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Our National Hypnosis: April 27 vs May 24

Let’s start with a pop quiz. An easy one, I promise.  So easy, most Eritreans –children to adults– know the answer to this question, without even thinking.  Without thinking, eh? Usually, that doesn’t lead to enlightened conclusions; which is partly what this post is about, the unintended consequences of going with the flow. I guess it is more like a habitual, matter-of-fact response to a no-brainer question.  Anyway, here is how the conversation usually goes:

“When is Eritrea’s Independence Day?”

“May 24, of course.”

“And the year?”

“1991. May 24, 1991.  Everybody knows this. This May, it will be the 25th anniversary of that historic date.”

It was historic alright. After 30 years of a protracted war, and several months of intense fighting to capture major Ethiopian army strongholds in the towns of Afabet, Barentu, Massawa, Decamhare, led to the liberation of the capital, Asmara, on May 24, 1991. The port of Aseb was to be captured the next day, 25th of May, thereby making entire Eritrea to be free of occupation.  Technically, May 25 would have been a more appropriate date to commemorate the end of forced occupation or the defeat of the Derg’s mighty army.  Granted, symbolically, May 24, the day EPLF fighter rolled onto the streets of Asmara atop of captured tanks and army trucks as a cheering and grateful crowd welcomed them, lent itself to be a bigger day to be remembered, but historical facts stubbornly chronicle what happened and when. The powers that be, must have decided it was going to be May 24, instead. And for a reason.

Let’s pause here.

You might be wondering.  Alright, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? What does this has anything to do with what is transpiring in today’s Eritrea? Even so, why much ado about seemingly nothing? Good questions. In this article, I am going to argue that a) The dates and their symbolic powers matter a lot; and b) We should do much about the issue, as at the heart of the matter is how, by choosing to celebrate certain dates and be totally oblivious about others, we the Eritrean people, have been willing – albeit unwittingly – accomplices to the handing of power to a tyrant and his regime.

So, indulge me a bit longer please and let’s go back to the question on the date of Eritrea’s Independence Day.  Obviously, we can surmise from the above that May 24, 1991 was not and cannot be the day of Eritrea’s independence. You cannot have a military victory day and turn it into an acceptable birthday of a nation that very day. It was not that simple. Even the current regime, doesn’t officially say that.  Somehow, the official day was going to be May 24, 1993, two years after the 1991 event.  Yet, the huge gap between 1991 and 1993 was soon to be lost in the annals of a myriad of facts and figures that basically amount to the difference in what we Eritreans say among ourselves, what we tell outsiders.

And here we are, with a regime that neither practices liberty nor the true meaning of independence, telling us it is gearing up to celebrate 25 years of independence (wink, wink – 23 years if you are foreigner).  We will be damned if we don’t read between the winks, however.

1993 has something to do with what is now, for all intents and purposes, seen as a minor event in the making of the country.  Except, what kind of a nation spends 30 years fighting a war of independence where hundreds of thousands were killed, maimed and tortured; so that its people can have the right to determine their fate via a referendum, can’t even recall how and when independence actually happened? Caught between the romanticized ending of militarily defeating a brutal enemy and pushing it by force out of Eritrea in May of 1991 and the largely uncelebrated achievement of over 1.15 million of Eritreans voting in April of 1993, our fervent nationalism led to simply ignoring the results of the latter and we opted for “May 24, 1991 is our Independence Day, dammit!”.

In hindsight, this was not a matter of shortsightedness or oversight; it was part of a well-orchestrated maneuver to place the country on a path that ensured constantly reminding the population that it was not their vote that brought about independence (even though the facts say otherwise) but a military solution that was led by one front and ostensibly, one man: Isaias Afeworki.

Never mind the fact that the commander of the EPLF military unit that actually liberated Asmara was none other than, Petros Solomon, veteran fighter and Eritrea’s first Defense Minister.  Ironically, in a few weeks, Asmara will celebrate the event, while Petros and many of his fellow heroes remain prisoners, held incommunicado in an undisclosed location, some for almost 15 years, others for longer.  Ironic indeed; but not surprising in a land of the twilight zone, where parallel universes of truths and make-believe lies live side by side without extinguishing each other.

Back to the chronology of our dates.

As far as total military victory is concerned, May 24, 1991, quickly overshadowed May 25, 1991.  A few days later, the EPLF formed a Provisional Government of Eritrea (PGE). It proposed an internationally supervised referendum on INDEPENDENCE be held, in two years.  The two-year interim period was simply a transitional period, where Eritrean as a nation was yet to be born.  The only viable avenue for independence was for its people to vote yes and for the international community to affirm the election as free and fair.  Inside Eritrea, there were 1,007 polling stations and Eritreans in Ethiopia, Sudan and elsewhere participated in their locality. The votes were casted on April 23, 24 and 25, 1993.  Finally, the promise of the Eritrean revolution that started decades earlier with a demand for the people of Eritrea to be given this very chance was fulfilled. 99.83% voted, yes for independence. Without the military victory in May, 1991, this would have been virtually impossible.  But the truth remains that Eritrea as we know it today is a result of its people’s sacred vote.  There are not that many countries in the world that can say that.

Here is how CNN covered the news at the time.


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Since dawn this morning, we have been going around polling stations, which opened early, and there were lines of people standing and waiting anxiously to vote. I have been moving around in the city and also in the villages outside, and I find the sense of sense of elation, a sense of expectation, and there is a history in the air, there is something being decided. And you see that people are very anxious to vote and express their views in a very popular way. You see them dancing, cheering, and anxiously waiting for the next move which they hope will decide the future.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The international community is recognizing the new republic of Eritrea. Voters there overwhelmingly approved a referendum of independence from Ethiopia. The three-day election was monitored by the United Nations, which declared the voting free and fair.

The United States, Italy, and Egypt are among countries offering formal recognition. And the Ethiopian government says it will accept the results. This after a brutal 30-year civil war that led to widespread famine.

Officially, it was up to the PGE, the Provisional Government of Eritrea, to declare the results and what they mean. It declared Eritrea an independent state on 27th of April, 1993.  The then Secretary General, Isaias Afeworki said in a statement:

“… although it has been decided that formal independence will be declared on 24 May 1993, Eritrea is a sovereign country as of today [April 27, 1993].”

(Source: Eritrea Birth of a Nation, an official publication of the government)

Who exactly “decided” it was going to be May 24, by the way?  To the jubilant and grateful populace, it hardly made any difference.  To those who were part of the decision making machine, if they knew this was the beginning of the dictator’s sinister motives, there is no record that anyone of them uttered anything in protest.  Nor is it fair to blame them for not seeing it then. They were perhaps as jubilant, as grateful and as hopeful.  Not surprisingly, only Isaias seems to know the difference and how things need to be laid out for his agenda to be implemented.

The New York Times reported from Asmara during the referendum.

“This is mission accomplished,” Isaias Afwerki, the 46-year-old secretary general of the Liberation Front and head of the transitional government, said after he voted today.

But he was cautious about defining the form of a future government. “The creation of democratic institutions will have priority,” he said, but added, “Democracy should be subservient to stability in a country.”

His last sentence is particularly telling and chilling.  “Democracy should be subservient to stability in a country.” For the next 23 years, he simply made sure that Eritreans do not live a life of stability or normalcy so that issues of democracy become subservient to his agenda, in perpetuity.  The repercussions and cost of opportunity continue to be dearly paid in human blood to this day.

So came to be a faithful day that was yet to be so faithful or significant after all.  Seriously, how many of us Eritreans know anyone who remembers April 27?   If you’re creating a tyrannical system, the last thing you want is a celebration of a day, where the people voted and it mattered and they won. Stark and decisive choices made, not at a barrel of a gun, but at the ballot box.  It didn’t go without notice, however. Before the people get the idea that they will have a voice on how and by whom they will be governed, it was nipped in the bud.  Instead, the country quickly veered toward unrealistic bravado, ultra-nationalism and exaggerated Eritrean exceptionalism.  An era of, The Shitara Code began in earnest, where the culture of disregarding facts, figures and truths is ingrained and celebrated, as aptly put in this great article by Saleh Younis. That’s why we have at least three Independence Days that we can name with a straight face.

May 24, 1991, dammit!  By hook or crook, it is 25th year Silver Jubilee.  Turn on the music louder, hoist the flags higher, dance into ecstasy, ain’t no body going to be messin’ up your high, bro!

May 25, 1991.  If you are into minor technical details. Say, like making sure the liberation of a major port city is also included.  But be ready to be outshouted.

Or May 24, 1993, if you believe official declarations are worth the paper they are printed on.  Even though, you may not care if the date on your birth certificate and your actual date of birth don’t correspond.  Be it ’93 or ’91, May 24 is what you should remember, be grateful for, be guilty about and act accordingly.  Happy Silver Jubilee, compadre!  But for math’s sake, let’s save that for another 2 years.  Seriously, it’s embarrassing – in more ways than one.

And now, reintroducing… April 27, 1993, if you are a stickler to the truth and the significance of internationally observed and respected democratic participation. Another date that, let’s hope, will be given its proper place in our memory and roster of national holidays, soon.  April 27, the true Independence Day.  The date Awet NhafaSh became Awet nay HafaSH, thanks to the voices of HafaSH.

Needless to say, Eritrea awaits another important milestone in its history:  The removal of the dictatorial regime and the ushering of a new era.  An era where independence and sovereignty will be synonymous with freedom and liberty, and all her citizens will be thrilled to be jubilant.

For that to happen however, we all have to wake up from our national hypnosis.


About Daniel G. Mikael

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The Spirit Of Asmara

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  • AMAN

    Dear Awates
    Greetings ,
    Are we talking about what type or form of constitutional government
    for Eritrea ?
    Before one can say this or that form from the currently existing types
    of governments in our world ; it is worth to consider that it also depends
    on several important internal and external factors that directly or indirectly
    affect the National Society of the country besides some of the following :
    1. whether the initiative originates from within (inside) or outside powers.
    2. The vision, goals and objectives the government strives to achieve for
    the Nation or National society.
    3. The present social and political condition of the society or Nation.
    4. The internal make up and historical background of the society.
    And so on many more other factors.
    So there are General and specific factors that need to be take into account
    and adopted or modified or invented depending on the situation.
    For example :
    When Englishmen first came into the newly found land of America ; they
    took all the elements of the British system of government but wanted
    more liberal approach to the church and wanted to minimize its powers
    in the government and thus modified the British monarchic conservative
    system and formed a new type of government which they termed or called
    democratic system…..but they didn’t want to go as far Liberal as the French
    system that resulted from the French revolution and thus settled for a middle
    road in between. The presidential system is more liberal than the monarchic
    system ( British) and less liberal than the French (parliamentary) system.
    And presidential system is said to be the best or preferred choice to give the
    needed stability to a government or political system ( countering parliamentary
    political system) while giving more powers and freedom of action to the president
    and his executive cabinet ministries which is not available from the King or monarchy.
    So it all depends on the specific and general factors that affect the choice of the society.
    But, generally speaking;
    Almost all parliamentary political systems of the 20th century had great difficulty forming
    a stable government system.
    Example : Italy, Israel, India……and many more others had suffered a great deal stabilizing
    their governments and eventually adopting and changing their systems into presidential
    You can also look at how the US ; despite its size and diverse social groups had settled
    for presidential than parliamentarian type of government. It all tells the fact that how much
    it values stability of government or political system besides its choice Liberty and freedom.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Aman,

      Keep it up!

      ኣማን ነቶም ወንጫራት ሰብ ረቂቕ ፍልጠት ኢኻ ተዘክረኒ ሃ ሃ ሃ !n ጽሑፋትካ ህድእ ኢሉ ንዘንብቦ ፈላስፋዊ ባህርይ ተሓቢኡ የወናውነካ ምህላው እዩ ዘስተብህል :: ምናልባት ስሩዕ ብዝኾነ ኣገባብ እንተትሕዞ ዓቢ ፍየዳ ምሃለዎ — እዛ ሃገር እኮ ኣይንላዕሊ ኣይንታሕቲ ተንጠልጢላ ብዙሕ ኣእምሮታት ኣባኺና እያ : እስከ በል በትርዕ እሞ — ምውጋሑ መዓስ ክተርፍ ኮይኑ ! ክወግሕ እዩ ::

  • Peace!

    Dear Girmay,

    Spot on, thank you. ኣበይሞ ይሰምዑ ።


  • Dis Donc

    Dear Aman H, Berhe, & et al

    I did remember of starting some discussion about constitutional democracy, although I don’t remember when and where. I am in tandem with you about informing the people about the two type of democratics constitutions. Needless to say, however, that very few (including those who are living in these democracies) will understand it or even care to understand it so long as they get to choose and be represented. If you look at the political map of the western world you willl notice that all the old states are left to be parliament system with an exception of French and their République française (even they are in their le cinquième republique). Whereas all the rest of their colonies and territories, with the exception of Canada and former English colonies, they all are republic. Of the latter Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago are choosing to be republics. And all the former English colonies in Africa chose to be republics. Have you ever wondered why?

    Personally, I do favor the people to develope their own democracy as they see fit. That was why I think and believe that the best start for the country will be finding a truly representative system and political map. I appologize for the delay and I do appologize in advance if I am not available to participate in the discussion.

    • Berhe Y

      Dear Disc Don,

      I think those countries moving away from the British Monarch to republic seem a logical step, since they do not want to pay tax and governed by royal families, kings and queens their time has come to an end.

      In Canada, may be not as significant as others but there is a movement to do away from the British and become republic, specially in French Canada. But I think the relation ship between English Canada and the British was always good (no war, no history of violence), that the Canadian people see the queen of England as their queen and are willing to keep it that way. In other words the British never left Canada or were kicked out so in a sense they are still together.

      But as far as method of government goes, there is no difference say between Indian Federal government and that of Canada, with the exception of the symbolic role of the British Monarch, as head of government, and the Governor General as representative of the Queen.

      I am all for the people to find their ways and come up with a government of their choice. But this is easier said than done when we do not have the frame work to work with.

      What I really don’t know and I have never seen any person giving ample example explaining the advantage of the type of government the Eritrean constitution got to adopt. I don’t know, it seems very elementary to me that for any solution one proposes, that it needs to provide the pros / cons of the solution being proposed.

      The only reason I seem to hers when such questions asked is, the constitution can be changed, the president can be impeached. Those are quite extreme measures that one needs to take that to simply settle the days issue at the ballet box.

      The people who seem to say, lets implement the constitution and move on, are with good intention because they feel it’s better than what we currently have and since a lot of resources and efforts have put on it, let’s use it.

      I think that’s reasonable thing to suggest, I just could NOT really understand how are political parties with opposite view expected to vote and endorse a president that they oppose in principle.

      So may be you don’t understand what the base of my argument is, it’s not a choice between parliamentary democracy vs presidential. Although I think the parliamentary democracy will best fit our population make up, I think the presidential system will work as well, although it could turn out to be divisive. For example if a Christian and a Muslim run against, and if these leaders turn out to be nasty SOBs who would not hasitate to use all options to get to power, religion, region etc them things could get ugly.

      But the Eritrean system, I don’t know what it is. The closest example that I can think of is, of those one party communist systems.

      P.S. Sure not too many people pay attention to the politics in the west today because the system works and it has its checks and balances. But
      Most of all it has a judicial system which is above all that has the power and understanding to interpret the constitution.


  • AMAN

    Dear Awtaes
    Greetings first.
    So where did you put me now ?
    Eritrean ? Tigrian ? Ethiopian ? African ? White ? Jew ? Moslem ? Christian ?
    Let me know ASAP
    Because I am still waiting for you !
    Life is short and I do not want to waste my time waiting & waiting all the time !
    And I can’t wait more or any longer ! I want to do some work for my group or
    community so that it can advance ahead and lead the way for the rest/others
    in a healthy positive competition for execellence and leadership.
    Thank you in advance

    • A.Osman

      Dear Aman,

      You are on your usual monologue. Dis Donc at one point was engaging you, he seems to have dropped out. Your posts look as though they are written for another group and shared here as well, so we read only one sided coversation. You need to interact, unless I am missing something.


      • Amde

        Selam AOsman,

        I have long since concluded AMAN’s posts are a performance art… they transcend forums and message boards.

        I mean.. just look at this post. What does Bob Marley have on AMAN’s version of “I don’t want to wait in vain..” ?


        • Kokhob Selam

          Dear Amde,
          you are right.. the unknown artist of our era- if he only organize and work on that!

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear Girmay,

    I am wondering who is expecting from whom ! we are still looking to blame someone again and again – someone who is not described properly — for those who search cases over cases not to stand for truth.

    1.” First, love those you claim you are fighting for.”

    I will agree with you if there are two parties here, the one you are defending is the victim who should fight. opposition is just part of the mass( it doesn’t matter if it useless or not still it remains part of the people)- again it doesn’t mater if it is not functioning well but just for standing for justice every single man who oppose the rules group over there is respecting the people. aren’t thousands highly educated people who don’t care about people and never even say a single word?

    2. “At least do those basic things so that the people join you in fighting for the freedom you are telling them they are lucking.”

    again who are the people and aren’t the same who are trying to do something? why are we searching someone from other planet. the problem is the problem of people and we people should not search someone to join we should organize ourselves.

    3″Second, respect their identity, history and culture. Respect their achieviements and the things they cherish.” this one is even strange! who respects our history more than the one who is challenging PFDJ and the other part of the coin who preach day and night our struggle was not worth ? tell me who!

    4.”Otherwise by continously confusing them, revising their history, belittling the things they cherish, and hurting their sense of national pride and identity you can never ever win their hearts.” the same clam and again and again.

    we keep blaming someone by any means when we are suppose to be we ourselves the workers- the change makers.

    Ideas should be discussed, debated what is wrong with that? after all what history are we talking about if we don’t give it meaning.. what is national day if the nation is under PFDJ. that is what you should call “hatewketew”.. national day will have meaning when you are really in the nation my friend. Eritrea is not free still it is in the middle of the road . mountains are there, the see is there, the situation is not much different and unless we take responsibility and stop complaining Eritrea will go to the worst ..

  • Lamek

    Ehita Girmay. Dehan do. Kemey ke.

    I say BINGO to this statement below:

    “Third, give them sense of security by showing them your readiness to defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and their dignity.”

    Most Eritreans are not supporting the opposition because they are afraid they will abandon them if the going gets tough.

    To me the main question is not who can defend Eritrea’s borders and territorial integrity. The question is, is it defensible? PFDJ did not defend it. They failed utterly. Ethiopia is occupying huge chunks and all PFDJ can do is to cry out to the world for help and sign everything that anyone brings after they lost the war shamefully. Ethiopia needs to sign the EBCC ruling, they say this everyday. Who is begging now?

    The way to defend Eritrea’s borders is not by a strong and well trained army. We have seen the results of that.

    The only way to defend the country is to make peace with all its neighbors and respect everyone around. But PFDJ has done a good job of convincing Eritreans, even the highly educated ones, that PFDJ can protect the much highly thought of so called independence.

  • Joe

    Hello all and happy the comming independence day! Let at say someone won the lottery. which day is more significance for him? Is it the day he won the lottery or the day he received his prize? I would say the day he won and change his life is the best unforgetable moments for him. so for Eritrean there is no doubt MAY24 1991.there best day ever.

  • Amde

    Selam Semere,

    A cat needs a mouse to torture and toy with before making a meal out of it. But no cat will (knowingly) torture and toy with so many mice that it will have nothing for tomorrow. Ah, but the thrill it gets from the torture….


  • Haile WM

    Dear writer,

    your article is a good read and I enjoyed it. But there is a simple question to be addressed here before any thing can be analysed.
    What was the referendum question? very few Eritreans at the time, given the euphoria, could really read it properly and ponder about it. The referendum was actually a show and not an actual self determination tool for the people. It was clear from the beginning that Eritreans would have voted for yes.
    But who was the beneficiary of the show? for sure not the people! it was for the benefit of the UN US and the international community at large, the 1993 legal and official date of independence has no real significance in Eritrea. We are celebrating the 25th year of independence based on 1991.

    The referendum was not an actual expression of self determination for the people, hence the 27 of April has no significance nor remembrance to any eritrean. Self determination was not the intended result of the referendum and the events that followed were the true indicators of how things would have being, the flag, the anthem, the national assembly etc… the Hafash was a mere spectator. Nothing would have being determined by the people, for each and all of the basics of a nation formation process, people, the “gebars”, were only at the receiving end and not playing an active role.Lets take the flag for example: one of the most ironic decisions. Eritrean flag should have being determined by the constitution, but, in a reverse-engineering type of configuration, the constitution actually adhered to what was decided some years before, who was deciding about the flag?
    The national service is another of such example. It should have being decided by the national assembly and a legal framework of it’s duration and configurations, instead, it was decided by a provisional government with out any formal consent from the people. Thus serving as mere tool of control and suffocation of citizens basic rights. All the abuse and misuse in NS basically originates from it.

    To make my point even clearer, let me ask you a simple hypothetical question:
    What would have happened if the eritrean peoples voted for NO in the referendum? Do you think the front and the leadership would have settled peacefully?

    • Dear Haile,

      Thanks. You make a very good point about about whether at the end of the day the Hafash’s voice mattered or not. I agree with you. However, since for better or worse, Eritrea’s legitimacy as a nation-state is a result of the referendum, in the fight against against the dictator, we owe it to ourselves and the truth to reclaim the significance of April 27. Especially, as it gets ready to rewrite history in a fanfare of propaganda.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Selam Daniel

    Days and Dates

    Warrior has put it in a rather vivid way saying “Even Jesus’ birthday is a controversy among biblical scholars as they argue viciously that his true birthday is not on December 25.” Luckily, we know exactly what day the war ended. It was May 24, 1991. Therefore, for all practical purposes, Eritrea was on its own from that day on. You have acted as a good lawyer hairsplitting and raising doubts in the minds of like-minded readers. The issue of assigning a date of independence is a matter of technicality, future generations may change it to April 27, 19993, or May 24, 1993, but the essence will remain the same. Your article would have been a good read in free Eritrea and I would be interested to see how free citizens discussed it. I have no problem with resetting dates. Personally, I would prefer May 24, 1993, because that’s when it was officially announced, and for some years, even PFDJ has been showing both dates (the dates of de-facto and de-jure as T.T. explained it, which I agree with).
    Dates carry significance, and their significance originates from the consensus they enjoy from the interested constituency. In this case, Eritreans believe the war of independence was waged to establish a conducive environment where citizens can have a say on how they will proceed with their collective affairs (the right of self-determination). At the core of the Eritrean struggle had always been a quintessential kernel; it was the right of self-determination. If, in 1961, Eritreans had been left alone to chart their fate according to the federal arrangement, they would not have acted up to endure the years of misery; if they were given that right in 1971, perhaps the war would have ended then; if they were given that right when the EPLF challenged Derg with its referendum proposal, in 1981, and the derg was obligated to keep its promise regarding the result of such an act, the war would have ended then. Therefore, May 24 signifies and end to a war that had been waged to open the possibility for Eritreans to exercise their right to decide on their political fate, and the beginning of that opportunity, an opportunity for which they had been bleeding. The fact that there still exist individuals who dispute September 1, as the start of our armed struggle, does not make it a shaky date; there has already been a consensus and emotional attachments built around that date. The point is: nations choose dates, as benchmarks of a journey they map out, dates that signify their aspirations. May 24, carries that symbolism. The rest is academic sactism, to borrow from the FB

    I did not feel good about the way you wrapped up the journey to Asmara, practically downplaying the process that had led to it. When Nadew Command was decimated Mengistu asked “What’s Afabet?” skipping his loss of divisions, he wanted to direct the attention of his audience to a small village no body heard before. Now, you said “It was historic alright. After 30 years of a protracted war, and several months of intense fighting to capture major Ethiopian army strongholds in the towns of Afabet, Barentu, Massawa, Decamhare, led to the liberation of the capital, Asmara, on May 24, 1991.” The worst and longest battles took place in the years between 1988 when and 1991. Nakfa front was transposed to the South around the vicinity of Keren, there was the battle to capture Keren which ended badly, after that the front stretched from HalHal all the way to the Red Sea linking HalHal-MesHalit-Rora MensaE-Golagul (or the plains of Samhar); a two year grinding battles took place, successive overrunning of garrisons across the highlands continued; the largest tank-tank battle took place east of Afabet where the Derg tried to penetrate (the first of its kind in EPLF mechanized units); left flank of the front guarding Asmara Massawa line was overrun (that was a prelude of the total offensive of Fenkil); kifleserawit 70 (70 infantry division) and support regiments drove hundreds of kilometers and attacked Derg in Assossa; EPRDF/EPLF joint operations were taking place inside Ethiopia; Ethiopian special airborne division was totally annihilated with its commander (General or colonel-not sure) killed when the Derg assigned it to mission impossible which was to infiltrate the Easter flank of the “Semhar front” and attack the nerve-center (EPLF command HQ) of the front IN Afabet from the rear.

    -Follows Fenkil Operation, a two year bloody attrition in the GindaE front, a Southern front which liberated the towns of Zalambassa, Senafe, Adi-QeyeH, Degsa, Segeneyti, all the way to the outskirts of Decamere where another atrocious front was established, which lasted a year + until the final push.

    The final Push: reading your article, it gives the reader as if May 24 was a preordained (fixed) date. But that’s not correct. When the last battle began on Sunday May 19, 1991 at 1000, the mission was to place Asmara airport within an artillery range. No one knew that Asmara would be captured on May 24, 1991. I would argue that even our top commanders were pleasantly surprised. No body expected Mengustu would flee. The battle had practically been decided with the fall of the city of Decamere which corresponded with the flight of Mengistu. Therefore, May 24, signifies a date that generations had bled and sweat for. The rest of political and legal measures would have been to give that date a sound legal base. Referendum would have meant to legitimize that date and then essence it carried.

    On Petros: You stated “Never mind the fact that the commander of the EPLF military unit that actually liberated Asmara was none other than, Petros Solomon, veteran fighter and Eritrea’s first Defense Minister.”
    Firstly, you would have one man leading such a major war/offensive. That was not the way EPLF conducted war. It would have been several top commanders working on their specific sectors but also coordinating the offensive. Since this issue is sensitive, I have talked with several people, just to make sure I’m saying the right stuff, and here is how that final offensive was led.
    The Commander-in-chief of the EPLF was IA. (It is not my habit to kill history in order to kill a person).
    The Chief of staff the EPLF was wedi Efrem
    Then there was Mesfen Hagos
    Then on the Decamere Front, which was the main and only thrust of the offensive:
    Philipos, Omar Tewil, Hanjema, Wedi Libsu were among the prominent (I might have forgotten few). Remember there were other top commanders of the same status but they were posted in other fronts.
    Petros for sure contributed and maight have been contributing in other ways but not on field Commander capacity during this time. Petros and Alisaid are known for their Nakfa days (late 1970s to mid eighties). After mid eighties, their visibility was diminishing in field commanding capacities. The flank that pushed all the way to Assab was commanded By wuchu and Biteweded. It fought, for about a year and under unforgiving climate and terrain, its way to Assab.
    This is just to make the point that we need to be careful for treating dates, events and personalities. We need to treat history kindly; it has already been botched by PFDJ.
    Abraham H: You asked about referendum: As I said the idea of referendum was always alive. It was mentioned and communicated to the Ethiopian authorities at different times by the Eritrean organizations. It was put forward by the EPLF as a concrete and comprehensive proposal in 1981. Referendum is just a means. The main issue is the materialization of the opportunity to express your right to determine your fate. It could be organized in a form of a referendum or different format. And the question of the right of self-determination had always been at the heart of the Eritrean struggle. I remember it was discussed on this forum when someone disputed that the Eritrean revolution did not emphasize that fact; I remember linking the actual press release.

    PS: Daniel, I read your articles and find them to be thought provoking. I understand this is meant to have us think deeply about the meaning of the dat. I agree with your concluding remark that “… Eritrea awaits another important milestone in its history: The removal of the dictatorial regime and the ushering of a new era. An era where independence and sovereignty will be synonymous with freedom and liberty, and all her citizens will be thrilled to be jubilant.”
    For that to happen though, I would remind brilliant minds to focus on what’s most challenging issues. Battling on dates would not be one of them. Last year, there was a debate on whether to celebrate May 24 or not. Such is the condition of Diaspora. The other day I attended a “justice seekers meeting, 4 hours were wasted on trivial issues of technicalities. I was exhausted. Focus is needed.

  • AMAN

    Dear Awates
    Greetings ,
    I had this over confidence and pride that I will never ever
    fall prey to media to cloud my conscience ; and was always
    under estimating its ability to influence me or my judgement.
    But ,
    It can be so power full to control it and its influence keep at times.
    It is not an easy adventure for me any more in life. I wanted to see
    and weight its power of influence on the mind and its effects on the
    conscience or thinking pattern of the mind….lol I tell you it is not
    easy thing.
    Life means freedom and freedom means adventure !
    So I had my freedom to the fullest…and I regret nothing !
    Because I lived life free.
    Thank you Awates !

  • Kokhob Selam

    ክቡራት እንዳ ዓዋተ

    ከም ልሙድ እታ ብርቂ ዕለት ኢልካ እትውስና – እትኸብር ዕለት ምስቲ ተረኽቦ ኣዛሚድካ ኢኻ ትመረጻ :: ግዳ ኸኣ እታ ዕለት ከም ሓንቲ መለኾታዊት ዕለት ንምርኣይ ዘይኮነስ ነቲ ዕላማኻ ከትዕውት ናይ ዝገበርካዮ ርብርብ መዘከርታን ብኡ ኣቢልካ ድማ ኣብ ምዕቃብን ምቅጻልን ናይ ዘመዝገብካዮ ዓወታት ኣብ ልቢ ኩሉ ንምድልዳልን ዝዓለመ እዩ :: እቲ ምርጫ ዕለት እምብዛ ኣካታዒ ኣይምኾነን – እቲ ዘካትዕ ነቲ ዓወት ንጥቅሚ ህዝቢ ኣዊዒልካዮ ዶ ? ናብ ‘ቲ ኣገዳሲ ዝኾነ ካልኣይ ስራሕ ኣሰጋጊርካዮ ዶ ? ዝብሉ ሕቶታት እዮም :: እዚ ኣብ ሃገርና ዘይተዓወተ ውዙፍ ስራሕ ክሳብ ዘይተዛዘመ ድማ እዛ እንዛረበላ ዘለና ዕለት ብዙሕ ትርጉም ኣይክትህብን እያ :: ስለ’ዚ ድማ መዓልቲ ሓርነት ብመስዋእቲ ክንፈጥራ ኣለና :: መዓልቲ ስውኣት – መዓልቲ ደቂ ኣንስትዮ – መዓልቲ ምጅማር ሰውራ ወዘተ ገና ድማ መዓልቲ እሱራት እናበልካ ዝቅጽሉ መዓልታት ኩሎም ብተግባር ኣብ ምሕዳስ ቃልስና ዓቢ ግደ ክህልዎም ምተገበአ ::

    ሕጂ – ሕጂስ እኳ ኣብ ደምበ ተቃውሞ ትርጉም እናሃቡ ይኸዱ ኣለው:: – እታ ዝለዓለ ስራሕ እትሓትት ዕለት ግን መዓልቲ ሓርነት እያ :: መዓልቲ ሓርነት ካብ ሕጂ ክንስይማ ኣይንኽእልን ኢና – እቲ ምንታይ ሲ ድሕሪ ምቡርቛቕ ጸረ ሰብኣዊ መሰል ዝኾነ ገባትን ዘይሰላማውን ስርዓት ስለ እትውሰን ;:

    ግን ሲ ሓንቲ ንመእሰያትና እተበጋግስ ዕለት- ኩሉ ተቃውምኡ ዘስምዓላ ዕለት እንተተህሉ ጽቡቕ ነይሩ — ከም ጎደና ሓርነት ኢልና ቦታ እንጠቅሶ ማለት እንድኣሉ ::

  • T..T.

    Hi all,

    The first fact is that although Eritrea became a de-facto independent country on May 24, 1991, but it was still a de-jure part of Ethiopian until the Eritrean people decided vide referendum whether to become a sovereign independent state.

    We, thus, know that de-jure reality (April 27, 1993) had factual reality because Eritrea as a state got recognized by law. Whereas, the de-facto reality (May 24, 1991) had lacked legal recognition because the reality of the de-facto independence depended on the party the independence was claimed from (the Ethiopian government). In order to first get a mutual recognition of the de-facto reality (May 24, 1991), the two involved sides (the TPLF and the EPLF (but not certainly Isayas)) agreed to be bound by the outcome of the referendum. The Ethiopian govt. knew that once the people spoke out, the outcome will be recognized and protected by the UN.

    So, why didn’t Isayas choose to reinforce the de-facto independence by the outcome of the referendum, making it legally binding as a matter of law and not as a matter of the fact on the ground by driving the occupation forces out of Asmara?

    Now, let’s see as to why Isayas chose the de-facto reality. When the G-15 asked him to step down, Isayas told them that he had not contract with them or the people. Well, then, Isayas was/is on a de-facto leadership position that, according to him, has no expiration date that is stipulated in the promise he made on May 24, 1991. Therefore, Isayas can only depart by death or by force.

    As a de-facto leader he has no legal recognition locally or nationally or internationally. Because it is so, he is only in power by spoiling or corrupting those around him.

    Now, therefore, if the Awate-com family can establish that there was no a predetermined date for creating an independent state of Eritrea in the referendum, it may take upon itself the task of declaring the independence date as April 27, 1993, on which date the Eritrean people decided vide referendum their country, Eritrea, to become an independent sovereign state.

  • The Warrior

    Dear Daniel,
    I wasted a few minutes reading your well scripted scribe on whether Eritrean independence should be on May 24th, 25th and what not. Even Jesus’ birthday is a controversy among biblical scholars as they argue viciously that his true birthday is not on December 25. For the true believers it does not matter what day JC was born as long as they believe Jesus was born to save them from their sins. Case closed. So let us accept Eritrea got it independence on May 24 +/ take any days of your imagination and concentrate on how to remove the rascal Isaias and his pathetic and cruel mis-rule of Eritrea. A lot of people here write beautifully written essays completely devoid of the situation on the Eritrean ground as most of the arguments and well crafted essays do not improve the sorry state of Eritrean political situation based on the evidence since the advent of the Internet and the social media. In almost twenty short years history of Eritrea, thousands and thousands of essays were written, conference and meetings were held and most of these get together conclude with “Bawet tezazimu” and nothing more of value is added to the oppressed situation of Eritrean citizens back home . A lot of the opposition forces keep repeating the same wrong strategies and some how they think if they keep doing the same things somehow it will bring desirable results. I think it was Albert Einstein who is widely credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same over and over again, but expecting different results”. Besides how many people have access to the Internet, can read well argued polemics written in English of dubious value and Isaias probably think the opposition are virtual tigers and could care less. Let me confess: whenever I get bored I peak on Awate’s pages and I never miss Saleh Gadi Johar’s outstanding story telling about Keren and the like, Saleh Younis’ writing full of trivia on music, politics, history and the guy is a walking encyclopedia and a good writer to boot. Other than that .. it is like smoking a cigarette which you know is not good for your health..but you keep doing it even though you know otherwise. Apology in advance for the dedicated contributors of Awate if I stepped on your toes..

  • tes

    Dear Daniel G. Michael,

    Thank you for this coverage. But I have another argument:

    Whether Eritrea became an independent nation from foreign occupiers or not is less important than asking, “Do Eritreterans got their FREEDOM” after such long struggle? For me, freedom is more important than independence. Though I don’t ask what May 24/April 27, call it what ever you want, I will ask where is our freedom?

    I hope you will enlighten me on this quest of my forefathers and then my generation?


    • Nitricc

      Tes, you ask where is your freedom? well, let me ask you; what is freedom for you? it is interesting to observe a bunch of gold diggers asking about golden inquiries. I hate to remind you but every generation have its own challenges and prices of scarifies; the generation you are attacking 24/7 from your place hiding accomplished its objective with great sense of pride. is not up to your lazy and toxic self duty to accomplished what is left off? they fought and they brought you independence and isn’t up to you and your lazy generation to bering what isn’t achieved, the freedom? i am astonished by people like you Tes! how greedy and irresponsible can you be. if you are unhappy and you think there is something missing, then, get your lazy butt and go fight. One generation at a time, for one national objective at hand and the previous generation has done what they set out to do. if there is anything more to be done, get the hell out of your hiding and do your thing. aren’t you tried and ashamed of bitching day in day out behind the computer in forums?

      • tes

        Selam Nitricc,

        If my generation and I were not responsible, the way PFDJ is treating us, we could have gone into bloody civil war, most probably like that of Rwanda, or at least like that of Somalia and now Libya. So far, we are feeling our responsibility. Take this as my lasting note on the way you narrate our current issue.

        You dammit.


      • Semere Andom

        It is not only you are one celled, but your one cell is sterile, it cannot divide. Now, are you advocating for armed change, but mark my word, if it is not Tes, some one will do it, Because your thinking cannot afford you think, only allowing you to repeat what Sibhat Efrem said in 2002, that is one generation can do only do one thing then I have news for you: Since you hate Dedebit and Tigray so much, let me the man you are mimicking, Sibhat Efrem is married to the sister of Sibhat Nega, and the same woman is the secretary of the president of Eritrea IA. Can this fit in your brain, if it can burn it before it evaporates. So the generation you are worshiping did not even accomplish one thing

        • Lamek

          Selamat Semere. Ouch! That was a heck of a punch, Mike Tyson style. That one brain cell is now flying up to Mars. I hope it never comes back.

          The identity issue in PFDJ land is real. The staunchest PFDJ supporters are half Eritrean and half Tigrayan by birth. Let me say this first. I love Tigrayans very much. I have no issue. I would be very proud to be one. The point I am trying to make is how so low these PFDJ supporters are to think that being super hagerawi will help them hide their Tigrayan heritage? Worse yet, they make other Eritreans feel less Eritrean and less proud than them. It is reverse psychology indeed (sorry for the cliche phrase).

          The other useless set of supporters of PFDJ are the amiches’. This group will sell anyone out. They are never to be trusted with anything. The could not careless for Eritrea or Eritreans. Their main drive is their hate for weyane, for obvious reasons. This group has to be dealt a fatal blow sooner or later. I am only speaking of the ones supporting PFDJ not on merits but driven by hate of weyane.

          • Semere Andom

            Well if you from Tigray specially these days, you will have almost zero chance of drawing in the sea and your government calling you African, if you were from Tigray, you will have more chance to go to MIT (Mekele Inst. of Tech), if you were a Tigrayan you would be demonstrating in the west against EPRDF and can visit your country and return safely, if you were a Tigrayan, you would be in the armed struggle against your government and then when you call it quits you will be welcomed home as a hero like Molla and his men recently did. If you were a Tigrayan, you would be in prisoned by your government (their G-15) like Siye and would be released and write books and attend university to tell your tale, you would not disppear for ever left to die like it is rumored with Aster F and Sherifo and Berhane and Germano….
            But the PFDj supporters like Nitricc and Gheteb and the Ted and dawit think Eritrea is free while the Ethiopians have access to their information systems (Asmelash), finance (Hagos Kisha)and their state secrete , Sibhat’s Wife, the sister of the other Sibhat. But they are quick to point out that they were born in Eritrea so they are Eritreans, but which laws says that, we have laws that says that or we do not. If you were born in the USA you are USA citizen, even if your parents are not, if you are born in Norway you are not automatically Norwegian until your parents become one.

      • Ted

        Hi Nitricc, you know who run his tail behind his legs to be a water boy when his age boys was combating hand to hand with the enemy, and the other opportunist nuts run away to France in the middle of rearranging cafeteria tables leaving his compatriots behind. These two are our freedom fighters, what a pity.

        • Semere Andom

          Hi Ted: Hinkil Hinkletey
          who was the boy who grew up as Ethiopian and insulting Eritrean as wenbde and voted no for independence and then he was told he was not Ethiopian and then developed identity crisis in the process.
          And now he partners with one celled boy who visits Eritrea for summer intoxication to take repose from ghetos and failures

  • Abraham H.

    Hi All,
    I have another important date for you. Eritrea was officially admitted to the UN on May 28 1993 along with Monaco. You see more special days to deal with!

  • Abraham H.

    Selam All,
    Is there anybody who knows why there have never been conducted censuses on the demographic makeup of Eritrea in 25 years after its independence? Statistics such as population size, proportions of the various ethnic groups, religious groups, etc?

    • Saleh Johar

      We got you covered, partially 🙂

      They have done several censuses, several foreign entities had also done the same–the regime doesn’t release such information. We got hold of one such census a few years ago and here it is:

      On the link above, click “See The 1997 Population Database Here”

      Once in, check the tabs at the very bottom of the screen for more pages of the zones

      • Abraham H.

        Selam SGJ,
        Thanks for the data; so they are conducting such censuses just not releasing them for the Eritrean people to see. From the data in 1997, the population of Eritrea was 2,634,985, which is way below what was often quoted as 3,5M without taking into consideration the diaspora population. It is mind boggling even international agencies such as the World Bank operate by estimates of population data and not by updated statistical information.

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Selam Abraham,

          Imagine if the population of Eritrea was 2.6 million in 1997, what will be the current population with the continous exodus for almost decades? The push factor to the Eritrean exodus become the existential threat to the state of Eritrea and the statehood of our nation.

          While the reality remains as such, the Eritrean in the diaspora have abdicated their responsibilities and left the issue of our problem to our people inside. Remember the slogan ” change comes from inside only “. Do you think this slogan is realistic whik

          • Abraham H.

            Selam Amanuel H.,
            It seems the Isayas group is following a deliberate policy of depopulation of Eritrea. Something like, If you cannot create development and opportunities for the your people, then drive them out. I don’t know who said “change comes from inside ONLY”, but it is obvious that the main driving force of any change will be from within the country. The diasporas could play also a vital part, but what we are observing is not encouraging. Those who are leaving the country in droves are not joining those working for a better change in proportional numbers. We have certainly a lot to do in terms of informing, inspiring, and emboldening the people both inside and outside Eritrea, to borrow from the Awate site’s mission.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Merhaba Abraham,

            You have said : “it is obvious that the main driving force of any change will be from within the country.” Basically, it is a conceptual principles if the inside reality is conducive. But there are four factors that nullify to this basic principles inside Eritrea (a) The ruling regime and its security apparatus is extremely brute for public to raise their voices publicly. The recent barbaric act against the conscripts, in the day light, at the center of our city is a good example, regarding to the stiffness of the regime and the degree of suffocation of our people (b) As you understood vividly, the policy of the regime is to “depopulate” Eritrea from it’s youth. Three thousand per month of our young are leaving the country for over a decade now. Keep in mind, those who are leaving the country are supposedly the driving force for change. If this exodus continue unabated, “change must come from inside” will be “a hollow principle” and will only be an excuse for abdication for Eritreans in the diaspora (c) The high military rank (colonels and generals) are the beneficiary of the system and those who expect coups will remain a dream in a pipeline with no justification (d) The single option the diaspora Eritrean are left with is to wait the despot his natural death process. if his death comes soon, there is no clear path in the horizon even, taking into account the reality of the Eritrean people in general.

            My opinion right now is, let us drop this unrealistic hope “change will come from inside” and reverse the role of responsibilities and act accordingly to emancipate our people.

            Senay Mishet
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • Abraham H.

            Selam AH,
            I just can’t grasp how someone who is not present spacially and temporally in a given area be responsible for a change in that area. I really can’t imagine those Eritreans in the diaspora would return back to the country to bring the change; but this doesn’t mean they do not have an important role to play for agitating and supporting the drive for change by those inside the country.
            Selam Leyti

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Dear Abraham,

            On the flip side also, I can not imagine when young Eritreans are leaving in droves, in all direction, even taking horrible risks to free themselves, and say the driving force for change is from inside. I understand the delimma we are in, we should br realstic on what we can do. The driving forces are leaving the country. So we have to moblize them organize them to regain their dignity in their own country. I would like to remind you also during our armed struggle a sizeable number of Eritreans who were abroad for further education joined and contributed in the first phase of our struggle to get our independence. Besides, ELF and ELM launched their struggle from outside to simply justified my argument based on the current reality. I am not that naive to a country like North Korea to demand our people to fight while they are freeing themselves from the custody of tyranny.

          • Haile WM

            selam Amnuel Hidrat,

            the dilemma is that change can’t either come from a fragmented oppositions who are busy fighting each other ignoring the reality on the ground of the people.
            Oppositions can’t even agree on the role that Ethiopia or woyane or the degree to which ethiopia should be involved or if the woyane are our enemies.
            Change can come only from inside unless a united opposition decides to reach out the inside people and drop the hashewiye that they are involved in.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Haile WM,

            The young generation should take the stock of our nation with full responsibilities to lead the current struggle, the same as my generation did to liberate Eritrea and reverse the forced annexation. In short they must stop submission to a tyrannical regime and reflex back being organized and mobilized. They have to meet the challenge and make history like the generation before them.

            Amanuel Hidrat

          • Haile WM

            Selamat Emma,

            pragmatically speaking, how is the opposition going to drive a change when it can’t even agree on what is opposing in first place? it has being 15 years but tangible progress haven’t being registered from the dozens or so exiled political and civic organizations. All of them are demanding a change but none of them have a tangible process for change nor cohesion. The generic “young generation” that you refer do not have a clear understanding of the dozens of opposition orgs.

            Your generation had a clear reference on the ground. It was the ELF who, despite it’s shortcomings, was a reference for all the eritreans who wished to struggle for independence and for change.
            If we look at the current generation who do they have to refer to ?
            basically the youth leaving the country are focused merely on surviving and giving relieve to their families. Once they settle and have a clear understanding of their surrounding they either became part of the silent diaspora majority or cling to PFDJ centres. very few join one of the many oppositions groups. Can you tell me why ? we need a credible and cohesive opposition. One that serves as a tool of catalyser of the struggle for a change. without that, only a pressure bomb from the inside can solve the riddle. Instances of the mounting pressure and the subsequent bomb are already surfacing.
            Hence the thesis “change in the current state of things can only come from inside”. only the opposition can refute this thesis.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Merhaba Haile WM,

            Let me clear my position. I am not against change that comes from inside. Infact as a conceptual principle I do agree on that premises. But there must be conducive objective reality. In the current situation of Eritrea the objective reality is matured the subjective matter is difficult to surface from it to bring the needed change.

            For a moment forget the political organization that exist the last two decades. The reference to our youth is the young generation of the 60s 70s who lead the armed struggle. They do not need references from the current political organizations who are mostly from the old generation. Our young generation must set their own objectives and drive them home to galvanize the inside social forces. There is no other alternatives so to speak from inside. Please tell tangible forces of change from inside that I could not see it so far. Without giving full picture of it is simply a slogan that takes us no where.

            Senay MeAlti
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • Amde

            Selam Abraham H.

            Don’t you think “…the Isayas group is following a deliberate policy of depopulation of Eritrea…” is quite a charge? A deliberate policy of depopulation would look very different than what we see here. There would be no need for shoot-to-kill orders for crossing the border, visas will be easy to get, villagers will be pushed out and their villages razed etc etc..

            I would agree that at the end of the day the sum total of the effects of the EPLFDJ policies has been to depopulate the country of its youth for sure. It just seems to me that “the Isayas group” are just a group who feel entitled to do whatever they want, and at the heart of this “whatever they want to do” is the deliberate pursuit of political monopoly at home, and the region. That is the long and short of it. It is their “hobby”. It just so happens the Eritrean population and economy is too small to sustain the ambitions of this “hobby”, and thus one sees a steady drawing down of the demographic and economic capital of the nation for this “hobby” (or meddeberiya as we would say in Amharic).


          • Dear Amde,

            If indeed the absence of freedom had been the only reason that triggered the struggle, and independence the the only target, today Eritreans should have been the happiest people and Eritrea the happiest place to live. Some in TPLF supported Eritrean independence to the point of saying that they would fight on the side of Eritrea, if somebody ever question this independence; which means that Eritrean independence was more or less guaranteed, and it needed no defending. Nevertheless, it seems that independence was not the ultimate goal, but a step towards regional hegemony. That was why the new nation of Eritrea was belligerent towards all nations around it soon after independence, instead of constructing the new home.

            As he saw his end, Hitler was so angry with the people of Germany that it is said that he had accused the people for not being worthy of his great plan to make the German nation a superior people. When dictators fail in their personal ambitions, they turn against the people and blame them and even target them, because as instruments of their ambitions, dictators believe that it is the people who failed them, and they did not fail the people. That is why DIA, the PFDJ and their supporters see the escapees as economic migrants, traitors, and cowards and not worthy to be called Eritreans.

            The regime sees depopulation as a safety valve. This deflates gradually the accumulating pressure within the Eritrean society, and the regime wants it to continue provided its power is guaranteed, and there is enough military strength to keep the people under control and may be, defend it from an external force until the international community intervenes. Therefore, as much as the regime is concerned everything is under control and it has nothing to worry about.

            Of course, belligerency is dead and gone, the working force are incapacitated and made to flee the country, the little national resource is being robbed, the regime is at odds with all and it is not ready to work with its immediate neighbors, and unfortunately, Eritrea’s nemesis DIA, the PFDJ and their supporters are still at large. It seems that the light at the end of the tunnel is still far away.

            Dear Amde, have you ever asked yourself, who really wants change in Eritrea and who really does not, who is afraid of change and who is not, and who is ready to bring down the bar of expectations to its logical height and who is against any compromise? These are questions for which it is very difficult to find answers, twenty five years after Eritrean independence, and even under this predicament the Eritrean people face.

          • Amde

            Selam Horizon,

            Your comment about Hitler reminds me of the saying attributed to Mengistu Hailemariam, wherein he said “ye ityopya hizb werq biyaneTifulet, ye ahya fandya new yilal”.

            PFDJ has learned to profit from the unintended effect of depopulation, so for a variety of reasons – one of them being political safety valve – it is complicit in the depopulation saga.


          • Abraham H.

            Selam Horizon,
            A very good comment, except that in your first sentence you imply Eritreans have freedom today. Far from that, freedom is still an elusive phenomenon in Eritrea, and hence Eritreans are one of the most unhappy people to today, therefore continues the struggle for freedom.

          • Abraham H.

            Selam Amde,
            I agree with your modification of my take, as well as the issue of shoot to kill policy with Semere Andom; that policy is just a continution of terrorising the population. And there are actually situations when people are hindered to return back to their ancestral lands in Western lowlands, as well as people being driven out of their villages in Southeren Red Sea region, for example. There are also these continuous destructions of people’s homes in all parts of the country. A few years ago when the dictator was asked about the exodus of Eritreans, he first tried to shrug it off, while at the same time dismissing those leaving as a “burden” to the society, hence it would be better if they left.
            The recent arrivals from Eritrea tell us that people could leave the country, without any problem, even they are encouraged to do so, as long as they are willing and capable of paying a huge sum of money to the corrupt PFDJ officials.

        • Saleh Johar

          Hi Abraham,
          Don’t ever think they do not use it, they do. They use it for monitoring and controlling the population, and they have an advantage because they monopolize information. They could do anything for any ulterior motive and no one will now what is happening. They have very extensive data about everything. Remember the martyrs’ database? It had very detailed information not only on the martyr but up to his maternal and paternal grandparents. It gives you an idea of the quality and quantity of data they collect on every citizen, every region, every village, neighborhood, town, etc.

          • Abraham H.

            Selam SGJ,
            I think you’ve misread one word in my message, I said “not releasing” the data for the people to see. Otherwise, I agree with your take that they are using these statistics for all intents they are worth, including malicious intents. And, yes, I can’t remember how many times I went through those intrusive “ornic” rounds while I was inside the country.

      • Harestay

        Dear Saleh,

        It is survey that they had conducted and not census. The most recent one is the 2010 Eritrean Population and Health Survey. It was funded by the Norwegians and UN agencies in Eritrea and completed in 2010. But it took the office of the President 4 years and the survey was published in 2014 . God knows what they do with that four year. I have the pdf copy of it to share if you are interested. Let me know how.
        The document claims the resident population count of Eritrea to be 3.2 million

        • Saleh Johar

          Hello Harestay,
          Of course any valuable information is welcome. Please share.

          On the survey and census: you are right, several NGOs has carried out surveys, but the regime has conducted at least two census that I now of. But since it is not announced, not many know what was going on. But I believe they have exact census information that they do not release.

  • Hope

    Selam All;
    A Good reading Daniel but it is not of ESSENCE to dispute about dates .
    One way or another, Eritrea became Independent and the criteria for the specific date is but nonessential, irrespective of the Conspiracies and PIA’s motive..
    AOsman clearly told you that this is the same PR Gimmick about the ELF not accepting the Eritrean Flag and the Eri ID.
    What a CORRUPT Politics!
    For God’s sake,do we have any thing constructive to debate about/on?
    The main Topics should be:
    Why have we failed Eritrea and Eritreans?
    What have we missed?
    What went wrong and why?
    What can we do to reclaim what belongs to us?
    How can we reclaim the lost opportunity?
    What can we learn from the past so as to make our present and future better?
    Your argument about the handling of the Referendum, its meaning and implication, its rationale,etc…is but DEVOID of basic reasoning as it was handled perfectly.
    You seem, albeit deliberately, naïve about the role of the CIA and the Mossad through the likes of Muzinghus Hank Cohen….
    Do you remember what the CIA/the USA clearly told PIA/Gen Sec IA after the Military Victory?
    Yes, indeed, we are fully aware of/about the bold and heroic decision by Gen Mesfin Hagos and Petros Solomon to push into Asmera despite Cohen’s objection and they deserve beyond Five Star Decoration.
    We can talk about those sticky issues but not about nonsensical dates…
    Whether it is April 27th,May 24th,25th or 26th,Eritrea became FULLY Independent.
    Pick any date you want but the EPLF has an EXCLUSIVE Right to pick the date as well….
    again, the substance is NOT about the dates now but reclaiming what belongs to us…..FREEDOM, Liberty, Practical Democracy and EQUAL Social JUSTICE!

  • Habtom

    Good Article Daniel,

    Just for your records Assab was liberated on May 26 not 25th.


  • dawit

    Selamat All;
    Why April 27? Why not April 24th. or 25th. or 26th.the day you voted? Who was the ‘Commander in Chief” of EPLF Army? Is this an effort to deny the role of Isaias Afworki played in the Liberation struggle for Eritrea? I think May 24th. 1991 is good day to commemorate the birth of an Independence nation of Eritrea. The May 24th. 1993, could also be celebrated as a day of ‘Baptism’ or ‘Eritrea official joined the UN’

  • A.Osman

    Dear Daniel,

    I think we can settle in the usual duality that we have. EPLF vs ELF…tricolour vs blue flag….May 24 1991 vs 1993. The May 25 can be an independence day from Assab for Ethiopians (Abi no more crying, a day that mamma Ethiopia started to focus its resources on its childen should be celebrated)


    • Abi

      Hi AOsman
      you ain’t kidding. Abi is not crying for people who are laughing at themselves .
      This is a great article except the author failed to disclose the ” sinister agenda ” of His Excellency President Isayas Afeworqi. A paragraph or two is expected of him to show what he meant by this ” sinister agenda”.
      However, dates aside, the take away point of this article is a call to all sleepwalking Eritreans to wake up from ” NATIONAL SYNOPSIS ” as the author clearly and most importantly COURAGEOUSLY put it.
      The most important question is what is this sinister agenda against his own people? I have many questions to the author including whether the very idea of independence was Eritrean focused? And how can one explain the independence struggle in relation to this sinister agenda? I’m convinced now than anytime before that the independence movement had no interest in the wellbeing of Eritreans. This ” national synopsis ” the author is talking about has been there all along and Ras Abi calls it zombinet or zombism.
      What do you say?

      • A.Osman

        Dear Abi,

        DIA just like HS believes he owns the people and the land. He might have had a desire to rule greater Ethiopia at one point, regardless whatever he does is to keep himself in power. Nothing more.

        Now since you asserting the national movement had no interest in the wellbeing of Eritreans, please convince me.

        Ethiopia with all the natural richness was not an attractive country to join…you only need to read about the life of a typical Ethiopian farmer to understand why independence was attractive then.

        “Of all the bills introduced in parliament between 1966 and 1973, for laws to restrict the abuses perpetrated by landowners and to protect the salarised workers from demands of unpaid labor or arbitrary evictions, only one actually passed:…”

        Two Qs to you…what was that one good news that happened near the end of HS rule, mind you he is considered a reformer on many aspects…second do you know land ownership of the poor vs feudal lords et al.

        You know well that many have rebelled within current Ethiopia and if they were not crashed you would have seen what you know of Ethiopia now. Where Eritreans not aware of this? By the way, I am saying the Italians were great, but opting for independence when the opportunity came does not need some sinister plan from outside.


  • T..T.

    Hi Daniel and all,

    Seemingly, Isayas played a three-same card-s politics and tricked the people to turn over only one card. With two face-down cards and the third card being picked up by the people, Isayas won the game.

    So, after 23 years, we the people found out that the two face-down cards also read May 25. Therefore, the trick that Isayas performed was not an art of quick movement that confuses the eyes but it was an art of pickpocketing to steal one’s chosen thing. Still, we can say Isayas violated the given rule of the game played. Isayas on his part may justify the unjustified by saying that so long the game is played under his rule, it should be played by his rule. Well, that may be directed at those under his rule.

    What about those who are not under his rule – can they give back the date to Isayas and choose one of their own? If yes, let’s play it now and pick our chosen card changing the date, month and year. Otherwise, as Leonardo da Vinci said, “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.”

  • Peace!

    Dear Daniel ,

    Good read. I think the reason behind May 24 1991, Independence Day, is perhaps because that’s the day the capital city, Asmara, the occupation’s centeral command, fall into the hands of Tegadelty. So militarily speaking, the war of liberation ended with the capturing of the capital city the same as the war in Iraq ended with the capturing of Bagdad while troops were making headway toward Folujah. Therefore, in military struggle, military dates have more meaning than the set of dates meant to comply to the standard of international community. What happen in the aftermath of these dates is tragic and unbelievable.


    • Amanuel

      Hi Peace,
      Your explanation is simplistic. May 24 1991 being the libration of Asmara from Ethiopian occupying army is a well documented historical event. However, that is a military victory and the question is that, in our struggle was the the armed struggle a means or an end to the problem? In my opinion it was a means to the political or legal end which was fulfilled on April 27 1993. Therefore, April 27 should be the independence day unless we had the referendum for PR purpose, which is not a culture of EPLF.

      • Peace!

        Dear Amanuel,

        Your argument is totally valid, but my understanding is that there is no universal rule or formula when it comes to picking a date and declaring independence. In this case, April 27 is basically meant to validate May 24; in other words, without May 24, April 27 wouldn’t exist. However, It is absolutely valid to ask who was in charge and made the decision, was there a debate, and what was the public opinion are among obvious questions for ligitmacy purpose.


      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Tegadalay Amanuel (Mekusi)

        As a politico-legalese process, wouldn’t be a “declaration of our independence ” was appropraite after the whole land is liberated? If the international community want “a referendum” to check the desire of the Eritrean people, then we could re -assert by allowing the process. After all our indepedence was attained through sheer force of armed struggle.

        Second, the document pertinent to the referendum request which is under the United Nation shows that the PM Meles ‘s letter predate to that of Dr. Amare the chairperson of the referendum commission. That even the date of the referendum seems was dictated by other factors than our own reality at that time. What do you think. I have my assassment to it.

        Amanuel Hidrat

        • Abraham H.

          Selam AH,
          The issue of holding referendum was initiated by EPLF long before the liberation of Asmara in 1991. There was even an initiative from the EPLF to hold referendum as war was waging in the early 1980’s, to try and find a political solution to the issue of self-determination. May be Mahmud Saleh could update us on this issue if he has the time.

          • tes

            Dear Abraham H.,

            I read some where that the conception of “Referendum” was proposed by Osman Saleh Sabbe, the most revolutionary minded hero of our armed struggle. Hopefully those who know much will enlighten us. EPLF just put it in his proposal later.


        • Amanuel

          Hi Aman H
          My opinion is based on the fact that Eritrean armed struggle was for the right to self determination. If that was the case then it was not appropriate to declare independence base on military victory. It was followed by asking the Eritrean people for self determination in the form of referendum, and the result was revealed on April 27 1993; hence the significance of that day.
          On the referendum process there was a massive pressure on EPLF by the international community to fulfil the legal process even to accepting Ethiopia to hand over independence on a silver plate. That was refused by the EPLF and in my opinion the referendum was a compromise agreement to get recognition. Even if you access the the options of the referendum it didn’t mention Ethiopia at all. It was only yes or no to independence. No didn’t mean union with Ethiopia automatically.

      • Hope


        Your assertion saying;”Therefore, April 27 should be the independence day unless we had the referendum for PR purpose, which is not a culture of EPLF”

        is even more ‘simplistic and naïve.
        Read carefully about the preceding events, meetings, ect.. not to mention the ” Classified” issues that me and you might have no clue about.
        The role of the CIA/the US State Department along with the Mossad behind the scene should be considered.
        That was prob (exactly) what the external players might have wanted us to do but ,hey ,contrary to your assertion,the EPLF Culture over-rode things,i.e.,it stood firm that Eritrea became a de Facto Independent Nation after the Gallant EPLF walked into Asmera,period!
        Beyond that, other issues are for a mere Public Consumption, including to appease the UN/USA/TPLF.
        Even Vet Teg Aman Hidrat told as such/so!