Man-made poverty that turned Eritreans into beggars will continue unless Isaias is deposed
By Petros Tesfagiorgis
On 4 November 2020 the Federal Government of Ethiopia led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched the war against the regional government of Tigray.
Dictator Isaias of Eritrea gave Abiy not only logistical support such as transporting huge number of Ethiopian troops to Eritrea from which they would encircle Tigray but sent Eritrean army to participate in the war.
The intensity of the war, the violations against the civilian population, the destruction of industries, hospitals and the looting of civilian properties are of a scope and scale seldom seen anywhere else in today’s world. The Eritrean army have participated in all these atrocities. It is a shame to all Eritreans. In the war thousands are believed to have been killed and nearly a million fled their homes. 61,000 people migrated to Sudan. Starvation is looming all over Tigray and more than 2 million people mostly Children are in Need of Aid.
Today there is alarming news of starvation in Eritrea. The regime has politicized the issue of the virus and opted to use it as a weapons to starve and weaken the people by enforcing lockdown without the means to feed them. It is in such dark days that Isaias sent Eritrean solders to join the war in Ethiopia and make them killers and looters? What is left of them they are liable to be sued for a war crime?
Ethiopia with 110 million population has enough manpower to run its wars. Sending huge number of Eritrean army to war in Ethiopia if not an extermination of the Eritrean youth what is it then?
Isaias has an ulterior motives it is not only a revenge to settle old scores with TPLF (Tigray), he is seizing the momentum to have the Eritrean army perish in the deadly Ethiopian civil war. News started to come out of the deaths and wounded of Eritrean soldiers. Also there is news coming out that many Eritreans troops are duped to join in the war and flee whenever they get the chance.
Why Isaias is sending Eritrean troops in Ethiopia’s Deadly civil war? On 8 September 2001 Isaias arrested the top government officials and leaders of the armed struggle (the G-15) in order to frustrate their demand to implement the constitution and call for a general election. The demands were being covered by the private newspapers and drew the attention of many people particularly Students. The arrest was a coup d’état that killed any chance to establish a democratic government elected by the people. Since then he became an unchallenged despot and ruled Eritrea with an iron fist without constitution, and rule of law. Isaias plunged Eritrea into darkness
However Isaias has never felt safe. His nightmare is that one day the people of Eritrea, particularly the youth, will rise up and get rid of him. To secure his power he chose a policy of repression and ruled the people by fear. Isaias closed the only university in the country. The school leaving year 12th grade was made to take place in isolated area called Sawa Military training camp where academic freedom is denied. The students are subjected to indoctrination to internalize the value of blind obedience to Isaias. Anyone who showed independent thinking or dissention faces severe punishment like torture and solitary confinement. For years ERI-TV the only one in Eritrea was engaged is sawing the seed of hate demonizing TPLF and Tigray – bombarding the people of a threat of Weyane (TPLF) invasion. The propaganda built the personality cult of Isaias asserting that it is only Isaias that can save Eritrea. Thus the regime turned the youth into programmed robot to hate Tigreans and we see their abhorrent behaviour in killing civilians and looting in Tigray.
The behaviour of the Eritrean army is also reflected in the way they treated the Eritrean refugees, their brothers and sisters, in Tigray. There are 96,000 Eritrean refugees located in 4 camps in Tigray. The Eritrean army entered the refugee camps, started killings, looting and kidnapped more than 8000 refugees and took them to Eritrea. Their where about is not known. It is with the same mind-set that the army carried out with impunity Isaias’s shoot to kill policy of any Eritrean found crossing the border to Ethiopia or Sudan.
After the end of the war in 1991 we Eritreans dreamt to build a prosperous society and live in peace with ourselves, with Ethiopia and the rest of our neighbours. Instead over the last 30 years we are experiencing the mysterious evaporation of the dreams.
Nowadays other than Eritreans there are voices who want to see Isaias go. In America, Michael Rubin wrote “The time is now for U.S. officials to reach out to Eritreans, both inside the country and out, and put plans in place to help build the institutions Isaias has left weakened or destroyed.
On 25 June 2020 there was virtual expert discussion on Eritrea in the German Parliament, Bundestag. Among the 60 participants from 10 countries there were MPs from 3 German political parties. The expert speakers reached a consensus that the regime has no wish to end the human rights violations in Eritrea. They gave up on him. In conclusion Cooperation with the wider Eritrean democratic movements was recommended.
However it is the Eritrean democratic movements that should play a leading role in campaigning to end the brutal and destructive rule of Isaias.
The International community who wish the removal of Isaias need to hear the strong voice and sense of mission of the democratic moments. We have to come up with concrete initiatives and plan of action. The priority is to revive the UN Inquiry commission plea to refer Isaias to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for committing crime against humanity. This is the right thing to do. And it will make a difference in many ways.
Once we take the initiative those Governments who are taking up the issue of Eritrea’s involvement in the Ethiopian civil war and Eritrean army entering the refugees’ camps would support the move to get rid of Isaias.
In answer to Lord Alton’s question concerning the Eritrean refugees in Tigray. James Duddridge MP of the foreign office and Minister for Africa replied. “We are very concerned at reports that Eritrean troops have entered Ethiopian refugee camps in Tigray and forced a number of refugees to return to Eritrea. If proven, this would be a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Alleged violations of IHL must be investigated to secure respect for IHL and prevent future violations, including as necessary through international criminal tribunals. “Let me highlight “through international criminal tribunals”.
On the other hand the involvement of Eritrea in the war is taken as a breach of the African Union’s – non-interference in the internal affairs of member countries. It is also taken as an invasion of Ethiopia by Eritrea. The argument is just started.
The action plan can be strategized to address the following.
- To plan advocacy campaign to persuade the UN and the international community to honour the referral to ICC.
- To put pressure on UNHCR to find out the where about of the 8000 refugees kidnapped from Tigray. And see the refugees in Tigray are protected and get access to food supplies, water and health care. There is a terrible news that Shimelba Camp is no safe area, food supplies is not coming, people are collecting grasses boil them and eat to survive.
- Assess the famine in Eritrea because of the lockdown. Also the border with Ethiopia areas where the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia are trapped. The UNHCR and the Red Cross could find out about this.
- There is shortage of water in Asmara because the drivers of the water delivery trucks are denied to work. Today even private cars are not on the street. Drivers are prevented to use their cars. It is Armageddon back to the Stone Age.
- The Afar people in the Red Sea are forbidden to fish and lost their means of living. Thousands left to exile.
Every day that passes Isaias continue repression unabated. That is why it is urgent to seek his removal. To do so is the obligation of the international community and government. In 2016 the then UN Special Rapporteur Keetharuth told the UN General Assembly, “My plea to you, Excellences, on behalf of the members of Inquiry, is for you to pay head to voices of victims of crimes against humanity in Eritrea. The UN has ignored the call and let down the people of Eritrea. It is time to pay back for letting Isaias get away with a crime against humanity. The people of Eritrea deserves justice and peace.
It is encouraging that Eritreans in Diaspora are demonstrating with Tigran’s to stop the war and for justice. That is the beginning of building peace with the people of Tigray.
Focus-Eritrea and USA based Security and Justice for Tigrean in Ethiopia are campaigning to urge all passengers to boycott flying with Ethiopian Airlines for profiling and dismissing Tigrean employees of the airline. Profiling is a dangerous move that may lead to ethnic cleansing.
In conclusion I say give peace a chance and in solidarity with the people of Tigray in their darkest days.
The end: La Luta continua