There are a few “highlanders versus lowlanders” stories which, when put in context, highlight why we need our political reform reality check. In terms of instinctive feel for public opinion on Eritrean peoples’ contemporary status, a majority are disappointed by what they see and hear.
Indeed, Afewarki and Shaabia followers are nothing but far too willing prisoners of the false arguments they have intentionally been creating and nurturing since their heydays in their hideout resorts as guerrilla fighters of the 1970s through to 1990. To this effect, I made few basic contentions in my earlier articles where I portrayed the true features of Issayas Afewarki, Shaabia and the contemporary PFDJ-junta.
Similarly I saw Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton interviewed Issayas Afewarki, confronting him with allegations about Eritrea’s ties with Iran, Hamas, Al-Shabab in Somalia and rebel groups in Darfur Sudan as well as the Houthis in Yemen.
In the same tone, she confronted him with allegations on the Eritrean exodus, food shortage and famine, lack of freedom of expression and mass media control, Sawa draft, border tension with Ethiopia, disappearance of the football team in Kenya and others in Scotland.
In reply, Afewarki used insults, tantrums and a defensive attitude instead of responding with diplomacy, patience and calm. Afewarki blatantly denies all genuine and justifiable allegations by calling them a pack of lies fabricated by the US-government, the CIA; and conspiracies cooked up and dispatched by the Western media to take Eritrea for a ride in collaboration with Aljazeera. Nevertheless, all these reality checks are brought to the attention of the on looker to judge Eritrea’s present status and its future soon after Wodi-Afom’s downfall.
To this effect, although those of us supporting RSADO and its causes did send our subsequent articles to several Eritrean websites, only a few half-heartedly indicated our articles’ publication sources to interested readers; and thereby refused to directly publish on their own websites; the reason being for fear of raising tensions along the latent ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic, and other underlying attitude differences that have been there for several decades.
Whether we like it or not, the crystal clear fact we all know well is that: Eritrea is a fragile territory with its unfinished business of state formation. Economically, Eritrea is so poorly-structured and weak; leave alone to stand independently on its own and feed its population satisfactorily.
Socially, Eritrea is a giant prison where the Eritrean silent and salient majority is prisoners of Wodi Afom and his Gestapo like PFDJ-military junta.
Yet Wodi Afom, the well-known fighting phantom, still holds his hegemonic aspirations alive far beyond his own ability to manoeuvre circumstances falling within his ideological flip-flops. Likewise most opposition websites owned by highland Eritrean groups in the Diaspora desperately continue to propagate and portray a pattern of face-lifting reform alternatives as outlets to Afewarki’s ongoing tyrannical rule. This is simply to maintain Eritrean highland Tigrinya supremacist hegemony by enslaving and by proudly and jubilantly ruling the forgotten silent and salient majority Eritrean pastoralists and peasants alike.
Eritrean highlanders versus lowlanders:
As Afewarki’s hegemony is becoming solidly vivid by the day, we in RSADO are equally glad to have witnessed the following three concrete predicaments among Eritrean highlander elites:
1) The “Eritrean identity gridlock” that has been wrapped-up by false aggrandizement tales of Eritrea being a more superior territory than its neighboring nations; be it intelligence wise or from socio-economic stand points; is becoming a clearly false argument.
On the contrary, the more we open our naked eyes, check the Eritrean reality by looking critically inwards at ourselves and question what makes us who we are, there always arise hot and hiked debates in our respective highlanders versus lowlanders political kitchens.
2) Eritrean highland Tigrinya groups somehow believe that they are far more superior (in terms of cultural and political sophistication) to the other 8-ethnic groups within Eritrea; and to the pastoral lowlanders in particular.
3) By creating a filter-system for Eritrean Highland Tigrinya Puritanism within themselves highlanders classify those Tigrinya individuals born outside highland Eritrea as what is pejoratively known as: AMICE / AMICHE – meaning spare-parts exported from highland Eritrea and assembled inside Ethiopia.
As such, Amices are looked down upon as 2nd class people within Eritrean highland Tigrinya groups; and are considered untrustworthy; and doubtfully watched for inclining in their thinking pattern to their Ethiopian background and sympathy for reunion by mental make-up.
Indeed this is the sole reason why Afewarki strongly believes in continuing to indoctrinate and brain-wash the youth group in Eritrea’s SAWA-military garrisons to act and behave in a newly molded “Eritrean” behavioral pattern; while at the same time preaching his disintegration Gospel to other opposition groups coming from outside his jurisdiction. In order to disprove the doubts posed on them, the Amices have become diehard, ardent and new-born Eritrean in their attitude.
The need for a reality check in Eritrea is a timely factor where the truth must be told once and for all. After all, population wise, Eritrean Highland Tigrinya groups are simply not more than 700,000 inside Eritrea. Affected by a persisting exodus, majority Eritrean Tigrinya groups permanently live in the Diaspora because they are caught-up in a ‘hate-love syndrome’ towards Wodi-Afom and his PFDJ- military junta.
And yet, these highlander groups look upon their kin in Tigray, Ethiopia, who are about 6 million, as Agamie or Agamido – a pejorative term used to distinguish those Tigrinya from Tigray as servants. Eritrean highlanders even dare to deny and hide the brunt of the priceless help they acquired from TPLF-forceful-fighters who paid not only in limbs and lives for liberating Eritrea, but also took the lead in bestowing self-governance to Eritrea proper.
As truth is such a painful issue, highland Eritrean Tigrinya people don’t like to be reminded of this reality. Neither Issayas Afewarki, nor his henchmen within Shaabia would like to mention the crucial support generously obtained from the TPLF up until the euphoria of Eritrea’s de facto independence 1993. Nor do they want to acknowledge the millions of pastoral and peasant Eritrean fighters’ deaths.
All they sing, dance and talk about is nothing but their stereotyped highland Eritrean ghedli all the time and keep on performing their circular dance just like an airport ‘luggage-claim-conveyor-belt’. Except for their songs and Merry-go-round-ghedli dances admiring themselves, it is rare that highland Eritrean groups admit that others are also part of the martyrdom bandwagon.
Overall, highland Eritrean people have such a bleed dry superiority complex that Issayas Afewarki himself even thinks Eritrea under his dictatorship is number one in the whole of Africa. At least he showed some decency for not comparing Eritrea with the whole world.
Overall, Issayas Afewarki is consumed by self-aggrandizement and infatuation in which he plays the victim of Western Power and CIA-conspiracy. It seems to me he will continue his finger pointing attitude on external bodies for all the fallacies taking place within Eritrea by labeling them a pack of lies and unfair bias against him and his PFDJ-ruling junta.
In his usual flat denial Afewarki responded to the disappearance of Eritrean football players in Kenya as strange news.
Issayas Afewarki is now known by the world for his hitherto committed fallacies; among others, for his:
(a) absolute defiance to opinions other than his;
(b) cruelty for mercilessly killing his own comrades in arms that have struggled for decades in Eritrea to see light at the other end of the tunnel;
(c) keeping distinguished individuals languishing in jail without any trial for their struggle;
(d) illegally keeping prisoners of war subjected to hard labor in confinements like Adiqualla; and in a condition that is totally inhuman;
(e) holding incommunicado several journalists, religious leaders, human rights activists and the Eritrean escapees accused of treason and other dizzy charges.
There is no freedom of the press, no election; not even a fake one to name one as such. In fact the basic freedom to assemble, to express one-self, to worship, and the like inside Eritrea proper are all denied outright.
Amidst all these intolerable criminal acts, Issayas Afewarki feels that the whole world is against him; and continues to chastise the USA, CIA, the UN, the AU and key nations within the Western world as likely scapegoats. But as far as Eritrean pastoralists and peasants from Afar, Kunama, Saho, Bilen, Beja, and other minorities are concerned, Afewarki is nothing but the worst nightmare for all of us to deal with; since we have already lost our sincere hope in the future of Eritrea.
Consequently, we continue to flee from Eritrea in all possible directions and by all means, by the hundreds, to which Afewarki responded to Aljazeera’s recent interview as caring the least if such an exodus happens. [ Aljazeera ]
Back in November 2008, a press release was made by the Board of Eritreans for Human & Democratic Rights in the UK (EHDR-UK). It was a group made up of Eritrean Tigrinya highlanders; condemning RSADO when our RSADO heroes hit the snake known as Shaabia on its head in Afambo. As a result of such persisting attitudes observed among Eritrean Tigrinya highlanders, we cannot easily and quickly merge and identify with them before we realize as to who is truly a friend or an enemy to RSAD and similar other movements run by pastoral and peasant communities of Eritrea.
If highland opposition groups actually want our sympathy then they should make an attitude shift from arrogance towards respect, set and lead by visible examples and not throwing empty flowery words. They should instantly advocate and speak on behalf of the Afar Kunama, Saho, Bilen, Beja and other marginalized communities within Eritrea; and not work against us; be it by the gun or by the pen.
Time and again, articles posted by highlanders are written as if there are no problems worth mentioning in terms of Eritrea Ethnic-based-federalism. Intentionally, they rarely or never mention Afar, Kunama, Saho, Bilen, Beja or marginalized communities within Eritrea; simply not to recognize Dankaliya of its Afar owners or that of the Kunama and others. If they do touch upon these societies then they feel as playing with fire by pushing the panic button to its heights and blow Eritrean highland Tigrinya supremacy; and put them altogether in a challenging position. So all they want is the easy way out to simply maintain the status quo; and only make face lifting reforms once Wodi Afom is deposed.
Gone are the hay days of the 1990s when Issayas and his cronies had direct access to and control over valuable Ethiopian resources; when they enthusiastically jumped and started sucking all Ethiopian resources with full speed until May 1998 as if there is no more tomorrow.
At that time, only when Issayas Afewarki, in person, picked his usual fighting-spirit against the EPRDF-regime inside Ethiopia, for failing to maneuver the regional politics to his liking, the border skirmishes occurred, and remain unresolved to this very day.
So those Eritrean highland opposition in the Diaspora who think they can still partially trust Issayas Afewarki as their sole savior are simply committing a strategic mistake and political suicide by allying themselves with this sworn enemy of the Eritrean silent and salient majority.
As far as the pastoral and peasant Eritrean population are concerned, despite our enormous struggle and sacrifice, we didn’t get a chance to either elect our own local leadership; nor were we given the opportunity to hold a democratic referendum. To our dismay, the whole Eritrean formation thus far has become a fiasco; hijacked by Issayas Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta that forces our people not only to lead a miserable life but also consider Eritrea as their sole “Real Estate – not for sale”.
For those of us who belong to lowland Eritrea, it is only Allah who is the almighty and superior; in turn, we are our own masters. We don’t need what belongs to others in highland Eritrea; nor do we like others to come down to lowland Eritrea to intervene in our lives; and tell us what to do, how to behave, and how to lead our daily livelihoods.
As far as RSADO is concerned:
(1) Eritrea as a territory and the silent and salient majority of Eritrean societies are vulnerable at this time because of Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta inflicted oppressions, enslavement and unbearable militaristic living conditions.
(2) Issayas Afewarki and his PFDJ-junta must therefore be charged by the International Court of Justice in Hague for:
(a) crimes committed against humanity,
(b) war crimes committed in the last four decades up to 1993,
(c) crimes committed since 1993 while ruling Eritrea with fear, terror and deaths by using the “Red Flower” (KEYEH EMBABA) thugs as their culprits who spill the blood, sweat and tears of the silent majority in vain; and
(d) for destabilizing the regional peace and stability by supporting international terrorism.
Even Eritrean highland oldies like Bereket Habteselassie, Kibrom Dafla, Gaim Kibreab, Asmerom Legesse to name few, who once worshiped Afewarki as their idol by wagging their tails for his servitude, were thrown out after the “independence” euphoria by Wodi Afom as wishy washy paper tigers lacking vitality.
Consequently they have turned their back on Shaabia and the PFDJ-junta. So we can no longer join the ghedli bandwagon purely conceived of Eritrean highlanders; nor can we continue clapping our hands in approval of Afewarki’s tyranny.
For us Wodi Afom’s autocracy is immersed in innocent peoples’ streams of blood all over Eritrea. So in order to obtain an accurate Eritrean picture, it is high time to re-examine the past and present realities on the ground and come up with fair reality checks for devising our road maps for future consideration.