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Eritrea: Some Clarifications

Written by FikreJesus A., Ph.D.

In Tancred, Benjamin Disraeli tells us how “[t]he East is a career.” Eritreans may be forgiven for thinking that likewise, for many mainstream analysts and experts, “Eritrea is a career.” Earlier this year a story on polygamy being mandatory in Eritrea was widely circulated across international media, and this week, an outdated, fictitious report about a North Korean ambassador commenting about Eritrea received considerable attention on social media. Although the stories were hoaxes and satirical, littered with innumerable fabrications and falsehoods – quite easily revealed by simple, perfunctory background research – their broad dissemination and attention poignantly encapsulate how coverage of, journalistic practice toward, and understanding about Eritrea are so problematic. The latest example of this trend is the article, “How the World Forgot ‘Africa’s North Korea’ Eritrea, and What This Means for Migration,” featured in the New Statesman, a British magazine (published 9 September). Not only is the article overly simplistic and lacking in context, it is strewn with inaccuracies and errors, and heavily tinged with paternalistic overtones.

Lacking originality, the author frames Eritrea alongside North Korea. In recent years, it has become quite common to see Eritrea, a young, low-income, developing country located within the volatile, politically-fractious Horn of Africa region, derogatorily described as secretive, the “North Korea of Africa,” or even the “hermit kingdom.” While such statements suggest Eritrea remains detached from the global community, closer analysis (of a number of objective measures) reveals that they are clichéd, cursory, and incorrect. In fact, one seasoned Western ambassador based in Asmara quipped, “those who compare Eritrea with North Korea have not been to North Korea and certainly do not know Eritrea,” while, last year, Norway’s Minister of Justice, reflecting upon his working visit to Eritrea, noted that descriptions of Eritrea (e.g. as the “North Korea of Africa”) were highly inaccurate.

Describing Eritrea, the author also utilizes phrases such as “self-isolation” and “a country that tries to seal itself off from the world,” suggesting that it has somehow chosen to isolate itself. This is, yet again, grossly inaccurate. The truth is that the international community, largely led by the United States, has pursued a policy of isolation toward Eritrea. Specifically, the country has been the target of an externally-driven strategy to isolate it, particularly through attempts at scuppering foreign agreements and economic deals. According to a leaked US embassy cable in Addis Ababa sent by Chargé d’Affaires Vicki Huddleston (dated 1 November 2005), the strategy of the US-backed Ethiopian proxy was to, “isolate Eritrea and wait for it to implode economically.” Moreover, a cable sent by Chargé d’Affaires Roger Meece (30 November 2009) reveals that the “USG [US Government] has worked to undercut support for Eritrea,” while another cable (2 November 2009) mentions that the German government’s rescinding of a credit guarantee to banks for a commercial loan of $US146m to Eritrea’s Bisha mining project was the result of “caving in to…American pressure.”

Even within this context, however, Eritrea has sought to establish beneficial partnerships and develop productive ties with a range of countries, organizations, and institutions. It is quite telling that on the same day the New Statesman published its article, the European Union (EU) and the State of Eritrea announced a new contract worth €18.7 million for the supply and installation of drip irrigation systems in Eritrea, while the signing of a bilateral Cooperation Protocol between Germany and Eritrea was also announced after a week of meetings in Germany involving Members of Parliament and a Senior Eritrean Government delegation. Notably, these announcements by Eritrea are only the latest in a growing series of significant agreements and partnerships with a range of countries and institutions, including – but not limited to – Finland, Cuba, China, Turkey, Japan, Russia, the UN and UNDP, GAVI, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the European Development Fund (EDF).

It is likely that the author’s insinuations about Eritrea’s supposed isolationism are rooted in a lack of understanding about Eritrea’s “unconventional” approach to development and external aid. Specifically, Eritrea turns down aid when it does not fit the country’s needs or its capacity to use effectively. Eritrea does not reject external support – it actively welcomes it, but only when it complements the country’s own efforts. The Government has long encouraged  aid that addresses specific needs which cannot be met internally, which is designed to minimize continued external support, and which complements and strengthens (instead of replacing) Eritrea’s own institutional capacity to implement projects. This approach is rooted in a strong desire to avoid crippling dependence and to foster a clear sense of responsibility for the country’s future among all citizens.

Unfortunately, this approach is often misunderstood or even dismissed. However, the country’s determination to rely upon itself and promote independence should be encouraged, and external organizations and potential partners should be committed to working with it on that basis. In fact, according to Christine Umutoni, the UN-Eritrea Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Eritrea, which made considerable progress on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, “has a lot to share that could help formulate, shape and implement the post-2015 development outlook for the good of humanity.”

Importantly, the author’s hints about a famine are in stark contrast to observations by Eritrean ministries and international organizations. For example, consider the words of the head of an international NGO working in Eritrea: “at this time, East Africa is suffering massive hunger brought about by drought and El Nino. In the seven recent field visits our teams have made to five different regions of Eritrea and our work with communities and government, we have not observed acute levels of malnutrition. This is testament to the policy of storing and providing subsidised food. This perspective is shared by our development partners such as EU.”

The author also makes several other glaring errors. For example, the author refers to Eritrea’s economy as “decaying,” when in fact, according to several sources (including the IMF, World Bank, AfDB, and others), the economy has actually been growing. Additionally, in contrast to the author’s claims regarding Eritrea’s policies regarding national service and Sawa, students actually enter the program for their final year of secondary study and upon reaching 18 years of age. It is also important to note that since some students in Eritrea may start school late or even repeat grades, many entering Sawa may be in their late teens by their final year of study. Furthermore, since the author devotes considerable attention to national service, it would have been useful to note important ongoing efforts at reform (e.g. changes to pay-scales).

As well, the author’s comments regarding youth marriage lack understanding. Youth and child marriage in Eritrea were rooted in the country’s historical, cultural traditions. Viewed as a sacred societal institution, marriage was seen an integral component of society. Although specific rules and customs of marriage (e.g. dowry, familial arrangements, etc.) differed slightly amongst various ethno-linguistic groups, an underlying common feature was that girls were married at an early age. However, Eritrea has taken important steps (dating back to the independence struggle) to eliminate youth and child marriage. It has enacted laws and established strong enforcement mechanisms, including stiff penalties for physical and sexual abuse of children, as well as pornography. Encouragingly, there are many indications of an important reduction in child and youth marriages.

Ultimately, the author’s lackadaisical approach to these basic, simple details arouses doubt about his understanding of broader, more complex topics. Additionally, the author’s revisions to his errors in translation, after suggestions from Eritrean readers, raises the question of why such an approach to validity and clarification was not extended to other parts of the article prior to publication.

In addition to the above, the article is particularly troubling because in referring to Eritrea as a “child,” the author reveals a residual attitude from the bygone colonial era. Not only does it reflect paternalism and perpetuate hegemonic ideas of foreign superiority, such racist assumptions and ideologies were fundamental to the practice of colonialism. In the battle for the spaces of Africa, the so-called “dark continent,” European powers not only employed force, but also an array of theories and rhetoric to justify their plunder. Colonialism donned the dignified cloaks of la mission civilisatrice, civilizing the benighted heathens, and the white man’s burden. Africa was “the land of childhood,” and Africans were seen as inherently and naturally less than Europeans. Consequently, colonialism was characterized not by brute force or plunder, but the pursuit of a noble ideal.

Overall, in pointing out the many and considerable flaws of the article, the attempt is not to suggest that Eritrea is free of problems. The country is confronted by a myriad of significant issues and considerable challenges. However, it is critical to recognize that properly understanding the country (which can potentially help address many issues) requires a more grounded, objective, contextual approach and less resort to simplified, clichéd perspectives and cursory discussions.

Eritrea: COIE’s ‘800-Pound Gorilla’

Written by Omer Abdelkarim

In most cases, be it a report or within a conversation, what one attempts to dexterously leave unsaid, gloss over, or play down, reveals more of one’s intentions and objectives than what is explicitly emphasized. The 08 June 2016 Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COIE) press briefing and its summary report was such an occasion.

According to its stated goals, the COIE’s purpose was to take stock of the objective situation in Eritrea. What the COIE actually did, however, is everything but that. An example of its unprecedented and egregious overreach is the COIE’s recommendation (including conclusion) to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It recommended that the UNSC “determine that the situation of human rights in Eritrea poses a threat to international peace and security.”

Even if one is convinced that there are grave human rights violations in Eritrea, which there aren’t, no amount of rational, objective analysis could lead from there to the conclusion that Eritrea “poses a threat to international peace and security.

For this young, low-income, developing country with a population of about four million to be elevated to such “lofty,” influential stature – in terms of possessing the capacity to “[pose]a threat to international peace and security”- is highly imaginative and fanciful.

The majority of Eritreans no doubt will recognize the COIE’s efforts to severely underplay Ethiopia’s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory and repeated attempts to destabilize Eritrea, as well as vilify Eritrea, as a continuation of historic UN and US efforts to chip away at, if not completely reverse, Eritrea’s independence. Others will still no doubt recognize that this conclusion, which flies in the face of all previous assessments, is rather bizarre. It is worth noting that when the COIE does mention the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, it is only perfunctorily in passing, and often only to dismiss the gravity and significance of its potential consequences altogether. It is also mystifying – and extremely troubling – that the COIE attempts to cast the gravity of this situation and conflict as a figment of Eritrea’s imagination.

For example, the COIE states, “While the ongoing Ethiopian occupation of the village of Eritrean territory is illegal, the Commission considers that neither the issue of Badme nor the arms embargo on Eritrea justify…. Eritrea’s military/ national service programmes.

The COIE goes on to state that,
The Commission finds more persuasive that the [national service] programmes are instead a source of cheap labour and a form of population control.

For the COIE’s assessment to be correct, the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict has to pose little danger to Eritrea, much less to the region as a whole. This assessment, to put it mildly, openly and brazenly flaunts all other somber assessments thus far. It will be effectively demonstrated that this assertion is false. However, it is an unavoidable assertion for the CIOE or anyone that sets out to frame Eritrea, ignoring the objective realities on the ground. That the CIOE’s assertion runs contrary to logical, rational assessment is easily demonstrable; for instance, its assessment flies in the face of continued, long-running proclamations by the Ethiopian regime that its primary goal is regime change in Eritrea. In fact, as pointed out by Bronwyn Bruton, writing for the Atlantic Council, “earlier this year, in March, Ethiopia’s prime minister publically threatened to take military action against Eritrea.” Moreover, as the International Crisis Group’s (ICG) Cedric Barnes points out,

Despite the impression of a frozen conflict since the 1998- 2000 war that killed an estimated 70,000 people, there have been at least eight significant flare-ups since 2011.
There are other examples which serve to contradict the COIE claims. Writing for the US Council on Foreign Relations, Bronwyn Bruton, in comparing the threat to regional peace emanating from extremist in Somalia relative to the unresolved conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, states that,
The potential for the Somali conflict to ignite a wider regional conflict is real but should not be exaggerated. The greatest danger stems from a potential escalation of the long-standing conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

No amount of justification can mask the glaring absurdity of the COIE’s attempt to deny, if not turn on its head, what the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG), Ban Ki Moon, calls the most “serious source of instability for the two countries, as well as for the wider region.” The somnolently of this fact cannot be lost to any sensible and sober observers.
A UN “Report of the Secretary- General on Ethiopia and Eritrea” situation underscores:

The ongoing dangerous stalemate in the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains a source of very deep concern. Not only does the overall situation remain unsettled, but it has also … the potential for this situation to deteriorate further or even to lead to renewed hostilities is real, especially if it is allowed to continue indefinitely. The current impasse is a serious source of instability for the two countries as well as the wider region… Ethiopia’s refusal to implement — fully and without preconditions — the final and binding decision of the Boundary Commission remains at the core of the continuing deadlock. I therefore strongly urge the Government of Ethiopia to comply with the demand of the Security Council… Full implementation of the latter resolution remains key to moving forward the demarcation process and to concluding the peace process.
Naturally, numerous resolutions of the UNSC and UNSG’s reports are not alone in making similar such assessments. The European Parliament’s Policy Department and its Directorate-General for External Policies stresses the same fact, stating that,

A growing verbal belligerence amongst senior security officials in Ethiopia, who would not mind using minor provocation as an excuse to launch a massive response against Eritrea …The resolution of the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia is seen by analysts as the key to resolve political instability on the Horn of Africa … escalation of violence in the border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti … is seen merely as a continuation of the unresolved Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute.
The EU report concludes by highlighting that numerous analysts are “concluding that the instability of the region is caused, in essence, by the unresolved Ethiopia- Eritrea border dispute.

It is puzzling that the seriousness of the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict, unequivocally attested to by the UNSC, UNSG, EU and multiple other observers, is only lost to the COIE and the “experts” it cheery picked to reach its predetermined position. Furthermore, for the COIE to state that this is a figment of Eritrea’s imagination and to recommend that it is not Ethiopia’s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories and the unresolved conflict between the two that “poses a threat to international peace and security,” but only some imagined and over exaggerated human rights violations in Eritrea is beyond absurd, at least to any rational and fair observer.

Of course, as can be gleaned even from the UN’s own documents, the fact that Ethiopia’s failure to comply with the EEBC decision and make peace with its neighbors has destabilized the entire region is an inescapable, uncontroversial conclusion. Ethiopia is, however, an “ally” of the United States (or, more appropriately, a vassal). As such, it can be presumed that the COIE is attempting to shield Ethiopia, the intransigent party, from meeting its treaty obligations and securing peace in the Horn of Africa. Be that as it may, attempting to invert the entire issue and avoiding the obvious implications is like attempting to ignore “that 800-pound gorilla that’s sitting there and you just can’t get around it,” as UN Special Envoy Lloyd Axworthy put it to the Canadian Parliament. Axworthy is unequivocal in describing the gravity of the situation and its impact on human rights and other issues, not only in Eritrea, but also across the entire Horn of Africa region.

Axworthy informed the Canadian Parliament,
I come back to the point that the lack of resolution of conflict is such a large and powerful force that impedes any efforts, whether it’s human rights’ improvement, or poverty reduction or agricultural reform. It’s just like that 800-pound gorilla that’s sitting there and you just can’t get around it, and until the conflict itself is resolved any efforts in these other areas, I think, would be severely impeded.

(As it will be recalled, Eritrea did not accept the nomination of Lloyd Axworthy as a UN Special Envoy. This had nothing to do with the professional or diplomatic credentials of the nominee but simply because it contravened fundamental tenets of the Algiers Agreement. The UN was indeed caving to Ethiopia’s unlawful requests “to create an alternative mechanism” to essentially review the “final and binding” EEBC Award).

How then does the COIE maneuver around this “800-pound gorilla that’s sitting there”? Its strategy, despite all evidence to the contrary, is to pretend that this “800-pound gorilla” is a figment of Eritrea’s imagination and ignore it altogether. Additionally, the COIE downplays the seriousness of the situation by reducing the occupation of large swathes of Eritrean territory by Ethiopia to just an “ongoing Ethiopian occupation of the village in Eritrean territory.” The reference to “the village,” neglects to properly contextualize a flagrant violation of international law and overlooks that this seemingly minor village was actually a flashpoint of the 1998-2000 war. As noted earlier, the situation not only violates and challenges Eritrea’s security, independence and sovereignty, but poses dangerous implications for the entire region. Yet, the COIE simply just pretends the situation does not exist.To overlook that this conflict is central and fundamental to the issue is highly erroneous and rather disingenuous. As noted earlier, this engendered by the COIE’s efforts to frame its predetermined position: “that the [Eritrean national service] programmes are instead” of a hedge to this existential threat that Eritrea faces, but “a source of cheap labour.” Nothing is a better illustration of a pure case of twisting all facts beyond recognition “to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” The COIE’s pretense of objectivity and “objective observation” hence, are just that, pretenses. Its goals have nothing to do with achieving lasting human rights for Eritreans or removing the “threat to international peace and security.

Source: Shabait

Eritrea June 21st 2016 Geneva Demonstration…#IStandWithEritrea

Written by Billion Temesghen

June 21st, 2016, despite the rain, the Place des Nations in Geneva, at the UN Headquarters, was home to more than 10,000 Eritreans and friends of Eritrea who came together from 81 different countries to rally in protest against the latest appalling report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea. At the same time, social media flowed with the hashtag “I Stand with Eritrea” while nationals at home, were with their compatriots out on streets of Geneva in spirit and soul, as the protest was highly followed live on real time through local media outlets.

On this occasion, Mr. Shileshi Idris, Chairman of the Organizing Committee and Head of the PFDJ and Community Affairs in Switzerland, conducted a phone interview with our journalist Ms. Arsema Asmerom for Eritrean News Agency (ERINA), and Eritrea Profile has compiled the interview for today’s Q&A. 

  • -Of the demonstration

Now the whole world knows that the demonstration was conducted to depict our foremost theme of ‘Eritrean people’s International Resilience for justice’. It aimed to protest against the baseless COI report.

We have committees under the Eritrean Global Action for Justice in all countries in which Eritrean Diaspora reside; for instance we have the NUEW for the Union of Eritrean Women and the YPFDJ for the youth organizations, as such we do have a great networking system in terms of how we function, while in relation with our homeland and our fellow compatriots in Eritrea.

Coming up all together to conduct this mass protest, as such was not difficult. However, we did feel the shortage of time. We organized the whole demonstration in a short period of time, so it was not easy. In addition, the demonstration day was on work day, so many of the participants had to leave their jobs and the youngsters missed their classes in order to attend.

In spite of this, the unfounded reports of the commission have unreservedly infuriated the Eritrean people, so much that every Eritrean came together in a short time notice to protest against it.

  • – Who exactly took part in the protest?

I can dare to say that almost every Eritrean participated; young and adults of all ages, students and employees and generally speaking almost every Eritrean came together on behalf of Eritrea and its people. And I do also dare to say that we gathered almost from every corner of the world: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, the United States, Canada, and Australia, among others.

We, Eritreans, when we gather, we gather in the most peaceful way and we divulge in a humane and peaceful manner. During this protest, similarly to the previous ones, the strong Eritrean sense of respect to others was vibrant as ever. It is not our first demonstration in Geneva, we already had conducted demonstrations such as in 2002, 2010 and 2015, and this time as well. We were acknowledged for our diplomacy by local administrations. With over 10,000 people marching together, to manage is usually hectic, but in our case it’s different, we are extremely placid and we even leave without the smallest peace of trash behind at the end of the demonstration.

As such I would like to tell that the city of Geneva’s administration facilitated our demonstration and we are grateful for it.

  • – How was the spirit that dominated the demonstration?

In its highest forms of nationalism! The protest was divided in two phases; the first one in the morning hours starting at around 8:00 am, two kilometers away from the UN office. We gathered carrying national and patriotic slogans and big banners with catchphrases depicting our thoughts and beliefs, and the following second part was constituted of a marching trail.

An estimated number of over 10,000 nationals took part in the event. The whole occurrence was undeniably ruled by a strong sense of loyalty to the people of Eritrea and ample patriotism.

Differently from the previous ones, this time we were joined by several African communities who believe in and supported the Eritrean People and Government: we had Ethiopian communities with us and also friends from Sudan participating. Moreover, representatives of several communities and longtime friends of Eritrea did take part and gave speeches supporting our purposes. In fact, they truly did stand by our side in contradiction with the vicious and inhumane allegations made by the commission.

  • – These foreign participant that you keep mentioning, what exactly did they voice?

They asserted their support to the People and Government of Eritrea. Furthermore, they are convinced as much as we are, that these biased claims under the pretext of human rights is a preface of a new “modern” form of colonization; a way to conquer the Horn of Africa to eventually, advance later on, to the remaining parts of Africa .

  • – Carrying out a mass demonstration with people from all walks of life on a week day would certainly be hard, yet more than 10,000 nationals gathered for the protest. What was the reason behind it?

The scandalous allegations made by the commission are farfetched from the minutest accuracy that we have in Eritrea. The allegations also utterly discredit our tradition, dishonor our history and belittle the dignity of Eritreans and only naturally would we feel a harassment of identity. So we had to stand up for our identity.

  • – What exactly did the statements you submitted to UN Office of High Commission declare?

We submitted petition signed by more than 200,000 people from 81 countries, 160,000 of which are of Eritreans and the rest were of friends voicing the unfair discernments on Eritrea, its government and its people.

Moreover, I would like to tell that, 246,000 nationals were willing to personally give direct testimonials to the committee. I would also like to remind that in the previous protests the commission ignored the demand of 42,000 Eritreans to give direct testimonies and went elsewhere to look for forgery proofs, while claiming that they had hovered evidences of 800 people, which we do not even know of, then to worsen the case; based its verdict on their bogus testaments.

The authenticated propositions we submitted strictly defend our identity, we claim that the committee based its verdicts on slanted facts and we kindle on the fact that what UN is adopting, for the second time, on Eritrea will do nothing but damage to Eritrea and its people. We also clarified on the fact that Eritrea has primordially mounted on the quest of human rights, from its ABCs, which is independence.

Seemingly, the commission appears to be oblivious of this matter, and claim that since 1991 Eritreans have been stripped off their human rights, undoubtingly, they have their logs mistaken.

What we are certain about is that our submission won’t prompt urgent response or reaction from the UN office, however, we do know with conviction that at least our voice is well heard.

  • – At the end

This one was yet another attest to our unity and accord on national matters. The Eritrean people have since the beginning of time shared unique thoughts and conviction on accounts that have to do with our country and our identity as members of the same state. It is a matter of the very core existence of Eritrea.

Source: Shabait

Eritrea: Exposing the COIE’s Factual Errors and Deliberate “Mistakes”

Written by Omer Abdelkarim

On 08 June 2016 the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COIE) declared that it “has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991,” and recommended that the matter be sent to the United Nations Security Council for referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). While many of the COIE’s conclusions (as well as its procedures) have been broadly discredited and widely challenged, one that has received less critical attention has been its conclusion about Eritrean emigration.

Summarily dismissing any and all alternative interpretations of the objective realities on the ground, the COIE concludes that the primary reason for Eritrean emigration cannot possibly be economic, instead attributing Eritrean emigration, like other often sensationalized, simplified, cursory analyses, to National Service and systematic, pervasive human right abuses. In its conclusion the CIOE states:

[T]he fact that there is no similar exodus from other economically deprived states that are not in a state of armed conflict, the Commission concludes that economic reasons alone cannot be the driving force behind the large scale flight from the country.

To buttress its shaky conclusion, the COIE trumpets, among other debatable facts and figures, alleged data on Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, including contending that, “the global total number of refugees and asylum seekers from Eritrea stood at 444,091, about 12 percent of the population of the country.” However, although the COIE states that it relied on UNHCR data, the UNHCR’s data on Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers reveals that refugees and asylum seekers constitute only 8.68% of the population. This great discrepancy raises alarming questions and is highly reflective of the considerable methodological and analytical shortcomings of the COIE. Furthermore, the UNHCR’s data itself has repeatedly been shown to be highly inflated (see Phantom Refugees [2015]). Problematically, these statistical discrepancies are generally characteristic of most other analyses and publications about Eritrean emigration. For instance, The Guardian, which has taken an increasingly anti-Eritrea stance, has regularly claimed that about 3% of the Eritrean population has fled. Ultimately, the CIOE’s shaky assertions and conclusions, often based upon other inaccurate, poor data, can hardly be called the product of methodical, reliable, carefully-designed analysis and interpretation.

The discrepant emigration figures notwithstanding, the great responsibility borne by the COIE should not be glossed over. It should uphold high standards and it has a much more solemn task than journalists, who in most cases are paid publicists for “human rights” organizations. The implications and consequences of the COIE’s interpretations, analyses, and conduct hold the potential to detrimentally impact the lives of 6.5 million Eritreans, if not tens of millions more across the Horn of Africa as a whole, for generations to come.  For the COIE to resort to outrageous, rather vapid conclusions without satisfactorily checking data or disregarding that those conclusions could be easily refuted not only mirrors the conduct of some obtuse propagandist, but underscores the three-person panel’s profound lack of competence and their absolute contempt and utter disregard for simple, basic facts.

To return to the COIE’s conclusion about Eritrean emigration, two basic, yet important, questions can be raised:

1)    Is it true that “there is no similar exodus from other economically
deprived states that are not in a state of armed conflict”?

2)    Can “economic reasons” not be a contributing factor to large-scale
emigration (i.e. allegedly upon the scale of 3-12% of the population)?

First, consider the case of Mali, which for years before the rebellion in the north of the country, has experienced considerable emigration. According to Mali’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Four million, or over a third of the country’s 11.7 million people, [were] located in other countries.”

To be precise, long before any conflict took place, 34.2% of Malians had emigrated. Conflict or no conflict, that general trend has not abated. In its February 2016 edition, the magazine Monocle, in an article titled “Perpetual Motion”, underscores the very same point. Malian emigration is not attributed to “human rights conditions” in the country, but instead understood as arising due to “economic factors” and a “culture” of migration.

Beyond Mali, EUROSTAT data for 2015, from which the COIE claims it obtained data about Eritrean asylum seekers in Europe, are also illuminating in considering whether there could be a “similar exodus from other economically deprived states that are not in a state of armed conflict.”

Perusing the dataset reveals a list of countries with characteristics that strongly challenges the COIE’s conclusion. For example, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, and Gambia – none of which was in a state of armed conflict – each had a higher rate of emigration, relative to their overall population, than Eritrea, while Serbia (which is not in a state of armed conflict) had a slightly lower rate. Table 1 presents data on the population and percent of population migrating to EU in 2015 for each country. According to EUROSTAT data for 2015, the number of first-time asylum seekers for the respective countries was as follows: Kosovo (87,565), Albania (56,795), Serbia (22,750), Gambia (12,205) and Macedonia (10,545) and Eritrea (31,055).

Importantly, had the fact that approximately 40% of migrants claiming to be Eritreans are actually not in fact Eritreans – EUROSTAT data here are taken at face value – emigration rates for Eritrea would be far, far less.

Table 1 suggests that not only is the COIE’s utilization of the term “exodus” to describe Eritrean emigration inaccurate, particularly when considering other countries, its conclusion and assertion that “there is no similar exodus from other economically deprived states that are not in a state of armed conflict” is patently false. Furthermore, the suggestion “that economic reasons alone cannot be the driving force behind the large scale flight” is not in any way supportable by facts on the ground. Each country presented in Table 1 is not in a state of armed conflict, except for Eritrea, which is enmeshed in a costly, draining no-war no-peace conflict situation.

Table 1 – First Time Asylum Seekers to EU-28 
(Data EUROSTAT)

Country Population % Migrant to EU in 2015
Kosovo 1,870,981 4.68%
Albania 2,894,475 1.96%
Gambia 1,849,000 0.66%
Macedonia 1,849,000 0.50%
Eritrea 6,536,176 0.48%
Serbia 7,100,000 0.32%

Figure 1 – Graphic Representation of Table 1
(Data EUROSTAT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2015 alone, 4.7% of Kosovo’s population sought asylum in EU. Notably, the overall emigration rate would be much higher after taking into account other migration destinations (i.e. other than the EU) or migration channels (e.g. legal or employment), both of which are not insignificant. Similarly, Albania lost 2% of its population last year alone. In comparison to Eritrean emigration rates, Kosovo’s figures are about 10 times greater, Albania’s 4 times greater, and Gambia’s 1.4 times greater.

If any legitimate, reasonable conclusion can be drawn from the data it begins with the understanding that these countries suffered from conflict in the 1990’s, resulting in mass migration. Subsequently, current emigration trends are largely the result of “pull factors” related to an existing large Diaspora, established networks and linkages, and current economic privations. Any other conjecture is solely just that and unsupported by the data.

Additionally, the assumption that if between 3-12% of a country’s population has emigrated then “economic reasons alone cannot be the driving force behind the large scale flight,” is completely false. When utilizing the UNHCR data the COIE claims it used to conclude that “about 12 percent of the population of the country” live outside of Eritrea, one finds that the data, in fact, reveal that only 8.68% percent of the population live outside the country.

Again the discrepancy notwithstanding, ranking all of the world’s 232 countries and jurisdictions according to the “percentage of the population” living outside of the country shows that Eritrea ranks in the middle of the pack (see Table 2 below). While Eritrea’s figure is less than 10%, the global average for all countries and jurisdictions is that 11.36% of the population lives outside their country. Simply, there is nothing remarkable about Eritrean’s emigration when compared to the global average and statements or questions such as Eritrea is “not at war, but up to 3% of its people have fled. What is going on in Eritrea?” or “economic reasons alone cannot be the driving force behind the large scale flight from the country,” are void and easily dismissible. They are vapid questions or statements raised by agents unaware of global realties or disinformation presented for propaganda purposes.

Table 2 presents countries ranked by percent emigrant population, based on the UN Report on International Migrant Stock.

Table 2 – International Migrant Stock: (United Nations Population Data)

Global Rank Country Total # Emigrants % Emigrant
84 Iceland 38,496 10.46%
85 Poland 4,449,789 10.33%
86 Brunei 46,237 9.85%
87 Serbia 964,585 9.83%
88 Haiti 1,195,240 9.76%
89 Luxembourg 61,058 9.72%
90 Nicaragua 638,958 9.51%
91 Liechtenstein 3,870 9.39%
92 Bahamas 40,095 9.35%
93 Uruguay 346,976 9.18%
94 Mexico 12,339,062 8.85%
95 Equatorial Guinea 81,029 8.75%
96 Eritrea 499,916 8.68%
97 Central African Republic 440,745 8.17%
98 Andorra 7,571 8.13%
99 Czech Republic 932,582 8.13%
100 Jordan 699,719 7.82%
101 Morocco 2,834,641 7.62%
102 Burkina Faso 1,453,378 7.43%
103 Honduras 648,520 7.43%
104 Switzerland 664,557 7.41%

To be clear, the aim is not to simply point out that Kosovo’s emigration rate is over 10 times higher than Eritrea’s. In fact, 2014 and 2015 are anomalous years for Eritrea migration. If analysis is extended across a longer period (e.g. across a decade), Eritrea’s level of emigration is actually not dissimilar to many other countries.

Rather, the fundamental point is that the COIE’s assertions, claiming that Eritrean emigration is the direct result of human rights abuses or that the length of National Service alone could produce those levels of emigration, are a result of utter ignorance or politically motivated malice and they cannot be corroborated by objective analysis or examination of credible data.

The sophomoric attempt by Eritrea’s detractors and some propaganda machines is to infer nonexistent causation by simple correlation. Although it may confuse the uninitiated, it is too puerile to merit additional exposition. Here, rather than alleged human right abuses, emigration rates are more strongly correlated with and are better explained by economic factors and the size of existing Diaspora communities and their various connections or linkages with countries of origin. Importantly, these findings are strongly supported by the established academic literature and numerous rigorous studies.

Just a cursory look at jurisdictions such as Saudi Arabia that lack even rudimentary human rights or democratic institutions reveals that only 0.78% of their population lives outside the country (which is one of the lowest rates in the world). On the other hand, bona fide democracies at the heart of Europe experiencing economic hardships, such as Portugal (18.4%), Ireland (15.83%) and Greece (7.3%), produce large immigrant populations. Essentially, migration’s multidimensional nature and array of pull and push factors mean that one cannot casually draw simple conclusions as the COIE did. The COIE is indicative of how, as Dr. Fikrejesus Amahazion rather aptly puts it,

Rather than recognize great complexities, the vast majority of analyses of Eritrea are often littered with simplistic sound bites that shoe-horn the country into highly generalized, ineffective black and white contexts. This reductionist approach attempts to characterize and explain an extremely intricate, complex phenomenon in terms of singular, narrow concepts.

Although extremely troubling when from purported scholars or journalists, it is absolutely inexcusable and criminally appalling for an international commission tasked with deciding the fate of millions and with the financial and institutional backing of the UN and UNHRC to produce such poor, mistake-ridden, work. To fail to recognize or satisfactorily address the numerous facts and contradictions significantly questions the competence of the three-person COIE panel to make the recommendations they made and thoroughly discredits their conclusions. Moreover, it not only reflects poorly on the UN and the UNHRC, it makes a tragic mockery of important and globally cherished values and principles such as human rights and justice.

Source: shabait

SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVISTS CAMPAIGNS TO DISCREDIT THE ERITREAN GOVERNMENT SOVEREIGN RIGHT

Written by Yemane Tsegay MS.


Aerospace Engineer/Legal Advocacy

Wiki Leaks, Raimoq.com:Feb.24, 2016 Exposes that Sanctions Imposed against Eritrea are politically motivated to divert the attention from Ethiopia’s Occupation of Sovereign Eritrean territory, including the town of Badme. The Sanction was imposed on 23 December 2009, but the concerted and coordinated disinformation campaign started in 2006, way before the Somalia and Eritrea/Djibouti Issues were taken as an agenda item by the UN Security Council. [1]

The UN COI/Social Justice Activists allegedly claimed that “They found violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labour may constitute crimes against humanity in the State of Eritrea”. This is part of the international campaigning smear strategy. The COI report on Eritrea June 5, 2015 [2]

“UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — some members of the UN Security Council misuse sanctions, acting as if they are entitled to control certain countries and entire regions of the world” said,– Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov, Feb. 12, 2016 [3]


1. Introduction

The UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (UNCOI), World Bank, IMF, Amnesty International (AI) campaigned to internationally isolate and demonize the Eritrean Government’ coupled by the criminal activities of Woyane of Tigray (Ethiopia) through: financing: Websites/Radios news outlets for the purpose of attacking with unfettered inflammatory rhetoric with verbal and written materials against the PFDJ leaderships in the State of Eritrea. Their attack display with saber-rattling and falsely invented accusations against the credibility and independence of Eritrea. There are also other groups known as International Political Activists Organizations working in conjunction with the COI Human Rights on Eritrea (for clarity all these are called Social Justice Activists), lacks procedural of fairness and truth have disseminated lies after lies and have already put a minor damage on our youth emotional state and on some youngsters it even caused confusions and made them as runaway kids.

All these madness evil actions against Eritrea have severely angered all Eritrean citizens in every corner of the world with the exception of small number of traitors. These traitors have become the main informants to the COI false Final Report writing. They have been targeting everything the government does as bases for their manufactured lies and also a means for spreading rumors with distortions/misrepresentations of truth. Now they have crossed the Line of international law with no sense of decency.

Social Justice Ideologue prepares them to use fraudulent misinformation and they never care or substantiate their claims at any level. The verbal fraudulent emotive languages they have been using toward our youth were aimed for purposes of disintegration within the Eritrean Nationals. All these evil activities motive were: Combined concerted efforts to repeatedly violate the legal, ethical, and moral principles of the Nation of Eritrea and in particular to undermine the PFDJ leadership, who were the liberators of yesterday and are the leaders of today. In order, to advance their distorted view toward the Nation of Eritrea they have developed the following few examples of their smear strategy:

Primarily: To discredit the Sovereign Legal Right of Eritrea hiding behind the Human Rights issues maligning Eritrea due process and rule of law, criticized it with manufactured lies with a coordinated strategy to internationally isolate Eritrea and weaken its ability to even protect its citizens from asymmetrical war. The COI has falsely depicting that Eritrea is a state of Human Rights violator and has jailed many people. The leadership of the Eritrean Government has been charged in administering the country with a harsh repression system resulting in ruling by fear instead of ruling by law.

Secondary: New charge added to the Eritrean Government that is having only one political party system with no opposition political parties. [4]

(Meaning Eritrea has not established multi political parties sometimes numbering up to 30 political parties conducive for rigging public elections). This was the vision and intention of Dr. Berekt’s advocacy to see Eritrea adhere to multi party practices through his advanced fraudulent written materials (constitution, books) and he is continuously spouting the same fraudulent rhetoric in order to guaranty failure of the Nation of Eritrea.

Currently, the Government of Eritrea has a Firewall Management Lessons-Learned System (MLLS) in place intended to enhance the political and legal need for the protection of the Nation of Eritrea.[5] With these knowledge base supported by the public opinion of Eritreans enhanced through a mechanism of news outlets mass participations the government has already overcome the old thought of introducing multi political parties have been reviewed through the lessons- learned analysis: To determine what is offered to the Nation of Eritrea it has been explored under what is the benefit for the Nation and have been the main criteria to be considered for its implementation. Now Eritrea has incorporated the following new idea problem solving strategy:

First, Eritrea has a full right to learn from past experiences of many African countries failures in trying to adopt into multi political party practices and recognize their mistakes and Eritrea was able to avoid the repetition of disastrous and corruptions outcomes which have been occurring in Eritrea’s neighboring countries Ethiopia and Kenya.

Second, Eritrea’s new Management Lessons-Learned System has established for the purpose of enhancing the peace and security of the country maintained first and it will continue adopting of new knowledge with best practices that can be tapped and assimilate within the Nation building development program and the operational procedures of Warsay-ykaalo projects.

However, Dr. Bereket and Andebrhan advocacies clutched onto their usual accusations toward the Eritrean governance and the fate of the detriment of 1997 constitution in order to advance their political agendas for regime change. They provided no specific evidence for improvement proposal how to achieve a better governance in order to back their charges, and often omit or ignore vital facts of how much Eritrea progressed and become politically stable under the PFDJ leadership. These adversaries who are so busy making money out of the blood of our martyrs, they can’t even see beyond the end of their noses.

Instead they chose to sing the song of “regime change railing cry without caring for a possible consequence of civil war for the destruction of the State of Eritrea. They are following the evil tactic of Social Justice Ideology by misrepresenting Eritrea’s progress in every sector of the National Planned Objectives. They are pushing for the formation of multi political parties to ensure a separation of powers between the ideal three branches within a government and other similar issues as have been reflected in many sections of the COI’s report including in the section of Conclusion and Recommendation. [6]

The question that was raised by the COI report: What is going to happen in regard to the 1997 constitution? Eritrean Government has learned to avoid destructive objectives and keeping up with policy-goal of equal justice to all citizen men and women with no preferential treatment except for the disables, old people and children. The detrimental constitution will be handled through public referendum voting practices in order to make it Null and Void before the newly drafted constitution available crafted by Eritreans for Eritreans through a constitution making process. Currently, all the legal codes are completed and followed International human rights guidance. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). To “ensure any person whose rights or freedoms have recognized is violated shall have an effective remedy”. [7] The Due Process and Rule of Law finds its roots in the Civil Procedure Code of the State of Eritrea. Article 7 –Principles of Legality, Right to be heard. Based on the size of Eritrea and the number of its population there is a proposal that the new constitution to be owned and amended by the Eritrean people only and it will be ready and enacted in 2018.

 

The detriment constitution beside its highly construed messages in every article has also legal constraint that it advocates for the complete separation of powers among the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of government. Therefore, the president will not have the power to examine the manner in which how the laws have been executed.

Now, the Eritrean Government is studying on two concepts of separation of powers within the government but has not figured to any great extent in the managing on complete separation of power, partial separation of power, overlap or no separation of powers. The first (a) an extremely ancient concept, is the idea of procedure as a check and balance to the exercise of power. The belief that “due process” is an essential part of constitutional government is of great antiquity, and it runs parallel with ideas of mixed government and the separation of powers, but has relatively rarely been explicitly linked with those ideas and made an integral part of those theories.

The second (b) notion, a much more modern one, is the idea of process in government. This term, although used in different ways, indicates an awareness that government and politics do not consist in the automatic operation of formal procedures, but that there is a whole complex of activities around these procedures which determines the exact way in which they will be operated, sometimes in fact bringing about through the medium of the procedure exactly the reverse of what the procedure was intended to achieve.

The concern of forming political group without a complete study of the process of government with a theory of separation of power and legal institutions of government is dangerous unless the theory has anything to offer that must be able to cope with the complexities of politics as well as the structure of government. It is easy to say that the functions performed by the government are classified into three. Of course, most of them belong to the executive branch. For example, taking command of war and defense affairs, attending to deprived members of society, administering training, education, health and medical affairs pertain to executive power. In fact, judiciary engages only in rendering justice and the legislature in lawmaking. Attending to the needs of society are among the responsibilities of the executive. But to make a bold statement by the COI in Eritrea that: there are a total lack of rule of law is absurd. The idea of the separation of powers, perhaps the most important and problematic one and it is still remained the cause of the delay for the new constitution to be completed. Constitution making is not like Sandwich making process but very delicate, complex and needs experience, knowledge, truthfulness and Nation Building Interest.

Separation of powers is a doctrine, which is the foundation of the U.S Constitution. .[8] But in truth, however, the Constitution does not strictly adhere to the separation of powers, as the three branches of the government—Congress, the president, and the courts—have some overlap in their constitutionally assigned functions

Nevertheless, when all the necessary qualifications have been made, the essential ideas behind the doctrine remain as vital ingredients of Western political thought that Eritrean Government can learn the practical aspect as practiced and benefited a sovereign country today. To substantiate this view it will be necessary to attempt to define and use terms in a more precise way than has been generally the case in the detriment constitution that the COI recommended it to be implemented.

The president has been demonized by enemies of Eritrea as far as they can go, attacking him that why the concentration of power is with him meaning in the executive office and running a government without a constitution. While in realty Eritrea has not made a study on power separation and the president has been following up and down as well as micro managing means paying extreme attention to small details, following every step of the functionality of the government and he is fulfilling his obligation to do the best job for the people and nation of Eritrea. Clearly the government has been administering the country with the rule of law that is why they have able to accomplish business agreements (mining, gas/oil, tourism and licensing for potash mining). On the other hand since Constitution making is not a sand witch making process it is also the defining moment for the structure of the government and its responsibilities, as it is explained in chapter 3.2 Rule of Law.

 

The Eritrean Government expects the UNHRC/UNCOI to verify and substantiate all allegations against the Nation of Eritrea before presenting it publically. Instead, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) forfeit their neutrality and are engaging themselves in a fraudulent/criminal activities against the Nation of Eritrea, when it knowingly accepts the unsubstantiated COI biased report that is a detriment to Eritrea’s sovereignty.

2. The Obstacles of Democratic Governance

Eritrea is a newly independent nation, trying to adopt a dynamic Presidential democracy government system, located in the horn of Africa Red Sea Coast. A very peaceful and beautiful country with its hard working none deviant pro family society but; because of the systemic and conjectural development have brought to the fore the need for continues defense of the country militarily due to the failure of the UN mission that lacks the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN objective as the world knows is to keep the maintenance of international peace and security for all the member states. In Eritrea’s case the Algiers agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia [9] that was signed in the presence of UN member countries as guarantors for its implementations; has been completely ignored and it is far from its implementation. This is a clear failure of the UN charter that Ethiopia was given preferential treatment by the USA through UN resolutions.

Now, Ethiopia has been allowed to exercise its adventurous military operation over the Eritrean sovereign legal right and its territorial integrity. The outlawed Ethiopia was given free pass to occupy Eritrean land with no consequence even though the Boarder Commission on the contested land awarded to Eritrea. Since then Eritrea has been living with no peace and no war situations, under a constant fear of war possibility and has been harassed by Ethiopia daily.

Additionally, Eritrea is continuously hindered by the two restrictive sanctions against them.

There also, asymmetric lawfare directed at its leaderships and its citizens by the Social Justice Activists under the cover of UNCOI. Eritrea faces many challenges, including the need to balance sovereign rights and legal claims. Eritrea is subjected to many disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on its Nation Building efforts due to the fact that Eritrea believes in self sufficient in everything humanly possible as well as to uphold human rights by protecting its citizens from hunger, thickness, babies malnutrition for its citizens and educating its people in order to become productive and self sufficient to accomplish the objectives planned for the common good of the society. At the sometime, the country has to defend against the on-going possibility of military strikes by Ethiopia due to the “No peace No war” resolution by the UN.

During these high time political pressures imposed on Eritrea, the COI/Social Justice Activists are falsely claiming to promote human rights and humanitarian objectives in Eritrea have led their illegal and unwarranted attacks as part of their campaigns. These COI/ Social Justice Activists have developed a strategy to demonize Eritrea’s justice system or legal system based on the real enacted laws still they are painting Eritrea as a rogue state. A key component of this approach involves portraying Eritrea as anti-democratic and lacking a legal system in rule of law and due process, painting a false picture surrounding the Eritrean enacted laws through proclamations.

Eritrea is fighting for its legal right to exist overcoming all types of attacks and that put it into a unique position where it is now. However, Eritrea is not practicing the common law (Judge made decisional Law) where all the Executive orders have the full force of law when they take authority from a legislative power which grants its power directly to the Executive by the Constitution. While in Civil law where Eritrean law has been adopted, the violations are coded and released as (penal code, civil code, commercial code and maritime code), with brief text that tends to avoid factually specific scenarios. The purpose of codification is to provide all citizens with manners and written collection of the laws which apply to them and which judges must follow. In this situation Eritrea has been practicing the codification law not Executive orders as the COI has falsely accused the government.

3. Eritrea’s Fundamental Sovereign Legal Rights

At this juncture, the Government of Eritrea is within its right to call for independent international investigations that must be formed by the member states of the UN as an ad hoc to address the issues of these lobbyists engaging in criminal activities against the Nation of Eritrea. They have been attacking Eritrea with components of infringement against the Eritrean sovereignty through the UNCOI rapporteur association in order to cover up their devious activities. All the Activists have been working through the UNCOI on Eritrea with selective enforcement tactics of Lawfare type to advance their criminality in order to punish or destroy Eritrea. That is why the National Sovereignty for Eritrea is the paramount before anything else. To defend the Nation of Eritrea now we must go after these organizations or individuals who work in conjunction with the COI who are attempting to erode the sovereignty of Eritrea in a fraudulent way. Eritrea is accusing the UN for not respecting its fundamental purpose of the organization itself. Indeed what the COI on Eritrea is doing is a violation of UN chapter 1, “purposes of the UN Article 2 (1) “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members”. Eritrea must have its sovereign right first, in order to fully earn its right to govern itself.

3.1 An example of attack on Eritrea’s sovereign legal right

First, the COI have violated the guidelines of the mandate that “the temporal scope of the investigation covers the period from the independence of Eritrea until present day.
Then they have illegally and deliberately exposed the Eritrean National security paragraph 274 of the report beginning from the date of the Army struggle till 5 June 2015. [b] The disclosure of the National security of Eritrea as it was documented in the final report is of course unique to Eritrea only, I have read some Commission of Inquiry of other nations, but I have not observed the security of a nation exposed like Eritrea. This is a deliberate attack on Eritrea’s capability and its limitation on its internal and external defense and a complete endangerment to its governing system for personnel and military confidentiality, which is normal and legal that every country must have. The total disclosure of the security matters with dangerous statements on national security issues, means in accordance to the report it puts people’s life in total danger and the whole world will have doubt about Eritrea’s capability in matters of defense and security.

This is an example of the COI members, engaging in criminal activities.

Second, there are also new charges against all Eritreans in the Diaspora by the COI on human rights in Eritrea. According to the final report, method of explanation, as documented and released that: All Eritreans are “spies” on other Eritreans. According to the COI characterization all Eritreans who are pro-government are capable of spying. [9] This is a threat to all Eritreans in the Diaspora: “that Eritreans who live in those western countries could be involved in spying on behalf of the Eritrean Government”. [10]

3.1 Violation of the Mandate

There is a violation of the COI written mandate paragraph 10 of the report that: The Commission was only mandated to investigate all alleged violations of human rights in Eritrea, does not include the investigation of international crimes in Eritrea. At best its interpretation is confusing deliberately done.

In accordance to the COI report released on Eritrea, it was recommended that Eritrea must immediately implement the discredited constitution of 1997.

3.2 Rule of Law

Currently, Eritrea is following Civil Law legal tradition, the adaption of those codes was infused with traditions and culture into the laws with an objective from the customary laws of Eritrea that was begun before the fifteenth century. The traditional customary laws are the main guidance when writing those codes with the desire of modernization by attempting to infuse traditional practices value as the nation develops the codes will be updated as necessary a procedure set within the development of the Civil Law. Eritrea as of 2015 has added and completed the codes and has accomplished and joined the standard of other Codified Countries with civil law that have comprehensive system and will continuously updating the legal codes that specify all matters capable of being brought before a court; the applicable procedure, and the appropriate punishment for each offense. [11] Eritrea, as the result of the set of modern codes will end the unwritten customary scattered rules and the beginning of the modern legislative framework of Eritrea. This is the answer for Dr. Bereket and his cohorts including the COI who were badmouthing Eritrea as if the country is governing with no rule of law and sometimes they change the song into: What we mean, is with no constitution (QUAM).

However, for the sake of record, there are still countries with unwritten constitutions and are considered democratic. These are: United Kingdom, Israel and even there is one country which has a codified set of several constitutional documents similar to the position where Eritrea is right now. This country is San Marino. (Landlocked San Marino is one of the world’s smallest countries Surrounded by Italy). The Government of Eritrea has updated:

  • Based on the legal codes Eritrea has, now it is fully participant within the codified countries. However the government has officially announced that, they will deliver a written new constitution. The procedures for its approval and acceptance to be administered through a national referendum of voting by the Eritrean people on its acceptance and its enactment prior to delivery. It will be delivered to the Eritrean people in 2018.

The above listed of demands by the COI are the partial list of recommendation in one hand and on the other hand it is the unjust demands indeed a part of the smear strategy that was been used during the establishment of their devious process aimed to capture world attention; by disseminating lies against the Nation of Eritrea to complete the fraudulent report full of unsubstantiated allegations against the innocence of the Eritrean Government. This shameful COI report is known as:

  • Report of the detailed findings of the
    commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea – A/HRC/29/CRP.1 (484 Pages) released on June 5, 2015

4. The Government of Eritrea and the Activists

The COI/Social Justice Activists have said it all their false allegations stated in the conclusion and recommendation section of the final report against the Nation of Eritrea. Following the intensity of these false allegations, the Eritrean people convened more strongly than ever the need to stand together to oppose this detriment report through the management of lessons learned against the actions of the COI report which is to the detriment of Eritrea. The Eritrean Government have developed knowledge, legally based that will hold accountable Ms. Sheila and her acompliances, Mr. Mike Smith and Mr. Dankwa how they have involved themselves in:

1. Engaging in criminal activities
2. Infringement against the Eritrean sovereignty
3 .Prepared a fraudulent report and submitted to the UN Commission of Human Rights(UNCHR).

Many of the Activists roll have been documented that they have been the main architectures for supplying negative inputs during crafting each section of the report which has been intended to demonize and create chaos within the Government of Eritrea; so then they can infringe on Eritrea’s legal right by digging deep into a wide range of the Eritrean Government’s Ministries and heavily denigrated every part of the government; so then to facilitate the adoption of politically motivated propaganda for agitations aimed for civil unrest up to triggering civil war.

These are the wishes of the Eritrean informants who are working behind the COI manufactured lies against the Nation of Eritrea. We Eritreans have deep insight into virtually every chapter of the report, how it has been developed, how the so called experts and consultants have formulated the plan in the campaign for destruction through a cover up of UN human rights issues advocated by the COI biased activism, in a maligning Eritrea as if it is “inherently rogue state” or a state of a Dictator ruling by fear instead of ruling by law.

Those so called experts, or consultants have misled the COI members with information of a total unsubstantiated data to complete the shameful report that was delivered to the UNHRC in Geneva on June 23, 2015.

All these activists with their combined forces have one common interest; all have received funding, training, and other support from an array of hostile foreign sources (including the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy) – many of which have been actively engaged in dozens of regime change operations in Europe and USA.

The COI who are themselves Social Justice Ideologically driven activists who must follow the strict code of deceit within the smear strategy to misinform the world that Eritrea is a belligerent country in the horn of Africa that harbors threats to neighbors. They have been campaigning with these lies to confuse and influence the world with such characterizations for the past 15 years and have caused harm on Eritrea’s economic social and political programs. For example they have been campaigning against the development of Eritrea with unethical tools as follows: (divestment and sanctions campaigns) that Eritrea is still enduring. These immoral misleading initiatives are called law fare not warfare aimed for regime change propaganda.

  • Law fare” is a weapon designed to destroy the enemy by using, misusing, and abusing the legal system and the media in order to raise a public outcry against that enemy.
  • Divestment “The process of selling an asset. Also known as divestiture, it is made for either financial or social goals. Divestment is the opposite of investment.

These are the Social Justice Activist tools that are available to destroy a negatively targeted nation. (Watch the video of “the fifth state dealing with a Dictator”, Nevsun Mining Co. in Eritrea). Watch carefully, the biased Social Justice Activist named Mark Kelley how he tried to portray Eritrea by linking to terrorist organizations such as the Al Shebab. This is an example of Divestment.

This is clearly a biased Social Justice Activism; What Mark was implying that looks like a basic street tactics was actually he was following the strict rules or codes of demonization trying to create evidences by going and recording witnesses in order to have leverage for his task to continue. However, since this person is ignorant about the law he has engaged into illegal activities by implying that Nevsun should not do business with Eritrea, at the same time he was engaging in to the detriment of the Nation of Eritrea. He was infringing on Eritrea’s sovereign rights by knowingly sabotaging business deals between Eritrea and Nevsun, that makes him liable and responsible to show up to court to answer legal obligations that is going to have brought back to him as to why he infringed on Eritrea’s sovereign rights in the first place.

Many of the organizations such as the NGOs who are Social Justice ideology crusaders are highly involved in the above noted strategy have received funding from the European Union International Organization, the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED, a de facto CIA a mechanism to topple a government where the regime is not 100% on Washington’s music page, comes from the US Congress), and George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

The smear strategy has encompassed Eritrea’s supposed Human Rights violation has been committed with no due process of the law or no form of legal judiciary system. The Amnesty International (AI) Human Rights Watch are funded through NED and have been blindly providing negative information about Eritrea to the Commission of Inquiries from the data collected against Eritrea fraudulently and feeding the COI which Ms. Sheila was the employee of the AI herself in the first place. This practice is wrong and illegal even if Sheila tried to change her color like a chameleon by adding two acompliances with her, she is still the main architecture identified by Eritreans with her inflammatory rhetoric against the state of Eritrea. That puts her representation for UN and caused the UN image to look like the lowest of the lowest shameful practices when the UNHRC have let her to continue on this project.

4.1 Conspiracy against the Nation of Eritrea

In reality Ms. Sheila, become a prosecutor instead of human right rapporteur completely out of her mandate. The total intention of the provided information that was compiled by her with her acompliances and the consultations of the informants become the building blocks or the main framework of conspiracy and then created falsely many targeted objects by which to link to another objects aimed to paint the Government of Eritrea as a human rights violator, documented and delivered to the UNHRC in the 484 pages report. The COI have released this shameful report to the whole world without any accountability for their crimes toward the Nation of Eritrea. Another example of conspiracy is: The added accusations by the Amnesty International against the Eritrean Government are actually a direct copy of Mr. Connel from The Guardian speech in Washington D.C. May 2013. He instructed a group of Eritreans to campaign for regime change is possible when the focus is around the migrations and human trafficking and unlimited military conscriptions. He stated that: “It is easy to tie together with so many other issues, the unlimited conscriptions into national service, the trafficking issue, would build pressure on Isaias and weaken his ability to govern.” [12]

(See: https://redseafisher.wordpress.com/…/the-traffic-racket-the-eritrean-activi… May 19, 2015 – by Connell from the Guardian).

4.2 Cases Challenges through legal judiciary process

Until now the courts around the world haven’t heard from Eritreans the law abiding people. We are at high alert to claim our legal rights that needs challenges against anybody or organizations that attempts to infringe and deny us our basic rights within our communities. The Social Justice Activists are driven through greed of money at the cost of the honor of our martyrs’ blood distributed through “None Profit Agencies”. These low life activists are empowered to campaign for the destruction of the Nation of Eritrea through Social Justice Activists with no justification except the greed for money.

For example the three women from Europe who lacks National Eritrean morality supposedly they are Eritreans who are fiercely working along with the social justice activists for the destruction of Eritrea have failed to adhere to moral and ethical standards in their own work: One is known by her crying for regime change in Eritrea for a long time (her method of crying is through her own mentally constructed fantasy who does not possibly know the horror of war that our people went through of heavy loss of lives for freedom). She was born and grew in Ethiopia, never visited Eritrea even once and she become an activist to make money out of our martyrs blood; the second woman, (is heavily engaged in human trafficking for the purpose of Organ trafficking to make a lot of blood money along with the total extermination of our youth lives); the third women is also for regime change including for the destruction of Eritrea. She is a (Quackery an ignorant pretender claimed to have a skill in diagnosing mental disorder of human being and she said in video interview: That her diagnosed result out of the signals coming to her brain, as she claimed that she was able to deduce with her false medical reasoning) “that president Isayas is a “paranoid, irrational, eccentric and reclusive”. [13]. (This is the field to be left for people with degrees in M.D., Ph.D., in a medical, behavioral or social science field; and registered with a reputable organization that oversees psychiatric or psychological testing and diagnostic procedures with many years of professional experience).

The real reasons why these activists wants the Nation of Eritrea to be dissolved so that once it is dissolved their past criminal activities can also be dissolved or evaporated with it. In this way they can always start fresh their criminal activities again. These women have been engaged in crimes and based on the severity of their crimes; it is going to haunts them for years to come.

We Eritreans will start confronting enemies of the Nation of Eritrea by filing lawsuits against any perpetrators who harmed us in violation of the law such as slanders and threats toward us and to the Nation of Eritrea. For example, we are watching the evil intentions of the COI/Social Justice Activists toward Eritrea that they are charging Eritrea continuously as human rights violator a pretext for attempting to “topple the government that would result in the destruction of our country like Iraqi, Libya, Syria or Yemen”.

Recently, those Social Justice Activists including the (NGOs) demonizing strategies have unleashed against an Eritrean citizen, attacking him his personal integrity by violating his legal rights ended up in lawsuits through the court of Netherland known the case of: Meseret Bahlbi versus Prof. Miriam van Reisen in Netherland. Mr.Meseret finally he ended up winning this case by putting doubt about Miriam Van Reisen reputation which will affect her that she will be known having been sued previously for defamation and slandering an Eritrean/Dutch citizen including the preservation of respect to all Eritrean community. In this case even if he loses in the court he won in the court of public opinion by placing a permanent legal record that Miriam van Reisen was involved in giving out slanderous talk against Eritreans. This will be one of the merits that will deny her future employment in the academia world for infringing Eritreans legal rights. Now any public office that she tries to obtain is ruined

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have joined efforts under the name of COI/NGOs or known by their true identity called Social Justice Activists have made allegations against all Eritreans in the Diaspora in particular, those who support the Government of Eritrea that we are all spies. This is the typical infringement on our legal right that we continue to put up with. This will open for more litigation including toward the COI on Eritrea. Our focus now is on the COI who have clearly violated every Eritrean rights living abroad with their fraudulent report in the (484 Pages) released on June 5, 2015. We have legal rights that will not be infringed upon.

While the COI report discussed and alleged that Eritrea fails to uphold the legal judiciary process, the COI members they themselves did not follow the rules of UNHRC method of gathering relevant data and engaged in criminal activities, infringed against the Eritrean sovereign legal rights and prepared a fraudulent report and submitted to the UNHRC. This is a high failure on the COI immoral frameworks under which many organizations in support to the COI operate. The COI in particular Sheila is not up to Eritrea’s none-bias reporting standard when they write statements like this below:

(a) “Following up on practices developed during the liberation struggle, the PFDJ, the ruling and only party in Eritrea, has held on to power by progressively dismantling or refraining from implementing reforms aimed at establishing democracy and rule of law in the country”.[14]

(b) “Paragraph 272. From 1994, through the border war with Ethiopia and then particularly since the events of 2001, the significance of the PFDJ has consistently shrunk – to the point that some observers now consider it to have become an empty shell”.

The above inflammatory statement does not meet Eritrea’s none-bias reporting standard and this is in violation of her mandate she is engaging in inciting violence instead of engaging in advocacy and raise public awareness; and provide advice for technical cooperation.

This is a typical Social Justice Allegation completely unsubstantiated form of agitation a premeditated oral and written statement for inciting violence in Eritrea. This lady being a member of the COI is not following her mandate, but she is engaging in fraudulent activities. She has lost her credibility, because of the fraudulent report she submitted and the Nation of Eritrea will no longer be dealing with her at any capacity what so ever.

To all UN member states please review the conduct of the three COI members in particular Sheila. She must be relieved from her assignment that she is a complete disservice and shame to the whole world. Eritrea cannot allow the COI members coming to Eritrea, because they are engaged in open fraudulent activism against the Nation of Eritrea. They must demonstrate to the Nation of Eritrea none bias, ethically acceptable with objectivity and denounce the released report of 484 pages completely filled with unsubstantiated fraudulent statements, Eritrea is well within its sovereign right to deny the COI entry visa to visit Eritrea. Even by any miracle these COI members could set a foot on Eritrea’s land, because of the fraudulent report prepared driven by the anti Eritrea groups and released, I will not doubt that this will create a backlash within the Eritrean masses and it will be big public safety liability to the Eritrean Government toward their safety around the clock.

5. Conclusion

Eritreans in the Diaspora are requesting the Human Rights Council UNHRC to disclose the motivation letter that sheila submitted with her application, why she selected the State of Eritrea to work as a rapportuer. Her Nomination, Selection and Appointment to become a mandate holder for Eritrea are a point of contention. In accordance to Resolution 16/21 states that: the selection practices must have been made with transparency within the selection and appointment process. In tandem with selection process, the National Human Rights Institutions that comply with the Paris Principles may also nominate candidates. However the most interesting point in these practices is candidates are required to submit an application accompanied by a motivation letter before they got interviewed by the Consultative Group.

Additionally, in accordance to resolution 5/1, the following general criteria were also applied for all mandate holders: (a) expertise; (b) experience in the field of the mandate; (c) independence; (d) impartiality; (e) personal integrity; and (f) objectivity.

The COI rapporteur on Eritrea, Sheila in particular, has not demonstrated any of the above listed criteria and she made it quite clear that she wants to hear from supposed Eritrean people who are only against the government of the Nation of Eritrea. The lack of impartiality, independence, personal integrity, objectivity and a questionable expertise are all reflected in her fraudulent 484 pages of June 2015 report about Eritrea Human Rights violations submitted to the UNHRC. Therefore, this gross incompetency on her part should have been the bases for her disqualifications, at any rate, Sheila fall short of being a competent rapportour.

She is in violation of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council that, she must be independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advice on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. The Special Procedure of the Human Rights clearly states that: “A rapporteur must demonstrate expert consultations, contributing to the development of international human rights standards; engage in advocacy and raise public awareness; and provide advice for technical cooperation”. By writing one sentence that Eritrea can ask for technical assistance in the conclusion of the report after she condemned Eritrea with the highest criminal language will not help her to cover up her crime that she inflicted damage on the State of Eritrea.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Wiki Leaks, Raimoq.com:Feb.24, 2016 Exposes that Sanctions Imposed against Eritrea are politically

[2] Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea – A/HRC/29/42 … Press Release: UN Inquiry reports gross human rights violations in Eritrea Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea – A/HRC/29/42 … Eritrea June 5, 2015

[3] UN Vladimir Safronkov, Feb. 12, 2016, said: “UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — some members of the UN Security Council misuse sanctions, acting as if they are entitled to control certain countries and entire regions of the world

[4] Paragraph 270. On Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, “Since its creation in February 1994, the PFDJ has remained the only political organization allowed in Eritrea”.

[5] Lessons Learned | NASA Chief Knowledge Officer

km.nasa.gov/lessons-learned/
Lessons Learned Information System (LLIS) (NASA Only) The primary Lesson Learned Database of NASA, which sits behind a firewall in the NASA … and project managers in improving work processes and making risk-informed decisions.

[6] Paragraph 270. On Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, “Since its creation in February 1994, the PFDJ has remained the only political organization allowed in Eritrea”.

[7] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights …

https://en.wikipedia.org/…/International_Covenant_on_Civil_a…

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966

[8] Separation of Powers – Legal Dictionary – The Free Dictionary legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/separation+of+powers Definition of separation of powers in the Legal Dictionary –

[9] Paragraph 340 – 368, Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, On Report: The system for mass surveillance and control of the population.

[10] Id at Para 340-368

[11] Penal Code of Eritrea – Refworld http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/55a51ccc4.pdf Art. 7. – Principles of Legality.

[12] (See: https://redseafisher.wordpress.com/…/the-traffic-racket-the-eritrean-active… May 19, 2015 – by Connell from the Guardian).

[13] http://www.opendemocracy.net/…/isaias-afewerki-and-Eritrea-… Open Democracy Jun 24, 2009 – Selam Kidane

[14] Paragraph 270-272 The role of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea.

A Future Abundant of Intellectuals: Eritrean Institutions of Higher Education

Written by Billion Temesghen

Eritrea has strongly relied on the resource of its people since the first arising steps of its history. With the passing of each day like ever and more than ever, the people and Government of Eritrea to the best of its capacity, strives in supplementing buoyant grounds for a future full of young elite intellectuals assisting the national development to prosperity.

As such, with the dawn of independence in 1991, education became one of the major domains, where a great deal of focus and massive investment was made on. With big investments, collaborations and contributions of different parties, at the moment, more than 14,000 young Eritrean students have become beneficiaries of pursuing their studies at higher level of education in the nine colleges nation wide.

Only 12 years ago, there was one university in Eritrea, the University of Asmara (UoA), originally established in 1958 by Italian missionaries. With its very limited capacity, the university accommodated 1,200 students on the highest record of its history.

The incessant will of the Eritrean people and government to improve higher education augmented with the increasing number of students. As a result, major activities for expanding the University of Asmara to nine colleges countrywide was put in action.

With the advent of these Institutions of Higher Education nationwide, notions such as exchange of ideas amongst students while amplifying their knowledge through theoretical and practical schooling, started owning to tangible and successful form rapidly.

These seven Institutions of Higher Education are: the Eritrea Institute of Technology (EIT), in Mai Nefhi area embracing three colleges: College of Education, College of Engineering and Technology as well as the College of Science. There is also the Hamelmalo Agricultural College (HAC), in efficient fact situated in the Hamelmalo area, one of the most verdant zones of the country.

For health and health related studies, there is the Asmara College of Health Sciences (ACHS), graduating a number of health professionals every year. There is a second one with the same purpose and promising outcomes too: the Orotta School of Medicine and Dental Medicine (OSM&DM). They both are located in Asmara.

The beautiful port city of Massawa on the Red Sea coast line, is home to the College of Marine Sciences and Technology (COMSAT).

Money matters, economics, financial equations, numbers, graphs, rules and much more is provided to future exceptional economists at the Halhale College of Business and Economics, in Halhale.

Last but not least, in one of the ancient historic areas of Eritrea, Adi Keyih, there is the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS).

Since their establishment, Eritrean colleges have been gaining more attention from students. As a matter of fact, official scale of the National Commission for Higher Education (NCHE) shows that enrolment of students increased greatly. At the very moment, more than 14,000 are studying in higher institutions at degree and diploma level. Education in Eritrea is free. Undeniably, this stands as a chief paradigm of the Eritrean higher education’s root policy; with impulses of germane higher education system of quality and sustainability, amplified by continuous committed effort invested in enhancing the eminence of educational edification they offer, to which every national has rightful access to, in equity without any discrimination.

The government has applied major investments, in association with collaborators such as the African Development Bank, in the expansion of infrastructure to accommodate fineness in teaching, research and public services. Internal and external linkages have been made possible to strengthen partnership of versatile nature not only with governmental and non-governmental organizations and associations of the country, but also several international entities.

As part of the above stated role, the NCHE and the Eritrean Institutions of Higher Education, by now, have realized 19 liaisons of partnership with foreign universities and Institutions of Higher Education, including regional and international linkages, with post-graduate programs, distance learnings and scholarships.
The relentless expansion of infrastructural endeavours in these Institutions of Higher Education is stipulating a noteworthy stage for the expansion of academic research programs, while boosting students’ concentration in their academic activities.

According to data from the NCHE, students’ performance can be labeled as ‘Good Standing’, with the most recent scale of graduates 81.7% in degree and 74.1% in diploma, while the attrition average rate is of reaching 8.0 % for degree students and 13.0% for diploma students. Of course, this is not being seen lightly so Institutions of Higher Education along with NCHE is operational in reducing the rate of attrition.

In fact, with the aim of supporting Eritrean Institutions of Higher Education, recently, the Eritrean Research Fund (ERF) was founded with now an overall number of 42 research projects being funded by the ERF; 19 of which have been already seen to completion. NCHE promises that there will be more ground for such researches pertinent to development, environmental issues, energy, technological renovations and advancements, health, culture and agriculture amongst many others. Surely, this is a reflection of the NCHE policy in supporting student’s creativity and academic freedom.

In Eritrea, a young country of only 25 years of independence and little more than ten years with self-realized Institutions of Higher Education, at the moment, in all of the nine colleges, 99 courses are present. Three of which are of PhD level, 9 of Masters, three MD specialization courses, 53 of first degree and 43 of diploma level courses and the very first Masters program in Geo-informatics launched just this year, which for the moment is including graduate assistants (GAs).

Needless to say, this would be too small to sum up everything that the people and Government of Eritrea and especially the Ministry of Education realized in the past 25 years based on almost nothing but ambition and a vision of a country which largely relies on its human resource.

With the aim of intensifying a population equipped with the necessary skills, comprehension and educational ethos for a self-reliant society, the Eritrean people and government, targets to fight poverty, ignorance and backwardness while marching towards an all sided conscious development.

It is certainly not an easy task, and still, though, some shortages might appear on the way the Institutions of Higher Education, NCHE and Ministry of Education at large, keeps working on upholding instigating principal essence of equity and quality education to its most efficient manifestation!

Source: Shabait

Challenging Assumptions: A Note on Recent Coverage of Eritrea

Written by Dr. Fikrejesus Amahazion

Last week, Eritrea Profile featured an interview with Mary Harper, Africa Editor for BBC World News. Harper recently spent several weeks in Eritrea covering the country’s Independence Day celebrations, and her analyses, both within her interview with Eritrea Profile as well as in other outlets, have been balanced, impartial, thoughtful, and quite perceptive. Possessing years of journalistic experience, particularly across Africa, Harper’s coverage of Eritrea has been a reinvigorating breath of fresh air; she avoids the tired clichés, nauseating stereotypes, and longstanding assumptions and distortions to provide an accurate, contextualized, more reliable account of Eritrea. While her entire interview with Eritrea Profile is worthwhile and informative, several things stand out.

First, to her credit, Harper notes that “Eritrea…is very complex.” While this perspective and approach seems academic and straightforward for the exploration of any country, it is notable here because its acknowledgement is frequently lacking from most mainstream discussions about Eritrea. Rather than recognize great complexities, the vast majority of analyses of Eritrea are often littered with simplistic sound bites that shoe-horn the country into highly generalized, ineffective black and white contexts. This reductionist approach attempts to characterize and explain an extremely intricate, complex phenomenon in terms of singular, narrow concepts.

For example, it is quicker and simpler to label, traduce, and malign Eritrea than to deeply examine the country’s complex socio-political background, adequately survey its diverse ethnolinguistic and religious context, explore its challenging regional environment, genuinely consider its commendable progress within social, health, and education sectors, and its success upon several of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), or thoroughly investigate how the country remains heavily burdened by international sanctions – increasingly and widely recognized as illegitimate and unfounded – and an illegal military occupation by Ethiopia, which is politically, militarily, and economically supported by the US.

Amongst the clearest illustrations of the decontextualized, cursory approach that guides the mainstream narrative about Eritrea is the prevailing discourse on Eritrean emigration. Most discussions completely fail to analyze – even minimally or superficially – the holistic, multifaceted nature of migration. Instead, investigations are restricted to examinations of one or two factors. Accordingly, migration arises due to the fact that Eritrea is an arena of sheer barbarity, lacking any semblance of basic humanity, while other highly influential and significant factors, such as socio-economic causes (e.g. poverty, inequality, and relative deprivation), structural dynamics and determinants, or state and institutional procedures or policies (such as the de facto policy of Western countries to grant automatic asylum to anyone from Eritrea), are entirely ignored or severely understated.

Ultimately, lacking a critical, thorough analytical framework, the general narrative about Eritrea overlooks serious, pertinent questions, does not even begin to address the real, underlying problems on the ground, is devoid of rational, logical analysis, and in the end fails to offer legitimate or credible recommendations or solutions.

As well, Harper states that she is “confused” about the way Eritrea has been targeted and “picked…out,” even though many other countries are actually “far worse.” The simple explanation for this apparent contradiction is that, in reality, Eritrea’s treatment has very little to do with alleged transgressions of international law or violations of principles of justice, democracy, and human rights. Of course, this is not to suggest that Eritrea is free of problems. It is not. The country is confronted by a myriad of significant issues, challenges, and pressing concerns. However, these are hardly the principal (or even minor) reasons for the calumny steadily directed at Asmara, charging it with everything vile and attempting to isolate it. If transgressions of international law or violations of principles of justice, democracy, and human rights were the true, fundamental issue, it is likely that a whole host of others would be singled out by the international community, rather than being tolerated with equanimity or even, at times, tacitly or directly supported.

Instead, Eritrea is a “target” based upon the belief, dating back to the immediate post-World War 2 period but rearticulated more recently in terms of regional “anchor states” designations, that Western geostrategic interests and foreign policy aims can be better protected and served by Ethiopia, Eritrea’s former colonial occupier. Unfortunately, however, this misguided policy approach has largely failed to achieve its objectives (to even a minor degree), and instead only served to destabilize the Horn of Africa through contributing to unnecessary rivalry, conflict, and regional insecurity.

However, Eritrea is targeted due to another reason as well. Specifically, as per internationally renowned professor, author, and public intellectual Noam Chomsky’s notion of “radical nationalism,” the country remains a central target for vilification because its strict adherence to principles of social justice, equitable distribution, and self-reliance flagrantly challenge long held doctrines and orthodoxies espoused by the international development and aid establishment and global finance. Although the fact that Eritrea is small, and thus seemingly inconsequential, appears to refute this argument, it actually represents a highly significant contributing factor. In the same manner that Grenada, Laos, Vietnam, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, amongst others, were targeted across several decades after World War 2, “under [Chomsky’s] rotten apple theory, it follows that the tinier and weaker the country, the less endowed it is with resource, the more dangerous it is. If even a marginal and impoverished country can begin to utilize its own limited human and material resources and can undertake programs of development geared to the needs of the domestic population, then others may ask: why not us?” (Chomsky 1985: 72). Within this framework, then, there is little confusion regarding the apparent contradiction observed by Harper.

Finally, although Harper’s coverage has been useful, for example, through her revelation that the dominant narrative of Eritrea is “much different from its reality,” it is quite telling that she has received criticism in some quarters. Notably, this development mirrors the response meted out to others who have dared to present views that fail to align with the general mainstream narrative on Eritrea (for example, Ms. Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, who has suggested that it is “time for a new approach” towards Eritrea by the international community).

These responses underscore how the discussion of Eritrea has long been framed and tightly controlled, with dissenting views and perspectives being sidelined, silenced, ignored, marginalized, or disregarded. However, rather than restriction, a broader range of views and perspectives, such as Harper’s, should be encouraged toward promoting constructive dialogue, increasing accuracy, enhancing reliability, and improving and enriching overall understanding.

Source: Shabait

Eritrea Press Statement: Response of the Government of Eritrea to the Report of the Commission of Enquiry

Press Statement by H.E. Mr. Yemane Gebreab

Presidential Adviser
The State of Eritrea

Geneva
8 June 2016

Preliminary Response of the Government of Eritrea to the Report of the Commission of Enquiry

A three-person panel, called the “Commission of Inquiry” (COI), is campaigning to take yet another African country, this time Eritrea, to the International Criminal Court.

The COI claims that it “has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991.” Yet it has no solid evidence or firm legal basis to support its extreme and unfounded charges.

The report of the COI fails to meet the principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity as laid out in the guidelines of the United Nations. It also lacks the minimum standards of rigor and professionalism.

The methodology the COI followed in its work is so deeply flawed as to seriously compromise its findings and render its conclusions null and void.

First, the COI has been entirely one-sided. It was only interested in one side of the story and only talked to people who agreed with its predetermined conclusions. It bases its sweeping and extreme allegations on the testimony of 500 refugees and asylum-seekers with unknown identity, while disregarding the testimonies of 42,000 Diaspora Eritreans living in over 20 countries who contested its well-known biases. It also ignored the request of 856 Eritreans who asked to appear in person in Geneva to present their testimonies after promising that it would give them a hearing.

Secondly, the COI’s standards of evaluating the solidity of the information it received and the “evidence” it was provided with has been woefully inadequate. This has led it to make patently false and easily disprovable serious charges against Eritrea. To cite just one example, the COI has charged that Eritreans live in fear and are unable to voice their opinions, while journalists who visited the country have reported that they are able to speak freely and on camera with people in Eritrea. Consequently, almost all the evidence that the COI claims underpin its accusations against Eritrea do not stand the minimum standards of proof.

Thirdly, the COI lacks all balance as it stubbornly refuses to acknowledge and meaningfully incorporate in its report Eritrea’s achievements in the protection and consolidation of human rights as well as any positive developments in the country. To begin with, the COI completely ignores the assessment of the status of social, economic, cultural rights in Eritrea. This is in contravention of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which accords equal importance to all rights. It also makes the Commission’s report one-sided, biased and incomplete. It is not difficult to gather that the COI decided to ignore a whole category of human rights precisely because Eritrea’s record is impressive and reporting on them would not tally with the picture the COI wants to paint.

The COI has likewise ignored Eritrea’s significant achievements in political and civic rights. These include:-

• The renewed commitment to and strong measures taken to consolidate the rights of citizens in general, and of women, children and the disabled in particular;

• The efforts to strengthen the judicial system by the promulgation of new, improved laws and efforts to build institutional capacity from the community courts and up;

• Ongoing efforts to address the needs and meet the aspirations of young people, to empower them and to provide adequate opportunities for them;

• The setting up of a commission to undertake the process of drafting and ratifying the country’s constitution;

• The serious engagement with the UPR process and its acceptance of 92 recommendations, which it is already implementing;

• The cooperation with the UN and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to consolidate human rights in Eritrea;

Fourthly, the COI ignores fundamental realities which have a profound bearing on the state of the country, including what is effectively a continuing state of war with Ethiopia, the illegal occupation of Eritrean territory which constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights, repeated armed aggression, sanctions and mistaken policies that consider almost all Eritreans asylum-seekers.

Fifth, the COI has repeatedly and routinely overstepped and abused its mandate. It has lobbied countries not to engage with Eritrea even on matters that promote human rights. Its claim that the “human rights situation in Eritrea constitutes a threat to international peace and security” is also way beyond its mandate and competence. It also reveals it’s the extremely politicized nature of its conduct, which has lacked the rudiments of independence, impartiality and professionalism.

Sixth, and most importantly, COI’s accusation against Eritrea is legally indefensible. Although it repeats its accusation without end, the COI fails to prove that the “crimes” it alleges were committed, were indeed “persistent, widespread and systematic manner.” Its failure to prove the systemic nature of alleged crimes means the preposterous charge of “crimes against humanity” is untenable and no more than a political accusation, which it actually is.
Let’s now proceed to consider the specific accusations of the COI.

Crimes since 1991

The COI’s incredible, and really laughable, claim that “crimes against humanity” were committed in Eritrea since 1991 reveals its unabashed political stance and is symptomatic of the entire report. Eritrea’s hard-won and universally acclaimed independence in 1991 came after three decades of popular struggle for freedom and human rights. Two years later, in a referendum observed by the United Nations and many countries and organisations, and which they described as a national festival, 99.8% of Eritreans, inside and outside the country voted freely for independence. The following years saw impressive progress in all areas-political, economic, social and cultural, including the drafting and ratification of a national constitution in a widely consultative popular process.

The COI denies this well-known and undisputed history and makes the outlandish claim that Eritrean “officials have engaged in a persistent, widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Eritrea since May 1991.” It goes on to say that these officials “have relied extensively on the commission of crimes to establish and consolidate total control over the Eritrean population.”

This accusation, which forms the crucial rational, for the charge of “crimes against humanity” flies in the face of the reality already described. There was no need to resort to force to establish control, as the population was fully supportive-indeed the backbone- of the liberation movement and there is no shred of evidence for a persistent, widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population,”- the same movement that paid so much sacrifice to defend and protect the population. Twenty-five years on this same population vividly demonstrated strong support for the independence of the country and the government during the Silver Jubilee Independence celebrations.

Enslavement

The COI goes on to claim that crime of “enslavement has been committed on an ongoing, widespread, and systematic basis since 2002.” What the COI calls enslavement is national service and even though it does not explain the cut-off date of 2002, we can only assume that date refers to the decision on the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia by an international tribunal, which was set up following the 1998-2000 war between the two countries.

The COI would have been justified in its view if both belligerents had accepted the boundary decision, normalized their relation and brought the state of war between them to an end. But Ethiopia has yet to accept the ruling, it continues to illegally occupy sovereign Eritrean territory, has launched repeated military attacks and as late as August 2015, its Prime Minister, speaking to Parliament announced plans to launch a full-scale war against Eritrea. In effect, the state of war between the two countries remains, whatever the blinkered “view of the COI” is. COI’s accusation is contrary to facts and is without firm legal basis.

As to national service, the COI realizes it is on shaky grounds and tries to hedge its arguments. It lamely admits that compulsory national service is not necessarily a “human rights violation,” but it then says that in Eritrea it is a crime against humanity because of the “apparent underlying purposes of the programs and the manner in which they are implemented.” Specifically, the COI says the indefinite nature and the use of forced labor make national service an ongoing crime committed by Eritrea since 2002.

Here too, the COI has no legal basis for its charges and it ignores all contrary evidence and positive measures undertaken by the Eritrean government. The purposes of national service in Eritrea are clearly stated in a legal proclamation of 1994 and are three-fold: national defense, economic and social development and national integration. The service is not indefinite although for a time and in certain cases it has been prolonged due the already explained existential threat of war. Massive demobilization took place from 2001 to 2005 in partnership with the World Bank, three years after the cutoff date of 2002, after which according to the COI national service is enslavement. Even after 2005, thousands of national service members, including virtually all women members, have been demobilized.

THE COI’s charge of forced labor is also without foundation. National service as practiced in many countries does not preclude community service in civilian jobs. In Eritrea over 90% of national service members serve in civilian projects, mainly as teachers and health personnel. Since July 2015, when Eritrea introduced salary raises made possible by a much improved economic situation, they are also receiving attractive salary packages. To misconstrue this as forced labor and enslavement and to press charges of crimes against humanity on this basis is unconscionable and bereft of legality.

The COI claims that national service is the main cause of large migration of Eritreans. Although this is a widely propagated view, it is nonetheless widely off the mark. In fact, the majority of Eritrean migrants are not national service members. Most are demobilized young people as well as those to whom the service does not apply. Another salient fact is that the number of migrants is now declining as a result of the improving economic situation as well as a raft of measures taken by the government to provide more opportunities to the youth.

Apart from “enslavement” which is supposed to have started in 2002, the COI claims the rest of the alleged crimes have been ongoing since May 1991. Let’s consider them one by one.

Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty and Enforced disappearances

The COI charges that “Eritrean officials have committed the crime of imprisonment, a crime against humanity, in a persistent, widespread and systematic manner.” A similar charge is leveled on enforced disappearances. To state that there could have been abuses and to claim that this is persistent, widespread and systematic are two different things. While there is no evidence for the latter accusation, it is true that in Eritrea, as many other countries, there may be instances in which some people are wrongfully detained and imprisoned. A number of individuals who abused their position in this regard have been brought to justice and punished and Eritrea continues to make determined effort to prevent their recurrence.

Instead of this balanced assessment, the COI imprudently claims that Eritrea invokes treason and espionage when referring to detainees and states treasonous behavior include attempting to escape military service and trying to leave the country. Here the COI is merely exposing itself as it is now widely known that the Government of Eritrea in fact encourages those who have left the country illegally by providing them with services and assisting them to return or to visit the country. Tens of thousands of them actually participated in Eritrea’s 25th anniversary and more are joining them in these festive times.

The COI also makes the extra-ordinary claim that “even those detainees convicted pursuant to judicial proceedings have been deprived of their liberty in violation of fundamental laws of international law.” It also summarily dismisses the exemplary community courts, elected courts where at least one of three judges has to be a woman, and which adjudicate over 80% of the judicial cases. This is the COI’s way of totally delegitimizing the judicial system in Eritrea.

In fact, Eritrea is working steadfastly to strengthen its judicial system. It has introduced new civil and criminal laws and is undertaking programs to upgrade the competence and professionalism of its judges and lawyers. Indeed, strengthening the judiciary and improving conditions of detention are two areas of active cooperation between Eritrea and the UN system, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Torture

The COI claims that “the use of torture was, and remains, an integral part of the government’s repression of the civilian population.” Once again, it has no evidence to substantiate that this is persistent, widespread and systematic. In fact, torture is a crime by Eritrean law. The country has also signed the “International Convention Against Torture” in order to buttress its own laws. As part of its efforts to strengthen the administration of justice, Eritrea is currently working on awareness programs and upgrading the capacity and professionalism of its security people.

Other inhuman acts

Here the COI refers to “guilt by association” and third-party reprisals. This is really baseless as it contradicts not only Eritrea Civil and Penal Codes which explicitly prohibit collective punishment, but more tellingly Eritrean political and civic culture. Eritrea must be one of a few countries where families of imprisoned officials continue to live in government issued houses and where spouses of these officials continue to serve in sensitive government positions. The COI attempts to mix “guilt by association” with complicity in crime, which is a crime and punishable by law. In Eritrea, legal measures are indeed taken, if there is incontrovertible evidence of complicity.

Persecution

On the issue of persecution, the COI goes into mischief-making as it tries to concoct inexistent ethnic and religious persecution. Eritrea is widely acknowledged to be a model of ethnic and religious harmony. In a region racked by ethnic and religious strife as well as fundamentalism and terrorism, it has been able to maintain peace, stability, a remarkable level of inter-communal tolerance and unity and diversity. It is really stupefying that the COI has the impudence to claim that Eritrean officials “have committed the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, in a widespread and systematic manner since May 1991.” This is really beyond the pale.

Rape

The same can be said about the COI’s claim that “rapes have been committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against the Eritrean civilian population.” It is an attack not so much against the government as an offensive disrespect to a cultured and civilized population. In Eritrea rape is very rare, repugnant to society and severely punished by law on those rare occasions when it happens. It is also widely known that Eritrea is a country where women walk the streets at any time of the day or night without fear of physical or sexual attacks. The rights and status that women enjoy in Eritrea is a product of the commitment of the government but more importantly the outcome of their unequaled role in the struggle for freedom and nation-building.

The COI alludes to HIV cases because of widespread rape. The fact is HIV cases in Eritrea have decreased from 6% in 1991 to 0.91 in 2015. The facts simply do not add up. Another accusation at variance with facts on the ground.

Murder

On murder, the COI makes the standard claim that “Eritrean officials have committed murder, a crime against humanity, in a systematic manner since May 1991” again without any proof for its allegation. It also tries half-heartedly to resurrect the discredited accusation of a shoot-to kill policy, with the caveat the “policy has been implemented less rigorously in recent years.” In fact, there never has been a shoot-to kill policy and the COI has not been able to produce a single shred of evidence.

Accountability

The COI claims that “particular individuals, including at the highest levels of the State and the PFDJ, and commanding officers, bear responsibility for crimes against humanity.” It then dismisses offhand the right of the exercise of national jurisdiction and claims that “there is no genuine prospect of the domestic judicial system holding perpetrators to account.” The objective is obvious and sure enough the COI recommends that the UN Security Council refer Eritrea to the ICC.

The COI admits that it is not a judicial body. In other words, its accusations do not meet fundamental standards of accuracy, objectivity, neutrality and legality. For a three-person panel to overstep its mandate and to arrogate to itself draconian powers to sit in judgement over the human rights situation over a quarter of a century, to make the purely political determination that these situation “constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” and then to ask the Security Council to refer the matter to the ICC is simply untenable and unheard of.

Conclusion

Eritrea rejects the politically motivated and groundless accusations and the destructive recommendations of the COI. It believes they are an unwarranted attack not only against Eritrea, but also Africa and developing nations. It calls on members of the Human Rights Council and all UN member states to uphold justice and fairness and to end a long train of injustices against the Eritrean people.

For its part, Eritrea, a nation born in the struggle for human rights, and for whom human rights, the whole gamut of them -political, civic, economic, social and cultural- remain the number one priority, will continue to work for the fundamental freedoms and dignity of its people. Eritrea and its people are confident of the justness of their cause and their determination and capacity to succeed.

Source: Shabait

BBC Reporter Mary Harper interviewed by Billion Temesghen: “No restrictions in terms of who, when and where to speak to”

By Billion Temesghen

The long standing not so pleasant narratives of Eritrea in mainstream media are often revived by visiting journalists, however, around this time, there seems to be signs of more nuanced reporting and among the few is our guest today, who’s being reporting and documenting from Eritrea for the past two weeks.
We give you Mary Harper from London, Africa Editor for BBC World News.

I am quite certain that at times you came across not so pretty answers.

Yes. There was a mixture, and I believe I had honest answers from different point of views. To most people, we did introduce ourselves and told them that we are from the BBC, and we politely asked them to talk to us. And these were people that had no idea that we were coming here, clueless of what we were doing and nobody knew our plans as we had nobody accompanying us, it was just me and my cameraman. We didn’t have any official coming with us and as such people, almost in every place we went, they agreed to speak to us and mostly gave a positive image of Eritrea while at the same time indicating some of the challenges the country faces, particularly with regards to economic aspects.
So it has been a range of views but I noticed that people are very positive and highly proud of Eritrea.

Opt for interviewees?

No, absolutely not. I suppose in the way I do my journalism, I avoid starting with prewritten stories so I prefer to speak as many people as possible from all age groups; men, women and children even if they want to talk to me. And many children in fact wanted to talk to me during the celebrations.
I interviewed a great range of people; I spoke to the youth and people from the diaspora that came back for the holidays of Independence celebrations, and a number of diaspora that came back to Eritrea for good to stay, live and work here. I spoke almost with everyone, from ordinary people, to ministers and seniors in government posts.

Many foreign journalists that pay a visit to Eritrea insist that they have a ‘government minder’ overseeing them. Did you have similar thoughts or experiences?

If that is the only way a journalist can work, and I had the same experience one time in Sudan, you have to say it straight out… if there is someone from the government minding you in many ways I prefer not to work under such circumstances.
On the other hand here, I have been very encouraged and relieved not to have anybody with me in this trip or the trip before. I have been able to organize my day how I wanted to. Normally when you go to a country to report, you’d have a local journalist called a ‘Fixer’ helping you around, whereas here it has been just me and the camera man. I had to be the Fixer and arrange everything by my own… luckily I was here before. So generally I have been very free.
Most of the time, my cameraman and I were on our own, we would go around and collect information randomly without a prearranged tour guide. It was dificult but full of surprises, and I think that is what we call honest journalism.

So you did go outside of Asmara?

I actually went to different places such as Keren, Bisha and small villages and towns.
I noticed that housing is encouraged in the country as I saw new building blocks in Massawa for example and even in rural areas. Furthermore, I saw the huge investment in farming and agriculture and many attempts to encourage farmers. I admire that rural communities are not abandoned; I saw many schools, and even in the smallest community there must be at least one school.
All in all, I get the feeling that in Eritrea despite many dificulties there is a sense of eliminating partiality when it comes to growth. As a matter of fact the gap between the rich and the poor here is so little, so unnoticeable. While let alone in Africa but even in Europe that is a problem that I don’t see much of here. For example in Angola, there is plenty of resources but the wealth is in the hands of few billionaires, and it’s upsetting.
Your country’s ideal is admirable.

What is the general idea that you have now of this specific trip?

That is a dificult question to answer. But of course Eritrea like every other country is very complex. This is only my second visit, so I am a new comer here even though I am an experienced journalist in terms of reporting on Africa.
However, Eritrea is a totally unique experience for me; it is distinctive for the reason that it is the only country of which, what is told of on social networks, is much different from its reality.
As a matter of fact, before my first visit in March, I read reports in addition to everything I could find about Eritrea. Most of which were reports by human right groups, COI along with other UN reports coupled with some media reports, and they were all overwhelmingly talking harsh of Eritrea.
According to those reports Eritrea is a place empty of its youth, were its people are tortured and are all in prison. All the more so, there was a report on people being forbidden to think let alone to speak. So when I came here I realized that of course Eritrea has its own problems but it has many more stories that could be told outside all of the negativity.
Moreover, I have not been restricted in terms of who, when and where to speak to; I have been both in rural and urban areas, and I would say that even though Eritrea is being accused of many bad things, in a way, I would say that Eritrea has its own way of doing things in determination and resilience.
And I do find it strange that some in the international community have chosen Eritrea, sort of picked it out, as an easy target. Lots and lots of other African countries in which human rights abuses are far worst, they really are not focused on in the same way. And I am confused, very confused about it. I can’t understand why Eritrea and its one very repetitive story of abuses.

Is there a story that you would tell right away of Eritrea based on your experience?

I suppose that a story would be of how before I came here most of the reports that I saw or read, talked about people not wanting to speak to journalists, but I was surprised as almost every single one was willing to talk to us. I was even more surprised because we were filming too, and filming is aggressive and intimidating, but people agreed either ways and were happy to talk, and that was definitely unexpected.
Another story is that, if you compare Asmara to the other capitals of Africa, the ones I know anyway, Asmara is incredibly clean and very safe day or night. My cameraman was astonished when we saw children and women out for their walks in the evenings at 11 or 12 walking home without no fear and that is very unusual!
What astonished me is Asmara’s incredible architecture. Other African capitals has skyscrapers going up everywhere and of course places have to move on but there must be a sustainable way. Hence, I find Asmara astonishing and unique, I hope it keeps this unique trait protected, and be a touristic revenue in the future.
And one final story that I would tell right away, is one of the policy. From what I understand Eritrea has the policy of an evenly balanced development; I have seen how many things are being outside of the main cities. Therefore, instead of having the few cities extremely advanced while totally forgetting of the rural area, in Eritrea; growth is well distributed, which is rare in other African countries.

Eritrea just came about from celebrating its Independence Silver Jubilee, can you tell me how did you find the celebrations?

It was magical; I loved how the streets were filled with people of all ages in the evenings, I loved how the roads were closed and different shows going on the way, I loved how the streets were decorated and I enjoyed the carnival.
The atmosphere … It was a mixture, of Eritreans being happy and reminiscing of the fact that Eritrea has been independent for less time than the length of time they had to be in war for its independence. I realised that nobody is forgetting any of it.
The exhibition depicting Eritrean history at the Expo Hall and it was incredibly powerful. I loved the history and remembrance, you all have got it so serious and heavyhearted because several thousands died for your independence.
So combining such opposite feelings; commemoration with joy, at the same time is truly overwhelming and powerful. I sensed sensitive balance in the Eritrean society.

Tips for young Eritrean journalists in order to correct the negative phantasmagorias imagery of Eritrea surfing on social networks..

I started off 20 years ago as a journalist in BBC and BBC has been extremely helpful to me in having a certain value to what I do.
I know BBC heavily criticized Eritrea but it is your job to promote the fair and real image of you. So be accurate and never forget to do attributes, you always have to say x said x about x. This helps to make sure to protect yourself, because you can’t avoid confrontations. Secondly, be balanced and give us as many views as possible and defend yourself and your thoughts, be humane.
Not overly emotional or irrational, but thoughtful and fair towards other even though we have to keep our distance. And finally be interesting! If you base your journalism on such principles you should be able to do your work without fear or favor.
And I think that this is the best way for the story of Eritrea to be told on its most original form… for young journalist to tell their country’s stories. Sort of in a crafted way, I don’t mean to be misunderstood when I say crafted we’re not talking of inventing, rather making your stories interesting and winning the attention and responsiveness of the global community.
Eritrea has a serious image problem, but if you work in the best of your abilities, beyond your humble and modest tradition of not bragging on your own, you will definitely be able to portray factual and progressive images of you.

Source: Eritrea Profile

Eritrea: Horn of Africa, Red Sea and the Mandeb Strait

Written by Sophia Tesfamariam

In the turbulent Horn of Africa, rife with internal conflicts, Eritrea remains a peaceful and stable state. The strategic Red Sea lies between two continents, Africa and Asia, separates the Middle East and the Far East, as well as Europe and Asia, and is said to be “the heart of the area and the link between two worlds”. The Red Sea also provides a line of communication from the Far East to the Mediterranean and to the North Atlantic. As much as 3.3 million barrels of oil per day is estimated to pass in tankers through Mandeb Strait or Bab el Mandeb, a narrow passage between Djibouti and Eritrea on the Horn of Africa and Yemen in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula. Eritrea’s peace, stability and security greatly influence the peace, stability and security of the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the Mandeb Strait.

Umberto Tavolato in his latest article, “EUROPE’S EXPANDING NEIGHBOURHOOD: THE CASE OF THE HORN OF AFRICA, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA AND THE THE RED SEA” wrote the following:

“….the security of the Red Sea – one of the most important commercial maritime routes to and from Europe whose value for the global economy is estimated to be 700 billion per year – should no longer be taken for granted…The stabilization of the Red Sea area needs to be seen as more than a security challenge, but also – if not mostly – the framework of securing prosperity for the region. This is not only one of the most important international shipping lane of the world (at any given moment approximately 160 vessels are present there, of which roughly 40% are European). From an economic point of view, the Horn of Africa is historically rooted in the Indian Ocean economy. Today this means a triangular trade that brings together Middle Eastern energy and finance with the Horn’s raw materials and untapped food and livestock potential and Indian and Chinese goods, services, investments and markets. The recent commitment by King Salman of Saudi Arabia and President Sisi of Egypt to build a “Red Sea bridge” connecting the Africa with the Middle East, is illustrative of the future commercial opportunities. The EU needs to find a way to be relevant in this new economic landscape…”

Eritrea is strategically located in the Horn of Africa, on the Red Sea and the Mandeb Strait-making it a geopolitically strategic and important state in the region.  Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan & Yemen are the countries that border the Red Sea,an important & strategic maritime route.The Bab el-Mandeb passage from the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea is an important and strategic channel, critically important to the world’s trade. As with the Strait of Hormuz leading out of the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean; Malacca and Singapore Straits linking the Indian Ocean (and oil and gas supplies from the Middle East) with the Pacific Ocean (and major consuming markets in Asia) via the Andaman Sea and the South China Sea; Panama Canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; Suez Canal linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea; Bosporus and Turkish Straits, connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, it is also one of the “chokepoints”.

Despite Eritrea’s strategic importance, there have been attempts to isolate Eritrea and prevent it from playing its vital role in the region. There are still attempts to muzzle Eritrea’s voice while amplifying that of Ethiopia, a state that is occupying sovereign Eritrean territories is in violation of international law, the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions, and the United Nation’s and African Union Charters.

The US and some of its allies have in the past prevented Eritrea from participating in international conferences, meetings, military and counter-terrorism campaigns etc.  US officials used demarches to call on Europeans and others to “dis-invite” Eritrea and also took every opportunity in their visits to the region to malign Eritrea and discourage engagement with Eritrea. Eritrea offered its views on Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Syria and others, but the US led international community chose to ignore Eritrea’s positions and in the case of Somalia, even sanctioned Eritrea for not joining the fray.

Suffice it to mention a few examples of how Washington worked to isolate Eritrea economically, militarily and politically:

  • A 20 August 2009 cable, “Demarche: Egypt Invitation to Eritrea for Bright Star”, authored by AF Phillip Carter is clear of its intentions. The Department was requesting assistance from the US Embassy in Cairo to convince the Government of Egypt NOT to invite the Government of the State of Eritrea (GSE) as an observer to the BRIGHT STAR military exercise. The State Department cable said:
    “…Embassy Cairo is requested to communicate with Egypt’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the highest appropriate level to urge Egypt to remove Eritrea from the list of invited observers to the BRIGHT STAR military exercise. Due to the time sensitive nature of DOD preparations for the exercise, immediate action is appreciated…The U.S. has strong objections to inviting Eritrea to participate in the BRIGHT STAR exercise as an observer…”

 

  •  US position on Eritrea is clearly spelled out in the 2 December 2009 cable, “Response: Pres. Kikwete Tells Rep. Payne That Tanzania & Turkey Will Co-host Somali Talks”. The US State Department had received information that the Government of Tanzania (GOT) had expressed interest in partnering with Turkey to bring the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Somali opposition factions together for talks. Once again, the US does not want Eritrea to participate:
    “…We are specifically concerned about the suggestion that Eritrea would be invited to the table. There have been similar proposals from Qatar and Egypt…”

 

  • On 30 June 2008, the last day of the Slovenian EU Presidency, James Swan led the U.S. in its biannual troika discussion with the EU on African issues. In this cable he clearly states what US intentions vis a vis Eritrea are: 
    “…Roger Moore, European Commission Director for East and Southern Africa, said Commissioner Louis Michel came away from recent meetings with PMs Meles and Isaias believing that neither is really looking for a solution to their lingering border dispute….Swan questioned a recent 120 million euro allocation by the European Commission for Eritrea and said the U.S. believes the regime should be further isolated. Moore said the money has been allocated, but not yet programmed or transferred…”

 

  • In the cable, “France Backs European Engagement with Eritrea” from the US Embassy in Paris shows that the US was against Brussels issuing an invitation to President Isaias Afwerki: 
    “…France supports EU and EC efforts to engage Eritrea, including the invitation by the European Commission for President Isaias Afwerki to visit Brussels… Le Gal remarked that the invitation to Brussels was well within European Commission norms, which only barred a visit by Zimbabwean President Mugabe. (C) Eritrea was emerging as a regional force, with influential and valuable networks, in the French and EC view, Le Gal stated, adding that Asmara’s clout was growing in response to Ethiopian activities. Regarding Darfur, Eritrean knowledge of and involvement with rebel groups was incontestable, she remarked…”

The US has repeatedly prevented Eritrea from attending meetings at regional and international forums for the last 16 years. Time and again Eritrea’s invaluable insights and opportunity to learn from an astute and mature leadership with deep knowledge of the region and its dynamics were squandered.

Somethings stay the same…

The latest shenanigans by the United States at the UN Security Council are an example of a repeat of failed policies of the past.  Informed sources in New York claim there were preliminary discussions to include Eritrea in the itinerary of the visit of Security Council members to Egypt and Somalia.  But once again, the Obama Administration balked at the idea of including Eritrea and the Security Council finally decided to visit Egypt, Somalia and Kenya.

Members of the Security Council have missed an opportunity to properly understand and analyze Eritrea’s significant and constructive role in the maintenance of peace and security in the Horn of Africa, as well as the Red Sea Region. While the US can pursue whatever bilateral relations it wants and needs, as a member of the UN Security Council, sometimes it forgets that it shoulders very important moral and legal obligations under the UN Charter. It is also a dereliction of the Council’s duties and prevents it from fulfilling its Charter obligations. The Security Council must listen to all voices, including that of Eritrea’s in making decisions that will affect the lives of millions in the region.  Incoherent and misguided policies have threatened the peace, stability and security of the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region. Europe is rectifying its role and policies for the region, time for the United States to pursue the same.

Ethiopia’s stature in the region will not be elevated by exaggerated facts and empty bravado, and will not move nearer to the head of the class by quarantining Eritrea…

Source: Shabait.com