Part I: Background of the Mathematical Equation
Whenever I see people reacting on every issue we raise about victims of PFDJ junta, I read or hear a parallel and ant-thesis line that tries to neutralize the case at hand. For example, PFDJ always works to rationalize the crime it commits against humanity as if it is an action taken for national security reasons. For every claim Eritreans bring, PFDJ refuses the allegation or tries to give a reasoning. For example, why soldiers are working by force – their response is the nation is poor, unable to pay a salary. Such similar allegation neutralization tactics are in practice for the last 26 years(1991 – 2017).
Watch Yemane Gebremeskel(start at 9:06 to watch Yemane Gebremeskel’s Neutralization technique)
What is not normal is when the same technic is in practice by justice seekers. These days, nuetralization of voices of the voiceless people is becoming so common and almost in every voice heard. For every single grievance one raises, there is always anti-thesis to downplay/under estimate it. PFDJ might have a strong reason to bring an Anthi-Thesis statement. What I don’t understand is when justice seekers try to bring another grievances that is intended to normalize the particular case at hand but not to add that grievance into the new one. Instead of adding grievances, they try to silence the voice coming from another grievance. Such anti-voice cancelation voices will only benefit those who work hard to silence voice of the voiceless people.
The first time I encountered such anti-thesis of neutralization was in 2015 when I went to Geneva Demonstration in support of COiE report. A friend of mine who went with me from France, a justice seeker, looked un happy. I asked him why? He told me that, pointing at a posters depicting Eritrean Mulsims who were arrested by PFDJ from Keren in the early 1990s(1991-1995) and nothing is known about them till today, why these people are only carrying posters that show Mulsims? I was shocked by his question. I tried to explain to him about the victims and why these victims need voices.
Victims of PFDJ in the early 1990s from Anseba region (Photo Credit _Tesfabirhan REDIE)
He tried to shift the subject. I insisted and told him that like G-15 and others prisoners in Era-Ero, these people are also victims. Every victim needs a voice and if anyone is lucky his voice will be raised. Otherwise, those voiceless people will be forgotten. He just tried to ignore our conversation.
Victims of PFDJ living in one of the most secretive prison centers, Era-ero
Another encounter I faced was in a discussion held between friends. A group of friends were pointing Elsa Chyrum for her biased approach. They were criticizing her for bringing Biteweded Abraha’s case to Geneva. Their allegation was that Elsa brought Biteweded because he is from her region, Seraye. I was just shocked. I tried to explain why Biteweded’s case a special case and a strong reason to be brought at that particular moment to the UN office in Geneva. I tried to explain them the strong side of bringing Biteweded as a testimony of PFDJ crimes since 1991. No one was accepting my reasoning. What they tried instead was she could have selected another important figure which could be accepted by all. I insisted them to give me a special case. They brought a religious leader who is in prison since 2006. I asked them if Elsa has never voiced for him. They couldn’t say anything. Finally they just tried to shift from the discussion.
Their reasoning was unconscious allegation of Elsa for her bias. What they didn’t understand was Elsa is an active human Rights defender for every Eritrean. Even some of these people who were accusing Elsa were beneficiaries of Elsa’s generiousity during their journey all along the Sahara, Libya and the sea. They just forgot what they got.
Since I started to write about some victimized Eritreans, I have seen counter reactions. For example, recently I wrote about four Eritrean women who became a victim of an Eritrean who claim himself to be a justice seeker named Aregai Hagos. When I wrote in defense of the four women I got three reactions from coming from different angles:
- From the person who has the caused the victim: He reacted by claiming that he by himself is also a victim.
- Audiences – they reacted by including other victims by the same person.
- Those who are fun of Aregai Hagos’s approach – they reacted by saying, eye for eye
It is strange to see such normalization technique coming from people who claim to be fighting to end Eritrean grievances.
Another recent incidence is when I wrote about an Eritrean child who became a victim of PFDJ at the age of 15 and is kept in a secret prison for five years. Some even went further as if I am favouring her over the other victims of her ages.
Someone nicknamed ጽዮን (Zion) produced a picture like the one below:
He upload this picture to his facebook page with a description that reads:
In line to this at Awate Forum, a forumer named Saba wrote some similar nuetralization comment to normalize Ciham’s case. I was forced to respond her using a logical way why we need to talk about individuals case as I believe talking about individuals case is speaking about part of the whole. The comment below was what it forced me to respond:
“Hello Justice seekers, dankera seekers and power seekers.
Many young people are under isayas dictatorship but they did not get their voice heard because they are not VIP. I understand that the opposition aka opposition to Eritreans is in fledgling mode.”
Originally written at awate forum comment section on 06/04/2017
These kind of responses are so common these days. Whether we are doing it on purpose or not what we are doing is against what we advocate for. A single victim’s grievance is part and parcel of the whole grievances. In short, when we say Eritrean Grievances, it is the sum total of all grievances.
This simple concept is what it forced me to come with a mathematical equation that explains what an Eritrean GRIEVANCES is meant.
Part II: Mathematics of Eritrean grievances
- When we talk about Biteweded – some say – why we talk about him only. There are G-15 and many hundreds victims of EPLF.
- When we talk about PFDJ victims from Keren, some say they are jihadists and who cares about them.
- When we talk about G-15, some say, they were by themselves criminals.
- When we talk about Lampedusa tragedy, some say, why they first started the journey.
- When we talk about victims of direct shooting of soldiers in the heart of Asmara – some say who told them to speak.
- When we talk about Christians who became target of their own faiths, some say how about the Muslims.
- When we talk about EPLF victims, so;e say how about the ELF victims.
- When we talk about University of Asmara, some say how about the other dismantled institutions.
- When we talk about lowlands grievances, other say how about the highland grievances.
- When we talk about Afar People grievances, some say how about the Kunama.
And now we are saying why we talk about Ciham when there are many children are also victims.
2. First phase of the Equation
Every case presented above is a grievance by itself. Hence there is mathematics of addition. And the Equation will be:
Condition: there is no significant or insignificant grievance. Grievance is a grievance.
- Biteweded + G-15 +victims of EPLF = Grievances
- PFDJ victims from Keren = Grievance
- G-15 = Grievances
- Lampedusa tragedy = Grievances
- Shooting of soldiers in the heart of Asmara = Grievances
- Christians who became target of their own faiths + Muslim victims = Grievances
- EPLF victims + ELF victims = Grievances
- University of Asmara + Other dismantled institutions = Grievances
- Lowlands grievances +Highland grievances = Grievances
- Afar People grievances + the Kunama grievances = Grievances
- Ciham + Other childrens case = Grievances
TOTAL GRIEVANCES is then given by:
Justice Seekers Grievances Equation
(Biteweded) + (G15) + (victims of EPLF) + (PFDJ victims from Keren) + (Lampedusa tragedy) + (Shooting of soldiers in the heart of Asmara) + (Christians who became target of their own faiths) + (Muslim victims) + (EPLF victims) + (ELF victims) + (University of Asmara) + (Other dismantled institutions) + (Lowlands grievances) + (Highland grievances) + (Afar People grievances) + (the Kunama grievances) + (Ciham) + (Other childrens case) = GRIEVANCES
This equation is called Justice Seekers Grievances Equation
This is all we are talking about when we voice for the voiceless people. The grievances we are talking about is the total sum of all grievances.
On the other hand, PFDJ junta and its supporters claim that all these grievances are false and non-existent. Their equation looks like this:
We will have this equation as per your and many alike minded peoples’ assertion, where the PFDJ junta is trying to equate it.
PFDJ Equation of Eritrean Grievances(Equation of Subtraction)
(Biteweded) — (G15) – (victims of EPLF) — (PFDJ victims from Keren) — (G15) — (Lampedusa tragedy) — (Shooting of soldiers in the heart of Asmara) — (Christians who became target of their own faiths) — (Muslim victims) — (EPLF victims) — (ELF victims) — (University of Asmara) — (Other dismantled institutions) — (Lowlands grievances) — (Highland grievances) — (Afar People grievances) — (the Kunama grievances) — (Ciham) – (Other childrens case) = ZERO
Where ZERO = NO GRIEVANCES” ————— PFDJ Denial of Eritrean Grievances
From the two equations, what we can learn is that PFDJ wants to neutralize people’s claim of grievances. And there are so many individuals who use the same tactic and try to normalize our suffering. I hope this equation will help justice seekers to identify which equation best suits them. Trying to cancel one grievance by another is simply illogical and anti-voice of the voiceless victims.
Grievance is the sum total of every single grievance. We need therefore a concrete take on every single grievance to make our voice heard loud. Otherwise canceling one by another simply because the other is not mentioned is in favour of PFDJ’s agenda.
We need to choose between equation 1 and 2 and know who we are.
On this occasion, I would like to share with you an inspiration voice of Biteweded Abraha. He is an exceptional hero of all time who stood for the interest of the Eritrean people.