“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident” – Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
By Bruh Tesfa,
THE quotation above fits well to the stages the people of Eritrea had gone and continue to go through and endured in seeking for world justice. Not to negate or discredit the enormous sacrifice paid for freedom, however, it’s also a historical fact that Eritrea as we know it today came into being partially because Truth was on its side.
There’s an old Eritrean saying in Tigrigna “Betri Haquis Tiqetn ember Aytisibern!”, which is almost synonymous to saying “Truth Shall Set you free!” in the English proverb. Such attitude or way of life, which is an important feature of human decency, is well embedded in Eritrea’s culture as is in many others.
As is inferred on the quote above, any struggle for justice has to undergo these three stages of truth to reach its objectives. If genuine and everlasting victory is to be achieved, truth has to be incorporated within the organization’s framework as an important and vital part of the struggle.
Today the Eritrean people find themselves in the midst of a second round of the stage of “Truth” as they deal with their adversaries, the first one which they confronted fiercely and triumphed during the long and bitter years of struggle for independence.
In the fifties when the people of Eritrea protested against UN’s decision to federate their country with Ethiopia and demanded for independence they were ridiculed. The statement by the then Secretary of State John Dulles, ridiculing their legitimate call, while hesitantly acknowledging the high moral/legal ground they stood, is but one example on how Eritrean people’s peaceful plea to govern themselves was ridiculed and ignored repeatedly. Despite the fact that Eritrea at the time was more industrious and economically more viable than Ethiopia, they were been ridiculed as “poor, uneducated” and incapable of governing a country.
When the people insisted on the implementation of their rights for self determination and began to revolt, the call was violently opposed. Emperor Haileselassie, Ethiopia’s Monarch, a good friend of the west, and the man who mastermind Eritrea’s annexation, was determined to end the rebellion militarily. Armed to the teeth by the western countries, one of the methods Haileselassie employed in an effort to crush the Eritrean movement was to recruit and train Eritreans “Comandis” who, for various reasons, were perceived to be more loyal in fulfilling his orders. It’s during that period we saw the indiscriminate killing of civilians and burning of villages (e.g. the massacre of Onna) and churches and mosques to cause fear and terror among the population.
Following the overthrow of Haileselasse in 1974, Dergue, a communist regime under the leadership of Mengistu Hailemariam, followed the same, if not worse, path in suppressing Eritrean liberation movements. Except this time the unjust war against Eritrea was financed by countries formerly known as the “Eastern Block” which consist of East Germany, Soviet Union and Cuba. Once again, Eritrea’s call for self determination based on Truth was met with extreme violence and terror. Some of the most memorable events in which major atrocities took place during that era include the massacre of Shaeeb, the massacre of Weki Duba , the 1975 spree killing in Asmara and the 1990 inhumane bombardment of civilians in Massawa to name just a few.
Lastly, after 30 years of courage and perseverance the truth Eritreans relied on consistently in search for peace and justice had prevailed and “accepted as being self-evident’. The world has recognized and accepted the people’s legitimate struggle for independence. Today, despite the obstacles, Eritrea is moving forward as a sovereign nation and is on the verge of celebrating its 24th independence anniversary with high fervor.
Lies & Deceits: TPLF’s Major Tool in Gripping to Power
On the opposite end of spectrum of truth lies that of distortion. There’s another popular Tigrigna saying which describes society’s overall assessment towards those engaged in lies and deceptions. It states “Hasawn Hasern endehadere yfekus”. The current regime in Ethiopia has held peace a hostage and destabilized the region the past twenty two years by lying and distorting facts.
When the Ethio-Eritrea war erupted in 1998, one of the things the Ethiopian (TPLF) leaders took to task and, to this day, invested on heavily, was to fulfill their evil agenda against Eritrea through continuous lies and deceptions. One would need hundreds of pages and a lengthy time off to write all the lies and deceptions the TPLF leaders created and fabricated over the course of the past decade to tarnish Eritrea’s image.
Below are some of the deceptive activities the TPLF leaders relied on over the past fourteen years to harm Eritrea socially, economically and politically.
1998 – 2000: In spite of the fact that Meles declared war on Eritrea unilaterally and invaded its territory, he deceptively told the world that his country was invaded by the latter. As premeditated as the unfortunate conflict was on the part of TPLF and as the letters exchanged between the two leaders at the height and prior to the escalation of war would indicate, Meles was in no mood to entertain suggestions proposed by Eritrea for a peaceful end to the conflict. Up until the signing of the Algiers Agreement, all the calls from Eritrea for dialogue were met with tones of intimidation “Zeraf !! Zeraf!! Kekekeke!!” and full of arrogance. One of the prominent members of TPLF at the time , Eritreoallergic and ethnocentric Gebru Asrat, did not shy away from making inflammatory speeches and calling on Tigrayans to continue fighting at all costs, making it impossible for dialogue .
Year 1998-1999: The deportation of over seventy thousands (70,000) Eritrean nationals and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin in a most inhumane way was meant to serve dual purposes. First, it was meant to humiliate the people and inflict emotional and psychological disparity. The second and most important objective was to weaken Eritrea’s economy by creating more burdens. How the people and government of Eritrea responded to such futile attempt of economic strangulation can be summarized by Alamin Abdulatif’s timely song of that era “Lam Qerna Zikhebda aykonen”. Indeed, we all have seen how the deportees, amongst whom include babies, pregnant women and very old, were received by their people. Needless to say, the reception they got was heart-warming, to say the least. What’s interesting to note and the subject of this article, was how the TPLF Prime Minister responded to the issue of deportation on an interview he conducted shortly there after. Without blink of an eye, Meles reiterated his country’s right to deport anyone “even Japanese” (his own words), if it does not like the color of his/her eyes . This was shortly after initially denying the documented mistreatment of Eritreans in Addis Ababa and other Ethiopian cities on the hand of TPLF security personnel. Had he not been a close friend of the west, his racist remarks and mistreatment of Eritreans would have landed him in Hague to be tried by the ICC. But, that’s another story for another time.
March 19,1999: The 3-day battle of Tsorona was perhaps one of the biggest and bloodiest battle that the world had rarely witnessed. As was reported by numerous international reporters, the human and material loss the TPLF regime sustained on that particular WWI- style battle was difficult to contemplate. The image of countless dead soldiers few steps from the Eritrean trenches were very sickening to see and left one with enormous level of disturbance . When approached by foreign journalists about the battle and the reported claim of the demise of thousands of his soldiers, Meles Zenawi, through his spokesperson at the time-Salomie Tadesse, commonly known as “Shilu” by the locals, initially denied the existence of such battle ever taking place. When pressed further and provided with the proof, they responded in a most arrogant manner and blindly suggested the reported dead bodies as likely “dummies of Shaebia’s creation” to boost the moral of its defense forces. According to Salome, the Tsorona scene was “a drama staged by the Eritreans” and “a figment of [Eritrean] imagination.”
Year 2002: The EEBC (Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission), the 5 member body tasked to study the geopolitical nature of the borders with respect to the countries aforementioned, , had reached a final and binding decision after two years of deliberation. Badme, the flash point of the conflict, was awarded to Eritrea, exonerating its long-held claim . It’s during this period that Woyane’s deceptive nature started to get fully exposed. First, the day before the formal announcement, Seyoum Mesfin, the then foreign minister of TPLF, affirmed to the public with confidence that Badme had been awarded to Ethiopia, resulting in premature celebration in the streets of Addis Ababa. The world was deliberately misinformed resulting in a state of confusion. To add insult to an injury, Ethiopia’s reaction and response to the EEBC decision was both dubious and filled with double-talk. In a span of 48 hours, the TPLF Ethiopia both accepted, through the FM statement, and later rejected through the PM, the commission’s final and binding ruling. The main objective of such reckless behavior by a country leaders was, of course, to drag the peace process for as long as possible in hopes that Eritrea somehow would collapse economically (the prognostic prediction given by the so called economic “experts” was about 3 months).
Year 2006 – present: When all attempts to disintegrate Eritrea and its people failed, the TPLF regime under the leadership of Meles Zenawi, opened a new and “more sophisticated” frontier to destabilize the country and bring chaos. Realizing the significance the people’s unity played in both the survival and strength of the country, TPLF’s primary target was aimed at causing mistrust and disharmony amongst the people of Eritrea using “religion and region” cards. On an international level, enormous amounts of money and time were invested wasted to isolate Eritrea from the rest of the world.
The Not-So-Clever Clever Meles figured that one of the ways he can inflict maximum damage is by implicating Eritrea to terrorism. Being a master of lies and deception that he is, it came naturally for the PM to cook up and fabricate stories and make-believes to blackmail Eritrea. Keep in mind that this was the period when terrorism was on a sharp rise and, sadly, the west was seen blindly jumping into a wagon, pouring in billions of dollars and military support, of anyone who screams “terror!!” The Prime Minister of TPLF-Ethiopia took this as an opportunity to frame Eritrea. Labeled as “a main ally on the war on terror”, Ethiopia received huge military and financial support to help fight terrorism .
What was soon to be discovered, thanks to wiki Leaks, was that it was actually the TPLF gangs who were terrorizing the people of the region, all in the name of war on terror. For example, after years of chaos and destruction the only glimmer of hope and peace the people of Somalia begun to experience came to a screeching halt in December 2006, when Ethiopian troops invaded the country. Once there, the troops engaged in gross human rights violations, as reported by various international media. Eritrea was falsely accused of supporting Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaida-affiliated Somalia militant group. With the help of certain western officials who hold grudge against Eritrean leadership and using the enormous influence he enjoys over IGAD and African Union, Meles proposed an “African initiative” resolution against Eritrea based on lies and fabricated reports. The UN Security Council, without fully verifying the nature and sources of its accusers, imposed an illegal sanction against Eritrea.
Suffice to say that, despite some minor obstacles, every ploys perpetuated by Meles and co. to weaken Eritrea and turn it into a beggar nation; every attempt to disrupt their unity through lies and character assassinations; every evil acts to destroy their very livelihood was met with stiff resistance and rendered fruitless.
> Eritrea today has the fastest economic growth in the Horne of Africa
> As testified by outsiders who have no vested interest in the country other than the desire to see peace and stability in the region, Eritrea is being described as a force for peace not terror. (Link1, Link2, Link3, Link4)
> Eritrea is one of the few African countries who are meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals rather impressively. The Millennium Development Goals were adopted by about 190 U.N. member countries in 2000 to tackle poverty, hunger, disease and early deaths in poor countries, with a series of targets set for 2015. According to UNICEF, “Eritrea is one of three sub Saharan African countries on track to achieve MDG 4 (child health) and also to meet the MDG in water supply (MDG 7)”.
United Nations’ Indifference:
With regards to the UN sanction, the people of Eritrea are more determined than ever to challenge and expose the biased and unfounded nature of the resolutions. They call on the Security Council to re-examine the credibility and neutrality of the so called Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG), whose findings on Eritrea were admittedly based on sources who are working day and night to destroy the country. As such, the UNSC is being called upon to consider this case seriously and with open-mind and lift the sanction against Eritrea. The Security Council also needs to be reminded to shoulder its responsibility as a guarantor of the 2000 Algiers’s Agreement and force Ethiopia to abide by the EEBC’s “final and binding” ruling.
With truth on its side, maintaining its unity, Eritrea managed to overcome many challenges. As was done during the struggle for independence, armed with truth, this testing time the people of Eritrea are experiencing will also pass, forcing society, which appears to be some how blinded with the thick smokes of lies, to “accept truth as being self-evident”. Despite the enemies’ relentless campaign to misrepresent facts on the ground, Eritrea’s true image will be restored and it will, once again, reclaim its place in history as Africa’s beacon of hope.
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