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A Documentary: Eritrean Refugees In Ethiopia (Part 1)

Last week Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation aired a two part documentary about the general Eritrean situation. This is PART 1 of it. The documentary is heavy on interview and reports by eyewitness who are now stranded in several refugees camps across Northern Ethiopia. They include, army officers, college professors, housewives, students, conscripts, veterans, handicapped, artists, farmers, merchants, and diplomats. They have all escaped the hell that the Valineki Clique has created in Eritrea. And the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Eritreans who are forced to leave their country behind is explained by Isaias, “there is no lack of [people]who betrayed their families, their country and people, limited number, one or two, who are licking leftover from plates.”

An exiled colonel describes the Valineki Clique as “dead, only its tongue is still alive.”

Overall, the documentary is executed professionally and is not a propaganda laced work as many would expect. Instead, for Eritreans who love their people and country, the two part documentary is full of heart wrenching testimonies which are the main strength of the documentary.

Watch the documentaries and mourn over what befell the beautiful people of Eritrea who have to endure the cruelty of the Valineki Clique.


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  • Mahmud Saleh

    Hello Awatistas
    I have watched the film up to the first 26 minutes of the first part. I tried to go further, but it turned into contents and direction which target Ethiopian audiences (I will watch it when I get time). Is it intended more for PR consumption or in order to highlight the plight of Eritreans and the cause of that plight? Well, lucky for the Ethiopian government, both issues align well, and along the way some displacement of the role of being part of the problem is also there. Here is why.

    We know the victims are real. We do also know the main responsible party is PFDJ which happens to be the main enemy of the Ethiopian government. Now, we do also know the Ethiopian government is partly to be blamed for the exacerbation of this plight for giving PFDJ the main excuse to stay in power. So, it is natural that by highlighting the failures of the Eritrean government (which is tru), the Ethiopian government is displacing some of its responsibilities of being part of the problem. Again, lucky for the Ethiopian government, Ethiopia happens to be the place where these victims are going to. Counter intuitive? Not really. If you want to know the cause of migration, retrace the route of that migration. It will take you to the source. Just like heat is conducted from hot to cold, migration also flow from bad to better places. The cause could be political, economic, security (war), etc. Migrants go to places where they expect safer life; and where they see more prospects of the future. Ironically, Eritreans have chosen Ethiopia, a country they have known for its bloody wars. Counter intuitive? No. Let’s swallow our pride. Time has changed. We should weigh on the part of the equation that’s driving Eritreans to cross into a country that once they thought would be the last one to look for. It appears that impression was caused by the impacts that successive Ethiopian rulers left on Eritrean psyche, and not based on real relations of the two peoples.

    I personally have seen it in action and heard it in many stories including the help and the protection Ethiopians extended to Eritreans during the war when we saw TWO side of Ethiopia: a government that separated families, and Ethiopian people who assisted, consoled and protected their Eritrean neighbors. We see it in the diaspora: we just can’t have enough of each other! Period. What we lost of friendship in the African continent, we have made it here.

    So, when I watch, read or listen to similar productions, I want to separate the messenger from the message, if possible. In this case it is possible.

    1. The documentary is prepared for internal consumption. Ethiopian government has the right to prepare it in whichever way it chooses. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t want to send messages to Eritreans, but it is obvious the main audience is Ethiopians.

    2. OK, the Ethiopian government is propagating its success, and projecting the comparison between Durg Ethiopia and EPRDF Ethiopia, which is clear, then that’s within its rights. Every government does that. The flipside of that would be why did not we have seen such a documentary, or any of a lesser quality, produced by any of the scores of Eritrean opposition organizations dotting Tigray? Would not that have been more powerful as far as its effects on Eritreans are concerned?

    3. Given the complex Ethio-Eritrean relations, how do you see it? I try to ask some Questions. Does such a situation as depicted in this documentary reality exist?, Do those victims (refugees) exist? Who is the main cause of their sad story? Do the crimes told by the characters in this document exist, or they are of their own making?

    If you answer yes to these and similar questions, regardless of who produced the documentary, or where it was produced, those stories need to be told. It makes no difference for the victims if they where told by Aljazeera, like it did about Eritrean refugees in Sudan, or by BBC, Reuters…or by an Ethiopian News Agency. The story remains the same. Eritrea is migrating. This is not the Eritrea we had in mind. It needs to change. Standing with the victims is not embarrassing; if you, or your parents…fought for a different Eritrea, and if you have observed that the Eritrea you envisioned has been made to slowly recede to the far corners of your expectation, then this is a time to be resolute. I don’t feel embarrassed because it is not of my own decision; it’s not a collective Eritrean decision; I know the main culprit; I am not going to be a pawn of a government that wants me to be a hostage of a stolen pride; and I have expected nothing better than this situation from PFDJ.

    Unfortunately, the stories are similar; I have found nothing new in the 26 minutes I watched; the stories have been similar for the past 15 years; the Mediterranean Sea is claiming hundreds every year, and the horror of the deserts are all too familiar. Therefore, even if you have some unsettled internal conflict in the way you see the GOE and TPLF (your hatred of TPLF may push you back to rationalize the continued rule of PFDJ), I advise you to NEGOTIATE with yourself in deciding if the benefit of narrating the story of these victims outweighs what your feeling is telling you that the Ethiopian government is using it for PR. I tend to believe that telling the story is more important than who is telling it, as long as the story is true.

    In conclusion, dear awatista, we should never be short sighted. The brotherly/sisterly relation of these people are more important than a disputed border; regardless of how we see the government of Ethiopia, we should acknowledge the fact that Eritreans are more safe in Ethiopia than they are in Kenya. We are unfortunate for we have not seen peace in our existence, yet we have been fortunate to have the Sudan to the North, a country that for decades has not reminded us we were foreigners; and now to the South, Ethiopia, a country we fought bitterly is giving shelter to many Eritreans (~hundred thousand of them). The brunt of the blame should be directed to our own government.The question should be why we are there, in the first place, not how the host country is using or abusing us.

    This document is published following an article that we have debated passionately. So, what naturally comes to mind would be where do all those opposition organizations fall within this narration? What have they done? What’s their contact level and influence in protecting Eritrean rights? Why have they failed to attract a fraction of those young people? In short, what’s their relation with those refugees? Gezae or Emma, I would appreciate your input.

    Let’s strive to understand that only the unity of hearts and actions will solve this problem.


    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Kubur Haw Mahmuday,

      Since you gave us a sincere explanation and your question is a sincere question, I will give you a sincere and short answer. Like us in this forum, they are spending their precious time fighting each other without listening to each other. There is no excuse for that. The opposition camp whether we are organized or unorganized we failed to help our needy people. Let alone financial and material help, we can’t even offer a moral help to our people. Look Mahmuday even in this forum instead focusing to address the dilemma we are in and the reality of our refugees, we are talking whether the document is politicized or not. Like what you have said, whether it is politicized or not, the facts speaks itself and our refugees are talking about their reality. We can’t swallow our pride and do the right thing to face the challenge. That is why, I keep reminding to avoid the diversionist PFDJites and do the right thing those of us who are seeking justice. History is compelling us to meet the challenge and we will be responsible to the fate of our people, if not equal to the culprit Issayas and his party.

      Amanuel Hidrat

    • S.Tesfa

      #1- “The documentary is prepared for internal consumption”
      I think that is why it is narrated in Amharic rather than Tigrigna/Arabic !!

  • Seid

    Watching this docuimentary tells us “The nation of Hope is on the verge of crashing.”

  • LittleVoice

    Thank you Ethiopia for telling our story to the world.

  • Semere Andom

    Dear At:
    I watched the first part and in deeded it is gut wrenching. My only beef is the background song by that guy, I forgot his name, but he is a friend of GHB and admired by SAAY:-)
    But seriously, thanks goes to those who created it, It is mixed feeling, in one side it shows our suffering and on the other hand someone else is telling our story almost flawlessly without benefiting from any propaganda. Now the dawit will come back accusing that all these are paid actors.
    Cry my beloved Eritrea and who is telling the people not to feel to Ethiopia and stay put in the containers.
    “zbeluka giberelom woy adom giddefelom” is very telling

    • dawit

      Dear SEM,

      Did you write this “telling our story almost flawlessly without benefiting from any propaganda”!Oh my friend you are drinking too much of the pinky Kool-Aid staff. No amount of propaganda will wipeout the atrocities of past and present Ethiopian government policies, can change the truth. The simples and the costless solution is for Ethiopia to abide by EECB ruling and evacuate from the illegally occupied territories of Eritrea and for UN to lift its illegal economic and military sanctions against Eritrea. Until this is done no amount of propaganda will disarm Eritrea. All the tragedies that fell on Eritreans past and present can be traced to Ethiopian selfish and vindictive policies towards the Eritrean people.

      • Seid

        I feel sorry for ur tiny head.Looking this documentary tells you something: “The nation of Hope is on the verge of crashing.” You just need to mourn and you don’t need to talk politics for that.