

Depending on age and location, the country’s detention facilities vary widely in size, quality and accessibility. Old, colonial-era prisons in cities and towns are properly designed, fairly accessible facilities that accommodate thousands of inmates. Contrasting with these major facilities are small-capacity, makeshift prisons that PFDJ established in urban and rural areas. In towns the latter consist of converted warehouses, villas and other private buildings most of which are off-limits to the public. Those in rural areas, on the other hand, are sited in remote locations and consist of crude masonry cells and shipping containers placed above and/or under ground. These are mostly “secret” facilities designed to be geographically and administratively inaccessible.

Incarceration in PFDJ jails is believed to be unparalleled in its hellishness. Living conditions are simply atrocious with levels of crowding that are hard to imagine. For many, torture and sexual abuse and other forms of mistreatment are daily staples of prison life. Prisoners are never brought before the court, neither do they have any legal recourse. Incarceration is therefore indefinite: for some, it has already dragged on for decades; for others, it ended when they were disappeared or extrajudicially killed by the system.

B: Recent History of Prison Breaks in Eritrea

Notwithstanding the profusion of prisons, burgeoning prison population and horrific detention conditions outlined above, there have been no prison breaks anywhere in the country during the nearly 26 years of PFDJ rule. Here the term “prison break” is used in the strict sense to mean a prisoner escape hatched and coordinated by a group of inmates and/or non-inmates, staged inside prison grounds, and resulting in successful escape of more than just a single prisoner or two.

It is true that there had been incidents of a lone prisoner escaping from a PFDJ prison, presumably with the stealthy help of one or two insiders. Two prominent cases are those of Asmara University Students’ former leader, Semere Kesete (who escaped in August 2002) and former Eritrean air force pilot, Dejen Ande Hishel (in February 2014). But, such incidents have been so few and far between that they are more anomalous occurrences than normal events. As such, and because details of their breakout remained shrouded in mystery, the escapees were accorded celebrity status and even glorified as mythical heroes in some circles.

The country has also witnessed another type of prisoner escape which, though by no means frequent, is not all that rare in its incidence having occurred a few times in the last three to four years. Based on opposition media accounts, escapes in this category seem to share characteristics that set them apart from the “solo-escape” cases outlined earlier. Specifically, they (i) involved groups of between four and two dozen prisoners, (ii) were staged outside prison grounds (while prisoners were in the process of being transferred between facilities, or escorted to and from forced-labor sites) and (iii) entailed an ironic spectacle of prisoners being led in their flight by the very armed guards assigned to escort them. These observations suggest that the escapes were the work of aggrieved guards who made a premeditated move during off-prison escort assignments or spontaneously made decisions on the spot.

Regardless of their nature, however, prison escapes during the PFDJ era have been notable neither in their frequency nor in the number of prisoners they catapulted to freedom. This is in stark contrast to the record numbers of escapes that marked pre-independence years when the liberation organizations (both ELF and EPLF) emptied enemy jails of thousands of political prisoners in repeated prison breaks. Special-operations fighters from liberated areas, clandestine cells in enemy territory, operatives and captured fighters inside prison facilities secretly coordinated their ideas to develop elaborate escape plans. Possibly input into devising the plans, but certainly cooperation in their execution, were secured from prison staff who were themselves members of underground cells or else were co-opted onto the plot. These spectacular missions of setting prisoners free targeted not only small jails in rural areas of the country, but also major facilities in cities like Asmara and Adi Quala most of which were emptied more than once.

What Kept PFDJ Prisons largely Unbreached? Facts versus Fiction

PFDJ’s uniquely abominable conditions of incarceration ordinarily would be expected to give anti-regime elements inside and outside of prison the impetus for organizing prison breaks. That there has been not a single mass escape of prisoners all these years is therefore puzzling to many. Unable or unwilling to offer a rational explanation for this record, some resort to peddling false narratives that are contemptuous of the Eritrean people and demeaning of their proud past. They attribute the absence of prison breaks to cowardice of an inmate population that ostensibly lacks courage and resolve to escape to freedom through an ingenious plot or by muscling in on prison security. Some even extend blame to prison guards and to the rest of the population for their alleged tolerance of the barbarity of the prison system.

Coming from unscrupulous sources, such put-downs ought to enrage or discourage no one. Some of these critics are the same entities that often vilify the population at large for “not rising up against the brutality” of the PFDJ government. They hardly lift a finger in support of the opposition movement, but keep harping on these accusations to cover up their own impotence and duplicitous agenda. Others are, of course, disguised enemies of the Eritrean people and their sole objective is to derail the people’s struggle for freedom by unnerving and disheartening its activist sons and daughters.

In truth, the real reason for the absence of prison breaks is to be found in the regime’s strategy for retaining absolute power indefinitely. The regime has been spreading fear and mistrust in the general public so as to disrupt their unity, stifle their yearning for liberty and justice and degrade their capability to bring about change. As noted earlier, the entity that is at the forefront of this campaign is the intelligence and security service (ISS) – the regime’s largest, best funded and most powerful institution and one which operates largely outside the law.

Insider and defector accounts shared by opposition media outlets reveal how the ISS cunningly manipulates the structure and operation of the military establishment to ensure it remains docile. Independent-minded soldiers are reassigned, reprimanded or arrested; army units are periodically broken, merged, reconstituted into new units or relocated; low- and mid-level army commanders are frequently reshuffled. All these are aimed at disrupting the solidarity, loyalty, camaraderie and esprit de corps troops maintain among themselves and with their immediate commanders.

The same sources have also provided information on the scale and intensity of the surveillance and spying work that the ISS conducts on the population. The service has recruited tens of thousands of citizens from all walks of life to spy on their neighbors, co-workers, customers, etc. in almost every residential neighborhood, private enterprise and public institution including the military establishment. The resulting spy network has seriously undermined public solidarity and weakened trust among colleagues, friends and even family members. It is reported that, at least in urban centers, the ratio of spies to targeted population at any given time can be as high as 1:20; and every year or so, the current legion of spies is retired and replaced by a new batch for obvious reasons.

Those who refuse to acknowledge the time-tested resilience of the Eritrean people cannot be expected to perceive the subtle dynamism of power relations between the dictatorship and its subjugated population. The latter’s revolutionary spirit of courage, defiance, tenacity and self-sacrifice which characterized nearly a century of popular struggle against foreign domination is not a random phenomenon which pops up and vanishes fortuitously. Rather, it is an inherent national trait which, while omnipresent in essence, manifests itself with varying levels of intensity depending on the realities of the times. Presently, this trait remains suppressed by the regime’s suffocating surveillance and spying operations. But it is inevitable that power will soon shift to the people’s side causing an explosion of the pent-up popular indignation to engulf the regime and cause its demise.

The Imperative for Synergy between Domestic and Diaspora Efforts

It is common knowledge that, though undoubtedly few in number and small in size, there are teams of underground activists that have been in operation in Eritrea over the last few years. Despite the regime’s pervasive clamp down, some of these groups run a clandestine campaign of educating and agitating the public for change. They propagate national issues and concerns in the society through targeted telephone calls to influential people and selected members of the public, random calls for one-on-one discussion of specific issues, and mass robocalls that encourage people to take community, rather than individual, action to protest repression. Anti-regime messages are disseminated by publishing clandestine newspapers, putting up posters and stickers and distributing leaflets. Other groups have been periodically undertaking operations involving attacks on (or sabotage of) the regime’s military installations and PFDJ commercial interests.

Despite these encouraging initiatives, however, relations between domestic elements and Diaspora groups have remained meager, weak and sporadic. There is thus a need for stronger partnerships across the opposition movement with greater attention directed towards creating an enabling environment for clandestine teams to intensify their operations against the regime. Diaspora opposition groups must advance the struggle by committing to help establish new clandestine teams or strengthen exist ones. This would entail expanding communications and coordination with internal forces, channeling financial and material resources and providing training on equipment use and the techniques of clandestine operations. On their part, domestic activists should capitalize on Diaspora support to plan and execute a campaign of covert operations targeting the regime’s political, economic and security assets.

It is proposed here that prison breaks – to be staged at multiple locations and aimed at liberating as many prisoners as possible – be placed at the top of the priority list of such a campaign. While by no means a panacea for all of the regime’s cruelties and injustices, successful prison breaks would at least spare some victims prolonged suffering and untimely death in PFDJ prisons. No less significant is the impact they will have on the political psyche of the regime and that of the population as well as on the power relations between the two.

Regardless of the number of direct beneficiaries, repeated incidence of such breaks would destroy the culture of fear and the wall of distrust the regime has incited in the society. This would deal the regime a severe psychological blow that shakes its confidence. Contrariwise, sensing the shattering of the regime’s sense of invincibility and the tilting of the ‘balance of power’ in its favor, the population would be emboldened to up the ante on its demand for change perhaps even to the level of insurrection against the dictatorship.

Finally, it must be emphasized that helping the population organize at any level is a critical element that would not only hasten the downfall of the current regime, but also enhance the country’s chances for peaceful transition to democracy.

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  • Nitricc

    Greetings All: You know how we keep predicting that the end of PFDJ is here or the end of TPLF is upon us and so on, but lately I am observing very strange behavior in Ethiopia’s political affair. I started to follow closely after the strange and mind twisting the new tax law. How is a government that is under tight political opposition intense popular unrest, to top of under the state of emergency can demand a preposterous tax law? It turns out, the reason to be, when they sat down to prepare the yearly budget two months ago, which was “ 362 Billion Birr”; in doing so, the problem they face was that there was not money that covers the intended budget , simply there was no money in the country’s coffers. The money that belongs to the people and country was in bank accounts of the leaders. Accordingly, they had to be clever and shove this huge tax hikes in a panic and disorganized manner right in the people’s throat. When the tax thing met with strong opposition, the big fishes were at loss what the next move is. The more the Aid and loans came in the greater the level of corruption it got and the Aid and loans started to dry up. Of course, there are corruptions in any government systems. It defers only in its degree and levels of it, but in Ethiopia, you get all levels and types of corruption.

    Systematic corruption! Check.

    Petty corruption! Check.

    Sporadic corruption! Check.

    Grand corruption! Check.

    Political corruption! Check.

    It is amazing how this government even functioned under such system. I know it is the AID and the loan, Ethiopia owes China alone 50 billion US dollars, now the chinse are demanding their national anthem must be recited
    every morning. I really feel bad for the next generation which is screwed to no end. Although, now is even more critical. In my opinion, this system is crippled and anytime can be collapsed. It is true the TPLF and their followers have survived many obstacles, they did so, when danger comes they tend to stick with each other, expect this time. When they came up with ridicules tax hike, the people rejected it with force and TPLF had to divert the situation and went on to say we are weeding out the corrupted and started accusing and arresting few people, small fishes, with corruption charges. The
    idea was a typical TPLF tactic to change the direction of game by arresting the small fish and suddenly the big fishes started swallowing each other. This is very dangerous! Dangerous! The truth is that they all are corrupted, although it differs in its kind but who is going to charge who? When you have a clear cut leader or a dictator, then the leader can
    charge who ever dislikes in the name of corruption and puts him/her away but like Ethiopia where there is no a strong and a clear cut leader, this kind of game is dangerous. If the wife of Abay Tsahaye can be arrested with corruption charges,
    if SUR construction company of Arkebe can be suspended, if the likes road and transportation chair can be arrested, is it possible that the next chapter is Abay Tsahaye and the 77 billion birr case? Is it Kinfe Dagnew of the Maytake? I despise all forms of corruption and I hope Ethiopia secedes weeding out this culture of corruption destroying the destiny of the country. I don’t know where this going but it is going somewhere. I take corruption free country before democratic one.

  • saay7

    Selamat Yohannes Z:

    I appreciate your very specific recommendation which prioritizes what must be done, how it must be done and why it must be done. It is something rare: a discussion of strategy for winning.

    The follow-up question is who will do it, what are its chances of success, and will it have popular support. If we presume that one or a team of our disparate opposition groups will do it then we are still unsure of its probability of success (as MaHmuday said what happens to the freed prisoners? There are only two paths out of Eritrea–via Sudan and via Ethiopia. And do we get any clue from the fact that the two celebrated jail-breakers, Semere Kesete and Pilot Dejen are the quietest Eritreans?) Moreover, since everything we are doing is for the sake of the people, do we know whether our strategy will have popular support?

    My gut instinct says that if it were to succeed it would be supported (nothing succeeds like success) but I would feel better if my gut instinct was supported by data. For that, we need a decision tree which will (a) help us determine the base support (b) how to increase the size of the base support. Consider the following just a doodle in a strategy meeting:

    Suppose we are starting with 1,000 representative group of Eritreans who are being given binary choices. Since we have no scientific surveys done, the safest thing to assume is a 50-50 chance on all the choices that follow.

    1. The PFDJ is reformable: (a) true (b) false

    500 say yes, 500 say no

    2 The PFDJ is not reformable and (a) since this is not a plebiscite, and it all depends on who is bringing about the change, I won’t support efforts to change until the organized opposition changes or (b) I will support efforts to bring about change

    250 green light change; 250 want further clarification and are tentative

    3. The PFDJ is not reformable, and I will support efforts to bring about change and (a) I want assurances that there won’t be a PFDJ2 so I need a prenuptial agreement: (b) I am willing to work with fellow Eritreans and we will negotiate on what post-PFDJ eritrea will look like after PFDJ is gone.

    125 give the final green light; 125 hold out and demand written assurances. These written assurances that win some, lose some from the 125 who had already given a green light.

    4. The PFDJ is not reformable, and I will support efforts to bring about change, I am willing to work with fellow Eritreans and we will negotiate on what post-PFDJ Eritrea looks like (a) but the change cannot come using violent means: (b) I am willing to use any means necessary so long as it is directed only at PFDJ.

    62 give the green light and 62 want their precondition met.

    So you start out with 1,000 and you have filtered it to 62. Nothing remarkable about this in any Decision Tree except this: in Eritrean politics the 938 Eritreans who dropped out along the way will devote all their energy to fighting the 62 than they will towards PFDJ.

    What do we need to do then? We can devote our energy towards winning over more of the 938 drop outs by talking, reasoning out, negotiating or we can start with our 62 and hope that our success will win us converts. For the opposition both strategies are perfectly defendable as long as they stick with them. The problem for the last 16 years has been lack of a clear strategy and going from A to B and back to A.

    saay

    • blink

      Dear Saay
      These tree numbers are not fair to change (justice camp) , I mean come on !! 62 going to woo the 938 and this is in the Eritreans context, where every word is seen as a threat. I think we need better numbers if we to have any chance . I have a question for you saay , is not it PFDJ a single human being at his 70th , how is it possible to reverse issiass back to 1984 and reform him? , I personally do not see any organization called PFDJ rather than Issiass. I hope you take some salt and work for the complete renovation of Opposition camp. we have many dictatorials in the opposition camp where they manupulate every inch of the justice thing, We have actually PFDJ 2 in the opposition the difference is ,”they are many while PFDJ1 is only issiass.

      • saay7

        Hi Blink:

        You don’t think “We Are The 6.2%!” is a good slogan? Then there is a way to tweak it at every branch of the tree. Increase the yes-no on the Decision Tree from 50% to 75% at every level and you will have increased the mobilized-for-change from 62 to 316. Now that’s a respectable number. But that requires negotiating in good faith and a dedication to results not just to a cause.
        Above all it needs a spirit of volunteerism and not waiting for others to do it for you.

        saay

        • Saba

          Hi Saay,
          This is a good flow chart/algorithm. Let me add one more level to your flow chart.
          Out
          of 62, 31 are REAL justice seekers and 31 are power seekers[Remember
          those who will not give assurances that they will not be dictators]. So
          people who are working hard for justice are 31/1000=3.1%, which is not
          bad as a starting point. The problem is that they are ‘langa langa” as
          you said.
          I would like to correct you that majority of the 938 people
          are not supporting the PFDJ. Either they are silent or doing individual
          work.
          Imagine you are one of the 938 people. You know that you do
          not want to be a leader or you can never be a leader but you want a
          democratic leader. Would you work hard to replace a dictator with a
          dictator?
          So the way forward is 1) to maximize the % of the justice
          seekers and 2) have a firm and clear plan. The people are demanding
          basic stuff: trustworthy leaders, democratic leaders. You do not need
          all the complex theories, allyship models whatever.

          • saay7

            Selam Saba:

            I appreciate the correction but I never said the majority of the 938 support PFDJ. What I said is they are more animated to criticize the opposition than the PFDJ.

            The rest of what you said that some in the justice-seeking camp are in it to assume power is unsurprising to me. It is the case with all movements for change.

            saay

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Hi Saay,

      Thank you for your comments and for advancing the discussion to a somewhat deeper level of thinking.

      a) I am sure you agree with me that there are two important points implicit (or perhaps not so implicit) in the article. Firstly, the idea of prison break was thrown in as a proposal whose myriad of details will have to be worked out in serious planning efforts by dedicated groups and individuals determined to push the struggle forward. Secondly, the idea was proposed as ‘one of many’ possible operations – not the only operation – that can be devises and undertaken to undermine the regime’s grip on the country.

      b) I appreciate your graphically describing, and analyzing (with the help of a numerical illustration) attitudes, tendencies, options and positions that you believe are at play in the present dynamics or lack thereof within the opposition movement. I find the conclusion that 62 people out of 1000 (i.e., 6.2%) would go all the way to fight PFDJ as being unrealistically too conservative. I would argue that the figure is much, much higher than that in reality.

      As for the strategy for increasing whatever the current percentage is and winning over more converts to the cause, I would stick to the second option of having this core group register tangible accomplishments in its struggle thereby attracting more supporters to its programs. The first option involving “talking, reasoning out, negotiating” had not succeed in the past and there is no basis to expect it to succeed now!

      c) It is important to note that the calculations and arguments you made specifically for the Diaspora opposition do not apply to the population inside the country – a distinction that is often lost on many who are not mindful of the present political and social disconnect between the two segments of the population. As you correctly pointed out, no studies or surveys exist that could be helpful in answering your question of whether opposition-planned operations would win popular support. But if I were to attempt a realistic guess to it, I would take my cues from events that have actually taken place in Eritrea in the last 5-6 years and examples of which are:

      (i) how people reacted when escorting troops fired upon new conscripts who attempted to jump off army trucks transporting them through Asmara,

      (ii) people’s reaction to prison guards gunning down 2-3 dozen young people when hundreds of them – rounded up for failing to report to National Service or absconding therefrom – tried to flee by knocking down a wall at Adi Abeito prison,

      (iii) the story of more than three dozen young prisoners who escaped from the Adi Abeito prison and melted away into the semi-urban communities of Tsada Christian and environs whose residents prevented their recapture by refusing to turn not a single one of them over to security agents preferring, instead, to face regime retributions for their action.

      Etc., etc.

      Thank you

      • MS

        Ahlan SAAY and Yohannes Zerai
        I find you both to be incredibly smart. And I would guess, the reason why you guys break complex issues to their smaller components so that averages guys like me can digest it is because you are still at the prime of your game. The tragedy about Eritrea (both PFDJ and the opposition) is that ideologues and partisan politicians are at the helm of power, and the technocrats, folks who one would expect to be in the operational room (like both of you), are out in the cold complaining. I’m not chastising you, I’m just stating the fact. That’s why I have been saying that the opposition leadership should open its doors for new ideas and new blood. For instance, if you (Yohannes) were to disagree with SAAY, your disagreement would have been nothing more than in picking the best solution. You would not compound that with old political and personal grudges. The debate would be on choices and the combinations of thereof. And since the effort is to find the best solution out of sets of viable solutions, I’m sure both of you would finally agree on one. Ideologues and partisan politicians politicians tend to be shackled by sets of precepts that guard their ideology and partisan interests. They tend to be inflexible because they judge initiatives from their perspective. For instance take unity. The pragmatic people like you would take it in its literal meaning,i.e, unity ,means increase of momentum (simple physics rule: increase of mass leads to increase of momentum even if the velocity/pace of the struggle is not changed):
        However, the ideologues and the partisans will each of them interpret that from their vantage point. Who will benefit more from the merge? And how is that going to affect my interest…Now throw, Emmas’ calculation of mistrust in the stew and you get partners who really fear from merging…..
        Finally, dear, I’m more interested in your solution-seeking proclivity. SAAY is also enhancing the debate using his unique analytic brain, that is what makes me hurt. I wish I saw you debating in Eritrea.
        Concerning popular support: I think that is not a problem. I don’t believe most Eritreans would like to see prisoners of conscience out. As you know, people need to see some other preludes in order for them to get out in the streets. All that you need from a people that have been boiling inside to form a mop is a single incident. There are easy ways of creating such a feel in the people (remember the mid 1970s death defying spirit of Eritreans in urban setting under the watch of a much stronger dehnenet tbeqa, or security apparatus? That’s because the air smelled invincibility. What made the air to smell invincibility? Incremental increase of the activities of our tegadelti and civilians such as attacking convoys, taking out important enemy operatives, targeting enemy economic life-lines, et cetera, et cetera. There was momentum, there was the feel that things were advancing to the extent that thousands would join the revolution in order nopt to miss the last push. This is in mid-seventies when ghedli operational capacity was still limited.
        So, the release of prisoners itself would take a limited operational planning such as recruiting prison wardens/guards, recruiting some commanders who control certain routes so that they can guarantee safe-pass, and some other minor logistic arrangement. This would mean whoever carries such a complex operation has spread its tentacles in side the regime. I don’t know if we have organizations that can pull this off. But on its theoretical phase, why not? This can still be done provided (as I said above, the preparation is done (don’t worry PFDJ is not reading us:)
        Once I had a heated debate with HaileTG on this issue. haile was of the opinion that each of the organizations could carry on armed operations against the regime. My argument was of the notion that “yes they could and they are doing it, but this strategy carries with it that we can one day wake up and witness the worst scenario, which is armed clashes between the opposition factions.” And I gave him the example of Kabul after the pro-Soviet regime collapsed. The city was devastated by the warring factions and Afghanistan has not recovered from that advent. I also added that when warring factions appear from different directions and converge on the seat of power, without prior agreed upon political road map, there is no guarantee that they will be wiser and gentler than the leaders of EPLF.
        This is to underscore that the ball is still in the court of the opposition leaders. There is no better choice than forming a unified leadership and a unified political road map. That demands compromise and a focus on the primary issue: creating a transition where Eritreans are allowed to pitch in on what type of government they want to establish, and the kind of relationship they want to see between them and the government (constitution).
        Just a minor correction: SAAY’s 62 out of 1000 would be 0.62%, not 6.2%, I know it’s a typo error.

        • saay7

          MaHmuday:

          Yom Assel and Yom Bessel as the arabs say and the doctors say the bessel is healthier than the Assel. 😉

          As flattering as your comment is buddy you are selling urself short here. We all have Assel days and Bessel days and sometimes, to mix metaphors, the tank is empty. Yohannes and I have the luxury of writers. Out there in organizations you know we would be constrained by many considerations which include mice, mogogo and scratched backs.

          saay

        • Ismail AA

          Ahlen Ustaz Mahmoud,

          I would vote with you on having Johannes and saay7 in the operation room, and would even insist on seeing them chairing the gentlemen and ladies assigned to the operation room. But I respectfully take with grain of salt your views on the much maligned poor men ( sorry for not writing and women) leading the opposition organizations and their ideologies obstructing them to be amenable to new ideas and personel. These poor gentlemen have nothing to worry about neither monthy pay checks nor leadership status in future. Most of them are aware of their ages and what such functions in throat cutting competitive politics demand.
          Though I cannot claim to speak on behalf of them, I can assure you that the demand to join has been disappointingly rare. The propaganda of the regime beginning from the liberation euphoria days has killed enthusiasm and urge in the young about joining the oppostion organizations. We all remember how the fifth column, Foreign Islamic jihadist and Woyane proxies tarnishing campaigns have been devastating. This was built on the classroom tutorials on the old animosities against the ELF and the factions that claimed to uphold its visions. This intense and consistent campaign has rendered the yout, especially the post liberation generation, to acquire the perception that the organizations should first proof without reasonable doubt show demonstrable inroads into the edifice called HIGDF.
          Thus, reiterating the fact that I do not really claim to speak on behalf on any organization, I would agrue that I would be suprised if I would see Johannes and saay7 request to join, for instance ENSF, would be rejected for any reason.

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Dear MS,

          I would like to associate myself with Saay’s comments below for they convey the truth better than anything I could have written. Thank you again.

      • saay7

        Selam Yohannes Z:

        I don’t think I can disagree with anything that you have said except perhaps the last one (c) but given our agreement on item b, even that might be a moot point. To expound on the points further:

        (A) I understood prison-break the way you intended it: as an example and not THE example. A lady I greatly admire who was active with EPLF-1 was once telling me how a solution that comes from armed people was an absolute non-starter for her. And the question I posed to her was if she heard a commando unit liberated her heroes in Ella Eiro or hostages in Sinai would her first reaction be jubilation or anxiety? And her answer was “it depends.” So when people oppose armed solution they are talking about factions engaged in a long civil war, fighting over territories and, in the process, inviting their allies and killing the National Service.

        (B) I agree with the idea of starting with a small committed group rather than waiting indefinitely for the group to expand. However, the small group must have big goals (i.e. National democratic secular). Otherwise it’s just a pressure group with a gun.

        (C) the examples you gave were of people protecting a vulnerable people from a predatory state. If the predatory state is fighting an armed group, the people’s support is conditional and dependent on who the State is fighting as the Islamists learned the hard way in the 1990s.

        saay

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Hello Saay,

          (A) I know that you understood my proposal of prison break as I had intended it; but I was trying to kill ‘two birds’ by using my rejoinder to also clarify things to commenters who, I believed, did not understand it that way! Sorry for not having flagged my remarks as such.

          I am glad you brought up the issues of (i) time frame and (ii) ultimate goal of an operation as “qualifying factors” that influence the attitude people have towards the use of force for accomplishing one’s mission. Such an influence has important implications for the manner in which our struggle must be fought and the level of popular support it could hope to garner. I believe, therefore, that it is a subject that need to be discussed and debated at some appropriate time in the future.

          (B) “national democratic secular” – I like that!

          (C) I still believe that the incidents I listed earlier do certainly reflect public sentiment about the regime and its governance practices. Nevertheless, your rejoinder has also made me see that the manner, form and intensity in which those sentiments are expressed are bound to be different when they are provoked by some internal event than by an operation of externally-based force that seeks to bring a major sociopolitical change to the country. I thus agree with your point.

          Thank you.

  • blink

    The Dear Mr. Yohannes

    You said about the relationship of the opposition and home reach is next null, and I wonder why is that possible after 18 years of horrible things happened over the population. I see one problem and that is the Eritreans will not accept any dehumanizing of Eritrean heroes . Do you think this dehumanizing thing can be a reason for the bad connection and also the old guardian of the opposition think that the younger generations in the opposition are badly influenced by low level of trash talking. I myself was very sad when some personality ( the kunama opposition leader) try to insult Hamid Idris Awate. Can you say sth why the contact is to low . I have moved miles away from my 6 years understanding of the old opposition figures, now I wanted them to stay on course because the youth especially these who are anti social cohesion and anti our revolution has no business to talk about justice.

    • Thomas

      Hi Blink,

      Who seems to be the problem is you and your likes for training to cause divisions by bring the non issue stuff? Now, why talk about ELF and EPLF when we have PFDJ and their blind followers ruining the country and the people for say over 18 years? Do you think it is important to talk about ELF (those who still are alive and politically active for that matter) and drag the people here and talk about them as if they are ruling the nation we call Eritrea? Is this one your ways to support the criminals ruining everything we have had? I am sure they know that you are inline with them when you:

      1) talk about the weyane and Ethiopia 24/7 here
      2) downgrade the opposition by bringing only the weak sides of them. This would have been ok if you were trying to constructively criticize them. Why talk about a few bad characters in the oppositions 24/7 (by targeting their age and accusing them of doing evil stuff or that sort of things?). Is the best way to fight the #1 enemy or is your way of protecting the criminals? Take a stand, brother!!

      • blink

        Dear Thomas
        You may disagree about my view but don’t underestimate the negative effect of the bad side our side too. I was in Geneva demonstration and after the demonstration we supposed to have a meeting or any kind of that to increase the gear but these almost 15,000 young men were gone with out committing their time and energy for more action and participation. So self evaluation is a critical thing to do. I believe the opposition need to claim it’s true nature and remove the bad once. you have to understand the old guys are also worried that we may lose all about Eritrea. The reason I brought ELF or EPLF is ,all the dehumanizing is going on against them by people who knows who they are , I don’t believe we should say ho ho just for the sake of it. We need to look in ward before looking out.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Blink,

      Elements of what would constitute an answer to your question have already been presented in the article I posted although, admittedly, they are scattered throughout the text. But in a nutshell, the current power relations between the regime and its opposition are the outcome of (i) the sophistry of the regime at keeping its enemies at bay through a grand strategy that combines: spreading fear and mistrust among the people, nipping any nascent domestic political activism in the bud, weakening the exiled opposition by driving wedges to cause division thereof along ethnic, religious, regional, etc. fault lines, and other machinations, and (ii) failure of the diaspora opposition to rise above their worst instincts of selfishness, opportunism and narrow-mindedness, AND their proclivity for wanting to politically cripple (or even kill) each other while the regime flourished in its dictatorship and patted itself on the back for having continued to outmaneuver the “enemy”!!

      As for the question at the end of your comment, I prefer to believe that times have changed, people have moved on and the sentiments you referred to have become largely a thing of the past. True, there are bound to be some who are still wallowing in a feeling of bitterness towards (and hatred of) others that they carried with them from when they were wronged decades ago. But for the overwhelming majority of them, I feel, the realities of life are much different. Again, I believe that having been aching over what their people are going through and what has been happening to the ideals they fought for, many are preoccupied with thoughts of what can be done now to better the situation (looking forward) than what was done and what ought to have been done then (living in the past).

      Thank you.

  • Ismail AA

    Selam Yohannes and all,

    First here is an unsolicited confession from me. I saw this Johannes Zerai at-his-best article a few hours after it was posted. After first perusal, I decided to take time to read and re-read it for the time and attention it deserved. It’s just like a person who adores cuisines, and considers the ritual of testing the flavor and flagrance as important as the nutritional utility. Thanks Johannes for gracing us with an article of such quality.

    Now, for the sake of brevity, let me choose three major points and sequence them in the order (priorities) I chose for myself.

    1. The issue of prisoners of conscience of should be the mother of all priorities that should not be given any room for dissension because it’s the core essence of human beings before anything else. It’s this value that makes it a unifying element among reformers of any in society. Hence, the ordeal and suffering of prisons in our own country in the past and present cannot be seen in another way. It should have united the efforts of all those who claim or propose themselves as agents of change. Sadly, failure on this crucial matter has been one of the litmus tests and indicators of the credibility and seriousness of the all in the opposition camp. I think Johannes has come with valid and urgent call that solidarity for the sake of helping the prisoners should be at the heart of the opposition work at least for staging coordinated external campaign in absence of internal unified processing and control center which the sensitivity clandestine work the issue of prisons and prisoner demand.

    2. On the issue of the sad an unenviable conditions existing in the oppositional camp, much has been written and said. The situation Johannes has painted hardly warrant counter argument. It is clear that we are not seeing possibilities for emergence of any meaningful strategy[ies] so long the factions of the opposition forces remain victims of deep-seated social and political mistrust and continue to lack common foresight to break it so that the current disabling existence could be overhauled to open possibilities for formulating common vision with national credentials that efficacious enough to make individual and faction see the incentive to subordinate ambitions to supreme the interest of the nation’s future and unity. In my opinion, thus, the important concept that Johannes has discussed as judicious mechanism to sequence tasks (PDA) amid formidable imbalances of resources and popular influences, should presuppose the needs of harmonization of vision, gradation of competent and unified leadership for common command and synchronization of operational center, which are lacking at the present.

    3. The issue about how the diaspora and domestic segments of the opposition movement should play their roles has been discussed extensively in this forum under well written threads as well as randomly in the context of related writings. In the case of the former I am alluding to the great debate we saw between Amanuel Hidrat and Abdulrazig Karar in the context of the latter’s well-written two-part article. The debate then had centered on the best way of creating meaningful working relationship between the two segments. In spite of that though it still remains crucial to define the roles and tuning them to be forged into mutually empowering relationship. And Johanne’s take has given us insight into the details of how this can be usefully operated as the issue of prisoners as a telling instance.

    Regards
    With many thanks to Johannes

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Ismail,

      Do I need to apologize to you too – like I did with the others – for being late in responding to your comments? I think I hear you say: “Nah, you don’t need to do that with me!” 🙂 But unlike the case with an apology, I cannot forego thanking you for the positive nature of your comment. I find your compliments and the poetic style in which they are expressed truly overwhelming for which I am sincerely grateful.

      Having reviewed your frequent rejoinders at the forum over an extended period of time, I have gotten used to comments from you which clarify, elaborate, expand and supplement useful and important ideas presented in articles that you never fail to review. Your comments on my latest article are no different! Thank you for your positive attitude and for being unfailingly supportive of others at the forum.

      Regards

      • Ismail AA

        Dear Johannes,
        You need not apologize to me or others. On the contrary it is me who should apologize because time constraint and need to keep the comments brief rendered me be stingy, and did not do justice to the valuable substance the article contained. I know the amount of time and mental labor gathering material, organizing and drafting production of such quality article demands. We, the readers, are like guests invited around a meal table to consume delicious ready food. Incidentally, I should add that no one realistically expect the author to respond to every comment save in cases of challenges, counter and alternative ideas, demand for elaborations and questions.
        With sincere regards.

  • Hayat Adem

    Dear Yohannes,
    This is another piece from you that must constitute the practical manual book of the struggle for change. Earlier, you gave us another piece that maps out the possible ways of hurting the regime financially and economically. It is a welcome development that I see now a pattern of shift that you are moving from analysis to practical proposals, things that have been in short supply in the discourses being advanced among Eritreans. And my appreciation is not limited to the shift but also in the very issues you are discussing and the well measured recommendations you are tabling, as well. As to me, both proposals must be picked and meticulously considered for operationalization. The first one would bring a massive political and incapacitating impact against the economic muscles of the regime. This one would activate and boost the moral blood of the struggle.
    While I was reading your long article, a thought entered my head. There were so many crazy self initiated sacrifices being paid during gehdli. Part of it is the intensely machinated agitation as the rest could be out of genuine conviction. There were clandestine members dangerously sniffing under the enemy’s nose to access high value intelligence materials. There were others who plan and execute intelligence missions such as prison break outs or commando operations. In the war war fronts, there were willing tegadelties who risked, not risked, who voluntarily threw their lives to a certainty of death, just to enable a tactical gain for their comrades. What surprise me is when I am told there were excesses of volunteers to die so much so that EPLF was once forced (or it is possible they said it to make an impression) to issue a statement of warning to slow down the readiness of its tegadelti to self sacrifice, saying “meswa’eti belets iu! Martyrdom is selfish!”
    We should borrow that book from EPLF to learn some of the skills there to prepare and mobilize modern heroes for a good cause. For example, can we find volunteers who could be willing to go in to PFDJ prisons as detainees and record and document all the horrors happening there? Could we find enough volunteers who could be willing to pose to be enlisted as a traffickable subject and capture all activities and actors involved in the human trafficking industry network?
    Thanks Yohannes,
    Hayat
    PS: Prison breakout is happening at a bigger level though. No one denies that Eritrea is now an open air prison. And Eritreans are breaking and escaping in hundreds every single day.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Hayat,

      You deserve a share of the apology that is due to all those whose comments I have not been able to respond to for nearly a day. But more importantly, I must thank you for your positive and encouraging remarks about my modest effort to contribute to the movement for change.

      Referring to the last two article I posted at Awate, you wrote “The first one would bring a massive political and incapacitating impact against the economic muscles of the regime. This one would activate and boost the moral blood of the struggle.” These statements aptly summarize the purposes of my articles and the message I wanted them to convey, and I thank you for them.

      The key objectives of the current article are to: (i) help focus attention on the need to build and strengthen an all-rounded operational coordination between domestic and Diaspora forces and (ii) urge action against a regime that seems to enjoy an uncontested control over Eritrea’s political, economic and social affairs.

      Thank you

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Yohannes,

    As usual this is a lucid and solution oriented article. It calls the coordination of the inside and outside struggle. It is indeed a rational call in order to speed up the fall of the tyrannical regime. I hope the outside forces – the opposition camp will come with a collective strategy that include the coordination with the forces of change from the inside. It is such coordination that enable us to free the prisoners like that of the 1975 who freed from Adiquala and Sembel. Good call and thank you.

    Regards

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Amanuel,

      Apologies for the late response and thank you very much for your comment. You seem to have no difficulty figuring out where I am coming from in my articles. So there is obviously no need for me to be verbose in my rejoinder here except to say thank you again for appreciating the effort.

      Regards

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Yohannes,

        No need of apology. Everyone is with time constraint. I like to debate when I have different opinions; and when they are big I chose to tackle them by writing an article. In your case so far, and fortunately almost none. Your approach and the thing you wanted to convey are crystal clear. Keep up the flow. I don’t know how you keep your articles short, as you already being advised by the editor. But, for me it is a heck of struggle to put together the flow of my thought in a short essay nor could I split them into parts and leave them for readers to understand as one unit idea that feeds to each other. So do what you could do. But if you feel your ideas could not be conveyed by short essay, do not stop from presenting them even in a long format. After all our people do not have the apetite of reading. Those who have however small might be will read you and engage you.

        Regards
        Amanuel Hidrat

  • Selamat Seb Awate,

    Across from C.U.’s Teachers College on 121st Street and Amsterdam is the Ertitrean & Ethiopian Cuisine Massawa Restaurant. Mr. Timbua’s oldest son Rodney was my classmate in Ms. Monroe’s Sixth grade class. Russel, Rodney’s brother was in the fifth grade with us at PS 125 in Harlem. Mr. Timbua I believe was either doing post graduate studies at C.U. or a lecturer. Rodney and Russel I believe were born in Kenya. It was in 1981, the Twenty Years Old Young Barack Obama attended Columbia University. I am quite sure, young Barack drank from the same glasses at Zula restaurant I personally washed as an employee. I am also quite sure Young Barack had a beer or two at Massawa’s bar….. I highly doubt he leaned towards Broadway and the Westend Bar….

    So, I am wondering if Mr. President Barack Obama actually sat in the corner and witnessed Ami Abdul Khalifa, myself and quite a few NYC Bar Flies would sing along at the top of our lungs to Abrar Ousmans title song Hidmona, Hidmona Hidmona Hidmona Hidmona to be heard four city block from 121st all the way to 125th. As loud as any of the Irish Pubs in Delancey Mid Town.

    Yeah I can make a safe bet and claim, I may have even seen Young Barrack in Mr. Timbuas living room once or twice…. And I am quite sure he shot hoops with Nanna, Rahim, Nunoz, Steve O and many of the 121st Balers in midway between Broadway and Amsterdam up that hill…. Yeah… 1981 across from TC on 121st…

    Now, I know for sure Ami Abdul Khalifa did not drink? Bur he sure sang Hidmona when it came on the loudest above all of us …

    KimeQaQuiliwa kem nayy kulom gratt kem nayy kulom grant
    Equa…. amelegna ekey gbroiom ( ahh I forget the lyrics… old age I suppose.)

    Unna geberua inda Adge BeQuli…

    When Abrarr sang this back then, I am quite sure he was mourning the events of 1980 in Barka/Denkel, SenHit…. etc…

    yeah right around the sixth offensive, after wugiE HidHid… in the Sixth grade at PS 125….

    Abrarr does end the song Hidmona with an upbeat and hopeful message with these lyrics:
    Meinti ktHinetSe mritSti Hidmona….

    And so, ESAT’s Natnaael Mekonen I just caught his commentary with the back drop of the Addis Abeba Eritrean Opposition Congress.
    JUST the TONE to start the DEBATE OF THE IMPERATIVE NARRATIVE. Haver you sharpened your #2 Pencils yet?

    Well, it is August Rush!!! And in remembrance of Memhir Alamin AbdulaTTif and his Abashawil Hidmo, lets do a timely remix of DeHan Kuni Abashawil… Hidmaona. Hidmona…
    Ade Khulu Dikha Alayit zeKhtam neirki.. (and by the way I can also claim to be from Senita and Abashawil prior to Gejeret and Tiravolo… I claim Paradizo as well as Akhria and Godayif…..)

    So ;let us now put front and center the Eritrean Opposition Leaders and all the delegates in Addis this summer of ’17!

    DeHan Kuni RbeI zemenn dribb gedli deHri Ghedli…. Yeap!!! The Imperative Narrative is forthcoming:

    Abu AAshera Weapon X – EVOLUTION!
    tSAtSE

    PS: Yes Captain, I agree we have run the 26.2 Years long marathon as a team. The next marathon will be under 2. Whose turn is it to sprint?

  • Selamat Awatistas,

    This is a TEST

    tSAtSE

  • Dear All,

    First of all, I would like to thank the author for his article. In continuation, I would like to add the known adage that wherever there is dictatorship, there is also the right for a revolution.

    Sometimes lessons learnt from previous experiences are useful tools to accomplish one’s plan. It seems that the opposition has failed to implement lessons learnt from the previous eritrean revolution against ethiopian rulers. I do not know if that is due to the fact that their present nemesis is their own homegrown monster, and therefore should not be confronted in the same manner. Is it possible to say that different enemies with similar crimes provoke different reactions in the victim? I think, this is true.

    What keeps the opposition from using the same methods against the present dictatorship, the same methods they used against the ethiopian occupier? Unlike during the emperor’s or derg’s era, not only the eritrean society is divided into pro-regime supporters and against-regime opposition groups, the latter is again divided in the method of its revolution against the regime. There is a big difference in the type of political change each group desires. There is no uniting symbolic leader accepted by the different social groups, there is no partnership among them as opposed to the hadi-libi-hadi-hizbi slogan, and there are no insiders in the eritrean government working for the opposition as there were during the derg era, etc. I doubt if there is agreement on civil disobedience, mass rebellion, and refusal to take and carry out orders by the military etc, which might bring citizens and groups in the army in confrontation with the regime.

    Opposition groups are scared of the aftermath, the regime knows it and exploits it to the maximum. It is said that the ethiopian government harbors the same fear, and it does not want to give a final solution to the dia/pfdj problem, because it is afraid of the chaos that may follow, which could be another big burden for it.

    Successful prison breaks were common during the thirty years war, because the guards were also eritreans (sympathizers of elf or eplf), the surrounding region was friendly that was ready to accept, hide and transfer them, and finally there were the fronts ready to take them and utilize the prisoners. Present day prison breaks are doomed to fail due to the absence of the above mentioned factors.

    After all, is it possible to start a revolution or make a dent in the dictatorship, short of mass revolt and rebellion, by prison breaks alone, and could it be that the stockholm syndrome has set in the eritrean prisons and in the eritrean society at large, that nobody does anything to change the situation, and the best thing they can come up with is to run away whenever it is possible?

    • Selamat Horizon,

      “…their own monster..” is a stale narrative. You are entitled to spew it. You see the R in rEvolution is the trade mark R for the Eritrean Revolution. Evolution is The New Abbu AAshera Weapon X Narrative Imperative. And it is INEVITABLE.

      AmEritrean GitSAtSE Azzilo40 Agnieya40

  • Selamat Mr. Yohanns Zerrai,

    “Brgied” I recall belching out Eritrean Revolutionary Song titled Sembel. And he lamented melodically “Hanti ‘ya Terrifa neirra natki mengedi…” You mentioned Semere T in your rejoinder to SJG . And Semere T., I recall from his narration, was but Twenty Yards away on the Gash river tributary, (I pictured TurAA) witnessing the Legendary Fedayin Bainac falling in combat. The story of Fedayin Bainac and the operation that freed Sembel Prisoners, including Minister Haile “DuruE” Woldetnsaei a thousand times by my father in law Tekie Beyene. Each time he told the story, I could see his eyes gleaming with pride and awe towards Fedayin Bainac leadership, meticulous skills as well as the the entire intricate execution of the prison break operation which Mr. Tekie Beyene himself played a vital role as the insider Sembel Prison Guard at the time.
    ….
    ….
    “Hanti ‘ya terifa neira natki mengedi…”

    I understand you are or were involved with the engineering of communication nodes for UNESCO. I am, presuming you are an electrical (Power engineer, perhaps) engineer. Correct me if I am wrong. The Ax I am sharpening, though without malcontent, is to point your easy transitioning from power, to signals and or to digital, as took notice of your article titled Hit ’em Where it Hurts– with the graphics of i-phone and its Aps.. “rebiHu tedemiru kulu gzie arbaEte.” With an added variable or two or more, I can safely bet that you are in fact a veteran of the Eritrean Revolutionary War, i.e. a combatant.
    Two points I shall point out later.

    But all that is left or THE ONLY ROAD THAT REMAINS NOW is to simply unlock the PRISON LOCKS and allow the Eritrean Prisoners of Conscience to walk FREE IN DIGNITY + PLUS PLUS… MS has already pointed out the logistics non feasibility of a prison break. At this point in time I am stating it WOULD NOT BE FITTING TO THE DIGNITY OF THE ERITREAN PEOPLE. … ….. The Narrative Imperative SHOULD FILTER OUT NOISE SIGNALS that prolongs that combative culture, where only warlords capitalize and earn maximum profits AS it stagnates TRUE INNOVATIONS by Mai-NfHi’s micro-electronic circuitry gurus developments of Menfeeeetler (filters) for devices geared to solve local necessities.
    My apology for the digression. I am recalling my junior year ECE class of Signal Analysis….

    My point analogous to we are now not only far from Nadew Iz, but we have also gone past Gmbar GindaE and the onslaught is past DekemHare knocking at the walls of Godayif that is SEMBEL! “Hanti ya Terrifa neira natki mengedi…” said Brgied.
    And the Eritrean Narrative Imperative at this critical juncture does not necessitate a Prison Break, Gorilla Warfare,… Latter day Fedayin Bainacs etc… It is IMPERATIVE FOR THE ERITREAN LEADERSHIP IN ERITREA TO RESOLVE THE ERITREAN PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE IMMEDIATELY. o.w. …..

    just skim through the Erimedrekh and maedotes,….

    yeah yeah… The Imperative Narrative is indeed WRITTEN FOR THE OPPOSITION LEADERSHIP… i suggest we all sharpen the #2 pencils and contribute a chapter or two….

    The nth degree polynomial splines are akin to beyond group dynamics. You know what I know Captain. 2^5 Key Maker…

    Abu Ashera Weapon X – Evolution
    tSAtSE

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear GitSAtSE,

      Thank you for relating an interesting story on a memorable prison-break operation that was not only successful, but also took place at a famous location and involved some of the leading figures of the struggle for liberation.

      I found it somewhat amusing to see you venture to guessing some aspects of my background. I would simply respond by saying that your guess came close on one aspect, but you were too far off on the rest! But for what it is worth, it was a good try; and regardless of the outcome, I admire your curious and inquisitive mind.

      As for allowing “the Eritrean Prisoners of Conscience to walk FREE …” and questions of necessity and feasibility of staging prison breaks, please read my response to MS regarding the same issues.

      Thank you.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Solomon,

      Bainac or Vainac and Semere T were in different orgs. They haven’t fought in the same battle in the Gash area. The story you are telling is Abraham Tecle a well known Fedayn like Vainac of EPLF. Haile DuruR was freed with Seyoum Harestay, Weledawit, and others in 1975 by the operation of ELF Fedayn. Just to make history in perspective.

      Regards

      • Selamat Aya Amanuel,

        I am quite certain. It was not disputed until now. I am perplexed.

        tSAtSE

  • MS

    Selam yohanness
    You have merged different but related ideas that call for action using your resourceful diction and buzzing imagination…excellent. I jumped to read it because I read Saleh Johar message, and that got me to hurry lest be taken down for downsizing it (by the sharp-penciled Editors of AWate, haha…just kidding). I was saving it for tomorrow. While Saleh is the expert, and I surely, take note of his advice, I frankly say, political essays are meant for serious readers, and as Saleh pointed it out, the amount of comments an article registers is not an indicator of how widely an article has been read and shared, or even discussed in coffee shops and in friends circles out side the AWatista Forum. By now, I know what makes an article to register great numbers of comment entries: a shout out contest. So please keep coming with even longer articles, people who read you will read you…
    Regarding this article:
    1. Your scathing assessment of the state of the opposition is spot on. The organized political opposition is calling for a revolution, and unless new ideas and new blood is infused in it, I doubt it will re-invent itself. And i doubt it will be willing to accept new ideas and new blood…All able persons, young people who have the skills, connections/networks, and resource should work to pressure the leaders of the political organizations to wise up, and if they can’t make that happen, the young and theie committed alliance should direct their attention towards Eritrea. The potential for ensuring change is there. Eritrea is becoming young fast. today most mid-managerial tasks are taken over by post independence generation. Slowly, they are making their ways up the rugs of the defense and security forces. Ten years from now, they will be the majority…..Invest there, introduce nonviolent peaceful tactics, and preparations for taking over the responsibility of the nation…
    2. “Application of a ‘problem disaggregation approach’…by helping identify self-contained and manageable elements of the overall struggle, prepare effective plans for their sequential implementation and undertake execution thereof in a logical and systematic manner.”
    This is exactly what frustrates many, including blink. How difficult is to know that PFDJ is PFDJ and the comrades in the opposition are your comrades, and that you would not want to eat the whole cake …that you should focus in enabling the advent of change so Eritreans can decide on what type and form of government they want. Sadly, the trend has been one of “tewedibna nxnah”, instead of acting as leaders to actuate change , they have been trading off accusations. Each organization wants to stay above water at the expense of the other. Monitoring the political skirmishes of these leaders, you don’t see a sense of urgency; it appears someone else must be doing the actual while they consolidate their “tewedibna nxnaH” posture. Problem dis-aggregation approach would assume that the executor has unity and clarity in its disposal. Therefore, it could be taken by each of the organizations; however, as long as there is no unity in th understanding of the challenges, there won’t be a clear and unified strategy of approaching them. Each organization will pursue its own problem dis-aggregation approach, and that by itself will create chaos. Imagine >30 organizations pursuing their own strategies in tackling a problem. During the armed struggle, both organizations observed moments of cooperation when it came to executing major operations such as the storming of prisons in order to release prisoners…
    3. Coming to your prison break: it sounds good, it is motivating, it is an example of what could be done, etc. However, for that to happen, the opposition needs to control territories and routes, etc. Currently, it does not administer even a km sq. Because if you were to breaking prisons entails massive planning, including defending attacks, evacuating prisoners, medical, food….and at the end making sure they are not recaptured, possibly. It may happen in small prisons around the peripheries using small well trained teams. The best way is to work hard to convince EDF commanders that it was in their interest to work in the interest of their people. And that falls under #1 above.
    4. Some of your reports need citations, any material, reports, interviews, etc. You know what I know.
    As Hayat adem would have put it, I devour your articles, and as usual, I’m not bound by “keybluni”, I try to be open, and I hope you read my comment in that spirit.
    Thanks.

    • Selmat MS,

      1. “Ten years from now, they will be the majority…..Invest there, introduce nonviolent peaceful tactics, and preparations for taking over the responsibility of the nation…”

      Poignant. This is more like completing the circle as opposed to making the “Ali Salim” U-Turn. (I shall leave it controversial or as a cliff hanger moment… for the August Rush / NeHHase-SelaHTA- Werrar… Awgett Semeinawi baHri) … The Narrative Imperative …AAWXE

      2. “You know what I know.” MaHmuday “The Best” SaliH, allow me to invoke the mathematical field of numerical analysis of Spline Interpolation where the interpolant is a special type of piecewise polynomial called a spline. This is to say that through SPLINE, I too know what you, Yohanns Zerrai and .. know. The curvature of say a BIRD could be assigned polynomial formula or function. More importantly, the free birds trajectory path… … .

      3. 2. I believe the Captain said “when victories are registered, they too will be on our side and shout out loud ‘we were with you all along.” Piecewise polynomial or spline interpolation would bridge THE DOUBLED DOWN Vs Lapped anecdote “stubborn habesha” KBT or possibly Nitricay are. Meaning regime supporters.

      4. ArHibo or arbaHayo, however Saay7 can now contemplate the rational in the Philosophical of THE WILDCAT from UK’s, i.e JamiAAt Al Khartoum’s Younis’. Consider this as Charlie Sheen pitching fastballs for the Cleveland Indians as the crowd rocks the tune “WILD THING! You make my heart sing!”

      5. The point being… SHARPEN YOUR # 2 PENCILS FOLKS! Yes… It is time for the Narrative Imperative!
      And THIS:
      “Ten years from now, they will be the majority…..Invest there, introduce nonviolent peaceful tactics, and preparations for taking over the responsibility of the nation…”
      IS The
      Abu AAshera Weaopon X – Evolution … The August Rush / iTTi NeHHase (selaHta) Werrar. Awget!

      [Note: The nth degree polynomial, n=5 above should be viewed as a nano meter curvature of the SPLINE. The editors should not view it necessarily as noise. That is do not preemptively discard.]
      For the SPLINE will be the SPINE! Yes the AmdeHiQuou…..

      tSAtSE

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Hello MS,

      I thank you for your constructive comments and greatly appreciate the kind words.

      I wholeheartedly agree with the views on articles (nature, size, readership, etc) as expressed in the introductory remarks of your comment. My agreement with your line of thinking on the subject is also reflected in my response to SGJ’s comment which I know you have already read,

      Turning to the specific points you made on the substance of the article, let me add the following remarks:

      1. You emphasized that having the younger generation play a dominant role in the movement for change is indispensable to ensuring progress in (and ultimate success of) the struggle. I believe a broad consensus has developed around that notion although it seems that we have yet to figure out how to make it happen in reality. You also called attention to the generational shift that is taking place in Eritrea and wondered about its potential for promoting a peaceful political transition in the country. I find that to be an astute observation and the subject certainly needs to be studied and debated upon.

      2. Yes it would be ideal if, as you said, “unity and clarity” of purpose existed within the movement as a whole which, of course, is not the case at the moment. Fortunately, we do not necessarily have to have such a condition in order for us to utilize the Problem Disaggregation Approach (PDA) to advance the struggle. What is really essential is for “unity and clarity” of purpose to exist in individual opposition groups.

      As all or some of these groups embark on applying PDA separately and in their own right, they would be subjected to a test that measures the levels of their respective strengths, commitments and capabilities, hence their viability as genuine agents of change. True enough, the early stages of this process may appear to give rise to “chaos” as you indicated in your comment. But true to Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy that “From chaos, comes order”, order would soon be restored bringing with it the crystallization (from the present homogeneous mix of mediocrity) of groups that prove themselves as viable agents of change. And these groups will then be rewarded with prominence, popular support and strong following.

      3. You highlighted conditions and factors that must be present if prison-break operations are to succeed in contrast to the realities that exist in the country in this regard. I consider these inputs to be important additions and/or modifications to the ideas that the article tries to advance. This is in fact the beauty of throwing in ideas for comments, reviews, discussions and debates. Because the process brings insights, perspectives and experiences of people like yourself to bear on the ideas being proposed and discussed. The contribution you have made in this sense is greatly appreciated.

      4. Finally, your recommendation on the need to support the substance of my article with appropriate citations is well taken.

      Thank you for your input.

      • Saleh Johar

        Hi Yohannes and Mahmouday,
        This is not about the technical aspects of the article, my suggestions based on data and experience. It was subjective opinion as such, but there is not much I can add to what was said about it.
        My issue is with the “youth” song that is somewhat akin to what Ali Ibn Talub said a millennia ago : klmet Haq yuradu buha Batil.
        The generational argument has been raging since we started the second phase of the struggle. First, some politicians used it to recruit foot soldiers and undermine their colleagues. Second, it was used as a ploy to distance old rivals based on partisan calculations. Some politicians pretend they are young or that they champion the interest of the young more than their colleagues–read rivals.

        Today, those who were cajoled as young over a decade ago are in their fifties or close to that. Age is not stagnant, it adds up. And I wonder when some people say “the opposition is old, they should give way to the young”.
        1. There is no red carpet to be rolled to new entrants but only providing the tools and passing the torch which happens seamlessly not in a celebratory occasion.
        2. It is unfair to champion the interest of the youth at the expense of the old–particularly when the old who did and are doing their part are vilified unncessarily and unfairly
        3 there is no human rule that says we should push out people of a certain age from the struggle if not line them up and shoot them
        4. Unfortunately, the ELF is systematically presented as representing the old.
        5 facts are totally different: today, if we take the entire opposition camp, it is as young as it has been. Over 90% of the ten-member organizations are the creation of the so called youth
        6. The despicable social media dirt that is unfortunately attributed to the opposition is driven by the youth
        7. The organized parties (read addis and Sudan based is over 90% led, formed and sustained by the youth.
        My gist is: I would love to see MHmuday get off the back of the opposition whose lashing he enjoys so much and engages in on any opportunity. Even my suggestion which was very technical, gave him a chance to las again. I wish he indulged in his favorite act in a different comment.

        • MS

          Ahlan Saleh
          Aliek Allah, how did you interpret my comment that way? I’m very sorry that I keep forgetting that I need to do extra caution in spelling out my feeling? I don’t Saleh, for some reason I hust like being here, and believe me no one calls the shots but me. regarding my comment:
          1. The introductory remark was a sort of humor; and also to encourage Yohanness to keep coming with well developed and well thought of articles which I find to be educating as well as thought-provoking. It was not meant to challenge your expertise; I made it clear there. So, as an editor/publisher, it is within your capacity to advice writers.
          2. On the generational issue, I said capable folks need to persuade the leaders of the opposition to act as leaders (mind you I’m not saying old people, or veterans). And if they could not respond positively, I suggested that capable folks need to invest their time and resources directly inside the country. I also touched on generational shift which is true. In any society, the youth are thought to be the engine and agents of change. What makes the youth inside the country is that you don’t need to wait for the gridlocked process in the opposition camp (political organizations) to move on; you could directly impact the situation in Eritrea. What’s wrong with this? Has not it been going on, albeit in a very minuscule pace?
          The leaders have no immunity from criticism, you have criticized them before so many times. Please consider me as an Eritrean citizen. That is the least I expect from you. We went through these in the past years, and I hope you understand me. It is all clear in my statements that I yearn for a meaningful change, not for me, but for the people in the country.
          3. I don’t enjoy saleh lashing the opposition. I consider myself as opposing to PFDJ regime and policies. I have long reminded folks that they should not act as “guardians” of the opposition or as “gatekeepers” to its realm. I stand by it. I actually decommissioned my projectiles (just to illicit a chuckle or a grin on you). The opposition does not need my lashes. I know you have read Yohanness Asmelash’ speech in Nahda party’s conference. I have held reservations on him, but that speech was the best. I encourage people to read it. There is nothing new in it but a frank assessment of the state of the opposition. But he is not poor Mahmouday….
          4. Opposing injustice is the duty of every citizen, but adhering to a certain political organization and its policies is the duty of the member of that organization. It’s clear my target is not the opposition, per se, but the leaders of the political organizations.
          5. Abusalah you did not need to use AbuTalb’s saying. I’m really hurting, and for those who don’t understand it, let me tell you what it means: It is attributed to one of the successors of the prophet (PBUH) and it means saying something that holds truth in order to undermine the truth itself.Meaning, saleh is saying that I’m not criticizing the opposition in order to improve it, but I’m using the obvious weakness of the opposition in order to undermine it farther. Anyway, this does not merit further rebuttal. It is suffice to say that we often get thin-skinned while advocating for freedom of speech.
          But bless you, and may allah bless you with more boiling energy. I still respect you, and am ready receive even more criticism. One thing that my experience taught me is that entities and individuals should be judged by their moral position and their achievements separately. I consider the opposition leaders as my allies in the act of opposing injustice (moral position), but I criticize them for squandering opportunities. now, tell me what’s wrong with that? Am I not a citizen? Don’t I have a stake in the process….what’s going on…??????
          With love and respect,

        • Ismail AA

          Dear Saleh,

          Hayak Allah wa yahdik alf Afia wa seha.

          I couldn’t have commanded the sincerity, eloquence, lucidity and substance the points you have presented portend. Who the young are in the context of the opposition body politic has been so elastic and convenient for abuse during the last nearly two decades. Any one tended to use it in accordance to what fits his/her whims and interests. Especially the nothing doer folks who stay on the margins take the young as refugee to shield their opportunistic passivism. They utter with the speed of light that the old (veterans) refused to relinquish the field to the young. The worst part of this game is that they share the field with some veterans who do not relish the policies and demands some among the opposition organizations follow against the regime. The latter group contend pragmatism and liberal reformism.

          The ludicrous matter in all this is that the veterans in the old generation are portrayed as obstructed by some doctrinal anathema to the progress and uplifting of the young; and they know this is no actually true because they cannot cite an organization that has been overwhelmed by young Eritreans and refused to recruit them or any that has been the favorite of the young but the old blocked their access to leadership status.

          The only thing the old demand certainty that what they and those who had fallen in the struggle had achieved through blood and sweat should not in any way be blown in vain. In a word, they want the sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the freedom and peace the struggle had promised should not be compromised in any way or manner. The old veteran just want the young to be properly prepared and those who join the ranks of existing organization should not demand as precondition that veterans should step aside before having transferred their experience and aspiration to the young.

          I would like to share with you a brief story to close these few lines. Once in a discussion session the late Dr. Habte Tesfamariam confronted a person in his late 50s. The latter complained that he was old enough to retire and leave the place to the young. Dr. Habte told him that actually he wanted to take rest and enjoy what was left from his life with his family. But he was obstructed because he was not ready to hand the torch to some young without making sure that they would not drop it and move away when some crises and challenges turn the flame burn in the direction of their fingers. The man who not amused but the rest of us at that encounter understood what Habte tried to tell the guy.

          • MS

            Ahlan Ustaz IsmailAA
            It is all about perception my friend. It is all about the latency of old wounds. Nothing more nothing less. You have said similar thing in the past,i.e, the young should take the responsibility; that they should increase their participation and so on. I never said in the context of ageism, I never said the veteran should be overtaken, NEVER. I’m a veteran too. I was talking about ideas and modi operandi which one would expect from any good-wishing person. You said, “Any one tended to use it in accordance to what fits his/her whims and interests. Especially the nothing-doer folks who stay on the margins take the young as refugee to shield their opportunistic passivism.” Thanks for that reminder. The good thing about me is that I’m upfront. I never claimed I am this fighter or that fighter. I made it clear in many occasions in this forum that I’m an ordinary active citizen. And since those leaders are talking in my name, I have a stake in the process. I will continue voicing my concerns. Dear IsmailAA, let’s not kid ourselves. I know well what it entails to be “fighting or struggling, etc”, I also know how thinly these terms are stretched in the context of Diaspora elites. If we are to go down this road, here is what will follow: You are a member of a certain organization (one of the 50+), another person is a member of another organization, just as active as you are, but follows a different organization). If you approach that person respectfully, there is much to be gained in terms of exchanging experiences and may be influencing the overall process positively (bring the organizations closer/unity). However, if you are coming from a paternalistic position, as if you are the definitions of an opposition, then, in your mind, the other person remains to be a junior who is supposed to LISTEN to you. Frankly, this attitude is the single-most factor constraining the progress in the opposition camp. And make no mistake it is out there for everyone to see it.
            You know and I know the basis of this attitude. It is, my friend the “zeyhaweye Qosltat”.or the unhealed wounds. I’m afraid those wounds have become so chronic to the extent that the effort of healing them calls for another struggle, sober assessment and deep self-reflection.
            Other than suspicion that is cause by those chronic wounds, I bet you would agree with me because I’m just saying a simple truism that new IDEAS &BLOOD needs to be infused into the diaspora opposition and that we need to invest insides Eritrea. like it or not the generational shift is a must, and societies prepare for that. That is why governments spend billions of dollars in educating their young. What is wrong with that? ONLY those who plan on taking over power should be afraid of the change that will come from in side. Because then they will not be able to dictate their agendas on the people; people will have the opportunity to chose their leaders from within themselves, from their communities. They know who the enabler of injustice was and who the REAL community worker was.
            Now, there is a possibility of a synergy taking place between these two compartments of “struggle”. That is if we understand that citizens are looking for change and every citizen has a stake in the process. That entails contributing constructively, and a part of that position is to be critical. If i’m criticizing PFDJ for its policies and strategies why should I shy away from criticizing the opposition leaders? Who has the right to criticize them and who does not?

          • Ismail AA

            Dear Ustaz Mahmoud,

            “I’m just saying a simple truism that new IDEAS &BLOOD needs to be infused into the diaspora opposition and that we need to invest insides Eritrea. like it or not the generational shift is a must,…”. You bet; And who doesn’t submit to the meaning and essence this statement projects? That is the law that govern society and other living creations.

            Furthermore, I will not be doing justice to you and myself alike if I made the mistake of assuming that you were insinuating that the still active veteran generation are impervious to change and resistant to the young who are the agents of renewal and vitality to processes of change. If you are expressing misgiving about the words you have quoted from my comments with emphasis on the nothing-doers, let me emphatically state that I have no right to assume a person I have debated (agreed and disagreed) for a long time now in that category. The only thing required from the young is that they follow proper way of succeeding their predecessors. You and I joined on the foot steps of our predecessors at very young age. Perhaps you was younger than me because I joined as a fresh graduate of 27.

            You agree with me that we were not given carte blanche right away to assume leadership, and no in the leadership who received us were required to leave the field so that the we, the young would take the destiny of the organization into our hands. We had to follow through organizational phases of training. That is what the young are being asked to do.
            Regards

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Mahmuday & Ismail,

            Power should be satched from power holders. They don’t subdue or give transition to the next generation by themselves. Never happened. What me, Ismail, Mahmuday, and others of my generation have to do is, to help our young generation in their fights against the power holders who put us in the current predicament. Power does not transform without a fight.

            Second, the young generation should identify who is against their fight and who is in the fight with them. Simply they can not accuse the whole generation, for we are the same victims like them. So to our young: know thyself and know your enemy. The whole generation is not your enemy. This is the battle you have to wage to subdue your enemy.

            Regards

          • MS

            Selam Dear Emma and IsmailAA
            I really appreciate your inputs, thank you. I agree with your takes and I hope you understand that initial intention was similar. I was not attacking any age group or any specific political affiliation within the opposition. My targets are the leaders. And by virtue of assuming the leadership they will be criticized when criticism is due and they will be celebrated when praises are due recognizing that the leadership comes from different walk of life and different background. Remember, there are individuals who hail from the same background I come from who are serving in the leadership.
            It is true power is snatched not given on silver platter, that is if we are assuming that the relation of the young and the old is based on zero-sum game. I believe the movement for change interest all walks of life, and generational shift is a matter of nature. It is good for the continuity of the vision and legacy of the leaders, and it is good for the process itself. If there is democratic mechanisms within the opposition this natural process takes place seamlessly. Therefore, there is a need from the young generation to be able to push for changes (at national and organizational levels), and there is a need for the leaders to recognize that the infusion of new ideas and blood is in fact good for their legacy and the continuity of the struggle. Therefore, both sides need to recognize that they are natural embodiment of the same organ (society).
            Thanks.

        • Haile Zeru

          Hi SGJ,

          I think you misunderstood at least part of Mr. Mahmud central idea. Pls read this paragraph from MS post:

          “…The potential for ensuring change is there. Eritrea is becoming young fast. today most mid-managerial tasks are taken over by post independence generation. Slowly, they are making their ways up the rugs of the defense and security forces. Ten years from now, they will be the majority…..Invest there, introduce nonviolent peaceful tactics, and preparations for taking over the responsibility of the nation…”
          And add to this, above text, all the undermining of any opposition in his writing, undercover of ‘ I also oppose PFDJ’ mantra.

          My interpretation of his idea is: the opposition to PFDJ is useless, the Kunama, Afar and all cannot even control even 1 Km inside Eritrea.
          Therefore……please read again the above paragraph.

          Which means abandon the violent means of change and wait some 10 years and the young generation will take over power peacefully.

          The weakness of these idea is basically, 1) how are these runks of security and difense are being filled?
          2) What makes Mr. Mahmud think that the young PFDJ security and difense managers will act different than their predecessors?
          3)unless the Kunama, Afar, Beni-Amer, Saho etc… Fight back by their own and with the help of the rest of Eritreans that detest PFDJ, waiting for the new generation of oppressors to have a change of heart is I’ll advice to say the least.

          Now, the verbal lashes against the old age of the leaders of the opposition are simply a diversion from the above central idea.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Haile,
            Nope. I completely understand Mahmoud’s comment. My reply was because I think I understand it fully.

            The fact that the young replace the old is a knowledge that humanity knows very well since life started. Nothing new there. But my comment is not refuting universal truths that everyone knows. Stating it is simply rhetoric. I have no doubt Mahmoud means well in what he writes. But the take home message is wrapped in a blanket that rubs me the wrong way. I think I need to elaborate it more in order to fair to Mahmoud and others. And also fair to the veterans who are demeaningly (and for political reason) are branded as the “old” who should roll over and die. I can only afford so much time for now but I promise to come back to it soon. No hard feelings just elaboration for clarity.

          • MS

            Selam Haile Zeru
            All I can say is that your translation is wrong; bad translator. I wish I knew why people think so negatively. I don’t control what others choose what their method of struggle should be. In case if you don’t know, I prefer peaceful means. That is my personal preference. If you criticize me on this then let’s fist see you leading the charge. How else could you do it, or you want others to die for you?
            How come you volunteer to translate my ideas while I am breathing and kicking? At least can’t you offer me a chance to explain areas you did not feel were not right?
            All in all, I’m very disappointed in your stubborn partisan view. Sorry.

          • blink

            Dear Haile
            It has been over 10 years since we heard the kunama and the Afars plus some people like you who wanted to push the young to take arms , well every one is not foolish I guess, but I have never ever saw or read MS comments that imply for military solutions and he has been consistent on that. Again do you think the kunama and afar can topple the dictator by force even after 20 years with out any help from the young inside Eritrea?? You are mistaken. It is amusing when people only vested in their own mirror.

  • Saleh Johar

    Selam Yohannes,
    First, let me express my admiration for the clarity of your views and coherence of your arguments. Indeed, we are all lucky to have here to enrich our debates and focus on what matters. I am grateful.

    But let me express a few things which I hope you will consider in the future.

    1 our reading habits have deteriorated so much that many want to read messages that fit I one cellphone screen–if not social media snippets and sound bites.

    2 awate has realized this years ago and stopped writing long articles (editorials used to be many pages long, now we try to limit it to a maximum of two pages. In fact we suggest 1500 words as a rule of thumb.

    3. Beside the Awate team, a few writers used to post long articles, Amanuel Hidrat’s articles used to be as long as the editorials.. . So we’re Tes’ and others. If you see Amanuel has started to shorten his articles and that encourages engagement.

    4. Your article is so long and many do not engage without reading it in its entirety. The sharing of your article is one of the highest and this one is no exception… it was shared by many from Venezuela and other countries with similar situation to Eritrea. I have no more explanation but readers from our region haven’t been active in debating it. Only those who read digest, and do not debate, have been reading it. The first day reach of the article is one of the highest this year on social media and it was not boosted!

    finally, I hope you consider my suggestions and I am sure the editors will contact you.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Hi Saleh,

      I see that a my rejoinder to your comment has been held in “waiting to be approved by Awate.”

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