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The Plight Of “Zuria 26” Enrages Eritrean Youth

Over the last few weeks unusually widespread arrests has been reported from Eritrea. Most of the arrested individuals used to report to senior officials and commanders who seem to have fallen out of favor. A number of civilian and military personnel who reported to Major General Tekle Manjus were arrested.

Until recently, Major General Tekhle was in charge of a wide network of security and business interests spreading from Western Eritrea and Eastern Sudan to South Sudan, through secret middlemen. He is also believed to be associated with Sudanese officials who are allegedly involved in human trafficking.

While the social, political and security situation is boiling in Asmara and other places, president Isaias Afwerki has been staying outside the capital as he always does in time of crisis. This time the Eritrean president is working from a makeshift office around Adi Halo, a village close to the source of the Mereb River and Mai Nefhi water reservoir, where it is believed he is supervising the construction of a dam.

Meanwhile, the plight of the over six-thousand conscripts, mostly girls, who have been living in bad conditions in gorges of Heday river close to the town of Afabet for over a year, has become the talk of the youth in Eritrea. The Heday conscripts are from “Zuria 26”, the ill fated 26th round of the forced conscription.

A witness stated, “they are doing nothing, just languishing there, famished, sick and bored.”

Few people who got a chance to leave the Heday camp carried messages from the conscripts, “asking their parents and relatives to send them money and food.”

Senior officers of the regime usually open shops around the camps to sell essential needs to conscripts who have the money.

Over a year ago the conscripts of the 26th round were recalled to Sawa to be deployed. According to an article in an new electronic magazine authored by “Tesfom Habte”, when asked about Zuria 26, the presidential adviser, Yemene Gebreab, replied, “those who didn’t pass the matriculation exams will be trained in Afabet [Heday] by the ministry of education while the ministry of information will provide audio-visual tools for the training… but sadly there is a disagreement between the two ministries.”

Tesfom sarcastically asks, “I would have liked to ask [Yeman Gebreab], where in the deserts of Heday would they find a power supply socket for the projectors and other electronic gadgets?”

Sources from Eritrea said, “While government officials downplay the plight of the conscripts of the 26th round, “Zuria 26” has become a rallying cry among Eritrean youth who are fearful of facing the same fate as Zuria 26.”

Conscripts of “Round 26” who numbered 20,000 at graduation are now reduced to about 6000 languishing in Heday because “there are not enough teachers in Sawa.” Only less than 3000 conscripts who passed the matriculation were sent to vocational training. The rest of the 20,000 conscripts of “Round 26” have simply disappeared.

Eritrean students have to report to boot camps after they finish junior high school, eleventh grade. After completing 12th grade in one year a few are sent to colleges but the rest are deployed to work in different construction projects managed by the ruling party for an indefinite time with a minimum or no wages.

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  • jonas-1923

    [Moderator: you are welcome, but that welcome will not last if you do not change your tone. Stay for a while and learn what debating means. Insults will not be tolerated and if you repeat an offense you will be shown the door.]

    Why are you talking about Ethiopia ? The article is all about the enslavement of the Eritrean youth and I think you were trying to deflect attention from the too obvious rotting dictatorship in Asmara. If you were a true Eritrean you would have been talking about Eritrea but you are a sale out banda who traded his country for a dictator.

  • Crocus

    “The nobler a man, the harder it is for him to suspect inferiority in others.”
    (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

  • haileTG

    Selamat Awatista,

    Russia and Jordan abstained from voting for the latest UNSC Res. 2182 on account of Somalia. As far as PFDJ is concerned, the whole UN assembly, let alone just the 15 UNSC members, would have voted for it. The Russian MoFA said:

    “The Russian delegation was ready to support the majority of the clauses of the UK-proposed draft except those that were speculative and did not reflect the real situation in Somalia and the region.”

    Read full text of press release


  • haileTG

    Selamat Awatista and Gedab

    The place Heday is the one I was trying to spell correctly last time, as it was the one told to me in my conversation with people in Asmara. The point is that the girls are sending messages to their fathers and brothers (as stated above) and these fathers and brothers have not yet mustered the dare devil balls to to see to it that their daughter or sister isn’t going to be wasted like that. Themselves are in hiding or running out of the country. What exactly more could be done by the world to stand on their side (the men) short of doing the job for them? The world has given virtually everything including the lone super power telling them it stands on their side (Kerry’s message of independence), the UN managed to put multiple layers of quarantine on the regime, world media firmly standing behind the people, countries offering refuge and burial ceremonies… What more? How long is the Eritrean man to be told by HGDEF what to do and killed and enslaved with impunity. The people are not reporting to the militarization and the regime is shown for the powerless idiot that it is. What more? I think asking too much sympathy might worn out those offering it. Time to take action.


    • Tesfabirhan WR

      Haw Haile TG,

      this is exclusively for you. the PFDJ regime gave 1.8 million nakfa to victims of the recent accident in Tunkuluhas road. Analysis please.


      • haileTG

        Selamat tess

        Thanks for this link, I read the news on shabait this morning too. The interesting thing is that the regime (possibly charlie) are noting what is debated here at Recently, we discussed how the reporting of the last Cabinet of Ministers was shabby and its reporting on the second day session was rather more expanded (didn’t address core issues though). Again, two days ago, we mentioned the fact that the regime has no care towards Eritrean lives, citing its acts of abandoning 19 captives that were taken following the skirmish with Djibouti. Mind you, the latter works 24-7 to get any info of the where about of their own 17 captives. They took the matter to the UN and is now part of the sanction regime. In PFDJ’s case, it never mentioned them, never asked for them and didn’t even announce the death of one of them and having been sick due to his treatments. He was buried in low key, by the refugees and captives themselves. It now turns out that the PFDJ, out of the blue, uncharacteristically and with no previous similar act, offers monetary restitution to the death of these 18 kid, and completes the report by adding:

        the parents of the students pointed out that the Government’s decision to extend the insurance attests to its concern towards citizens.

        Really? Could it care enough to the children of G-15, could it care enough to the captives, could it care enough to the Lampedusa victim families, could it care enough to the tens of thousands like Dejen, could it care enough to the human trafficking that takes place right inside the capital, could it care enough not to deal with external armed groups that would expose the nation to grave dangers…heck what does this greedy, thieving and conniving group of individuals that are taking Eritreans for a ride care about our citizens? Nothing. But they think the Eritrean people are easy to play around by gimmicks and superficial undertakings.

        Then again, the regime didn’t even use the ward care but concern, yeah, concern to further its selfish interests. If the regime had any care, why are people disobeying it right now? Well because they know the regime has no concern to the welfare of its citizens.


        • Tesfabirhan WR

          Thank you Haile TG. You exposed the ill intentioned message tried to be addressed as a camouflage.

          PFDJ every trial he does simply exposes his crimes against humanity. They should be minded that people are watching. Simple questions though?

          1. Who is NICE? How this National Insurance came from no where and announced its insurance payment to the victimized youths?

          2. Is there any life insurance so far legally put to the lives of Eritreans?

          3. Who is responsible for paying the insurance? Who was insured? The bus owner? The youths?

          4. Who to thanks who? The people to government? The government to people? The insurance cooperative to people? The bus owner? Who is to thank who and how can families thank for the one who victimized their beloved kids? Most are under age according to proclamations for national service? Why they were forced to leave their home while they were still had to reach 18.

          5. Normally, if a citizen is called for national service, the day he left home is considered as registered member of the defense force? If then, those kids had to be considered as martyrs. And we all know what martyrs are paid every 3 months after, only 1500 Nakfa. What then made this time the PFDJ regime to change his own working principle? Is it for political hallucination?

          6. NICE is believed to be a private insurance cooperative owned by share holders. Isn’t now PFDJ exposing itself as an owner of the cooperative?

          7. How about those 65 000 + 19 000 martyrs?

          The questions are infinite and so are the atrocities of PFDJ.

          @rodab:disqus, thank you for an in depth analysis.


          • haileTG

            Hey tes,

            This regime is an alliance of thieves. Thieves don’t question each other, just congratulate one another on the booty. The so called Ph.d. in PFDJ organs as Gideon et al. are thieves who don’t question in service of their people. NICE was a public company established by proclamation. Despite being relatively profitable, the regime privatized it and PFDJ now owns it, not the state. It was initially said to operate inside the country but has now business in S. Sudan too. Its major provision is non-life class insurance stemming from motor transportation. The regime was transporting the kids using its own vehicles. Therefore, it owns those vehicles and must have insured them. And if that insurance pays out against losses incurred by an insured vehicle, then what the hell is hgdef blubbering about “concern for citizen’s”? What 100,000 ERN is just under $2000 USD with the current 09 exchange rates!! Currently, the UK PFDJ are paying $$$ to set up ERiTV “talk show tv programming, whose money are they blowing?? I don’t know tes, our people (especially those @home) need to wake up to the fact that they are not slaves. It is sad the way hgdef plays them for a total fools.

          • Tesfabirhan WR

            Dear Haile TG,

            Great you are always. and Semere Andom has brought very important points. Let me go with it.

            PFDJ is said to be a regime guided by “Self-reliance” How is self reliance defined by the PFDJ junta? Is it to change the whole people a hostage and make them self-relied in begging the only existing channel? How dare the PFDJ is to bring into public attention that he is the “God the PFDJ” as Sem put it cult system? How dare this barbaric regime is unshameful to knock the ears of “made-to-deafen” innocent Eritreans and show that he wants a non-existing responsibility towards his citizens?

            Here is what the news read, “… Technique Manager at NICE, recalled that the late 18 students and a teacher lost their lives in that tragic accident, and that the Government decided to extend 100 thousand Nakfa each.” Who is to extend and to whom? If the students are insured because the car is insured, why the government wants to extend his hands? Are the victimized families beggars? If they are insured and if NICE is responsible to pay that it is a duty and the families right to be compensated. And, 100,000 Nakfa is almost negligible when we compare what NICE pays if an accident happens.

            Haile TG, though you said it in plain, let me quote the final part of the news: “Government’s decision to extend the insurance attests to its concern towards citizens.” This is what they want to convey to public consumption. First, NICE is a private profit making company. When does the government extended the insurance towards it citizens? Is it because of this tragedy? Or, he also did the same before? I know that the PFDJ circle are insured by default to have medical assistance. After death, all are considered as martyrs and a month after their payroll is closed and transferred to the martyrs book list. Then after, NICE becomes responsible in paying a monthly allowance to the families.

            NICE took a responsibility recently to pay monthly allowance to martyrs families. I do not know how the system works exactly. But, if all the martyrs are enrolled as insured and are paid so, there is no need to have fund raising campaigning from every corner of the world by the name of martyrs. If, NICE is responsible in collecting the money and distribute it towards concerned citizens, that is another thing. This means, as all economic and business systems of PFDJ, NICE is acting as a transit for the money transfer, an extension of 09 (The Red Sea Trading Corporation). My God; how awful system they have built?


          • Tesfabirhan WR

            More about Insurance companies in Eritrea


          • haileTG

            Hi tess,

            Yes, you’ve explained all rather well. On the matter at hand, I believe the families of these victims and other such like accidents can have the files re-opened in court once the alliance of thieves are removed. I believe the owner of the vehicles is the regime, hence the future government has to pay the settlement from state coffers. I would assume each would receive tens of millions in Nakfa (or equivalent currency) each.


      • Rodab

        Hello Tes,

        What the news shows you is, not only did the regime got away with the crime, as it always does, it actually solicited praise for ‘helping’. Can you imagine someone snatching your kids from their warm home, causes their untimely demise, and he wants you to thank him for giving you pocket money?

        Under normal situation, this would’ve been a huge national scandal where no politician can recover from. The tragic and criminally-negligent incident would’ve caused the impeachment of the president followed by criminal charges followed by intense scruitnity of the the entire Sawa/ national sevice/ summer work program as well as road conditions and traffic laws of the nation. But lucky for the culprits, things are not normal and committing crimes and not being accounted for is what has reigned on the land they rule. I remember when the incident occured, the state media didn’t even bother to mention it until the following day. And when it finally mentioned it, it was AFTER the ‘news’ of regime supporters’ gawyla was read. Right after gawyla was shown! It was so shameful!!

        • Semere Andom

          Hi Rodabino:
          And they use the parents as photo op thankfully accepting with their two hands in the same way we used to receive things our parents handed us when we were kids. You can see from the picture the father with shabby closes, that was made so b PFDJ and we were told they were thankful. And these shameful whimsical acts of the regime are supported by our comical here. My fear is that the last 23 years the PFDJ has systematically disabled the fighting spirit, that deeply rooted prided and reduced the people to beggars that is one of their legacy tat the comics tell our people to support the regime without any hint of guilt as they say that while they fled the county of horrors that is ruled by alliance of thieves and killers.

          • Yohannes

            I’m not good at math, but I know enough to know the following.

            At the current exchange rate (rough estimate): 1USD is about 50NKF
            That would mean 1,800,000.00NKF is about USD36,000.00
            And if you divide USD36,000.00 to 18 families that would be about USD2000.00 each.

            In 2014, the life of an Eritrean high school student is valued at USD 2,000.00.

        • Nitricc

          Rodab, what is so shameful about few young students were going to national military service and on the way; this tragic accident happened. I am trying to understand it. I can understand the temptation for you to go with crowed but I suggest you stay sensible and even-kill. Our problem can only be solved if we judge and analyze objectively.
          You will hear even in the USA that helicopters crush and few military personal killed; even sometimes high ranking military personal are killed and there is nothing scandal about it. It is what it is, accident. My question is why are politicizing it? come on man!

          • Semere Andom

            Nitricc: I know you are chatting with Rodab, but cannot resist;-)
            Come on now. Even dawit can perceive this. The government could not have prevented the accident happen and no one should blame it for the accident happening and definitely I do not believe that PFDJ killed the students, although PFDJ is a master of killing people in accidents so do not go there.
            There problem here is that as Rodab said for that PFDJ does not care about and even when they tried to look they care the truth came in their reporting.If you are touched so much to pay the so called insurance and your report it behind the dancing, there is something wrong with that picture. The editorial decision and the insurance payer are the same
            This is not politicking it, it is keeping the government accountable, even if PFDJ was democratic and it allowed multi party system and this happened what Haile and Robab wrote would have been mentioned in the media and in the parliament. It is not politicizing it, but it is politics, let face it, everything is politics, even you saying that we should not politicize it, you are doing politics
            Also the insurance company, its creation, who controls the money and the haphazard actions it takes, randomly paying out ought to be questioned. A government known for confiscating what does not belong to it, is paying insurance to people who did not have life coverage, how does this compute? Does PFDJ also pay parents for their disappearing children who were under its watch, it rounds them and takes them to Sawa and adult son/daughter decides on his own volition to disappear does NICE pay the parents for missing in action kids, no the parents pay the government
            Yes accidents happen and planes crash even in the USA, this is stating the obvious, but someone one is accountable, was the accident preventable are the questions asked in the after math of the accident.
            To be fair the discussion was on the hypocrisy and on the comtemp the PFDJ holds the people. Consider the following for your deliberations:
            1. A government that kill the disabled fighters in 1994 and then adds insul to it instead of investigating. It cannot investigate it self, it pulled the trigger
            2. A government that in the dead of the night goes to Keren and rounds up religious leaders and 20 years on, they are unheard of and former security men tesfified that they have been mass murdered
            3. Inprisons underage kids like Siham Ali for her father’s falling out with the regime
            4. A government that imprisons men with heart and prostate problems in Karcheli and tortures women, even Dergi did not do this
            5. A government that imprisons people like Dejen
            The list goes on and on. I know I am rehashing this all, but some people learn by brute, so I hope it helps to ease your twitching a the slightest attempts to keep the government accountable. It pays to put its crimes and the accusation lodged against it in perspective before the Sybil like personalities are manifested

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Dear Awatistas,
    Because of guidlines, EFND’s internal working memorandum that was presented at the conference (23-25 October 2014) in the Washington DC metropolitan area can not be posted here at I am hereby linking the whole document for awatistas to see and debate on it.

    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Tesfabirhan WR

      dear Aman H.

      Thank you for sharing it here and in fact I was thinking why the document at assenna was not posted here as you are one of the contributers in preparing the document and here at awate a prolific contributer. But, thanks now you cleared my concern.

      Concerning the document, I have finished reading it though a careful revision is needed for every points raised. In the mean, I congratulate you for having such a wonderful outcome and being able to build such working memorandum.

      For debate, I think, assenna web page design is not very attractive to follow individual comments and always I find myself not able to put even what I was thinking. They should change their web-page design I think (just of concern for good).

      Finally but not least, hoping that youths aged below 35 or less were part of the meeting, I thank you for being part of such historical meetings.


  • Semere Andom

    Hi All:

    Of course these are lies meticulously designed to undermine the new nation of Eritrean. While many of us live in the west with a history of thousands of years of sacrifices that have refined the countries, you measure an infant nation like Eritrea that is demanding same sacrifice to be in the league of the nations AT lives in. Nothing is for free, the enemies of Eritrea are many, the problems are complex and the humanely mistakes the leadership makes are normal course of a nation must pass. History is our guiding light Now is fakery that is why it called present, buy present for Christmas, for V-Day for B-Day all is material word, but future and posterity is not mystery for the leadership of Eritrea, they have their eyes set for the future and the languishing of mere 6000 youth is nothing compared to the heavy price that this nation have endured over 100 years of its existence. Eritrea is blessed with many enemies, I know it is ironic how can enemies be a blessing, but hear me out, the more enemies you have the more challenged you are to depend on yourself and on your own to develop potent means to disable a virus called Plasmodium. Laser focus on our “elama” and the youth should stay put because their “ayatat” and fathers have being through worse. I implore them not to hazard the journey to the unknown, the grass always looks greener on the other side or in our own adage, and a moon that you see often is not that illuminating. Enjoy the blessing of the suffering, it is temporal. Whenever I complained about something my mom reminded me the scriptures, how Joseph suffered, but it was for the good of nation of Israel, how Jacob was enslaved by his uncle for over 20 years to marry the love of his life, in the end both were blessed. Like God the PFDJ will keep its word to Eritreans if the youth salivating for iPad and ice creams stay put, enjoy their time while it lasts as this suffering is for the good of the nation and there is no doubt that you will rewarded. If you have to trek for days to find water, because Eritrea’s water is immobile, but you, our youth are mobile, healthy and agile, go for it, fetch water and be thankful that the water is unable to fetch you and from this suffering will come blessing with all the material things, unlike Eritrea’s water these things can actually come to you

    • Senai

      This is a joke right? You can’t be serious? From your comment, I’m assuming you believe that slavery of a group of people in a nation is beneficial, let alone it’s own citizens and that you believe that a nation should enforce a mass program of suffering to it’s people to build “Character”. I’m also asuming that maybe you should stop sharing your opinion on political matters, I wouldn’t want anyone thinking of you as some kind of fool

      • Tesfabirhan WR

        Dear Senai,

        I think you misunderstood Sem A. Recently, he is writing a satire. trying to mock on the PFDJ political discourses; Semere is well known as one of the deromantizers but unlike the revisionists, he has a wealth first hand experiences of the fall of the almighty. Now, I think, he is in a relaxed mood as PFDJ, the almighty dictatorial regime is in its collapsing period. It is time for writing satires.

        I sometimes am not able to follow him as he uses long paragraphs. I think Sem A has missed a sophomore english course. He need to keep each paragraph as short as possible.


        • Kokhob Selam

          Tesfabirhan Hawey, Semere is becoming expert slowly to replace those who are leaving PFDJ camp. Lol, I thought I will be chosen by PFDJ but no way. look how he wrote He can’t keep each paragraph as short and to the point because he is not convinced of all what is saying. I can’t stop laughing “Like God the PFDJ will keep its word to Eritreans if the youth salivating for iPad and ice creams…” Lol

          • Tesfabirhan WR

            selam Kokhob hawey,

            Absolutely you read my mind. Gitmi ba kem gele nSemere hawna.


          • Kokhob Selam

            sure one day I will do that. but hey, he is strong poet and I have to be careful as I will get the reply immediately. he is really wonderful man.