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Reviewing the Reviewers: In Defense of Bereket Habte-Selassie

For their Christmas present, Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie’s colleagues received a 48-page “book review” of his books.  The reviewers,  Asaminew Ewnetun and Aradom Fedai Haqi, took 48 pages to say:  this colleague of yours whom you know as a scholar, a professor of African and Afro-American studies, a Pan African and with a resume as varied as attorney general for Emperor Haile Selassie, and the Chairman of Eritrea’s Constitution Drafting Commission, and a consultant for Africans who want help with drafting their constitution,  is a fraud.  He takes credit for other people’s work, he embezzles money, he embellishes his resume, his scholarship is sloppy and, overall, he is just a bad person.   Unfortunately for the reviewers, in academia, the minimum requirement for reviewing documents is that you are a peer—one must know your identity and credentials.  And it helps if you have an email address with a .edu handle because anybody can open multiple gmail accounts, as the reviewers did. In the academic world, which appreciates diction and economy of words, anybody who uses 48 pages using intemperate words to say nothing is also giving Unabomber vibes.  Finally, unless you are attending a Sci-fi or a Medieval Convention, it is advisable not to select pen names that translate to “Fear Monger The Truth Avenger” and “The Truth Convincer.”  How is that going to fit your name badge at the next mixer you attend?   Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie’s colleagues, of course, dismissed the stink bomb as political advocacy, and an incoherent one at that.  So, why are we taking the trouble to write about it? Because we expect the reviewers masterpiece to hit the Internet (they can’t help themselves) where the standards for truth-telling are a bit (actually, much) lower than those required by scholars at institutions of higher learning.  Also, anytime we can show how the mind of the supporters of Isaias Afwerki works and to what extent his drones will go on their search-and-destroy mission, and use that as a “teaching moment”, we consider it a public service.

I. Reviewing the Reviewers

The document, which bills itself as a “review,” begs not to be taken seriously because of the authors, the content, and the tone. They do not reveal their real names, unusual for people who are reviewing books, particularly when the alleged objective of their review is to set the record straight. It is nearly impossible to take a document seriously when the authors choose comic-book names of  “Asaminew Ewnetun” and “Aradom Fedai Haqi.” One must struggle hard to stop imagining two superheroes in capes and tight spandex banging away furiously at their Olivetti typewriters.

The books they are reviewing are Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie’s The Crown and the Pen: The Memoirs of a Lawyer Turned Rebel  and Wounded Nation: How a Once Promising Eritrea was Betrayed and its Future Compromised

“The Crown And The Pen” (384 pages) is a memoir which narrates the conflict of a lawyer who is, by nature, progressive democrat, but is employed by a decrepit monarchy. It is an autobiography that deals with his experience from the age of 13, until the downfall of Emperor Haile Selasse in 1974. Most of the story narrated is about his life in Ethiopia. Thus, this half of the review required a reviewer who presumably is an Ethiopian (or an Ethiopianist), somebody marinated in the protocols of royalty. We imagine one half of the caped duo, “Asaminew Ewnetun,” to be an Ethiopian version of CNN’s Max Foster, somebody who gives breathless reports on what the appropriate number of meters is for a commoner to stand behind the queen and how the King should be addressed on the third Friday of every leap year. Since one of the many grand achievements of the Eritrean revolution was to make Eritreans forever immune to the frivolity of royalty and their bizarre protocols, we will spend very little time addressing “Asaminew Ewnetun”s part of the review, although it would have been delicious to occasionally ridicule his histrionics. Well, ok, we will allow ourselves one. In his writings, Dr. Bereket refers to how he faced Emperor Haile Selassie “eyeball to eyeball”, “man to man” etc, you know, common figures of speech to indicate “I was not intimidated by him.” It is such a common symbolism that when Saleh Gadi Johar wrote his  “Of Kings And Bandits”, the cover of his book had a prototype of an Eritrean combatant, staring (eyeball to eyeball), the diminutive Haile Selasse. It was a double pleasure: a way to annoy the advocates of monarchy and those who, borrowing language of European NGO’s, accuse Eritrean liberation fighters of being child soldiers.

Asaminew takes the “eye ball to eye ball” expression literally and fulminates: “no person, let alone a civil servant, would be allowed to be that near to the Emperor, including even his own daughter and his cousin and his closest friend to the end, Ras Imru. They all stood by his side, facing the rest. Other selected dignitaries will stand about five to ten meters away to his left and right in accordance with their protocol precedence.”  We are done with Assaminew.

The title and subtitle of “Wounded Nation” (326 pages) tells it all. This is the second half of Dr. Bereket’s memoirs (Volume 2 to The Crown And The Pen)  and it focuses on how a country which, in 1991, was supposed to have learned from all the mistakes of Africa, is now a complete basket case. The book does not pull any punches in identifying who shares most of the responsibility: Isaias Afwerki. A more accurate pen name for the reviewer should have been “Aradom Fedai Isaias” (Fear Monger- Isaias Avenger) much like there was a “Fedai Negus” (King’s Avenger)  and Tegadalay Negasi (“Combatant The Ruler”) who populated the pages of asmarino in 2001-02.  (Isn’t it interesting how all the defenders of Isaias Afwerki choose pen names that indicate that they see him as a king?)

In any event, reviews—even if they are reviewing “War & Peace” or “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”—don’t run for 48-pages, as this one does. But that’s what you can expect from a “review by a committee”—which this one was, as is evident by the varying tones and voices it carries. (At one point, the review addresses Dr. Bereket in the second person.)  We don’t want to go on for 48 pages criticizing a 48-page document—although we could, if we wanted to be as nit-picky as them and focus on trivial issues such as the fact that they dropped an article from the title of one of the books they are reviewing. So, let’s get to it with a focus on the Aradom Fedai Negus part (the one which deals with Eritrea and Isaias Afwerki) while stubbornly refusing to be engaged in Assaminew Ewnetun’s portfolio.

II.  The Allegations Against Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie

The “review” of the book is actually a list of allegations and it should be listed as counts by the prosecutors masquerading as reviewers. Dr. Bereket, on count #1 how do you plead? Never mind, we will plead for you: guilty!  The totality of the accusations ranges from the trivial: (“At the OAU, African leaders did not adopt a resolution but a decision!”) to the bizarre (“the constitution was first violated by him.”) To list all the accusations (and rebut them) would duplicate all that is mindlessly argumentative, pedantic and salacious about the work of the reviewers. The reviewers’ obsession with trivial issues (“The actual name of the iconic hotel in Asmara (Enda Menghetti), which is still emotionally remembered but had irreverently been referred to as Albergo Roma, is Albergo Italia although it had been baptized as Keren Hotel by the Derg. Its original name has been restored since liberation…”) is meant to inform us that Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie was shoddy in his scholarship but all it does, instead, is give us a psychological profile of the reviewers: they are a mishmash of Asmarinos, Addis boys, Addis girls, former colleagues, wanna-bes, Senbetus, and assorted hangers-on who have achieved far less with their lives than he has and feel some compulsion to show that they know more about a trivial subject than he does.

III. The Scope

Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie’s two books are memoirs. Beyond the autobiographical, the books are a self-portrait of a person who was in a position of authority in two Ethiopian governments (Haile Selassie and, briefly, Mengistu Hailemariam), a revolutionary movement (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) and a triumphant ruling party (People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.) He was a close observer or participant in historical epochs of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and, given his presence at the launch of the OAU, Africa.

As self-portraits tend to be, it would not be surprising if there was a subconscious (or even conscious) effort to remove a blemish or two or to glamorize the self. Using truth as the sole objective, the unbiased reviewer will use a detached standard, and measured tones to point out errors and imperfections in any writing. This would be a great service to the reader. On the other hand,  if a “reviewer” does not like the conclusions or the life lessons being imparted by the author, if the “reviewer” considers protecting the reputation of his object of affection (in this case, Isaias Afwerki) as his sole aim, he will make the personal destruction of the author (because, among other things, this will dissuade other writers from writing) as his mission. The reviewer will use the language of hyperbole, sarcasm, and ridicule; the reviewer will question motives: if crimes can be invented because there are no witnesses to deny them, crimes will be invented; if witnesses can’t be found, they will be hinted at. The object of affection (Isaias Afwerki) will be given every single benefit of doubt and the critic (Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie) will be denied every benefit of uprightness. A reviewer who chooses comic book names lives in a comic book world where the good (Isaias Afwerki) is superhuman and the mortals (like Dr. Bereket) are super villains. And because the reviewer’s worldview is that of a comic book, he expects that that is the worldview of everybody else and, anticipating a similar treatment by his critics, he will hide behind the anonymity of pen names and gmail accounts while accusing others of being cowardly.

[Sadly, this kind of behavior is not limited to Isaias Afwerki and his supporters. It exists in the opposition. Exiled Eritreans living in democracies use pen names to showcase their bravery in the ether. Often, they write bitterly about how three-dimensional, breathing Eritreans living under a brutal regime must have some kind of  a character flaw because they are not going out to the streets to be beaten, imprisoned, disappeared and shot at. This is highly inconvenient to Pen Name Eritreans because it is denying them the right to write about it. From six thousand miles away. Using a pen name.]

In any event, from the 48-page review, we will focus on five big issues that are relevant to the average reader:  (1) Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie and the Eritrean Revolution; (2) Dr. Bereket and the Constitution Drafting Process; (3) Dr. Bereket’s Role Since the Adoption of the Eritrean Constitution; (4) Dr. Bereket’s View of The Eritrea-Ethiopia Demarcation Process and (5) Dr. Bereket’s Evolving View of Isaias Afwerki.

1. Dr. Bereket and The Eritrean Revolution

If we consider the 1949 establishment of the Independence Bloc party as the beginning of the organized movement for Eritrea’s independence, then the Eritrean Revolution could be said to be a 42-year journey that consisted of 12 years of peaceful (1949-1961) and 30 years of armed (1961-1991) resistance to Ethiopian domination. The “peaceful” period included the terrorist shifta campaigns that were funded and armed by Ethiopia to intimidate and assassinate Eritrean leaders; the February 1950 sectarian strife that broke out in Asmara and the 1958 establishment of the Eritrean Liberation Movement (Haraka, or Mahber Showate) that was initiated by Eritrean refugees in Sudan to ensure that their revolution maintained its nationalist aspirations. The armed struggle included the establishment of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF); the creation of three splinter groups that consolidated into Eritrean People’s Liberation Forces (EPLF); the further splintering of the EPLF into two components (after the split with founder/financier Osman Saleh Sabbe) ; the squabbles and civil wars between ELF and EPLF;  the eventual emergence of the EPLF as the sole armed group in the Eritrean field and the liberation of Eritrea in 1991. The above, of course, is by no means an exhaustive list: it is a mere distillation of the parts of the revolution that are relevant to the topic: the role of Dr. Bereket in the revolution.

Dr. Bereket left Eritrea at the age of 13 eventually settling in Ethiopia. When the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM/Haraka/Mahber Showate) was organizing Eritrean youth/students in Ethiopia, he was a young adult and fit the profile of its target population. The reviewers have two criticisms of Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie: (a) that he got the history of the ELM all wrong and that in any event (b) his claims that he was member of such organization is  “a lie” because according to several “former ELM members” they considered him “an anti-Eritrean member of the government.”

Dr. Bereket did get the name of the initiator of the ELM wrong— but so do the reviewers.  At least, to his credit, Dr Bereket had gotten the name right in his first book. But does this kind of mistake signify, as the reviewers claim, “atrociously careless scholarship”? Yes, argue, the reviewers because it “is almost universally known in Eritrean society (indeed it is part of its cherished folklores) that the ELM (“Mahber Shewate” in Tigrigna and “Haraka” in Arabic) was created by the late Mohammed Saleh Naud…” Well, by that lame standard, what do we call reviewers who confuse the name Mohammed Saleh with Mohammed Seid, particularly after they told us that is is part of Eritrea’s “cherished folklores”?

And how does one establish whether one was a member of an organization that was, by definition, secretive and had 7-member cells whose work was not known to the cell next door?  And why are the “several former ELF members” who claim that Dr. Bereket’s claim of membership in the ELM was a lie still not revealing their names if they are going to accuse somebody of lying?

What exactly would Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie say on the subject if he were interviewed on the subject? Fortunately, this is not a hypothetical question: in 2001, he was interviewed about the subject by awate.com and this is what he had to say:

           You briefly belonged to mahber Showate?

Yes.  A disastrous organization!  So ill-organized, people were boasting and recruiting openly and the police would follow us everywhere. That is how most people were caught. The movement in the lowland—the Haraka—was better organized. But we were in the belly of the beast. Fortunately, the Chairman of seven-member cell was able to contact the superior. Only if the chairman is caught is there real danger. Fortunately for me, the chair of my cell was not caught.

And who was that?

Yohannes, happens to be a cousin.

Did your name make it to Nawud’s book [a chronicle of the Haraka movement]?

I doubt it.  Because the connection between the lowland and highland was rather loose. The Haraka movement continued separately. I doubt it….When we [Nawud and Bereket] met in Beirut in 1975, we discussed it and we had a laugh. There was no discipline…that is what led to the collapse of the underground.

Moving on…

After the fall of Haile Selasse, waves of Eritreans joined the Eritrean field, including from Ethiopia. Some (most, according to Herui Tedla Bairou) joined the Eritrean Liberation Front and some joined the organization that would eventually be named Eritrean People’s Liberation Forces/Front. There has not been a scholarly work done that dispassionately looks at the decision-making process: why ELF, why not EPLF? Why EPLF, why not ELF? What was the reputation of both organizations at the time? Were geography, religion, ideology, educational level, and overall cultural affinity, deciding factors? Would a young, educated Eritrean who was born and raised in Adi Nfas, Karneshim and who considers himself a social democrat find the ELF or the EPLF more appealing?

Although Dr. Bereket’s escape from Ethiopia to the Eritrean field was facilitated by the ELF, Dr. Bereket ultimately makes the decision to join the EPLF? Why?  In his interview with awate.com, Dr. Bereket says that he found the EPLF to be more organized. To the reviewers, this can only be because Dr. Bereket was not in good terms with the then-leader of the ELF, Herui Tedla Bairou: “he was fleeing from an authority he wronged or enraged,” they claim. How did he wrong the ELF and what did the ELF do to enrage him? They don’t say. Herui Tedla Bairou and Isaias Afwerki are not talking so we are “forced to make inferences from mostly oral, secondary sources” who, of course, happen to be anonymous, they say.

Moving on to another defining moment in the Eritrean revolution: the first civil war. Or, more accurately, the series of civil-wars between 1972 and 1974 between, on the one hand, the Eritrean Liberation Front and, on the other hand, three splinter groups: PLF1 (formed in 1970 by Ramadan Mohammed Nur and colleagues and made up of Semhar and Denkalia group who splintered and regrouped), PLF2 (Selfi Natsnet or “Alla group” also formed in 1970 by Isaias Afwerki and colleagues) and PLF 3 (“Obel Group” also formed in 1970).  PLF1 and PLF2 consolidated in 1973; when PLF3 joined them, they became the EPLF on June 13, 1974.

By then, Eritreans had enough of the skirmishes, specially considering the fact that (a) the Haile Selassie regime was on its last legs and (b) the formerly remote battle sites for the skirmishes had moved to the densely populated highlands.  On October 1, 1974, thousands (the ELF estimated the number at 30,000) of Eritreans descended at Woki-Zager (outskirt of Asmara) to demand that the ELF and PLF put an end to their civil war. Given the all-powerful and totalitarian role the Eritrean “front” exercises over the Eritrean people now, it may be hard to conceive now a situation where the people would spontaneously and at a grassroots level attempt to pressure the Eritrean revolutionaries to mend their ways, but such was the case at Woki-Zager. One of the 30,000 Eritreans who showed up at Woki-Zager, just arriving to Eritrea as his friend, General Aman Andom was in a losing fight with Mengistu Hailemariam, was Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie. And given his stature then, would it be inconceivable that he would do his part to attempt to broker a peace agreement between the leaders (in theory, both were the number 2s) of the two movements (Herui Tedla Bairou, Isaias Afwerki) at Ametsi?

Now, this is how the reviewers sprinkle their skepticism:

Was he requested by one or the other Front? Or did he anoint himself? What were his terms of reference? What were his plan and strategy? And what were the reactions of the leadership of the two Fronts? What were his relationship with the two Fronts?

Sounds like the “comprehensive exam” questions Isaias Afwerki gives when he is stalling, doesn’t it? In his interview with awate.com, Dr. Bereket provides the answer to their cynical questions as to why he got involved: The civil war “was fresh in the memories of the people in the Karneshim area. Many of them knew the victims; women would weep.  That was one of the saddest episodes in the history of the sad civil war.”

Having cast aspersions on Dr. Bereket’s motives for why he would attempt to mediate the ELF-EPLF civil war, they then go on to pick another wedge issue—the splinter within EPLF itself (into an Osman Saleh Sabbe-led and an Isaias Afwerki-Romodan Mohammed Nur led camps) to ask: whose side where you on and why?

A few steps back:

A year after the Woki-Zager incident, a unity agreement was finalized between the ELF and EPLF in Khartoum, Sudan (September 1, 1975.)  But what was not known to the people who assembled at Woki-Zager (or, indeed, most Eritreans) calling for unity between the ELF and the EPLF was that the EPLF, which was a merger of PLF1, PLF2, PLF3 was about to unravel. Less than a year after the Khartoum Unity Agreement, EPLF had split into its component parts, now EPLF and ELF-PLF (led by Osman Saleh Sabbe) because, according to Isaias Afwerki, Osman Saleh Sabbe was only expressing his personal opinion at the unity conference. (In 1977, at another unity conference, this time in Hagaz, Isaias Afwerki also claimed that the pre-conference agreement reached between a representative of the ELF and a representative of EPLF was invalid because the representative of the EPLF (his former boss, Romodan Mohammed Nur) was just expressing his “personal opinions.”)

In any event, Dr. Bereket, like all EPLF members, had another choice to make and it is clear that he chose the organization that was not led by Osman Saleh Sabbe.

When the reviewers get tired making the mundane look menacing, then they just invent things of whole cloth as appears in the quote below:

Furthermore, the author does not refer to his ten-months detention in the EPLF’s Halewa Sewra (Defense of the Revolution) center and, especially, the reason for his arrest and detention. The fact that he was arrested and detained is attested by none other than the prison guards, other prisoners and officials alike.”

It would be one thing for the reviewers to compare and contrast what Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie mentions in his book (Volume 1) and what “prison guards, other prisoners and officials alike” (all anonymous, of course) say about the case of the Eritrean Relief Association (ERA) and try to poke holes in it. It is quite another to claim that “the author does not refer” to the case and then, by dropping scary words like “Halewa Sewra” “ten-months detention”, “Redazghi Genre-Medhin [sic] the actual prime mover of ERA” and “misappropriation of funds,” to try to draw an image of a man who takes credit for something he didn’t do;  takes funds that is not his, and he gets arrested and punished for it, and then, ashamed, doesn’t mention it in a two-volume biography.

The Eritrean Relief Association was formed in Sudan as an independent NGO which, in the Sudan of the 1970s, couldn’t get licensed. In the 1970s, there was one Eritrean in the Arab world who could get practically anything done—Osman Saleh Sabbe—and he got the ERA the required license and legitimacy. The first chairman of the ERA was Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie, with the afore-mentioned Redazghi Gebre-medhin as Secretary and Ghidey Gandhi as Treasurer. There is tension between the three officers and they are called to the corporate headquarters of ERA—i.e. the Eritrean field—to resolve the issue. That was at Fah, Sahel. Dr. Bereket was staying at “enda agayish” (guests house) for 5 months (not a ‘ten month detention’ and not under ‘Halewa Sewra’) while the case was being investigated. In the end, the ERA was restructured: he left and went on to serve the organization in various capacities (including as the EPLF representative to the United Nations.) And, incidentally, Paulos “Be-Atay” Tesfagiorgis, who succeeded Dr. Bereket as the chairman of ERA, would, in 2000, be part of the G-13, the group who sent a letter (“Berlin Manifesto”) to Isaias Afwerki to mend his autocratic ways.

2. Dr. Bereket and The Constitution Drafting Process

In 1994, the Eritrean government issued proclamation no 55 establishing the Constitutional Commission of Eritrea (CCE.) Dr. Bereket drafted the proclamation; he chaired the 47-member CCE and its 10-member Executive Committee and oversaw a 3-year process that culminated in the ratification of the constitution by a constituent assembly in May 1997. There are critics to the entire constitution-drafting process—including awate.com—but if one needs to seek validation for whether the process that Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie oversaw meant anything to Eritreans all one has to do is to refer to January 21: when rebel soldiers took over the Ministry of Information, they announced two demands: the freeing of political prisoners and the implementation of the Eritrean constitution.

So, what exactly could the reviewers find fault with Dr. Bereket on this issue? Well, one has to do with his-post-constitution-drafting political activity, which we will address in a different section below. Their major issue appears to be that he demanded (shock!) and received (shock! shock!) compensation for his expertise. In the rest of the world, a person with such a specialized skill set (constitutional law) has every right to be compensated for his efforts; but in Eritrea, which has made slave labor into art form, for a working man with a family to receive compensation for his efforts is considered selfish.

The other criticism against Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie is that, according to “some members of the Executive Committee” (unnamed of course) he was not sufficiently supportive of Eritreans’ civil liberties. Specifically, he argued for the right of the government to hold a citizen in detention without charges for 30 days while they asked for 24 hours and they compromised on 48 hours; he did not want to explicitly say that Eritreans had the right to form political parties, his colleagues did and that is how the constitution settled on “political organizations” and, finally, he allowed frequent insertion of the codicil “pursuant to law” on matters, including citizenship, that should not be subject to amendment by law.

All of these—and many more, by the way, dealing with the balance of power between the citizen and the government—are genuine criticisms of the constitution (to be covered in the subsequent section.)  What is objectionable here is that the “reviewers”—who are supposed to be writing their 48-page tome in search of truth—do not tell us who within the Executive Committee of the constitutional drafters is saying this? And, since their entire 48-page tome is really written in defense of Isaias Afwerki (more on that later), are they even conscious of the irony of them criticizing a constitutional lawyer for empowering a government to hold a prisoner without presenting him to a court of law for 30 days when the man they are defending, Isaias Afwerki, has now been holding people in prison without charges since 1994—over 6,570 days? They are going to criticize a constitutional lawyer for not explicitly acknowledging Eritreans right to form political parties while defending a head of state who has publicly said that the right to assembly may not exist in Eritrea for three or four or more decades? And, since we all know who the 10-member Executive Committee is, and since we know who is alive, who is dead, who is active, who is passive, do they really think we can’t know who is, in his typically passive-aggressive way, and in the defense of the dictator, lobbing these cowardly stink bombs from behind the curtain?

3. Dr. Bereket’s Role Since the Adoption of the Eritrean Constitution

As we mentioned, while the Eritrean constitution has a devoted public support and Dr. Bereket can rightfully take pride in the fact that he played a principal role in the creation of a document that will survive the downfall of the Isaias Afwerki regime, it always had its critics. The main argument against it from its critics is, curiously, its supposed strength: it was exclusive.

The critics (including awate.com) say that the proclamation was drafted by the EPLF (three years after it had made a conscious decision to deny political space to any organized political organization): the 47 members of the commission were named by the National Assembly (then the Central Committee of the EPLF); therefore, all the “participation” that is celebrated is hollow: in Eritrea, participation is mandatory; in Diaspora, participation was by Eritreans who were EPLF-supporters, EPLF-sympathizers, or apolitical Eritreans. The “National Assembly” that ratified it was the EPLF; the Constituent Assembly that ratified it—made up of the National Assembly, the Regional Assembly and the Diaspora Assembly—was also the EPLF/PFDJ. Consequently, on every issue of consequence—(a) the relationship between citizen and government; (b) the relationship between regional and national government; (c) the relationship between citizen and land; (d) the relation between a citizen and another citizen; (e) how citizens communicate with one another and how they communicate with their government—it reflects the values of the EPLF/PFDJ.

Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie has been firm in defense of the constitution: it is not unusual for triumphant revolutionary governments to have a disproportionately oversized role in the drafting of a constitution; there was deliberate effort made to ensure that the Constitutional Commission reflected Eritrea’s diversity: by gender, by ethnicity, by religion; that the Commission DID include (including at the Executive Committee level) individuals whose background was not with the EPLF (Azien Yassin, Idris Gelawdios, Taha Mohammed Nur); that the Commission, though it consulted with the government, was completely an autonomous body; and, in any event, the constitution has built-in mechanisms for amendment and anything that is not acceptable to the people can be changed by the people.

While he has been firm, he has also been quite willing to LISTEN to those who were not persuaded by his arguments.   It is his willingness to LISTEN and to show empathy that has, apparently, infuriated the “reviewers” who, believe it or not, have accused him of “destroy[ing] its legitimacy.” This is because, according to the reviewers, “while other members of the Executive Committee maintained the highest level of moral and professional integrity that was expected of them, the Chairman had, unbeknownst to them, fatally compromised their autonomy and the legitimacy of the Commission and may have irreparably damaged the future of the constitution.”[Emphasis ours]

While hyperbole is the official language of the reviewers, this accusation is, even by their standards, unfathomable. The “other members of the Executive Committee” (excluding those who have passed away), are Mr Zemehret Yohannes,  Dr. Amare Tekle, Ms. Amna Naib, Ms. Zahra Jaber, Mr. Paulos Tesfagiorgis and Mr. Musa Naib. They (Paulos excepted) are saying absolutely not one word while a ratified constitution they labored on and will forever carry their names has been shelved for 12 long years and has been dismissed as a “piece of paper” by the head of state whose power it is designed to rein in. The constitution they helped draft demanded on them to defend it vocally. If one is to accept authority, one must also accept responsibility. How are they displaying “the highest level of moral and professional integrity”? One would have to re-define “moral”, “professional” and “integrity” to give these people (Paulos “Ba’Atay” Tesfagiorsis excluded) such accolades. But, what is it that has gotten the reviewers to get even more unhinged than their usual state of hyper mania? Three examples are cited:

A. The Case of Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization

In October 2012, in Ottawa, Canada, Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie attended a conference organized by the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO), an Eritrean opposition organization that, along with the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunama (DMLEK), has a political platform declaring that its right to political autonomy extends to, and includes, secession.

In a Kennedy-goes-to-Berlin moment, Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie said “Ich bin ein Afar” (I am an Afar)—which is the exact message one wants to send to embrace inclusion, particularly to a group which feels marginalized. He then went on to explain that the constitution he helped draft, which envisions a unitary state with a relatively strong central government and a relatively weak regional government, was the outcome of the Eritrean revolution experience which, above all things, valued national unity. University of Ottawa Law Professor Joseph Magnet, who has taken up the cause of Eritrean Afars, also attended the two-day conference. RSDADO created a headline from this: “Historic Meeting of International Foreign Affairs Experts Leads to Landmark Agreement to Re-Write Eritrean Constitution.” Via email, Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie informed RSADO that he did no such thing and demanded a retraction of their claim; that whatever changes have to be made to the constitution have to by the people and using the mechanism that is built-in the constitution: the amendment process.

B. The Case of Majlis Ibrahim Mukhtar

In February 2010, Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar, an association of Eritrean Muslim scholars and professionals, published a piece at awate.com entitled “The Eritrean Covenant: Towards Sustainable Justice and Peace.”  The document articulates the grievances of Eritrean Muslims in the era of Isaias Afwerki and, first in its call for action to Eritreans was: “to reject the PFDJ constitution and call for drafting a new constitution once the Eritrean people are rid of the oppressive regime; a constitution that will take into consideration the will and aspirations of all Eritreans.”

To his credit, whereas most Eritreans—including scholars—refused to engage the Mejlis in debate, Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie did. He acknowledged the document as a serious paper but went on to defend the constitution he helped draft.  For whatever reason, this has infuriated the reviewers who expect a constitutional scholar to sit in his ivory tower like a good kebertye and ignore the voice of his compatriots. His engagement is dismissed as over-eager effort to accommodate “the agenda of the new or presumably emerging elite.”

Similarly, Dr. Bereket’s polite engagement of the elderly Omar Jabir (on his awate.com article, “Dr. Bereket: From the Unknown to the Uncertain”) is dismissed as chameleon-like behavior to embrace viewpoints diametrically opposed from one’s own.

Presumably, in all these cases, if Dr. Bereket had told RSADO “tough: the constitution stands, if you don’t like it, raise your arms and we will squash you”; if he had ignored Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar and Omar Jabir, he would have joined the list of the morally and professionally upstanding Executive Committee members of the Constitutional Drafting Commission who have nothing to say about anything.

4. Dr. Bereket and the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Resolution

One of the tell-tale signs that the “reviewers” are not book reviewers but enforcers of dogma is their criticism of Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie’s position with respect to the demarcation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border. It is a dogma that has arrested the development of Eritrea and frozen it in a time warp from which it has not been able to escape for over a decade. What the dogma is, why the dogma must be enforced and how the “reviewers” give away why it is all in the service of Isaias Afwerki’s ego is one of the most accidentally insightful pieces of the so-called book review.

Everyody knows the terms of the December 2000 peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The two parties agreed to have an independent boundary and claims commissions and they agreed, in advance, that they would accept their ruling without equivocation. When the Boundary Commission issued its ruling, (which included awarding the village of Badme to Eritrea), the Ethiopian regime and, subsequently the United States, behaved badly by trying to invalidate the decision of the Boundary Commission. Ethiopia accepted, then rejected, then asked for “alternative mechanism” and dialogue to ensure that “human geography” (the separation of people from land) is considered—despite the fact that it had, in advance, agreed that it would not make such demands. The United States, too, attempted to undermine the terms of the agreement by trying to pressure the boundary commission and to, retroactively, introduce new terms that did not exist in the peace treaty. None of this is in dispute: all of it is public knowledge.

In light of all this, the position that the Isaias Afwerki regime has taken is that Ethiopia (and the US and the UN) must be pressured and shamed into doing the right thing. This has been its position since the ruling was issued in 2002.

Those who have arrived at the conclusion that Ethiopia will not be pressured into doing that, or that it is beyond pointless to try to “pressure” the United States or the United Nations to do that or, more importantly, that the no-war no- peace state Eritrea finds itself in is too heavy a burden for a young state emptying itself out of its most productive citizens, have proposed a solution that DOES NOT VIOLATE THE TERMS OF THE PEACE AGREEMENT OR THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION. It is simply this: while Ethiopia cannot make dialogue a condition of its acceptance and implementation of the boundary commission’s ruling, there is nothing that prevents Eritrea from voluntarily offering to open talks with Ethiopia on how to implement the decision or even how to make changes to the demarcation if it is to the mutual benefit of both countries. This was what the EEBC said over and over: Ethiopia cannot compel Eritrea to enter into dialogue as pre-condition for demarcating the border; but this does not preclude Eritrea from offering to do so. More pointedly, there should be nothing that prevents Eritrean citizens from demanding of their government to make whatever concessions are required to find lasting peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In other words, pressure should be applied not just over a government that is not accountable to Eritreans (Ethiopian government); it should also be applied over a government that is (theoretically at least) supposed to serve and be accountable to Eritreans (Eritrean government.)

This is exactly the position of Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie. As an Eritrean citizen, as an American citizen with more familiarity of American diplomacy than most Eritreans, and as a man who has more than a passing knowledge of International law and how the UN actually works, he is well within his right (and, actually, he has a duty to Eritrea) to make this recommendation without having his loyalty to Eritrea impugned.

Ten years have passed since the strategy proposed by the Isaias Afwerki regime—don’t bend, don’t show flexibility, stay the course—was proposed. Is Ethiopia any closer to feeling the pressure? Are the US and the UN any closer or further from advocating the position advanced by the Isaias Afwerki regime? How has this impacted Eritrea?

And why is Isaias Afwerki—who, in the past, has shown no hesitation in taking positions 180 degrees at variance with his former position (global war on terror, Iraq War, the Arab League, Omar Al Bashir, and, just recently, Eritreans in Sinai) taking such a rigid position on this? Dr. Bereket postulates that it is simply a matter of ego for Isaias Afwerki.   And, inadvertently, the “reviewers” support his case when they say, “President Isaias and Eritreans will remain steadfast… because they wish to acquit themselves before the tribunals of justice, morality and history.”

Well, we can leave aside the poor Eritreans, who really have no voice on the matter (or any matter, for that matter) because the only time a referendum has been held on what they want was in 1993. All the tools used to actually determine what the people want–public polls, formation of political parties, independent civil society, elections, free press—are all banned in Eritrea. We can also, on the strength of evidence, strike out any association of Isaias Awerki with the words and concepts of “justice” and “morality” as a person who can hold people in prison without charges for decades has no sense of justice or morality. Then, all we are left with is this: “President Isaias will remain steadfast… because he wishes to acquit himself before history.” There, fixed that for you.

Now, how is that different from what Dr. Bereket said about the true motivation for Isaias Afwerki’s refusal to show any flexibility on the issue?

While we are on the subject of Ethiopia, the reviewers accuse Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie of dual loyalty to Eritrea and Ethiopia. One of their pieces of “evidence” for this allegation is that, at a ceremony in Paris to celebrate the publication of Volume 2 of his memoirs, he had told an audience (Ethiopians, according to the reviewers)  that “(i) he had been an Ethiopian before he became an Eritrean, and (ii) he wished to celebrate the reunification of the two countries before his death.”  Not exactly.  What he said was: “I have been part of Ethiopia. There is a larger sense in which we are all Ethiopians, historically, culturally speaking, as I tried to explain today and my wish and my hope before I die is that we will come back together, in a larger unity, transcending all these divisions.”  And he said this within the context of pushing for “regional unification, as a launching pad for a future African Union, I think that would be the way to go… realistically speaking,  I don’t see any other way.” When you consider the fact that Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie is a self-declared Pan African, is there anything remotely controversial about this? And when the reviewers misrepresent something that is easily verifiable, can there be any doubt that they are misrepresenting things that are hard to verify because their sources are anonymous and distant?

The narration is in French, the interview is in English but you can judge for yourself, here:

5. Dr. Bereket’s Evolving View of Isaias Afwerki

The improbably-named reviewers, Asaminew Ewnetun (“Convince Him Of Truth”) and “Aradom Fedai Haqi” (“Fear Monger, The Truth Avenger”) were, like The Terminator, created for one purpose: to destroy their subject. In other words, all the flaws that they go to great lengths to identify and manufacture would never have seen the light of day had Professor Bereket Habte-Selassie not committed one unforgivable sin: to harshly criticize Isaias Afwerki as a despot and power usurper. If he had remained quiet, like the other members of the Executive Committee of the Constitutional Commission of Eritrea (CCE) as a tyrant strangles a nation, then he would have been commended for displaying  “the highest level of moral and professional integrity.” The question they ask Dr. Bereket is this: if Isaias Afwerki is such a terrible leader, why did you, in one way or another, serve in an organization he led from the mid-1970s to your break in 2000? Is it Isaias who has changed, or is it you, or both?

Now, if the reviewers were truly interested in finding the truth, they would have applied an objective standard. In much the same way that they spend time looking for character references for Dr. Bereket, they would be looking for character references for Isaias Afwerki from people who have known him the longest—well, at least the ones he hasn’t imprisoned, made to disappear or killed. Since they have made profiling their hobby, they would listen to testimonies of those who have known Isaias Afwerki the longest and try to see what common themes emerge. Perhaps they could read some of the Wikileaks of Isaias Afwerki and his behavior in unguarded moments.

Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie has described his long journey and his continued faith in the leadership of Isaias Afwerki as “immaculate deception.” A fan of literature and wordplay, Dr. Bereket here is referencing “immaculate conception” but there is nothing perfect or spotless about Isaias’s deception. Quite the opposite: it was a bloody deception. The point is that Dr. Bereket is being self-critical: I should have known, the hints were everywhere, but I allowed my faith in the possible to overpower my objective assessment.

This is not to say that Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie was blind to the facts of what the EPLF may become. The reviewers go to some length to ridicule the existence of Dr. Bereket’s 1990 booklet “Reflections on the Future Political System of Eritrea:

“Really? If this booklet had been published in 1990 when Eritreans (and Ethiopians) were reading anything and everything on developments in the war, Eritreans and Ethiopians alike would have been talking about it! Yet, nobody we contacted seems to have any recollection of what would have been a bestseller! Which company published? Which libraries have it? Do the ELF and EPLF have it? What was the ELF’s reactions to the recommendations? Was there a book-review? Will any publisher send us copies, if it exists!”

Like zealous prosecutors, they go all out to find anything incriminating about Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie, uttered by anybody, regardless of the person’s reputation (they had no qualms about quoting Mengistu Hailemariam’s book, Tiglachin, because the Black Stalin has damning things to say about Dr. Bereket), but they will bury any exculpatory evidence even if it is a google search away.

For people who give all sorts of hints that they are privy to insider information, the reviewers also betray a surprising level of ignorance when they get all shocked about the existence of the “booklet” because it was part of a series. The first was authored by the late Dr. Tekie Fessehazion, the second by Dr. Gebre Tesfagiorgis and the last by Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie. The series was strangled by the usual suspects (Isaias Afwerki and henchmen) because it (the booklet whose existence the reviewers are not aware of) said things like:

“Any nation of a historic party, such as the EPLF, which has done so much, competing against others for power may be galling to many rank and file members and may suggest admission of weakeness. However, the great goal implicit in pluralism and in competition would have to be taught as a matter of national imperative.

“The question of democratic rights–both in the individual and popular sense–is one of the paramount values of our epoch, which no one except those of a fascist persuasion would question.”

The length that the reviewers go to beautify Isaias Afwerki and to damn his enemies is surreal. To the reviewers, when Dr. Bereket (and others) evolve and change, it is not a sign of maturity but chameleon like behavior. But Isaias Afwerki changing? If you concentrate, you can hear the smacking sound of their fat kiss:

“It is inconceivable that the personality of a leader, especially a young revolutionary leader, will remain unchanged for decades in spite of inexorable changes, problems and ordeals that are integral components of any revolutionary struggle. His training in revolutionary theory must have molded practice, but experience too must have molded theory. To this are added the vagaries and vicissitudes of struggle as well as relations between, and within, parties and groups. This will have had impacts not only on the development of skills but also on his character.”

In short, you, Dr. Bereket, changed: and that is opportunism. Isaias Afwerki changed, and that is growth.

This generosity of spirit and giving someone the benefit of doubt is reserved only for Isaias Afwerki and whoever has chosen to remain silent as Isaias Afwerki kills a nation. Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie is condemned not just on the basis of what anonymous individuals (including Executive Constitution Commission members) allegedly said, but also on what an allegedly soon-to-be-published book by an anonymous Eritrean “savant” will say.

Tipping their hands as to who is pulling their strings, the reviewers have no generosity of spirit to the G-15, the senior government officials who have been in solitary confinement, without charges for 11 years.

For example, apropos nothing, they refer to Petros Solomon as “inordinately slick and slippery”—but, in their own slick move, they tell us that those are not their words; they were just rumors “circulating in Asmara and elsewhere.”  What about the G-15 collectively? Listen to this: if Isaias Afwerki is the brute that Dr. Bereket Afwerki is painting, ask the reviewers, “How did he survive – indeed become popular with the people, including with some of the G15, to this day?” Yes, you heard right: according to the reviewers, Isaias Afwerki is “popular” with some members of the G-15 even now. Sure, he arrested them, threw away the keys, denied them family visitation rights, representation, right to self-defense, medical attention, and let them wither away, but they love him. The reviewers, sticklers for facts, and evidence, do not present any support for such a claim, nor for who the “some” are but a safe presumption is that it must be those who are not dead as of this day.

IV. Conclusion

In the end, reading the reviewers, with their comic book names and the dead-end causes they advocate, one is filled with tragi-comic sadness. They remind us of the holdouts, the Japanese soldiers who were completely unaware (or refused to believe) that they had lost the war in World War II,  and continued to volunteer in one dead-end cause after another, some until the 1970s.  In the 21st century, in an information age where Eritreans are literally all over the world with ready access to every communication outlet, the old hagiography of Isaias Afwerki—carefully and lovingly curated by controlling every single media outlet Eritreans had access to (word-of-mouth, radio, newsletter, songs and other myth-manufacturing factories)—has crumbled. The only way it can be reconstructed is by casting doubt on every media outlet in the world as enemy tools, calling every dissident a traitor, and by focusing the people on nearly-impossible projects that will take decades to achieve. It matters not that these projects—infrastructure building, eradication of disease, peace on our terms, prosperity—can be realistically achieved; it only matters that they take a very long time and nobody asks for results and accountability now.

If you don’t know much about Eritrean politics during the reign of Isaias Afwerki, all you need to know is this: (1) there are two kinds of people: good patriotic Eritreans, and bad treasonous Eritreans. If you want to know how can you tell the difference, that is also a binary choice: (2) Eritreans who support Isaias Afwerki are good, patriotic Eritreans; and those who oppose him are bad, treasonous Eritreans. If you want to see how this view has application to the world, that, too, is a binary choice: (3) countries, governments, organizations who support Isaias Afweri are good friends of Eritrea; and those who oppose him are bad enemies of Eritrea. In short, the world according to the Isaiaists is simple: if you love Isaias, you are good; if you hate what Isaias does, you are bad.  And, if you were once considered friendly to Isaias Afwerki but now devote your energies to exposing the selfish, sadistic, psychopathic nature of Isaias Afwerki, then all the big guns will be unloaded on you. The symmetry is maintained: the higher your esteem, the more your influence, and the louder your opposition, then, the bigger the guns, the more frequent the shots, and the lower the tactics employed against you.

But Eritreans are not co-operating. On dissident radio, on the Internet, on opposition websites, on social media platforms, on Facebook, on Paltalk, on yahoo and skype chatrooms, on the telephone, they are telling a different narrative. And the ones who are telling us not to be fooled again are those who have known him the longest. They have names like Tesfai Temenwo, and Bereket Habte-Selassie. And, unfortunately for Isaias Afwerki, to many in the new generation, the dissidents are now just as popular as he once was, when he had the microphone all to himself.

inform. inspire. embolden. reconcile.


About Awate Team

The Awate Team is a group of individuals who collaborate in preparing editorial contents that mainly appear under the PENCIL signature and other columns that carry the Awate Team signature. It represents the collective team's view.

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  • Zeg Fanta

    Fellow Wogenoch,
    I read both articles, The Review that partly exposed Dr. Berket Habteselassie and the critical analysis of the review. The request to post the other article is fair and just for the sake of readers who wish to find the truth.

    I knew a great deal about Bereket Habteselassie who is now condemned by the country that raised as its own citizen and by the country he thought and believed its national. He endangered a nation that gave him everything by acting cowardly. Eritrea of the rebels did not give him one thing, but that was his way to achieve his goal, to become an important figure in the new country that he saw becoming a nation. His ambition did not fit the ambitions of all others including Isaias and so, once again, the practice of his cowardice action. Bereket ended up not being a citizen of Ethiopia and not being a national of Eritrea. There is no one in that category among Eritreans or Ethiopians.
    As I said, I knew quite a bit about the cowardice actions of Bereket, and that will be described in a forthcoming article. It is amazing how people glamorize cowardice actions and nothing except the same practices or supreme ignorance or devilish politics are the guiding lights for each right or wrong causes.

    • Saleh Gadi

      Zeg Fanta,
      There is a golden rule: show, telling is not enough. If you think Dr. Bereket is a coward, prove how that is so. Simply insulting people will not cut it unless you are in a Derg-like cult meeting where the congregated people have no choice but to nod at everything the party cadre says. That is not the case in this forum.
      Also remember, we have almost a hundred thousand people who lived, breathed and walked like Ethiopians until one day, they were told you are not. Do you think they were cowards as well? I do not believe you miss the point that Dr. Bereket is an Eritrean; Ethiopianism was forced on all of us and he is no exception. Does working with the government makes him a villain as opposed to another Eritrean who considered Ethiopia home and worked, say, as a driver? I don’t think so.
      There is no evidence whatsoever that Dr. Bereket worked against the aspiration of Eritreans when he worked in Ethiopia, in fact you need to research how his being Eritrean played when it came to appointing him in a senior position at the HS University. His Eritrean origin followed him all his life, like it did any Oromo (you know what they were called then), Somali and others. But importantly, it is sad that you glee at the predicament of Eritrean who find themselves exiled from their country which they love and adore. It is evil to seek pleasure from the pain of Eritreans, and that sir, is what you are doing.
      Qomata, qomata.. kalalut…. how does that saying end?

      • Zeg Fanta

        Saleh Gadi,
        Greetings! I do not think you read what I wrote completely. Let me clear and clean your thoughts on who I am to give you a good picture of my background. I left Ethiopia just before the revolution and I was not part of the Derg. That is a good news. I am not part of or a supporter of the present regime of Ethiopia. That must be good news to you. I condemned the ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ policy of ‘Tigray People Liberation Front’. I believe this devilish organization thought about it and planted the very idea by which they would take inhuman and drastic actions as they did against Eritrean-Ethiopians and continue to do against all other Ethiopians. All these cruelties to the people of the nation was for the purpose of empowering TPLF and maintaining that power over all of Ethiopia. For that end, it was necessary to clean the Eritrean-Ethiopians from the land and country they and their ancestors died and sacrificed to make what Ethiopia is today! Eritreans had better or equal claims to entire heritages of social and economic resources as any other people of Ethiopia. I do not want to go any further on this point. I have not said much yet about Bereket Habteselassie. I pointed out that I knew a lot about him and suggested that I would describe, and I can make it clear to you the fact that Bereket lied in every line of his book. Thus, I supported the review of Bereket’s book as presented by the Reviewers. The criticism presented above has nothing to do with the truth, but simply a show of war of words, so to speak about the nature of the article as I saw it.
        I will present in due time an article to show who Bereket was or what he did before 1974, which he described them quite differently. I believe Bereket believed all witnesses were dead to confront and challenge the truth. There are a few he knew around, but he has chosen to contest their testimonies and that to me is one hell of courage to defy history by weights of piles of lies. Bereket has no other options to end the ugly history, but paint it with every bright colors as much as he could. We saw that enough and time to lay the truth and expose his muddy past in as much as the environment of the mad World allows.

        Bekeket said to the effect that he was an Ethiopian by citizenship, Eritrean by his nationality. Okay, that may be true to describe him if not every other Eritrean. Bereket is no Ethiopia or Eritrean and that cannot be challenged by any legal or other means. Bereket has destroyed or has done his part to destroy the societies and people of Ethiopia and present Eritrea as no one did. He contributed to the destructions of a nation and in the end did the same to Eritrea and its people, in the same way as he did to Ethiopia. When his destructive abilities came to an end, and rendered no more good or necessary tool, he expressed his wish to see Ethiopia and Eritrea united while alive. A person who had gone to such extremes all his life to change things his ways suddenly realized his grand mistakes in life and changed or attempted to correct them! You think about as deep as you can on this matter. If you cannot see any thing in this matter that Bereket displayed, you may be too hard to accept any other proof even slightly. This is a good point to stop.

  • wediere

    Link for interview in Tigrigna

  • Eng

    The discourse is about adding value to the diaspora conversation by writing a rejoinder. The write up by the awate team did not add value to the conversation, nor provide evidence based difence to the doctor/professor turned opportunisatic according to some, or conefessionary according to others. Your notes crticized the people who reviewed the two books by the doctor; if you have evidence, and I am not suggesting you have non, you should present your own book review on these two books by the professor.That is when one can legitmately say “I am adding value to the diaspora conversation”. I think this rule of thumb should always apply in every diaspora syber talk. Regards,

  • Semere Tesfai

    Awate Team:

    You said: “In 1977, at a unity conference in Hagaz, Isaias Afwerki claimed – the pre-conference agreement reached between a representative of the ELF and a representative of EPLF was invalid because his former boss, Romodan Mohammed Nur was just expressing his “personal opinions.””

    Probably Isaias did say that; I don’t know. But having said that – though I’m willing to be corrected, technically I’m afraid you are wrong. Romedan Mohammed Nur was Isaias “boss” until 1987.

    You said: “On October 1, 1974, thousands of Eritreans descended at Woki-Zager to demand ELF and PLF to put an end to their civil war. Given the all-powerful and totalitarian role of the Eritrean “fronts”, it may be hard to conceive now a situation where the people would spontaneously and at a grassroots level attempt to pressure the Eritrean revolutionaries to mend their ways, but such was the case at Woki-Zager.”

    Wow. At Weki-Zager, individually or in as a small group, people asking the leaders of the two fronts to UNITE yes; but “spontaneous grassroots level pressure”? That is a stretch. And let me explain why:

    Way before 1974, ELF leaders realized that the “Tesfia War” was not a war they can win (militarily, politically, diplomatically). To that end, they agreed in principle to “Negotiate Unity” – made UNITY Negotiation Commitment to Osman Saleh Sabe and to our Arab friends in Baghdad prior to January 1974 – had leadership meeting on April 1974 at Rahia-Abai and decided to start UNITY negotiation with PLF123 after ELF Second National Congress that was about to be convened at the end of 1974.

    Hoping ELF won’t attack them, in April 1974, the Obeleen leadership sent 80 men under the leadership of Feisel along the Sudan-Barka border area to recruit new fighters. But ELF attacked one of their unit at 4:30 am at MAMAN while they were asleep. All 35 were killed except one – by the nick-name Chachotay (Mosquito). The rest were escorted to Shael. And three months later they were merged with their Kebessa and Red Sea groups.

    To influence ELF Second Congress, knowing full well ELF would attack, on September 1974, PLF123 forces advanced from Sahel to Kebessa (Northern Hamassien) and killed ELF cadres who were traveling from Akeleguzai to Barka to attend ELF Second Nationa Congress. ELF came to the area in large numbers to retaliate; and that is how we got to the Weki-Zager arena.

    And these were the realities prior and during Weki-Zager.

    a) PLF foreign leaders (Osman Saleh Sabe Team) were screaming UNITY at the top of their lungs and were pressuring ELF leadership through Arab friends to stop the civil war and Negotiate UNITY.

    b) PLF123 leadership and their political machines were screaming UNITY 24/7 – were accusing ELF leadership for pursuing war of aggression – and were campaigning day and night to their organizations in Sudan and inside Eritrea.

    c) ELF rank and file (ethnic Tigrignas) started (organized) Anti-Civil-War movement and refused to fight against their brothers at Weki-Zager, believing ELF was the aggressor. And they were fully campaigning inside ELF-units – and to the visitors who were streaming to Weki-Zager at the time.

    d) ELF leaders were not willing to make any “UNITY” commitment, not because of pride and principle, but because ELF was cut-off from Northern and and Eastern Hamassien, Akeleguzai, Semhar and Denkel in just overnight.

    To be honest – the Kebessa people who were streaming to Woki-Zager, didn’t had a clue that there existed two(?) fronts in the Field, let along the feud between them. They just came – some to ask about their family members and friends, some to satisfy their curiosity, taking advantage of the power-vacuum that was created by the fall of the emperor. And they all learned a thing or two when they came to the scene, and said a thing or two before they went back home. That’s all.

    Also, you said: “Dr. Bereket provides the answer as to why he got involved (Brokering UNITY): The civil war “was fresh in the memories of the people in the Karneshim area. Many of them knew the victims; women would weep.”

    This doesn’t make any sense. First, until Weki-Zager, the Eritrean civil-war was, War of Two Tigres that was fought at Barka-LaElay and at Geregr (Eritrea-Sudan border). Second, the Weki-Zager war victims were not only from Karneshim but from every Eritrean community. Could he had met a leader or two from either side or both like anybody else, at the war theater? Absolutely. But, brokering ELF and PLF?

    Again I’m willing to be corrected, but to put it mildly, I doubt it. I know Dr. Bereket and Al-Amin Abdel-Latif (the singer) came there and went directly to the PLF123 area (not together though). I know many ELF Tegadeltis were talking about it for a long time specially about Al-Amin. Because ELF units knew everyone who went to the PLF123 area; since every visiter had to pass through ELF held area to go to the PLF123 area. And it shocked many ELF fighters and arouse the curiosity of many others – as to why Alamin, that is loved by ELF fighters would choose PLF123 over ELF. And that was one of the lessons of Eritrean politics for me as well. That is my two cents.

    • Brother Semere,
      First, it would have been nice had the awateteam respond to your comments; but, so far that did not happen. Anyways, until you get some kind of response from awateteam my comment to your information would be “anta ane’Ke Entay Kibl E’ye” Remember! you said “I’m willing to be corrrected” if.. …
      Second, please go back and do some research if you are really interested to know about what you stated above. I think that is fair to say for now.

  • mebrahtu

    Thanks Awate for this. Glad that your review is not a direct response to the ‘reviewers’ but rather directed at informing the reader. You cannot fight a battle of wits with these people. It is the ‘feliTu zesqeTe…’ type of thing.

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    How is life for tigringa and amharic speekers eritreans in Eritrea and in Ethiopia now?

  • Zegeremow

    The good doctor is too ambitious and opportunistic. He is always changing his loyalty. I recently saw a youtube video where he was discussing his dream of seeing Ethiopia and Eritrea unite as one country before he dies. I swear to God that is what he said! I was like “Damn Gina!”

    • Gumare

      Why you swaer to God when you are lazy to even read the explanation to that defamation. Read enough to see who made it appear like that and how it was quoted out of context. Awate did a great job and worked hard to explain what really happened and gave you a way to be informed but you chose youyr lazy attitude of swearing to nothing, based on one sentence which was quoted out of context.

      Zegeremow said, “The good doctor… was discussing his dream of seeing Ethiopia and Eritrea …before he dies. I swear to God that is what he said! I was like “Damn Gina!”

      See how your statement was altered to mean different than what you actually said. Be critical man, don’t swallow before chewing.

      • Zegeremow

        Dr. Bereket is a known quantity among the Eritrean people. He is generally known to be as someone who just shifts with the changing wind. He is for whatever suits his career ambitions at that moment. It doesn’t mean that that is where he is going to be tomorrow or that’s where he was yesterday. He is like a yo-yo. He goes back and forth. These days, he is for Eritrea re-uniting with Ethiopia.

  • Papillon

    Dearest Sal,

    Many thanks for the link. Sure thing Professor Bereket didn’t miss anything at all. In retrospect, Dawit Mesfin’s sense of optimism seems to have carried the making of Forto ten years on. However, when his outlook of the future throws a sprinkle of hope, he seems to have dropped out of the good fight in the company of the accountant (Araya Debessay), the surgeon (Haile Debbas) to mention but a few where you’re the only one staying the course and fighting the good fight amongst the then rising stars who are now sadly enough fading into an oblivion. One has famously said that, “Z’khaAle y’salle zey’kaAle y’taAle”. How true!


  • Yihdega Yihdego

    The following link is a rank of countries with a military might. I don’t see Eritrea with all its Sawa cadets which appear to be a green pasture viewed from the sky. Surprisingly them weyanes are ranked second in Africa no wonder Wedi Afom Bri is kinda hiding his tail between his legs like my a hibrid of German Shepherd and a Chiwawa dog.

    • haile


      Could it be that the lack of data has made them not list Eritrea? Keep beating that old chest of yours, sorry to interrupt.

  • Hayat Adem

    One more try if I could put some sense into your brain: for arguments sake, lets assume Hailesilassie was doomed because of Eritrea and nothing else. Lets also assume the only reason Derg was ridden was Eritrea. Lets even wildly exaggerate Woyane is staggering on its last breath because of its problems with Eritrea. You feel happy now, brother Haile? But wait: is there anything here in these assertions that show a positive gain to Eritrea? Have we modernized Eritrea; Have we promoted Eritrea to a higher level; did we make Eritrea respected and feared by friends and foes; did we secure a brighter future for Eritrea and Eritreans; Have the youth of Eritrea any faith and hope more than ever on the Eritrea they imagine emerging; Is Eritrea using its human and natural resources to the best of its potential and abilities; do Eritreans like tomorrow’s Eritrea than today’s, and today’s than yesterday’s? You know that the answer to all or most of these questions is NO, don’t you? Unless, of course, there is some delusional excuse on your part. Now, forget on what Eritrea did (good or bad) to past or present Ethiopian regimes and focus on what path Eritrea has chosen for herself. If see it that way, you will be urged to invest your ounce of energy on improving the future of Eritrea instead of taking a false pride from what you fantasize Eritrea might have caused a suffer or two against your brothers on the other-side of Mereb-Setit. And the worst tragedy is when you, and Eritreans who think the same like you, are under the impression that you are dragging your ‘enemy’ down to hell as fast as or faster than they are doing it you. Well, here is a news: it is high time to think about cooperation and good relations, brother Haile. That is a matter of urgency for three reasons: 1) there is a lot to be gained by cooperating, 2) the “enemy” is way stronger than us and can do us more harm than we can unto them, and 3) if the present trend continues, we will not have a country called Eritrea as such to talk about options of national paths.

    • haile


      You really have to get off that high horse! Eritreans have all the right and the reason to engage in a political struggle to improve their situation. Talk is cheap, those prized list of achievements to be gained, as you listed them, are to be sailed to across a vast sea called “hard work” to dock. I don’t believe there is any inconsistency to demanding your rightful entitlement and struggling to change your internal condition.

      Your point of view appears to me that you are already signed up to compromise Eritrea’s fundamental interests in a vain search of that illusive fantasy. Hating a regime is no excuse to abandoning fundamental interests and long term well being of your people and country. Those who promised you the illusive prize of self redemption have neither the will nor ability to deliver. What is yours is yours, stick with it and fight for it, but don’t betray it.

      I know that in the current set up of diaspora opposition, badge of honour drives from how much you hate Eritrea and everything Eritrean. I am saying that this is a wrong way to go. Woyane have clearly told you that the diaspora Eritrean opposition are a failed case, in their article published soon after Jan. 21 events. What is wrong with at least pretending to be Eritrean? The current opposition movements have aligned themselves so decidedly against Eritrea that Eritreans regard them with the same degree of contempt as all the other factors making up their misery.

      Please, take stock, 12-13 years of opposition movement, with literally every damn thing on its side (from media, governments to organizations) and is incapable of mustering a 100 people to turn up for demonstration!

      Eritreans have identified you as a threat, just as the other threats they have to deal with. If you think I am fantasizing and delusional then show me the beef. Who is the leader of the Eritrean opposition forces? Where is the stronghold? When was the last time they come out in show of force? None to all, right!

      12-13 years of movement, with EVERYTHING on your side, and Nothing to show for it! Trust me, I wish and work for the betterment of my people, the best I know how, but I am not ready to sell my history, rightful belonging and above all the fundamental long term interests of Eritrea.

      By the way, EPLF did what EPLF was able to do. I know it is no more, but save your breath trying to convince me otherwise, for it is only meant to look sexy to potential patrons on your part.


    “ሃገር ድዩ, ካርሸሊ ወይስ CASINO ???
    በዚ ኮነ በቲ ኣጕህይዋ ኣሎ ንወላዲት እኖ!!!¨

    ንብዓትኪ ኣይትሓብሲ፣ ማህጸንኪ ዝወለደ
    ኩነታት ኣይቅየርን´ዩ እንተዘይገደደ
    ኣይትጽልእኒ ስለ ዝደጓርኩሕልኪ ኣግሂደ
    ተጸቢኺ ፣ ብተቓወምቲ ሕኔኺ ክፍደ
    ማይ ኣይትሕቆኒ ፣ ብእኒ ጨበል ዕደ
    ንተ።ሓ።ኤ ዘይጠቐሙ ውድቦም ስድር ዘይከደ
    ክትዖም ዘይውዳእ ዘየሕብር ብሓደ
    ዋላ ህግደፍ ፈራሪሱ ንቃጣር እንተኸደ
    ስልጣኑ ዝዓጅቦ ካብ መልኦ ዲያስፖራ ደገ
    መከራኺ ዘይርኣዮ፣ ፈታው፡ነብሱ ጁባ ዘራጎደ
    ሕንፍሽፍሽ ክፍጠር ይኽእልዩ ልቢ ስለ ዘይተዋሃሃደ
    ገበን ክበዝሕዩ፣ ስርዓት ጠፊኡ ምስ ተኻሓሓደ
    ቀለብ ኣልቦ፣ገንዘብ ኤርትራ ንባንክ ቻይና ስለ ዝተሰደ
    ሓቀኛ ሃገራዊ ዕርቂ፣እንተዘይተጌሩ ጊዜ ከይወሰደ
    ትምኒተይ ኣይኮነን ግን ኣሎ ብዙሕ ዝተኣጕደ
    ሓይጣትኪ ዝብኢ ኣይበልዖን ኤርትራዊት ኣደ ፦፦፦፦፦
    እሕ ክትብሊ ሓምሳ ዓመት ክኾኖ
    ናይ ሸፋቱ ውድብ፣ ንወድኺ ንሞት ዝኾኖኖ
    እቲ ንእሽተይ ወጻኢ ከይዱ ከይሰደልኪ ዘጠራቐሞ
    ኣብ ድፋዕ ከም ጊላ እናሸቀሉ ኣእሪጎሞ
    እታ ሓንቲ ጓልኪ ኮሮኔላት ድንግልንኣ ብሓይሊ ኣፍሪሶሞ
    ብደም ፍረታት፡ከርስኺ ህግደፍ ክጥዕሞ
    ንሶም ዝረብሑሉ፣ መብዛሕትኡ ሳንቲም ዝሓረሞ
    ሃገር ኢሎም መስሪቶም ዓቢ መጣልዒ CASINO !!!

    The brilliant Mehretu – Habte

    • Kokhob Selam

      The brilliant Mehretu – Habte,

      እዛ ግጥምኻ ናብ ደርፊ ቀይረያ ሕጂ ስምራ ኣዳልየላ:-[ ደረብ ‘ሞ በል:

      ወኻዕካዕ ተሪፉ:-
      ሓይሊ ጨካን ሰኒፉ:-
      ክቅጽል ሃሪፉ:-
      መገዱ ሓርፊፉ:
      ጸገም ተደፍዲፉ:
      ካብ ልክዕ ሓሊፉ:
      ተዳለወ ጸድፉ::

      እዚ ‘ኳ ዶንጊና:-
      ህግደፍ ዶ ምስ መረሐትና?:-
      ዝተንጽገት ብህዝብና:-
      ዓለም ዝኾነና::

      ካዚኖ ዓዋሉ:-
      ብሓሶት ዝምሕሉ:-
      እኩባት ጉሓሉ:-
      ደጊም ነይኻኣሉ:
      ብዶብ እናምሰሉ:-
      ስላጣን ክጥቅልሉ:
      ንኺድ ተለዓሉ:
      ክትጠፍእ ‘ ዛ ሽሉ:;

      ኣዋጅ ተኣዊጁ:-
      ‘ቲ ጉዳይ ጥይጁ:-
      ከዳዕ ‘ውን ቦጅቡጁ:-
      ንዕጠቅ ጠበናጁ::

      ቀለዓ ወዲ ተማኖ:-
      ሰሚዕካ ዘይምኖ:-
      ሚስጥራ ተንተኖ:-
      ወደቀላ ወዲ ዓሊኖ :-
      ክሓልፈላ ኤሪኖ:-
      ፈረሰት ካዚኖ::


        Kokhob ,

        Let the real independence come & we will have a ¨MAHBER TIYATIR AWATE¨ in Eritrea…where ethnic participation will not be fake ethnic songs to show fake unity ..but educational & trainning.
        KOKHOB ,I WILL BE HONORED TO BE YOUR VICE CHAIRMAN & IN CHARGE OF REAL DIVERSITY.-…OF COURSE ,YOU ,BEING GENERAL MANAGER /CHAIR MAN. We have the talent..Eritrean people will understand why they have to stand for eachother…even if they do not like a certain ethnic in a certain area.UNITY BASED ON CONSCIOUSNESS ,NOT ROMANTICIZED ¨MARTYRDOM¨
        Well, Kokhob ,what are you waiting for …start the engine.

    • HGDEF

      To: Mehretu , Singapo Eritrean, Hmam Libi….. etc

      ሽሕ ግዜ እንተ በልካ ሕማም ልቢ
      ልብካ እሞ መኣስ ናትና ልቢ

      ኪድ እሞ ንመገዲ ከረን ቅድሚ ባልዋ
      ኣብኡ ኣላትካ ግርም ጽዋ
      ትውይዋይ መገዲ ስም ዘለዋ

      ሲንጋፖ ኤርትራዊ ዘብሀረ ኣክሱም
      ብዘይ ሻሉቅ ማሉቅ ድርግም ንገሽናሽም

      ትገምገም ነከለ
      ውርድ ጽንዓደግለ
      ትቅጽል ንባሕሪ ክሳብ ኢራፋይለ

      ከይትዛረብዶ እሞ ዘረባ ወሓለ
      ንሓድነት ህዝቢ ንሰላም ምዕባለ

      ዕረ ዝመልሕስካ ከም ሳጥናኤል
      ብእከይ ቅንኢ ከይደቀስካ ትሓድር

      ይኣዪ ክትፈላሊ ኣከለ ገሽናሽም
      ከይተረደኣካ ታሪክ ናይ ቀደም
      ሻሉቅ ማሉቅ ምኻኑ ናትና ደም


    Brother Hizbawi ,

    I admire you & truly wish you success in your studies…I am sure you will make us proud…provided the mid term it is not spelling bee…School is fantastic.but education is way better.

    Your grade 4 completed brother..(kab Inda shweden)


  • Papillon

    Dear Awate Team,

    I read your outstanding debunker of “Gideon Abbay and Elias Amare’s” “review” on Professor Bereket’s otherwise eventful and celebrated life. Professor Bereket seems to have defied the ever fast pace of time as he is still with a faculty of sharp mental acuity where the rest of us find inspiration in his love for Eritrea and standing firm for justice and rule of law as well. However, I often wonder about his choice to remain absent when the rest of the G-13 traveled to Asmara to engage Isaias about their concerns to the then rising tension between him and the G-15. Would you take that as a flaw in character (read: lack of courage or timidity) on his part when the rest of his colleagues faced Isaias even though they were well aware of the dire consequences that could have ensued later on where Isaias could have easily put them in the dungeons and throw the keys indefinitely? I wonder.

    • Kokhob Selam

      sister Papillon, i hope you will find the answer from Awate team, but i wonder, if you still think the way G-15 or G-13 managed was correct. see, imagine this great professor has gone to DIA those days and prisoned, isn’t that a big lose? by the way what is there to be reformed those days? look the name of people who are in Ela Ero, all were known for their heroism but i think they committed mistake for their stand to correct DIA and people like that fox Alamin. you reform when you have form sister.correct me if you find what i am saying is wrong.

    • Papillon

      Dear Awate Team,

      Oh I almost forgot that I am in your ignore list. I guess I can live with that. The bright side is you let my comments appear where it is under your mercy and a click away to push it over Gobo-Aad’na.

    • Salyounis


      No, we never considered that at all. One of the things we admire about Dr. Bereket is that he is truly a “public intellectual”: he has no hesitation in mixing it up with the people when people with more inferior academic credentials consider the Eritrean internet and Paltalk too unruly and too inferior for them, he jumps in. Given the frequency of his interactions with people, it wouldn’t surprise us if he has already answered your question.

      Here’s the interview we conducted with Dawit Mesfin, one of the 11 people who attended the Isaias Afwerki/G-13 meeting in Asmara in November 2000. Read it and tell us what Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie missed out by not going there.



      PS: Incidentally, Dawit Mesfin described the Isaias Afwerki/G-13 meeting as a “gate-crushing experience.”

      I think a myth was broken. Smashed. All the myth builders were embarrassed. More importantly, this was a gatecrashing experience. It was like a popular football game and people are waiting outside the stadium and they manage to bring down the gates and get in. Last but not least, not only did we get his attention but the attention of people very close to him. They were very interested and they looked at the matter very positively.

      The same phrase could be applied to Forto 2013.

  • Araya

    Is yodita AKA Papillon or wiqato? The writing style is amazingly dead on. It won’t surprise me though, those two are too busy kissing YG’s butt.




    Please let me put my message here about a good friend of mine ..who has contacted me through this beautiful website, AWATE…using the commentators forum to give me a message…I want to tell you about this real friend human being..that helped all habeshas including Ethiopians..but specially me giving me gift of trousers & more (when we were refugees in Uganda)..and when we resettled in Canada ,I went to visit him in vancouver ..and he offered his main room for me & my family while him & his girl friend at the time slept in a minor room. Since the bipolar episode ,I have lost contact with many real Eritreans..AND SUCH A BEAUTIFUL HUMAN BEING CAN ONLY BE FORMER ELF /JEBHA…tegadalay..real Eritrean tegadalay.
    My love, I will contact you soon



    I KNOW I AM NOT AS WISE OR AS ARTICULATE AS YOU ARE ..BUT I WILL QUOTE ..PART OF YOUR COMMENT..I QUOTE…” …., the American consulate, asked the Ethiopian translator to ask the old woman what she does for leaving.”
    It also shows the American interviewer does not seem to have completed elementary school…to ask meaning less question..instead of asking…”what tho old woman does for “LIVING” ,he asked what she does for “LEAVING”..on top of being an ass..le..he must also be SEMI ILLITERRATE.Are you sure the interviewer was not a PFDJ bitch wedi arbaA *son of forty( ..ha..ha..ha



    Brother Hizbawi ,

    I will be waiting 6 hours before posting part 2 ,..to wait for your correction..as not to mislead people. I took your advice at face value.. in bona fide spirit..please explain to me if the act of MIZRAF is not ABDUCTING A GIRL..TAKE HER TO ONE’S PLACE ..HAVING SEX..AND THEN NOTIFYING THE FAMILY OF THE LEGAL RAPE…AND THEN ARRANGING FOR MARRIAGE….LOOK ,AS I AM KENSHA/PROTESTANT ..I MAY BE GREEN ABOUT THE ISSUE…My mom & sisters married the boring kenisha way of falling in love & voluntarily getting married.


    • hizbawi

      Ata kubur Mehretu hawey, Yqreta, eza mid term metsi-A, I can’t post replay on time, so I will catch up with you. Go ahead and post it, I will comment anytime and we can talk about it. Hiji gin ab Ergana mis ezom menaeseyat, Shadshay werar koyna ala. Hanti gual Russia ala Neza class natana Bi-Egra antelitilata. Qurub tsere metkaeti kiwesid edalo aleku. Emo, hawina mehretu, break is coming up and I will catch up with you for now, please post it and we will talk about it.
      Again please accept my apology.

  • Papillon

    Dearest Yodita,

    You’re a super-star. I love reading your intelligent comments. I sure don’t mean to digress or throw few lines on something not relevant to the issue at hand ( Brilliant work by Awate on the review of Dr. Bereket’s work). I like to follow up with your comment on Meles’ seemingly ambivalent or back-peddling on the border issue. My take is that, the rather exhausted word “dialogue” encompasses not only as you have aptly put it the dislocation of inhabitants because of the ruling, it can be used as a normalization process between the nations where economic give-and-take is a take-home prize for both nations where the proposal forwarded by Meles (according to Dan Conell that is) is not only to the advantage of Ethiopia but for Eritrea as well. Imagine, the revenue that could have been generated from the ports and its direct impact on the wellbeing of the Eritrean people. It is tremendous. Isaias was born with a curse to see misery in people’s lives where he draws gratification from a down-trodden way of life. What saddens me the most however is not the nature of Isaias per se for it is beyond the hope-in-the-magic-of-time-to-heal. Rather, the very confused souls who get defeated at Isaias own game and brandish their sharp tongues directed at the Weyanes instead of taking Isaias on and hold him accountable for starting the war that has costed thousands of precious lives.


    • Yodita

      Haftey Papillon,

      That both of our ports are sitting idle – worse – crumbling (Asseb particularly) is not only bad for us and Ethiopia but for the whole sub-region. This is one of the most glaring evidences of Isayas’s failure as a self-proclaimed lifelong president. As YG says, Isayas’s doctrine is equality by subtraction. He is visibly taking the nation Eritrea backwards to the level of the Sahel days, when it was an armed struggle and had to survive with the bare minimum. Even then, we had ‘schools’, ‘hospitals’ and ‘pharmaceutical products’, which when appropriately recorded will give us back the pride we feel we have lost at the present time. This man’s policy is no higher learning, no development, no vibrant ports, no collaboration with neighbouring countries, nothing but misery. Whatever we had, we have practically lost with no light at the end of tunnel. Like Kibrom Dafla would repeatedly say ‘smi eyu zeckolseka’! Kill everything!!!

      I have therefore no problem with PM Meles’s vision to use not only Asseb but also Massawa in their endeavour to become the first middle-class nation in the sub-region. We would benefit as well. Having heard from Meles’s interview that the dialogue was needed for geographical appropriate and sensible placements of border villagers, it impacted me as very noble and I fell prey to the reasons he gave for mass consumption. That he gave a different reason to Prof. Connell, of course affected the highest admiration I had accorded him as a communicator: natural and transparent. On the other hand, if that was his real reason (use of our ports), why not leave Badme first and then seek collaboration?

      As a matter of fact, on reflection, as neither of the two theories seem plausible, am inclined to go with those who believe that it suited Meles as much as it suits Isayas to leave things on limbo. After all, it is the Eritrean people who suffer the whole brunt. Ethiopia is marching without the use of our ports.

      I just take this opportunity to say that in my lifetime I have three ICONs: Mandela, Meles and Barack Obama. Meles takes an elevated portion because he proved to be Abo D’cka.

      Thank you Haftey natey.

      • Papillon

        Dearest Yodita,

        A PFDJ thug and a zombie who doesn’t get it when people are trying to ignore him (I think his nick is Araya) thinks you and I are one and the same. I am beginning to believe it. He could be right. It is getting actually scary. Mandela, Meles and Obama are my icons as well. Let me walk you tersely through my otherwise uneventful life. I grew up in an intellectually stimulating household where topics in literature and history among other areas in the humanities were frequented in any given day and in a rather crude way it helped me broaden my horizon but I chose a career in the life sciences instead. But during the last decade or so, I fostered a passion for a public office and a burning desire to be a catalyst of change in a society where politics is as they say the art of possibility.

        The reason for the drastic change in scope and a sense of providence in my life is Meles amongst giants. Unless one possesses tremendous political will and steeled personality, one can not transform himself from a staunch student of Albanian communism to an exponent of liberal democracy. That is leadership. That is a character. That is what a vision is all about. Oh I almost forgot. Isaias in a sharp contrast got stuck not only in Sahil but digressed into thuggery as well where confused and pathetic losers find aspration and inspiration in him.


  • Papillon

    Dearest Daniel,

    Many thanks for the lucid explanation where your knack for and dexterity with the Tigrigna language is an envy to an on-looker. If anything, I am absolutely convinced that, the entity in Asmara is not even a regime even though a regime rightfully bestows a sort of negative connotation to it. I say, it is a cartel or a syndicate which rides on the back of the otherwise good hearted Eritrean people where sadly enough the Eritrean people take the saddle on their back for an umbilical cord. They still affectionately call them “Deq’na”. Please do grace us with your articles.


  • Zegeremo


  • A Iyasu

    woow awatenos for your raiser sharp dissection of the review written to defame Prof Berket

  • Yodita

    Dear Awate Team,

    After reading this gem attentively, I am now able to appreciate those who have the Awate.com ’bug’. It humbles one to see such outstanding journalism that will contribute immensely to a better understanding of our contemporary history. Simply great!

    The conclusion of the article highlights that as far as the system gripping our country is concerned, Isayas is Eritrea and Eritrea is Isayas and that this today has irrevocably cracked and that the dialectics have now changed. This very article is a ‘sledge hammer’ that flattens the ‘street-smart’ method applied by Isayasists to have their cake and eat it too. 48 pages to review books is too telling although for their provincial Meda mentality it was meant to denote a serious piece of work.

    Accounts revealed by Tegadalay Tesfay Temenwo is creating havoc for the man in Asmara/Massawa, not to mention that of Prof. Berket Habteselassie in the academic world. I just wonder what the scenario would have bee, had persons like ex-Minister of Defence Mesfin Hagos, a dozen years ago, had let it all spill (including their own shortcomings)!! I think a great service to humanity.

    Awate Team – at one of your best! Mucias Gracias!

    • awatestaff

      Thanks Yodita; allow us to to use your post to answer a question we have received from callers. We go on the assumption if callers are asking, readers may be asking as well:

      We say that “review” of Dr. Bereket’s book was written by a committee and we described the committee as: “a mishmash of Asmarinos, Addis boys, Addis girls, former colleagues, wanna-bes, Senbetus, and assorted hangers-on.” The question we have been asked is: who is (are) Senbetus?

      We borrowed that word from a song by Eritrean singer Orion Saleh who has created a sensation in the opposition with the last line in his song which asks “shall we kill him now before he runs away?” Lots of speculation on who Orion Saleh is singing about in this remake of Ato Atweberhan’s “BaEley TezengiE”… but, we also think that when he is talking about “Senbetu”, he is talking about a certain Eritrean woman who lives in the US, goes to visit the Agelgelot in their slave labor, compliments them on building the nation, and jets back to the US. This is what Orion Saleh says:

      Senbetu yelekn ab Qurqs derfi:
      nab zeybXaHaki deret aytHlefi::”

      So, to us a “Senbetu” is somebody who is way off his element, somebody who attempts to tackle issues that are way above his/her competence. And since the busybody American was the person who sent all the emails to Dr. Bereket’s colleagues and she has made slander and personal destruction her specialty, well, then sometimes we are talking about the same person Orion Saleh is talking about it:)

      Here’s Orion Saleh’s awesome song: 3:38 minutes long.



      • Dear Awatestaff,

        ” We go on the assumption if callers are asking, readers may be asking as well.” Indeed rightly so. Many including me were not aware about Orion Saleh’s song. However the song “senbetu” is accurately befitting to your argument against the “reviewers” far less than the astute and well recognized professor Dr. Bereket Habteslassie. Thank you for your clarifications.

    • Araya

      “Accounts revealed by Tegadalay Tesfay Temenwo is creating havoc for the man in Asmara/Massawa,”

      Wiqato, to the opposit!
      Tesfay Temenwo. I can’t believe how this guy is building up Issaias to the statues of super natural. If Issaias is that good, hell, let him be a president of Eritrea for life. My god, how could Issaias be, that good, that precise and that calculating? If he is, then, let him lead the country. i mean it. Besides, the guy left 1979 just when things started to get interesting. I respect the man for his service but he is crediting Issaias way tooooooooooooo much. Issaias is just human.

      • Yodita


        Tesfay Temenwo says in a nutshell that while there were many better-educated and real democractic elements in the struggle, they lacked the burning ambition for power and the cunning Isayas had and a lot were wiped out by it.

  • Kokhob Selam

    ……….ቅንፍዝ ……………..

    ቅንፍዝ ‘ኳ ‘ዛ ኣሿኽ :- ጸሊምን ጻዕዳን እሾኻ:-
    ህይወታ ትመልኽ :- ኣብ ጸምጸም በረኻ:-
    ትነብር ኣብ ህልኽ:- ጸላእታ ኣትኪኻ:-
    መዓንጣ ዝብኢ ትበትኽ :-ዘትፍልጥ ተምበርኪኻ::

    ምስ ተጻባእታ ፤ ‘ኳ ጨካን እንተኾነት:-
    ቀጻልነት ህይወታ:- ንዘመናት እንተረጋገጸት:-
    ሰላማዊት እያ ምስ ኣሕዋታ: ዘይትፈቱ ዓውዓውታ:
    ምስ ደቃ ምስ መሓዙታ: ዱልዱል እዩ ሓድነታ::

    እቲ ዝገርምን ዘሐጉስን ግዳ:-
    ንደቃ ምሕቇፋ ከይተቐደ ከብዳ:-
    ነዚ እዩም ኣቦታት ምሳል ክምስሉ:-
    ቅንፍዝ ደቃ ሓቖፈት ከከም ገጾም ዝብሉ::

    ሰብ ድኣ ‘ ሞ ዓቢ ዝኽእለቱ :-
    እንታይ ኮይኑ ዘይከባብር ምስ ኣሕዋቱ;-
    ኣብ ዘየድሊ ህልኽ ተጸሚዱ ተናቒቱ:-
    ኣብ ክንዲ ኣውንታ ኣሉታ ሃውቲቱ?

    Kokhob Selam


      Kokhob kem sh’mu

      That is my Kokhob,/STAR. When it is in a poem ,it has more strength..Hollywood Eritrea…here comes an artist of the people..,not PFDJ or the opposition.OF THE PEOPLE>

      • Kokhob Selam

        Thank you brother MEHRETU HABTE. please keep writing.

  • Hayat Adem

    To Haile (Exclusive):
    Exclusive because other readers may not be as confused as you. It is true Hailesilassie might have suffered a great deal from the Eritrean Vs Ethiopia unsettled problems. It was even more obvious for the Derg. It is an exaggeration if you claim Hailesilassie was short-lived only because of Eritrea. It is not even true if you claim Derg was downed solely because of Eritrea. But we can safely say Eritrean-Ethiopian relations continue to be a problem for both sides. I’m into the idea that it’s not been always due to the fault of the other side (Ethiopians). And I don’t buy the idea that they are the only ones who need to correct and adjust all the time. That would be definitely irrational and wrong. Like I said I’m convinced that the last conflict was caused by PIA and his small coalition. And it is not always the case that it is the other side who loses whatever conflict our Eritrea jumps into. Certainly, I don’t see that case mirrored in the present reality. I even a bigger point: Please, fellow Eritreans, don’t measure your gains by the amount of loss and suffering you thought the other side had sustained when dealing with Eritrea. Ask always: what good did we get out of this kind of relationship? And not: how much problem did we cause to the other side? If you killed 100k soldiers of ‘the enemy’ and you lost 20k of your own, the loss should be accounted between 20k-120k loss of lives. This should never be naively gamed as +80K (positive balance). It is all a loss and zero gain. If Eritrea was a challenge to Hailesilassie and Derg and Weyane and the next one…what is the gain during all these times? Ok, independence should be counted as one. What else? Come on, give me the list, Haile. And then there is this question: is independence of this kind better than in terms of people’s living and Eritrea’s future better than the one (non-independence) in the past? Give me the net gain, Haile! And I’m not implying independent Eritrea could not have bettered the non-independent Eritrea. All I’m saying is think and work for a better Eritrea and not necessarily for a worse Ethiopia.

    • haile

      Hayat Adem (Inclusive)

      Inclusive because you seem to be holding the tried and failed way of rallying Eritreans. The fall of the dergue in Ethiopia is the DIRECT result of its conflict with Eritrea. Let’s not re-write history here!

      Eritrea accepted to withdraw from disputed territories, when weyane refused. Eritrea accepted the terms of OAU technical arrangements, when weyane refused. Eritrea accepted the final and binding ruling of EEBC, when weyane refused. Eritrea accepted the virtual demarcation, when woyane refused. Eritrea accepted the ruling on damages award and associated finding, despite its disagreement with its content. Today, you, on behalf of woyane, is telling us that it is ok to give up of Eritrean sovereignty and territorial integrity, because it works out perfectly on your loss/profit spread sheets or account balance.

      I am sure you are smart enough to connect the dots and figure out why Eritreans simply shrugged off your kinda logic.

      Who is confused now, if you are indeed Eritrean that is?

      • Tamrat Tamrat

        One of the greatest mass stragel in africa made of Ethiopians which abolished the feudal system, the intelectuals regardless their Family affiliation joining the mass and brouhgt a never ending fire for justice and equality, for the right of the workers etc in 1966 is reduced according to you to eritreans struggel for Independence . The hundred thousands ethiopians who fought derg hand in hadn in the streets all over ethiopia reduced to eritreans struggel according to you.

        The history we learn in Ethiopia seams 100% wrong according to you. And you are not the only one, tplf also is telling us everything is done by tplf. And you knew very well where tplf and eplf have learnt this arrogancy.

        My question to you then How ccome you could not easly crush woyane ? You dont need to list this worthless organization. Can you explain without Your conspiration theory. The other ethnic started armstruggel not because of eplf but tplf doesnt want to Accept the mass demand the way Your unkel refused to eritreans. Only for you to know we did not danced With tplf when they came instead we chalenged them. If you see any change in ethiopia and Eritrea then that change you see is proportional which is paid in the last 22 years. It is not achieved by writting the supper man isayas cartoon book.

        Some times we are forced to read too.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear brother Haile,

        do you still think the boarder issue is the main issue? is that the question that concerns me and the people like me, people who believe “there is no freedom higher than democracy”. why i have to give priority the case of Badme when i don’t have freedom to live in my own country which is already in danger to survive as nation? don’t you think even it was worth working in secondary contradiction and at least have a bit responsible leadership than fighting toward Asmara?

        I wonder why still we have to talk about Eritrean and Ethiopian case more than our own case first? when a government don’t even have a single system to prevent you, the game is over. that is the first problem that should be solved. Arab’s say “la zenb ba’ederl kufur” there is nothing to think united with the group who don’t have any rule.

        my friend you are aware even a single company will have policy so to prevent the right of people and obligations that should be followed. even you and me on this site have guidelines to follow. and we have unwritten Ethics.

        so now tell me why is that even important to talk about Badme? Eritrean people have paid high price for freedom of Eritrea do you think taking Badme is a mater for them? do you think this smart group in Addis will continue in Badme if they notice the end of PFDJ?

      • Kokhob Selam

        dear brother Tamrat Tamrat,

        I think both will agree Eritrean struggle was for justice. I also agree there were other parities who fought inside your country other than TPLF. no question TPLF was practically heading forward than others. and it was a wise choice to join the other Amrhara party and others at last. personally I never thought in 70th and 80th even 90th will give delivery of those great men like Meles. I feel it is political accident haaaa. any how the difference between your government is that we have a childish group (like a boy in fire-edge)and what a kind of street boy and you have a bit intelligent more or less some one who listens and answers questions.

        your ex-governments were holding the case of Eritrea as hostage “Arabs are coming” so i can’t say Eritrean struggle given good chance to free Ethiopia from your ex-governments. there were a lot of people who give priority in destroying Eritrean fronts than changing the government Ethiopian dergue and Haleslase.

        today our government is holding hostage the case of Badme. “don’t ask anything we are in war” is the answer given by pfdj.

        as for me our first work is to unite our political parties and fight against pfdj.i know Badme will not go anywhere.

    • haile


      Why didn’t we crush the TPLF? Goodness! when you going to wake up from the slumber. Few days ago I was sharing my place of origin with a fellow co-worker who happen to be a westerner. After few words, he asked me to point him to Eritrea in Google Map. As I did, his face suddenly turned red and his eyes bulging, he said, “my god, that is some strategic location, there is no way it will be left alone!” and he never heard of the place before. If you think Eritrea was only facing woyane and that woyane had the knack to hold on to Eritrean lands on its own, you can only read that cartoon book at the Awassa conference, where they were ready to give you their mothers for a ride on weyane tank to Asmara.

      OLF, ONLF, EPRP, to mention few have all struggled and still doing so without the desired success, what on earth made TPLF of Tigray to sweep Sub-sahara Africa’s biggest Soviet arms dump off power? You can write your cartoon history book as you please, but yes it was Eritrea and Eritrea’s war against injustice.

      Did you know that when the dergue was talking to EPLF in Atlanta, it refused to talk to the Woyane, dismissing them as ye Shaebia qTreNoch! Shaebia was a force to reckon with, and a force that has inspirational to many armed movements around the world.

      The likes of Hayat Adem and the Eritrean dictator are equally the selfish elements of Eritrea who are holding her hostage. If someone occupies my home by force, and at the same time a neighbour is encroaching and fencing off part of my same home that is under occupation (read dictatorship), I want the occupier to leave and the encroacher to give up my land. Hayat wants the encroacher to help push out the occupier and pay in her entitlements for the privileges!

      No Eritrean will buy that!!!

      • Kim Hanna

        Dear Haile,

        I did not have such a deep and long loud laugh, for a along time. Thanks.


      • Tamrat Tamrat

        Rubbish! People like you are holding the mass hostage more than the paranoid isayas has done. Didnt you know that mengistu did use this tactics. Read about mengistu then you know isayas much better. When tplf and eplf were destroying Ethiopia, mengistu explained what exactly to happen to ethiopia nad Eritrea. Guess what he was correct. The problem With him was he chose tplf and eplf take over than he fullfils the demanda of the majority which was declared on the popular revolution in 1974. You see People like meless, isayas and mengistu are afraid of Democracy, oppness, freedom of Speech more than any thing and they prefer millions to die than their idiocy come in dau light for chalengs and demands.

        I can give you simple example. Meless used to get boiled and almost missed controll when he was asked prisoned People than the poeple who lost their lives in the 1998 war or Somalia. The same was true for isayas his rigth moth dropped more when People asked him about Dawit Isac than the confrontation he has With tplf.

        Ethiiopians including eritreans were hold hostage in mengistu time for the
        love of their unity and what ever crap you said was done for real. The west did not want communist and bullet and missials were raining on the troops which wanted the unity. What made you hostage now. Did you see any mass movement in Eritrea? Did you see any support for the opperation Fronto`? Have you ever read about tplf and the mass struggel of ethiopians in the last 22 years? Or simply you put it in Your fictious daire that eritreans have done their miracles to help ethiopians have equality and justice. This ever gree story of winning the largest african troop bla bla is insulating Your brain completly until you think that Eritrea is the great land not Ethiopia. And by that you are implying the submission of eritreans for the dictator of eplf to the point until the majority of eritrean Accept that what Eritrea means what they are having now. For the majority of eritreans eirtrea means the cruel era of derg or the New Eritrea With isayas. The rest is Yours and the propaganda of isays.

  • B.abraha Teferi

    geat piece,well written,factual thank you Salah for givig us such a historic piece of work.

  • Daniel Teclegiorgis

    ዝሰርሕ ይሕመ ዕባራ ይግመ (ምስላ) ምስ ዘውድን ደርግን፡ ምስ ገድልን መንግስትን፡ ዝተዓጻጸፍ ስብእነትን ሊቅነትን፡ ከፍርየሉ ዝኽእል ዓድን ዓውድን ዝነፍጉ፡ ሓቖንቲ ማይ፡ …. ፕሮፈሰር በረኸት መጽሓፍ ጽሒፉ እናበሉ እንተተጻረፉ፡ ካብኡ ስለዘይሓልፉ፡ እንታይ’ሞ’ዩ ትርፉ። መጣቓዕቲ ናይ እንዳ ዝናን-ባህታን ናጽነትን-ሱቕታን ዓዲ ናብ ናይ ፍርሓትን ተስፋ-ቑርጸትን ገሃነም ተቐይራ እናረእዩ፡ ጣቕዒቶም ክቕጽሉ እንተወሲኖም ታሪኽ ኣሎ ኣብ ዝባኖም። ይሕመቕ ይጸብቕ ግን መኣዶም ብሒቶም መጽሓፎምን ሓሳቦምን ንደቆም ከውርሱ እንተዝፍትኑ ምሕሸ ኔሩ። እንተ ፕሮፈሰር በረኸት ግን ከይከነቡን ከይተሓለሉን መጻሕፍቲ ዝጽሕፉ ሃገራዊ ሃብቲ እዮም። ዝብልዎን ዝጽሕፍዎን ኣዳዕዲዖም ስለዝፈልጡ ድማ እዚ ቕንጥብጣብ ዘባህርሮም ኣይኮነን። ምኽንያቱ ቅድሚ ሕጂ’ውን ኣብ’ዚ ናይ ዓዋተ መርበብ ሓበሬታ ሓደ ሓደ ግዜ’ሲ፡ “switch off” ምኽዋል ይረኣየኒ፡ ዝብል መረረ ኣብ ጽሑፎም ኣንቢበ ኔረ። ስለ’ዚ ብሂወት ክሳብ ዘለዉ ንህሉዋት ዘረብሕ መሲሉ ዝረኣዮም ብጽሑፍ ምብርካቶም ኣጆኹም’ኳ ክውሕዶም። …. እቶም ክስወጦም ዘይደልዩ ኣይሰማምዕኑሉ’ዮም’ምበር፡ Eritrea is not only “A wounded nation”, it is a country fading from the map by a mixture of hubris and heroism that is burning ike a hell of self-immoliation. ስለ’ዚ እንተተረኺቡስ ንምድሓና ዝፍተን ሓዲሽ ሓሳብ ነውሪ’ብሉን። ዝሰርሕ ይሕመ ዕባራ ይግመ (ምስላ።

    • Papillon

      Dear Daniel,

      I always read your beautifully written articles with an ample interest and of course I learn great deal from them. Please forgive me if I sound obtuse, but I don’t seem to understand the words “z’nan bahtan” not literally but in a context. Would you be kind enough to explain it to me. Much obliged.


      • Daniel

        ፓፒ! “ዝናን ባህታን ትርጉም ስኢኖም፡ ናጽነትን ሱቕታን ድማ ስኒት ስኢነን” ማለተ’የ። ክልቲአን ከይፈላለኺ’ሞ ሓዝለይ ፓፒና፡ እዚ ካብ ደቂ ተባዕትዮ ድርብ ትውልዲ ኣጽኒቱ፡ ንደቀ’ንስትዮ ሊኪሙ፡ ሎሚ ድማ ናብ ሕጻናትን ሽማግለታትን ዝልሕም ዘሎ ዕስክርና እንታይ ምበልክዮ?ገለ መልክዕ ዝናን-ባህታን በለጭ ኣይብለክን?
        ብወገነይ ንመስርሕ ምኹስኳስ —- ፖለቲካዊ ምዕባለን፡ መጻኢ ዕድል ህዝብን—- ብዓቢኡ “ዝናን-ባህታን ናጽነትን-ሱቕታን” ዝገደፉሉ’ብሎምን ክብል’የ ፈቲነ። ኣብ መበገሲ ናይ’ቲ ተኸታታሊ ጽሑፍ ድማ፡ “ዕስራ ዓመት ንዓያሹ ሓበን ንለባማት ሓዘን” ትብል ኣብ ሰላማዊ ሰልፊ ዝቐረበት ገላጺት ሓረግ፡ ምስረአኹ’የ “ናጽነትን ሱቕታን ስኒት ስኢነን” ክብል ዝደፈርኩ። ስለ’ዚ ሓደስቲ ሰባትን ሓዲሽ ሓሳብ የድሊ’ሎ፡ ደጊም “ዝናን-ባህታን ትርጉም ስኢኖም፡ ናጽነትን ሱቕታን ድማ ስኒት ስኢነን” ምባል፡ ምናልባት ዘዕግብ ገላጺ ነጸብራቕ ክኸውን ኣይክእልን’ኸውን’ምበር፡ ብዙሕ ካብ ሓቂ ዝረሓቐ ፈተነ ኣይመስለንን። ናይ ብሓቂ ግን Eritrea has done little to tell the real story of its kind of endless wars.

  • Edmonton

    Dear Awate, Instead of Reviewing the Reviewers why do not you do your own book critique on Dr. Bereket`s book so that we can compare yours Vs the other critique. I think Dr.Bereket is capable of defending himself.


    “ካናዳ, ንመንእሰያት ኤርትራ,ብዘይ ኤርትራዊ ባህሊ እናሓጸበት(brain washing) ጌራ ,ተባላሽዎም ኣላ፣ኣሜሪካ ዘለዉ ይሕሹ ከም ወለዶም ብዙሕ ኣይተቐየሩን¨

    እዚ ክብል ዘገደደኒ ሳንድያጎ፣ጥምቀት ቆልዓ ተጸዊዔስ……ነታ ሓራስ, ሓፍታ____ንዓዲ,ቴሌፎን እናተዛረበት ኣብ ሞንጎ… እልልልል ኢላ ነዛ ገዛ ትንቕንቓ…እሞ፣ ¨ኣንቲ እልል ይግበረልና እንታይ ጥዑም ነገር ድኣ ሰሚዕኪ ? ኣካፍልና, በሉዋ (ኩሎም ብሓደ ድምጺ)….ኣነ ጥራይ እየ ኣኳ ሚነራለ/aqua minerale ሒዘ እምበር መብዛሕትኣ ስዋን ኣረቂን እንዳገልበጠት እያ ትዛናጋዕ,ካዕካዕን ስሓቕን እምበር ምንም ዕግርግር ኣይነበሮን ..እቲ ውራይ።…….ሰበይቲ ቁሩብ ሰብ ምስ ኣሃንጠየት …¨እታ ጓል ሓፍትና ክትምርዖ ቆጸራ ተታሒዙ¨ምስ በለት እውይ እንቋዕ ሓጎሰኪ በልናያ ኹልና ።
    ፍቑራት ድዮም ኔሮም ፧ ¨ኢለ ሓተትኩ (ዘይበሉኒ ዝገብር ኣነ)____
    ኖእ፣እቲ ወዲ ይደልያን ይሓታን ኔሩ፣ንሳ ግን፣ጓል ዘበን ኮይና___ኣይትፈትዎን እያ ኔራ በለት (እናሽካዕለለት)….ግን ሓደ ምሸት ምስ ኣዕሩኹ ክሰትዩን ክዋዘዩን ምስ ኣምሰዩስ ተማኺሮም …..
    ¨ከምቲ ናይ ባህልና ዘይንዝርፋ ነዛ ጓል¨ ተባሃሂሎም ኣጻናጺኖም ___ጸኒሖም ዘሪፎማ፣ ድሕሪኡ ንስድርኣ ደዊሎም ነጊሮማ___ እነዉልኪ ድሮኳ ጥንሲ ጌራስ፣ስድርኣ ትሓጒሶም___ንሳ ´ውን ከይፈተወት ፣ተቐቢላቶ፣ጽሓዮም በሪቑሎም___ኢላ ምስ ወድኤት፣..
    እዋእ ፣ካብ ሰብ ሓሊፎም ንመን ክህብዋ ደይሎምዮም፣ንሳ ኽኣ ቀስ ኢላ ትፈትዎ___እንተኣበየትሲ ኣበይ ከይትበጽሕ….¨ሓንሳእ እቲ ግራት እንድሕር ተሓ….¨ኢሉ ከይወድኤ ከሎ (ሓደ መላጥ ፋሕሻው ገጹ ሰብኣይ እዩ)…..ብዓልቲ ቤቱ,..ኣቋሪጻ___ቆልዑ ኣለዉና ናይ ስዕረት ዘረባ ኣይትዛረብ ኢላ ገሰጸቶ___እሞ__ንሱ´ውን ተረዲእዎ__ዕዝምዝም እናበለ ኣስቀጠ።
    እዚ ኩሉ ክዕለል ከሎ፣ ካብ ካናዳ ዝመጸ ወዲ ፣ወዲ ካልእ ሓፍተን____ ስፕራይት ብበረድ እናሰተየ ጸኒሑ TEXT ዝገብሮ ዝነበረ ኣቋሪጹ___
    What do you mean ምዝራፍ ? Does that mean ,love at first sight ?..ኢሉ ሓተተ፣(ለካ ብጎቦ እዝኑ ክካታተል ጸኒሑ እዩ)እታ ምዝራፍ ትብል ጥራይ እያ ዘይተረድኣቶ ጸኒሓ ) …ኩሉ ሰብ ብእንግሊዝኛ ከመይ ኢሉ ከም ዝገልጸሉ ጠፊእዎ ስቕ በለ__እሞ፣ ምስ ኣስናኑ ዝተፈጥረ ቆልዓ (ተዛሪቡ ከዛርበኒን እንድዩ)መሊሱ ..
    Is that it? Love at first sight ? ኢሉ ዘረባ ደገማ
    ..ኣነ ሽዑ ተወጢረ ጸኒሔ፣ምኽኣል ስለ ዝኣበየኒ..”NO ,SON ,IT WAS NOT LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, IT WAS RAPE AT FIRST SIGHT¨!!!!! ኢለ ጨደርኩ____ኣስዒበ ድማ _”It is an old custom of “acceptable rape”, but I guess it has not died yet”_ ኢለ ምስ ኣብራህኩሉ ,እቲ ነገር ገና ምስቋርን ምእማንን ስለ ዝኣበዮ ……
    So ,What is up ?..Is my aunties & everybody happy ,because the rapist is going to jail ??? ኢሉ ኣጥቢቑ ሓተተኒ፣ እሞ ,….
    No, Son,They are happy because the guy & the girl are getting married..that is why all these people are happy… በልኩዎ እሞ…
    ገጹ ናይ ቁጽሪ ኣምሲሉ (ጸዊጉ)..That´s messed up men, ..What is wrong with you people ? ኢሉ ናብቲ ኮፍ ኢለሉ ዝነበርኩ ቀረበ…
    ግን ካብቶም ሓደ ኣሜሪካ ዝዓበዩ ኣዝማዱ (ቅርብ ኢሉ ኣብቲ ጥቓ እዝኑ)..Who cares man ,don´t trip…that is our culture…and Eritreans do dumb things any ways,let´s go play X- Box ምስ በሎ፣
    ወዮ ወዲ ካናዳ (ብኢዱ እናነጸገ)..No, Not now GhebreAmlakh..I got to dig this … ኢልዎ ናባይ ገጹ ኣድሃበ፣እሞ ኣነ ካብ ኣተኹዋስ ክሕምብሰላ ኢለ…¨Look son ,In Eritrea,THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS…They are married..& That is that…
    ..Now I ´ve got to go pipi/pee pee in the resr room ,I am diabetic ,ከምቲ ናይ ቴሌቪዥን…I will be right back after this messages… በልኩዎሞ___ብምስትውዓለይን___ዋዛ ምፍላጠይን ተገሪሙ…Ok, I will be waiting here በለኒ………….

    continues part 2 …..DO NOT MISS PART 2

    • hizbawi

      You cheated the young blood Mr, Mehretu. If you wasn’t the typical Habesha incline of saying I don’t know; you could have told the young blood just that, you don’t know. The truth is everything is not translatable. You remind what an Ethiopian friend told me. Once, an older Ethiopian leady won the DV and she had a day of interview in Ethiopian embassy. Among many questions, the American consulate, asked the Ethiopian translator to ask the old woman what she does for leaving. And the translator asked the old woman what she does for leaving? The old woman replayed, ENE MA ASLEKASH NEGN LIJE, meaning the woman job is that when someone dies, she makes the the other people cry more during the funeral. The translator understood what exactly the woman was saying and what she does for living but the Ethiopian translator, instead of saying I don’t know or I don’t understand, he told to the American representative that she was a DJ. the American looking at the old woman with disbelieve, could not understand nor believe that the woman works as a DJ,on that age i.e. she was rejected right there and the ignorant translator did the harm. So, Mr. Mehretu, you should have said you don’t know. Because, every action is translated and decoded by culture and only culture. So, Mizraf, is it show of the highest love to the opposite sex or rape? You do the homework.


        Respectable Hizbawi,

        Maybe I myself do not know the issue very well ….Is Mizraf not abducting the girl in a eg.a car & then take her to ones place to have guchi..guchi..for the purpose of marrying her ?I am sorry ,please let me know if I misled him..so that I can correct it.
        I mean it.

  • T..T.

    Hayat Adem,

    If you would remember Mamino in his ‘History of Eritrea on Awate.com’ described Isayas as a component and not a mastermind of the Ethio-Eritrea war of 1998-2000. Isayas’s role as a component meant that he was a tool to destabilize our region. This fact was directly applied to the destabilization of Somalia. Here, Ethiopia paid lives to stabilize Somalia whereas Isayas is accused by the so-called international community as the only supporter of the destabilization of Somalia. So, if he is a tool, who is the mastermind?

    Then comes, how and why Isayas? Isayas is known as a secretive. Appears to be self-starter but in fact he is manipulator of destructive plans. He is not capable of formulating plans, as a manipulator, but he knows to organize destabilizing interventions like he did to Sudan. Sudanese govt and its internal enemies never todate know that Isayas kept fragmenting the opposition in order none of them to be in peace, i.e. no peace to the government as well as among the Sudanese opposition. No peace to the whole of Sudan was maintained by Isayas’s periodical maintenance of the fragmentation. Now, the Arab Gulf countries are using fragmentation of opposition in order to create no war no peace in Arab countries, like Libya. Are these fragmenters, the defenders and closest friends of Isayas, copied what Isayas applied in Somalia and Sudan or are the owners of the plan? Now, we are close to the source.

    Well, as Eritreans, we always say use your money to buy friendship and not enemies. If those who are financing Isayas to destabilize our region now would know that way they are not buying friendship through Isayas crazy actions, they should stop financing and supporting Isayas. And, Eritreans on their part should stop supporting the core belief of “Hade Libi (to support) Hade Nufus.”

  • Hayat Adem

    Okay but a point to add on the Ethiopia-Eritrea stalemate: the issue between Eritrea and present day Ethiopia is not about the border as much as it is about the war that brought the issue of the border. Like one analyst said it somewhere, Badme (the border disagreement) is the the consequence of the the conflict and not the cause. We Eritreans should try to understand what caused the war. Eritreans need not settle for mediator-cooked thoughts. We need to ask hard questions like “what was Eritrea’s (PIA’s) role in bringing the conflict? Is PIA trying to profit politics from a crisis he invented? Would harvesting a political profit by PIA from the EEBC ruling help him become better or worse leader? Ethiopians are saying If EEBC ruling has to be implemented as is, it has to be done only with an assurance of peaceful and normal neighborliness. I don’t think Ethiopians are asking too much if you are a convinced Eritrean,like me [read EECC ruling],PIA brought the Badme war unprovoked and uncalled for.

    • haile


      Roughly speaking, the Eritrean issue was the main cause of Haileselassie’s demise, so can be said about the dergue. The Woyane have enjoyed their most peaceful time when they where at peace with Eritrea. Ever after that, they are facing many ethnic, political and religious crisis. Meles died in while Ethiopians were in turmoil and dying inside and outside of their country. Currently, there are serious armed and political rebellion undergoing in many parts of Ethiopia. You may like to let Weyane literally snatch our land under the cover of intl. conspiracy and sleep well while we play dead. That is entirely their choice and assumption, my advice to them is not to listen to the coward and sold out so called “Eritrean opposition” in addis. Woyane itself admitted recently (through aiga forum, in response to Jan 21)that the sell outs don’t matter. The only good advise to woyane is “leave Eritrean territories” as per EEBC’s final and binding arbitration. Waiting for Eritrea to be destroyed withe help of her sell out children will not help them to get out scot free from this daylight robbery. Thief, thief, thief….go thief do the right thing for a change.

      • Point

        Well said Haile! Awate team presents it self as Naive when it comes to Eritrean-Ethiopian border issue!

  • rodab

    Asaminew Ewnetun and Aradom Fedai Haqi lol. Where and how did these two cartoons join forces to entertain us?!
    I had seen their work few days ago, but when I saw it was 48 pages, I went yawning and turned to my bed.

  • Yemane Yosief

    Dear Awate,
    You should have mentioned to your readers that Asaminew Ewnetun is a member of Qinijit who has travelled to Eritrea at least seven times just in the past two years and Aradom Fedai Haqi is senior PFDJ.

  • haile

    Dear Awate,

    Let me review the reviewers and reviewers of the reviewers. In simple terms, count me in number#3.

    A review piece requires Abstract (Short and concise), Discussion (main body), conclusion and references.

    The reader of your review need to know in 4-5 lines, what your review entails and the points you would like to affirm or reject. Reviews must have a positive and negative (unless it is all positive).

    People, lets stick to conventional standards. There are paid editors to generate your review material if you are not qualified to do so.

    • Gumare

      Haile, I think Awate Team was not reviewing anything though they choose a catchy title “reviewing the reviewers.” I understood it as an expose of the government operatives who displayed their character assassination of Berkhet disguised as a review. It is very clear awate are hitting at the group masquerading as reviewers when they are propaganda tools of the regime. Their support of Berekhet in this case is clear on what they wrote and how they shredded to pieces the defamations of the attackers of Bereket. They could not have been interested in doing a scholarly review of a defamation message, but they were responding to its political message. They have been exposing and confronting Isyas’ foot soldiers for a long time and that is what they are doing. When it comes to scholarly presentation, they know and have presented many such articles. Don’t forget this is an opinion website with clear opposition stands. Therefore don’t expect it to be like a scholarly or university periodical. Coprrect me if I am wrong, you or Awate Team.

  • T..T.

    To a corruption free and politically clean person, like Dr. Bereket, the Isayasists never find an iota of problems to accuse of and say, “that person admitted his/her mistake and expressed his/her willingness to be punished for what s/he did.” Come on Isayastists, admit that most people quit you because they don’t want to remain blind to truth. Isayas’s weakness is that he has something to hide and that leads him from one cover up to another or from one lie to another. People who are shock resistant (inhuman) to the daily shockwaves of Isayas are Iayas’s picks.

    By nature, if a person is not deep into one thing, he doesn’t repeatedly stick to it. Dr. Bereket appears to have indepth attachment to the Eritrean Revolution. As such, we can say that Dr. Bereket’s history of clean politics doesn’t fall within the pick of Isayas because the doctor believes in himself and his history of care for the revolution, born, have grown in it and will die for it. Isayas’s pick is a person who is blackmailable or readily blackmailed. Other picks of Isayas are corrupt, isolated, and weak personalities. Dr. Bereket didn’t qualify for those picks’ characters and therefore was rejected and always on closed doors to becoming confidant of Isayas. Now, these two self-assigned book reviewers come to make a sense out of events and history they are not part of it or lived it or narrated it correctly and to falsely put themselves in a position of capability of telling between good and a fraudulent writing.

  • mokkta

    Whether the reviewers likes it or not Dr Bereket is a professor at the university of north Carolina famous scholar,well respected charismatic guy,Author,leave alone to his experience in the armed struggle and his tireless effort for the Eritrean and Ethiopian constitutions .
    Eat your heart who can,t swallow these truth.
    Long live Pro.

  • Hienok Negassi

    By the way, you also said, “review do not run 48 pages”.
    The original reviewers had 48 pages to review a book of 384 pages. what would you say to your own more or less seeming 48 pages of re-review of the 48 page review.

  • Hienok Negassi

    This is ridiculous. Tit for tat. It only shows which side is the Awate group with. It doesn’t inform any thing to the public. You should have done your own review if you know any thing rather than waste your time to review the review. Immature politics.

  • Awate team,

    I read the reviewers (pen-name) review on Dr. Bereket’s Memoir books few months back and I was wondering how the Eritrean politics is contaminated with disrespect and arrogance to the extent to vilify any person who stand against their view. In my view this two individuals are neither scholars nor intellectuals to review and scrutinize the books of Dr. Bereket. In any case awate team has done an extraordinary service to the public to expose these cowardice individuals under pen-names as shown, whose intention was to dehumanize and undermine the intellect of the good doctor. Here again I applaud for the good job to protect the moral and ethics of scholars as a community at large.

    • Araya

      Come on Amanal, there is nothing wrong to critic the old man. Everything should be questioned and scrutinized, why are you having a problem with it? Or, are you just sticking to your Addis Abeba companion? You cannot question any once moral compass while you lost when you worshipped dead dictator Melles, the worst in Africa. Please stop being hypocrite.

      • Araya,

        For god sake the doctor does not even know who is reviewing his books. They are not real names in real space and time.A scholar who reviews a scholar’s book must be authentic in his personality and his argument. If they are scholars really the reason why they don’t use their real names is because they know that the content of their report is not par to their peers. The issue is not questioning but who is questioning in the real world in order the public and weigh both sides. Gebito!!! the rest is just crap.


      Respectable Amanuel Hidrat ,

      ..The arrogance & disrespect….people have been trained for such character by maestros..while EPLF is the University professor of such negative character..Jebha itself was an elementary teacher too.
      ንዓቢ ሰብ ኣይ፣ስቕ በል ኣታ ሰብኣይ፣ሕለፍ_____ወዲ ኸልቢ__ወዲ ሸ___ጣ እዚ መውጽእ ኣፍ ¨ተጋደልቲ¨ዝነበረ እንድዩ።ብዘይካ እዚ sexy ናጽነት ብዙሕ ነገር ኢዩ እኮ ህዝቢ ተማሂሩ።ጓል ኣንስተይቲ ቅድሚ ሓንጎላ ምኽፋታ እግራ ምኽፋት (ማዕርነት) ተማሂራ__ክንደይ ጥቕሚ ሚሂሮምና ደቅና ተጋደልቲ፣ኢዶም ይሃቦም,

      • haile

        anta mebrahtu zeluKa si…gudam eka!! kabey ke treKbo kemzi Aynet unique agelalxa hasabat…kkkk

      • hizbawi

        That is not fair nor that is true. You have no idea what those brave Eritrean women have done. You can say what you want but please have respect the Eritrean women; they don’t deserve your disgraceful comment. You are better than this.

      • Henock

        I curse to Sawa for exposing the true identity of Tegadelti and young agelglot( Alemti). Sawa is a graveyard for virginity. It is very disgusting and I hope one day they will face justice.

  • amabe

    And…who are you?
    Why not you identify yourself?


      Brother Haile ,

      While I am full of flaws but ,,my parents thought me to look at the truth objectively..as much as I can..While Derghi was migrane headache the bandits are brain cancer.I was thought to analyse things they way they are ..not establish an agenda & then look for “evidences” to support the set “truth”.
      thanks for observing ,brilliant,.Are you sure you are not my relative ???



      I am on the side of women ,bravery & morality are two different issues..maybe I did not make it clear…I am as old as age itself..when bandits came down to kebessa ,immorality flourished..because the bandits had no respect for father or father figure.The maestros /bandits would snatch men & women from the peasants &force them to be little bandits or make them facillitators..minimizing the power of culture & parenthood…i admire your concern for Eritrean women ,….but it is the bandits that modelled them to be Dimu Dimu drinking baby machines..But, your care for Eritrean people & specially women is admirable..but ,you kind of misunderstood me..I am glad I made it clear.


      My respect to you.While girls have as much right as youngmen over their body ..when irresponsible govt. purposely creates an atmosphere where young wild hormones are exposed in an uncontroled field it is the female that suffers the consequence..but since the bandits agenda is to destroy a society..they are doing well.They created division & killed our people during banditry prior to 1991 slavery..and after that they are accellerating it.
      I feel cursed that I have to bear the extermination of our people ..of course with the cooperation of our people.
      I admire your comprehension of issues.

  • Dag

    Where is the 48-page book review. Post it and let readers decide the validity and reliability of the review, and your critique on the review. That will be fair and square, otherwise, it will be a one sided “Critique on the Critique of the….” type of (re)review.

    • Yihdega Yihdego

      You can find it on Dehai.org.