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Weed Out the PFDJ Beast

As I was about to publish this edition of Negarit, I was hit by yet another news of a tragedy: a few hours ago Mathew Price of BBC reported that today (Friday Oct. 11, 2013) another boat with more than 200 people capsized 60 miles off the coast of Lampedusa. Bodies have been spotted floating on the sea. I wouldn’t be surprised if the boat carried Eritreans victims.

I never thought my people would become the Boat People of the 21st century.

In 1987, I was on a visit to Hong Kong; by then, over a decade after the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Vietnamese had been leaving their country en mass, hanging on the sides of rickety boats and sailing around the South China Sea searching for a safe shore. Many traders and merchants considered bourgeoisie by the Vietnamese government were stripped of their properties and forced to the countryside to farm, a Vietnamese equivalent of the PFDJ’s indefinite agelglot and hate of the middle class and the educated. They all left their country just like our people are doing now.

Daily, about 200 people were landing in Hong Kong. News reports were full of shocking stories about the “Boat People of Vietnam” and it was a daily stable particularly when Hong Kong interned the refugees in camps under squalid conditions, behind barbed wires. To avoid integrating them in Hong Kong, the government had began to classify them as economic refugees, just like Israel is now doing to Eritreans. The miserable stories I witnessed then are no different than what is happening to Eritreans in North Africa, Sinai and the Mediterranean Sea.

Two days ago the PFDJ embassy in Rome expressed the Eritrean regime’s willingness to allow the remains of the Lampedusa victims to be flown to Eritrea—it seems the government had suddenly developed a kind heart for the “illegal Africans migrants.” Upon reading the statement, I couldn’t help imagining being at the airport in Asmara (Massawa not likely) and watching almost three-hundred coffins arrive! I imagined the wailing at bus stations, the funeral processions to places of worship and rituals, sight of coffins being carried to different villages and towns, and the wakes that follow. I imagined parents crying for the loss of their children, and children crying for the loss of their parents, relatives, friends and yes, lovers, grieving in each village, town, street and house. I imagined the gloom that would be many folds what our people are going through right now.

Coming face to face with a coffin that contains the remains of someone you love is profound, it is worse than hearing about their death. And here people would come face to face with shocking number of coffins, not one or two. Imagine the grief, the wailing and uncontrolled hysterical movement of the bereaved… and the grief of all Eritreans! It would be a situation that only the emotionally brave can handle.

For over a week now, we have all been on an emotional rollercoaster watching horrific video footages, and still-images, rows and rows of coffins, mostly brown with a few small white coffins, heart-wrenching scenes. Even the teddy bears that adorned them didn’t help.

And we are wailing some more….

I have always advocated for solving the root causes of the Eritrean predicament; wailing over manifestations is a human reaction, but it doesn’t help. It will not help Eritreans get rid of their tormentor. Never.

A wound festers and creates a bulging sack of puss; piercing the wound and letting out the puss is the first step in curing it. We need to bleed the Eritrean wound and let out the puss represented by Isaias and his minions.

Some years ago, awate.com kick-started a campaign with an editorial entitled “Starve the Beast” which aroused the umbrage of the supporters of the regime. But enough Eritreans had the same view and it really worked—though it took longer time than we expected. However, it was not only the efforts of opposition that managed to starve the beast, the PFDJ beast helped a lot with its own arrogant, corrupt Skunis policies that invited the wrath of the international community that paid it back with a sanctions regime. Following the incident of Lampedusa, we have entered a new phase; Lampedusa ushered a phase of weeding out the beast.

In general, the overwhelming majority of Eritreans have literally put a Dead-or-Alive call on the regime and its chief. News coming from Eritrea are very disturbing; the frustration might lead to an uncontrollable situation where the nation would be immersed in a bloodbath that the regime and its unhinged actions are creating. All patriotic Eritreans agree that the miseries have reached the brim long ago and the agonies are overflowing. In the militarized nation that the PFDJ created, anyone carries a gun; particularly the frustrated youth who might resort to desperate measures. Of course, millions of people suffering because of a clique whose members do not exceed 200 people is just unacceptable by any rational, human or divine—regardless of the calls for rationality and advocating a non-violent struggle, the situation is Eritrea is already violent, it has been so for over a decade. I don’t expect the people to be restrained indefinitely while the regime is wreaking havoc all over the place, causing thousands to lose their lives and millions to be denied the right to live freely. I believe things will take their natural course, any course that would weed out the beast should be more than welcome. Protecting oneself and fighting aggression, be it committed by a state or otherwise, is the right of victims who can respond in kind. That is the relevance of the second amendment of the USA, the right to keep and bear arms—of course that is meant to protect oneself, not to be hanged on the wall as an artifact.

Here is reminding reel that might refresh our memories…

When a boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea and over a hundred people perished, we mourned, agonized and we become emotionally distraught. Mind you, that is not last week’s tragedy; it is the tragedy of March 2011.

Twelve days ago, a ship was wrecked in the same sea, we began to mourn the death of over a dozen of our own. We thought that would be the last tragedy for the year. But three-days later on Thursday, before the week was out, we were hit with yet another shipwreck. So far, 153 survived and the death toll stands at around 300. Reportedly, the ship carried 520 people, about 85 people are still unaccounted for, presumably dead by now. That would bring the death toll of Thursday’s tragedy to around 350 people. The average age of the survivors is 22 years though they in include children, babies and mothers who had delivered their babies while in transit, while awaiting boats to carry them to Italy, to the ill-fated waters of the island of Lampedusa. A woman had given birth while she was drowning; rescuers found the mother and the baby still connected by the umbilical cord!

But our agonies have not ended yet…

Three days after the calamity of Lampedusa, we heard yet of another incident in the Ethiopian refugee camps where, to-date, there are four wounded and one dead Eritrean refugees, courtesy of bullets fired by the Ethiopian forces. It seems a demonstration held by the refugees to protest their living conditions and appeals to end their plight somehow turned violent. Details are scanty because the camp is closed, but there are many Eritrean refugees in jail after the incident. And we might have more information as we go.

Such sad incidents have been following Eritreans for over half a century. In the mid-1960s tens of thousands crossed Eritrean borders escaping Haile Selassie’s scorched earth policy and ended up in many places, mainly in Sudan where they still live, forgotten in refugee camps—today, the camps are full of third-generation refugees… and still counting. That was exasperated by the Derg’s wanton violence that pushed tens of thousands more out of their homeland.

During the last ten years, the suffering of Eritreans turned a new page in the chain of sufferings when refugees began to trek towards the Mediterranean Sea in desperation. The despicable coercion, repression and organized smuggling was introduced to Eritreans—and the main players are from within the Eritrean regime who trade in human beings and ransom transaction are paid under the eyes of the regime whose supporters claim is “incorruptible”!

And we keep wailing and mourning piecemeal. 

No one denies that wars have their own dynamics; since Eritreans were engaged in a long liberation war against Ethiopian rulers, they considered the miseries and sufferings a tax a nation pays in pursuit of independence. But why should Eritreans continue to pay that tax long after they uprooted foreign rulers out of their country and declared their independence two decades ago? Why would Eritreans suffer from similar fate under a so-called Eritrean government who is bent on outdoing the oppression of the Ethiopian rulers?

We have managed to starve the beast but the starved beast has turned into a worse monster feasting on the miseries of Eritreans.

This is the time to forget our grudges, petty bickering and shun the indifference of some of our own. This is the time to bond together to accomplish the goal of defeating the Eritrean tyranny. Our grief must be turned into rage, immediately. And that rage should be directed towards the cancer that is eating Eritrea from inside. Eritreans need to bleed the puss from the wound. Wailing is not going to end the misery of Eritrea. If it is not stopped, this regime will continue to create more tragedies and turn Eritreans into a sort of helpless widows who know nothing but wailing. Luckily, Eritreans seem to have come to grips with their responsibilities. The victims of Lampedusa, and many others, didn’t perish in vain, their death is the energy that would push Eritreans to eliminate the stains of tyranny from Eritrea. We have starved the beast; now it is time to Weed Out the PFDJ Beast; eradicate tyranny from Eritrea.

Saleh “Gadi” Johar is author of “Miriam was Here” a book that explains the root causes of the Eritrean predicament and why the youth are fleeing their country risking their lives, facing all sorts of death, drowning in the sea or dying of thirst in the deserts and in the way facing rape, torture and organ harvesting.

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

Born and raised in Keren, Eritrea, now a US citizen residing in California, Mr. Saleh “Gadi” Johar is founder and publisher of awate.com. Author of Miriam was Here, Of Kings and Bandits, and Simply Echoes. Saleh is acclaimed for his wealth of experience and knowledge in the history and politics of the Horn of Africa. A prominent public speaker and a researcher specializing on the Horn of Africa, he has given many distinguished lectures and participated in numerous seminars and conferences around the world. Activism Awate.com was founded by Saleh “Gadi” Johar and is administered by the Awate Team and a group of volunteers who serve as the website’s advisory committee. The mission of awate.com is to provide Eritreans and friends of Eritrea with information that is hidden by the Eritrean regime and its surrogates; to provide a platform for information dissemination and opinion sharing; to inspire Eritreans, to embolden them into taking action, and finally, to lay the groundwork for reconciliation whose pillars are the truth. Miriam Was Here This book that was launched on August 16, 2013, is based on true stories; in writing it, Saleh has interviewed dozens of victims and eye-witnesses of Human trafficking, Eritrea, human rights, forced labor.and researched hundreds of pages of materials. The novel describes the ordeal of a nation, its youth, women and parents. It focuses on violation of human rights of the citizens and a country whose youth have become victims of slave labor, human trafficking, hostage taking, and human organ harvesting--all a result of bad governance. The main character of the story is Miriam, a young Eritrean woman; her father Zerom Bahta Hadgembes, a veteran of the struggle who resides in America and her childhood friend Senay who wanted to marry her but ended up being conscripted. Kings and Bandits Saleh “Gadi” Johar tells a powerful story that is never told: that many "child warriors" to whom we are asked to offer sympathies befitting helpless victims and hostages are actually premature adults who have made a conscious decision to stand up against brutality and oppression, and actually deserve our admiration. And that many of those whom we instinctively feel sympathetic towards, like the Ethiopian king Emperor Haile Sellassie, were actually world-class tyrants whose transgressions would normally be cases in the World Court. Simply Echoes A collection of romantic, political observations and travel poems; a reflection of the euphoric years that followed Eritrean Independence in 1991.

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  • Samsai

    Isaias has admitted: “Ideals I entertained 20 years ago don’t work. There are things you can’t do because of human nature. Experience makes me more realistic.”

    Caring leadership comes from self-awareness and knowledge of human nature. Communicating to a team about change takes authenticity and caring because they’ll know quickly if it’s all fake. They’ll feel it. Often, leaders are faced with decisions like this, suddenly. It’s when their caring and character show up. Isaias Afewerki was always the same leader as before. People change, ideas don’t. PFDJ will prevail under any circumstances. Viva (y) PFDJ

  • Amin

    If you weed out the PFDJ this season, the next season will grow, better destroy PFDJ once and for all the times …

  • Salahuddin Abdalla

    Dear Salih,

    Sorry to say there is no hope for our people unless the beasts be
    eliminated, becouse the big beast (isaias) is a schizophrenic since he was a kid.

  • Nitricc

    Sal, bring back the old style forum 🙂 I was trying to replay you on your post to me and I can not find the replay icon. Does it mean it maxed out or I am just going south.
    Anyway there is a good reason for the apple to fall far from its tree, I shall share some time. For now let me say this.. I believe you when you say it is not fun to debate with me, Ask my good friend Haile, once I gave the bloody nose, no where to be seen or heard of from him. Last time I heard, he was having a nose job done. 🙂 if you see Haile, tell him to be a good friend with surgical doctor which it will happen more often. So I feel you Sal, I admit I snipe well. 🙂
    Sal, I know and I understand what you are saying but how could I justify it? I admit there is a problem and I admit time for change but to what we are changing is my greatest question mark. If you are going to tell me there can not be Worst than this then I disagree. It can get Worst with unplanned and sudden change.
    I am not fear mongering just to justify for PFDJ to continue rather from real concern.
    If you ask me everyone is saying change but no one knows to what we are changing.
    But to what are we changing.

    The last time our great fathers made the mistake, it took untold suffering and blood to undue what mistake was done and I am not going to repeat the same mistake to put my generation in to paying the price of it. Now, can some one tell me what the change is and how it will happen. Make no mistake, the most organized part of opposition, if any, are the once who are in Ethiopia, just you know. Do you want to go that rout?

    • saay

      Nitricc:

      Yeah I noticed how your nose has been hitting Hailes fist real hard 🙂

      We set the limit of the forum depth to 5; beyond that, if you try to read the 6th, 7th reply on a smartphone or tablet, it becomes one word per line. There is a way to reply even with 5-deep but you can only figure it out when you are Isaias-detoxified. Isaias is toxic to brain cells 🙂

      Your worry about the post-Isaias Eritrea would not keep u up at night if you guys were even working on a post-Isaias PFDJ. Just fix your party: make it something more than an Isaias fan club. A party that holds congresses, evaluates it’s mistakes, elects new leaders. The PFDJ needs more Nitricc, that have an independent streak (a tiny tiny one to be sure, but you can feel the pulse:) get rid of all your yes men, and have a vibrant party. Then whatever we in the opposition say or do won’t worry you. We in the opposition are betting you can’t, you won’t, and après Isaias, the whole edifice of PFDJ will, like ESAPA after Mengistu crumble into dust. The design flaw is a feature, not a bug: you guys don’t even have a number 2.
      saay

    • Papillon

      Nitric,

      Do you watch Family Guy? If you do, I bet you see yourself in Peter where he makes a fool of himself when Brian and Lois talk substance.

    • haile

      Nitricc

      I will give you my two pieces of reflection:

      – When the Eritrean people were fighting during the sixth offensive, the dergue had complete control over the skies of the combat theater zone. The Eritrean fighters dug into and entrenched inside the belly of the Sahel mountains to neutralize the threat posed! You think I am scared of an air force guy 🙂 or something!

      – In traditional Eritrea, there are set number of days beyond the 3 day hazen period when even women spend without a hair do or the likes. In my case, I was waiting to hear the news of the resting of the dead at Lampedusa, before I let my mind roam again (which undoubtedly would run all over you once I let it loose on ya 🙂 Now, can’t you guys keep cool thus far without celebrating here, there and even over there too (wink wink)? … any way watch out, you’re on the line next 🙂

      Regards

      • Nitricc

        Sal, what can you do?
        We can’t cry over would of, should of and we better think collectively, the best way out.
        Haile take your time. I understand,

        • saay

          Selamat Nitricc:

          Who is this we, kimosabe? In 2000, I wrote ሻዕብያ ኽትሓቅቕ ኣለዋ: “PFDJ must be dissolved”…and I gave my reasons. Haven’t learned anything since to change my mind. Here’s the issue Nitricc, while some of us were saying that “the problem with Eritrea is that it has one political party”, your side (the NN^2 gang) were saying that “the problem with Eritrea is not that it has one political party; the problem is that Isaias just doesn’t have enough power within this party and all the obstructionists should be removed.” So now you have a party which doesn’t have a congress (the first in the world), a party which has no number 2 (common in dictatorial regimes), a party which has no bylaws, a party that has yielded everything to one man. That is what you guys did. Own it. You talk big about how everybody should take responsibility for what they do; now live it. Own up to the fact that the Nehna Nsu gang have created a system that makes you wake up in cold sweat at night fearful of what will happen to Eritrea after Isaias is gone.

          saay

          • Nitricc

            Sal, you can sit there and you can play the blame game or you can be part of the solution. What you don’t seem to get is this..
            The problem is the government has created a system and the government wants the people to fit on to that system. And the people are resenting the very system created by the government and as a proof of that you are witnessing the mass exsdos.
            So, it is not necessary the system is wrong but was tried to be implemented in the wrong time. The time was/ is when Eritreans came out from national ambitious duty to personal ambition and to self betterment. You may blame the government for not adjusting to this fact events but the government it self is submerged still under national
            Ambition. Here is where the collision accrued.
            Again if you guys don’t go crazy and throw the country away, let the current government run its course. Let them, that is the best way out.
            Frankly, I don’t see any other way out. Your opposition don’t exist. Sure, they can talk 🙂

          • saay

            Selamat Nitricc:

            You say: “Sal, you can sit there and you can play the blame game or you can be part of the solution.”

            Your two least favorite books, dictionary and history, are conspiring against you Nitricc Wedi jeganu Tegadelti.

            1. Dictionary: to blame means to assign responsibility. Things didn’t just happen in Eritrea. Somebody is responsible for them. So, yeah, being part of the solution begins with identifying who is responsible. And we are not talking about a budget deficit or GDP short of expectations. We are talking about the exodus of tens of thousands of young Eritreans: their incarceration, torture and death.

            2. History: you are a blamer, your hero is a blamer, your fellow travelers are blamers. Remember the official statement of Isaias is that the US is to blame for the Lampedusa disaster. So your “lets not play the blame game” sounds very insincere. It’s basically: let me blame whoever I want but don’t blame my guy. And if you know one thing about me, it is this: I hate unilateral disarmament.

            saay

          • Nitricc

            Sal I don’t know where you going with this and I don’t see the point mentioning my parents in here but for what ever, may be you have a reason I don’t see.
            I am not blaming anyone. All I am saying is please don’t act like you people in the oppositions are all that. If you were responsible opposition things would have been different.
            What if, if you guys did not side with anything anti Eritrea just to get to PIA?
            What if, if you had used positive reinforcement than the absolute negative when it came to Eritrea’s issues.
            What if you did not side with Weyane on the border issue and didn’t to encourage

          • Nitricc

            By accident I hit the enter and posted prematurely.
            I will post with my complete thoughts

    • MG

      Nitricc, Nitricc I was laughing hard for a chang when you said
      “Ask my good friend Haile, once I gave the bloody nose, no where to be seen or heard of from him. Last time I heard, he was having a nose job done. 🙂 if you see Haile, tell him to be a good friend with surgical doctor which it will happen more often”

      Nitricc don’t you know Haile is a Surgical Doctor, at least use to be before became a full time Awate journalist. so Nitricc don’t worry hit him hard as you can, Doctor Haile will take care his nose by himself with local anesthesia.

      • Nitricc

        MG 🙂
        I gave him a good bloody nose 🙂
        MG I don’t think Haile is a doctor. He writes too good for a doctor or scientist.
        May be I am wrong I am just saying from my own experience and observation.
        But if he is a doctor, I will have no sympathy, I will give a right and left hook 🙂 good to know he has no medical bills 🙂

        • MG

          Nitricc,

          Trust me on these, Haile is a medical doctor and he was the principal writer for the EPLF Medical handbook in the seventies and eighties. he was good in both English and Tigrina. I had many health meetings and conference with him in the late eighties in Washington DC.

          • Nitricc

            MG
            If this is true the guy simply splendid. Now you are making me guilty for breaking Haile’s nose 🙂
            You know we need him. I hope his nose is holding up surgically.
            Now I got avoid the nose, and find less vitally to give it to him:)
            Anyway who ever he is, he is amazing person, a person I can learn from.
            I am just proud he is Eritrean.
            MG, no worry, I will avoid the nose but he will get it 🙂

  • debarwatay

    Continue on dreaming and dreaming of all possible scenarios during PIA or post PIA. Eritrea will prevail as a country steadfast and marching to the future. PIA is just a historical coincident who happen to be the leasder. And Eritrea is not short of people who will follow him during PIA and fill his role post PIA. And Dreamers will continue dreaming generation after generation . After each episode of Eritrean tragedy or were they see a weaker Eritrean they will blow their horn louder in an attempt to prove that their dream is approaching real. That is their way of life. And Eritrea as a nation has its own way of life.

    • jonas

      Am I dreaming or you ?if the current exodus of Eritreans by land and sea does not ebb Eritrea will be “short of people” soon. Call him PIA or DIA, he is not there by coincidence, Isayas never fought for Eritrea, he fought for his seat ,if he had Eritrea at heart he wouldn’t destroy the dream of her sons and daughters to the point they play with death on the high sea. You should die for your country ,not your country die for you, Isayas chose Eritrea die for him for the sake of power . When he lost the war with Ethiopia , he didn’t just lose territories and precious lives but he lost 80 million consumers who would have used the ports but he needed the war to assert power in the name of national security. History will judge him harshly not you parking lot lions.