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Human rights lawyer vs. trained healer

Unfiltered Notes: Rays Of Hope With EYSC’s Freedom Friday

It is refreshing to see EYSC’s (Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change) Freedom Friday initiative launched with the stated goal of eradicating dictatorship in Eritrea. According to EYSC, 10,000 robocalls and 2000 personal calls have been made so far (listen to recorded message here: http://eysc.net/pr/arbi_harnet_voicemessage.WMA).  Could we be witnessing a long overdue tipping point building up that will finally free Eritrea from the string of negatives it has been subjected to?

Although Eritrea has been a source of bad news for a long time, the news over the last few years has gotten consistently worse.  Eritrea being one of the top exporters of refugees, about 400 drowning in the Mediterranean last year, Eritreans raped or murdered for organ harvesting in Egypt, the sadistic regime mocking those facing these horrific crimes as ‘people going on a picnic’, sanctions that have left the country isolated and friendless, an impoverished and severely weakened nation on the brink of irrelevance are just a few of the negatives Eritrea is unfortunately known for. Regime supporters routinely point out infrastructure development as a major accomplishment, which is true. But building roads, schools and clinics — although a good thing — should not be mutually exclusive with freedom and justice.  Our roads have failed to become arteries of vibrant commerce and free movement; and our schools have failed to become centers of excellence ( click here to read journalist Amanuel Mahdere’s excellent summary and the tragedy of students begging for bad grades and teachers threatening misbehaving students with good grades as punishment ). Instead of waking up people’s conscience for Arab spring type of uprising, however, we have a population that is numbed into paralyzing inaction on one hand and a vicious but lucky dictatorship comfortably holding on to power on the other.

In spite of the ruling elite’s habitual tendencies to self-destruct, it faces no threats from the opposition which continues to be severely divided. Additionally, the tolerance for suffering by the larger population has been unnaturally high with no apparent threshold for outrage. And whenever we get to a point where we think it can’t get any worse, it does.  Latest case in point: after Yemane, Osman and ‘wedi Gerahtu’ assured the late Naizghi Kiflu’s family the regime will take care of his burial expenses, Isaias got totally unhinged and blocked the burial from taking place in Eritrea. The stalemate with the dead body is over two months old now. The family is still waiting but Isaias, unfortunately, holds all the cards. The shame continues.

ምስ ሬሳ ዝረባረብ ፈዅሱ ድዩ ተጸሊሉ
ተጸንቂቐየ ጉሓፉኒ ይብለና ድኣ ከይህሉ።

አምበር ሬሳ ኣውዲቐ ኢልካ ፈኸራስ ኣይጥዕናን
ኤርትራ ተዋሪዳ ሓፊራ ነውሪ’ዩ ኣይባህልናን።

Could this be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back? If the notorious Naizghi was buried in Eritrea as the regime’s three officials promised, the petty grudges would have been buried with him and Eritrea would have been spared another embarrassment. Getting into a duel with a corpse only illustrates yet again that Africa’s so-called “strong men” are indeed a sorry lot who never fail to find deeper bottoms to sink their countries to. Will the ruling elite’s messengers finally get it that as far as Isaias is concerned, everyone is disposable (kedemti, in the regime’s vulgar vernacular).  If he does this to his friend and once trusted partner in crime, why would anyone’s fate be different?

EYSC To The Rescue?

Whether EYSC’s robocalls will spark positive change to come from within Eritrea remains to be seen but the approach is refreshingly brilliant. Of course, the regime will unleash all its dirty tricks to divide the movement as it has so successfully done with other groups before. This time, for Eritrea’s sake, the new wave better be strong enough to live up to the task. There will be challenges and missteps along the way. The important thing is to learn from them and to regain the stride quickly. Here are some random thoughts for EYSC and supporters to consider as the struggle continues.

  • Keep it young. This doesn’t mean the older generation has nothing to offer but given our track record so far, we have very little to show for the noise we generate.  Based on past experiences, if we are given two hours to come up with serious plans for the future, we (the older generation) will waste one hour and 55 minutes re-hashing the past.  More often than not, nothing enlightening comes from such exchanges. Let time take care of those who won’t let go. Keep it young, keep it action oriented and keep going.
  • Embolden people inside Eritrea. That is  where the center of gravity for real and durable change should be. Boost the morale of change agents inside Eritrea by challenging and exposing the regime’s messengers (minus inappropriate insults) and foiling its events (legally). Illegality is the regime’s domain, don’t go there.
  • Be humble and listen to other voices. Give credit to others when credit is due.  Share successes and take responsibility for mistakes. Extreme arrogance as personified by the ruling elite (complemented by our gullibility to be fooled almost all the time) is one of the root causes of Eritrea’s total lack of self-reflection and inability for self-correction – so far.
  • Be very clear about what you are for and what you are against. The reason why Eritrea’s independence is devoid of freedom and justice is because almost all attention before independence was focused on getting rid of Ethiopia. Necessary time and energy was not invested to develop a vision of what a free Eritrea should be like. We should not repeat the same mistakes again by focusing all attention on just getting rid of hgdef’s dynasty. Will we allow injustice and lawlessness to be the norm again under different players?
  • Prepare for things to get worse before they get better.  Previously functioning laws and community-based problem-solving practices have either been destroyed or severely weakened denying Eritrea a roadmap for quick recovery. When the regime goes (and it will go), the void can trigger unpredictable events a future dictator in waiting can hijack. How will such events be contained? That is when good leadership from EYSC and from change agents inside Eritrea will be most needed.
  • Engage the YPFDJ positively. Challenge them to live up to the ideals of their name — Democracy and Justice.  Many are misguided and/or misinformed but are smart enough (and hopefully humane enough) to see the irony of their ‘royal’ treatment at the expense of Eritreans their age who are doomed to a life of servitude. Based on its actions so far, the regime will have no qualms repeating the devastating ghedli-era civil war by pitting Eritreans against each other just to stay in power. Anticipate this and deny it its habitual addiction to sadistic pleasure.
  • Reject the temptation to associate someone’s bad deeds with what percentage of their blood is Eritrean or with their religion or region. Such mindset diverts attention away from real issues that need to be addressed urgently. Repeating this mistake will only contribute to Eritrea’s backwardness, making it look more like Somalia and less like the civilized nation it should be.
  • Refocus attention to the economy and good education ( the negatives Amanuel Mahdere has identified must be reversed). With hyperinflation and existing anemic economy (with exports estimated at $20 million annually), no one in Eritrea can afford day-to-day living with honest earnings today.  Even higher revenues from gold over the next decade or so, will not change the situation much without fundamentally changing our educational and economic realities.
  • Stay focused on the real issues. The regime has perfected the art of diverting people’s attention away from its failures by blaming others (CIA, Ethiopia etc).  So much so that we easily recognize and condemn injustice with exaggerated moral indignation when we see it done to others only to fall silent or fish for incoherent excuses as we witness worse injustices committed by our own against our own. We don’t stop to think that the CIA did not mow down the disabled veterans in cold blood, embezzle money from families by holding aging parents hostage, create havoc in society by deposing and promoting religious leaders, or make Astier Yohannes and countless others disappear. And more recently, we know Ethiopia or the CIA did not shame Eritrea by picking a fight with a dead body. 

With action-oriented and renewed energy, EYSC is on the right track to accomplish its stated goal to end dictatorship in Eritrea. Such worthy goal deserves our full support. If done well, Eritreans will finally be able to enjoy true freedom and justice which independence was supposed to have brought along 21 years ago.

About Tewelde Estifanos

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  • rodab

    South Sudan: another brutal dictator in the making.
    Early signs are that Silva Kirr, the so called President of South Sudan, is going to be no less merciless a dictator than Isaias and Meles are. At least it took 8 good years for the two idiots to drive us into all out war. What about Silva Kirr? It took him only months to plunge the new republic into war and he managed to take a pieace of land that doesn’t belong to him. Yet worse, he has adamantly refused calls from the AU, the UN and others to withdraw from oil sites that belong to Sudan. Of course the big credit goes to dictator Al Bashir for weakening Sudan to such a level that it can’t defend itself against the light weight S. Sudan. Just as PIA has weakened Eritrea to the point the Woyanes can go 18KM inside our land, do whatever they like to do, and go back without any incident. That is the price of a dictatorship ruling a country with no palriament, with no laws and rules, with no accountability and transparency. God speed.

    • Answer

      Um…and this is related to this article how?

      • rodab

        The author wrote “…Freedom Friday initiative launched with the stated goal of eradicating dictatorship in Eritrea.”
        I wrote “…the price of a dictatorship ruling a country with no palriament, with no laws and rules..”
        Can you see the connection now? Thanks.

    • T. Kifle


      Are you for real putting Meles and Isaias in the same basket?

  • Gobian Garibaldi

    selam Hameed and all,

    Hameed nebsi, long time no hear and, yes, where is our comrade sara, :-). The lady of the house and sara are very interesting people in their small and in their big rights:-). As to our friend Weyane and her apologists, they are an interesting lot and they are your buddies. Buddies are good but their way is not my cup of tea.

    You knw comrade Hameed, :-), I like main street and used to go there and talk to her in the old days. Then came, the spoilers, Al-Shebab and Shaebia, strange bedfelows trying to finish Weyane off from this and that side. Weyane is a tough cookie and I like its talk of wisdom in her head of the house of Weyane, Cousin Meles.

    Talk is one thing, action is another. So, Cousin Meles has talked the talk but he also has to walk the walk: Demarcate the border between mother Eritrea and mother Ethiopia so that we can all go home and look for our natural mothers and fathers, cousins and neices, aunts and uncles, and and more, and live happily thereafter for ever and ever :-). That is as God ordained. We are cousins with Mr.-Shrewed-Legese, though, we both don’t know it:-)

    Cheers and peace!

  • danny

    I have to add my voice as one citizen to approve the brilliant message by Tewelde Estephanos to the youth of Eritrea. I also strongly disapprove loose canons like that of Hameed who, knowingly or unknowingly, have become part of the regime’s final result of divide and rule.

    • Hameed

      Natus nendi emata.

      • rodab

        It’s “natas nHamata”.

  • HGDF

    Self-baptizing with increasingly new names and old agendas is not new for the Eritrean opposition. It is just reshuffling the playingcards in order to get more funds.

    • Hameed

      Since you are from HGDF, it is better to tell us about the butcher, the self-baptized president and reshuffling of the mafia. Don’t waste your time in the poor old guys who run after getting more funds.

  • Hameed

    Dear Tewelde Estifanos,

    Speaking about a nation is not like picking an apple of our taste, it is about people of different ethnic groups, religions and inclinations. Writing about a nation demands a different mind set from that of choosing a fruit that we like to eat.

    I don’t think a telephone call is enough to enlighten the youth inside Eritrea and make them refrain from appearing on the streets on Friday evenings and on Sundays to swarm the streets of Asmara. The youth inside Eritrea know the regime more than the youth residing in diaspora and hate it more than any Eritrean outside Eritrea.

    My intention is not to embitter you more but to show you that the Eritrean case demands more applicable treatment.

    I think you have a sense of humor, so let me tell you this joke: The fields of education our old mothers and fathers know in Eritrea is physician and engineer (doctor and Geometra). One of the old mothers asked her son who studies in USA, what are you studying my beloved son? He answered I am studying “Fine Arts”. She replied, it is better than doing nothing.

  • Teweldeberhan Weldedawit

    Thank you Tewelde. I was waiting someone to write about it and you did it in a brilliant way. What we have to know is EYSC’s initiative is not only innovative but well prepared and studied. It is not easy to make 10000 robo calls to Eritrea. It involves human resources, money, organisation, contacts and absolute dedication. It is not simple like ” we had a meetinig and B-Awet Tezazimu” or” we had demonstration and it was successful”. On the contrary EYCS’s initiative is direct action oriented and it is different from the other Eritrean opposition organisations’ actions in the following way:

    1. It does not represent any particular ethnic or religious group, does not represent any opposition party or have affiliation with Kidan or EPDP or other political organisations.

    2. It appeals directly to Eritreans in Eritrea who bear the great burden of the oppression.

    3. It does not ask Eritreans in Asmara for support or sympathy but asks them for direct action against the regime without unduly endangaring their lives.

    4. For the last 50 years Eritrean politics was dominated by ELF/EPLF dichotomy and their respected affiliates of hafash wudubat, like workers’, women’s, and youth organisations associated and run by ELF/EPLF, which in most cases was sectarian. But EYCS and other youth organisations are young who are not blemished by the 50 years of sectarian politics and as such they are the right group to organise the youth at home who in all probability are the ones who are able to change the regime if at all. Thus they should be fully supported by the older generation and their opposition organisations.

    5. Whether we like it or not the older organisations have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that they cannot be effective to remove the totalitarian regime in Asmara. It is time to give the opportunity for the EYCS and other youth organisations.

    Victory to the Eritrean Youth

    • Mogos Tekeste

      Teweldeberhan Weldedawit and Tewelde Estifanos,

      Selam to all.

      These are excellent summations of the status of our struggle against the authoritarian regime in Eritrea and words of wisdom on how to go about it in trying to get rid of the oppressive system. Thank you very much to both of you.

      While I am at it, I would like to recommend again an excellent short book to all Eritreans who are involved in the struggle. This book as highlighted in the New York Times succinctly explains in a very commonsensical way the importance of the rule of law and the respect of property rights on creating an inclusive political and economic institutions in a nation (as opposed to an extractive political and economic institutions.)

      The book is: Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.

      (This book clearly shows the ills of Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa and all nations where there are no respect of property rights and where there are absences of the rule of law.)

  • shetet aynibel

    Ruhus Awdeanet, to all christeans. and I am happy to celebrate it among my moslem brothersm who really respects my self being, even Ali Salim.

  • rodab

    Thanks Hameed for the links, but you realize only handful Eritreans read Arabic?
    Anyway why don’t you tell us a little about the movements you mentioned. I hope they are not religious based movements.

  • L.T

    KiHkeKa KihaKeki…..
    ” Baelom YiXhfewo bealom dima YinBibwo”Isaias Tsegay on “Magazin Hiywet 1993.The some song,there is no any new under We-Ayne comp.good reason to back to day one game.Anyway happy easter to Afki Ysaer…:@:-)

  • tekle

    Eritrea will never see change…. Although I praise the work of EYSC, the government has the population under its control and people will be too scared to talk and set up private meetings as there are spies and secret agents everywhere…

    almost 3,000 people are fleeing to Sudan and Ethiopia every month.. shouldn’t we motivate these departures who are suffering I’m the refugee camps…

    last point, the opposition are all divided and weak and normally lie about the number of casualties of shabia soliders…. if we do overthrow isaias and his loyist with these opposition, there could be a problem such as tribal/ ethnic war between us.

  • Isaias Kemzi Isaias awzi always complain for nothing.We Eritreans called home everyday to ask our familie how they are and they are doing very well but as we all know after the flash news bomb our bush bush mineral Wey-Ane are fell ill even his co..
    To Daniel G,
    You failed misreble from begning and how much dollar CIA pay you for this baddo action?
    Isaiasim and Isaiast are always there.AyGermekan Do?This site are so negative about Eritrea and people ask you are in awete have a darkside.

  • Mohamed

    The message directed to Eritrea lucks a very important element of effective propaganda.
    After presenting who the EYSC’s are, the message to pass should not be ‘kulahna habirna’, because when an individual is not asked to do something personally he/she may leave the task to others. It’s a well known best practice of propaganda to address the person directly, ‘nisikha’, or ‘nisikhi’ , i.e. ‘you’ should do this or that ..

  • Hameed

    It is good to support the youth of Eritrea to play their role in uprooting the regime in Eritrea, but I wonder why the writer concentrated his article on EYSC though there are many Eritrean youth organizations in diaspora; for example the 24 May Eritrean Youth Movement in Egypt, Eritrean Youth Movement for Change in Switzerland and others.

    As you said dear brother, it is better to stay away than giving all the credit to one sector of the youth and neglect the other sectors totally. Such divisive articles doesn’t help the mission of our youth.

    Links to the two youth movements I mentioned in my comments:




    • Tewelde Stephanos

      Dear Hameed,
      You need to chill out a little. Fighting divisiveness was one of the main points I was trying to communicate. Really sorry it didn’t come across that way to you. What erked you was not intentional but a simple case of not being aware. But why did you jump to “divisiveness” without considering this as a possible option? That is exactly how the regime wants us to think — keep busy jumping to wrong conclusions about each other to the point of doing nothing to bring about positive change. Please don’t contribute to this mindset, we have way too much of it already. That is why the ruling elite has slept soundly while we waste precious time and energy speculating intentions.

      On a positive note, I am very pleased to know there are more youth organizations who are ready to accelerate the dawn of freedom and justice in Eritrea. If you haven’t done so already, please reach out to EYSC and the ones you mentioned to make sure they are either cooperating already or will do so soon.


      • Hameed

        Dear Tewelde Stephanos/Stifanos,

        I think making a thorough research about the issue and then present your outcome to the reader is from the a, b, c of writing an article. When writing about the Eritrean youth it requires a thorough reading about the Eritrean youth, but when I read for a writer who considers himself well cultivated chopping a slice from the whole and propagates for it I consider it divisive and stinky.

        Quote: If you haven’t done so already, please reach out to EYSC and the ones you mentioned to make sure they are either cooperating already or will do so soon.

        You advise me to reach the youth when I write an incomplete article and present it to the reader?

        • Hameed,

          Articles are not a well researched “papers” as you noted in your comment. Articles are a concise narration about some info’s and your view about it. I believe Tewelde had done just that. What others have to do, if there are others, bring them to light and encourage them to make bridges among themselves.

          Happy Easter to all !!!!

          • Hameed

            Dear Amanuel,

            A concise article doesn’t mean void of giving a general picture of the Eritrean youth.

        • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


          You’re not helping to the on-going struggle at all. If anything, you’re whining and at times too anxious for feeling and being left out where in fact the kernel of the article is centred on how to tackle head-on the sadist regime in Eritrea as opposed to excluding other political parties of pressure-groups. Why is it incredibly difficult for you to see the positive side instead? That is really a pity.

          • Hameed

            Dear Arwe,

            I think you are just defending your comment about the article (Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant). I think you just want us to get rid of the dictator and replace him with another crooked regime. You are the ones who are not helping to rectify the distorted. You have to know crookedness just gives birth to crookedness.

          • Tewelde

            wow, amazing how quickly this has degenerated into a classic pfdj playbook! Just like the pfdj “doctor ordered”, the most important message to support the great work EYSC is doing is overshadowed with useless chatter invented out of thin air.

            Hameed, I am going to take a risk here hoping you have a good sense of humor to say — zeyteSahfe aytenb’b zHawey :-). I kindly ask you to read the article again (especially the bullet points) – impartially and carefully. If you still see a divisive tone or anything that even remotely encourages replacing the current dictatorship with another (in fact bullet#5 says the exact opposite), then let’s agree to disagree and move on.

            And move on to what? Assuming you agree with what EYSC has initiated to bring about positive change, let’s re-focus our attention to fully support EYSC, the youth groups in Egypt and Switzerland you mentioned and others pursuing this worthy goal with creative and renewed energy. If we can’t do that, then let’s at least get out of their way.

            EYSC and other youth groups: if you are following this and not bored to tears yet, stick to bullet #1. Keep it young, keep it action-oriented and keep going.


  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

    Dear Estifanos,

    I can only squeeze out three words to describe your piece: Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant. A Spanish adage has it that, there are no roads, roads are made by walking. If the rather uncertain road of Eritrea’s political whirlwind is to find clarity with a thought out objectives, it is the young generation’s ingenuity where “Arbi Har’net” stands out as a shocker to the seemingly formidable pillars of PFDJ.

    It is rather expected that, the regime in Eritrea will intensify its security apparatus in a bid to nip the movement in the bud but ostensibly the crucial need to redouble the effort to undo the regime outweighs the regime’s efforts to subdue the people into a perpetual submission. Again, well done. The new Eritrea will prevail. God bless us all.


    • Tewelde Stephanos

      “the new Eritrea will prevail” — like the sound of that!! afki ysEar eza Haftey. And not a moment too soon.

    • sara

      Ruhus ba’al fasika to all eritreans in general and specially to christian believers…and to you b’alte wekato in particular.

      • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


        R’hus afasiga to you too haftey.

        God bless.