The year 2012 was not in short supply of Eritrean wonders, I chose a couple of these wonders and tried to put them under the microscope trying to dissect them and see what they really are. The subjects discussed are not new subjects, they have been thoroughly discussed and researched, but what this article brings as new is the light under which these subjects are read. I have nothing beyond feeling to maintain that the interpretations given hereunder are any closer to reality than any other interpretation.
It is not only by using words that one may tell a lie, one can do it without the use of words: a nod of the head, a pat on the back, a shrug of the shoulder, a wink of the eye, an attractive smile, all these and much more can communicate lies, it is to be observed that none of these is a word although they are used in place of complex expressions and words to communicate meaning as much as the expressions and the words they stand for. But, again, lie telling is not limited to words and what stand for words; behavior too can communicate a lie. When someone you don’t want to see comes knocking at your door and you keep quiet, faking absence, you are lying, although you didn’t do anything positive. You may laugh to communicate happiness and indifference while you are interested and sad deep down in your heart. These are behavior based lies.
It is necessary in this context to distinguish between untruth and a lie, for, while untruth is a false statement that the author himself believe it to be true, a lie is a false statement that the author knows in his conscience to be untrue. The difference between the two as you may have observed lies in intent.
The distinction is, especially, necessary for Eritreans here because it seems that the confusion between an untruth and a lie is an important device in the Eritrean regime’s survival and disinformation tool-kit. Take for instance the soap opera that played for some lengthy time, last year (2012), in which the head of the regime in Eritrea behaved as if he is very sick or even dead. All the things that he loved to appear doing, abruptly stopped and his daily media and TV appearances went cold. People started asking, as they should, and he was hearing but he faked his non-existence, reinforcing the rumor (sickness/death behavior, like the proverbial fox who faked death so that the farmer would take him for the fur and throw him near the chicken house for the night until the morning to skin him.)
Now you can see it clearly and say who lied and who told untruth. The head of the regime lied by his behavior and misinformed people, who, by their turn told the untrue based on his statements from behavior. Who is the liar then, honestly?
It is sad that Eritrean Politics have devolved into such baseness and rudeness, ushered into an era where only image matters regardless of substance and life. Why this Drama, such a stupid drama? Well, it is about image and image restoration, image of yesteryears when the head of the regime bathed in floodlights in Washington D.C and elsewhere. But then, the head of the regime of today is not the one of yesteryears, he is not the one who is bathing on lights as then, he is now gazing at reality in the eye, and it doesn’t look pretty. Then an idea struck the head: may the change in images bring change to reality.
The new times were suddenly ushered, the time of Radios in broadband internet websites, Confessions, books, memoirs, and witnesses in pal-talk chat rooms and on websites, listeners and contributors, many thousands of them. All these suddenly were made possible to reach the Eritrean ears unfiltered and uncensored.
The tyrannical regime’s response was:
All chat rooms, all the people who bring themselves forth as witnesses, all the older parent websites, opposition parties, all should be discredited and put to shame as liars and silenced once and for all!
Create a lie, a big one, but don’t say it! Just put it slyly into the unsuspecting other’s mouth and he, the other, will be branded a liar. That seems what the grand game to put everyone out of business by a single strike according to the calculations of the regime’s mind was.
Anyone who spoke against and about the regime, its history, after being discredited will be looked at with suspicion in the aftermath of such a big lie. That may be the account of the tyrant, and no one challenged him! No one told him that he was the originator of the lie, and that the others were mere descriptors of his behavioral lie.
Related to this matter in an oblique manner is the matter of arming civilians. The weapons distributed to the public, are toys if they are thought of as defensive bulwark or a deterrent against a push by a serious military such as the Ethiopian Army. So, who are these guns directed to, in reality? Many theories floated around. Many of these theories seem to be compelling, but there is one more compelling than any other, at least in the eyes of this writer, an interpretation, if true, would indicate and point to forces not traditionally Eritrean, forces with expertise in mob control and mob psychology.
The decision came at the height of the so called Arab spring which sent violent tremors to the spines of many dictators and was, especially, tough news to the Kaddafi-friends- and- Mubarak-wannabe small time tyrants. They lost the night sleep they once boasted maintaining!
The remedy was unique and simple, so much so, that it is difficult to believe that it may have originated in the confused, empty and tattered mind of the Security apparatus of present day Eritrea. This must have been a borrowed idea from another source with advanced knowledge in the psychology of the masses.
But let us not lose sight of the essence of the matter:
The idea is not to incite war between the components of the Eritrean entity, as many contend. No, that would run contrary and head on to the face of the interests of the regime. If that happened, the regime, even if it be the strongest, will be one between the contending many armed gangs. That would demote the regime from ‘The regime’ into ‘a regime’ among numerous regimes.
The idea is aborting a predicted mass movement rather than waiting for one to happen and then combat it. This meant searching and looking into elements absent in the Arab revolutions, elements the presence of which would have made the revolutions impossible to take place. Instead of putting the question “What made the Arabs of Egypt and Tunisia come down to the streets together protesting in big numbers?” it was put thus: “what could have prevented the Arabs of Egypt and Tunisia from coming down to the streets together protesting in big numbers?”
The answer to the first question is: what made each one of these Egyptians and others come down with the others daily was that each one of them was confident of the other. Confident that the next guy in the demonstration carries no gun.
The answer to the second question is: If everyone knew that each and every next guy carries a gun, then no one would show up in the demonstration, it is only natural that no one is interested in taking part in carnage.
So the idea in Eritrea was one of creating there, the conditions and factors that were absent, and could have prevented the Arab spring from taking place in Egypt and Tunisia and elsewhere had it been present there: the presence of guns in the hands of the people. There is one additional benefit that the plan secures to the regime, it sends messages to different directions without the regime having to say it explicitly, and nevertheless the messages spring out automatically from the action itself, with no word uttered. The message to the people is: any attempt at demonstrate and gathering will be crushed using bigger fire-power, the pretext being that since the whole population is an armed population, any demonstration is considered an armed demonstration, an act of mutiny, to be dealt with, militarily!.
A message to the opposition is also included; the old defiant message: if you can, get me!
The idea, while being effective, bears witness to the recklessness and gambler-like mentality of the regime. The plan carries with it a high risk factor to the regime and the country, and there are many possible scenarios on how this plan may go wrong and backfire even if there is no chance, at this point of time, for an equally wise and strong opposition with imagination broad enough to tweak the situation and bring about the long sought downfall of the regime. One cannot depend on the opposition in this matter, at least for now, and it is better to excuse many of its parties as they, at this juncture of time, have assigned themselves to an academic task busying themselves setting the record straight on historical facts which, anyway, have long since irreversibly established itself regardless of Cornelius Osman’s delirium. Delirium? There is no other word to describe his babble except as delirium. Fighting ghosts is a delirium isn’t it? And who could this Cornelius be to take the Eritrean opposition hostage to his word? Seriously! And how weak are the opposition to permit themselves to be taken hostage to the delirium of one such little man? Awate’s heroism established itself in the hearts of the majority of Eritreans long time ago and in spite of babblers like Mr. Osman, Yosief G.H and the other guy who likes to adorn his articles in Asmarino with his picture against a backdrop of symbols of power, yes, I remembered his name now, Ghirmai Yeibio. Yosief is harmless, his Eritrean history’s foundation is so shallow that he at many times gives the impression that he believes that the world was created the morning the EPLF was created and that Eritrea and its people are confined to Habesha and habashas, he is fathering all these Lingua-Nuova. The power guy too is harmless; his hypocritical allegiance to Cornelius Osman bears neither consequence nor truth, as it is only stating the obvious about the power guy himself. Who is to adopt, though belatedly, the bid of Qeshi Dimetros and Co. if not him? It is only the exhumed Dimetros that he is musing with, a harmless carcass.
One, last point — a point that shouldn’t be overlooked. I pointed out that there is an oblique relation between the story where the head of the regime fakes ‘sickness/death’ and the case of distributing weapons to the population. The fact as it turned out to be is that the two are not only obliquely related or even related only but are, in a sense, the same story told twice. In the first case a lie was passed slyly by the regime to its opponents’ mouths. In the latter case also the regime created, packed and distributed paranoia to the population. By distributing weapons to the population at large, the regime has in fact condemned each individual to solitary confinement dependant on guessing what the other guy is about to do.
Any plan for a great escape?