By Andemariam Gebremichael, PhD
Eritrea is once again subjected to the never ending onslaught by an unfettered three-person hung jury dubbed as “Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights” with the ultimate aim to bring the country to The Dodo Court, through a “supreme” venue in the enactment of injustice, which by any means of imagination dwarfs The Kangaroo Court.
The selection of the judges in itself is also interesting as much as it is wanting. Mr. Mike Smith, Chairman of the Commission, is from Australia, the home of Kangaroos and Aborigines, while Ms. Sheila Keetharuth, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission, is from Mauritius, the onetime home of the dodo, an avian species, a bird, which today is extinct. However, Mr. Victor Dankwa, a third member of the Commission, contrary to the Kangaroo and Dodo courts’ legal practices in the selection procedures for the job, is from Ghana, Africa, the home of the human species and untamable animals.
One would expect that, if not a home court of human rights, a human court of human rights anywhere is set up so a due process of fairness and justice is equally enacted for the benefit of all creatures of the Almighty- humans, animals, plants, and the earth- without distinction for none of these can exist without the other as we normally know it and wish it to be.
What is in the name of courts after animal species, in this case that of the kangaroo and dodo? Is it because of its long feet a kangaroo cannot walk “normally” and instead it leaps and cannot move backward? Do such “deficiencies” make a kangaroo less of an animal to associate it with the workings of the unfair and corrupt Court? The kangaroo known to science has powerful hind legs and large feet appropriate for leaping and long muscular tail for balance in coordination with its forelimbs when running. It can sprint pretty well to escape from its enemies with the speed of up to 40 mph or use its strong limbs and large feet to knock down an adversary. Mother kangaroo is also endowed by the Supreme Being with something special. It has a pouch into which its child, with the size that of a lima bean (0.03 Oz) can crawl in, suck mummy’s breast, develop, grow, and live there for 8 – 12 months under extreme care and comfort of the mother before it crawls to the hostile world of the human species mired with greed and cruelty. The kangaroo is just a survivor, though! There is nothing wrong with the legitimate animal citizen of Australia. What is wrong is with those operatives in the name of human rights they advocate for the use of might against what is right and silence in the event injustice unfolds in developing countries and Eritrea is the best example of that.
What is true of the kangaroo, however, cannot be said about its natural cohabitants, the Aborigines. When Europe set foot in present day Australia in the mid-16th century, there were about 1,500 Europeans (more than 50% of them convicts) and about 100,000 Aborigines. Today Australia is home for more than 23.5 million people and of these only about 400,000 are Aborigines, while the population of the Kangaroos tops 34.3 million strong, quite a revealing statistic that brings shame to the advocates of human rights.
Obviously, the kangaroos did not come to the rescue of their natural cohabitants, the Aborigines. They have problems of their own to deal with, of course. It would not be for long before the human masters, the non-Aboriginal Australians, turn around and use their arsenals, the “germs, guns, and steel” more extensively against the kangaroos as they did against their life partners of 60,000 years, the Aborigines. Mummy kangaroo, tighten your pouch, spare your womb, strengthen your limbs, and keep your running skill up to par. They are already planning to commit man (I mean ‘kangaroo’) mass slaughter on you and your kind. They do not have enough of anything. They can’t! Everything of anything should be for them, of them, and about them!
Mother kangaroo, please look at your life long partners, the Aborigines. They are victims of human cruelty. The Creator meant well when He placed you two in a remote place away from the greedy Homo sapiens, but it did not work out as he planned it to be. In the land and society with one of the “highest human development index”, because of the systematic marginalization and oppressive policies of the settlers, the Aborigines are suffering from disease, ignorance, malnutrition, alcoholism, drugs, lack of housing accommodations, high mother and child mortality rates, unemployment, and most of all discrimination in the God given land of their own. May be you should remind Mr. Mike Smith to come home and save you and your true lifelong partners from the fate of the dodo bird in Mauritius before it is too late. In partnership with Ms. Keetharuth of Mauritius, Mr. Smith of Australia has opened dodo and kangaroo courts against the very people from the land of origin of humans and humanity, Eritrea. How is that Mr. Smith and Ms. Keetharuth allowed to become the prosecutors and the judges at the same time as well as accusers and annihilators of the people of Eritrea, whose only crime is that they fought for the last 129 years to become free from foreign domination and occupation?
Before the arrival of foreign forces, the Dodo bird was free and living in peace. There were no predators in the Island of Mauritius her existence could be threatened by. The flightless bird had everything it needed. There were plenty of food to eat, abundant water to drink, and thick forest to be sheltered in, lay its eggs, and take care of its offspring. But the life of the bird in a paradise on earth ended when human intruders (European colonizers and indentured laborers from Asia) set in their feet and with them predators such as dogs and rats made their presence there to prey on the mother bird, its chicks, and eggs. Slowly, the Island was completely deforested and vast land claimed for commercialized agriculture (such as sugar cane plantation) and human dwellings and industrial plants as a consequence of which the dodo bird became extinct for good. What one witnesses now of the dodo bird in Mauritius is its imagined looks by way of drawings, effigies, promotional posters and logos, and sensationalized stories packaged as a money generating commodity to be sold to tourists. There is even now a talk of cloning the deceased bird and bring it back to life so that the self-centered greedy Homo sapiens of the like of Ms. Sheila Keetharuth can collect higher dividend. If the dodo bird ever accepted such a selfish scheme, it should demand to have wings for itself and defense weapons no human provocateur, especially the like of Ms. Keetharuth, shall ever possess. It is possible. It is doable! Ironically, the dodo bird is a celebrity in Mauritius. In its graves of course!
Obviously the kangaroo and dodo courts have failed animals as much as humans, in this case, Eritreans. The alternative to these is thus to use human courts, preferably human home courts, in assessing human right practices and Mr. Victor Dankwa, an African, as that from Ghana, the home of the great African Statesman, the Honorable President Kwame Nkrumah, can play a big role in averting the destructive and unruly behaviors of Mr. Mike Smith and Ms. Sheila Keetharuth whose arrival in the Islands of Australia and Mauritius led to the marginalization of Aborigines and extinction of the dodo bird respectively. As an African, Mr. Dankwa should let Mr. Smith and Ms. Keetharuth know that he comes from a continent, which is the home of the untamed, the strongest, the fiercest, and the most independent animals and the origin and home of the most intelligent, giving, and humane creatures, the humans, a perfect cohabitation scheme nature wisely put in place where the intelligence awarded to humans is counter balanced by the strength and will to live independently by wild animals, a fact both Mr. Smith and Ms. Keetharuth should have a clue that no longer is the act of slave-master relationship tolerated and that Eritrea symbolizes what President Nkrumah hoped for Africa, a continent free of foreign dominance, dependence, and interference of internal and external affairs of its constituent States under the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU). Despite the failure of Mr. Nkrumah’s dreams for Africa by the AU, Eritrea kept its promise by being the only country in the world to ascertain its independence and continues to do so in freedom by fighting against Ethiopia with the strongest army in black Africa supported militarily, politically, and economically by both east and west super powers at the same time and this remains to be true today. It is for this and only reason Eritrea is punished by the powers that dominate the UN, under the disguise of “Human Right” innuendos. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though! The Republic of South Africa, an influential member of the AU, is entertaining withdrawing its membership from the International Criminal Court ICC), because of the latter’s stance in targeting African States and/or leaders like what they tried to do with the Head of the Republic of Kenya, Mr. Uhuru Kenyata. It should be understood that three of the five superpowers are non- signatory to the ICC charter to which they can refer individuals to the court, but they are not bound by it, an act which in itself is a human right violation of the ugliest form.
What is true is that while Africa can claim motherhood to humans, Europe cannot say the same about Homo sapiens or basic life necessities (domesticated animals and plants) as we know it. All domesticated animals (cattle, sheep, goat, chicken, pig, dog, horse, donkey, camel, you name it) and plants for food (wheat, barley, oats, corn, rice, flax, peas, chickpeas, beans, tomato, potato, carrot, orange, apple, grape, etc.), except three types of sorghum and Taf for which Africa is home of, have for their origin in a latitude that stretches from the Fertile Crescent along the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea to Mexico on the Americas. The West on the other hand has nothing to offer by way of human origin and basic life necessities listed above and yet it dominates the world in every aspect of human lives because of the way the statehood and governance evolved in Europe. At early stages of its history, Europe was divided into many small feudal states, along linguistic, clan, and/or ethnic lines, which were in constant wars and feuds against one another and thus the inevitable, the drive to develop better and more effective weapons, means of transport, and torture instruments and facilities for both offense and defense purposes than one’s adversaries. This way the West, from being the owner of spear and shield and horses, it became the licensed proprietor of guns, nuclear bombs, chemical and biological weapons, machines of all sorts, supersonic jets, and now drones, and used these in space of time to conquer the whole world, colonized every continent, even frigid places such as the Arctic and Antarctic were not spared, enslaved peoples of various countries they occupied, looted their riches, maim them, and exterminate them if their interest, perceived or real, is challenged or threatened by the victim as they are doing it now to Eritrea and its people all cloaked in the name of rules and regulations and human rights “advocacies” they set themselves to subjugate the defenseless majority. It is ironic and downright insult to be preached leave alone to be accused of human rights by the very proponents of injustice, colonization, slavery, and looting and exclusive owners of all sorts of weapons of mass destruction. One has to only visit museums in London and Brussels, and see the instruments of torture used even in antiquity to understand the true psychic of the West now crying wolf to the innocents of the world. It is indeed ironic, a society, which did not contribute to the origin of humans and humanity and life necessities and one which did not hesitate to even sell and buy Africans as commodities for profit and colonize them for years, a force which is still keeping the marginalized at bay today, would have the moral authority to preach to anyone on human rights leave alone prosecute them on issues concocted by the accusers themselves.
History is our all-time teacher, our evidence for the present, and our guide for the future. Eritrean history is all of the three occurrences nullified of time. It is the teacher, the evidence, and the guide of what to become as a society summed up to one, SURVIVOR, or else no humans and humanity shall exist anywhere as we know it today for tomorrow without it. From the occurrences in Eritrea and the behaviors of actors, particularly that of the US and the United States towards the country, one can see how history can teach us and the present can provide us with the evidence to be used as a guide for the future only if one is a proponent of truth and justice devoid of self-interest and manipulations. Let us go over some of such occurrences, see the evidence, and learn what Eritrea was subjected to and guided itself to survive against all odds and continues to do so today!!!
1. Right after Britain defeated Italian forces in Eritrea in 1941 and its troops were entering the capital city of Asmara, throngs of people came to the open fields dancing and women ululating to greet the victors, but the victorious army leader, instead of graciously accepting the good will and courtesy of the people whom he came to “liberate”, is documented in history to have said to the jubilant Eritreans, “Nigger, I didn’t do it for you”, an act which is our all-time teacher, our evidence for the present, and our guide for the future what to expect from the Commission of Inquiry and its boss, the UN Human Right Council, acceptance of what is false and disregard what is true, a realism Eritrea would wish to be proven wrong about this time around.
2. The British Administration, which ruled Eritrea between 1941 and 1952 quickly attempted to partition Eritrea into two territories along religious lines, Muslims and Christians, the northern region to secede to the Sudan and Southern region to Ethiopia (a country wrongly described by the West as a “Christian Island”) a move, which was vehemently opposed by Eritrean Muslims and Christians in unison and thus dropped, fought for freedom against Ethiopia’s occupation under a united front then and they are trying to build their country against all odds now. Since the advent of Christianity and Islam, Eritrea embraced both religions without distinction and prides itself to be the home of the earliest Christians and the first Muslims and a mosque outside of the Middle East. Therefore, to accuse Eritrea of a religious persecution is not only a lie but also an insult to the very people who always stretch their hands to God (Allah), the Creator, The Merciful. The west does not have the moral authority or right to preach any Eritrean about religious freedom or persecution, not to mention to my own father, a Christian clergy, whose Muslim aunt used to come to our village, unveil herself, and celebrate an annual Christian festivity with him and his family members and in return he went to her village, concealed his cross under his shawl for her honor and respect, and stay with her and her offspring to express his love and kinship in body and soul to her and her extended family members. The friendship, the care, the unity, and cooperation seen among 50% Christians and 50% Muslims in Eritrea is unprecedented anywhere in the world! The sinister design of extinction of Eritrea along religious lines by Britain did not work then and it will not work now, concocted by Mr. Smith and Ms. Keetharuth at present. Eritrea stood on its ground then, but had to soon fight another violation of human rights by the dodo court of the UN sponsored by the United States of America.
3. In 1952, the United States of America, by denying the alienable right of Eritreans to determine their own destiny through participation of their representatives at UN forums, sponsored a federal arrangement of Eritrea with Ethiopia. Mr. John Foster Dulles, the then Secretary of State of the USA, had to illegally push for the federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia, but could not conceal the injustice that befallen on Eritrea when he said, “If it were for the legitimate right of people, Eritreans should have gotten their independence, but in the interest of the United States in the Red Sea basin and world peace, the country [Eritrea] should be federated with our ally, Ethiopia.”, a verdict, which can happen only in a “kangaroo court” in which basic right of a people is denied for the sake of one’s “interest“ and that of an “ally” and “world peace in the Red Sea basin“, a wish, which never happened for the last 63 years and it will not in the future unless otherwise justice is served, truth is told by the western media, NGOs and civil societies cease to be instruments for political ends, superpowers refrain from using the Red Sea basin as their staging grounds for confrontation and/or domination among one another in collaboration with regional client states like Ethiopia, countries in the area avoid hegemony and instead work for peace, harmony, and cooperation, and the UN and its agencies do their responsibilities right.
4. The forced federal arrangement of Eritrea with Ethiopia was to end in 1962, i.e., after ten years of its pronouncement and then to bring the case to the UN for the people of Eritrea to decide whether they wish to continue with such arrangement or not. Instead, Imperial Ethiopia unitarily annulled the federal arrangement and declared Eritrea as one of its thirteen provinces and dissolved the country’s Government, Parliament, and Military establishments by force. Despite repeated calls by the then Eritrean Government, civic societies, and noted personalities in the country for the UN to intervene and reverse the move taken by Ethiopia, such a plea got no response from the world body, the sponsor of the federal arrangement and of course not from the international human right agencies now crying foul by alleging that certain human rights are being violated by Eritrea, itself the very victim of injustices, of a dodo court ruling, a verdict on the extinction of the country as a state!
During the ten-year period of Federation, Imperial Ethiopia step-by-step dismantled the civil, judiciary, military, and every other state institutions, replaced the national languages, Tigrigna and Arabic, with Amharic, schools were forced to teach children in a language alien to them, and finally at gun points ordered the members of the Eritrean Parliament to sign the dissolution of the federation agreement. The state flag was lowered and replaced by the Ethiopian flag and the painful era of armed struggle began.
5. After two decades of peaceful protest, Eritreans had no other choice but to launch an armed struggle in 1961, which lasted for thirty years of war and destruction by Ethiopia with the full knowledge and involvement of the superpowers, particularly the US and USSR. All kinds of weapons except the atomic bomb were used in Eritrea, mostly provided by the two supper powers. Use of prohibited cluster bombs and nerve gases and poisoning of wells were not even spared. There were times when people were ran over by tanks alive. Civilians, particularly women and children, were killed en masse by blanket bombardment of villages, market places, schools, and places of worships, with the devious intent “to kill the fish drain the water” campaign by Ethiopian forces, at times physically assisted by American, Cuban, Soviet Union, and East German troops and/or advisors. The price paid for liberty and justice was immense as much as it was painful, a feeling, which resonates in every Eritrean living today. Eritrea lost sixty thousands of its freedom fighter sons and daughters and ten thousand of them disabled. During those thirty long years, more than five hundred thousand Eritrean children, mothers, and fathers were displaced internally in Eritrea and equal number of them became refugees in the Sudan, a staggering statistic and a horrific human tragedy, which was completely ignored by the United Nations, a country which was vehemently opposed by the United States and Soviet Union politically and militarily, vilified by the western media, especially at the time by the likes of New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, and Reuters, as an Arab instigated, secessionist, Muslim movement of bandits, the only time they would be interested in covering the situation in Eritrea then was if “Eritreans were dying like flies” from hunger, disregarded by humanitarian agencies, especially UNHCR and UNICEF in helping Eritrea, because the country was “not recognized by the United Nations” then, and of course, as it is true today, black- mailed by the United Nations Human Rights Council of the atrocities committed by Ethiopia and its sustainers, especially in this case of the influx of Eritrean refugees to the Sudan and elsewhere at the time, a tragedy, which is now suddenly an issue of “human right violation” committed by Eritrea. Well, Mr. Smith, Eritreans might be kangaroos, but for definite they are not Aborigines, and Ms. Keetharuth, Eritreans are humans but for definite they are not dodos. Eritreans are SURVIVORS. If you both don’t lose in the dodo court of your own doing, you will for sure lose in both kangaroo and human courts of human rights, and more so in home court of human rights if put in place in the right place, Africa. Men of virtue and conscientiousness are always right! So are Eritrea and Eritreans. Words from a victim and the innocent do not lie! They do not have to. The evidence is always there, no matter how much a villain hides the truth!
Slowly but surely what Eritrea said all along is coming to the open. Former top officials of the US Government and not so Americans are coming forward or inadvertently found in the act telling the truth about Eritrea, particularly on those most thorny issues that pertain to the occupation of sovereign Eritrean lands by Ethiopia, UN sanctions on Eritrea, human trafficking of Eritrean youth, and Eritrea’s human rights violations mantra, all interconnected in a grand CONSPIRACY of the types so cruel, vicious, and ugly, all plotted by the Ethiopian minority regime, customized and/or refined by the US Government operatives or agencies, legitimized by the UN, and laced with deadly venom by jackals of the type of NGOs, religious establishments, and the news media of the likes of Reuters, the Guardian, and BBC from news outlets and a pack of “journalists”.
IT WON’T BE FOR LONG BEFORE THE SUSTAINERS OF HUMAN RIGHT ADVOCACIES, IF NOT THOSE OF MR. SMITH AND MS. KEETHARUTH TYPE, SHALL SOON SEE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL LIKE WHAT CERTAIN QUARTERS ARE DOING NOW ON ISSUES CONCERNING ERITREAN SANCTIONS AND OCCUPATION BY ETHIOPIA, TELLING THE TRUTH AND THUS DEMANDING JUSTICE FOR ERITREA!!!
a) Ambassador Herman Cohen, former US Undersecretary of State for African Affairs and Ambassador David Sheen, former US Ambassador to Ethiopia were crystal clear on their understanding that no evidence have been found to implicate Eritrea’s “alleged assistance to the Islamist terrorist group al-Shebab in Somalia” and that Ethiopia should abide by the ruling of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and withdraw from sovereign Eritrean territories it illegally occupies, but as long as Ms. Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor to President Obama, is in a position the two just and legal cases shall not be rectified during the present US Administration, a bold stand by the seasoned and senior diplomats, which cannot be left unnoticed and thanked for by those of us who for decades here in the US knew nothing of the sort said about all the injustices committed against Eritrea. The Eritrean and Ethiopian peoples should demand an apology from Ms. Rice for the escalation of the war of 1998-2000 between the two countries, because of her announcement of “terms of a plan agreed to by Ethiopia, suggesting that Eritrea would have to accept it” when in actuality the latter didn’t. The lives of hundred twenty thousands of Ethiopians and nineteen thousands of Eritreans were lost and innumerable properties from both sides destroyed as a consequence because of it and Ms. Rice should be held accountable for her action. It is a crime against humanity. May be Mr. Smith look into this and see if a kangaroo court can have Ms. Rice tried for violations of human rights! That will be the day of reckoning!
b) Denial by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) of the effect of the war declared on Eritrea by Ethiopia and its refusal to accept the Boundary Commission’s ruling, the UN sanction on Eritrea’s economy, and human trafficking on the out flux of Eritreans abroad is to simply expose oneself as a dishonest and unworthy of the task entrusted on oneself. Never mind of COI’s refusal to see the difference between day and night. It is its loss, it is its stupidity, or else itself is untrustworthy! But it should see that the Ethiopian regime is still occupying sovereign Eritrean territories and its declaration of war against Eritrea is real. That is known to the whole world and it should be the same to Mr. Smith and Ms. Keetharuth.
c) The National Service is an obligation for any able Eritrean citizen to fulfill. It is not a “slave labor”. It couldn’t be! Only masters of slaves can otherwise think that way, i.e., the powerful must subjugate the weak and reap the fruits of free labor of the latter for one’s own gain. In Eritrea there are no slave owners and slaves. The leader and the led work together and share the fruits of their labor together. They are building their country together they liberated together.
In Eritrea national service is an 18-month legal obligation, which every young man or woman has to fulfill and engage in tasks such as afforestation, water harvesting, and infrastructure development program. It is a noble activity that must be commended and not labelled as a ‘slave labor”. There are no slave masters, therefore there are no slaves. The leaders are products of the society and the grassroots organizations.
Mr. Smith, Ms. Keetharuth, for an Eritrean to talk about oneself is quite a taboo, but to make a point grudgingly I have to share with you my personal story:
I am an individual with a PhD from one of the best institutions of higher education in the US, Boston University School of Medicine. When I was asked to help in the establishment and running of medical and dental schools in Eritrea after independence, I had to leave my well-paying job in Boston and join my fellow Eritrean doctors, nurses, scientists, and administrators in Asmara and in the process I declined to be paid because I could afford to live more comfortably than anyone else including the President of the Country and his Ministers and higher officials. After about 5 years of my free service, the Minister of Health, insisted that I get paid. My net actual salary per month as a dean and a professor, when converted to American currency after tax became $444.13, which means that I got paid about 14.85 dollars per day, and on 8 hour per day work schedule this means I am paid $1.85 per hour. Still my salary is 2-3 times higher than any Minister I know of in the country. Please do not bother to advocate for me for being a “slave laborer”. I am not. Eritrea is the land where hundreds of thousands of men and women, educated and not so educated, who fought and died without any monetary compensation to free their country and people by giving up their livelihood, their lives, and everything what life has to offer!
A claim by the COI that human trafficking in Eritrea does not contribute to the out flux of Eritreans abroad, but the national service does, simply because such a scheme does fit into the general picture of politicizing and waging false campaigns on the nonexistent violation of basic human rights in Eritrea, is again to be dishonest with oneself and damaging to the people concerned, in this case the Eritrean people. Eritrea, through its Mission to the UN, has submitted to the UNHRC the whole truth nothing but the truth by way of an extensive document as a rebuttal to the politically motivated reports presented separately by the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry on October 29, 2015 and there is no need here to go over what is presented by Ambassador Girma Asmerom, Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the UN. Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea twice called upon the UNHRC to shoulder its responsibility in looking into the human trafficking schemes put in place against Eritrea and identifying the entities now engaged in smuggling and trafficking people of all ages and sexes. What is however of significance that may be necessary to highlight here are the new developments now surfacing into the open by certain “journalists” and, from all people, the President of the United States of America, Mr. Barack Obama. It is unfortunate to hear President Obama publicly pronounce that the United States is keen at assisting Eritrean women and children leave their country and at the same time describing Eritrea as a “North Korea of Africa”, an epithet labeled by mean spirited sources from one of the US religious establishments, but unsurprisingly for certain “journalists” to be caught red handed giving directions to individuals how to go about in the act of regime change in Eritrea by focusing on the youth at Sawa Center for Education and Training, two different approaches, from two different sources, one President and the other “journalists”, one hinting of and the other direct in advocating human trafficking in Eritrea, and both agreeing in one thing, denying the sovereignty of the State of Eritrea in the name of human rights, an act I would expect from “journalists”, but not from Mr. Barack Obama for whom I proudly voted for him from Asmara, Eritrea in his bid to be the first black American President, as that the son of another proud African proud of his father!
Eritrea is no Kangaroo!
Eritrea is no Dodo!
Eritrea is no “North Korea of Africa”!
ERITREA IS A SURVIVOR!!!
The writer Dr. Andemariam Gebremichael is a Professor at the Orotta Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine in Asmara, Eritrea