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Eritrean Police Lectures Religious Leaders (Select Comments)

On September 20, 2014, The state-owned Eri-TV, the only Television station beaming from Asmara, Eritrea, showed the Commander of the Eritrean Police Force, Col. Mehari Tsegai, giving a lecture to a gathering of “religious leaders.”

The reports stated that the “meeting [was] conducted in the Central region’s administration Hall in which over 150 religious leaders took part.” Col. Mehari called on the “religious leaders to nurture and keep intact the nation’s cultural values.”

The following has been the reaction by some Awate Forum members; it’s presented with minor editing:

Tesfabirhan Redie:

This is a joke, a real joke. After the 4 Catholic bishops issued a religious letter, the totalitarian regime that put a patriarch under house arrest and replaced him by PFDJ religious messiah, the fate of the PFDJ is coming to an end. Calling 150 religious leaders to a gathering might be one of its kind to be a held in Asmara. Worse, the PFDJ didn’t hold the gathering to speak on the deteriorating religious values under its system but to deliver a command from a police officer who told the “religious leaders” to respect the nation’s cultural values. Religious leaders are supposed to be spiritual guardians of believers and feeders of the human spirit for an inner peace.

The primary mouthpiece of the regime in Asmara,, wrote, “The Commander further urged communities to step up collaboration with the Police Force regarding crime prevention.” Yes, the commander who is commanding religious leaders to be an extension of his office and spy on the people. This is a clear sign of a complete authoritarian system. Religion has become a tool for the PFDJ while religious freedom is totally absent.

Imagine a once a Marxist-Leninist guerilla fighter, who denounced God, command religious people whose prime mission is teach about God, to receive orders from a commander of the Eritrean police. Just imagine!

This is a moment where the letter authored by the Catholic Church priests is showing its significant influence.

Yet another shameful statement on the PFDJ website stated, ” …meeting is aimed at nurturing a law-abiding society and the supremacy of the rule of law.” Who has to respect the rule of law? The regime or the society? And where is the Rule of Law in the PFDJ system?

Society respects rule of law when the state respects it first. But what we have at the top is regime that adheres to the “rule of the jungle”, shamelessly sitting in front of 150 religious leaders and commanding them to respect rule of law while hold[ing] 10,000 political and religious prisoners who are living under the ground. Who knows, maybe the gathering place has a cave beneath it where hundreds of prisoners are living in darkness and are listening what the commander is saying!

“Where Is Your Brother?” is a message that cannot be removed from the shelf easily and be ignored. It is a message directed at the regime–thanks to the courageous religious leaders who changed the orbit of PFDJ political state.


Great analysis, Tes.

The Commander of the police said, ” …meeting is aimed at nurturing a law-abiding society and the supremacy of the rule of law.” What a mockery!!

Some family members of the victims of September 2001 were on Radio Erena yesterday. One of the things that was said was while in prison, Dawit Issak had fainted and fell to the ground. It was because he accidentally saw his dad’s eulogy on the news paper he was reading. Imagine that! Seyoum Tsehaye’s mother said out of all previous regimes that ruled Eritrea, it is the current one that doesn’t allow family visitation. His sister said speaking up meant she no longer has the right to visit Eritrea…

As the tyrannical regime’s heinous crimes of September 2001 are being commemorated for the 13th time, it is extremely upsetting to hear such most hypocrite so called “supremacy of law” lecture by a regime that has absolutely no business in lecturing on the subject. What a contempt, what a joke!!!


Tesfabrhan, I am sure means ray of hope something to that effect, why then are you always having this gloomy interpretation of anything from home? Come on Tesfa.


Dear Senai,

If religious leaders are receiving commands and lectured on societal values by the police commander and if this is a ray of hope for you, I will just say you are the worshiper of MAN. In fact, I will not be surprised by your response because everything that comes from the dictatorial mouthpiece is your doctrine.

You said, “…why then are you always having this gloomy interpretation of anything from home? Come on Tesfa.” Did I interpret the news on unfounded reasoning? I am not a worshiper of dictators, just remember that. To expose PFDJ lies, so that the voice of the voiceless can be heard is the least I can do at this moment.

Do you remember 18/09? What is meant for you Senai? Is there any hope that is aired from Asmara?

Look, the engineer who was in the news supervising the maintenance of the dam is my former student. He is on a mission to avoid the failure of the dam because of heavy cracking and to do that 500 manpower is participating on a daily basis. Where are the machineries then? The dam is heavily damaged and is at risk of collapsing. The people could not get help from the PFDJ companies, even a single machinery, to maintain the dam. My former student and now an engineer in the sub-zone is trying his best. Within the 12 minute TV news, if you can tell me that there is at least one news of hope coming from Asmara, I will be happy to hear it.

Do not fool yourself about the good summer. Even during the best summer rain, Eritrea can only secure 60% of its cereal demand. 40% will be imported through black-market, you know very well, dear Senai, how the PFDJ trades.

The for the rest, read what saay7 wrote in an excellent way. PFDJ is there to give commands, typical of the working system of dictators.

My hope is on the letter (Where Is Your Brother?) and if you have a good heart, respond and say that your brother is everywhere, maybe closed inside container that is crossing to UK, and he is without any care. Please read this read this.

Haile TG:

1.  “If religious leaders are receiving commands and lectured on societal values by the police commander…” is an observant reflection that highlights the poignant reality that they’ve created with denial and false hopes. If they could, they would take shelter in that sand castle home of their convoluted moral bankruptcy till the house falls from its roof above their heads to the depth of its foundations, instantly burying them under. If they are smart enough to build this grave, how do they miss it that it is intended for them? PFDJ supporters would have made the comedy of the century, if it wasn’t for the tragic consequences of their dim heartedness. The video on this link has no ray of hope in it, pure abomination. [NB: graphic and disturbing content]

2. If the regime wasn’t lead by ignorant people we would have had it. The regime a true and unyielding enemy of the Eritrean people. Within that context, I would imagine the task of exposing this cardinal truth in whatever ways possible is like saving life. There really isn’t two way about it other than (sooner or later) physically dealing with the nutcase. Can you think of “one single” right or privilege that was taken away from the people, under any pretext, being ever restored by the regime? No, because what is implemented is a deliberate act of controlled demolishing of Eritreans. That is why I don’t question the regime on the specific roles it plays as an avowed enemy, just go on attacking it. Unless Eritreans somewhat see the urgency (they know the sufferings), it would be too late. I would liken it to the strange case that if throw a frog into hot water, it would jump out, but if you place it in a cold water and then turn on the heat, as the water boils, it would sit there till it gets fried to death. Our people must re-evaluate and taking a physical measure against the mutter is way past due.

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  • senay

    The role of the police and the religious leaders is clearly delineated. The police enforce the law of the land the religious leaders enforce the moral and ethical law.

    The conundrum that the religious leaders the country faces are:
    – The police and the security agent of the regime are the very cause of moral erosion, the disintegration of family unit and the breakdown of social fabrics

    – The police and the security agents are the ones that assaulted and intimidated the religious leaders from doing their basic duties

    – The regime and its agents are the ones who violated the rule and tenet of religion institutions by raiding their worship place, politicizing their faith

    – The regime and its agents are the ones who militarized the entire country and denied the religious leaders access to the youth

    – The regime incarcerated and humiliated the religious leaders and their followers

    – So, if the religious leaders head the call of the police, they know their fate and the familiar treatment that awaits them

    This sounds the cruel child torture game known as “ ለፊዓ’ዶ ቆርቢዓ ?” There is nothing one can say to avoid the torture.

  • Kokhob Selam

    When we say religious father we mean people who are always connected with God’s system. Although different in their symbols and worshiping style they all want to think on the way God wants them to think. religious father are careful and see things with result of heaven and hell. we have experienced how governments accuse them of fundamentalism. not only that it is very easy to drag a religious movement to extremism. PFDJ is known for it’s method of accusing movements. leave alone a religious man’s reaction against PFDJ even the political movement of wedi Ali has been accused to be one sided movement. Religious fathers need our help as they are in prison as you can see.

  • Tesfabirhan WR

    Dear AT,

    This is an Automn harvest. I am busy with my study but I could not miss a chance to read every comment though I found it hard to follow as I wish. And here, you surprised me by putting my reactionary comment to the joke (mockery) that was put on shabait. PFDJ has no moral value at all and is in no shame to give commands to religious leaders that nurtured the society for more than 1500 years. Had it being the other way round, the religious leaders gathered to lecture societal values to PFDJites and their police commander, it could have a great sense though a guerrilla fighter has no respect for social values at all.

    Thank you again


  • Samuel N.

    “… after the meeting the religious leaders thanked the Eritrean Police for the lecture and reaffirmed their readiness to stand with the Eritrean police and do their part…”

    • haileTG

      haha..good observation.

      • saay7

        Haile TG:

        Shabait also said that Colonel Mehari called on the religious leaders to increase their role in “upgrading the awareness of the faithful.” It’s like awareness is some software program you upgrade to. When we launched awate 7.0, I had really wanted to have a “shabait translate” service where would try to make sense of what it is trying to say… but then, found out, it had been invented. Ever heard of gizoogle? This is how to translate shabait headlines into gangsta headlines. Well, yeah, you can do that with any website, but its more fun with shabait:


        • haileTG

          da thing is cool ma bro…haha..good one saay! I like the one:

          Farmers up in Mensura n’ Akordet sub-zones hustlin towardz boostin agricultural thang


          • saay7

            Haile TG… my favorite is the one we are discussing:

            “Da Commander of tha Eritrean Popo Force, Col. Mehari Tsegai, has called on religious leadaz ta play actizzle role up in nurturing n’ keeping intact tha nation’s cultural joints.”

            It’s my favorite because an Eritrean regime representative lecturing Eritrea’s religious leaders (with literally centuries of tradition in morality and ethics) about how to transfer value to the faithful is as absurd as a gangsta reporting on right and wrong.


          • Tesfabirhan WR

            da news about ambassador and prezzy… oh yah, Saay you did justice to the report

  • Haile WM

    Is Keshi Yoftahe Dimitrios frozen ? I mean usually they would use him to convey surreal messages to the priests about societal values, this time the boss of keshi dimitrios is directly giving instructions, wey gud…

  • Religious fathers ought to be tamed for their past transgressions. Indirectly though, most probably, the commander of the police was sending to the religious fathers the following message: ‘There is only one state, one law and one god in Eritrea, and that is Dictator Isaias Afeworki. Accept, pray and glorify him. If you think and act differently, it won’t be safe for you.’

    The only thing that remained for the people is their religion. Through their religion, they hope for better days and endure the misfortune that has befallen them. Even that the regime is taking away from them. Trying to teach cultural and social values to the keepers of religion and human dignity, by a messenger of one of the worst dictators, is not only surreal, but also complete madness and naked audacity.

    • haileTG

      Selam Horizon,

      Surreal is spot on. Now, let’s put off politics for a second, don’t the religious leaders themselves see anything wrong with it?? Except for the RC denomination that openly defy the regime, the rest of the religion leaders there have long been conquered, e.g. priests are drafted into the military service and carry arms. This is a bizarre situation rarely seen…meh, me lost for words 🙂

      • Selam Haile TG,

        I believe that the dictatorial system in Eritrean has made
        faceless almost everybody, and sometimes one sees no difference between the ordinary citizen and religious people. This is mainly due to the brainwashing that has been done by PFDJ. “Ethiopia is Eritrea’s existential enemy and we are at a
        permanent war” has permeated every cell of every Eritrean, including even religious fathers. This I think is the reality of PFDJ’s Eritrea.

        Ethiopians had priests and icons of St. Mary and St. George
        with them in the battlefields. May be the priests were not engaged in fighting, but they were blessing and praying for the victory of their people. One might say that Italy, Egypt, Sudan etc were foreign invader. Eritreans have been made to believe that Ethiopians are even worse. PFDJ has brainwashed and intimidated especially the Tewahdo religious denomination, to the extent that they have been made to believe that in times of maximum national threat (Ethiopia being the threat), even priests should take arms to defend their country, family and religion. We should not forget the strength of propaganda and intimidation, because these can make even the strongest souls sometimes to succumb to the wishes of a dictator. Under pressure and at the same time believing in the superiority of the white race, the Pope blessed the invasion of Ethiopia.

        It does not mean that Eritrean religious fathers have completely forgotten and abandoned their religious duty to the Eritrean society. Like St. Peter who denied Jesus briefly, they are also forgetting the people temporarily. It does not mean that they do not feel accused and tormented by their conscience. Simply they are overwhelmed with the situation. With the first chance, they will stand with the people. On the contrary, one should be much more disappointed with the politicians who know everything and yet they have chosen to remain silent and abandon their people for the sake of their own personal benefits. These are the real sinners.