ERITREA: A Nation Turned into Grand Prison


Customarily come the month of May, Eritrean Independence Day is what comes into the picture for any Eritrean first. Rightfully it was so. Indeed, with the ardent sacrifice and unflinching support of TPLF, on May 24, 1991 Eritrea happens to claim its national independence from Ethiopia. Now that Eritrea is free in political, legal, or in legislative terms from Ethiopia still remain a riddle until further unresolved key national issues are completely solved and its inhabitants are freed from endless military captivity.

No matter how this might sound and, is odd or even bizarre, the cruel and undeniable realities on the ground inside Eritrea even as we speak dictate the very question whether Eritrea is really a nation of serfdom or freedom; whether Eritrea is certainly independent in the true sense of the word or not; or is she yet to reclaim that independence stance in its solid terms either by asking the international community for the border demarcation or by making a deal with the opposition forces being supported inside Eritrea. The answer is quite far from, and not even close to, what we may call freedom; indeed Eritrea is an absolute and unequivocal state of collective serfdom; a nation of military garrisons and guerrilla warfare camps openly observable everywhere. The overwhelming majorities of the nearly 4-million Eritrean people remain incarcerated in military garrisons; and are no where near claiming to be free people! Nor is the boundary demarcating Eritrea as a free nation is clearly settled by any international or national means. In the last nearly two decades Eritrea has declared war plainly with all its neighboring states indiscriminative all around.


To one’s dismay, the Eritrean tyrant Issayas Afewarki has already turned Eritrea exactly into his private Estate; and Eritrean inhabitants into his serfs bound to remain loyal who unquestionably obey his leadership or commanderships. They are inculcated with absolute caution to fulfill only his will in every aspect of societal life; including asking his permission to move from point A to point B! No national constitution, no parliament, no basic human rights, or no elected officials exist in today’s Eritrea. Tyrant Issayas Afewarki single-handedly picks, hires, and fires folk at will. He appoints public officials, “diplomats”, “Ministers”, “zonal administrators”, “zonal generals” and makes sure that they in turn acknowledge him as the strongest Eritrean man who must be feared and obeyed by any and all means for leading them to “freedom”.  Like every landlord, tyrant Issayas Afewarki has the last words over every thing that pertains to his private Eritrea Estate! The Eritrean people are only told; not consulted about Afewarki’s decisions or actions. Yes, it is customary for serf-masters not to consult the untouchable serfs. As loyal serfs, the Eritrean people have accepted the hardship conditions exerted by their landlord as they have no other options; but left obviously to concur with the landlord’s daily decisions; or whatever he (Tyrant Issayas Afewarki) who must be obeyed by all means has to say or to offer for rendered labor or military services! How different is this contemporary Eritrean livelihood than the feudal era of Ethiopia? Or the collective communistic military garrison state of Northern Korea today?

First of all, Tyrant Issayas Afewarki openly declares democracy as ‘non-existent’ in the world. That means, for their own survival or for their own good, the Eritrean serfs must know how to concur! Secondly, Afewarki dismisses elections as western conspiracy to divide the people of Eritrea along vertical differences. Consequently, the Eritrean serfs are propagated day in day out through the Eritrean mass media and through community cadres to zealously continue to concur for their own survival! And if Afewarki were to say 10+1=14, serfs would concur that too! Especially after September 2001 when his most prominent opponents were summarily arrested or fled the country, Issayas Afewarki’s predominance is boosted by his handpicked persons holding key positions for fear of political reprisals.


In short whatever the tyrant has to mumble on the national TV or Radio or in his public speeches the serfs simply concur that without any questioning at all! Thirdly, as serfs, the people of Eritrea are there only to render their labor services however they are compensated for it by the landlord, if any! Fourthly, it is clear that social, economic, and political emancipation indeed constitute the major props of freedom. But these are non-existent in Eritrea as such ideas are said to be western liberal talks that happen far from the preaching of the Western World in the Western arena itself. So in Eritrea, it is all about serfdom under the guise of freedom all the way through! It is befitting to communism or state capitalism to keep Eritrean people in serfdom. Eritrean people are told by the landlord Tyrant Issayas Afewarki that they shouldn’t get all what they want; but they may feel free to want what they get! As per tyrant Afewarki, the Eritrean people don’t want what the Western World terms as: “democracy, justice, rule of law, elections, human rights, free press, etc”. To Afewarki, these are empty terms in ideal context. The Western liberals talk all about freedom that never exists in reality. As far as Afewarki is concerned, “indeed the Eritrean people want what they can get. And the state expects from each according to his ability and provides to each according to his needs”.


In a recent interview Afewarki gave to Asharq Al-Awsat he stated saying: “We do not have a misguided press in this country and we do not think there is an absolute press freedom in the world. The world newspapers are now operating in the so-called age of globalization. It is a process of monopoly by specific groups that are known by name and known by their capabilities, financing, and management. Press freedom is non-existent and we are opposed to this situation in the world on which certain quarters impose their control. These quarters are using the media to serve their private interests. The true voices of the media are the voices that oppose the monopolization of the media that are distorting the facts and serving monopolist interests. The media is now monopolized by a specific quarter that has interests, ambitions, and policies of hegemony and monopoly. They are exploiting the media and this is part of their policies. Should we be part of this process or should we make our voices heard and not allow these quarters to muzzle us? We do not allow these world organs to be active on our land to distort the facts and create discord in our country or our region and in our environment. This country and this region need a free media, a free media that convey the information as it is so that the people would build on facts and correct information and then analyze viewpoints in the interest of these peoples. This region needs to create and unify harmony among its peoples not to use the media to cause division and create sedition among nations and countries. This is not true media but media of distortion and fabrication of discord. We do not welcome and we have no interest in adopting such a process. That is the false media say that there is no free press in Eritrea. We are reassured and at peace with this process because the accusations against us are being made by oppressors, counterfeiters, and monopolists that think they alone have media and no one else. We have a clear stand on this issue and the people are following up on what is happening in the world and in the region. They differentiate between facts in this country.”


But let me say it clearly and loudly: It is long overdue time for FREEDOM from tyranny and serfdom in Eritrea.


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2 Responses to ERITREA: A Nation Turned into Grand Prison

  1. Samy Bekele says:

    When I read Yilma Bekele’s response to this article under discussion I couldn’t help remembering what Professor Mesfin Woldemariam once mentioned about ZEMENE GRINBIT. It goes as such: “BE ZEMENE GRINBIT WUHA WEDE SHIKIB YIFESSAL!” – Literally the natural flow of water from its source is downstream. But we may come to a time when one try to assert to us that water actually flows upstream.
    It really shocks me how fast we forget the terrible hardships and the life destructive experiences sons and daughters of Ethiopia have had since the 1970s by trying to be inspired by Issayas Afeworki – the man who grew-up and went to school in Dessie and Addis Ababa and yet refused literally to speak Amharic since he became EPLF leader. How can we forget the Ethiopian youth under EPRP that was literally haunted, hunted and killed for not immediately reacting in the positive for Eritrean nationality questions? How many of the EPPF supporters were eliminated for trying to independently conduct or operate their military operations from Eritrea? Why OLF and ONLF are still kept literally in Afeworki’s directives and servitude within Eritrea without raising a finger on their guns against TPLF for the last 18 years? How come Betinachew Tsigie and Berhanu Negadew who have gone through the agony of alliance with EPLF in the past still try to pull the rest of Ethiopians to the same trap once again? Who raised TPLF among us and planted in Addis Ababa as our head-master? Is it not Issayas Afeworki? Regardless of the temporary quarrel between EPLF and TPLF are they not still working against the national interests of Ethiopia by holding 80 million people land-locked simply by giving away Ethiopia’s legitimate access to the sea through Assab Port? So how do pro-Gunboat-7 guys tell us that it is OK to befriend ourselves with Issayas Afeworki? These are just riddles for us to resolve before it is too late. In fact, how can we trust these two fellows who have been roaming around so many organizations thus far and ramming by becoming disloyal to each to lead us to what they call movement for freedom and democracy? How can we trust these two fellows who find it so easy to lay their hats wherever they go and yet call it home without any reservation? Yesteryear they were EPRP. Yester-month they were TPLF. Yesterday they were KINIJIT. Today they are GUNBOAT-7. Tomorrow they are going to turn us all to join Shaabia. What a surprise! Unless we are the ZEMENE GRINBIT generation I don’t think we can lose our sense of direction and stand resolute as Ethiopians and at the same time Shaabiaits.

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