Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy birthday, Eritrea!

Eritrea celebrated its 16th anniversary of independence from Ethiopia yesterday. Eritrea is also celebrating, if that's the right word, 16 years of the dictatorship of Isaias Afewerki.

Under Afewerki's rule, Eritrea has become one of the world's most repressive authoritarian states, including one of the world's worst records on press freedom, freedom of religion, and needless to say, political freedoms. Then again, perhaps political freedoms aren't necessary because everyone in Eritrea supports Afewerki. Take it from the man himself, who recently declared that Eritrea does not even have a political opposition. Afewerki, ever modest, did not even mention his role in achieving this remarkable feat: throwing anyone who would oppose him in prison. To his credit, he's managed to keep his level of notoriety hidden from the outside world, but I suppose that's just one of the many side benefits of kicking foreign reporters out of your country.

So, does Eritrea have anything to celebrate on her birthday? That would depend on who you ask, I suppose. I can tell you what the people of Eritrea will be receiving as a gift for their birthday, and that's another year of one of the world's most repressive dictatorships that hardly anyone in the world's ever heard of.


Anonymous said...

bealive me we are celebrating.
you got it twisted,
we celabrate our hard won independance against all of the worlds super powers.
30 years struggle for independance, ofcourse we celebrate, you would to.
dont blog dumbness. we will have election when the time is right. when u.s stops interfering with the boundry commisions final and binding verdict, you can not have election during these times,
and issias is strongly beloved by the eritrean people, he dont go by the rules laid by you white people so you target him. eritrea is rebuilding itself with its own people and thats great.
awet n hafash as we say.

Anonymous said...

You could say the same for Bush at least for a year and a bit ;(

But seriously we keep telling everyone about democracy and Rule of Law, yet when the time comes for us to demonstate it in action, we could not be bothered.

It is easy for you to be an arm chair general, but why are you not asking the state department and Bush, that they not doing or saying anything when Ethiopia is clearly breaking international law.
Ethiopia has thrown its dummy, because it did not like the final and binding border commisions judgement which America was the main arbitrator.


Anonymous said...


I have no doubt about your sincerity, but you need to see the overall picture.
When it comes to Eritrea our record and other countries like England and Israel has been ashamedly appalling (read "I did not do it for you" by Michela Wrong).
As we speak we are screwing around with the border decision that is non negotiable and final. After all of this most Eritreans are still pro America .

I am not excusing Isaias for his repression, but when against all odds Eritreans managed to exist and he can clearly demonstrate the west is willfully neglecting the sacrosanct International Law that does not seem to apply when it comes to Eritrea, the people are giving him a pass.

Don't forget citizens give unbelievable leeway to their presidents when it comes to security of their countries. This can be demonstrated by our recent history of Roosevelt signing an executive order for the Internment of Japanese Americans and now Bush's Guantanamo bay fiasco.

I think we need to get our finger out and help finalise the border issue. Then both leaders have no excuses about any side shows,and concentrate in developing their countries and become true allies to us.


Anonymous said...

You folks don't really care about democracy in Africa.

I believe it is Roosevelt that said about Nicaraguan Samoza:

He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch.

The same attitude curretly applies to Meles Zenawi.


Anonymous said...

you folks = roger + simon + state dept that represents you folks.

Yacob Hailemariam a former Norfolk State University professor is believed to be among 39 opposition leaders convicted in Ethiopian courts on Tuesday in a trial that has been protested by human rights organizations around the world.

At a press conference on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was asked about the convictions and responded: "We're quite surprised, first of all, by the action that was taken by the government and very, very concerned. It would appear that this is a preemptory action that was taken by the court that surprised not only us, but the defendants, as they were working to mount a defense against these charges. So we are examining it very closely. We're examining whether or not this action is in accordance with the Ethiopian constitution, Ethiopian law. So, suffice it to say, it's something we're very surprised about, quite concerned about, and watching very closely."

You folks are telling us about dictators while the very people that represent you are playing with words and proping the very dictator you speak of with billions of military and development aids.

Forgive Africa for not being democray, it will be when you lot practice what you preach.


Anonymous said...

So what is the point in telling us about dictators, when the very people that you elect to represent you, don't even bother to hide it tey are sleeping with dictators.

That even makes you a hipocrat because the people that you elect to represent you seem to be prefer the company of rogues and dictators.
The list of them is incredibly long and the aid given to them seems to be directly proportional to how bad
they are.

To mention few Pakistan and Ethiopia being the biggest recipients.


Anonymous said...

You are missing the point.

First off, I am Ethiopian and I could not care less about Afowarki if he was not meddling with Ethiopia.

Second, it is sad that you can not see the misery your country is creating around the world by proping dictators that you like to list.

Last point, put into action what you preach. In the end who ever controls the foreign policy represents you.


Anonymous said...

Well let me tell you "guys" i was born and raised in Ethiopia but my parents were born in Eritrea , my cousin and my 2 uncles died fighting the Mingustu regime to free Eritrea so that we can leave free a prosper and the one thing that Issias is not doing is that . I understand that there are having conflict with Ethiopia but that is no reason to be a dictator , what ever problem there is the next elected president can handle it unless you are trying to tell me that no Eritrea n that can do what Issias is dong. I mean let's get serious i am Ethiopian and Eritrea but if i go to Ethiopia there are going to kick me out and if i go to Eritrea i will have to work for the government by force and that is a shame because i know that is not why my family died. I even think that things will get better if both (Melles and Issias) left power. Let's not worry about America because regardless of the government the people are free and parents can work and provide for there kids and family.

Unknown said...

Hi Roger,

Thank you for the contribution.

Please remember that many Eritreans are acutely suffering from ignorance and pretention.

Apart from Isaias Afwerki, the deadliest enemies of Eritreans (just like many other African people) are: poverty, ignorance and pretention. When it comes to Eritreans, ignorance and pretention are as deadliest as nowhere else in Africa. Many Eritreans are so ignorant to an extent that they can’t even differentiate whether Isaias is telling the truth or lying. They are so gullible that a ruthless dictator like Isaias continues to cheat them at ease without a real threat coming to his brutal rule from the severely oppressed poor people. Because of their excessive gullibility he is still cheating them deceitfully using the “border conflict” with Ethiopia as a major pretext.

Besides (and surprisingly), many Eritreans live pretentious lives, even those who have recently fled the county after incredible ordeals – via Sudan/Ethiopia, Libya, crossing the Mediterranean, etc. You wonder when you hear/see many such people defending the same regime which has persecuted, tortured, abused, raped, arrested or maimed them or their family members. One sensible Eritrean writer ( has rightly compared this with the Stockholm Syndrome, a serious mental discord which makes a victim of an abuse to staunchly sympathise with, defend and absolve his/her own abuser. This Eritrean problem needs a thorough research and study. This is a serious mental problem. In the Eritrean case, the causes of this mental disorder are, I guess, ignorance and pretention. A large number of Eritreans (perhaps a greater majority of the whole population) are suffering from this acute mental disorder and that is why some people are barking at your balanced comments about the dictator; for many Eriterans, your comments are just like a software engineering class for an illiterate 8-year old boy. It is because of such absurd characteristics that the Catholic Information Service for Africa ( has recently concluded that “Eritreans are so quiet you would think they have no problems.”

Keep it up!

Senay Gibri
Unconfused, unpretending and free-thinking Eritrean

Anonymous said...

senay gebri,

well said, in fact I have never seen a better description of eritreans any where else and I wish there were a few more eritreans like you who can read between the line. but given their state of mind i can't hep thinking eritrea's problems have just began. there is no light in sight for eritrea.

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