To print: Click here or Select File and then Print from your browser's menu. Click here to return to the home page.

Featured Articles

A DOZEN YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE:Years of atrocities, injustices misery…

By Mohammed Taha Tewekel
May 23, 2003, 9:31am

A child who started class in 1991 now he is a high school complete. A child born in 1991 whether the child is male or female have made a change of nature in his/her biological behavior. This is just to show a dozen year is not short time. If we try to evaluate the last dozen-year of Eritrea's independence, the biggest achievement we can mention is the independence of Eritrea. An Independent land.

The life in the country is quite surprising. Eritrea crossing the edge, it is in the middle of the cliff. I really wonder how the country is running. We have an independent land with imprisoned people. A country, which we Eritreans do not feel proud to own its passport. The independence, which we do not celebrate it with full heart of happiness. On the last forty years, to be an Eritrean in the Horn of Africa and/or even in other parts of the globe had something. Whereas, today, after we own our land, Eritreans living in the Horn of Africa claim to be nationals of the country which they are living during the day time, and become Eritreans at nights. All this changing of identities is just to live in peace, not because they preferred to other nationality. This is due to the fact that they couldn't enjoy the peace and stability in their country. The country that they had worked hard, fought, died for. In particular with the broke out of the border case between Eritrea and Ethiopia it is quite obvious that how many Eritreans have faced problems in relation to passport and other traveling documents. Specially those who had the Ethiopian passport. Many are now forced to hold the Yemeni, Sudanese passports. Many also hold the Djibouti passports. To our surprise, hundreds of Eritreans hold the Somali passport. To the contrary it becomes very rare to see Eritreans with Eritrean passports. This is due to the existing dictatorial regime that our nationality is highly degraded. Although this is the hard fact, I do strongly believe that the present dark time will be replaced with a bright one. I therefore, regardless of the present problems or hardships, would pray to be Eritrean, if I were not.

In this article I will try to make a highlight analysis on the following points
-the present political situation of the Horn of Africa
-the government of Eritrea
-the opposition forces.

The political situation of the Horn of Africa (HA) is closely connected with the international politics. Before, it was inside the game of the cold war, currently under the burning issue of terrorism. May be next will be under the politics that may come. Outside this the HA have some common factors. The Horn is highly affected with draught and famine. There is also the file of opposition forces. Almost all of the HA countries accommodate the opposition of their neighbors. As a result the HA is not stable region. The western countries are also now starting to put pre-conditions on the aid they provide. This is they are insisting the governments to introduce democracy if they are to receive aid. Many are now walking toward democracy. Especially after the case of Iraq to remain a dictator in the HA or other part of Africa doesn't seem good card to hold it .The political atmosphere is making inclination toward democracy.

The Kenyan government, for example, won in the examination of democracy. President Arap Moi explicitly expressed of his loss in the election in the 2002 election. In the republic of Djibouti, we witnessed a peaceful and democratic succession of power, Hassen Gulet by Ismael Omer Gele. The election was an open and transparent one. Above all in Djibouti, those who had raised gun against the government led by Ahmedini Hamza, who were supported by the present regime of Eritrea, were welcomed to the election and participated. This is almost unthinkable in our continent, Africa, particularly in our region. But as this historic event was a history of Djibouti, which is an African country, it was not given the due admiration from the world. Even the neighboring countries didn't draw any lesson and apply to their own opposition forces. And this is because the experience from Djibouti the third world.

In Ethiopia we observed a two term of elections. The up coming election, which will be held in the year 2005, is also expected to be more inclusive.

The climate in the Sudan is getting to be quite attractive. The issue of Southern Sudan has shown great progress. The government of the Sudan made considerable concession on its stand for the sake of peace. The role of the US, EU, IGAD was also a significant one. The Machackos, Kenya, agreement reached on its final stage. The parties have come into the stage of polishing their differences. Agreed on the sharing of power, wealth etc they have started to amending the laws of the land suitable to all Sudanese. Beyond this they agreed on Khartoum to be the capital of all Sudanese. Peace in the Sudan means, a country which borders with nine countries, with its natural wealth of gas, with its tradition of free press, the improvement made by the current government will definitely influence positively to the region. The diplomatic efforts, which are being aggressively conducted by the minister of foreign affairs Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismael, also have much impact on the region. In his recent tour to Germany, Canada, USA, he received a warm and special welcome from these governments. This is a clear picture that the Sudanese government has supated the card, which president Isaias used to play against them, and he remained with no card to use on the Sudan. In the first week of June 2003, the peace negotiation between the government of the Sudan and the opposition is to be finalized. The opposition forces will dislodge their arms and will proceed to the capital Khartoum and hold government officials. The Sudanese people are to start life with a clean sheet.

After twelve years of devastating civil war, a promising situation is emerging in Somalia. The 13th meeting of the Somali opposition forces and the government lasted seven months. In their last meetings they developed a charter, which gives a five-year period of the transitional government and also structured a two houses of parliament. To manage the problem of power, the four major ethnic groups (Hawya, Darot, Dir and Digil Merefere (or Rihawien)) and the remaining others have sent their representative in the parliament. Moreover, they formed a composition of four persons presidential committee; one president and the three others are voices, which represent to the four major ethnic groups.
The president doesn't possess a veto power where four of them are not agreed. One thing that worth to note is that the Somali are almost all have raised guns and are now agreed to lay their arms according to the call of the international society. The transitional government will be established in July 2003. The Western countries, the East Africa region, the Arab have reached into conclusion that for the peace of the HA, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean, solving the problems of Somali is a determinant one. It is out of this conclusion therefore the international society is now keen to solve the problem.

For us, Eritreans, peace and stability in Somalia have great impact. Historically the Somali people were the only country who did not change their stand in supporting our independence. Unfortunately, when Eritrea got its independence the Somali fall into a disaster one of civil war. The country remained with no central government. The stable Somali have something to do with us. It is, therefore, to our interest that every Eritrean to contribute his/her share for the peace and stability in Somalia.

Having the aforementioned ideas I would like to proceed to the Eritrean case. We have seen that the biggest conflicts of our region are partly solved and partly are being solved. What about our case?

Ever since the Sana'a agreement of Oct.2002 the interviews given by president Isaias are to attack the agreement. The agreement is aimed definitely to engulf the government politically, economically. Added this to his internal problems is a big pressure. The Sana'a agreement reached a month after Isaias cracked down his dissidents who were once his best colleagues, senior leaders of the EPLF. At that time Isaias had no out let. To his fortune the Sept. 11 terrorist attack gave him a good chance to sniff fresh air. He took a lift on the campaign against terrorism.
Although it was not like what he had expected to accommodate the US, the war on Iraq instilled him some moral. Further, Isaias seems to be satisfied by the US, as he didn't receive a clear and unequivocal message from the US regarding the issue of Human rights, and democracy in Eritrea.

To raise his head further from the isolation, and broke the Sana'a agreement, Isaias has left no stone unturned. Even he requested an observer status in the Arab league. We all know that there is no observer status in the Arab league. Thanks to the help of Libya and Egypt, however, allowed him to have the status. His continued attack against the Sana'a agreement, during his last visit to Egypt in this year he raised the sensitive politics of the Nile River. He particularly pointed out the role of Ethiopia in Somalia as a negative and fragmenting role. And openly criticized Yemen and Sudan of their agreement with Ethiopia as strategic danger to Eritrea and the Arab countries. He spoke to the Arab Intellectuals and journalists Ethiopia as a historically enemy of Arabs. Added to his fluent Arabic we can say that he persuaded a lot and benefited from his visit to Egypt. Right after this Ethiopians, according to some medias, retreated from the relationship they started with Egypt. Isaias never hesitates to touch or even to raise any taboo things for the existence of his power. Recently, for example, putting his hand into religion, took the Coptic Orthodox to Alexandria Egypt. It is clear that he greatly depend on outside politics and plays with politics and religion with the some Arab countries.

Coming again to the Sana'a agreement, it is a big pressure to Isaias. But when we look it in relation to the weakness of the opposition forces that we have, the Sana'a agreement cannot be said that it has worked or pressurized while Isaias fully supports the opposition forces he had given them land to fight against his neighbor. If the Eritrean opposition forces are to receive considerable economic and political support from the Eritrean people, the international community and others they should unite their force. But as the aid is aimed to wage a democratic struggle the Alliance must divorce the life of hotels and avoid unnecessary expenses. Although the opposition forces are openly disclosing that they received support from the neighboring countries but we did not see the effect of the support so far. Unexpectedly, however, they provide a tangible evidence for Isaias to use for his propaganda against the members of the Sana'a agreement.
Let's direct our attention to the internal situation of Eritrea. Almost all people agree in one point, the government is a dictator and cannot be reformed. At the same time they are confused on which will be an alternative opposition.
Regarding to the government, in my own analysis, after arresting people who are even internationally immune, like the disabled veteran Idris Aba-are, Kenezmach Sunabara Mahmoud Damana, when I openly talked about the life of the detainee with Semere Kesete who was with these people let alone a stone may tear let alone a human being, and his great friends - Petros Solomon, Haile Duru'e Mahmmud Sherifo, nothing can compel him to introduce democracy in the country, provided that there is no strong pressure from the west.

After the last twelve years of independence, the country is going from bad to worse. It becomes a common understanding of many that the government is politically failed state, economically poor with a heavy drought and famine. In the area of education, we have a very weak outcome. This is due to the wrong policy of the government. During the last thirty years we have about 150,000 Eritreans at least who hold first degree. The minister of education wonders to the India to bring Indian teachers instead of looking for the nationals. Recently he reached into agreement to bring 400 Indian teachers. This according to the government radio is to be added to the 273 who are already working in Eritrea. Outside this the ministry worked to bring teachers from the Sudan and even from Ethiopia. However the Eritrean teachers remained idles. The most amazing thing is also, that the government brought medical doctors from China and other countries while many Eritrea medical doctors are working under or outside to their qualification in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The job is not given to the Eritreans as results the civil servant are more or less 12,000. The job opportunity is given based on the affiliation to the PFDJ. No significant development is shown so far. What we hear to the deaf of our ear many times now is the propaganda of the Sembel houses Complex built on a loam soil, which is totally agricultural land. The government officials are becoming distinguished elites. It become very easy for those who are pro-regime to own villas in Asmara and luxurious cars, and the change we got after our independence is the difference between the government authorities and the life of the people. Making the picture of camel into the passport or in the currency and a logo of a state does not mean equality while the shepherd of that camel has no place to live in.
It is our common ambition to have democracy, justice, and good governance in Eritrea, even to the people who are supporting the regime without getting no benefits. But we are also facing some hindrance from people who were never in the history of Eritrea. Neither in the history of struggle for independence or after. Even some of those who are blindly supporting the government for their own personal interests do not correctly pronounce the name of Eritrea with the local languages of Eritrea. With all the atrocities, the injustices, the misery of our people, being themselves in the democratic countries deny the basic human rights to their people. For the real Eritrean who thinks about the good and prosperity of Eritrea one cannot support the existing dictator. It is quite correct question I think to raise that whether these people are born from the Eritrean mother?

Well we saw the nature of the government what about the opposition forces. Are they playing the necessary role in saving the Eritrean people from the dark situation? In the last we had the ELF and EPLF. It is not quite important to mention the details but people say that ELF was democrat but not united. Currently more than dozen opposition groups are born out from it. Regardless of its nature the EPLF was able to materialize the independence of Eritrea. Nonetheless, failed to lead the country democratically. Those who said no for the dictatorship were the senior leaders of the EPLF. For the record of history these people who are now languishing in the government secret jails said no while they were in ministerial post. But the initiation taken by them cracked down by force.

EPLF itself is born from the ELF. The history of ELF however, we all know that it is not given the due consideration by the EPLF. Even the people who worked a lot and martyred like Mohamed Abdu, Osman Saleh Sabe remained nameless. EPLF betrayed a lot. Similarly the people who are in the other ELF families remained prisoners of their history. They mention the EPLF and TPLF joint attack. Let the history to the historians and concentrate on how we can change the dictatorial regime and install a democratic system instead. As an Eritrean I don’t believe, to change a government, the programs so far presented are party program or organizational ones. And by this no one can change the system, if we are not able to formulate a national program that accommodates to all opposition forces. Currently we all are just counting our history. Sometimes even we immerse our selves into very personal and individual cases, interests. We must develop our political mind to the level of thinking as how Eritrea should be governed. Instead of paying much attention and spend energy on who or by whom Eritrea should be administered. The power conflict created in the 5th conference of the Alliance is a best example. And it become quite crystal to all of us we are with no opposition force with a national agenda or charter that enables to empower the people of Eritrea and embrace the whole opposition forces, at least at this critical moment. The charter of the Alliance can be re-evaluated and developed. But to see people who were antagonists to each other sitting in one table is a great benefit to Eritrea. It has good contribution to the struggle because attacking the opposition force against each other will not do any for Eritrea but harm. Passing this step therefore is a great help to the Eritrean people.

The leaders of the opposition forces, however, should remember that there is a big responsibility placed upon them and the people is expecting them much. They should spend their time on designing and implementing national strategy instead of talking about worthless issues. They should think and work hard on how they can create a united force, hold national conference and develop a national program or any short possible way to achieve our independence.
The role of the Eritrean websites at this juncture is quite significant. The role, which is being played by the different civil society, also is a sharpest one in defending our rights and condemning the regime. It is therefore imperative to say that they should double their efforts they are playing. They can create conducive atmosphere for political discussions and challenge the regime at the same time.

If we read carefully the history of our country in the late 50th we just get the period of democracy and a hot political discussions. Above all there was admirable constitution during the federation, which gives much stress on free press, freedom of court system, in general the division of governmental power. In conclusion the idea that I put it in this article is not to give up hope of the Eritreans rather it is an attempt to provoke them just to discuss their case openly so that they can reach on a common agreement unite their force. To see a democratic Eritrea it must be based upon the common agreement, understanding and efforts of all Eritreans. An isolated struggle is just to the benefit of the regime and we cannot be free from we are in now.

Finally, it is a must in the near future to own a democratic Eritrea, which doesn't make discrimination based on our race, region, religion, political ideas etc.

© Copyright 2002 by