The Eritrean Covenant And Nehnan Elamanan: Two Shady Documents, You Can’t Defend In A Mixed Crowd
“ንሕና ማለት እዞም ሕጂ ኣብ ቅድሜኹም ቀሪብና እንዛረብ ዘሎና ተጋደልቲ፡ እቶም ብመጋቢት 1969 ዓ.ም.ፈ. ካብ ምምሕዳር “ቅያዳ ኣል ዓማ” ዝተፈለና ኢና። እወ ንሕና ዳርጋ ኩላትና ክርስትያን ኢና። ብደገ ናይ ኩነታትና ህላዌ ዝርኢ እውን “ሃይማኖታውያን” እዮም ይብል ይኸውን….. መንነትናን ዕላማናን ክፈልጥ ንዝደሊ ንጽሑፍና ብምሉኡ ንኸንብቦ ሓደራ ንብል።
ላዕለዎት ራእስታት ጀብሃ፡ ናብተን ብትካል ምስልምና ዝምርሓ ሃገራትን ድርጅታትን እንዳኸዱ፡ “ንሕና ኣስላም ኣሕዋትኩም” ኣንጻርቲ ናይ ሓበሻ ንጉስ ክርስትያን፡ ናይ ክርስትና ምስፍሕፋሕ ክንቃወም ዝተላዓልና ኣሕዋትኩም ኣስላም ኢና። ናይ ኣስላም የሕዋትና ሓገዝ ድማ የድልየና እዩ፡ ብምባል ንሰልፎም ኣስደማሚ መልክዕ ሃቡዎ።…. እቶም ጠበናጁ ተሰኪሞም ኣብ ሜዳ ኤርትራ ዝታኾሱ ዝነበሩ ሰዓብቶም ድማ፡ ንህዝብና፡ ንሕና ኣንጻርቲ ምስልምና ንምጥፋእ ዝተላዕለ ናይ ኢትዮጵያ “ኻፍር” መንግስቲ፡ ናይ ክርስትና ምስፍሕፋሕ ክንቃወም ዝተላዓልና “ጅሃዳውያን” ናይ ምስልምና ልኡኻት ኢና። ገድልና ድማ “ጀሃድ ፊ ሰቢል ኣላህ” (ቅዱስ ዅናት) እዩ እንዳበሉ፡ ንህዝብና፡ ካብ ሃገራዊ መስመር ዝረሓቐ ስብከት መሪዞም፡ ህዝብና ሃገር ከይፈለየ፡ ክርስትያናይ ዝኾነ ኩለ ከምዝጸልእ ገበርዎ። ኤርትራዊ ክርስትያናይ፡ ”ካፍር” ኣረመኔ ወይ ክሓዲ እንዳተባህለ ከም ጸላኢ ተቖጽረ። እቲ ከይበሰለ ዝጸንሐ ህዝብና ኣስላም፡ እቲ ዝነበሮ ጭቆና፡ ሃይማኖታዊ ጭቆና ጥራይ መሲልዎ፡ ደድሕሪ መራሕቲ፡ “ጅሃድ ፊ ሰቢል ኣላህ” ክብል ተላዕለ::
ኣብ ውሽጢ ሓደ ዓመት ጥራሕ (1966-1967)፡ ኣሽሓት ከብቲ ክርስትያን ተዘሚተን ንኸሰላ ኣትየን። ንብረተይ፡ ጥሪተይ፡ ገንዘበይ ዝበለ ክርስትያናይ “ካፍር” እንዳተባህለ ተቐቲሉ። ምቕታል ገባር ከይኣክል፡ እቶም ሃይማኖታውያን (ፋናቲስትስ) ሰበስልጣን ጀብሃ፡ ክርስትያን ተጋደልቲ ንምሕራድ እጅግኦም ክስብስቡን ካራታቶም ክስሕሉን ጀመሩ። ብ1967 ንክርስትያን ተጋደልቲ ኣኪብኩም ቅተልዎም ተባሂሉ፡ ኣማእት ተጋደልቲ ተሓሪዶም፡ ኣማእት ድማ ነፊጾም ንጸላኢ ኢዶም ሂቦም።
ስለዚ፡ እንታይ ይሓይሽ? ብትውልዲ ክርስትያናይ ብምኳንካ፡ ብኻራ ጸየቕቲ ምሕራድዶ ይሓይሽ፡ ወይሲ ኢድካ ንጸላኢ ምሃብ? ክልቲኡ ሞት’ዩ። ክልቲኡ ሕማቕ’ዩ። ካብ ክልቲኡ ሓዲኡ ከይመረጽካ፡ ስቕ ምባል፡ ኣብ ብልሒ መላጸ ኮፍ ምባል’ዩ። ካብ ክልቲኡ ሓዲኡ ካብ ምምራጽ ግን፡ ኣብ ብልሒ መላጸ ኮፍ ምባል ይበልጽ። እንበኣር ክቡር ኣንባቢ! እቶም ኣብ ብልሒ መላጸ ኮፍ ክንብል ዝመረጽና ንሕና ኢና። ካብ ብኸራሩ ፋሺሽቲ ጀብሃ ምሟት፡ ካብ ናብ ኢትዮጵያ ምህዳም፡ ኣብ ብልሒ መላጸ ኮፍ ክንብል ዝመረጽና ንሕና ኢና። (ንሕናን ዕላማናን ሕዳር,1971 ዓ.ም.ፈ. ገጽ 1, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18)
Wow. That was The Original Version Nehnan Elamanan which was authored by a Team of Young Christian warriors. Now, let’s buckle-up and get ready for a wild ride adventure, with the team of the Young Islamist Copycats and their Version of Nehnan Elamanan. Trust me word for word both statements are symmetrical images of each other. Even though it is the same play from the same book, just different actors with different role playing costumes at different times, there is something in this scene that catches your eye. The young Islamists are so clever they are marketing their version of Nehnan Elamanan with a new twist. Not to be out done by the young Christians from back in the days who were preaching Marxism-Leninism to trash their superiors, the young Islamists who want to govern not ‘by the will of the governed’, but ‘by the will of God’, are trying to mesmerize their audience by marketing themselves as ‘the Jeffersonian Democrats of Tomorrows Africa.’ AlAsef, they are still hiding in the deep darkness of their cocoon shy from the glare of light?
For those of you who want to enjoy the new sequel of Nehnan Elamanan authored by our young Islamists, in order to stay plugged with the past and to have the best flavor for your taste, just put the shoe on the other foot and exchange these phrases from the Christian version to the Islamic version as following:“ሃይማኖታውያን ፋናቲስትስ” with Tigrigna..Supremacists,..”ናይ ክርስትና ምስፍሕፋሕ ክንቃወም ዝተላዓልና ኣሕዋትኩም ኣስላም ኢና እንዳበሉ” with “ኣስላም እንተድኣ ሰሚሮም ክበልዑና እዮም እንዳበሉ”, “ራእስታት ጀብሃ” with Tigrigna Ethnocrats, “ዓማ ሓራዲት” with “PFDJ Death Squad”, “ኣሻሓት ከብቲ ክርስትያን ብራእስታት ጀብሃ ተዘሚተን” with “Muslim land being taken by the Ehnocratic government’s state-sanctioned land grab policy” “ከብተይ፡ ንብረተይ ዝበለ እንዳተሓርደ” with “Muslims who dared to oppose the regime sponsored land grab policy being murdered by the PFDJ death squad”, “ጅሃድ ፊ ሰቢል ኣላህ ኢሎም ተላዒሎም”, with “determined for ethnic cleansing and depopulating the Lowlands and resettling them with Tigrigna Christians”, “ክርስትያን ዘበለ ኩሉ ካፍር፡ ኣረመኔ እንዳተባህለ” with “Muslims continue to be marginalized and branded as Islamic Extremists”, ቀያሕ ተጋዳሊት ዓማ (beautiful ELF female fighter) with Young Muslim Concubine, and before you know it, you will be watching a sequel play of vicious and dirty below the belt politics of religion, region and ethnicity in its lowest and cheapest form. Have fun and enjoy the show.
”We, the authors of this statement…. The need for us to consider speaking out collectively has become ever more important and urgent especially in this post 911 era where politics of fear is opportunistically peddled by the ruling clique in
Asmara and some politicians in the opposition. though equal stakeholders in the country, Eritrean Muslims are treated as second-class citizens by the ruling clique in their own country…..There is enough evidence for the apartheid like socio economic system that the PFDJ regime has established in Eritrea since 1991 through a network of ethnocratic patronage system. The list of grievances of Eritrean Muslims are too long to enumerate here but they include religious discrimination, marginalization, torture, murder by death squads, abduction, closing of traditional Muslim Schools; harassment; persecution of religious leaders and scholars; imposition of government appointed religious leaders; systematic uprooting and forceful settlements in Muslims’ lands; cultural and moral domination among other things. (By Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar – Feb 12, 2010 )
Listen, when we look at these two paragraphs, even though they were written four decades apart, we can clearly see a common thread that connects both paragraphs: tears, grief, anger, resentment, desperation, hopelessness, alienation and uncertainty about what the future holds. We can judge the content of these two documents favorably or unfavorably. We can agree or disagree about the wording of these two documents. We can be for or against any one of them. But there is one thing we can all agree upon. The authors of these documents didn’t wake-up one morning and wrote these statements because they felt like it. They wrote them to express bitterness and grief of their community. And there are segment of our population that feel passionately, these documents were or still are speaking on their behalf. These documents and their authors are the thermometers of our ethnics, regions and faiths that gage the temperature, pulse and mood of our community. The content and wording of these documents is not important: the reason why they were written on the first place is. At the end of the day we are not going to sit-down to agree on the content and wording of these documents. We are going to sit-down to find a solution to the issues that led to these documents. There is a lesson to be learned here. Don’t shoot the messenger. The grief is real. The demand for change is legitimate. Tackle the problem. Those who wrote them did so, to change things for the better, for their respective communities. We must read, study and analyze these documents thoroughly, so we can find a fair, balanced and lasting solution to our challenges.
You know, about fifty years ago, ELF failed miserably, to lead and to represent all ethnics and regions fairly. As a result, The Kunamas, The Tigrigna Christians, The Afars, The Tigres of Semhar, The Tigres of Sahel and the Conservative Tigres of Barka stood up against ELF’s fire-power. In just ten years, those who stood-up and challenged ELF’s military-might defeated ELF and changed the course of history. Ironically, the very people who were grieving, the very people who stood-up to correct “Jebha’s ethnic, regional and religious misrepresentation and misdeeds” are being blamed today, for doing the exact same thing. Thirty years after EPLF/PFDJ control of
Eritrea, ethnic and religious grievance are still alive and well. ELF was blamed for steering the wheel heavily to one direction. In the name of correcting ELF’s mistakes, the EPLF/PFDJ regime over-corrected the wheel and started steering it, to the other extreme. Therefore, since both ELF and EPLF/PFDJ method of leading the country proved to be wrong for Eritrea, the right way must be somewhere in the middle. And finding the middle that is fair, balanced and sustainable vision for future
Eritrea is the argument of this article.
The Challenge: Finding The Middle That Works For
To find the middle, many Eritreans from all walks of life, some individually, others collectively as groups, political parties and organizations have stated their vision, about how to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and stable
Eritrea. And the highly celebrated Eritrean Covenant is one of them. I’ve high regard and great respect for the team of Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar who authored the Eritrean Covenant. It is very informative and very enlightening to learn the grievance of our Muslim brothers. But personally, I don’t share the Eritrean Covenant’s stated vision as a solution to our national challenges.
Mind you, the grief is real. The issues are real. The problem: the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their surrogate political organizations at the Tadamun camp are dead wrong on every issue. Not only they are dead wrong in every issue, they don’t have what it takes to defend their political position. Running your mouth hiding behind keyboard is one thing, challenging all in public for what you believe is completely different. It takes a charismatic gifted leader with a spine who can stand straight. It takes a leader with a gut, great eloquence, exceptional caliber and valid argument that can challenge the old thinking. And the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their Tadamun comrades don’t have that, not even remotely close.
Instead of defending their position on the hot potato issues they raised, they chose to dance around side issues and trivialities. They chose to put more emphasis on their obsession of Tabloid politics of religion, ethnicity, region, villages and hamlets of individual players. Instead of defending their favorite arguments: the vilification and demonizing of ethnic Tigrignas: yes instead of defending their position on: Ethnocratic regime, bigots, ZerE shefatu, land grabbers, settlers, ethnic apartheid, ethnic fascist, Muslim heaters, God given Muslim land, Muslim majority…today all of sudden, they are busy salivating at the ringing bell of power “the road map of post Isaias/PFDJ political life of Eritrea, the first three years and beyond”.
They are not defending their vilification and demonization of ethnic Tigrignas not for change of heart, not for lack of better/worst ideas but for lack of courage, honesty and sincerity. Because they know fully, their ideas are back-warded bankrupt ideas that can’t be defended in a mixed crowd. They know fully, their politics and their Statement doesn’t raise-up to a level of national politics. They know the politics of Islam, regional politics and ethnic politics can not be a solution to our national challenges. Without a doubt, their Statement is an Islamist Statement with an Islamist agenda that envisions an Islamic State, but they don’t have the guts to defend it in public. And an Islamist agenda that envisions an
Islamist State for a 50/50 Muslim-Christian society is a nonstarter
If the team of the Eritrean Covenant, or anyone outside of it, is seriously trying to tackle the core issues, please flex your brain muscle and challenge us all. There are no hidden issues here. There is no need to sugarcoat, imply or insinuate. The issues are issues of power, resources and governance. I challenge the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their surrogate political organizations, not just to talk the talk but to walk the walk and defend their position in public, and challenge us all. I believe they are fully aware of the core issues, but just to be on the same page, these are the most contentious and controversial issues that are in desperate need for a lasting solution. If we can agree on these issues, we can agree on anything and everything.
#1. Distribution of Power: When do you consider power is distributed fairly and equally among our ethnics, faiths and regions? What is my fair share of the pie and what is yours? What is your formula of power sharing?
#2. Distribution of Resources: When do you consider resources are distributed fairly and equally among our citizens? Yes, equal access to resources being, equal access to commercial and non commercial access to land, sea and air within our borders.
#3. Framing and Forming National Political Power Competition: To have smooth, peaceful and sustainable transfer of power, what types of political parties and organizations work better for
Eritrea? (A) Ethnic political organizations (B) Regional political organizations (C) Religious political organizations (D) Secular political parties that look like
#4. System of Government: How could we custom tailor a system of government, not dictatorial but tamed, not coercive but loyal and accountable to its people. Yes, a government that runs by the consent of its people, a government that honors the rule of the majority but also with a rule of law that guarantees the full freedoms and the full rights of its individual citizens, institutions, organizations, communities and ethnics of all colors and stripes?
#5. Method of Governing: What kind of government works better, strong central government that has weaker regional governments or strong regional governments with a weaker federal government at the center? Why? If the argument for, weak federal government and strong regional governments is intended to help small ethnics, what if some of the small ethnics happen to be still minorities within their region?
What do you exactly mean when you said, “Eritrean Muslims believe in the geographical division of Eritrean regions as it existed in 1952; any changes done without their duly delegated representatives, should be considered null and void. Lands taken by regime sponsored settlements must be stopped immediately. Refugees and owners of any confiscated land should be properly compensated”?
Are you talking about, just the territorial boundary of the regions as it existed in 1952, or you are saying, the territorial boundaries of these regions and their residents to look exactly like 1952?
Did you say proper compensation for refugees and confiscated land owners? Let me get this straight: you want ethnic Tigrigna tax payers to pay 50% of the refugee compensation cost, which will be paid to Muslim refugees of three generations, and 50% of the cost to compensate their ethnic Tigrigna-brothers property loss after they are evicted from “Muslim Lands”? Are you serious? Please tell me how much compensation is adequate for a three generation Muslim refugee? What is the adequate compensation for Christian refugee? How much does a “confiscated land” worth? How much compensation does two generations of sweat and blood defending your motherland worth? How much does, a maimed hero’s disfigured body worth? How much is a fallen hero’s life worth?
Now you know why the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their comrades at the Tadamun camp don’t want to defend their position in a broad daylight. Now you know why the Eritrean Covenant Statement is an Islamist Statement that is divisive, dishonest, controversial, polarizing and full of hypocrisy and half truth that can’t pass public scrutiny. I hope they prove me wrong, but I doubt it. To see why the Eritrean Covenant Statement is all of the above and more, let’s roll our sleeves and dissect the anatomy of the Covenant’s Statement:
#1. The Covenant Statement Is An Islamist Statement:
Every time I read the Eritrean Covenant Statement, and every time I tried to digest and comprehend the content of it, always, yes always, there comes something that re-enforces my belief: the authors of the Eritrean covenant are Young Islamists who were born and raised outside
Eritrea. They don’t know
Eritrea, they don’t know Eritrean people, they don’t know the history of our struggle and they don’t have a clue about Eritrean politics. They are just out of touch, young, passionate Islamists who think Eritrean political power play is a cake-walk. They think they can evict all Tigrigna Christians from all “Muslim Lands”, create a Federal State based on ethnic and sub-ethnic Islamic Regions and Sub-Regions, squeeze Tigrigna Christians in their “Rocky Kebesa”, and live happily ever after.
Before we go too far, since I’m using the word Islamists a lot, to be fare to all my readers and myself, I’m going to present my definition of Islamists. Islamists are individuals, groups or political organizations who believe in Islamic political, social and economic ideology. According to the Islamists, Islam is not just a religion but a political ideology. It is their firm belief, by being loyal followers of Islam and by following the will of God (Sharia), they can run a fair and Godly political system of governance (Islamic Theocracy) that is better than the Western style democratic system of governance. Also, they believe Muslims are losing their religion, cultural values, social norms, family structure, language and their Islamic identity. To preserve their Muslim heritage and Muslim identity, they believe it is their duty to fight against Western style governing, Western cultures, and religious and cultural diffusion. Basically they want to go back to their roots and preserve their Islamic identity and heritage sealed forever if you will.
To preserve their Muslim heritage and Muslim Identity, the Eritrean Islamists main objective has become to have pure Muslim ethnic communities in all “God Given Muslim Lands”, which is 75% of Eritrean land and 100% of the sea. Therefore in order to have pure Muslim ethnic communities, they have to change the reality on the ground or as the Covenant put it they have “to apply radically different and transformative approaches”. And the only way they can change the reality on the ground is, by claiming all Sahel plus Western and Eastern Lowlands as God Given Muslim Lands that are off limit to Tigrigna Christians, and the Eritrean Kebesas to remain home for Muslims and Christians.
Eritrean Islamists, not only they wanted the physical eviction of all Christians from all “God Given Muslim Lands”, but they are also promising us “The process of Tigrignization of the state must be halted immediately and reversed…” meaning, they won’t tolerate any Christian culture to thrive. That’s why the Eritrean Islamists are screaming their heart out to tell us, they will never be happy until Eritrea is a federal state, segregated by faith and divided by ethnics, clans and sub-clans”. Listen for yourself, what the team of the Eritrean Covenant has to say:
1. Eritrean Muslims believe in the geographical division of Eritrean regions as it existed in 1952; any changes done should be considered null and void.
2. Eritrean Muslims reject being ruled from a central bureaucracy. They demand more autonomous regional governments to govern themselves.
3. Eritrean Muslims assert their rights for a fair, unabridged share of power and resources, and a complete exercise of rights to the fullest in our God-given Muslim land.
4. Lands taken by regime sponsored settlements must be stopped immediately. Refugees and owners of any confiscated land should be properly compensated.
That is the Team of the Eritrean Covenant and their surrogate political organizations vision of future
#2. The Eritrean Covenant Has Nothing To Offer To Non-Muslims
I don’t have any problem when the team of Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar and their surrogate political organizations expressed their vision of future
Eritrea. It is perfectly ok, for the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their surrogate organizations to fight for full control of all “Muslim Lands” to achieve the narrow interest of their Muslim constituents. It is perfectly fine if Eritrean Islamists want to fight tooth and nail to maximize the interest of their constituents. I don’t have any problem if Eritrean Islamists run for political office on an Islamic platform. It is the Islamists right to represent their constituents at the Eritrean parliament and fight for the interest of their constituents. If they didn’t resort to violence, Eritrean Islamists have every right in their country like everybody else. And each and every one of us should defend their right and the right of everybody. If Eritrean Islamists are not free, none of us is free. If Eritrean Islamists right is not protected under the law, no one’s right is protected. Either we are all free and our government is the guarantor of our rights and freedoms or we are all hostages of our government.
REMEMBER NOW, DEMOCRACY IS COLOR BLIND. DEMOCRAY IS NOT LIMITED TO THE IDEAS THAT ARE WIDLEY AGREED UPON BUT ALSO TO THOSE IDEAS AND PEOPLE WE PROFOUNDLY DISAGREE WITH AND HATE THE MOST, YES INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO HGDEFITES IN THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT AND OU
TSIDE THE GOVERNMENT. IF THEY ARE NOT FREE IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY, NO ONE IS. Challenge back if you can.
There is one thing the Islamists need to understand:
Eritrea is a country of heterogeneous society with multiple ethnics and faiths. And the Eritrean Covenant Statement is an Islamist Statement that fights for the narrow interest of Eritrean Muslims at best. The Eritrean Covenant Statement doesn’t rise-up to a level of National Politics. The Eritrean Covenant statement is one statement among many regional, ethnic and religious advocacy group statements that are fighting for the narrow interest of their constituents. Like other competing interest groups, the Eritrean Covenant is biased toward other interest groups and it doesn’t fight for the narrow interest of Eritreans outside the Islamic faith. Or simply, the tent of the Eritrean Covenant doesn’t have enough room for all of us.
Let’s not forget,
Eritrea will be at peace with itself and with its neighbors, and it will be free and prosperous nation for generations to come, if and only if the Islamists understand their limitations. If they choose to be militant and violent to have it their way, if they want to adopt the principle of “either us or them”, if they want to fallow the principle of “winner takes it all” no one can stop them except their conscience. The only thing I would say to them is, be careful what you wish for, you might get your wish.
#3. The Covenant Statement Is Dishonest And Full Of Hypocrisy
One of the weaknesses of the Eritrean Covenant is its hypocrisy and lack of sincerity. I don’t want to waste your time, explaining why the Covenant’s Statement is dishonest and, full of hypocrisy and half-truth. Just look to the presented reasons and judge for yourself:
Reason #1. We all know the Eritrean Covenant Statement is an Islamist political Statement that envisions segregated society by faith, ethnicity, regions and sub-regions. It envisions, not a government that shows loyalty to its people but a government that shows loyalty to Islam, not a government that’s run by the will of the governed but a government that’s run by the will of God (sharia). The team of the Eritrean covenant and their surrogate organizations are against free movement of people, free movement of goods and services, free movement of capital but these Islamists have the audacity to preach about, Constitution, Western Democracy, Rule of Law, Political Pluralism and Free Market Economy. What a hypocrisy. But if you think my comment is far from the truth you be the judge.
Reason #2. To judge the PFDJ regime for what it is, this is the yard stick the Eritrean Covenant wants us to use: “the whole state apparatus is exclusively ethnic based, it neither reflects a national characteristic nor the diversity of the Eritrean people.” We know fully, the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their surrogate political organizations are either, Muslim Organizations, Ethnic Organizations or Regional Organizations with a sub-national political agenda. Don’t ask me how but they are also telling us they will be our future leaders. As having them as our future leaders is not bad enough, they got the nerve, to trash the PFDJ regime for being Ethnocratic Regime that neither reflect the nation’s characteristics nor the diversity of its people. Really? I thought you were against the Principle of Blending and Engaging in a National Political Parties? Does “practice what you preach” mean anything to you? If you are going to judge others don’t you have to hold yourself to the same standard? But again, I’ll let you be the judge.
Reason #3. To explain the divisive nature and evil intent of Nehnan Elamanan, this is what the Eritrean Covenant is trying to make us believe:
“Nehnan Elamanan….believed to have been authored by Isaias Afwerki and aimed to serve as a clarion call for uprising and a blue print for ethnic domination for the first time characterized the conflict from the “Eritreans vs. Ethiopians” focus of the Eritrean struggle for independence to “Christian Highlanders vs. Muslim Lowlanders. It demonizes the Muslim leadership of the ELF as corrupt, sex-crazed, religious fanatics and barbaric murderers who had no political vision..“
Are you kidding me? How true, ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ idiom. Please tell me, isn’t the entire Eritrean Covenant Statement from top to bottom, from wall to wall, full of Christians vs Muslims, Lowlanders vs Highlanders, Our Faith vs Their Faith, Our Culture vs Their Culture, Our Arabic vs Their Tigrigna, Our Muslims vs Their Death Squad, Our Muslim Women vs Their Men, Our Muslim Ancestral Land vs Their Land grabbers, Our Refugees vs Their Settlers….? I’m I missing something?
Isn’t the whole Covenant Statement ‘A Call, for all Eritrean Muslims to rise-up against the Tigrigna Ethnocratic Regime’? Isn’t the whole Covenant Statement ‘A Call, to Empower Muslims’? Isn’t the whole Covenant Statement aimed to serve as a Blueprint for Muslim Domination? After Muslim Domination is achieved, isn’t the Covenant’s vision to “to stop and reverse the Tigrignanization of Eritrea”, “to stop land grabbing and resettlement of Tigrigna Christians” “, “to evict all Tigrigna Christians and return all occupied Muslim Lands to its rightful owners”, “to return the clock back to 1952 where there won’t be any Christian in the God-Given Muslim Lands ”, “create a strong burrier that divides Eritreans by faith and ethnicity” and “create Islamic Theocracy that is based on the will of God”. What a hypocrite. But, I’ll leave it to you to judge for yourself if the team of the Eritrean Covenant has earned the right to criticize the authors of Nehnan Elamanan.
Reason #4. Concerned about Muslim resentment in the Eritrean Army for defending
Eritrea alone, this is what the team of the Eritrean Covenant is trying to tell us:
With an estimated 10% desertion since 2000, the current figure of Christens in the army is likely to be in the mid to high 40’s. The majority of the youth fleeing conscription are Christian Tigrigna speakers from the
Highlands. This evokes painful memories in our history when one segment of our society is perceived to be less committed to national causes. This is making Muslim conscripts, resent being left behind to defend the country while Christian Tigrigna speakers are fleeing the country.
The Eritrean Covenant can see clearly, the decade old consistent exodus of young Tigrigna Christians fleeing their country in mass leaving their families and friends behind. The Eritrean Covenant can see clearly history repeating itself: the painful memories of ethnic Tigrigna Christians being less committed to national causes. Yes Muslims carrying a burden more than their fare share: again. The Covenant can read clearly the minds of young Muslim conscripts, and he can feel their resentment for being left behind to defend the country alone. But the Eritrean Covenant can’t see the misery that forced these Tigrigna young men and women to leave their country and their love ones behind, heading to unknown destination which may cost them their lives. To add insult to injury, the Covenant is trying to make us believe the regime is an Ethnocratic Regime that serves the interest of ethnic Tigrignas only. The Covenant is trying to make us believe, Ethnic Tigrignas are happy under the regime. I wonder what the Covenant’s explanation would be, to the decade old unsustainable exodus of young Tigrigna Christians. Since 10% migration is not enough for them, I wonder how many young Tigrigna Christians would have to flee the country, in order the team of the Covenant to see the misery of ethnic Tigrignas. But again, why should they care? Aren’t ethnic Tigrignas their enemy?
Reason #5. Concerned about ethnic and religious tensions in Eritrean society, as a result of draft-dodgers round-up, this is what the Eritrean Covenant is telling us:
Whenever there is a roundup of draft dodgers, some residents of the Eritrean Highlands misdirect their resentments towards those who conduct them, who often are disproportionately Muslims from the
Lowlands. We are alarmed by this and several other reported incidents of ethnic and religious tensions between the army and civilians.
The Eritrean Covenant can clearly see the frustration of young Tigrigna Christians with the never ending national service. The Covenant can see higher number of young Tigrigna Christians refusing to return to National Service voluntarily. The Covenant can clearly see the government army and government security agents dispatched to round-up young Tigrigna Christian draft dodgers. The Covenant can clearly see angry Christian Tigrigna communities showing their anger towards the army and the security agents. The Eritrean Covenant can see clearly 90% or higher of the military and security agents top leaders being from ethnic Tigrigna. But the Covenant is trying to make us believe, the Christian Tigrigna communities and the young Tigrigna draft dodgers who are being hunted are not angry at the PFDJ government. In fact they are angry at Muslims from the
Lowlands who are conducting the round-up. Again if this is an honest assessment you be the judge.
Reason #6. When it comes to Eritrean public reaction and the reaction of those who enforce the regime’s shoot to kill policy, this is what the Eritrean Covenant want us to believe:
The regime’s controversial policy of shoot to kill at the border is often not enforced by those who ethnically relate to the deserters and thus view it as an act of fratricide, which in turn puts them at odds with those who resent being left behind to defend the country.
After year 2000, the Eritrean Covenant can see clearly almost all of the young men and women who are fleeing the Country being Tigrigna Christians, which is true. The Covenant can see clearly young Tigrigna Christian men and women being shot at and some getting killed trying to cross the border. The Eritrean Covenant can see clearly 90% or higher of the military and security agents and border patrol top leaders, who are ordering to shoot, as being from ethnic Tigrigna. But he can’t see the regime doing any harm to ethnic Tigrignas. If this is an honest assessment, you be the judge.
Reason #7. Lashing out at some opposition leaders for being self appointed leaders with no mandate and no wider public support, this is what the Eritrean Covenant said in print:
….self-appointed representatives of an Eritrean social segment do not have a mandate to represent Eritreans. Of course, we understand that there are some who do not subscribe to the grassroots views; those who are in the fringes would not add value to such a debate or dialogue in the first place. By Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar – Apr 09, 2010
Wow. So much for the Islamists Western democracy think-tank: Please help me here…and the Covenant is elected by….Who? Is the Covenant’s future democratic Eritrea, an
Eritrea that adheres to the principle of “those who are in the fringes would not add value to such a debate or dialogue in the first place” attitude? I don’t know if the Eritrean Covenant has the authority or the mandate to speak on behalf of all Eritrean Muslims but this is what the Covenant’s Statement said speaking on behalf of, half of Eritrean population:
Eritrean Muslims do not recognize…… Eritrean Muslims reject…..Eritrean Muslims believe…. Eritrean Muslims are determined…Eritrean Muslims strongly uphold…Eritrean Muslims shun all forms of….Eritrean Muslims want….Eritrean Muslims will always demand…Eritrean Muslims condemn any act of… Eritrean Muslims assert… Eritrean Muslims deeply care about….Eritrean Muslims understand… Eritrean Muslims are aware… Eritrean Muslims embrace….
Again, if “self appointed representatives of an Eritrean social segment don’t have a mandate to represent Eritreans”, I wonder why, the Team of the Eritrean Covenant didn’t use the same standard for themselves. Wouldn’t that be hypocrisy?
Reason #7. To explain its position on the sanction imposed on Eritrea, the Eritrean Covenant said: ”Undoubtedly, the arms embargo puts
Eritrea in a precarious position to defend itself…”
But the Eritrean Covenant doesn’t see any problem supporting the sanction. Even if the arms embargo puts Eritrea, not the regime, not Isayas Afewerki, but
Eritrea that the team of the Eritrean Covenant love is put in a precarious position to defend itself, the Eritrean Covenant doesn’t have any problem applauding the sanction. Why, because the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their surrogate political organizations hate PFDJ more than they love
Eritrea. And to them always, the end justifies the means.
Reason #8. This is the Eritrean Covenant’s position regarding the border issue and Ethiopian policy towards
“The border war stalemate has taken its toll on Eritrean society over the last ten years… The Ethiopian regime…seeks to weaken
Eritrea through a war of attrition..”
The Eritrean Covenant believes Eritrean society is suffering due to the border stalemate, yes, not Isayas Afewerki, not the regime, but the whole Eritrean society is suffering due to the border stalemate. And the Eritrean Covenant can see clearly the Ethiopian regime doing everything in its power to weaken Eritrea through war of attrition, but the Eritrean Covenant and its surrogate political organizations don’t have any problem cuddling with the regime in
Ethiopia at the expense of their people. Why, because removing the Isayas regime from power is priceless.
Listen, it is very healthy to have political difference with your government and fellow citizens. It is perfectly right to oppose your government and work tirelessly to remove the regime. And I’m one of those Eritreans who want this regime, not the PFDJ party but the regime gone for good. But there is a fine line between standing against your government and standing against your country. There is a fine line between standing against the regime and standing against your own people.
Tell me, under any circumstance, do you think any political party in the United States would support UN sanction against the
US? Under any circumstance, do you think any political party in the US would support the UN, to send American war Generals to
The Hague? Under any circumstance, do you think any political party in Israel, Great Britain, Germany or
France would send their political leaders or War Generals to face the International Criminal Court? Do you think any of the developed countries would allow any of their servicemen/women to be court marshaled by the UN? Absolutely not, not even if hell freezes over. So, tell me why we should?
Listen, maybe, yes maybe it is my idiot brother who started the fight but it is my house that’s burning, it is my mother that’s crying, it is my family that’s left out in the cold with an empty stomach, it is my brother and my sister that are fighting their hands tied behind their back to defend my house and my family. There is no justification in the world, for me or anyone to stand against your own family and your own home. There is no justification in the world to hate your government more than you love your country or your people, just to secure your narrow political gain. I hope I made myself very clear.
Mind you, this is not a referendum on the regime. This is not approval stamp for the regime’s policy. The regime is accountable for its action or inaction. But going after government officials head (neck) is not the answer. Government officials are in a position of power to make unpopular decisions. Government officials are in a position of power to maintain law and order. Government officials are judged by history, not by competing political parties who want to settle a score using a sham Kangaroo Courts. Immunity is the word of wisdom we need to master. Yes immunity for all. Yes for our leaders from Federation era to those who led our Armed Struggle, to our current leaders and tomorrow’s leaders. Let history be the judge and let us all be the critics as we should. Again, I hope I’ve made myself very clear.
Ethiopia or any other country in this planet, I don’t have any problem working with foreign governments based on mutual respect and mutual interest of both people and both countries. What I want to assert is, our internal affairs is our business, and no foreign government should be allowed to use our internal squabbles to serve as a tool for its foreign policy. I just don’t want our opposition organizations to look like an extension of Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs or extension of any other government’s foreign policy, period.
#4. The Covenant’s ‘Tigrigna Ethnocratic Regime’ argument
The Eritrean Covenant collected a lot of data to prove beyond any shadow of doubt, that the Eritrean government is ethnic Tigrigna dominated government. By proving beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the Eritrean government is ethnic Tigrigna dominated government, the Covenant wanted us to believe, the regime is Ethnocratic regime that serve the interest of ethnic Tigrignas only. The implication: ethnic Tigrignas are happy with PFDJ regime being in power. Since they are happy being the primary beneficiaries of the spoils of victory, they will never fight against their interest. Therefore, to defeat the regime and to achieve any meaningful change, Muslims must achieve unity of cause and faith to defeat ethnic Tigrignas and their regime. And the Eritrean Covenant makes his case by presenting the following and other detailed data:
Christians from the highlands make up the overwhelming majority, often in the high 90 percentile, of Eritreans awarded access to post elementary education, scholarship to study and train abroad, admission to local colleges, government employment15, political assignment, governorship, assignment in diplomatic missions, management of state owned enterprises, military and civilian leadership, national and local administration. Basically, the whole state apparatus is exclusively ethnic based, it neither reflects a national characteristic nor the diversity of the Eritrean people. (By Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar – Feb 12, 2010 )
Is the claim and data provided by the Eritrean Covenant Statement accurate? I don’t know but I wouldn’t doubt it. What I can say with absolute certainty is, even if it is true, it is not the whole truth. Yes, even if the regime is 100% from ethnic Tigrigna, it doesn’t have the full blessing of all ethnic Tigrignas, it wasn’t elected by ethnic Tigrignas and it doesn’t serve the interest of ethnic Tigrignas. In the sixties ELF was Muslim dominated organization at all levels. But no one said, at least outside the shadow of darkness, ELF was an Islamic Organization. And nobody blamed Eritrean Muslims for ELF being Muslim dominated organization from top to bottom. Why? Because we know exactly why ELF was Muslim dominated organization, and we know exactly what our Muslim brothers could and couldn’t have done at that moment in time. The point: the Eritrean Covenant’s ethnic Tigrigna domination and Ethnocratic Regime argument is not sincere. It is politics of half-truth. EPLF/PFDJ had and still has mind of its own, and it never represented ethnic Tigrigna as a Front or as a Regime.
The authors of the Covenant are dead wrong when they called the regime Ethnocratic Regime and criminalized the whole ethnic Tigrignas with the regime. By promoting this idea, the authors of the Covenant are creating a wedge between Muslims and Christians. The authors of the Covenant are dead wrong, when they denied the suffering of ethnic Tigrignas under the regime in order to fit their Islamic agenda. The authors of the Eritrean Covenant are dead wrong when they said, ”we call on all Muslims for…..a united force and collective leadership” to bring regime change. Excluding Tigrigna Christians from being part of the process for change is not a solution but a problem in itself. If the team of the Eritrean Covenant and their surrogate organizations don’t have any sympathy for the pain and suffering of ethnic Tigrignas today, why would ethnic Tigrignas believe they will be different tomorrow when they control power? Please, let’s focus and keep our eyes on the ball. We don’t have religious problem. We don’t have ethnic problem. What we have is regime problem and let’s leave it as that.
If the presented data is true and if there is anybody who will get hurt by the Covenant’s presented data, I will assure you it won’t be ethnic Tigrignas, but the PFDJ regime. And if the PFDJ regime is confident that, the presented data by the Covenant is wrong, it is the job of its political power machine to prove it wrong. But why should they? Why would they waste their time defending something that is irrelevant to their wellbeing? The Eritrean Covenant and the Tadamun cadres are defending the PFDJ regime themselves. And they are doing a good job at it. Think about it: the only time the PFDJ power machine reacts is, only when the PFDJ power base is about to desert the regime and side with the opposition. And that is not happening.
In the opposition camp, the Islamists are the only ones with the loudest noise. And they are doing a good job, scaring the whole ethnic Tigrigna and the moderate Muslims. They are scaring ethnic Tigrignas and the moderate Muslims in the opposition so bad, both will tell you, they will choose the regime over the Islamists every time. Trust me, the way the Islamists are running their mouth and the way the moderates at the opposition are hibernating, rest assured the regime will sleep like a rock even when a jack-hammer is pounding. If there is going to be any regime change without foreign interference, it is going to come only from within the regime. And if there is going to be any invitation from inside to the political opposition organizations in exile, the Islamists will be left in the cold, and that is a sad scenario we should avoid at any cost.
#5. Let’s Assume The Covenant’s Data Is Accurate: So What?
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say the Eritrean Covenant Statement is right. The PFDJ regime is ethnic Tigrigna dominated regime from top to bottom, and the Eritrean Covenant proved that beyond any shadow of a doubt. What does that mean? What does that make the authors of the Eritrean Covenant and the Tadamun cadres? Does that make them genuine revolutionaries? Does that make the Eritrean Covenant’s characterization of our issues and future recommendations right? Does that justify the Eritrean Covenant’s surrogate political organizations to govern
Eritrea? Absolutely not, still they are wrong for
Eritrea. Equally, if the Eritrean Covenant’s presented data happens to be wrong, that won’t make the EPFDJ regime any desirable. Listen: proving someone a criminal, doesn’t make you an innocent. Proving someone a sadistic killer doesn’t make you an angel. Proving someone a brutal dictator doesn’t make you genuine democrat. You’re right only when you’re right, and the Eritrean Covenant is not.
Just to make a point, let’s say a team of highly educated Eritrean Women Research Team did a thorough research on all Eritrean political organizations. And their research finding confirmed that, while members of every Eritrean political organization consisted about 50/50 male-female ratio, their leadership ratio was shockingly way off. The PFDJ regime leadership body was 95% male dominated from top to bottom and the Tadamun organization was 90% male dominated at all levels. Shocked by, their brothers insensitivity and silence, the Eritrean Women Research Team “offered to the public their well researched evidences as a tool in the hope that all justice, peace and freedom loving Eritreans immediately, to take full ownership of their research finding. Indeed, now the public has fully owned it.”
So, as a member of the wider public and as a brother, father, husband or lover, what do you think? What would your first reaction be besides, ‘I knew it was bad but I never thought it was that bad’ kind of reaction? Of course I would be mad as hell, damn it. Not at the PFDJ Ethnocratic regime but at the leaders of the Tadamun organization, because as the champions of freedom, equality and justice for every Eritrean, I was expecting more from them.
The point: you don’t need meticulous research for the obvious. It is there for you to see. Let’s face it, you don’t need the Covenant’s wisdom to know the religious, ethnic and regional make-up of the regime. It is there for you to see. I don’t have hard data to prove it, but like most Eritreans I believe the PFDJ regime is Tigrigna dominated regime. The Eritrean Covenant data is not far off from the truth. If the same data would have been published by any moderate organization with a balanced vision and pragmatic recommendations, we all would have hailed the statement. The Eritrean Covenant is wrong, not because the data presented by the study is far off from the truth, but it is wrong because the Eritrean Covenant data is being used as the whole truth to achieve an Islamist Agenda, which won’t bring peace or stability to the nation. And what is the point of having a change, if it means more grief, more killing, more bloodshed and more mass exodus?
#6. The Eritrean Covenant and ‘The Myth Of Nehnan Elamanan’:
Through the Eritrean Covenant, the Tadamun camps are trying very hard to convince their Muslim audience, the never ending hate, prejudice and enmity against Muslims by Tigrigna Christians is a direct result of the venomous Nehnan Elamanan that was planted and hatched by Isaias Afewerki and his likes some forty years ago. Let’s listen to what the Covenant has to say:
The venomous Nhnan Elamanan Manifesto penned in those days became the rallying cry for all sorts of enmity and prejudice against Eritrean Muslims. The current prejudice that continues unabated in one form or another to this day is the direct outgrowth of the seed that was planted in the past by Isaias Afwerki and his clique who later nurtured and perfected these sentiments and raised them to new heights. (By Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar – Feb 12, 2010 )
Wow. That’s the myth. And this is the fact. If someone says to you ‘my marriage ended up in divorce because my wife’s friends and families turned her against me’ please tell him, no, she left you because you’re not charming enough for her. If someone says to you ‘my wife turned my kids against me’ please tell him, no, ‘your kids don’t love you because you are not a good father’. If someone says to you ‘my friends and families don’t like me because they are jealous of me’, please tell him, no, your friends and families don’t like you because you are odd person. If some says ‘there are Tigrigna Christians with enmity and prejudice against Muslims because of Nehnan Elamanan’ please tell him, no they are prejudice against Muslims because, they don’t know Muslims, they never been close to Muslims, they don’t have a Muslim friend, they never shared a meal, a joke, tea or coffee with a Muslim. And this is true to any person from any faith, ethnic or race. Like any Eritrean child in my generation, I was told by my parents, we are ABC, Muslims are DEFG don’t ever do 1,2,3, ..99999.. Later, after I joined Gedli like most of my Eritrean brothers, I got the opportunity to know my Muslim brothers for myself. Gedli changed the old perception, stigma and stereotypes that we all had about each other, and that is one of the best things that ever happened to all of us.
Look, if I’ve to guess, probably over 90% of ethnic Tigrigna Christians don’t have any clue, about the content of Nehnan Elamanan. Probably 99.9% of Tigrigna Christians never read Nehnan Elamanan. Why, because the regime never distributed the manifesto to the public. Why, because the regime is not proud of it. Why, because it is not and was not a winning strategy. Why, because it is a document you can’t talk in a mixed crowd. Why, because it is a document written by Eritreans who are afraid of other Eritreans. Why, because it is a document of hate and half-truth. Do I need to say more? I think not.
Now, that will lead us to the obvious question: so, if Nehnan Elamanan was a document you can’t discuss in a mixed crowd, and if Nehnan Elamanan was not a winning strategy, then how did the team of Nehnan Elamanan pulled it off? The success of Nehnan Elamanan and, not the half-truth but the whole truth of Tigrigna domination will be our next discussion.
NB. Part II will follow soon