If You Shall Do Wicked Things, Don’t Brag About It
[this archive material was fist published on Dec 12, 2002 @13:47]
Arabic saying: إذا ابتليتم فاستتروا fe’iza abteleytum, fe’estetiru. (If you shall do wicked things, don’t brag about it.)
In Alamin Mohammed Said’s The Tale of Internal Division in The Eritrean Revolusion” ( page 84), there is a very unflattering statement about Mr. Abdulkader Hamdan. At the time the book was published, Mr Hamdan was an independent journalist who used to write critical pieces about the PFDJ.
That was then. This is now. Mr. Abdulkader Hamdan is now one of the fitewraris of the Stalinist movement known as “hzbawi mekete.” How the transformation came about is a long story, half of which is not fit to print. Let’s just say it followed the path trailed by most turncoats. To be a fitewrari in this movement, you must be completely devoid of any sense of morality or ethics or humanity. In keeping with the PFDJ culture, you must also be willing to make wild allegations, present no proof and hope that your repetition of the allegation will convince some people that you must have the proof, otherwise you wouldn’t make reckless allegations. (This is how the PFDJ accuses people of being spies and holds them in detention for years, without bothering to present any evidence.)
One exchange led to another and Mr. Alamin Mohammed Said showered Mr. Hamdan with tens of thousands of dollars which was originally given by the German government for the development of Eritrea’s free press. As a result, the grey “Voice of Eritrea”, the Arabic four-page paper that Hamdan publishes from Germany, witnessed an immediate and dramatic changeover in its appearance and editorial content: an opposition paper began praising the government lavishly and assaulting its “enemies.” In exchange for this good behavior, Hamdan’s paper was offered assistance in printing and distribution as well as a Tigrigna sister paper “DimtSi Ertra.” Meanwhile, the people who were supposed to receive the German funding, Eritrea’s independent and principled journalists, rejected the government bribe money and are paying a heavy price for it.
For Hamdan, the transition was complete; the soul was sold and there are no refunds.
Hamdan now gives interviews and conducts seminars singing one song: “Awate.com is Weyane.com.” subHan muqeyer alaHwal. Mr. Abdulkader Hamdan is scheduled to present a “speech” at the London version of the next hzbawi shefeTe. You can be certain that it will include the trademark PFDJ allegation without proof. After all, he has already done this last year when he attacked members of the Awate Team and the Awate Foundation in a public meeting in Stockholm and then shamelessly repeated his slander in a TV interview with the Rahwa TV station on September 1, 2001.
Back then, we wrote “Rumors and propaganda messages have the risk of being perceived as truth if not challenged in time. The aim of government propaganda is to confuse and weaken opposition.” With that in mind, we are re-posting his allegations and our response.
THE INTERVIEW (With Rahwa TV on September 1, 2001):
INTERVIEWER: Hamdan, for example yesterday… in the seminar that you held, you gave an explanation about the existence of Awate.com and Asmarino.com. What knowledge do you have about them?
HAMDAN: First, it was the war disabled who sent the invitations out for the seminar. What is “the disabled” in Eritrea? What is the help that is presented to them? In this third offensive, how many were hurt, meaning, those who were wounded. And, before that, starting from 1961 until now, those meaning, disabled, about them, enough information is not being passed about them. These were the questions asked yesterday. In that, Ato Kesete, half an hour …..who, who it is?
HAMDAN: Ato Tekeste presented it. And then we had found an opportunity, which is called “Family To Family.” It was a successful project. When I went to Adi Qeshi…. [Editor: a three-four minute PFDJ Sunna deleted for brevity] Regarding the news, meaning what we discussed in detail, the main topic (re’si AnqeS) was the media. Always, our people, now, before there was [a website] called Visafric from the country [Eritrea]. During the Weyane invasion a lot of information was being disseminated by it. And regarding the country, defense, they, what, when the forces were defending in Eritrea, the able, educated Eritreans, within their ability, all that befell our people…injustice, destruction of houses or the raping of our families was being disseminated by the media.
Therefore, we always were depending on it: what comes from Visafric, what comes from Asmarino, what comes from Dehai. About what was going on in Eritrea because all the media of the world wronged Eritrea. They had forgotten [Eritrea]. All were talking about Ethiopia and we … all wrongs were blamed on us [and we were presented] as if we were defeated or as if… and all the blame was laid on us. And Eritreans decided to cooperate within our ability… and this was sensed by Weyane Tigrai…what was being done in Ethiopia to Eritreans… now, how can we…………….. The. …situation in Eritrea, how can we [inaudible] was the idea that came to them. There, the idea, the main idea, that was, that there is…that there was…. as I said, were Visafric, Asmarino…Dehai. These were, meaning the main [websites] that were passing information from Eritrea.
There, now this awate.com entered in the middle. Last year when I did the interview with Dr. Kiros on TV Rahwa, [I said] this information that passes through awate com, we must read carefully. All that is written in awate.com. I was suspicious then. What kind of a website is it that conveys the differences, the conflicts among Eritreans? Who are those working there? And I have spoken saying “be careful!”
But now, after three months or…the last four or five months, firstly the main [people] who were active in America and were defending their country and presenting, good, meaning, media, clean including criticism, the known were, Dr. Tekie Fessahatsion, Dr Ghidewon and Saleh Younis. Those three were … in all Eritrean media in America.
When the war stopped and when the peace talks were going on in Algiers, Saleh Younis presented another idea: so that, in Eritrea, the mistakes that were made would not be covered up, and this Shaebia should be divided into three. His [Saleh Younis] idea was: we cannot go and continue like this. Especially in awate com… and we were reading it. Ghidewon told him: We who are in Popular Front, anybody within it, has the right to criticize, anyone has the right to present a criticism. Any Eritrean can present his criticism about the entire situation inside Eritrea. We, all Eritreans, after dialoguing among ourselves and after hearing the other opinions, we can correct the entire situation ourselves. Dr. Tekie Fesshatsion, “Listen to another voice”, a known person, what he was writing was all criticism. His writing… he said let us correct our mistakes. Now the Weyane were observing all of this. The one who went very radical was Saleh Younis.
Now [there was] one Eritrean who was working in Kuwait, called Saleh Gadi, and holding an Ethiopian passport. And all his wealth was in Ethiopia and the money and he built a villa in Addis Ababa and he had a shop and his family was there and when Eritreans were deported he was deported. Therefore, the Weyane, when he came to renew his passport and his house, which they took, when he came to repossess it, they made a compromise with him. They told him: we will give you your house, we will give you your wealth, we will renew your passport, and you help us with media because Eritreans have media weakness and because you are Eritrean. He migrated to America and met with people like Saleh Younis and, together, they grouped and formed Awate com…called Awate Foundation.
From that day, one now, called Media Watch when you follow it. What they were writing is good. Other views were presented. Our people were happy… awate com… all that was written in awate com until, finally, a media professional… when I followed it.
When Saleh Younis put his hands with Saleh Gadi, they were given a budget; a big office in Los Angeles was opened. Now these… a link was established with Walta. The information is being presented now… all Eritrea… erasing its sovereignty, or always ideas of destroying Shaebia, and information is presented that Eritrea committed the mistake not Ethiopia. And when we present questions, at least they became three. Before it was one …there was one called Messelna, one called Meskerem and these belong to those who are in Mekelle. And these made an alliance with them. If there is one who is able to say they didn’t form it [an alliance], what is presented in awate com you find it in Meskerem and from Meskerem when you open Walta, in three minutes after it is published in awate it reaches Addis Ababa.
Therefore, I told the brothers yesterday, “In the past, we had exercised restraint, [qelAlem]. We said ‘let’s be together’ [aynfelale]. We are Eritreans let’s tolerate each other; but now it has become a reality this is not awate com but Weyane com.” This is what I said and presented concrete information. Therefore what awate com is presenting to the people is and what it is saying to the people is: “why don’t you be like Somalia, isn’t that better for you?” [End of the relevant portion of the Interview]
Response by Awate Team
Usually, we do not respond to infantile and cheap accusations because if we did, we wouldn’t have time to run our activities. We decided to respond to Hamdan’s accusations not because we give it any weight, but because many honest readers, especially from Sweden, wrote us and insisted that we respond.
We have already commented on the defamation campaign that the PFDJ clique is fond of. You have seen Alamin Mohammed Said, Abdella Jaber, Zemehret Yohannes and Yemane Gebreab in action. Hamdan, the “responsible journalist” as per PFDJ’s definition of obedient journalists, is part of that campaign. He is not as experienced in defamation as the afore-mentioned professionals, which makes his comments simultaneously offensive and laughable.
A few years ago, Hamdan was a man with some integrity. In the 1990s, he was one of the lone voices in the wilderness, publishing a newspaper (Sout Eritrea) that was true to his belief: the PFDJ is an undemocratic and unjust organization. That he is now a strong PFDJ supporter is not a crime; people are entitled to change their opinion and their beliefs. But a journalist with integrity should not sell his conscience for personal perks even if the perks include a Land Cruiser, $100,000 in cleverly channeled German NGO funds and the benefit of having one’s newspaper printed with state subsidized funds as well as government’s help in distributing his newspaper to all the Wahio organizations in the world. Is it any wonder, then, that the Eritrean government believes that one way to silence its critics is to bribe them and when it can’t arrests them?
When we watched the taped interview, we were amazed at how one can either lie or talk with blissful ignorance without blinking an eye.
Of course, Hamdan began his response to a question by the interviewer about Awate.com and Asmarino.com, with the usual rhetoric, what we call the Shaebia Sunna: comments whose only purpose is emotional manipulation. Then he went into his hatchet job. According to him, the Weyane funds Awate.com and this was a result of a “compromise between Saleh Gadi and the Ethiopian Government”. Those who hate Awate.com really have to co-ordinate what they want to say to make their lies somewhat credible. We can’t possibly be getting funded by Weyane and the CIA and the Saudi Government and the Tri-Lateral Commission. You have to make up your minds. Regardless of the source, we at Awate being of sound mind and exercising our free will, authorize Hamdan and the folks at the ‘Mike Show’ (Dehai Message Board) who claim that we are externally funded, full permission to take every Birr, Dollar and Riyal we have received from all these generous organizations to their personal bank accounts.
Moving on, according to Hamdan, the Awate Foundation has a BIG office in Los Angeles? Again, we the Awate Team, being of sound mind and exercising our free will without any duress, and with our readers as our witnesses, hereby bequeath our “BIG office in Los Angeles” to Hamdan. It is all his. Our only disappointment is that we do not have Land Cruisers there. We have Rolls Royces given to us by the Weyane (or is it the CIA?) but we are keeping those.
We would like to ask Hamdan a favor: Next time he interviews Alamin, would he ask him which newspapers benefited from the German funds meant for the development of the Eritrean press? Maybe Hamdan could get some proof in any pocket closest to him.
As for the rest of his ramblings:
- Saleh Gadi was not deported by Ethiopia; he was in Kuwait during the African Safari season holding a good job and earning a respectful salary as he had been for a decade when the PFDJ system declared him stateless and destroyed his life simply because he didn’t lick the dictators sandals, the way Hamdan is doing now, and advocate war.
- Saleh Gadi didn’t immigrate to the USA. He was resettled in the USA through the good offices of the UNHCR and the USA. Before UNHCR approved Saleh Gadi’s request for resettlement, it conducted two interviews: one with the Eritrean Ambassador in Kuwait [who is now, incidentally, “frozen”*] and another with the Ethiopian Ambassador in Kuwait. The Ethiopian Ambassador gave a direct answer that he was nullifying Saleh’s request for renewing his passport based on a directive from his Woyane government, then at war with Eritrea. On the other hand, the Eritrean Ambassador told so many bold-faced lies that were easily contradicted by the dates on documents, application forms, and receipts for payments made, that UNHCR’s job in determining culpability was made remarkably easy.
- Unlike some who now want to deny it, Saleh Gadi had a good friendship with both the Eritrean and Ethiopian Ambassadors in Kuwait, who were close buddies. This is because he believed and still believes that friendship is nurtured and/or withers based on the interactions between the individuals involved, irrespective of the nationality of the individuals. This is why he can count dozens and dozens of old friends of all nationalities who are friends indeed. On the other hand, those who form “friendships” based on the government model (‘what is in my interest’) are constantly making and breaking friendships, trying to stay one step ahead of their reputations.
- Saleh Younis didn’t write in awate.com at the time mentioned by Hamdan. Moreover, the way Hamdan explained the sequence and the contents of the Ghidewon-Saleh-Tekie articles regarding the future of PFDJ clearly shows how little Hamdan understands of what he reads and why a mixed-up mind should not consider journalism as a profession;
- Hamdan shouldn’t be surprised that an article that appears in one site can appear in another in three minutes. Awate.com news items have appeared at BBC, Indian Ocean Newsletter, Africa Confidential, UN’s IRIN, Africa Now, and Human Rights Watch. It is called investigative reporting, credibility and technology. Hamdan should look into all three. And, to help him come up with new inventions for his next hatchet job, we’d like to tell him, in advance; that he can have all the money we were paid by these news and human rights organizations, as well.
- Since he mentions Dr. Tekie, could he enlighten us, after he interviews his new friends at PFDJ’s Central Office, why did Dr. Tekie, who is “a known person” and admired by Shaebia, became the black sheep of the family who was a victim of a cruel article written at Eritrea Profile by one of the Central Officers under an assumed name and posted at Dehai.org by Sout Eritrea’s correspondent in “Washington, DC”?
- Lastly, is Hamdan’s “responsible newspaper” still being distributed in Eritrea after all the independent newspapers were closed?
- Does Hamdan know that he was part of the grave digging that went on before the arrest of the leaders of the Reform Movement and the closure of the Independent Press? And does he know that one day he might face those he accuses in a real Eritrean court of justice and not the special court that functions in the dark?
What does the future hold for Hamdan? If his history is any guide, he will turn on the G-1. At which point, the G-1, probably in the person of Alamin Mohammed Seid, will unleash its entire arsenal and destroy what it created. The same folks that are applauding his speeches at seminars in Europe will turn against him and tell us that they knew, all along, that he is a Woyane (or whatever our enemy will be at the time.) It won’t be fair but the irony will be delicious.
We close our comments with a Tigre adage: e-kejl kjelo e’lu (Be ashamed on behalf of the shameless). We are ashamed to have Hamdan counted as a journalist.
The Awate Team
* Ambassador Mohammed Ali Berhan was frozen, jailed, and frozen again until he left Eritrea. Our last information indicated he was working in Kuwait.