We Eritreans condemn the Ethiopian Prime Minster Abiy’s recent statement where he made an outrageous claim that “the government of Eritrea is a power of peace, and not only Ethiopia, but this fact is acknowledged by the whole world.” He continued further and made a false statement that, “wherever you go in the world, there is a belief that the government of Eritrea is an agent of peace and prosperity.” This is not only untrue, but it is also unconscionable that a “Noble Peace Prize” recipient can knowingly perpetuate such an outrageous claim.
Here are the facts for Mr. Prime Minister, which I believe he knows: the Eritrean government is an authoritarian regime that for decades has been killing, imprisoning, enslaving and starving its citizens. There is no democracy in Eritrea, no freedom of the press or freedom of assembly, and no due process of law, civil liberties and rights, no human rights, no national assembly, no economic freedom, no institution of higher learning, and no election for high public office.
International agencies report that over 10,000 political prisoners are in jails facing harsh prison conditions in Eritrea. Almost half-a-million of Eritrean youth are serving unlimited national service under slavery-like conditions in Eritrea. There are over a million Eritrean refugees languishing in various regions around the world; over 200,000 of them in Ethiopia.
Just 13 days ago on July 16, 2020, the Human Rights Council, the United Nation body with 47 nations (ironically, one of them is Eritrea) demanded that Eritrean government stop enslaving its youth and release the thousands of political prisoners it holds. Thus it approved the extension of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
Just two months ago, on May 21, 2020, Amnesty International sent an appeal to the world, on the conditions of the Eritrean political prisoners. The reports stated that the prisoners are:
“unable to shower or wash their clothes regularly, denied access to toilets or forced to relieve themselves in the open, thousands of people locked away in Eritrea’s crammed detention centers have little or no defense against COVID-19.”
“With overcrowding and general lack of adequate sanitation, healthcare and food, conditions in these detention facilities are inhumane and a cause of major concern in the face of COVID-19. No one should be held in conditions that can have disastrous consequences on their mental and physical health,”
According to the US government data of the Global income index, Eritrea with a $1600 per capita ranks 176s out of 181 nations of the world. That is hardly a sign of a prosperous nation.
The Eritrean government is known for its economic mismanagement and corruption, not for economic prosperity.
In June 2020, reports showed that the people of Dankalia in the south east of the country are in the brink of starvation due to neglect and corrupt policies of the Eritrean regime. Nothing has improved in Dankalia since the report was issued. These are the facts that the world knows about Eritrea.
The Eritrean regime led by the dictator Isaias Afwerki, has never been called a “peace maker” or “peace lover.” In fact, the Eritrean government is usually equated with the likes of the government of North Korea, and Isaias Afwerki is equated with the likes of Kim Jong-un. It is known for starting wars with all its neighbors, including Ethiopia which resulted in death of over 100,000 lives, 70,000 of them Ethiopians, the country that PM Abiy leads. But as unimaginable as it is, the prime minister chose to betray the Ethiopian and Eritrean people by making such an irresponsible statement in the face of the families and parents who have lost their loved once in those senseless wars.
PM Abiy can an opinion and he can love “Issu” to death if he so wishes, but unfortunately for him, he can’t make his own facts. Let alone a leader of a nation of 110 million people, no person with basic intelligence could make such false statements that he made.
There is a saying attributed to Billy Sunday: “hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his.” Thus, I believe PM Abiy Ahmed just delivered his graduation speech; he is now graduated from the Isaias Afwerki School of Dictatorship.