While the world mourns with moral outrage about the tragic death Eritreans and other African refugees in two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea last week, the Eritreans government is busy blocking out its media or deflecting its propaganda by stating:
“This is by far the greatest opportunity the enemies of Eritrea have had to destroy the name Eritrea deliberately in malice… To be Eritrean is the greatest gift our heroes gave us paying with dear life. Eritrea is the most coveted nationality in Africa today precisely because of our strength. There were many nationalities in the boat. Yet, the only nation talked about is Eritrea. CNN did not mention any other country. Let us not forget that and maintain their legacy by stopping these tragedies. Let us look deep-inside and stand together to avert this tragedies”
(http://eastafro.com/Post/2013/10/06/lampedusa-the-tragedy-amanuel-biedemariam/). Eastafro is the mouthpiece of Eritrea’s Ministry of Information. With such cold hearted and politically calculated comments the majority of Eritreans cowed of the unfolding tragedy.
Eritreans in the Diaspora are unsure whether to deny it and side with government twisted rationale or to cry at the top of their voice with the traditional dirge “Melqes-woye woye.” Hearing the heart wrenching grief and cry by those at the scene and seeing rows and rows of caskets (majority Eritreans) and to worry about “the name of Eritrea” is adding insult to an injury. According such twisted logic, implicitly, among others, Ethiopia is the source of this tragedy causing the good name of Eritrea to be tarnished. It is about time to expose the hypocrisy of Isaias regime by calling for immediate implementation of the border ruling.
We all are waiting for the reality to hit, learning the particular identity of those perished and break the bad news to the next of kin. Such inevitability always come to Eritreans in a delayed motion, consuming the family members in untold grieving of the uncertainty though deep in their soul the end outcome is always tragic. We are also watching carefully the reaction of the Eritrean government, when family members learn the bad news; will it allow them to mourn the death of their loved ones? If past experience is an indication, the government will blame the families but will never acknowledge that these youth were the children of Eritrea.
Eritrea’s bad luck continues to pile up while the world notices intermittently when such incidents happen here and there. Eritrea remains a giant prison, where the young see no light at the end of the tunnel while the old die of neglect and broken heart mourning the untimely death of their children one after the other or of simple loneliness.
The bad turns of events seemed to be sudden and unexpected for those who were wallowing in “independence euphoria” never questioning the value and price of liberty. The first five years of normalcy and apparent progress with positive foreign media coverage and fledgling local Medias gave a veneer of new era dawning for the small nascent nation. In spite of clear signals that some kind of sorcery was being concocted behind the scene, we shrugged and let our moral antennas down in complacency.
The conflict ignited against Ethiopia with the pretense of border issues further blinded our vision dulling our common sense and moral integrity. Most of us erred in favor of Eritrea as a victim of the border conflict with some nationalistic fervor demonizing Ethiopia. Again we lost our objectivity for obvious reason, afraid of losing hard earned independence bartering it with our liberty and freedom of expression.
Igniting a border conflict, Isaias Afeworki might have calculated to undermine the Tigray dominated Ethiopian ruling party. However, the border aggression had the opposite effect; Isaias was able to unite Ethiopians which Meles had struggled to do since the fall of Dergue. Standing up to Isaiass bullying tactics gave Meles an opportunity for self-redemption against his critics that he is a true Ethiopian. Reversing Eritrean aggression further emboldened Meles status deflating Isaias’ ego blaming his own ministers and confidants as defeatists. It looks that Isaias never recovered from that humiliating military defeat though tried to skirt it by moral victory when The Hague awarded Badme (allegedly the flash point of the border conflict) to Eritrea.
In his paranoid state, Isaias kept Eritrea – its people and economy hostage; using an immanent Ethiopian aggression as scare tactic. He refused to implement a constitution ratified in 1997 with same of excuse that the country is in a state of emergency. To justify that he continued amassing up to half- a-million standing army out of a population of less than 5 million. Under the shadow of the tragedy of 9/11in USA, Isaias clamped on the budding private media and his ministers for allegedly challenging his authority. Since then Eritrea has become a prison nation literally and figuratively. For example, there is only one military camp, where all 12 graders attend to finish high school. With no viable higher education institution only tiny minority are accepted to attend the newly started substandard and unaccredited colleges and the rest are kept as captives to serve in the unending national military service under slavery condition. With no exist strategy from such trappings, Eritrean youth have chosen to run out of the country regardless of the danger that might await them like the tragedy we witnessed recently at the coast of Sicily (Italy). Read also http://awate.com/eritrea-hazardous-to-eritreans/.
Isaias has used the unresolved border conflict with Ethiopia as a cover to continue making Eritrea as hell on earth; emptying its human and resource capital. Isaias should be denied any excuse or pretension and Ethiopia has the capacity to remove his skirt cover and show his true color. Eritreans and Ethiopians have lived as a family long before their adopted Greek names. The issues of Badda and Badme are immaterial to the people who lived across either side of the artificial borders. The current impasse of implementing the World Court decision being purely political, I hope Ethiopia would make a cost benefit analysis calculation and remove the cover-skirt of Isaias. The cost benefit analysis Ethiopia should analyze is looking beyond the era of Isaias’ regime in order to avert Somalia-like scenario to the north. Badme has served Ethiopia as a rallying point reversing Isaias aggression. However, implementing the border ruling would be much more beneficial for normalizing the relationship between family members on both sides of the border than symbolic victory or loss of Badme. Isaias should be left with no excuse to prolong the suffering of Eritreans and endangering the security of Ethiopia and the Horn Region.