Catastrophic Human Right Violations Anticipated
Written by Adhanom Tewelde 29th January 2013 In political history of Eritrea, there is a rare of practice of engagement in peaceful conflict resolution strategies. In many circumstances of political movement and armed struggle for independence, Eritreans
Written by Adhanom Tewelde
29th January 2013
In political history of Eritrea, there is a rare of practice of engagement in peaceful conflict resolution strategies. In many circumstances of political movement and armed struggle for independence, Eritreans have failed to develop a civilized culture of discussion, negotiation, compromise, and reconciliation to overcome any problem that could emerge because of the existence of natural and inevitable differences. The biggest challenge in Eritrean politics is the difficulty of conceiving difference as an asset, but a menace. The argument can be exemplified by the following historic incidents that have been happened throughout the political struggle of the Red Sea nation:
(1) Assassination of Abdel Khadir Kebire in 1949
(2) Elimination of Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM) in 1965
(3) Suppression of “Obel” by ELF in 1972
(4) Suppression of “falul” (Anarchist) by Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in 1977
(5) Dissolving “Menka” (Bat) by Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) throughout 1973 – 1980
(6) Elimination of ELF by EPLF with the support of TPLF in 1981
(7) Purging fighters’ protest in 1993
(8) Suppression of war disabled veterans’ protest in 1994
(9) Obliterating protest of students of University of Asmara in 2001
(10) Detaining influential political figures called G-15 in 2001
(11) Jailing journalists banning all private news papers in 2001 and
(12) Continuous arresting religious leaders, worshipers, intellectuals, politicians, journalists, army commanders, and ordinary citizens who oppose the system architected by iron fisted President Issias Afeworki
These partly stated mass arrest and killings happened throughout history have done accusing the victims as foreign instruments, religious radicals whether Islamists or Christians, and regionalists possibly motivated by ethnic parochialism. In armed struggle, the leadership of ELF was criticized for having religious and regional prejudices and murdering innocent nationalists, mainly Christian nationalists from highlands of Eritrea. Equally, the new reformists, later organized as EPLF, never stopped executing many nationalists especially intellectual elite, who criticized the structure and style of the leadership. The deep contradiction and power acquisitiveness that appeared in the armed struggle ended up the nationalists to involve into tragic civil wars. ELF was eliminated by EPLF with help of TPLF. The scar and pain of the tragic war still exist; the Government of Eritrea has done neither national reconciliation nor recognizing and appreciating the efforts of the nationalists in national struggle.
The aspiration of the Eritreans to form a united, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Eritrea has been hurt; the government has increasingly become militant, violent and aggressive. It assertively suppressed any form of protest; they never attempted to develop the culture of negotiation promoting non violence strategies. It deliberately planted the seeds of fear and mistrust among influential political figures, intellectuals and military commanders which badly affected to form a solidified movement for change. The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), the sole political party, has produced more passive citizens, who are less likely to be creative and innovative to take a significant role in the national issues rather they decided to flee. Consequently, the young, energetic, and driving force for change, either kept in jail or military camps or fled to neighboring, becomes no more a potential threat to the system. Mostly, web based campaign for change has been less effective for decade as the ordinary people have no continuous access to internet services because of financial hardship and less advanced internet services in Eritrea.
The patriotic struggle of Eritreans, under PFDJ leadership, has failed to establish a ground where Eritreans to enjoy such natural and legal rights. For more than twenty years Eritrean people could not enjoy fundamental freedoms- freedom to live, freedom to voice, freedom to worship, freedom to move, and freedom to think of which most of humans can get naturally. The government totally violates the political, social and economic rights of the citizens. Most of the people are politically isolated, socially depressed and economically starved which have disbursed the productive young citizens in neighboring refugee camps where there are often raping, looting, discrimination, frustration and famine. How many young citizens are being kidnapped, auctioned and sold like slaves? How many young citizens are being slaughtered for supplying body organs for world market? How many citizens are suffering and dying in underground prisons without any trial and bail?
This is a question of humanity and moral obligation, not a question of political or ideological differences. This is not the time for blind competition between pro government and oppositions. It is time to save the life of innocent citizens; it is time to save Eritrea from further destruction and pain. It is time for real and health change to turn the state from the rules of jungle to the rules of justice. Nonetheless, the expectation of true change or any political transformation from top or superiors is unthinkable and illusion, because the President of Eritrea Issias Afeworki, whose age in 70’s, not 66 as most of media wrongly cited, is not enthusiastic or possibly not ready to arrange national reconciliation, release innocent political prisoners, implement national constitution, respect natural rights and human dignity, normalize complicated political and military tensions with neighboring countries, acknowledge political and ideological differences of citizens, build strong and accountable institutions as national pillars, allow to have genuine national history etc.
Healthy change is a process that may take a decade or century depending on the magnitude, type, root and character of the undertaken substance for transformation which demands good leadership styles, patience, wisdom, skills, resource and adequate time to achieve the desired outcomes. In the context of Eritrea, the president becomes older and older (i.e. in 70’s); his health, capacity, intellect, and persistence steadily deteriorate which negatively affect his dynamism. In addition, the personality of the president is not supportive for such fast change as he is an authoritative, arrogant, intolerant, aggressive and hostile in his character. He personalizes the whole institutions as he lives forever. In fact the personalization strategy the president use to totally destroy the essence of good governance in Eritrea; he has done nothing to cultivate the young generation to take national responsibility equipped with moral values, justice, understanding, cooperation and intellect. Rather his system has developed hatred, division, mistrust, egoism, crime, and negligence among young generation worsened by identity crisis and family fragmentation.
Those who believe President Issias Afeworki as an “Angel” or “National Armor” of independent Eritrea, they need to scrutinize the legacy of the leader with open and sincere heart and mind. In spite of the fact that the reluctance of Ethiopia to implement the final border demarcation, facing external challenges does not mean destroying domestic institutions, eradicating roots of justice, persecuting innocent citizens, killing spirit of education, paralyzing economic prospects and debilitating futurity of the young generation. Sick home is always weak, hectic, and defenseless that damages the patriotism, responsibility and contribution of the citizens. Currently, the system in Eritrea is not capable enough to defend the national interest and security; and it fails to protect the citizens who are being kidnapped, raped, tortured, and killed in the hands of human traffickers which question the national pride, values and significance.
The promising political transformation, but less organized and coordinated, appeared in Forto based Ministry of Information in January 21th, 2103 becomes a testimony of growing dissatisfaction among wider Eritrean societies and the reluctances of the president for political change. The president further turns wild and hostile since he has already started to arrest high government officials and army commanders such as Abdela Jabir, a Director of Organizational Affairs for the ruling party, Mustofa Nerhussien, a close friend of the President and governor of Debub (Sourth Zone), Col. Saleh Osman, a distinguished army commander, and “Shield of Asseb” during boarder conflict with Ethiopia, and Col. Seid Ali Hadji, a dedicated army commander. Catastrophic human right violations can possibly occur as the government could use the incident as means to suppress more critics alleging them as traitors, terrorists or Islamic radicals. The government is found so busy to tune a political propaganda to divert the public attention, and to disguise the movement for reformation as “national infidelity”.
More considerably, these political transformation initiative has brought a significant lesson for aspirant citizens to instill justice in Eritrea to find out the best, well coordinated and effective strategy to remove the leadership understanding the character, skills of power grip, talents of establishing secretive networks, proficiency of manipulating and disguising national matters, ability to create mistrust, tension, confusion, rift and hatred among top government officials and military commanders in first place. Secondly, the initiative confirms the passivity of the ordinary citizens who live in fear and panic without having any significant role in the political life of the country because of violent, aggressive and suppressive measures that government has taken to crush the protest of the citizens, for example fighters’ antagonism (1993), war disable veterans’ dispute (1994), and G-15’s initiatives for reformation (2001).
More objectively speaking, the public partly supports the existing government, whatever crime committed, feared the possibility of emergence of power vacuum and intervention of Ethiopia in the internal affairs of Eritrea, because the phenomena of no peace and no war enables the government to complicate the internal politics and justify its weakness and crime against innocent civilians in name of national security and interest. Thus, both pro government and opposition groups should collectively pressurize the President Issias Afeworki to do all necessary political transformation in time before leaving the state disorganized such as implementation of national constitution, holding national reconciliation, releasing political prisoners, resolving boarder issues, and building strong and sustainable national institutions which help to develop good governance and stable justice system in Eritrea.
This national task cannot be done overnight; it is a process that the president must start today if he really cares about his people. But waiting biological order to remove him from power is meant exposing the Red Sea state to further power struggle, human right violations, crime, hatred, fragmentation and possible anarchy, because Eritreans have no rules of law to guide the country; nobody knows how the economy operates as some critics called it “Mafia style economic system”; no instruction of power sharing or substitution; no well established or defined governance system; and no well publicized facts about the roots and progress of conflicts with neighboring countries. Eritrea, existed through bitter struggle, appears as personal property of the president; and kindly requests the PFDJ to hold healthy transfer to its citizens. May God Bless Eritrea!!