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The Lipsticks of Dictatorship

By Seyoum Tesfaye On October 20, 2011 my morning was punctuated by, the yet to be confirmed, announcement of the demise of one of Africans remaining tyrants by MPR.  After the death of 30,000 plus citizens

By Seyoum Tesfaye
On October 20, 2011 my morning was punctuated by, the yet to be confirmed, announcement of the demise of one of Africans remaining tyrants by MPR.  After the death of 30,000 plus citizens and the total destruction of Libya’s cities Qaddafi was caught in a nameless rat hall and killed. As the day progressed more vivid pictures confirmed what had happened.  What came to my mind was what will the PFDJ members in Atlanta, allover US and Europe will say now (since members of PFDJ have been some of the most vocal supporters of Colonel Qaddafi in the last eight months for understandable reason: one of their boss’ benefactor was about to bite the dust) about the ignominious end of the brutal tyrant.

I was comforted by the fact whatever their irrational excuses and anti- US and Europe rhetoric they will be making could not undo the end of the brutal regime in Libya. My hope is that the people of Libya will have the wisdom and courage to build a better system than the one Qaddafi had used to oppress the people for over four decade.

My day was proceeding in its regular pattern. Come 4:00 PM EST I turned in to VOA Tigrinay program.  Three PHD’s (two PFDJ members and a supporter) were being interview by Menia.  As a libertarian, on matters of freedom of expression, I applaud VOA for setting up the interview and fully respect the three intellectuals to hold and express their view as repugnant and sickening as the content of their articulation was. Freedom of expression has never been about the most popular point of view. It is about the protection of the most foul and gutter opinion. (This interview had exposed the listener’s ear to some of the most anti-democracy foul opinion.)  That includes appreciating the right of the intellectuals who are in the habit of being the Lipsticks of Dictatorship- the whitewashers of tyranny and oppression also fall under the protection of freedom of expression.

I did not coin the extraordinary and appropriate description of intellectuals who beautify tyrants and try to camouflage the brutality and absence of basic freedom in Eritrea as well as other countries that suffer under authoritarian tyrants.  The credit goes to the brave Angolan journalist Rafael Marques. He wrote the article with the same title on August 3, 1999. When confronted with the phenomenon of intellectuals who work so hard to excuse and justify naked tyranny practiced by the Angolan President Jose Edwardo doe Santos. He dared to call them what they are: Lipstick of Dictatorship. My contribution, if at all, is just pluralizing lipstick into lipsticks.  I am absolutely sure that Rafael Marques will not mind my borrowing his brilliant lexicon and truly descriptive phrase.

I like to remind the readers that the idea of some segment of the intellectual being the lapdogs of tyrants is not new nor is it confined to Eritrean political circumstance. There has not been a single totalitarian, authoritarian or a regular off –the- shelf dictator who did not have his share of intellectual apologists and lipsticks. Why should Eritrea or Angola be different?  We should be thankful for Voice of America for exposing some of the Lipsticks that are willing to defend Isaias and his rule from the comfort of the most democratic nation on Earth. The irony is that just like their boss they are willing to use the free media to defend tyranny. Now you know why our forefathers put more stress on integrity than familiarity with some set of knowledge.  Without conscience some intellectuals are another commodity that can be bought and sold to the highest bidder.

Let us ask the layman’s question: If our intellectuals are so convinced and committed to the brilliancy of Isaias and his mismanagement of Eritrea why are they not willing to leave their comfortable lives in the US, protected by the American constitution and Bill or Right, and move over to Eritrea to help him implement his farsighted national plans? They know, like other intellectuals who re-migrated to Eritrea immediately after independence and abandoned Eritrea after being frustrated and rebuffed by the regime because at one point, their “consciences” could not accept the suffocation of the truth when the rubber meets the road.

These are our version of the lipsticks – true lipsticks- busy   glamorizing a confirmed tyrant and defending the absence of constitutional governance, democracy and rule of law in Eritrea and not saying a word about the imprisonment of thousands in Eritrea or the absence of basic Human Rights. They live in comfort in the USA while getting ready to collect their retirement checks from the American Social Security Department. The hypocrisy and the betrayal runs deep. The beauty is that these are among the very few –minuscule number of intellectuals left siding with the regime- members of a fading sect.

I kindly ask Eritreans, those who are doing their share to democratize Eritrean polity, to see through these kinds of apologist intellectuals who did not answer, not even one, of Menia’s direct and focused questions.  Since they have compromised their conscience, they cannot identify the truth even if it was seating in middle of their living room. How can one, with any level of cultivated intellect, excuse and defend SAWA’s modern slavery or the fact that no political prisoner has been brought in front of court?  These are “our” shameful lipsticks cuddling a ruthless tyrant in 2011.  They have given us more reason to stay determined and sustain our struggle until we defeat and uproot their leader and his poisonous influence form the Eritrean society. That will be our victory.

The authoritarian Eritrean government has been thoroughly rebuffed by the world. The door will be tightly closed as soon as the next UNSC sanction is imposed and EU tightens the diplomatic rope. The good thing is these intellectuals have neither the capacity nor the skill to unravel the universal rejection of their regime by the informed world. We should not be surprised that these kind of political cadres surface to defend the regime at this juncture in the political struggle. They can deflect all questions and dance around the truth but their hallucinatory answers cannot save the tyrant in Asmara. We should look at their rehearsed response as the intellectual equivalence of a 2%:  homage to tyranny.  Like all lipsticks they will be washed away by the struggle of the people of Eritrea.

My warning is to the new generation. Look how corrupted and tinted the intellectual cadres of the ruling regime have become. You know better than anybody what hell you went through to even contemplate crossing the Eritrean border in search of freedom. Do not be discouraged or be surprised by the fact that some of our modern intellectuals have put their loyalty to PFDJ and its helmsman than to the defense of the irrefutable truth that you have experienced firsthand.

This should be a strong reminder of the reason why you should stay the course and double your effort to bring an end to the system that is being supported by these kinds of intellectuals. The best medicine cures the sickness at its source and not be bogged down with symptoms. Understand the nature of the lipstick intellectuals but focus your struggle against the tyrannical system.

To her credit Menia has asked all critical questions. Contrary to Tewolde’s collegial approach with Isaias she was more professional in her delivery and tone. The fact that the PFDJ’s intellectuals could not truthfully answer her question is evidence of what happens to intellectuals who become cadres of political organizations and surrender their independent thinking capacity to advance sectarian agenda of a given political group.

No amount of intellectual rhetoric can save the Eritrean regime from demise. The shame exhibited by the interview will be archived in the minds and digital files of the Eritrean people so that the post- Isiais generation will understand how low some of our intellectuals had to sink just to be a glowing red lipstick for a rotten dictator.

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