For years we kept writing, revealing, and screaming about our wounds and the wrong policies of PFDJ. This mild struggle of “telling” was mainly intended to inform the uninformed members of our society and the international community about the inhumane acts of Isaias and therefore inspire Eritreans to fight for their right and remove the autocratic regime. All stories teach us something and promise us something whether they are true or invented.
The international community has sufficient information and tangible evidences about the crimes committed by Isaias and his panicky clique more than the Eritreans themselves. Indeed he displayed a shameful status on the interview televised by Aljazeera International English Channel. Weddi Afewerki is really in need of a psychotherapist, he is living in destabilized state of mind and self-conflict facilitated by psychological stress. Wellahi the man has gotten crazy; no charisma, no confidence, no tolerance, no respect, nothing. He is still playing the drama of lies…lies…..lies…..lies. It is very funny. When the journalist asked him about a particular issue, he responded; where are your evidences? When she brought evidences, he responded these are lies! Alu kettan, kabzi kemzi si yikhdenenna. I advice Isaias to either visit Amna Tekhle Mai-Chelot (i) for treatment, of course he is not secure to go to Mai-Wu’ui(ii), because subdued angry Eritreans will hunt him before he reaches there.
The Eritrean people tolerated Isaias for twenty years expecting him to change his egoistic, cruel, contemptuous, ignorant, stubborn and discourteous behavior. However, our patience is exhausted and has reached its climax. Isaias is not realizing that one day people will rise up and overthrow his sadistic regime.
From a historical point of view, the journey to arrive at justice is a complex slow process that costs lots of dedicated lives – Nelson Mandela said, “there is no easy walk to independence”. In political science there is a logic that says, right or position is achieved either by coercion or persuasion. In our case, the latter is not possible due to the closed and power hungry conduct of Isaias; there is no way to negotiate with him because a civilized discourse requires a civilized human being.
Coercion would be the most favorable and deserved line of attack to get rid of the rogue regime.
But, are we prepared and organized to overthrow the regime by force? Do we actually “b’zey qal alem” hate Isaias? If yes, why are we then keeping silent while he is imprisoning, torturing, underestimating, horrifying, arresting, evicting, demoting and killing us? Have we created optimum conditions to make our society inside Eritrea beware and conscious about how to stand firmly with any opportunistic coup? Do we deserve a sacrifice?
The reality of our opposition stems from the consciousness of our people inside and outside Eritrea. The media always controls the attitude of citizens towards any political phenomena. Before the free press was banned by the government in 2001, we had a good time enjoying the inter-PFDJ conflict, consequently, a lot of PFDJ secrets were revealed and public opinion was polarized. It was really “the lost golden opportunity” to make power inversions. However, we couldn’t proceed in a clever manner and Isaias took the advantage of our innocence and closed the press, detained G15, journalists and university students.
Losing a political battle is a common experience for many political movements among the “seekers for reform” and the crazy dictators that insist on staying in office indefinitely. My point here is neither to provide an inventory of this failures nor to present them as inter-PFDJ and university students-PFDJ conflicts. Rather, the purpose is to discuss the socio-political significance of the conflicts and present a corrective or alternative perspective as a clear-cut Eritreans (as nation) and PFDJ as “state” conflict.
The Experience of G15
The G15 were not happy about Isaias the autocrat and his unilateral decisions. By one way or another they demanded “reform”. However, Isaias paralyzed them before they accomplished the task. From this, we can understand that the G15 tested persuasion as a peaceful tool to reach a mutual resolution. The G15 trusted the wrong man; they didn’t anticipate that they were going to spend the rest of their life in prison. It was for granted that if they had intended to undertake a military coup, they would have easily won the battle; but they never did.
Now observe the usual misleading allegations of Isaias as he applied the same strategy with AlJazeera International towards the innocent and/or ignorant public through the media outlets of the rouge regime, EriTv and the local press. Look how EriTv is “serving the trick” and not “serving the truth.”
Contrivance # 1
Non-G15 members of the PFDJ under the leadership of Isaias are convinced that the vast majority of Eritreans, through the state controlled media that the G15:
1. Betrayed the nation because they were planning to overthrow the government; gave priority to their personal interests and tried to sell the nation to outsiders
2. Presented their demands by taking the advantage of the fragile political situations in the wrong time while Eritreans were at the state of war defending against the Woyane attacks and that they threatened the national security.
3. Gave up and surrendered; they embarrassed us in front of the international community and destroyed the moral of the public in general and the army in particular. (Here the non-G15 members of PFDJ quoted the term “tetelaqina” made by Haile Weldetensae as a justification to deceive the public.)
4. Were separatists; they intended to divide Eritrea based on regional and ethnic taxonomy and that they encouraged disunity.
Public Response # 1
Due to the lack of alternative independent media outlet, EriTv, Haddas Ertra and Eritrea Alhaditha dominated the discourse and tricked the ordinary public except a few elites.
The general public opinion towards G15 was hrray geberom, well deserved.
The Experience of Asmara University Students
Around July, 2001, Asmara University students opposed the free labor decreed by the government. They legally requested the government to pay for the so-called summer work program. On behalf of the students, the president of the Student Union, Semere Kesete refused the forced labor. Semere was a courageous recent graduate of LL.B and that enabled him to challenge Dr. Woldeab Isaac, President of Asmara University by presenting the buried articles of the Eritrean Constitution. He explained that in this situation we have the following duties for our nation:
1. To defend it from enemy. We have already participated in the third invasion (salsay werar) and paid the most precious blood.
2. To participate in rescue campaigns if there are natural disasters such as earthquake, flooding, volcanic eruption, etc.
3. To help if the nation is facing serious bankruptcy
In spite of this legal request, the government turned a deaf ear to the demands of students and detained them in the worst prisons of Eritrea ( wia and Gelalo.) There in the prison we lost two of our beloved fellows, Yirga Yosief and Yemane Tekie.
Contrivance # 2
Again the media cheated the public and the army by saying: this students are infected with the same virus of G15, they refused a gross salary of 800 Nakfa in three weeks time while our dedicated defense forces are still patiently accepting 150 Nakfa per month.
Public Response # 2
Except some Asmarinos(iii) the opinion of the general public was tsegibom, satiated.
Alright. It might be boring to go through all the details of past events, but I focused on these two events that cost us the lives of our innocent brothers and the detention of the giant revolution leaders who are suffering in the prisons of the betrayer Isaias. The G15 don’t deserve that; they traveled a long journey to achieve independence alongside Isaias.
The next challenging question is what did we Eritreans as a society contribute to save the G15? Isn’t it shameful to keep quiet while PFDJ is continuously arresting men and women, young and old, Sheikh and Keshi, sick and healthy? I don’t remember anyone facing and resisting against the PFDJ to release G15 inside the nation except one that took place in Asmara Intercontinental Hotel around 2005. There was a conference of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students which was attended by the youth and given to the participants to ask. One adventurous youth tormented the president with a risky question: Where did you put G15, why don’t you present them to court?
A flash of anger darkened the face of the president and he offended the youth:
Isayas: What is your name?
Youth: so and so
Isayas: Which school to you go to?
Youth: Asmara University
Isayas: Which department?
Youth: Political Science
Isayas: Which year?
Youth: Fourth year
Isayas: You are considering yourself as if you have an intimate knowledge about everything but you can’t solve even a tiny political problem.
After the conference, the youngster returned back to his residence peacefully. We all got shocked and urged the student to stay away from us. We advised him if Isaias gives him an opportunity before detention, to consult Qddisti Maryam Psychiatric Hospital(iv) and seek treatment. However, the youngster must have been blessed by his parents; Isaias forgot (ignored) him and there was no detention, nothing. Isaias rarely behaves in an unusual way to divert the attention of people.
Regarding contrivance # 1, the G15 had the right to ask any demand in any time. Abzi qurub nidderabesh alona, there is no timing schedule to request about a particular reform in any way, if you are able to convince others that you are treated unfairly, there is no appointment… no appointment at all to postpone your request.
The reality regarding the so called “surrender” and “ embarrassment”, which of the following two phrases is more embarrassing:
Haile Weldetnsae’s, Tetelaqina ina or, Isaias Afewerki’s, kab Badimme moutsa’e mallet tsehay b’me’erab kitberriq iyya mallet iyyu? I leave the answer to the readers.
The next confusion is focused on unity and I would like to inform those who are praising PFDJ for gifting unity to our people. Our unity is not something enforced or granted to us by PFDJ leaders, it has deep roots; we are accustomed to the civilized culture of unity ages before Isaias came to power. If we go back and revise the wisdom of our forefathers, we would have denied the contrivance of PFDJ against Eritreans of “they united Eritrean people.”
To the contrary, Isaias tried a skilful discriminatory acts to create hostility among us and hence to guarantee the sustainability of power. However, we were very reluctant to follow the dirty plans of Isaias–we maintained unity in diversity without any intervention from the PFDJ; there is no trace of disunity among Eritreans as “nation”.
I was very sceptical when various opposition groups united. But later I couldn’t understand how they are going to remove PFDJ regime. Look how Ustaz Woldeyesus Ammar is planning to meet our needs:
Q: There is widespread perception that peaceful means is not going to bring about change in Eritrea . What is your reaction?
WA: This perception is understandable among Eritreans whose great-grandfathers, fathers and themselves witnessed continued armed conflicts throughout Eritrea ’s history of existence for the last 120 years. Today, use of violence or armed struggle is not the best form to bring about change in Eritrea today. It is the opportune time for our war-fatigued nation to engage in an effective non-violent and democratic struggle to remove the regime and make sure that its replacement will not be dictatorial system of governance. The other choice is pointless for now. (Source:www.nharnet.org)
There is a sort of perplexity on the above mentioned plan of Weldeyesus Ammar. If this is the way that Isaias would vacate the Denden Hall (v), then it is better to continue the traditional strategy of “moral opposition” and beg…Oh Lord…Show your mercy to us and replace the dictator with a wise man. I would like to tell the EPDP that يعطى لا و ينتزع الحق (vi). We are not ready to hear such elusive and ephemeral tactics. Weldeyesus Ammar should know that we lived for many years in a perpetual state of fear and terror from Isaias. We, the people of Eritrea are never scared of death and no one doubts that we can kill to defend ourselves if we need to do so, however we are afraid of Isaias…don’t get me wrong. There is a wise Tigre proverb: Rebbi e ferrih frhu, Fear the one who doesn’t fear God.