As a result of the fear that the PFDJ created, the Internet is full of Eritreans who communicate using nicknames. It is understandable why those who oppose the PFDJ prefer anonymity; the risks are too evident. But why would the supporters of the regime hide their identities and communicate “behind a maschera” as the priest said last week in Rome? Why would they be afraid of a regime they support? I believe they are ashamed of their positions.
Eritreans have two loyalties: either to the regime or to its victims, the Eritrean people. The Diaspora supporters of the regime think Eritreans are like cattle in a Texas ranch, carrying their owner’s brand. That is why when cornered, they summon their feeble excuse: “I am not a card-holding member of the PFDJ.” They conveniently forget that most of those who oppose the regime do not hold any sort of a card; you don’t need a card to distinguish right from wrong, particularly when the issues are stark clear, unambiguous. Citizens can only oppose the actions of the regime or nod in approval. Not carrying a PFDJ card doesn’t absolve one of being an accomplice in the victimization of Eritreans. If it flies like a bug and emits phosphorus light, it is not a duck; it is certainly a Hawi-Leyto—the firefly whose life cycle is two-months only.
For the last thirteen years, the regime and its supporters have used all techniques to fight awate.com; myself and my colleagues are continuously vilified. They do not like the fact that awate.com, in a stark contrast to the regime they support, is liberal, diverse, all-inclusive and a free medium that puts to shame all the bigots, the hypocrites, and the weaklings.
Today, I will attempt to respond to a few “accusations” leveled against me by a man who claims he is not a card-holding member of the PFDJ (aka conveniently-neutral), as if anyone cares what card people carry! A few days ago, this man threw at me a one-liner and I invited him to a serious debate. He immediately came up with a ton of allegations—talk about premeditated crime. His opening statement, which he ended by stating “Let me stop and see what your defenses are to the points I raised. Peace,” is appended below. Note that he has already appointed himself a judge and is ready to pass a sentence!
In PFDJ-land, a tiny fraction of what he “accuses” me of is enough to send one to the gallows; I am glad I don’t live under their rule. This edition of Negarit basically uses his argument as a launching pad. For clarity, I have inserted 19 numbers within parenthesis (yeah, he came up with that much); for fear of spoiling the flow of reading for my readers, I will not address them in chronological order. But first, here is an introductory story.
An Honor I Cannot Deny
In 1971, the Sudanese communists overthrew Jaafer Numeiri’s government. Babeker AlNur, and two other leaders of the coup, flew out from London on their way to Khartoum to assume power. When their airplane reached Libyan airspace, Gaddafi’s fighter planes forced it to land. Ghaddafi immediately handed the coup leaders over to Numeiri. At the same time, another plane that was flying from Baghdad to Khartoum, with support for the communists, mysteriously disappeared over the Red Sea. In a couple of days, Jaafer Numeiri crushed the communists and regained power; a bloodbath followed and all the leaders of the coup and other suspects were killed. The largest communist party in Africa was eliminated. There were a few senior cadres of the Eritrean liberation era who were trained under (or were members of) the Sudanese Communist Party.
In the treason trials that followed, one of the leaders of the Sudanese coup pronounced his immortal last words: the accusation is an “honor I do not claim and an accusations I do not deny.”«هذا شرف لا ندعيه وتهمة لا ننكرها»
Likewise, any accusation by a PFDJ supporter, that I work to weaken the regime, is an honor I do not claim and an accusation I do not deny.
Interviewing Meles Zenawi
For some reason, my first interview with the late Ethiopian PM, Meles Zenawi, still irritates the PFDJ supporters five years after it happened. They repeatedly misconstrue the facts because (1) I didn’t travel to Ethiopia to interview Meles; I was invited by the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) for a meeting where the agenda was to resolve the differences between its two parts. While there, I found an opportunity and I interviewed Meles. It is as simple as that. If anyone can arrange for me an interview with the Eritrean tyrant, hopefully before he is done, I would do it even if I know all his answers would be, “It is a lie!”
In a usual I-don’t-care-for-facts manner, the person above states that I (4) bought the idea that PIA is the ‘Dictator’ and Zenawi the ‘Democrat’. For the record, I never said or wrote anything like that. But since he brought the subject, I have the urge to help the card-holding and non-card-holding supporters of the regime: relatively speaking, any ruler (dead or alive) is better than the deranged PFDJ capo. My boy scout troop-leader, or the town clown, would have fared better than Isaias in running Eritrea.
Writers Write to Influence
The supporters of the regime miss that, mainly, (2) the goal of writers is to inform and influence. It is natural that different people read what is written differently; I have been writing for too long to miss that. There is nothing a writer can do to change a prejudiced reading of a content other than to ask the readers to honestly assemble their facts, reconcile their prejudice, and allow themselves a margin of self-doubt—they might have reached a wrong conclusion based on wrong assumptions and perceptions. Other than that, only the culprits who misrepresent facts can convince themselves; nobody else can convince them to change their preconceived and prejudiced conclusions.
As strange as it sounds, I am accused of (7) influencing so many Eritreans to destroy Eritrea! This is a classical example of how the PFDJ lot equate Eritrea with the regime. Here also, I will certainly not claim that honor, but I will not deny the accusation. If I have influenced “so-many Eritreans” to fight for their rights, and expose the corrupt regime, that is a great achievement to have on my bio. I am glad my name will not go in the list of those who betrayed their people in their time of need; my children will be proud I didn’t leave them a sullied name.
There is a strong reason why the PFDJ must go: (18) it doesn’t listen to consultations and doesn’t believe the people are capable of ruling themselves—and it’s is a savage clique. Now, when was the last time a tyrant listened to others? Isn’t the G15 saga enough evidence? But it’s difficult to explain the nature of tyrannies to someone who prays at the altar of Isaias. I used to suspect that many of the supporters of the regime do not have sympathy for their people; now I am certain they don’t.
The Border War
Some supporters of the regime try to argue that (2) the current sorry state of Eritrea and the indefinite conscription was caused by the border war that led to the militarization of Eritrea. Wrong: the reason for Eritrea’s current miserable situation is the totalitarian rule. (3) Forced conscription (the main reason for the exodus of the youth) started many years before the border war, which was a result of the forced conscription and the militarization of the nation. Not the opposite.
If a government forces everybody to carry cans of spray paint, everyone would look for a space and paint graffiti. If you force all the people, old and young, to carry arms, you create a situation where one lives only to fight. That is what happened to Eritrea; the PFDJ and its capo cannot imagine Eritrea outside the state of war; they created a regime of gangsters shooting aimlessly and setting the region on fire. It is because of this that (5) I firmly believe for Eritrea to progress, we need to weed out the PFDJ beast. Once that is accomplished, every corner of Eritrea requires bleaching to remove the stains of the regime’s Skunis culture and its corrupt system. I don’t think any sane person would expect me to apologize for that stand!
There are a few regime supporters who think they discovered a secret that (6) “Part of [what I do is a] project …to isolate the Government of Eritrea.” How many times do I have to state it? Whatever I do is with the intention of helping weed out the regime. I have declared that long before some of them set foot on Eritrea.
Two years ago (7) I went to Djibouti to observe the presidential elections—something that doesn’t exist in the PFDJ world. But the PFDJ operatives are still busy constructing whimsical narrations. We all have speculations, but we don’t treat our guess-work as sacred and divine truth. For example, I didn’t go to Djibouti to assess the ports as claimed, but as I do in all my travels, I observed the situation in Djibouti and compared it to that of Eritrea. I felt jealous. I felt sad. I almost cried knowing how the PFDJ and its capo have turned our bustling ports to ghost towns less lively compared to some tiny traditional fishing villages. That is a crime every caring Eritrean should be furious about.
One of the honors I do not claim is their belief that I went to Djibouti to lobby IGAD (8). Well, the PFDJ lots can believe they just had dinner with God, who is to prevent them from claiming that? But why are they showering me with honors I do not claim?
In case you don’t know, according to the PFDJ supporter’s narration, (9) I also initiated the sanctions against the PFDJ government! Another honor I do not claim—but I am not rejecting it. I seriously think they mistook me for Ban Ki Moon, the UN secretary general; I am not even Saleh Ki Moon and we do not look alike. This is why I feel the supporters of the regime do not understand the implications of the sanctions; they underestimate it thinking it was initiated by Saleh Johar and his colleagues at awate.com!
For now, (11) I do not only support more sanctions against the PFDJ, I pray God to sanction the PFDJ and deny them oxygen so that they can suffocate and drop dead. I’m wondering if anyone in his right mind expects me to apologize for that!
Travels for a Cause
I was in Australia on an invitation by free and patriotic Eritreans who care about their people; the PFDJ Wahios would not consider inviting me—and I do not like drinking binges that are presented as “national defense meetings.” While in Australia, I did what an activist is supposed to do and I (12) called for Australian investors not to deal with the tyrant, but to establish good relations with his victims for a better relations in future Eritrea. Hell, I even assured the Australian mining corporations they would get a lion’s share in the future if they show goodwill to the Eritrean people now by severing their relations with the tyrant.
That is also what I did in (13) Qatar in my spare time. But for those who weave whimsical stories, I was invited by UCLA’s Middle Eastern Studies Department on behalf of Qatar to attend a conference (it had nothing to do with Eritrea by the way). While in Qatar, I did what any activist would do. Hint? Try to weaken the regime. No kidding! Anyone needs apologies for that?
In a circular argument, the supporters of the regime claim that (14) our struggle to remove the government hurts the people! Their solution (since they pretend to love their people!) is very simple: stop fighting the PFDJ capo and his regime. That is the best prescription they can come up with! They gloss over their knowledge that removing the regime frees Eritreans—but it endangers their petty investments, the looted properties they bought, and the cheap touristic trips they conduct every summer.
Sane debaters tend to question any statement—unless they are beamed from heaven or carried by creatures with halos and wings. Personal statements (15) are not facts unless they are supported by evidence. Distorted facts do not stand an elementary scrutiny let alone a serious challenge!
In such a weak argument, according to the supporters of the regime, myself and my colleagues are (16) instigating the young to abandon their country! Why would we help the PFDJ? It is effectively doing that on its own; it doesn’t need help. In fact, the supporters of the regime are culprits because they are helping the regime by denying the suffering of the youth, and blaming the victims. Ironically, they have the temerity to accuse those who expose the sufferings that is forcing the youth to abandon their country.
The Legacy of the ELF and EPLF
To my knowledge, (19) the ELF ceased to exist in 1982; the EPLF was done in 1991. That era is long gone; now we have to deal with the tyranny that is blooming because of the support of the unprincipled.
True, there are a few individuals who are trying hard to resuscitate the old structures of the struggle era; to me that attempt is futile. Termites have been feeding on those structures for too long; only the good and bad memories are what we are left with.
Halib-Mentel, Ashera (10), and the other villages around Keren, are places I spent the best time of my life. Leaving personal sentiments aside, all Eritrean villages and their inhabitants are so dear to me; emotional blackmail—invoking Halib-Mentel and Ashera— doesn’t work on me; facts do.
The entire country is suffering because of the PFDJ tyranny, Halib-Mentel and Ashera included; once Eritreans rid themselves of the PFDJ parasite, they will be relieved.
Finally, my apologies to my friends who might be annoyed that I dedicated an article to reply to some lame arguments. But I have asked for a license to entertain myself with at least two such pieces every year—I still think it is a fair deal.
negarit at awate.com
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
Here is the post at awate forum that triggered this edition:
“…I have followed [awate.com] for a long time almost since it started. It has been one of the sites I learn about Eritrea and current development about the country.
(1) I know you travelled to Ethiopia for the first time to visit Zenawi, and you interviewed him. (2) tried to influence you readers how he was sorry about deporting Eritreans from Ethiopia etc. and his justification why he did not want to leave occupied Eritrean territories. (3) Yet you know that this occupation is the reason why Eritrea is in bad situation it has found itself and the cause of the indefinite military service in the country. (4) You bought the idea that PIA is the ‘Dictator’ and Zenawi the ‘Democrat’ and, (5) the only way for Eritrea to progress is to change the Eritrean Government by any means. (6) Part of that project was to isolate GoE.
(7) Then you went to Djibouti, you claimed that you went there to see how conditions were comparing to Eritrean ports. Really? (8) I believe you went there to lobby IGAD for the Ethiopia’s plan to put UN sanctions on Eritrea. (9) The sanctions you initiated and supported is squeezing Eritrean economy, affecting ordinary citizens, people in villages (10) such as Halib-mentel and Ashera. You perfectly know the sanction will not affect PIA or its officials of the government PJDF. (11) But regardless of its consequence you support it. Why? (12) You were in Australia to lobby with the government to disinvest in Eritrea. (13) You were in Qatar for similar mission. Don’t you think all these efforts do not have any effect on ordinary people like Miriam? I doubt it. (14) Even though you are trying to replace the Eritrean government, you clearly know you are hurting the country and ordinary people. (15) You have a website dedicated to your project distorting facts some time (16) Instigating the young to abandon their country, knowing that they will face hardship when they leave their country. (17) You have influenced so many Eritreans dedicated to destroy Eritrea as a nation. (18) Imagine if all those who are writing articles aired to destroy Eritrea at your website could have used their talent and time to suggest ideas how the country solves its centuries old problems? (19) It seem to me you are stuck on the 1970s and 80s Eritrea, still fighting the ELF PLF battles. Let me stop and see what your defenses are to the points I raised. Peace!