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Past & Future: Is Tigrigna domination A reality Or Myth?

After the Independence of Eritrea, the PFDJ failed to create and build a state for all Eritreans and a perpendicular division within the Eritrean society followed:

1- The state is supported by almost 90% of ethnic Tigrigna.
2- The opposition is supported by almost 90% of Eritrean Moslems (almost the same ratio as it was during self-determination era between Unionist party and Independence Block).

From the start, the EPLF represented a shelter and safe haven for those who were – for one reason or another –against ELF. After 1981, the EPLF became a single organization that confronted and challenged the enemy—not only that, but it was the only hope for freedom! That hope was fulfilled in 1991 and the state of Eritrea became a reality.

It was then that the real face of EPLF emerged, changed its name and declared its agenda which was not different – in content and aims – from that of (Nehnan Elamanan).

From the start, Isaias and his group represented Kebessa chauvinism:

  • His split from team of trainees during the military course in China and he divided them into Christians and Muslims. Moreover, as the Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea noticed, Isaias “copied” all the bad lessons of Maoism!
  • In June 1968 at the Aradaib conference, he proposed the division of the Army into two groups: Christians and Muslims!
  • His split from the General Command of ELF in 1969.
  • His refusal to attend the National Congress in 1971.

That chauvinistic approach grew slowly and gradually taking advantage of any weaknesses of the ELF and getting support from factions that were marginalized by the ELF. The rest is history.

EPLF had never been an organization of the future, its historical role should have been concluded by 1997, the end of transitional period. Berlin Manifesto (G13) and G15 were signals in the right direction and the message was: Mission accomplished! But who will listen? Who will read?

Oscar Wild said: Circumstances might alter cases, but circumstances can never alter principles.

Tigrigna chauvinism appeared on surface, used and abused all tools and values legal and illegally: ethnicity, religion, terror, deception …etc. The result is what we are witnessing today. Isaias was the right person for the wrong people (ethnic Tigrigna chauvinists)!  Eritrea became a state of a certain group—no prime minister, no vice-president and no constitutional bodies. It is a one-man regime that will collapse once he disappears—either due to natural death or assassination.

Now the struggle is not only for democracy, but in essence it is for future against past; and the entire nation is looking for the future, while PFDJ is insisting and fighting to stop the clock!

The question is not only who sacrificed more, but rather, what was the outcome and how were those who sacrificed rewarded?

Let us compare the situation of ethnic Tigrigna on one hand and rest of the ethnic groups on the other:

1- The state:  More than 90% of top positions were given to ethnic Tigrigna—do they say the others are not there? Not true. Hundreds of graduates from the Middle East applied for jobs but they were rejected because they don’t know Tigrigna?

2- The land: Thousands of ethnic Tigrigna were given lands in the lowlands—do they say it is no man’s land? Not true. The owners are in neighboring Sudan living as refugees for more than thirty years. The Eritrean government blocked all efforts by the UN and other International organizations to return them back to their homeland.

3- Not to mention cultural and economic domination.

Now the question is: If all that is true, why are ethnic Tigrigna youth deserting and leaving the country?

Here is my reading and understanding of the phenomenon:  The main reason is the breakdown of the three pillars that used to hold the unity and coexistence of ethnic Tigrigna community. 

  • Sharing of power and wealth: Akeleguzai  is out of the equation, Seraye  is half way and even  within Hamassen there is a considerable sector against the government.
  • Abolishing the spiritual authority of the Orthodox church (the patriarch of the Orthodox faith) was a serious warning and a sign of the unknown that might follow.
  • The unnecessary and fabricated war with their historical neighbor and ally, Tigrai; that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

To this are added the other accelerating factors: endless military service, deteriorating economic conditions, terrorism, lack of justice and democracy.

Eritrean Muslims have the honor and privilege of starting the armed struggle thus paving the way for the entire nation to join and liberate the land. They were the first to sacrifice, but the last and least to be rewarded. What is expected from Tigrigna elite and leaders is to take an initiative and approach their Muslim brothers with a new program (inclusive not exclusive) to build the country together.

We know that the PFDJ didn’t take the consent of ethnic Tigringna, neither does it have any mandate to represent them; therefore, so it is unfair and unwise to vilify the whole ethnic Tigrigna. On the other hand, it is unfair for half the population to dominate the nation; a balance should be kept. Within the ethnic Tigrigna community, the elite of Hamasen have the upper hand, and within those, the grandsons of my ancestors from Karnishim became “the kings”  of Eritrea!  Should I celebrate that? Not really. 

The PFDJ is circulating again the old scarecrow from across the border , Tigrai, the successors of the Axumite Kingdom, the custodians of the Orthodox Church and the rulers of the Eritrean plateau (directly or indirectly) in the past,  the cornerstone of the ruling party in Ethiopia—those people are being accused of preparing to invade Eritrea! Why?

The claim is that they are planning a regime change and partial occupation of the country!

Now, to verify whether that is true or a myth, we can have a quick look at the record of the PFDJ—its repeated and fabricated stories, and immature understanding of what is going on in the world! Those who live in a lawless environment do not think or believe that there is “law” outside their doorsteps! They believe that what you get by force is yours!  As for the first part of the claim, i.e. regime change, it is the responsibility and task of the Eritrean people;  they know how and when to do it. The claim of partial occupation though, is an insult to the conscious and political maturity of the Eritrean people.

The outside world is not accusing the ethnic Tigrigna of violating international law or destabilizing the and damaging the security in the Horn of Africa; Eritreans as a whole are guilty because the name of the state is Eritrea is involved!

Here comes the real challenge:  all Eritreans must join forces to bring about change and create a state for all Eritreans and by all Eritreans. We all need to clear our names and prove to the world that we deserve what we got, an Independent state.

Serbians did it when they revolted against Milosevic  and his gang; the Amharas did it when they joined the national resistance against Haile Sellasie. The ethnic Tigrigna can make it; we can make it together, because we are struggling for the future.

God bless Eritrea!

About Omer Jabir

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  • Zula,

    With all due respect, I cannot understand your point. I did not say Jebha haradit…although I heard lots of stories from expatriates of ELF and Eritrean farmers that Jebha was a rogue institution that committed many atrocities toward farmers as well as Christian fighters. Again, I also heard from many EPLF fighters that Shaebiya has killed many intelligent compatriots.

    My point is, what do you expect from a guerilla warfare??— it is well documented trend in the world that guerilla fighters do heinous atrocities toward their compatriots—could be personal to the leaders or to attain some political, religious or social scores. At this stage, we cannot return in to 1960’s or 70’s. We should look in to an all inclusive government that looks for the wellbeing of the nation and respects and empowers its people without discrimination.

    To come back to the main topic, I am a young Eritrean, never took part in Jebha/Shaebiya politics. Many Eritrean youngsters and I are steering aside from the united opposition because of ethnic and regional infestation within the opposition. I do not believe Shaebiya routinely persecuted a Moslem due to his/her religion. Yet, I do not condon that Shaebiya is persecuting Christian minority and all youth of Eritrea. You’ve said it “EPLF killed more Christians than ELF”, thus why do you and the author associate EPLF with Christians if EPLF is killing both Christians and Moslems…is it difficult to see EPLF is anti Eritrean people indiscriminately? (Well there is a correction: EPLF is divided in to two, a very small group is holding the grip of power and continuing the onslaught of the Eritrean people while majority of the group are detained, killed or exiled).

  • What I am always buffed by in a state where there is no census or statistical data collection, there is a claim from certain section of Eritreans who I think want to believe that if you repeat some time a 1000 times then it becomes a fact.
    All this claim by people like Asmarino, how want us to believe the following
    1. The largest section of people who died for the country are Tigrygna people
    2. The largest population are Christian
    3. The largest ethnic is tigregya
    4. The most people who are in exodus at the moment are Christian & Tigregya
    5. The most persecuted are Christian & Tigregya

    I wonder where this fact less mis-information is coming from ?
    Information without a supporting fact is garbage in my opinion, no matter how many times you echo it.

    • @ Zula, I did not cite any size of a population and I care less doing so at this time. I am sick and tired of reading articles measuring the problem in Eritrea in terms of Moslem faith and Tigrinya ethnic group. However, if you want to verify the facts I claim – google ‘Eritrea ethnic/religious discrimination’ and you will find it out. If you do not want what you read on the web, ask veterans of the Eritrean liberation and they will give you stories with some variety about how many Christians (not all Tigrinyans) were slaughtered by Jebha and how many intelligent people (Moslem and Christian) were diluted by Shaebiya. I believe, we the young generation should leave those stories to history and focus on the future by uniting Eritreans regardless of their political persuasions, religious belief and ethnic background. Most of all, we should mutually respect other fellow Eritrean’s inherent rights.

      • Dear Asmarino
        I know most Eritreans (Muslims & Christians) are sick of the division and hatred that is planted in them by some group for selfish individual or group benefit. But this doesn’t mean the division doesn’t exist because if the mechanism used to divide was just a word of mouth, then word of mouth wouldn’t have much effect as an action or deed has. Therefore, most of the division was carried out in action not just word and this creates more hatred, discomfort and mistrust among groups and socities.

        Having said that, with regard to facts and figures, I tried to verify the subject you provided me by googling it as you suggested but I am not able to find it. Never the less, google and associates like wikipedia are not Encyclopaedia Britannica. The inforamtion you get is not always a fact and trust worthy unless the search takes you to a trust worthy site. This is becasue anybody can create a website that is searable by google or anybody and edit wikipidia site and fill with it bias and non factual information. Adding to that it is also proven that “Word of mouth” based information is awlays prone to error and exaguration. Having talked to and listen from ex-ELF christian fighters, the jebha haradit slogan was not a fact but a made up story by certain group to create a movement, specially the “Siryat Addis” story. If killing of Christians is a matter to you then I think EPLF killed more Christians than ELF,so why doesn’t that worry you much.

        I think the Eritrean people need to reconcile, without reconcilliation they have no future of peacefully life.

        But what I always see in Eritrean articles & debates, people make up story with out providing a reference to the fact and figures and try to make you believe that why they are saying is the truth, the whole truth but nothing but the truth. But this is far from the reality.

        Thank you

  • Mr. Omer Jabir, your eloquently written and very clear and concise article is nothing except setting forth your religion centered paranoia. You have tried to contrast between Tigrinya and Moslems…well here is a free Eritrean demography lesson for you: Tigrinya is an ethnic group that comprises Christian and Moslem religion. Moslem is a religion practiced by the nine ethnic groups in Eritrea. You cannot compare and contrast Tigrinya ethnicity and Moslem faith. By any spectrum, if you are going to see the most socially and politically disadvantaged ethnic group in Ertrea is Kunama. Religion wise, the most persecuted religion in Eritrea after Jehovah Witness is the Christian faith-want to check- ask your friend Issayas for list of religious prisoners. The free feature Eritrea does not need Issayas’s ideology and Jebha’s sentiments. We should look in to preserving the disadvantaged sections of Eritrean population and looking in to policies where all Eritreans live equally, harmoniously and peacefully. Definitely, we should neglect foreign imposed hostile ideologies like yours as it is worst than Issayas’s.

    • You have a valid point, but the article is more about internal integration, which is a crucial factor in forming united opposition, than simply a comparison between two different religions.

      • I doubt you know what you are talking about.

        • In other words, the article is good enough to ease such hatred.

  • This is a lesson for Semere Tesfai. It is OK if you want to write 30, 20 pages of watever comes to your mind. But put your real name and your real picture bihind it, so that we will tell who you are. Because you are doing the bidding of PFDJ no body is going after your family members.
    If you believe in what you say, then take the vail out of your face.

    • @ Mr. Haile,

      I see no reason why revealing his identity is more important than the substances in his 20-30 pages article. I mean I have a choice as long as it is free.

      • If you are Eritrean, who is born and grew in eritrea you can tell the venom Semere is spewing. One of the respondents to Semere Tesfai equated “Nehnan Elamanan” to the book by Adolf Hitler-“Main Kampf”. That piece of pamphlet does not have an author. Though everybody knows it’s Issayas Afewerki. If you criminalize people
        in such a way you better stand by your word. In fact Hitler did not hide himself.