Category Archives: Political Discussions

Voice of Eritrean Liberal Democrats: Why Liberal Democracy is the best option for Eritrea and Eritreans?(Part II)

In part one, I tried to explain the long march to search an ideology that has a potential to answer my quest of Eritrean mindset and why an ideology is a necessary tool to comeout with a vision that can be defined ideologically. In the discourse, I created a triangular shape (as shown in figure below) of drawing human activities based on a political philosophy and an ideology produced. And in all these phases, human being is the main actor in framing its own ideology and the master head of all activities based on the projects available.

Pyramid

In this second part, I will discuss what Liberal Democracy is and what values are encompassed within its basic principles. By doing so, I will try to create the link between Eritrean needs and the values that can be obtained from adopting Liberal Democracy.

Liberal Democracy: Definition

Liberal democracy is a democratic system of government in which individual rights and freedoms are officially recognized and protected, and the exercise of political power is limited by the rule of law. (Source: Oxford Living Dictionaries).

From this definition, those who embrace liberal democracy vow to protect individual rights. By protecting these individuals, it gives freedom of the over all society through mutual respect. This is crucial political stand that is highly demanded in countries where individual freedom is absent and mutual respect does not exist or is in danger.

In addition, liberal democracy encourages political, social and economic competition between political parties and pressure groups(such as civic societies and NGOs).

Basic Beliefs of Liberal Democracy

 1. Universal Suffrage

Liberal democracy  believes that the government to be formed gets its legitimacy from the people through regular elections (Universal Suffrage). All citizens who are legitimate to elect, attend regular voting in a fair, free and competitive elections to elect their good candidate in a secret ballot  regardless of race, gender or property ownership. And the candidate who gets the highest vote takes responsibility to govern the government. The elected government is accountable to the people for what it does, with Parliament holding it accountable.

2. Separation of Power

To define the system in practice, liberal democracy draws upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. Liberal democracy stresses on the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and a system of checks and balances between branches of government.

The constitution defines the democratic character of the state. The purpose of a constitution is often seen as a limit on the authority of the government.

3. Human Rights, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and Political Freedom

Liberal Democrats believe that equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people must be gauranteed under the constitution and the law to be written must protect these rights.

4. Freedom of Press and Free Speech

Freedom of press and free speech is guaranteed. A central aim of liberal democracy as a system is that it tries to create more trasparent governance system and freedom of expression of thoughts that encourages citizens to engage at all levels. Freedom of press is also a vital component in the chech-and-balance mechanism of the goverment actions by bringing important issues to the public attention. It can also be used as a tool to fight against corruption by allowing different actors to play an active role in exposing the government system.

5. Freedom of Movement

Liberal democrats believes that citizens have full freedom to movement within and outside the country. There is no question that how absence of freedom of movement limits people’s freedom to live freely and work for their economic well being. 

Absence of freedom of movement is the worst form of violating human rights. Therefore, liberal democrats have genuine political interest to gaurantee citizens their absolute feeedom for movement. By doing so, individuals have an advantage of looking opportunities that might not be available in their local areas. 

Today, there are security issues which are putting some scrunity procedures that may affect the kind of freedom of movement advocated by liberal democtats for the last two centures. 

6. Free and Competitive Market

Since the introduction of liberal democracy as a political system, the world has witnessed massive increase in wealth across nations and advancement in living standard. People were allowed to own properties and make profit on sell. Trade between countries became simplified and predictable. And industrialization expoded massively to produce commodities for profite making. Investors got new freedom to look business opportunities via opportunity costs and resource driven expansions.

In this regard, there is no doubt for a necessity to embrace liberal democracy as it is the sole political ideology that gaurantees market freedom. Though, there is critics towards it as the main cause of economic stratification among citizens, it is strong system that can provide opportunities for hard working people.

7. Transparency

Without transparency, there is no accountability. Therefore, it is crucial to build a system that allows transparency. Citizens and press have a right to get information about their country. And information sharing is vital in the life of every citizen.

According to principles of liberal democracy, the degree of transparency defines the level of government quality. The more the transparency is, the more accountable it becomes.

8. Sovereignity 

Liberal democrats believe that each state has a sovereign power to govern its internal affairs without outside intereference where the sovereignity is safeguarded and protected under international laws. Having such self governing power, it gives a relative gaurantee from alien forces by providing formal and legitimate recognition.

As liberal democrats believe on international treaties and mutual respect between sovereign states, sovereignity has insignificant incidences to be endangered by outside forces unless internal political dynamism leads to state failures leading to division. In case of disputes, the international community has a legitimate mandate to safeguard the sovereignity based on state demand and bring a peaceful resolution.

Having this kind of sovereign power, it gives the government to focus on improving the livehood of citizens without significant external threats and pressure unless.

Here, it is important to mention sovereignity does not mean isolation. The country has national and international obligations to fulfill the rights of its citizens.

9. Rule of Law

Liberal democrats strongly believe that law should govern a sovereign nation.  By doing so, they refer to the influence and authority of law within society. Individual decisions has no room in governance unles it follows proper law abiding processes.

Freedom in soceity is only subjected to laws made by a legistlative body that apply to every individual citizen on equal basis without restricting upon liberty.

Liberal democratic countries may differ on the way they apply rule of law. However, as principle, international treaties and agreemets have a central focus to incorporate with their domestic laws. And Constitution becomes the supreme legal reference in writing domestic laws and limiting government power. For example, France puts International Regulations as top reference in applying Rule of Law. As shown in Figure below, national Constitution becomes second to International conventions and laws are outsourced from this domestic constitution.

Hierarchy of norms

Liberal Democratic Countries

Today, most advanced countries are liberal democrats. According to the Freedom house countries that fall in this category are:

Europe: the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland,

Asia: Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Israel

North America: the United States, Canada, Mexico,

South America: Uruguay, Costa Rica,

Africa: South Africa,

Australia and New Zealand.

It is not a surprise to have only one country as a liberal democrat in the continent of Africa. It is the prime prove to know how much liberal democracy is in creating an advanced country. Africans had

Liberal Democracy and Eritrea

It is quite known that today Eritrea is under absolute dictatorship. The notion democracy is an alien word. In recent reports of United Nations Human Rights Council, Eritrean regime is committing widespread and systematic violations that amounted to serious crimes againist humanity. It is therefore an obsolute to talk about liberal democracy.

At the same time, there are significant forces that are fighting against the dictatrial regime to remove it from power and replace it by a democratic government. Nevertheless, there is no concrete political ideology to fight with to restore human freedom and create a government that respects Rule of Law.

Many actors in the opposition camp are conservative leaning to nationalist ideology with some reminants of socialist forces. Today, due to lack of well defined ideology, the opposition camp is found in political chaos. Some extremists are also hatching based on identity and regional politics.

So far, there was no political force that openly claims itself as a Liberal Democrat. Therefore, it is a historical record to claim myself as a Liberal democrat.

Being a liberal democrat is freedom by itself. This self attained freedom will give power to inject liberal democratic values in the conservative society and thereby to change the dictatorial government we have into a liberal one.

 

 

 

 

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Political Dialogue with Bright Future Eritrea Movement’s Member – Tesfa Tesfagerghis

Background

It was on 25/09/2017. It was a long day. Not because it is long than before but I have to wait a comment from my friend Tesfa Tesfagerghis. Tesfa is member of one now evolving radicalist movement that does not recognize Eritrea’s sovereignity, called Bright Future Eritrea. This radicalist movement has dismissed openly Eritrea’s 30 years armed struggle simply by claiming it was all led by Eritrea’s Peoples Liberation Front(EPLF). Though they are loud to undo Eritrea’s historical discourse by negating it as a “Bandit’s history”, they are not shy to express what their mission is in their newly established movement. what they are advocating is that Eritreans should be given a chance to conduct referendum and decide whether they can join Ethiopia or stay as independent country.

In a recent inteview conducted between leaders of Bright Future Eritrea’s Movement (BFEM) and Aiga Forum from Ethiopia, they said that Eritreans are brothers with Tigrians(Tigray region of Ethiopia settlers) and share the same identity. And the primary mission of BFEM to establish a transitional government of Eritrea by removing PFDJ(They identify it as EPLF) and conduct referendum.

One of the strategy they are using is negationism tactics of Eritrean history. And to insert the word ‘Eritrea”, they claim that they recognize Eritrea of 1890 and then reject Eritrea’s sovereign state.

Though they tried to camouflage themselves as human Rights advocaters, their public seminars shows otherwise. It is not easy to define their political ideology. However, many of their documents is showing that they are in favour of integrating Eritrea with Ethiopia. And their central claim is “Identity Lineage”.

A similar but purely ‘Fascist” movement called Aga’azian Movement has similar argument for their movement based on identity. But Aga’azians differs from Bright Future Movement as its intention is to create a state called “Aga’azian State” by combining Orthodox Highlanders of Eritrea and Tigray region.

To understanding their thinking I decided to engage Tesfa Tesfagerghis when he posted a provocative statement in his facebook page (as shown in Figure below). The discussion was from amateurish perspective. And what is written is not purely from a political stance. It is mainly an opinionated discussion to understand members thinking.

Bright Future_Tesfa

Objective of this Article

This dialogue will be the first to be addressed to challenge Bright Future Eritrea Movement and defeat their political  endevour that is galloping without check and balance. I believe that this movement is un-Eritrean and has no interest on Eritrean people. It’s mission is either to unite Eritrea with Ethiopia or create Tigray-Tigrigni State of Tigrigna Speaking people of the horn.

Therefore, it is my responsibility to expose such dangerious ideas. No matter how bitter humanitarian crisis we are passing through, we can not forget who we are. Eritrea is an independent and sovereign country. Any attempt that undermines this sovereignity is against rule of law. This international sovereignity law is guaranteed both by Eritrean people and international community. Ignoring this law is ignoring the people who are protected by the law.

On this occasion, I call BFEM to respect rule of law – the law of a sovereign land. If even BFEM dismisses 1993 Referendum result, Eritrean people will not, so are the international community. At least, tt is for good if this movement respects the sovereignity of Eritrea.

Topic

ብሩህ መጻኢ ማዕሪ ህግ ተፈሊጣ ኣላ! እቲ ዘሐጉስ ግን ኣንጻር ሽፍታ ህግ ጠጠዉ ምባላ እዩ!!!

Translation:

(Bright Future is equally famed as EPLF! The good thing is it has stood against EPLF). Tesfa Tesfagerghis

Discussion Commences

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Tesfie, tsibuq heray yimeliala ske (Translated: Tesfa – Good and I wish it will be as you claim).

Kihateka gina (May I ask you?):

Beyenay meday eya maere hizbawi Ginbar tefelita zela (In what sense is Bright Future is equally famed as that of EPLF?).

Maere entekoynu, maere slezikones keyetehasasibeni ayterefen (If they are equally famed, it has left me wondering).

Kemeysi – hizba Ginbar bchikanen ghset sebuawi meselatn kab alem tefelitu eyu zelo (Because, EPLF is a brutal regime who is known to the world for its crimes against humanity).

Abrah rih abilelna (Could you clarify it please).

Tesfa Tesfagerghis

let me try to answer your questions:

BF is known well for its stand against the bandits that are still destroying our country, our people. In the social media, as you daily see it, BF is the prime enemy of all those ‘called’ oppositions. It looks like that they are not worried​ about EPLF, which is constantly dehumanising their people. Well, I label to some as people with Stockholm syndrome​.

BF is known, at the moment, equally to the Eritreans who are residing either in Eritrea or abroad. They are also hopeful that BF emancipate them from all the sufferings. So, BF is known for its good intentions that are openly vocalised by its members.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Thank you Tesfa for your brief answer. Of course you didn’t answer my original question but it is OK. Let me move on.

You said, “called” oppositions. Could you please clarify it as it could be negative in most cases.

Tesfa Tesfagerghis

How could we have opposition party abroad? We all agree that Eritrea does not have constitution, meaning that we cannot have opposition, president, flag, •••••

Now we have those self proclaimed opposition. I don’t understand that. Their gathering should be encouraged but informing the people in the diaspora as opposition is misleading and should be stopped.

Forming an opposition abroad is like recognising the bandits as executives. You can not have such without having constitution.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Kkk, as expected and of course negative conception and misleading.

Can you define to me what opposition means?

And can you explain to me what is Bright Future in accordance to its activity?

Tesfa Tesfagerghis

I think you misunderstood me. I am sure that you are not asking me for the literal meaning of opposition.

BF is not an opposition political party. It is a revolutionary movement. And it will not stand as an opposition or leading party. ELF was not a political party. It was a revolution with intention to remove foreign forces from Eritrea.

BF is set to remove EPLF.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Very good.

Then, what is the fate of those you identify themsemves as “opposition forces” that you or BF call them ” called” Opposition?

Isn’t it this same identification the same used by PFDJ to those who stand againts it?

And what makes BF to be different from PFDJ in this regard?

If BF is not giving recognition to those who identify themselves as “opposition”, is it that simple to be recognized in response?

Can I conclude also those “called’ opposition, as you are calling it, are targets of BF?

Tesfa Tesfagerghis

Let me rephrase my wording. Those so called opposition political parties are not BF enemies, rather advocates of BF.

We also have been calling them to join us and remove EPLF, then form transitional government. Within the transitional period, all those with ambition of forming a recognised political party should vote on forming committee​ to draft constitution and the temporarily amalgamated groups to vote on each article. However, BF has come with precondition that the government to be set has to be secular. BF won’t marge with EPLF ideology, majority domination, or religion domination.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Tesfa Tesfagerghis good.

Ok you have a pre-condition. It is good to learn about it.

Of course, you can paraphrase, clarify, whatever you can. Still I see the void.

Anyway;

Let me keep on asking.

  1. What type of secularism are you advocating?
  2. Why you are calling them to join you? Isn’t wiser to be a part than a caller Remember EPLF has always called other parties to join it. History is good to learn from.
  3. Why BF considers the opposition groups as advocators of BF works? Can we conclude that BF is not an independent movement if it relies on other advocates works?
  4. Just for clarification though you have said it:

Does BF consider the opposition as equal shareholders or just advocates for BF?

I appreciate your kind response

Tesfa Tesfagerghis

Sorry for the delayed response:&
You still see ‘void’ somewhere. But I have tried my best.

  1. Secular government:
    a. Religion won’t take place in country matters, mainly in decision making, drafting and implementing constitution of the future Eritrea. However, religions will be guided and regulated, which will be clearly stipulated on Bill of Rights.
    b. There will be no ‘minority or majority rule’ approach. One persons rights are valued, and the constitution should protect that person within limits of the set.
  2. BF is calling all groups called opposition political parties to work with us in removing EPLF. As I said it before, BF is not a political party. It has no agenda of forming a coalition with any single political party. However, members are allowed to join them, preferably after setting up a transitional govt and drafting constitution. BF does not have problem with Kunama and Afar movement. They are movement and it is more likely that we all marge. 
  3. BF sees the opposition parties as advocates. Currently they have forgotten their ‘enemy’ hgdf. Their target is BF. BF is ‘damaging’ their heroic events before 1991. BF has put it clear that all what happened, mainly by EPLF (with evidence), was human destruction. There was no heroic act that we can prove it to the mass. So, I call them advocates of BF by default. They are not doing it intentionally. And, this won’t make BF as ‘scavengers’. I see a lot of people, who are not members of BF, working for BF tirelessly. I thank all of them as I do to the ‘opposition parties’.4. OP are not share holders of BF at the moment. We have to see their willingness to work with us. You, Tes are an advocate for BF. But I am not sure if you arw aware of that. As a result, you won’t claim a thing for your good contribution.Therefore, shareholders are those who have signed to be members.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Thanks Tesfa Tesfagerghis you know that I am a liberal democrat. And according to my political philosophy, I am guided by transparency and democratic engagement. If this helps BF, good.

Ok. Good trial.

Let me ask you more:

  1. You said that BF wants to see a secular state. Then, you said “religions will be guided and regulated” Do you believe on Freedom to beliefs? And if you are going to regulate them, what makes you different than PFDJ?
  2. What do you mean by “limits of set?” Are you going to limit individuals freedom? If you put limits, what makes you different than PFDJ?
  3. Ok, you removed “…”. Is it intentional?Why you were using the quotation mark before?PFDJ does not consider itself as a political party. And you are claiming the same. What is then your difference. Remember, PFDJ stands for People’s Front FOR Democracy and Justice”.

    And PFDJ believes itself as a transitional government. And you are claiming to do the same.

    Well, I know your claim is to conduct referendum to decide Eritrea’s Future, henc, Bright Future. Is the referendum of 1993 invalid according to BF manifesto?

    4. Can I conclude that BF is benefitting Opposition’s advocacy?

    Forget about heroic achievements now as you have no concrete definition of your own.

    Do you recognize May 24, 1991 achievements?

    Do you recognize Eritrea’s Sovereignity that was recognized by the 1993 Referendum Act and UN’s recognition of Sovereign Eritrea?

    5. Are you willing to work with OP?

    Are you ready with party that wants a non-sectarian state?

    Thank you for your kind response.

Tesfa Tesfagerghis

  1. Responding;
    Yes, I agree on the Freedom to beliefs. No should be forced to believe in any religion. It should be the goodwill of that particular. Regulate: Religions should not invade peoples’ private life. There should be consent from the person whom someone wants to recruit. 
  2. Limits: An individual should be protected by the constitution. But, when those with needs of protection exceeds the resources, NGOs and foreign countries should be consulted. Then, rights of the individuals can be guarantied.Rights of individuals are with responsibilities. A person who demanding rights while violating rights of his neighbour should be rehabilitated. If you remember freedom of expression incidents in Ethiopia recently, the people,violated their rights. Some of them had guns.EPLF does not have constitution for the people. U should know by now that EPLF and BF are on two different ends.

    3 Inverted comas are used when you don’t recognise as such. It should be a mistake anyway.

    PFDJ claims as the party for the country. You may correct me if they are not political party. However, I said that BF is a movement, just as Jebha። Jebha was,not political pary.

    3. Referendum was conducted in 1993 and none of us have a problem with that. But, should BF give credit to EPLF? No! EPLF had no intention of separating Eritrea from Ethiopia. They only had power sharing problem. Meaning that referendum could have been done long time ago if the bandits hadn’t been formed.

    4. Yes, BF is benefiting advocacy from opposition. No comment on that.

    BF does not recognise any claims of heroism.

    We recognise Eritrea the one from 1890.

    6. Yes, we are ready to work with Op. But, I am not sure to which you are referring by stating non-sectarian state.

    This is all I have good nt.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Thank you Tesfa Tesfagerghis. So far so good.

Ok!

Let me continue asking you

1. You said “we” does it represent BF views or all you are writing here are just your own opinions?

If it is your opinion, please use “I”. Just a friendly advice in order to avoid confusion.

2. You said again, “religionq should not onvade people’s private life.

Then, do you mean there will be state intervention?

Are you still supportive of state regulations on religions as I asked you before?

3. You said, an individual should be protected by a constitution. And then you put “BUT”. Then, you added that NGO’s will intervene if state resources could not enough to protect.

Due you mean that NGOs can work out the constitutional rights?

And you are saying state should be consulted. For what? And what is the base of consultation? Can state be consulted outside the constitutional righst?

Do not worry if you have little or no knowledge about constitutinal rights. I am just asking because you mentioned some important topic.

4. I know PFDJ associates Rights with Responsibilities. Is BF stand to be the same as that of pfdj? If not, what do you mean individual rights are with responsibilities?

5. I don’t make conspiracies. Therefore let us keep aside EPLF intention. What I am sure about is Eritreans wanted to stay indpendent and live in freedom.

History has recorded that Ethiopia annexed Eritrea in 1962. And it used a military force to keep Eritrea within Ethiopia. And ELF started its armed struggle against Ethiopia’s annexation. Wasn’t it then clear Eritreans wanted to be free from the very beginning?

Remember, EPLF came 10 years later.

You recognize Eritrea of 1890. This means, Eritrea is still now a colony if Italy. You don’t recognize Eritrea of today?

You used”was” on Eritrea’s 1993 referendum recognition. And you said that you had no problem with that. Do you have any problem now it?

Do you recognize Eritrea which is now member of UN and its internationally recognized sovereignity?

Are you going to disqualify 1993 Referendum and bring Eritrea’s fate back to the table of Referendum?

Ur kind response is appreciated.

Note: please use “I” if it is your opinion otherwise I will consider it BF’s stand.

No response as of 24/09/2017.

End of Discussion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Robiel Habtemariam: Pseudo-Professional in Defense of PFDJ Policies and Crimes Against Eritrean People

This is an extract from a Facebook discussion between Dr. Robiel Habtemariam (MD) and me[the Author] based on an article I wrote about Cancer in Eritrea. We could not come to terms of agreement on the way I handled the topic. After an intensive exchange, he promised to come back with rebuttal response to flatter my take. I welcomed him.

startingInitially, he started his comment under my post by writing:

Post 0

“Tesfe, you are obsessed with cancer. To make matters worse, you speak of it as if it is a deliberately disseminated contagious disease. Clearly, you don’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.”

And I responded to this particular post by saying,

Indeed I am obsessed. And the reason is you guys (doctors) are trying to make it normal.

And as a human rights defender and political activist, I am telling you to do something. I don’t want you to live in your comfort hospital zone.

On Tsigereda – like all other PFDJ officials, I don’t have any admiration. Saying that, as human, I feel sorry for her death.

Robel, by now as you can see we are in a different political zone. Be cool, therefore. Otherwise, I have many tools to make you ashamed of yourself for supporting PFDJ policies.

Since after, we engaged seriously on this subject matter.Well, I was curious on his take. I considered it as a big opportunity to see my article being challenged by a professional doctor. What you write must get the attention of readers. Critical responses from experts matters for growth.

As expected, after 4 days, he came with a series of comments posted on Facebook. I found his take irresponsible and non-professional. Initially, I thought to ignore what he wrote. Instead of focusing on the content, he dropped lines that were loaded with bashing words that express his highness on the subject matter. He literally told me I shouldn’t have written the article without consulting experts.

It is self-embarrassing to Dr. Robiel to come with this unprofessional and irresponsible comments that harm his career. If there is anything to learn from his comments is what he stands for.

I found Dr. Robiel H. to be a typical PFDJ cadre. I had the same impression before but I thought it is better to give him a benefit of doubt. It didn’t help either.

A brief introduction about Dr. Robiel Habtemariam

RbelAccording to information available from his Facebook page, Dr. Robiel is a graduate of Orrotta School of Medicine and Dentistry. He did his high school study in Asmara Hafeshawi. After graduation, he was assigned to Assab, the second port city of Eritrea, as a medical doctor in 2014.

What makes him among those who leverage PFDJ crimes is that he did not hide his pride to express PFDJ’s political correctness. Though it seems that he is living outside Eritrea, his mindset is fully lodged with PFDJ ideology. He is among the very few medical doctors who are defending PFDJ crimes in social media.

Robel and his class mates

Dr. Robiel Habtemariam with his classmates in 2009 (Source: Facebook)

I have no detailed information who he is routside his facebook page and as an active member of Eritreans Scholars Group. He is among those few contributors who do not hide support to PFDJ regime. Reading his inputs, it is quite possible to know what he promotes for.

Why his comments are so important?

Through Dr. Robiel H. comments, we can learn how die-hard PFDJ professionals think about the current situation of Eritrean suffering. It can help us to understand their thinking. It is indeed a valuable material to be studied to challenge servants of PFDJ. Above all, Dr. Robiel is a medical doctor who is supposed to contribute positively to the status of the health sector in Eritrea.

Access to health services is a basic human right issue. Though there is undeniable positive progress in this area, so far, Eritrea lacks some important care services to its citizens. For example, cancer care center is absent. As a result, cancer patients face a challenging moment to look after their health. It is hard to know what mechanism exists to treat cancer. As it was explained in my previous article published on August 04, 2017.

As far as a patient can afford,  the only option available is to go abroad for treatment. What makes it extremely painful is that it is not easy to get permission to leave the country. Dr. Robiel confirmed the extreme bureaucracy and vetting process to go abroad.

This material is therefore important to understand how human rights issue is seeing in Eritrea by politically charged professionals.

Dr. Robiel Habtemariam’s Rebuttal comments to my Article

Post 1

[…] I’m serious about this.

Tesfabirhan Redie, I have already read your article and have been following your posts on cancer in Eritrea(this is the third one I believe). As I said, if you are mature enough to defend your article and your posts, and accept criticism, I can take you seriously and show you why I think you are missing the whole point and how your article and posts are fallacious.

In your first post, I told you that you were just politicizing the issue. Your response (and that of wed Wed Hmrarib) was vehement, full of ad hominem, and suggested that I was defending the ruling party. After a little bit of derailed nonsense, I decided to disengage myself from the topic, because it was fruitless, to say the least. Now, let me make one thing clear: As far as Eritrean politics is concerned, I don’t have a single political party that Impresses me and I don’t have a single figure in mind that I would vote for if elections were to be held. I support ideas, and not people or parties. I argue in favor of what I think is right, and not someone who I think is right. Because, naturally, nobody gets’s everything right. Accordingly, if I think there was something Hitler got right and see you – out of hatred – make a sweeping argument that “since Hitler is evil and hence everything he does is wicked, that particular thing he did was wrongful and ugly,” I will simply tell you that you are wrong. If you tell me that I’m defending Hitler and therefore I’m a Nazist, again I would tell you that you have a fallacious conclusion. That’s really your problem and all I can do is point it out to you and say goodbye. Any further discussion would be pointless. I hope you got my point.

Response  

Robel, now you seem to be serious.

Ok to start with.

1. Understand the objective of my article.

My objective is to increase public awareness on the increasing number of cancer victims in Eritrea. It is all for political awareness. I am not politicizing the issue but calling for people, including the Ministry of Health and the international community to act. At least, for the time, being, Eritreans need a place of treatment. Sudan is too expensive and impractical.

It is sad to ignore this and see you jumping on what I listed as the possible cause.

To be frank, I was totally disappointed by you when you try to argue on the political dimension. This is the reason I wanted to react. Otherwise, I want your genuine professional input.

2. I am not blaming PFDJ as someone who caused cancer. What I am saying is PFDJ is simply watching. Check the title, please.

Academically, I am not an expert in cancer. And I think you are not. However, you are much better equipped to say something about cancer. I am sure you know many secrets about health in Eritrea. Say something if you are in safe place without violating your professional oath.

I am not campaigning to be elected. I am just talking about challenges Eritreans are facing.

Remark: I am very serious on this issue and be serious.

I have good friends who graduate from Orrotta. They deserve respect. By respecting you, I am respecting them. Please be away from the PFDJ thing here as you are expected to be professional in this special topic. If you act politically, I will be too.

Post 2

Am I the only one here who thinks the main purpose of the post was not the fact that Mrs. Tsgereda died, but the fact that she died from cancer? Anyways, I’m back with my criticism of your article, Tasfabrhan, as promised. I’m putting my comments separately so that you can reply to them separately. I will try to point out the pitfalls of your article from a medical and a statistical point of view. Besides, I will briefly highlight why I think it is biased and intentionally distorted and manipulated to serve a political motive, instead of attempting to analyze the issue with intellectual honesty so that the article can provide a platform for a constructive discussion and give an insight as to how further research can be taken from there.

Please don’t try to defend your article, as you’ve already hinted, by claiming that cancer is not your area of expertize. In that case, you should have left the issue to experts, or consulted experts in writing it after contracting adequate literature review, research and coverage of background information on cancer before rushing into writing your article just to enrich your website. Real writers go through a painstakingly lengthy study of their subject of concern before starting to scribble, even for fiction meant to entertain.

My impression is that you went through the following sequence of events to end up writing the article: you were inspired by the desperate plights of Eritrean cancer victims shared on Facebook from inside and outside the country (usually Sudan), and being a political activist, you went out of your way to find real health data, mingled it with graphic pictures of individual cases, and manipulated it in a way that portrayed the problem as alarmingly the heaviest health burden in the country which has never been addressed in any way whatsoever. I’m absolutely dazzled that you recklessly asserted that nothing is done to prevent and treat cancer in Eritrea. The truth is that any health professional in Eritrea can write you an entire book on just what is actually done to prevent and treat cancer in Eritrea. You should have known better, or if you had known, you shouldn’t have swept facts under the carpet, if you are to be in a position where you can claim that you are intellectually honest and not driven by a political motive.

Post 3

Good. I actually agree with the idea that Sudan is not the best place for Eritrean cancer patients and that something should be done about it. The other strong point you made was the fact that you pointed out the bureaucratic delay patients face in the ministry of health in the process of letting them leave the country legally.

I know that there is a group of people in Khartoum who are devoted to helping Eritrean cancer patients professionally, logistically, and economically to those who end up there. I liked the part where you mentioned that group and their Facebook page in order to make people aware of their activities so that any interested party can lend a hand. I wish the entire article was about that.

I will comment on the weaknesses and fallacies of your article. I expect you to defend it with reason and evidence. I will see you sooner or later.

Response 4

Robel, remember this is not an academic paper. It is a political article. Therefore, don’t expect me to be academically correct.

Within this scope, I am more than capable to defend every line I wrote.

I am well equipped with that.

On this positive compliments, thank you.

What I can be OK with it if you don’t try to come from the so called Government of Eritrea point of view. I am a die hard opponent of all Eritrean policies – 100%. Be aware therefore when you build your argument.

One last point – don’t expect me to, write what it will make you happy. Take those strong sides, argue with those that you feel need proper attention and dump for dump lines. Be systematic.

Post 5

Let me start with your choice of words

“Cancer is killing everyone in Eritrea.”

Whaaaaaat!!? That was the overstatement of the year(perhaps globally). እሞ ኣብ ኤርትራ ደኣ ዝተረፈ ሰብ የለን ዘይትብለኒ:: እንታይ ደኣ እዘን ማዔከናት ዜና ከምዚ ኣብ ግዜ ለበዳ ኢቦላ ወይ ሸሮኽ ዝገብረኦ ዋጭዋጭ ዘይበላ? ኣብ ኤርትራ ዝተረፈ ሰብ ይህሉ’ዶ ይኸዉን ኢልካ ተሌፎን ደዊልካ ከተረጋግጽ ቅሩብ ይተርፈካ::

Tasfabrhan, did you even consider the kind of audience you were trying to reach out to? It looks like you either failed to consider your audience, or underestimated them, or even deliberately ignored those who can clearly read between your lines to mislead and alarm the naive who don’t have an idea of what’s really going on so that you can align them on your political assembly.

Anyways, what is the point that you are trying to make by telling us that Mrs. Tsgereda died from blood cancer?

Who is to blame?

Do you know what type of blood cancer (leukemia) it was?

Was she treated for it?

Do you have any idea what her chance of survival was with and without treatment?

Post 6

The other thing is your manipulation of statistics. You gave us a number ( 9,482 laboratories confirmed cases in a decade) which means nothing if broken down into individual types of cancers, indicating their respective percentages and rates and compared to other causes of morbidity and mortality in the country as well as to similar cancers elsewhere around the world. Without such a comparison, a plain number means nothing, even to an expert.

While you devoted paragraphs in unnecessary and irrelevant details, you did not attempt to put the cancer burden into context by highlighting its relative significance in the list of the top causes of morbidity and mortality and the immense health burden they pose to the country’s struggling economy. Accordingly, you failed to mention if it is appropriately prioritized as per its rank as a health burden in light of the budget allocated to and within the health sector. Instead, surprisingly enough, you made a flimsy attempt to discredit the achievement of 6 out of 8-millennium development goals within the assigned timeframe, something many third world countries fell short of achieving.

Post 7

Here is a simple example of how prioritization works and how you conveniently avoided it: You are a father of a poor family with 8 children. You work hard to make ends meet and earn way less than what your family needs to lead a “normal” life.Your wife returns from the hospital and tells you that she has breast cancer and that the doctor told her she needs the amount of money you can hardly make in a lifetime.

Your eldest son is in the hospital ward getting treated for AIDS and its complications. Another one is in the same ward getting treated for TB. A third has malaria. Your oldest daughter is unmarried, pregnant and has anemia. Two of your young kids have malnutrition with all sorts of complications that go with it. Your youngest daughter has severe pneumonia and is dying in the emergency room. That kid older than her has had persistent diarrhea for more than a week. You went to the hospital to follow-up your chronic heart disease three days ago, only this time your doctor tells you that you may have a prostate cancer. Now imagine your sleepless nights trying to figure out a way to divide your savings between feeding the family and paying the medical bills. Which child or disease would you prioritize? Obviously, the most down-to-earth thing to do about it is to pay for kids who have cheaper, life-threatening but easily treatable conditions first, wouldn’t you? You can take care of your wife’s breast cancer and your prostate cancer – which is costly, and usually fatal anyway – only when you have the simpler issues addressed, and provided that you have managed to collect enough money one way or the other.

Now imagine one of your sons which you have asked to get a job and put all his income on the table except for the little bit of pocket money you allowed him. He not only had a nasty fight with you and absconded from home, but also was going around the neighborhood proclaiming how his mother (your wife) is dying of cancer, asking for financial assistance on Facebook, while his father (you) is not doing anything because he doesn’t care!

I think that is exactly what you did, Tasfabrhan. You want to raise peoples awareness? You are particularly interested in cancer? Here is what you could have done:

Have an in-depth look at the epidemiology of cancer in Eritrea. Study the prevalence, incidence, and demographics (distribution by age, sex, ethnic group, geographical area… etc) of the commonest cancers in the country. Calculate their rates per unit population and time and compare them with the data of the same cancers in other countries. Point out which specific cancer types are significantly more prevalent in Eritrea than their counterparts in other countries. Try to identify a correlation between a certain unusually prevalent cancer and a specific fraction of people who seem to be affected by it. At that point, you would be in a position where you are supposed to be able to isolate some known (or unknown) risk factors which presumably contribute to the specific type of cancer you identified. That is evidence-based practice. Only then will you be able to conclude, assert, recommend and blame.

Post 8

WHAT LEAD TO THE “GROWING” RATE?

You have discussed some factors which you thought could have contributed to the apparently increasing trend of incidence of cancers in the country. For the most part, I disagree with your evidently superficial and unfounded analysis of the possible “causes” of cancer in Eritrea for several reasons. I will give you my opinion on the individual factors in subsequent comments. For now, let me give you a general overview as to why your suggestion was unconvincing.

  1. You talk of the factors as causes. The issue is not as straightforward as that (I wish it was). Turns out that cancers don’t have clear cut causes per se but risk factors which may or may not lead to them in the long run. There is no cause and effect relationship. You can not pin point to one factor and say that it is an inevitably definite cause of cancer.
  2. I don’t believe that there was a significant change in the factors mentioned between the years 2000 and 2010 parallel to the rate of growth of cancer. These variables have more or less remained the same before, during and after the decade considered.
  3. There is no empirical evidence whatsoever that suggests the factors you mentioned were behind the “growing” rate of incidence of cancer in Eritrea. In the article, these factors were not only put as tangible facts but also were used accusingly. Eg. There was a point silly enough to suggest that people from the highlands who go to Sawa were at an increased risk of skin cancer.

Post 9

As far as I am concerned, you have failed to point out three important reasons which may explain the growing trend of cancer.

  1. Enhanced health seeking behavior of the people. 3, 4, or 5 decades ago, the incidence rate of all types of cancers as obtained from reports from health institutions was next to zero. Why? Because people tended to not only believe in traditional healers but also used to be skeptical on modern medical practice as it was presumed to in fact worsen cancers. With increased awareness, people gradually started to come out to hospitals, instead of dying helplessly at home or at the hands of traditional healers.
  2. Enhanced detection rate due to improved diagnostic capability. A lot changes in 10 years. Before the year 2000, the distribution of health facilities and availability of health professionals and diagnostic tools was considerably limited. Back in the days, there was a lack of diagnostic imaging techniques including CT scan, MRI, and ultrasound as well as pathologic investigation of tissue biopsies. In such a scenario, you would, of course, have cancer in the society but you keep missing them because you are not equipped enough to see them.
  3. Population growth. While not necessarily affecting the incidence RATE, population growth gives you an increasing NUMBER of cases every year.

Post 10

CANCER AND GENETICS: The other central issue which was deprived of attention in the article perhaps to avoid weakening its accusing tone.

Heredity plays a decisive role in the development of cancer. Simply put, in general, cancers develop in the context of specific genetic aberration continually provoked by various environmental factors over a long period of time (years to decades).
Countless studies show that different ethnic groups or races genetically have different rates of predisposition to different cancers. Although evidence is lacking currently, it is not impossible that Eritreans (or specific ethnic groups) may be genetically more prone to the types of cancers commonly seen in the country.

Post 11

In this screenshot from your article, you’ve tried to emphasize on what appears to be abnormal. That’s just a superficial layman’s perspective.

robel_data_trends_2It is actually completely normal. Cancer can affect both sexes and all age groups. It all depends on the cancer type. Some cancers are exclusively seen in older males. Eg. Prostate cancer. In fact, 1 in 15 males in their 60s have it and the rate increases with age. Other cancers like lung cancer and colorectal cancer are more common in males. You also need to know that some cancers like nephroblastoma( kidney cancer), brain cancers, lymphoma, leukemia, Ewings sarcoma… etc are predominantly seen in children.

**, By the way, there is a little bit of error you need to correct: You have mentioned prostate cancer as both the first and second common cancer type in males.
M

Response

As a medical doctor, all diseases are not abnormal to you.

For ordinary people like me, who witnessed only one person as a victim of cancer in their entire life, is abnormal to read such alarming statistical data.

I know you were working in a hospital. Every day, you were watching death, suffering, and pain of hundreds of people. Hence, 1 in 15 is normal for you. For me, I want it gives me a heart break.

Post 12

SPECIFIC REASONS YOU DISCUSSED AS MAIN CAUSES OF CANCER IN ERITREA

Cancer and Nutrition:

response10When one talks about nutrition as a predisposing factor to cancer, it doesn’t imply that you enjoy a life time of protection from what you consume during your honeymoon or a few days after child birth; rather, it is about the cumulative long-term predisposing effect of consumption of foods containing carcinogenic ingredients (especially processed foods) on one hand, and the protective effect of certain ingredients when taken consistently for a lifetime on the other.

Malnutrition is a huge problem in Eritrea, especially in children. Impaired immunity due to malnutrition leads to all kinds of complications many of which are fatal. Associating malnutrition to cancer is a little far fetched.

Response

I didn’t rule out malnutrition is a cause. What I am saying is, it is a possible cause for some types of cancer.

Post 13

Cancer and stress:

post11Stress can be a precursor to all kinds of diseases. It prevails everywhere and is actually more common in the developed world. I don’t believe it is unusually higher in Eritrea. (research needed). If it is very common, what should be concerning is people suffering from chronic anxiety, major depression, gastritis,.. etc and dying from heart attack, stroke, hypertensive crisis, diabetes… etc.

The association of deprivation with a higher rate of cancer has nothing to do with stress because deprivation and stress are simply two different variables.

 

 

Post 14

Cancer and contraceptives:

Yes, there is an almost negligible risk of developing cancer that doesn’t warrant the drug’s withdrawal from the market. That little risk is in women having additional risk factors and who take it for a relatively long time.In fact, contraceptives, apart from birth control, are useful in the treatment of different gynecological problems.
Anyway, you have shown that its use is too low in the country, which means it is not a problem as far as cancer is concerned.

Post 15

Consumption of poorly stored grains:

Aflatoxin and liver cancer:

Liver cancer is one of the rare cancers in Eritrea. And when you have a patient with liver cancer, it is commonly due to chronic hepatitis B and C infections, fatty liver, alcoholism, etc. Aflatoxin has been implicated as a possible cause but it is at the bottom of the list. It is a rare cause of a rare cancer type. It is more concerning as a cause of kwashiorkor.

Post 16

Exposure to UV radiation and cancer:

The only practical way to protect all Eritreans from UV is to build a roof all over the country.

“a Highlander is therefore not able to resist lowland of Eritrea.”

Well, that is purely a psychological issue. There isn’t a significant variation in the skin tones (melanin pigment) of all Eritreans wherever they come from. There are both fair and dark skinned people in both the highlands and in the lowlands.

Your last paragraph associating military conscription to skin cancer is too lame. In general, people spend their entire lives outdoors making a living. Besides, high temperature (35*c) and UV radiation are two different things. You can live in a hot area and not be exposed to UV.

Post 17

Asbestos exposure and cancer:

Forget it, it is not a problem in Eritrea. Asbestos can lead to lung cancer in industrial workers exposed to it through inhalation on a regular basis.

Post 18

Benzene and cancer:

Forget this one too. በቲ ሓደ ነዳዲ የለን ትብል, በቲ ሓደ ከኣ ካንሰር ኣብ ኤርትራ ብሰንኪ ነዳዲ ይበዝሕ ኣሎ ትብል:: you are contradicting yourself. Science ተዛረብ:: Obviously, your principal aim here was to emphasize on the scarcity of fuel in the country.

Post 19

Alcohol and cancer:

Switching between different brands of alcohol has nothing to do with an increased risk of exposure to cancer. It is about the dose. It has to be taken in high doses continually (most days of the week) for years to contribute as a risk factor for cancer. I think few people have that habit in addition to being able to afford it in Eritrea.

Post 20

Smoke and Cancer:

መጎጎ ኣድሓነት was meant to drastically reduce the use of firewood and animal dung as fuels ad well as reduce the effect of smoke on mothers. As far as I know, it is compulsory in rural areas for every woman to have one. Of course, there are women still exposed to household smoke in different ways.

Post 21

STDs and cancer:

The apparent correlation of high STD and cancer rates in 2005 in Eritrea is just a matter of coincidence. There isn’t any logical medical explanation to that.
As you have previously mentioned, the commonest cancers in Eritrea are breast, prostate, ovarian, uterine, cervical, connective tissue cancers and leukemia. What you didn’t notice is that not only the cancers associated with HIV/AIDS are different (Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cervical cancer), but also appears several years after one contracted HIV (typically 10 to 20 years) when AIDS advances to its end stage.

“what happened in 2005?”

Here I was expecting a scientific attempt to explain as to how AIDS and cancer peaked in the same year, creating an impression of correlation. What I read was quite absurd.

Post 22

Finally, about “the government is doing nothing” part, I will tell you that, despite the obvious shortages in man power and resources, the ministry of health is probably the most well organized and functional ministry in the country. As I said, one can write a book just on what is done to prevent and treat cancer. You should have known better, or if you had known, you shouldn’t have swept facts under the carpet, if you are to be in a position where you can claim that you are intellectually honest and not driven by a political motive.

Why I did not respond to most of his posts?

To be honest, I was fed-up with his shallow response. I prefered to respond by saying, “FUNNY” in most of his take. It did no give me sense at all to respong accordingly. His take didn’t deserve my response.

Conclusion

Although I appreciate him for his time to read my article seriously and respond for major points, it is unwise for him to write from the perspective of PFDJ political book. All that he was trying to do was finally exposed by his own conclusion.

Dr. Robiel Habtemariam is a corrupted medical expert who is working against humanity. I hope he will remember his oath one day and turn his respected profession to fulfill the duty of human dignity.

 

Discussion on Jeberti Case

 

MM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, my compatriot friend, Well said and am with you on your article. However we cannot deny the fact of a certain people in Eritrea have always practiced an ethnic based polices and genesises against our people.
The most recent ones are the komandos under the name of haile selassie of ethiopia and now with people of Tension type of people. This is the historical facts that it cannot be hidden or forgotten.

Frezghi Mesmer:

Tesfabirhan Redie, I could not disagree more. You cant equate the Agazian on the same level as the Jeberti question. Jeberti have been around for centuries in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. They are simply asking for recognition for this historic identity. An identity based not on ethnicity/language but common origin. Sometimes, you jump to quick conclusions about something. The Jeberti question is part of the civil rights question of ordinary Eritrean. The PFDJ took it upon themselves to re-define Eritrean identity by erasing groups that were not within its sway. You are continuing the same PFDJ ideology unwittingly. So, much for your liberal democracy credentials.🙂 Here is a group that advocates for a civil status(historic recognition) no different than indigenous groups rights and does it in a non-violent manner. They organize cultural events to strengthen this identity. They contribute immensely to the material and intellectual wealth of the country. Yet, you equate them with genocidal Christian Jihadists like the Agazians.

TR:

I think you are mixing things. You wrote:

“The Jeberti question is part of the civil rights question of ordinary Eritrean”

And this is what I am saying it should be. I am not against civil rights question. As a liberal Democrat, I fully support their rights to be known as they wanted to be. My problem with Al-Nahda Party.

Jeberti People’s question can not be solved politically but through legal means. It is a question of human rights issue. If Eritrea recognises the rights of individuals/groups to be identified as they wanted it is all done. At this time Eritrea is under oppression. What the Jeberti people better could do is an advocate for their civic rights by forming civic associations or civic movements.

If we open files of Al-Nahda Party, all we can find is identity-based politics that will put them in conflict with other Eritreans.

The irony is this:

While no other Eritrean except Jeberti can be a member of Al-Nahda Party, members of Al-Nahda Party are free to be members of other political parties. This double standard.

Frezghi, I don’t know what makes you nervous. Aren’t you the one who was opposing any sectarian/regional/religious based political groupings? Were you then following your PFDJ ideology?

For me, Aga’aziansMovement lead by Tesfatsion is not different than Al-Nahda Party.

Mind me – I am not against Jeberti people but against Al-Nahda Party.

I am not against Aga’azians but against Aga’azian movement lead by Tesfatsion.

MM: 

Tesfabirhan Redie Any political movement based on the ideology to either follow its narrow minded ideology or to label those otherwise against it, is nothing but a crime in the broad daylight. Based in this regard, Tesfasion’s ideology is nothing less than a brutality against any sense of humanity and nature of diversity.

FM: 

Tesfabirhan Redie, your mentality is too linear. You should be an engineer or a mathematician. First, it meaningless to say this is a legal issue and this is a political issue. All oppressed groups have a political issue with the Govt of Eritrea. The Govt refuses to set up an impartial court system. So, the only venue left is the political sphere. Second, I am not sure if Al Nahda does not allow membership for non-Jeberti. Even if they did, they are only one small group of Jeberti. The other 99% of Jeberti support recognition of their unique identity. Does the 1% of Nahda Party’s viewpoint make all Jeberti into twins of the Agazians? The Agazians are concentration camp advocates. They are genocidaires. They would bring a huge civil war to our country. What will Jeberti recognition bring? A 10th group in our 9 group mindset, some updating of history books, and maybe a holiday or two. So what! It doesn’t hurt anyone.
Yes, I personally oppose sectarian/regional/ethnic groupings. I will not join such groups. Especially if they pick up arms on that basis. However, if it is a non-violent movement and collaborates with other groups, I can live with it. There are different types of groups. You can’t lump them into one because of some vague similarities. For example, you didn’t differentiate that Agazians advocate putting lowlanders in concentration camps from Al Nahda’s non-violent stance. Your “political scale” missed this huge difference. On your last paragraph, you also made pointless statements. Agazians and Tesfatsion are inseparable. There is no peaceful Agazian movement. Agazianism is Tigray-Tigrinyism. It seems to RE-MAKE the Eritrean composition. Re-making nations is always a violent venture. On the Jeberti/Al Nahda question, you made yet another such statement. It is meaningless to say you are not against “jeberti” as a people. What does that even mean? You are not against them socially? politically? On a personal basis? etc etc? Are you against recognizing them as a unique group? You have to be more specific.

And most importantly, the Jeberti question should be on the platform of the entire opposition. Since the blatant oppression of the Jeberti by the regime is clear, meaning their identity is not recognized, it should be part of the coalition against the regime. Groups/individuals whose oppression can be demonstrated and quantified should be issues for all Patriots to advocate. The opposition spends too much time counting regional origins of the 80% Kebessa who make up the regime officials. A dubious venture but one that occupies the minds of too many Highlanders in the opposition. Whereas 50% of Eritrea, lowlands, and a large percentage of Muslim Kebessa(Jeberti) have little participation in the govt.

TR:

Frezghi:

Jeberti people as Eritreans have every rights- political, social and economical. What I am opposing is the sectarian nature of Al+ Nahda Party.

SY:

Frezghi Mesmer nea eba n yeman temeles. You advocate against sectarian grouping at one point and here you are now defending one.

FM:

Siem Yohannes, I am defending the Jeberti issue being compared with Agazianism. I am not defending Al Nahda mode of organization. Just the issue they represent which is larger than them. I don’t believe in sectarian/regional/ethnic organizing as a strategy. But, I believe those groups have issues that should be represented in a national platform. I dont throw away the issue because I dont like how it is organized. I see every legitimate issue as part of a national platform. Our recent discussions have been the regionalism issue in Kebessa. There is some legitimacy to the idea that the regime discriminates against the cultural rights of Akele Guzai, Hamasein, and Seraye. By erasing those regions without a democratic mandate, the regime deprived those areas of their historic cultural rights. The regime also plays the regions against each other. BUT, can we make the case that the regime discriminates against one region more than against others? Using numbers and statistics? It is very hard to do. A large percentage of the regime’s forces are hidden. No one has exact statistics of the regime’s forces by region. We only have uninformed guesses. One thing we know for sure is that the upper level of the regime is overwhelmingly Kebessa. The middle level is also largely Kebessa. The regime plays a balancing game on the regional proportions to prevent any one region from having an overwhelming advantage. This is why I believe the regionalism issue is about competition for power and bragging rights. Not about cultural rights or regional discrimination. If it was a legitimate issue, it would be put on platforms and be clearly understood by everyone. In contrast, the Jeberti demand is simple and direct. Recognition. Why wouldn’t the opposition support a legitimate demand by a legitimate group of people who are asserting it in a non-violent manner? The Jeberti is a good example to oppressed minorities in Eritrea. They help each other. They value education and business. They get along well with Christians and Muslims. They intermarry easily with fellow Muslims. As a result, they are the richest “oppressed group” in Eritrea.

SY:

Frezghi Mesmer the article doesn’t throw away the jeberti issue so does Tesfabirhan Redie. Of course, I don’t compare al-Nahda and agazian but all ethnic-based groupings have concerns and questions which all Eritreans should seriously consider because it is a national issue, and it is the right way to solve it otherwise such groupings might lead to unwanted tension between eritreans after the fall of PFDJ.

TW:

Siem Yohannes i think Frezghi is using his double standard scales.

ZZ:

Tes, not sure how long you have been away from Eritrea, but you seem to have lack of understanding of everything Eritrean

TR:

Zaki Zerom watch see youtube video

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, that video is nothing to be afraid of. If the Jeberti speaker believes that they are also owners of Eritrea. Good for him and good for us. Let him own the huge problems we face today alongside the rest of us. All Eritreans are owners of the nation. If you listened a bit better, you will see the sense of disenfranchisement and abandonment that come from being erased from history.

MM: 

Brother, Tesfabirhan Redie. As we all know the people of Eritrea as a whole are living under the brutal dictatorial regime now, thus it is not a secret that no one has the fundamental rights as they should, besides those mercenaries/mops and brainwashed ignorants who are clubbing hands for the dictator. When it come to Alnahda, although I neither heard of it nor agree with any sectarian political part (should that be its aim), I would still pay close attention to the reasons forced them to be sectarian. We have to dig to the root cause of an issue, in case they deprived of their rights and resolve it to eliminate the toxins caused sectarianism.

No justice in Eritrea and as a result of this crime I won’t be surprised if I see 10s of more fictions under any names, unfortunately.

Lastly where there no justice NO peace or prosperity. Believe me……

TR:

Osman Mahmud I agree with you. In case you don’t have enough information, here is something to share:

The Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) is an Eritrean opposition umbrella composing of 13 political Organizations. It uses all the available means of struggle to topple the current Eritrean regime. It has convened its unitary organizational Congress in 2008. The names of its member organizations are as follows.

Democratic Movement For the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunama-DMLEK,
Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization-RSADO,
Eritrean Peoples Democratic Front-EPDF,
Eritrean National Salvation Front-ENSF,
Eritrean Liberation Front-ELF,
Eritrean Peoples’ Party-EPP,
Eritrean Islamic Party for Justice and Development-EIPJD,
Eritrean People’s Congress-EPC,
Eritrean Peoples’ Movement-EPM,
Eritrean Nahda Party-ENP,
Eritrean Democratic party,EDP,
Eritrean Islamic Congress-EIC, and
Eritrean Federal Democratic Party-EFDM.

http://www.erit-alliance.com/erit/index.php…

FR:

Osman Mahmud, they are saying they are also owners of independent Eritrea ALONG with other groups. The common perception is that the lowlands started the struggle and the highlands helped finish it. The Jeberti are not in the common picture. The speaker is simply adding the Jeberti as co-owners of the struggle. He never says that the ownership is exclusive or that it belongs more to them than anyone else.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer do you know that Jeberti issue is not born after independence?

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, okay. When was the Jeberti issue “born”?

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer, I am asking. Please share what you know about the birth of official Jeberti Identity Recognition issue.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, from what I know, it started with the inception of the EPLF. Isaias is known to not care for Jeberti. So, he minimised their history of struggle and gave them a little recognition. Isaias minimized Jebha even though he was a member of the leadership there himself. He pushed a narrative about Jebha that was negative and full of omissions. For the earlier struggles, Jeberti, he could not acknowledge them without acknowledging Jebha after them. The final tipping point for the Jeberti struggle was after Independence when the PFDJ deliberately did not recognize them as a distinct group. Imagine, Rashaida were included but Jeberti left out! With Isaias’ Diaspora speech in 1994 to a largely Kebessa audience where he ridiculed Jeberti’s uniqueness, it took on a much more serious tone. Denial of Jeberti identity has now become a common view among Kebessa. Even among justice seekers, attitudes of scepticism and doubt exist. You, as a liberal democrat, should be on the forefront of advocating for oppressed identities within a state. Oppression of the Jeberti identity is on the same scale as the oppression of indigenous groups histories and minority contributions in the West. Every Western liberal is against these practices. How come you can not do them same in the society you come from?

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer in the simplest opinion, I disagree on recognition based on contribution, To be recognised on how you want to be is a human rights issue.

Saying that, Jeberti as a people are fighting for recognition in four countries: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia. I think their fight for recognition can extend also to the middle east. Hence let us not confine it as it is an Eritrean issue.

Another thing, the issue of Jeberti was also raised during Derg Administration.

It is not therefore whether they contributed or not.

Let is therefore honest.

Personally, I don’t go into “what have they done” dirty politics. I fully support for their identity no matter what they did or what they are doing.

MA:

I remember in 1988 name withheld was working with Dr. YASSIN ABERA during Ethiopian Dergi time processing with Ethiopian officials to recognize and to give place for Jeberti, to a group of students he showed us all the communication documents with the government, I remember he told us if we didn’t do it now tomorrow EPLF will not recognized us, he said we are running out of time. 1 and a half year after that time Dr. Yassin killed by Esaias.

TR:

Munir Abdalla recently Dr. Mohamed Kheir Omer has shared a document about the case of Jeberti research done during the Derg regime. It is an interesting document.

The matter is, the issue of nations and nationalists is the concept of communism/socialism aimed at clustering people together so that their shared identity can be merged for a social and common identity. In a free and liberal world, identity issue remains with the owners themselves.

MA:

Dr. Yassin ‘s daughter was in studying with me in India at the time her father killed and she was one of the students in the group the person I said name with held when he showed us the documents and narrated us all the process. When we heard Dr. Was killed in Asmara we said 100% done by Eseyas gangs.

TR:

Munir Abdalla Isaias can do a lot. But the case of Jeberti should be taken away from Isaias. He is not the person to give recognition. This is, in fact, the main problem with those who fight for recognition, They should ignore Isaias and own their own recognition process.

RA:

Brother Tesfabirhan Redie, you got this one completely wrong. It is wrong comparison. You can oppose Ethnic and religious based political groups in general but singling out al-nahda is not right. Their demands are accepted by most respected opposition groups. Al-Nahda is the member of EDA and has a leading role in The Eritrean National Conference for Democratic change. Singling out Al-Nahda is not justifiable. You have the Kunama, Afar, Saho and 4 religious political organisation. Also, we have, to be honest about the other organizations as well, they might have national names but their members could be from one village or Enda.

TR:

Redi Aybu Ok!

Let me ask you this:

Is Al-Nahda Party representative of Jeberti People like all other Ethnic based political organization?

Or

Is a political party that works for the recognisition of Jeberti people as an ethnic group?

RA:

Al Nahda represents it’s members, only. Just like all political parties. Anywhere. AL Nahda endeavours to promote the rights of jeberty.

TR:

Redi Aybu And Aga’azian Movement represents its members only.

MM: 

Dear Redi Aybu, fundamentally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a grouping that stands for its rights within legitimate boundary, such as should it’s rights were violated or it was deprived from practicing its fundamental rights, however it is also equality important that group recognises the rights of others as much as to what it stands for otherwise, that itself is a blatant violation towards the rights of others…which is very dangerous approach towards earning the respect of others.

Lastly, since I never heard of Al Nahda group of Jeberti, I would appreciate if you can please share with me the link to its website to learn more about its aims and an ideology.

Mickael Kaleab:

I personally liked the article but a little bit unfair concerning Jeberti. I recall that isn’t only Jebert’s question, there are many others who have similar questions. None the less, at this point in time I do absolutely recommend that we all come together to put in place strong and workable national constitution and the rule of law to restore our human freedom. Once this is achieved than we can work around identities and many other complicated issues and problems without compromising our national integrity, identity and sovereignty.

FM:

Michael Kalaeb, I wish that was the case. I think the reverse is the case. All legitimate cultural/economic/ethnic oppression issues have to be part of a national platform. Then, the various divided groups might start working together.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer please stop your double standard. The Jeberti case is a humanitarian case. Anyone who respects human rights have no problem with Jeberti people. Those who oppress people oppress anyone. Saying that their case is not different from those who are fighting for justice.

Personally, I don’t agree with you that the Jeberti case is put in the National platform. If it is going to be put, it is the Sectarian nature of Al-Nahda Party. This political party is injecting hate speeches by fabricating false history.

For me, Al-Nahda Party = Aga’azian Movement lead by Tesfazion.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, lol, wow. There is no comparison, bro. You have lost your sense of proportion.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer I don’t think so. You are rather playing a double standard. If you are against sectarian/religious politics, oppose Al-Nahda Party. Otherwise, don’t pretend you care for others.

Ibn Ahmed,

Tesfabirhan Redie, can you mention the hate speeches of ENP? If you are aware enough mention any ideology from the political charter of ENP that lead the country to “hate”. I don’t think you read the charter but to your knowledge, it is a national party but it includes the excluded right of Jeberty by the others. Be conscious before you write.

FM: 

Ibn Ahmed, are you a member fo ENP?

IA:

Yes

FM:

Ibn Ahmed, thank you for being available to us. Is it true that non-Jeberti can not join ENP?

IA:

Any Eritrean who is not member of any other Eritrean party without any discrimination of his ethnicity, religion and gender can join the party.

Munir Abdella:

Tesfabirhan Redie what can you say about the above reply of Ibn Ahmed?

  1. What can you say about the above reply of Ibn Ahmed?
  2. Tesfabirhan Redie Where did u got none Jeberty can’t be a member in Al Nahda?

TR:

Munir Abdalla Well this video says everything about ENP.

blob:https://www.dailymotion.com/dc46af4d-5c21-4aa9-9125-ce5fb02a2486

IA:

Tesfabirhan Redie, You seem as one of our heroes justice seekers and we as ENP are proud of you. But, we are sad to read the baseless accusations on us. You can ask or read the contribution of our party to the unity of the Eritrean political groups. If you have a lack of info don’t hesitate to ask our brothers and sisters who are active in the struggle against the sadist regime in Eritrea.

TR:

Ibn Ahmed And visiting ENP’s website is very simple to know who the members are.

IA:

Yes, Eritreans.

MA:

Tesfabirhan Redie let me ask you two questions, first, I just saw the video, does the meeting/gathering was by Al Nahda party or other groups of Jeberti? second, you said “visiting ENP’s website is very simple to know who the members are”, are you telling us about ENP by the type of their members (I think all are Jeberti if I am not wrong) or by their charter? if it is the type of their members, can it apply to others too what you said about ENP?

TR:

Munir Abdalla having a good charter doesn’t mean a political party is not radical. The video record shared by Bahlbi and many others in the web page of Al-Nahda Party is a testimony what is going inside the closed meetings. if these kind of records are available to the public I imagine worse radicalization that is going on within Al-Nahda party.

MA:

Tesfabirhan Redie I asked you two questions but you failed to reply properly, you can’t make a conclusion and accusing people or a party with a very dangerous label based on video shared by someone in their website, suspecting them that they are doing something in closed door without proof at hand. My friend yo are free to consider them not only the same as Agazian of Tesfazion but worst than them too but do you think people will buy your argument based on what you provided as evidence? I am not Al Nahda party member and never participate in any of their meeting but I have close friends from the party in the leadership position, I never heard from them or near to that of what you are accusing them of radicalization, nowadays it became a fashion to any Muslims to tag them the word radicalization if you didn’t agree with them. You need to show us in their charter if they are accepting or not accepting none Jeberti and of such videos if is made on their official Al Nahda meeting or gathering, other than that your argument is weak may be hate otherwise based on your arguments most Eritrean parties and movement will be on the same category, for example recently there was hot discussion if I am not wrong in Frezghi Mesmer FB page or Zaki Zerom FB page about EYSC split history based on the interview done in ENN TV, if you follow the discussion it was all about the 3 regions only, how many persons in the leadership from that region and how many from the other region and other issues about the 3 highland regions, so based on your arguments, seen them the type of the people in the leadership,can we conclude those groups are radicals and dangers to Eritrea the same as Al Nahda and Agazian of Tesfazion?

TR:

Munir Abdalla my friend, I am not conspiring. I am discussing based on available information. You asked me and I responded, Unless you are open minded you will not give an ear for what I am responding. In case this is the website I am talking about.

http://www.erinahda.com/

My concern is very simple. If Jeberti People are demanding for recognition to be given they are dead wrong. There is no one to say “yes you are Jeberti or NO you are not Jeberti”.

What I am saying about radicalization is the brainwashing tactics used for the Jeberti people against others, Look how Haj Suleiman is responding, If you are claiming Haj Suleiman is not member of Al-Nahda Party, or you are saying that Dr. Ibrahim Siraj is talking about, well Al-Nahda should take steps against these people to stop hate speeches against others.

MA:

Brother Tesfabirhan Redie I don’t know what is the measurement to be open mind and closed mind. Still, your arguments are based on suspicious, a Jeberti said that and a Muslim said that. First of all Dr. Ibrahim Siraj isn’t Jeberti but Saho, his mother is Jeberti. Also, Al Nahda party is representing its members only, they don’t have authority or control of the whole Jeberti. It’s is unfair to ask them to control all Jeberti. Again if we apply your 3 ways of labelling of Al Nahda to other Eritrean parties & movements we will not have a single party in the opposition including PFDJ different than Al Nahda. I wish you engage them in a different way than labelling them unfairly to Agazian Tesfazion unlike them who openly speaking ethnic and religious cleansing. They are very much peaceful party since you don’t have to prove of what you are accusing them.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, you are simply wrong on this issue. You can’t prove that Al Nahda does not allow non-Jeberti to join. A member of ENP has just told us that any Eritrean who is not a member of another party can join. What proof do you have? You should retract the article and use another example. A suggestion. Agazian is in a class by itself. You can’t compare it to another Eritrean group. Much less a non-violent group like ENP.

Bahlbi Y. Malik,

Well, the fundamental problem with ethno-centric or religious/regional movements is that they often pray to the wrong god, bark up the wrong tree and shoot at the wrong target. First of all, whatever they are trying to obtain/gain was never denied by the Eritrean people. Whatever they are trying to obtain, they cannot achieve it by excluding themselves and /or excluding others. This is not a jebrti or Kunama issue. It is a national issue.Whatever they do, they should stop treating the issue as their private matter. The Eritrean people are their strategic allies. In his struggle for recognition, the speaker in this video has attempted to distort history, cooked up statistics to inflate the size of the group, expressed disregards for others”malna wo malom”(we don’t care about the other ethnic groups; we only care about ourselves…….” The Us vs them attitude would only harm the victims more than it harms the perceived enemies. The Jeberti who are linguistically, culturally and religiously equipped to serve as bridgege between highland and lowland is now attempting to burn the bridge.

blob:https://www.dailymotion.com/dc46af4d-5c21-4aa9-9125-ce5fb02a2486

TR:

Bahlbi Y. Malk you are simply great. This video was in my mind but I didn’t want to share as it fuels the identity politics. This much are fascistic. If they want to be known as they want to be, why they ridicule others?

And the same person is claiming that Jeberti are the owners of Eritrean independence as their son/father Abdel-Kadir Kebire is the first Martyr of Eritrea. Such claims will only worsen their claim.

Other people will react consciously or unconsciously to their claim negatively.

In a free and just world, no human being is discriminated based on religion/ethnic/color/region. Jeberti people are discriminating themselves. And this will produce an unwanted side effect.

Dear Bahlbi, Eritreans living outside Eritrea are free to be registered according to their social groupings legally. The country they register doesn’t ask them who they are. They simply fill a form and create civic community as per their request. Sadly those who bring identity issue never questioned why the countries they live in give them such full freedom.

Haw Suleiman is so narrow minded – just like that of Tesfatsion. His speeches are full of hates and provocative. I wish he has some wisdom of his forefathers, the Jeberti.

FM:

Bahlbi Y. Malk, Diaspora political groupings are isolated from the larger body politic that exists inside Eritrea or even in the Diaspora. As a result, radicalism is inevitable. We see it across most political groups. Their platforms tend to become radicalised as a result of frustration, lack of metrics, and static political development. I have not heard the link you included yet but can guess at its content. I totally agree with your characterizations of these issues as national issues and not a private matter. Although, one can not be a nationalist by himself.🙂Meaning, how many political groups recognize, as part of their platform these various issues? How many put the Jeberti/Kunama/Saho issues on their platforms? None. The nationalist groups mention social harmony in general terms. The sectarian/ethnic/regional groups only mention their own oppression or that of another group they relate it. It’s never holistic. Let’s take the Jeberti. On their Jeberti Day celebration, how many other Eritrean groups make a point to attend? You see my point. As long as opposition politicians do not reach out to these various civic and political groups and acknowledge their particular issue, that pan-national platform will not emerge on its own. The creeping radicalism of even the mild-mannered jeberti is an example of what happens when a political movement is isolated from the larger society into an echo chamber.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer it is better to admit your flaws. If you believe that diaspora groupings are isolated from the larger body politics and as a result radicalization is inevitable so what makes you consider Al-Nahda Party as a sane party? whether it is 1% or less doesn’t matter for radicalization to happen.

Watch first what Bahlibi shared and come with your conscious mind that opposes sectarian groupings.

Haw Suleiman is a dangerous man, just like that of Tesfatsion. His speeches are full of hate and lies.

ZZ:

Bahlbi’s comment is not only about Jeberti, it applies to all.

TR:

Zaki Zerom indeed but the video he shared is very important regarding the topic at hand as it highlights the hate speech of Al-Nahda Party. Otherwise there so many similar political movements who diffuse hate speech.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, misunderstandings are explained. Not admitted to.🙂 Stop trying to win the argument and instead learn from it. Yes, Diaspora causes radicalization. However, it is up to us to calibrate it and put it in the proper perspective. A group saying violent struggle has gone too far. But, a group that believes in non-violence but will not allow non-group ethnics to join has not. At least not as far as the Agazian genocidaires. As long as they are willing to work with other Eritrean parties, which they have, I think the membership issue is not as relevant to the larger issue. In and of itself, I think the membership policy is the wrong policy. Any Eritrean should be allowed to join any group.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer well, this what I know about Al-Nahda Party.

Anyone can not member of Al-Nahda party as it belongs to Jeberti people but Al-Nahda Party members can be members of other political parties without exempting their membership. This is designed not because their concern is common with other parties they join but they want their case(Jeberti issue) to be heard.

So much confusion.

In politics, one can not possess to political principles. If one is member of one political party, he/she must stay within that party unless officially declared for his/her leave.

And this is the hate in diffusion by Haj Suleman:

ክ/ኦርቶዶክስ ከበሳ፣ ካብ ላስታ ዝመጹ ስደተኛታት’ዮም፣ (ሓጂ ስሌማን)

On whether I will win the debate or not, I am not the one who is trying to silence the other. But facts are facts.

When I write something, I am fully knowledgeable for what I wrote and I am responsible for every single line I dropped. The time you try to silence me I will not.

But I may do mistakes/misunderstand things. For this I am ready to be corrected. But to silence my opinion, it is against my rights.

BYM:

Frezghi Mesmer there is no question that the weak or nearly absent political connection between diaspora opposition and the Eritrean public within Eritrea is largely one of the most difficult political bottlenecks they/we face.Thus, the lack of progress and growing political stagnation can be frustrating and be discouraging to the say the least. That much I agree.However, in addition to the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that this kind of radicalization was born out of political stagnation, it sounds very simplistic to justify it as such. Besides, we are not talking about any gullible and visionless youth, whom out of economic and political frustrations found vision and purpose in radical religious ideology. We are talking about seasoned politicians and highly educated citizens who are seeking ethnic recognition and other fundamental rights.They should have known better. The creation of socio-political enclaves may be a comfort zone for unhappy minorities but it pushes away the majority who should have been part of the change they seek. If this culture of exclusion and demonization of the “other” continues, at some point it will become a taboo for “the other” to attend any ceremonies/celebrations organized by the groups in question. The bottom-line, it takes two to tango.The last point on the absence of comprehensive political platform is a legitimate point but who is going to create that if every one of us creates our own political clans? I believe that most ethnic groups and regions have different demands and grievances but if we fail to solve our common problem which is a lack of rule of law and constitution, we will never be able to solve our individual problems. Wedhanka.

FM:

Bahlbi Y. Malk , the Diaspora effects on political evolution are severe and underestimated. Suffice it to say that a fish needs water and a politician needs exposure to his constituents in order to interact positively with reality. Diaspora politicians see themselves as being Eritrean politicians outside of Eritrea. In reality, their constituency are those Eritreans who voluntarily interact with them in the Diaspora. A very small number unlikely to be representative in the diversity of origin or diversity of ideas. As such, an echo chamber is very easy to create. Echo chambers lead to political stagnation due to the lack of interaction with the larger political body. As a result, the metric of political evolution becomes the evolution of ideas and not evolution of action-based goals. If the ideas are to “evolve” without interaction with the body politic, the echo chamber and isolation from the larger body encourages radicalism. We can point to many examples in the Diaspora opposition. One current example is the regionalism organizing. For years, regional sentiment affected all groups in various ways. It was always underground. Yet, because the opposition never addressed it adequately, the underground echo chamber exploded. Region-based parties came out of that explosion. If the larger opposition had addressed regional concerns openly and honestly AND coopted the regional discrimination issue, this would not have happened. But, the opposition, as you recommended, emphasized the larger “common” problems. Politically, this left a large vacuumin the sentiment of the people that could be exploited. And, exploited it was to create new groups that are total political deadweights in the fight against the PFDJ. The reasoning behind the regional sentiment, discrimination, was never adequately propagated by the media into people’s awareness. So, when these new groups emerge, the existing ideas about regional organizing(they just want to rule) become the default political conclusion of those that do not support regional organizing. The Jeberti issue is no different. Even as it was openly propagated, as opposed to the underground agitation of regional sentiment, the politics evolved towards radicalism. The reason? Because the rest of the opposition never widely supported the Jeberti question. Most were ambivalent towards the issue. If the Jeberti are left into their own echo chamber, without interaction with the whole, then it is inevitable that radical figures like haw Suleiman emerge. The way forward has to be co-opting of all legitimate political sentiments of ALL groups into one platform. A parallel effort to engage groups within their gatherings should also be made. Then, the whole can coalesce into a collaborative alliance of groups. Otherwise, the creation and maintenance of political clans will continue. EYSC’s idea of “change from within” was revolutionary in that requiring addressing internal realities as part of strategic planning. Most groups rejected it because it was against their existing political culture.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer Frezghi Mesmer you seem to be serious but timid. Let us take at face value. As a liberal Democrat, I see the merits of any political and civic rights movement within the framework of today and the future. Though in today’s Eritrean political situation the notion of political and civic activism are of mixed in nature and very confusing, some have gone wild to confuse the people for what they advocate for. The Jeberti case is not different.

First of all, any individual/group of people have a right to be identified as they want to be in a free world. Ok, Eritrea is not free and I am not naive to expect wild card for Eritreans to choose who they want to be. But those who live in democratic countries they have failed terribly to go wild and fight for their recognition.

Take some Jeberti people who live in Sweden or Norway. Does anyone ask them why they wanted to be Jeberti? Or did anyone said to them, “No you are not allowed to form Community of Jeberti People”? To be frank, I don’t think anyone questioned their identity. To my disappointment, the same people who are free to be who they are are fighting with a regime that does not respect human rights to get recognition. This is ignorance. What the Jeberti people could have done is use the opportunity they get in the free world to show who they are in a way they wanted to be. And as Eritreans, they can fight with other Eritreans for the rights of people to be respected. Singling out the issue of Jeberti, and to the worst case, through the radicalization of their own people by imagining an arbitrary enemy, the Christian highlanders, is indeed dangerous.

To the worst phase of their radicalization, some Jeberti came with Al-Nahda Party. This party is a radical party, mostly driven by fanatic Islamic ideology, is diffusing hate speeches against others. This is the worst politics one can expect.

The ideology of Al-Nahda Party is motivated by two complex patterns.

1. Identity Issue
2. Religious issue.

These two cases are putting them in a spotlight. Look how Aga’azian movement lead by Tesfazion is attacking the whole Jebert people simply because to confront with Al-Nahda Party? We can’t make an excuse that this party does not represent Jeberti people as a whole, as per your claim, only 1%.

The case of Jeberti people falls within the basic human rights issue. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Article 2.5 says;

“Persons belonging to minorities have the right to establish and maintain, without any discrimination, free and peaceful contacts with other members of their group and with persons belonging to other minorities, as well as contacts across frontiers with citizens of other States to whom they are related by national or ethnic, religious or linguistic ties.”

For more details, you can visit http://www.ohchr.org/…/Profession…/Pages/Minorities.aspx

If we go further, if Al-Nahda Party is organised as representative of Jeberti people like all other Ethnic-based political organisations, that is different. As you are recently advocating against Sectarian politics, the party can be challenged accordingly. But at this stage of their political discourse, Al-Nahda Party is more on the rights of recognition of Jeberti as an ethnic group rather than an advocator of Jeberti political interest.

What I always ask myself is this:

Suppose PFDJ welcomed their struggle for recognition, what is then left as a motivation for a struggle?

BYM:

Frezghi Mesmer, Correct.Yes, there has been so many socio-political issues that we have either been unaware of or deliberately ignored by the Eri society but they are now coming to the surface in a more worrisome fashion.My whole argument/expectation at this point is that, people regardless of their political stands, should use a basic political rule of thumb. Realistically speaking, the jeberti group has more likelihoods of coming to power than many Eritrean ethnic groups/regions. Because they are highly respected and accepted in Semhar, Senhit, Barka etc. But these kinds of approach can only cost them their allies and they can/will knowingly or unknowingly serve as an ultimate ammunition for Agazian-like mindset.This rule of a thumb applies to the regions too. Region-based politics may be easy to gain regional support, temporary noises and political patronage but it is a scar that can/will haunt the region(s) for decades to come.If I were to partially spill it in less diplomatic terms, I would put it this way: It is statistically and demographically impossible for Akeleguzay to come to power without the support of Seraye and/or Hamassien. The same goes for Seraye. The other regions may have other alternatives. Thus, any region-oriented political movement is nothing more than emotion-driven circus which would severely harm the actors as well as the integrity and solidarity of the society.

FM:

Bahlbi Y. Malk, I don’t support their approach. I support the issue. If the Jeberti issue was part of the national program. The narrow groups would not have come to existence. On the political leaders’ lack of vision, you are quite right. However, they don’t think that far ahead. Again, the Diaspora subsidises bad politicians. Inside the country, politicians live by their abilities. Better politicians defeat bad politicians. In the Diaspora, a politician might have just enough ability to satisfy 50 people and convince them to join his party. That is called a politician in the Diaspora. He doesn’t have to please business and social groups. Or balance the various interest groups in society. His income comes from his employment in the host community. As a result, he faces no consequences for his bad politics. To overcome the Diaspora effect, self-aware and reflective Eritrean politicians have to accept/address issues from various narrow groups as much as they advocate for general democratic change. Otherwise, they can never hope to defeat the narrow politicians who have all the natural advantages.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer I disagree with you that the Jeberti issue needs national platform. It is part and parcel of the struggle for human rights. Unless we want to complicate issues, Jeberti case is very simple – just let us consider it as basic rights to human freedom where identity is a non-issue. For me, even those Amiche who were forced to leave Ethiopia can claim as Amhara simply because they speak Amharique language. The state should not have interference in people’s choice. What the state should do is respect people’s choice.

The era of communist ideology is over. We can not, therefore, bring identity-based politics back to the surface. If we do, as those regional/religious/identity politics, it is not different from that of PFDJ.

Let us remember Nihnan Elamanan whenever we organise according to religious and regional bases. No matter how one be national the starting/conception is what it defines.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, what world are you in? 🙂Identity politics is all we have. It is our main stumbling block. The PFDJ suppressed all identity and now it is more virulent than before. If anything, we still copy the identity-neutral nationalism of the PFDJ. Let us embrace a diverse nationalism/patriotism that appreciates the role of each group in its historical context. Such an approach respects diversity and strengthens the unity of the people. Liberal democracy requires truth. Truth in the Eritrean context requires recognition of the unique contribution of the Jeberti, Tigre, Bilen, Kebessa, Afar, etc etc. If such a truth-based approach is followed, recognition of Jeberti contribution is inevitable. Once their contribution to Eritrea is acknowledged, then recognizing their unique identity is not far behind. Why do you think the PFDJ propaganda and anti-Jeberti sentiment focuses on minimising their contributions? Minimization of contributions is the first step in oppressing a national minority. Simply, by being a liberal Democrat, and telling the truth. You are giving Jeberti their earned and proper role in Eritrean history. It takes lies, distractions, and obfuscations to reduce their role and thereby reducing their proper identity.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer the good thing is you can argue from any political dimension. I wish I have your skills of a double standard. Recently you were opposing sectarian politics. In case, here is the definition of sectarianism.

A sectarianism is a form of bigotry, discrimination, or hatred arising from attaching relations of inferiority and superiority to differences between subdivisions within a group. Common examples are denominations of a religion, ethnic identity, class, or region for citizens of a state and factions of a political movement.

For more detailed information, please read the link given below. You seem to forget what you fight for at one time and then flip-flop when it comes to reality. I thought your watch-dog skills is principled.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarianism

Raphael Arefaine

TR:

Thank you Raphael Arefaine. The record you shared is very rich. I am happy that my arguments fall within his teachings. My argument is exactly what he is teaching. Very useful. Thank you again.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, that was a waste of 15 minutes.🙂 The speaker was conjecturing instead of giving clear answers. First, he says tribes/nationalities don’t exist in Eritrea. They were created by the Ghedli because of socialism. Second, he said that being a tribe is not a “right”. Human rights are a right. But, tribes/nationality identity can not be a right. The rest of it was filled with unnececessary and unclear examples. The sounds of a paltalker who loves his voice. My interpretation is that the speaker is loath to give Jeberti an identity. So, he questions the definition of identity itself rather than rejecting Jeberti identity outright. On the tribes/identities, of course they exist in Eritrea. Once the govt and the society start thinking in those terms, then it becomes real. The definition that speaker gave becomes a scholarly fact if the socio-political body is ignoring it. On the right to identity, who says it is not a right? Prior to genocide of a minority, the state tries to delegitimize the minority group. As they do with Rohinga in Burma or as Hitler did with the Jews. Of course, Jeberti oppression does not extend to that level. But, the systematic de-legitimizing of their identity follows a similar reasoning. The chauvinistic reasoning goes like this. They are not natives and so they do not deserve any special status or recognition of any kind. They avoided the war of liberation. They value Arabs over Eritreans. All of these are popular stereotypes designed to de-legitimize the Jeberti in everyone’s eye. If recognition was imparted, then these popular myths would start to disappear. The jeberti would assert their rights and it would become normal for Eritrea to have a “10th group/tribe”. Some Eritreans would rather give the 10th tribe designation to Amiches than to Jeberti. That is the degree of chauvenism that exists against them.

ZZ:

Again, as Bahlbi said, people are barking at the wrong tree by making an assumption that a segment of the society is opposing how the want to lead their communal life. The only thing that could potentially be a huge problem is if people couldn’t agree on secularism. Other than that , everything else should be covered in the future constitution.

FM:

Zaki Zerom, lets boil it down. Ignore the one Jeberti speaker who is a bit radical in his thinking. What about the other 99% that support a distinct identity for Jeberti? Is it worthwhile for the opposition to give them that recognition? Do you give them that recognition on par with the other 9 groups? We are all dancing around this question. Please address it.

ZZ:

Frezghi, I can only speak for myself and what I think it should be. It is not up to anyone to give or take identities. Any group’s identity is what the group collectively thinks it is, not what others think of the group. The opposition is in no position to recognize or not but as far as I know I do not see anyone in the opposition objecting a Jeberty identity.

Bottom line, the Eritrean society is structured such that ethnic identities are attached to villages and geographic localities. Therefore the Jeberty identity recognition in itself would only have little meaning and I think the Jeberty will always feel left out from the land discussion the rest of us seem to be obsessed with.

One positive note about Jeberty though,. They are in a unique position to play a huge role (if they grab the opportunity) in uniting the country. They are the closest to the Christian highland, and at the same time to the Muslim lowland.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer to give you a simple answer; I am not the one who recognizes them, it is their basic human rights. What I do and am doing as my responsibility is to fight for people’s rights to be respected. I don’t fight for Jeberti people by singling out them, I just fight for universal rights. Within this struggle, I respect their rights to be identified as they wanted. I am no one to recognise them. They are the one by themselves to be recognised as they wanted.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, if that is your answer to the Jeberti question, then you are deaf and blind.🙂 They are victims of a false history. They started the Independence struggle first but were written out of it by the victors. This much we can verify with known facts. What does it cost you, a justice seeker, in openly acknowledging this? Others talk about killing and dying for a political goal. Surely, a simple acknowledgement of historical truth is a small price to pay. Acknowledging a group concern doesn’t take away from your support of universal rights. Also, universal rights is a pale substitute for RESPECT. People fight and die for the self-respect of their people and their nation. To jeberti, a future democratic Eritrea is probably fine but a future democratic Eritrean society that gives them their proper respect is ideal. People fight for the ideal. Not for the “improvement”. Besides, the Jebertis are in the Diaspora. They already HAVE universal rights. What they don’t have is the respect and deserved acknowledgement of their fellow Eritreans. If you think in terms of political strategy, you will see that only fight for the proper respect of the Jeberti contribution will motivate Diaspora Jebertis to join the justice camp. If the fight for universal rights was motivation enough, they would have joined long ago and not have needed Al Nahda.

Zaki Zerom, spoken like a farmer or pastoralist. Merietey merietey end belka. :)The identity attached to land is fine but it is not the only form of identity. The Jeberti have their own unique economic culture that makes land-based identity difficult. You can even say undesirable. They are merchants and skilled artisans. They rarely farm. If you don’t farm, you don’t have an attachment to a land or to a specific village. It gives you the flexibility to move where there are economic opportunities. In the last few generations, as their businesses have gotten larger, they have settled in towns and villages. They have become part of the community. Especially in Asmara.

ZZ:

Frezghi, I am not sure what you are trying to say but people tall about identities in a context of political representation. The majority of the ethnic groups advocate for some form of federalism. If federalism becomes the winning idea, I believe it will be based on geographic region and the Jeberty will be part of the Highlands. That’s why I said recognition of identity alone isn’t something worth discussing without the underlying demands that follow the identity recognition.

My only concern is when people demand representation based on multiple identities (ethnic, religious at the same time ), the idea of equal representation fails.

ZZ:

That said, one thing I really do not approve of is when some Jeberty’s try to make their case by arguing that there is NO Tigrigna ethnic group and something along that line. It is simply stupid and offensive.

FM:

Zaki Zerom, do the Jeberti say they dont want democracy in Eritrea? just their own recognition?:) It is understood that the Jeberti demand is a demand for truth. If someone is written out of history books for political purposes, without any recourse to courts or public media without fear persecution, isnt democracy a solution for such a group? Democracy is even more crucial for minorities than for the majority. I can see most Kebessa being satisfied with a govt similar to Ethiopia’s. Where economic liberalism/cronyism affords them an improved lifestyle. In such an atmosphere, minorities can still be oppressed that do not fit the propaganda of the state. In a democratic system, minorities have rights to organize, rule-of-law, and use of public media. If the comparison holds true, the Jeberti are invested more in democracy than the “majorities” in Eritrea. It is the only way to realize their goals.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer and Zaki Zerom I have a question for you:

18835569_10155336315077354_7206555650929204756_nYou both are supporters of One Nation Movement. And One Nation recognizes only nine ethnic groups as their motivation graphic photo shows. And now you are coming in support of Jeberti’s quest for recognition. Isn’t this a political confusion?

If you remember why I opposed One Nation, one challenge I put was the question of ethnicity as they came with.

Please help me to understand your political clarity. I am in a state of confusion for what you advocate for.

FM:

Tesfabirhan Redie, I support justice which means I am for changing the imbalances/discrimination that affect various groups. The collection of group-specific grievances should be part of a national program. I support the issue that motivates the sectarian/regional parties but not organizing on that basis alone. Meaning, I see the Jeberti/Kunama/Saho/Hidareb specific issues as national issues. Recognizing the issue doesnt mean I have to accept organizing on that basis. We will never defeat PFDJ if we do not have a collaborative and unitary political program. We can create that program by co-opting all the various group specific issues WITHIN the umbrella of the democratic struggle. They are part and parcel of it. Anytime a nation does not have human rights, existing social/regional/sectarian grievances are excerbated due to the lack of a judicial/legislative mechanism. On One Nation, that is one poster. Surely, we can change it or add to it.

TR:

Frezghi Mesmer

First: I hope the poster designed based on 9 ethnic groups to be changed. Doing this One nation will move miles in its political endeavour. I consider your answer here to be an honest response and I appreciate Zaki Zerom statement that depicts One Nation’s honest mistake on these 9 ethnic groupings.

Second: I fully agree with ou that we need to recognise people’s grievances. A champion of such advocasy in Eritrean politics is Amanuel Hidrat. Recently I wrote a lengthy article about his works, And I am in full support of our social grievances. Jeberti’s case is not different.

I am also a full supporter of Afar’s grievances, Kunama’s grievances, Hidareb’s grievances and those who want to named as they wanted to be. Without recognizing (recognition here does not mean to give permission but know its existence) our individual/social grievances we ca n not have a genuine struggle.

Because of PFDJ divide and rule policy so much is in our stock to be solved. But what we can fight against is another politics that will divide us further by creating confusion and hate. I am therefore advocating against these issues.

As a liberal democrat, I am for human rights. So much is therefore to fight against.

https://tesredie.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/__trashed-5/

RA:

Who is actually confused….? The one who uses the words (terms) of ethnicity, nationality, and identity interchangeably or the one who advises the person who seemed to be in identity crises and seeks confirmation from others for what he is? I think that the former is; the latter is in the right track and deserves at least a thank you for his honest and direct sharing of his piece of mind. But the latter loses the capability to realize the benefits he gained from corresponding with the former.

ZZ:

Tes, I think it is an honest mistake by only stating the officially recognized ethnic groups. I can guarantee you everyone I know in this group do not have an issue with number of ethnic groups.

Actually, if you listened to senior’s last interview, she even said there were 2 more ethnic groups in Eritrea nobody is talking about. My first time to hear that.

TR:

Well, if it is an honest mistake, it has to be corrected but I doubt. It is more of an ideological issue. Nationalists, as members of One Nation are proud to label themselves as such, identity matters to them. Official recognition is just a matter of deception. Why should they simply promote Eritreans as a whole instead of listening who is who in Eritrea?

People like Solomon Tesfamariam are Ultra-Nationalists who care less about Rights of People. Instead they are constantly writing about the country by ignoring the people.

Now that if One Nation is honest, they should officially apologize to the Eritrean people and change this delete this photo from their archieve.

On the forgotten people,

Yes there are forgotten people.

Based on Language

1. Dahlaki People – these people speak an almost extinicting language. It needs tobe preserved by all means before it is too late. These days PFDJ is disturbing their thousands of years preserved culture, heritage and language by leasing Dahlaki Island to foreigners. We need to fight so that these people to exist.

2. Tokirir – Hausa people

These people somehow have recognition in summer festivals. But they are not yet considered as equal with other Eritreans. They have their own language, culture and mode of life.

3. Beni-Amir

These people are different from the other Tigrait speaking societies. Beni-Amir are unique people with unique culture. In fact, if there is Jeberti case in the Tigrigna speaking society, there is Beni-Amir case in the Tigrait speaking people.

Ok, the Jeberti people have better access to education and economic activities. They are using these opportunities to speak louder. What they are forgetting is Eritreans rights is forgotten by the regime in Asmara.

Jeberti’s case is not religious/ethnic issue, it is a basic human rights issue that need broader consensus to be reached by all Eritreans for all Eritreans.

 

 

 

 

 

A Critique: Amanuel Hidrat’s political thinking on Social Grievances, his Advocacy and Reconciliatory Approach

“… if we want to go forward, we must move from politics of passion to politics of realism” (Amanuel Hidrat, 2014)

Preamble

It is naivety and curiosity that made me indulge myself in assessing the writings of Amanuel Hidrat, one of Awate’s renowned columnists. It is risky, especially when the thinker is still perfecting his thinking.  Had I know my limits, as he says “know you limits” when he disciplines Awate Forum members when they debate Eritrean history, I could not have critiqued his work since I know my limits in the topic. Nonetheless, no matter how risky it could be, I will do it. My main goal is to provide an objective critique of his works that might enrich our political atmosphere.

I will confine myself to a certain period by focusing on Amanuel Hidrat’s archives at Awate though his work is very extensive and dates back to the 1970s, a decade before I was born; in the country, he fought to liberate his country in the ranks of the ELF. After independence and the launch of cyberpolitics, he was writing at asmarino.com. Awate’s archive shows that Amanuel Hidrat started his column “Tebeges” in 2009 and it is active to date, he has written about forty-four articles:

Graph

(see table above).

The main objective of his writings are summarized in four points: (i) to break all the chains of social taboos in Eritrean politics (ii) to respond to any distorted historical accounts (iii) to attempt to offer solutions for our social grievances and (iv) to endeavor to formulate pillars for social bridging.

My Reflections

With the exception of 2013, where he contributed only one article, he has graced Awate Website with his wisdom  and critical thinking on Eritreans matters that covers social grievances, political history, analysis and critiques of conferences, solutions of our political dichotomy, his opposition to other’s political views and call for unity and reconciliation by accepting our diversity, based  on his firsthand experience during Eritrean struggle for independence, and being at the center of all the political turmoil,  the rise and downfall of a formidable revolutionary front, exile and reorganization, his involvement in Civic Societies and Organizations, participation in the unifying attempts of the opposition camp, his concrete political principles and solid ideological view on social justice, as an advocate of social justice and equality as well as his fondness and enthusiasm with former Eastern European  political ideology, and as bridge between the  highland-lowland divide of Eritrea are all reflected in the articles he wrote. It is not simple to give the gist of his idea conclusions or his overall views, though it is quite clear what he actually promotes. Most of his works are of high calibre, rich in theoretical perspectives outsourced from deeper philosophical thoughts. His forward-looking and solution-oriented strategies are based on accredited historical and social grievances, existing frustrating political discourses surrounded by fragmented opposition camp. He prioritizes ‘Trust building’  as a direct proliferation of strength and resource utilization.

I found most of his writings objective based on theoretical foundations, mentioning Greek philosophers to offer his unsolicited advice on the necessity of wisdom. He encourages knowledge gathering through patience and learning. He openly expresses his concern on the silence of Eritrean intellectuals in today’s struggle for freedom. On those who try to manifest historical grudge by twisting facts or deconstructing the era of Ghedli he didn’t miss an opportunity to confront or challenge them (be it an individual’s or organization). Without denying the past historical complexes of the struggle period he doesn’t acknowledge its effect in today’s political paradox and its detrimental effect to failures of unity. He praises when he agrees honestly and condemns those who nurture further divisions and hate. He was honest to admit his early anti-Arabic language stance until he came to understand that big segments of the Eritrean society embrace it to be their official language, be it for religious or cultural reasons.

His political views cover a wide array of topics. The areas where he concentrates most are in social justice, equity of power sharing, governance through representation, social grievances, the downfall of PFDJ and the transition period, and strategies to overcome current deficiencies, etc. Though I found him to be very conservative on Eritrean political history and timid on exposing those who were the main actors in the Eritrean political failures, whom he personally knows them on time, through careful analysis of his writings it is not difficult to track historical testimonies he shares occasionally. Often he expresses his frustration and disappointment on today’s political chaos. He advocates for fundamental change and dismantlement of PFDJ institution while opposing reforming the regime or trying to make cosmetic changes through a military coup.

His Strength

  1. His principled Struggle

It has been now around 45 years since he sacrificed his precious life for the cause he believes on strongly: Justice and Freedom for Eritrean people. Since the time he joined ELF, first as a clandestine member of students that work to recruit freedom fighters and then to the field, he didn’t change his conviction and principles of struggle. First, he joined the armed struggle to get rid of Ethiopia from Eritrean land and then when he witnessed a totalitarian regime hatching inside Eritrea he fought against it. While the former was accomplished, the later still is continuing. He has never said enough for his struggle. Today he is among the few to be considered sane, well principled and energetic freedom fighters.

  1. His Strong belief on Diversity

Mr Hidrat argues that Eritrean social groups (ethnic groups) are the pillars of Eritrean identity. Not forgetting religious formations, representation of these groups in the governance system considers it as a way to build a sustainable representation, an easy means of voicing social grievances, equitable power sharing, and building trust. In line to this, he calls due consideration in the constitutional making process diversity of Eritrean social groups to be at the centre of due processes.

  1. His Advocacy for Social Grievances

Mr. Hidrat never failed to make an emphasis on Eritrean social grievances. He is an ardent supporter of people’s rights to govern themselves within a decentralized unitary government system. He prefers social justice as a means for equity and as a means for proper resource sharing among stakeholders for fair governance. He stressed in electoral representatives for equitable power-sharing. As a means, he had provided a broader and detailed analysis on how to bridge differences between the majority and minority social groups. He also calls to strengthen and build trust among stakeholders to attain a meaningful change

Though Mr Hidrat criticizes the 1997 Constitution of Eritrea as a non-inclusive one, he does not believe on overhauling it. Rather, he suggests basic revision works aimed at correcting missing elements. His central argument says, “The constitution reflects mainly the interest of one political group and ignores main actors who could have played a crucial role during the process. Some of the major elements that he outlined for major changes are language and land/property issues, changing the system of governance from Centralized Unitary Government (CUG) to Decentralized Unitary Government (DUG) and reforming the legislative system.

Mr Hidrat elaborated in detail on potential threats of “Tyranny of the Majority” in every point he raised in the discourse of social grievances concept in line to the majority-minority social divisions or groupings in general and the notion of Highlanders versus lowlands historical grudges of political domination in particular. He argues that submission to the will of the majority over the minority is evil and no history has proved that the majority cares about the minority. He came with another constructive argument when he refuted claims of majority rule system in a sense that those who favour it welcome individual rights while suppressing group rights.

To avoid political domination of the majority, he advocates a decentralized unitary governance system formed by representatives from respective social groupings. In contrast to those who advocate federalism or autonomous states within the sovereign country, as a system of governance, Mr Hidrat claims that DUG provides ample degree of freedom for locals to govern and exercise their power in their localities while adhering to the unitary government. He highlights implications of federalism within the Eritrean political reality and how hard it can be if each region is allowed to govern itself.

  1. His Reconciliatory Approach

While emphasizing about the existence of historical, regional, religious and ethnic sentiments, mistrust between respective actors and hopelessness, Mr Hidrat stresses on due consideration to be taken on adopting productive interaction methodologies. For example, he referred ‘Constructive’ and ‘Instrumental’ as available argumentative tools choices while stressing the importance of constructive arguments in today’s delicate Eritrean politics. He calls for ending the existing complex a high tension dilemma between “Anti-diversity mono-lingua proponents and pro-diversity multi-lingua proponents” for hegemonic actors within existing political atmosphere. Nevertheless, he never failed to call for a genuine reconciliatory approach to be taken for uniting all existing forces to fight against the bigger enemy.

  1. His call to “Focus on PFDJ”

Often the struggle for justice and freedom is dragged by internal conflicts and unnecessary side effect within the opposition camp. Every scenario is demanding a great deal of energy and time without bringing tangible effect on the bigger cause at hand. Mr Hidrat always reminds actors to focus on the main target. He does so by explaining the causes of conflicts and methods to resolve them for a better end.

  1. His strong belief on Democracy and Rule of Law

Politics of ‘Rule of Law’ and ‘Democracy’ are complex subjects to be interpreted in an ordinary language. One cannot survive without the other one and it becomes much more complex to implement them in a struggle full of political chaos. When different actors fight to install democracy, rule of law is hard to be respected. The struggle for democracy needs rule of law and to establish rule of law that serves all needs a democratic environment. Often these symbiotic relations are intermingled complex subjects to be dealt. Mr. Hidrat narrates a provocative critique by asking a simple question for those who favour Rule of Law before Democracy by saying, “…but what kind of law must Rule?” This has puzzled me. Such deep self-motivated questioning puts Mr Hidrat in the peak of search to build an equilibrated political atmosphere.

His Weaknesses

  1. His Mistrust on Political Organizations as Change Agents

It is not hard to conclude that Mr Hidrat favours role of Civic Societies over Political organizations. There are strong indicators to consider him as such. Since the dissolution of ELF as a liberation front, there is no information about his membership in any political organization or party. What I know little about him is his membership to Civic Organization(s). He openly advocates for the necessity of technocrats as change agents.

In 2011 Congress, he held a sit in the political coalition of Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC) held in Ethiopia as an independent candidate though he went to participate thereby representing a Civic Organization. He became a member of the umbrella parliament leadership committee by representing only himself. Not belittling his political experience and his dedication to people’s cause, it is hard to put him as an equal stakeholder with those political actors that represent a political organization.

In nature, Civic Societies are not for taking a political position. No one can deny that Civic Societies play a vital role in bringing change in the cause they fight for. Often they attract technocrats and leading agents without creating a conflict of interest among members. What makes their role limited is the non-aspiration to control power. In this regard, Civic Societies require strong political organizations to implement the cause they are fighting for.

This is the main problem as well as confusion in today’s Eritrean opposition camp. Not many are inspired to control power. Everyone is fighting for a cause without creating loyalty to or building trust to a political organization. Mr Hidrat could have legitimate scepticism not to join political organization/party nonetheless what he seems to miss is that the cause he fights for is just a voice of the voiceless people without an agent who hears these voices. Within this premises, it is not, therefore, a surprise to see him his trust over the government of Ethiopia to as an indispensable agent to topple PFDJ regime. In fact, this is one of the main problems of modern Civic Societies: they have no trust of political organizations and hence they become dependent on well-established institutions or strong governments to bring the change they are fighting for.

  1. His Center of Arguments: Pillars of Eritrean Identity

Mr Hidrat’s main argument revolves around what he calls “pillars of Eritrean identity”, Eritrean Ethnic groups and respective religious groups. This argument extends to the formation of representative governance. The system of governance he advocates could also be interpreted as either Federalism or decentralized governance of respective social groups. To some extent, what he stands for resembles like that of current Ethiopian system. This makes his advocacy for DUG ambiguous. There are four mixed grievances that he focuses on his centre of politics: (1) ethnicity or social groupings (2) religious issue (3) majority vs. minority divisions (4) lowland vs. highland. Unless he comes with a clear line of grievance definitions to define the governance system he advocates for it will be problematic to approve his political thinking.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, I found Mr Amanuel Hidrat is a unique political thinker and freedom fighter. His advocacy and principles centred on social grievance with respecting diversity make him in a unique position to be embraced by all political actors. What I found him an exemplary is his sanity on historical grudges and his reconciliatory approach. He is a forward looking and always in search of justice for all. If there is anything that I criticize him strongly is on his mistrust on political organizations. In my general understanding, being not a member of any political party or organization is hurting his political vision to come true. As a Civic Society member, it needs a political organization or other powerful actors to make his ideas worth to be implemented. This makes him a dependent politician. In addition, the governance system he advocates need to be focused on a specific line that fits the governance system he wants to formulate. The system of power sharing through the representative system could also be potentially a source of political instability. Nevertheless, the argument he raises needs serious academic studies and political debate to clear out the ambiguities.

Mathematics of Eritreans Grievances

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.

DSCF7913.JPG

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. G-15

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. bitwededI 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. abune-antoniosI 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:

  1. From the person who has the caused the victim: He reacted by claiming that he by himself is also a victim.
  2. Audiences  – they reacted by including other victims by the same person.
  3. 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:

zion3

He upload this picture to his facebook page with a description that reads: Zion

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

  1. Equation Hypothesis
  • 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.

Etc…

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

Conclusion

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.

Self-talk: Eritrean Generation and their thinking

 

Originally posted at www.awate.com in the comment section

Under the comment section of Eritrean Youth: The Lost Generatoin written on 16/03/2017 I wrote a lengthy comment with an objective to see generation thinking. And it was initiated by a self provoked question and asked to myself, “why he is calling us the lost generation?” when he is not really communicating between the generations. And now you came with a new title, another title that we are trying to challenge.

It is good I think to divide/cluster Eritrean generations based on different stages of our on-going experience

1. Generation of Struggle 1961 – 1991

This generation is divided into three:

a. Ghedli Generation – those who joined the armed struggle

Is a generation that feels proud for doing something worthy. And by default, this generation beliefs that it is the legitimate mentor for all generations.

This generation Is feelings guilty now as it failed to make Eritrea and Eritreans the land of FREEDOM.

b. Generation that stayed at home and worked under Ethiopian rule

Generation with feeling of guiltness -for not joing the armed struggle- for doing nothing or cooperating with the aggressors. This generation feels illegitimate. The word, “Abey zineberka eka” – where were you? repeated and echoed by

This generation Is feelings has the feeling of losing or gaining nothing. Every now and then, you can hear them saying, GIDEFUNA ENDO BEJAKUM, SELAMNA HABUNA. NABRANA KEFIUNA ALO.” When they don’t have peace inside, they urgue you not to disturb their peacefulness.

c. Diaspora Generation 19991 – 1997

This generation has mixed feelings – one, there is feeling of ‘I did my responsibility by helping economically for the struggle. However, it became a worshipper of the Ghedli generation – this blocks the right to call for the rights it deserves. One can not be a worshipper and a challenger. Many consider themselves as loyal members.

This generation is in the verge of staying loyal and worhsipper derived by burning nationalism sentiments and feeling guilty for trying to suppress human rights of Eritreans living inside the country.

2. Generation of Enthusiasm

This generation – stayed at home when independence was achieved. Everything was fine and ready for building the nation – 1994 was a bench mark for this generation – When National Service was declared, everyone was happy to join. There was great enthusiasm to contribute what is needed for the Nation Building.

This generation is now re-organizing itself under the banner of “Local Community Associations – under a pre-requisite of NO POLITICS and NO RELIGOIN or whatever, just Cultural and Social affairs. And it is doing because of the same enthusiastic sentiment of doing something for the community – still National Service mindset

3. Generation of Institutional Building – 1997 – 2002

This generation was better equiped to build governmental institutions and fulfill professoianl demand. This generation sought Eritrea is at a better shape to have a constitutional government and relatively better governance.

Having witnessed government fractures and institutional liquidation, this generation is now trying to be a born-again professioanl expert in the domain of Eritrean Political Conflict Management. And many are are actively participating in the formation of Civic Rights Movement. They are hating politicians from time to time and they do not have trust on political organizations . You can this generation in many professional associations and civic societies of current movement.

4. Disheartened Generation 2002 – 2008

This generation has witnessed shuttering of the sailing of hope and institutional liquidation. It has lost trust of institution and presence of big walls in the forefront blocked everything from advance.

This generation has a simply burning heart. There is no way to go. But movements like Agazians can easily attract it.

5. Floating Generation 2008 – 2014

This generation have got nothing to worry about. He has witnessed a non-institutionalized government, which it took it as it is but OK, no enthusiasm, no institution, no profession. There is no system to rely on. By default, this generation is the most liberal generation. There is no base and there is no sailing of hope.

This generation generation cares less on what is going on. But there is a potential to divert them into an effective generation by pushing them up wards. Today, Regional sentiment is winning this group of generation. It might be danegerous but is a good sign.

6. Identity Search Generation – 2014 – 2020

This generation is listenin, watching, observing and building capacity at a speedy rate. A rate that can challenge everyone.

This generation is similar to Floating generation but needs proper educaton as it seems more eager to learn. .

In conlcusion, what the author of the article came with in this latest article is a continuation of his mischaracterization in the first one. Therefore, the is misleading and unrepresentative. Eritrean youth are not lost. We are always present but with a different thinking.