Eritrea - Panic over UNSC-Sanctions & AU-Support
On December 23, 2009, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed arms embargo on tyrant Afewarki and his military junta for illegally supplying arms to Al-Shabab group, who are battling the internationally recognized transitional government of Somalia. In his usual finger pointing at others, Afewarki repeatedly kept on downplaying the sanctions as meaningless and even refuted as futile and as a CIA-conspiracy until last week.
Suddenly, nearly a month later, in the 1st week of February 2010, Afewarki’s calls for help from his Eritrean highland Tigrinya supporters in Diaspora emerged after an AU-summit voiced its unanimous support to the December 23, 2009 UNSC-imposed sanctions. The AU-summit further condemned Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta for their continuous unfolding of destabilizing roles in the East African region; and for persisting with destabilizing regional peace and security. Particularly, the AU-summit pointed out Afewarki’s continued provision of arms to Al Shabab group in Somalia; including weapons of all types and sizes, ammunition, money and other military equipment. Having based its final condemnation on the appeals made to the summit by Djibouti and Somalia governments the AU-Summit indicated that, despite the imposed sanctions, Afewarki still continues to send insurgents via Djibouti and Kismayu; and urged the international community to further establish stronger networking for enforcing the UNSC-sanctions including those of the travel ban and an asset freeze to Eritrean military and Afewarki’s officials; and block defiant Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta from their sinister destabilizing efforts.
Consequently, out of sheer panic, Afewarki came out from his hermit cocoon with the following appeal to the Eritrean Diaspora and even sent along a sample letter of petition to be signed and submitted to various agencies:
“Dear fellow Eritreans & Friends, Add your voice to the February 22, 2010 March in Geneva (Switzerland), San Francisco & Washington, DC (USA) as well as Melbourne (Australia). Tell members of the UN Security Council, the U.S. Government and the International Community you want an immediate annulment and Repeal of the Unjust, reckless and baseless sanctions imposed on Eritrea on December 23, 2009! If you want your name to be added to the list of supporters please fill the form attached below.
Dear Ambassador Rice:
My name is _______ from _____________. I am calling/writing/faxing to denounce the unjust sanctions resolution you pushed through the U.N. Security Council against Eritrea. At the same time I am also writing to urge you to reverse this unjust measure against the Eritrean people based on fabricated information. I am in support of the President’s policy of constructive engagement, reconciliation, and partnership with the rest of the world. Sadly, your UN team has orchestrated these sanctions on charges you know well to be groundless. Why did you push for sanctions instead of engagement? Why threats instead of reconciliation and why punishments instead of partnerships? Your team should work to help the President implement his clearly stated foreign policy program. Please try to exercise fairness and carefully evaluate all the facts and evidence to find a lasting peace in the Horn of Africa and you should avoid falling into the trap of those who pretend to wish well for Somalia but instead are trying to destroy it. They are trying to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy both Eritrea and Somalia. Act wisely; the lives of innocent people are at stake. You and I know that this will not bring peace to the war ravaged Horn of Africa; in fact this is a reckless act designed to reignite existing simmering conflicts and to create new ones. Thank you … Sincerely …” (Source: http://dehai.org/images/UN-letter)
Tyrant Afewarki’s recent panic and his previous weeks’ bluffing reactions in defiance to repeated requests by the international communities are all astonishing. Looking this episode from a closer context, let us resort to serious discussions. Throughout January 2010, immediately after the sanction became known world wide, Afewarki, his PFDJ-junta and Eritrean highlander sympathizers alike were boasting of their contempt; claiming that the UNSC-embargo has no impact on Eritrea and they care less about it. They even were belittling the Western democracy as hypocritical and an unacceptable theme. These same people along with tyrant Afewarki have suddenly turned 180-degrees around and are pretentiously acting in the Western mode of democratic conferring as if to say they accept the Western style of democracy; and even dare to hold world-wide demonstration show-offs demanding to withdraw the UNSC-sanctions. Cynical enough, at this very time, Afewarki is keeping the salient and silent Eritrean rural majority population busy fortifying his play grounds for war by shoving themselves deep inside bankers and trenches for thousands of miles. The poor rural population are also closely watched by the Gestapo like PFDJ-spies so that they don’t run away or brew plots against Afewarki’s junta. So the silent majority are prisoners kept isolated from urban areas and from exchanging and expressing political views.
Although, Afewarki & his PFDJ-junta are doing everything possible to extend their stay in power by misleading the Eritrean public; at least it is good to see them ultimately forced to bow down and admit for once to the power of the silent and salient rural majority; and begging for Diaspora help to be rescued from the serious UNSC-sanctions. But let me ask the following to those Eritrean Tigrinya highlanders who blindly sympathize with Afewarki & his PFDJ-junta while living in a free and fair world in Diaspora. Why are you willing to give a blank-check approving whatever Afewarki & his PFDJ-junta would like to do against the silent majority of the Eritrean population? Had Afewarki & PFDJ-junta asked the internally imprisoned salient and silent Eritrean majority whenever Afewarki jump-starts his provocative terrorist wars left and right with our neighbors thus far? Has the rural poor in Eritrea in general and those of us living at the border and coastal areas within Eritrea been given any occasion to have a say on what affects our daily lives in terms of crafting policy reform or poverty reduction mechanisms? Have Afewarki and PFDJ-junta ever thought of involving the salient and silent Eritrean majority in discussions on burning community issues like why the whole Eritrean population is exhausted of tyranny and on continuous exodus in all directions and to all corners of the world? Have Afewarki & his PFDJ-junta ever contemplated to allow the silent majority to express their views by writing petition or by conducting pubic demonstration within Eritrea at all? Didn’t Afewarki & PFDJ-junta claim themselves as an ideological group opposed to Western style of democracy? So how come all of a sudden they want now to adopt Western democratic cultures in them and ask Diaspora supporters to quickly organize demonstrations and even write petitions in preparation for the February 22nd 2010 demonstration? And yet, why do Afewarki & his PFDJ-junta continue with their defiance by generating one terrorist incidence after the other within the region?
It has been long since the salient and silent Eritrean majority of the Afar, Beja, Bilen, Kunama, Saho, and other peasants and pastoralist groups within Eritrea have been frustrated, sad and sour on tyrant Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta; and his blind Eritrean Tigrinya highland supporters who continue sending hard currency for his terrorist actions. Thanks to the UNSC-powerful embargo exerted on Afewarki and his tyrannical junta and thanks for the reinforced decisions by the AU and USA, the Afar, Beja, Bilen, Kunama, Saho, and other peasants and pastoralist groups within Eritrea are actually delighted and warm-heartedly in support of this international sanction that will bring Tyrant Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta to its demise. Likewise we are glad to observe Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta knocking doors at this 11th our of their doom begging for help and crying out loud to get rid of the UNSC-sanctions; the same sanctions Afewarki was bluffing a month ago as toothless and ineffective let alone to threaten his “strong” Eritrean regime.
But let Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta know the necked fact that diplomacy is not a smear campaign. Diplomacy is not something that a tyrant appoints his representatives from among his own kin and closer connections through nepotism. On the contrary, career diplomacy needs networking with global nations and effectively achieves the necessary diplomatic efforts. In the case of Eritrea what we witness with Afewarki is his nepotistic style of hand-picking Eritrean highland Tigrinya kin and appointing the same members of a given family as ambassadors around the globe. Suffices to mention two highlander kin names here: Ambassador Tesfamicheal Gerahtu (of UK, London) and Ambassador Tesfalem Gerahtu (of Kampala, Uganda).
At the cost of becoming a laughing stock, Afewarki, his PFDJ-junta and his blind Eritrean highland Tigrinya supporters in Diaspora were all bluffing until recently, as if they aren’t scared by the U.S. policy against Eritrea; and even dared to teach Democracy 101 to the Western world especially to the State Department of the USA. But this time, there is no way of deceiving the Eritrean people. Why do Afewarki & his PFDJ-junta oppose the Western world so vehemently in most of your Medias and websites; and yet beg Diaspora sympathisers to go out for public demonstrations and beg for Western World’s support to reveres the UNSC-resolution on Eritrea? One cannot have the cake and eat it too. Likewise, Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta cannot roar and roam around within rural Eritrea like a lion; and suddenly act like a sad loyal dog to the outer world (coiling its tails between its two rear legs) when they knew the UNSC-sanctions are here for serious business.
Needless to say, those who do not respect the rights, origin, belief and culture of others, will never genuinely defend theirs. That being the case, I’m not sure if the hitherto upheld denial and fabricated nationalism that persists in the highland Eritrean mentality will ever hold water and remain sustainable as the signs of splinter movements including RSADO are now underway among non-Tigrinya speaking communities of Eritrea. Indeed, after 30-years of armed struggle and 20-years of de facto Eritrean independence, Tigrinya highlanders are caught-up in a state of denial and in a myth of fiefdom forming that never has been; and that will not materialize. And the whole Shaabia liberation struggle and experiences gained there of point to Afewarki and Shaabia who brew disillusion from the very start of the liberation struggle: (a) Both the urban and the Diaspora highlanders still are caught up with deep denial and utter confusion of what they see and hear.
Particularly, the much boasted talk about victory are nothing but echoing quite unreasonable victory dances and dropping crocodile tears for killings and for causing material losses through banditry skirmishes carried out left and right thus far. These protracted fights have, in fact, depleted the Eritrean rural population growth rate in particular and it’s economic progress by significant percentage and hampered the lowland society from potential recovery and progress. The main reasons being the militaristic operations and banditry life styles that were on the ground since the early 1960s; and still the periodical skirmishes are immensely causing huge human, logistic, economic, and environmental losses. Indeed, to this very day, the war tension and abrupt events causing the usual interruptions from normalizing livelihoods are still on the move firmly armed and alert for any likely ignition of further skirmishes without borders. As such, Tyrant Afewarki’s and his military junta are known for their immense brutality and Mafia-like handling of civil affairs. Without any ado, Afewarki and PFDJ-junta are pulling Eritrea down the drain while day dreaming and living in fantasies of their own making; and prefer to remain at standby where projection of “colonial legacy” has given them the excuse to impose a totalitarian political pathway that leads solely to their terrorist Sawa military garrisons; to which the salient and silent majority of the Eritrean poor are saying: Enough is enough!
Eritrea’s Survival at Cross-Road:
Critical questions that come to mind include the following: (1) Can Eritrea survive as a nation amidst its speedy move towards its total stagnation? (2) How can Afewarki or his substitute regime stop the ongoing PFDJ-regime’s endless forced labor, which has driven and continues to drive thousands of Eritrean youth out of the country? [*See Gaim Kibreab, Forced Labor in Eritrea, Journal of Modern African Studies, 47, 1(2009)]. (3) How can Afewarki or his substitute reform Eritrea’s deeply troubled economy in shambles and on the verge of collapse? There is no shame in siding with the truth. But those who have been burned by Issayas Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta, and yet identify with Afewarki’s tyrannical policy are always in a dilemma, not knowing the way out of the trouble. But the naked question facing Eritrean peoples of all walks of life is: For how surely can the PFDJ sustain Eritrea solely depending on Sawa training camp and its companion project, the so called Warsai-Yikaalo Campaign, and consider them as the sole guarantors of Eritrea’s security as Afewarki’s fiefdom? I have my serious doubts as things are on shaky grounds and soon falling apart haphazardly.
In summing up let me still ask the following: Is “independence” worth all the sacrifices that the Eritrean rural poor have been dearly paying in limbs and lives thus far? Is “independence” as an all-consuming-50-year-long odyssey and as the only bloody path thus far worth enduring? I can only suggest three fear-factors as likely scenarios. Firs of all, the rural Eritrean population has been living and continues to live behind trenches all along the non-demarcated long-border-lines; this being the case; it is still too early for the rural poor to claim having benefited from Eritrean “independence”. Secondly, since Eritrea has unequivocal state of collective serfdom; a fiefdom where military garrisons and guerrilla warfare camps dominate the rural scene; and where the nearly 4-million rural Eritrean peoples are held incarcerated in military garrisons. That means Eritrean populations are no where near to fully claim that they are free people in the true sense of the word! The burning heat of oppression from Afewarki and his PFDJ junta circle is felt everywhere. Failure to resolve the Eritrean rural populations’ discontent and disputes could exacerbate governance, health, and humanitarian problems further. Yearning for lasting solution remains in the distant future. After all, the Eritrean revolution was waged haphazardly, by folks with divergent aspirations and banditry culture in mind. And I may not be astonished if some of the pastoralist and peasant communities renounce their citizenship in silence.
Tyrant Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta are commonly fighting for what they cynically term as “territorial integrity” within Eritrea proper; while at the same time preaching self-determination up to secession of nationalities elsewhere within the neighboring nations. But let Afewarki and his PFDJ junta know the fact that: ‘a person living in a house made of glass does not throw stones on others’ glass windows’. Hence it is justifiable that the UNSC-sanction enforce to stop Afewarki from his proxy-war tactics. Ultimately, Diaspora Eritrean youth must know the following: ‘Don’t look where you fall, but where you slipped’. Dwindle the empty pride; face the naked reality; break out differences; and build bridges with the rural masses. These are the likely alternatives that can reduce Eritrea’s militaristic stand, halt the Eritrean youth mass-exodus and help Eritrea move towards its eventual maturity.
A message to Canada's Nevsun Resources Ltd other investors
Afewarki knows well that he and his junta cannot survive without the resources from Afar, Beja, Bilen, Kunama, Saho, and other peasants and pastoralist groups within Eritrea Indeed it is geologically a known fact that key mineral deposits are located along the coastal areas of the Red Sea and in Kunama land areas in Western Eritrea. Among these spots recently mine projects are in exploration within Bisha located in Kunama land areas in Western Eritrea run by Canada's Nevsun Resources Ltd, mainly with strategic focus put on gold production. If all goes silently well, the company expects to start gold production by the end of 2010 or by the beginning of next year. Similarly at Zara, a gold project is being run by Australia's Chalice Gold Mines who are expecting to start producing gold by the end of 2011. Similar projects in search of vast oil and other mineral deposits have been lined up all along the Red Sea coral and coastal areas where rich mineral deposits including Quartz, feldspars, rock fragments, mica, heavy minerals, clay minerals, sulfide minerals, aragonite, Mg-calcite, proto-dolomite, dolomite, quartz, and chalcedony are known to be available. To this effect, tyrant Afewarki is already promising investors claiming he will relax his commercial and business laws. We say to the these companies and to others aspiring to join the exploration mission to withdraw their actions instantly in support of the UNSC-sanctions and in order to help the Afar, Beja, Bilen, Kunama, Saho, and other peasants and pastoralist groups within Eritrea to free themselves from Afewarki’s tyrannical rule.
A message to Tyrant Afewarki and PFDJ-supporters:
If Diaspora supporters continue to act against internationally decided and well-deserved UNSC and AU consensus, and go out to rally on February 22, 2010 as instructed by the tyrant, then you are in fact demonstrating guilty of treason for opting to rescue tyrant Afewarki (a known terrorist at home and exporter of terrorism to Al-Shabab as identified by the UNSC and AU thus far). Likewise, you are in agreement with tyrant Afewarki and his accomplices for keeping the silent and salient rural poor in Eritrea under his terrorist subjugation. By proxy, it means, you too are guilty by association for aiding him and his PFDJ-junta to remain in power and continue their subjugation without borders. As a result, you too must be charged for collaborating with tyrant Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta who give deaf ear to international condemnations and continue with their crime actions indefinitely. We are definitely sure, most Diaspora demonstrators, if at all there will be any, are no other than our Eritrean Tigrinya highlanders, who want to assure their supremacy on power, as ever before, regardless of observable and accounted injustices by the international community thus far. Let the global public know, we, who side with the oppressed silent majority of the Afar, Beja, Bilen, Kunama, Saho, and other peasant and pastoralist groups within Eritrea, strongly support the UNSC-sanctions against tyrant Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta. Consequently, let Eritrean highland Tigrinya remnants in Diaspora know, our absence from the demonstration show-case on February 22nd 2010 as we don’t believe in tyranny at all.