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Dr. Tesfa G. Gebremedhin
In Eritrea, 1991 was the year of jubilation and rejoicing of the victory of the 30-year of
relentless armed struggle for the national independence and liberation. It was the year of
heroic triumph and majestic advance and entry of the gallant
EPLF army to Asmara. It was the agony of defeat and humiliation
of the huge Ethiopian army and its supporters and it was the end
of the final chapter of colonial occupation and aggression in
Eritrea. 1993 was equally the year of joy and celebration of the
beginning of the national independence and the official recognition
of Eritrea as a sovereign state by the United Nation. For a few
years after the declaration of national independence, Eritrea
started to show a blinked sign of position economic change and
social progress. However, the honeymoon of the glimpse of freedom and liberty did not last
long before the Eritrean independence was hijacked by those in power and turned the
hopes and desires of the Eritrean people upside down. It has been observed that the
transport facilities, water supplies, energy sources, sewage systems, health care, education
services, and other necessities gradually deteriorated and declined far below the minimum
level of African standard. When Nacfa currency became in short supply and when the
supply of basic needs slowly disappeared, the prices of basic commodities soared high and
as the result the Eritrean people could not tolerate the unbearable cost of life. The great
expectation of the Eritrean people for a democratic and progressive state gradually
diminished and finally the high hope of the people for milk and honey was crushed into
piece beyond repair. This was followed by an immediate transformation and replacement
of the state governance by the absence of the rule of law. When life in Eritrea became harsh
and unbearable hundreds of our younger generations crossed the border to migrate to
foreign countries. Many families are uprooted from their respective villages and towns and
ended up in refugee concentration camps, mainly in Ethiopia and Sudan. It is very
unfortunate that the Eritrean people are betrayed, and our martyrs are totally ignored and
forgotten. The massive exodus of our younger generations from Eritrea to foreign countries
is a big threat to the survival of the national sovereignty of Eritrea because the remaining
older generations are too old to defend against any foreign aggression or against any
hidden agenda signed between the Ethiopian government and the government in Eritrea.
In view of the objective reality in Eritrea, the short story of a young boy and an old man
narrated below is a typical example to illustrate and reflect the adverse impact of the
deplorable condition in Eritrea affecting the lives of the Eritrean people, particularly our
very young and innocent children.
Once upon a time there was an interesting conversation that took place between an
eighty-year old man, Aboy Fekadu and a five-year old boy, Arkebe in a certain village in
Eritrea. Aboy Fekadu was a distant relative and neighbor of Arkebe’s family. Aboy
Fekadu kindly asked Arkebe, “What would you like to be or do at this young age?’ Arkebe
answered without any hesitation, “I would like to go abroad.” Aboy Fekadu was surprised
of his spontaneous and immediate reply and asked him again, “Why do you want to leave
your family and village and go abroad?” Arkebe replied with great respect, “Well, I do not
really want to go away from my village. But, I see everybody is going away and nobody is
coming back to the village. If I stay behind, the hyaena will eat me.” It is obvious that the
whole situation in Eritrea is too big a political and socio-economic issue for Arkebe to
understand and know the dynamics of his surroundings. It was even too complicated and
confusing to understand and know what was happening in his own respective village.
Arkebe would not be able to know what and who caused the unsettled situation for his
village people to go away and never come back to the village. However, the young boy was
very keen to observe and understand that many people were disappearing from the village,
particularly the younger generations and no one was returning to the village. Arkebe
seemed to be psychologically and mentally disturbed and in his own little mind he knew
that if he stayed behind in his village, he would be the good lunch or dinner for a hungry
hyaena. The honest and innocent response of Arkebe reflected the kind of anxiety,
apprehension, and mental disturbances that exist among many Eritrean youth, even the
very young ones. The story illustrates the real-life situation in Eritrea and the emotional
and mental disturbances that make our younger generation agitated and restless. The
situation in Eritrea forcefully pushed the youth to go away and migrate to other countries.
We, the older generation, directly or indirectly are all responsible for all the ugly
situations and miserable conditions that have been happening in our own country because
we have failed to defend and advocate for the welfare of our own people. We did not
question the government in Eritrea when the G-15 were taken away and stashed them in
the ditches and trenches of the so-called Era Ero; when the Eritrean journalists and private
newspaper editors and writers were put in the same horrible prison; when Minister
Berhane Abrehe was dragged from his house to his prison cell; and when Bitwoded Abraha
was put back to prison after he was out for a few days. We did not react against the cruel
and inhumane act of the government in Eritrea when Aboy Haji Mussa Mohamed Nur and
Aboy Haji Abdu AhmedYounis died in prison; when Wodi Ali and some of his gallant
fighters were gunned and some of them were put in prison. We did not show any humane
sympathy when some innocent disabled Eritrean warriors were killed in Mai Habar and
when the body of the 50-year veteran fighter, Naizgy Kiflu could not even be buried in the
land of his own country. We did not raise our collective voices and shouted to say ‘stop
ዓገብ’, with the exception of some churches, against the government in Eritrea when His Holiness
Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Christian church, was unlawfully
demoted and confined on house arrest for the last 13 years and when some prominent
spiritual leaders and members of other religious institutions were incarcerated and suffer
in prison cells for many years. We did not question the government in Eritrea when
hundreds of Eritreans, including very small children and mothers, were drowned in the
Mediterranean Sea, particularly the Lampedusa tragedy and when many Eritrean young
men and women were perished in the Sahara and Sinai Deserts. We did not react against
the evil government when we witnessed gross human rights violation manifested by hateful
and despicable human trafficking and smuggling of our younger generations who were
molested, raped and brutally killed after their vital organs were ripped off. Who
questioned the government in Eritrea when our only University was completely closed and
when the government has been preparing numerous prison camps, prison containers,
prison ditches and trenches, and prison underground cells instead of building schools and
clinics in the country? Nobody boldly challenged the government in Eritrea when all these
and other horrific crimes have been taking place in front of our eyes for many years. For
this reason, we all deserve to be called cowards and spineless people. It is time now to come
to our senses and be brave enough to make our collective voices heard far and near.
It must be clear to all Eritreans in Diasporas that the unelected government in
Eritrea is basically the PFDJ government. The PFDJ leadership is composed of a dominant
leader and a few faithful gang members who do not question or hesitate to do what they are
told to do either to please their leader or to honor his command. Obviously the unlawful
PFDJ leadership has clamped down the national affairs and allowed no room for any kind
of opposition from inside and outside the country. Eritrea then became a police state that
leaves Eritreans in constant fear. The Eritrean people have been manipulated, controlled,
and monitored, even from a distance to those of us living outside Eritrea. To explain the
magnitude and extent of control by the government inside the country, an ordinary citizen
living inside Eritrea boldly says, “When I am in Eritrea, I feel that I cannot even think
because I am afraid that people can read my thoughts and I am scare.” This was one sample
witness who told to a member of the U.N. human rights inquiry. It is sad to tolerate such
hateful situation in Eritrea because the PFDJ leadership exerts and practices arbitrary
arrests and detention, with torture and even enforced disappearances to be a part of
normal life in Eritrea. According to the report of the U.N. human rights inquiry, Eritrea is
classified among the most closed countries in the world characterized by indefinite military
service, torture, arbitrary detention, and severe restrictions on freedoms of expression,
association, and even religion. Considering the worst reputation of the PFDJ regime in the
world, when it comes to human rights violation, it is quite unavoidable reality to call
Eritrea as the North Korea of Africa. It is evident that all of us should be blamed for the
situation. The PFDJ leadership was very skillful to manipulate and maneuver the Eritrean
people and to create an avalanche of pain and sufferings to the Eritrean people. The PFDJ
leader as such is not one person. He has never been alone to do what he has been doing all
these years. Any evil leader can never be successful to survive and sustain as an evil leader
for a long time without building, molding and having a powerful political entity and the
support of its followers. The PFDJ leader has been supported, praised, adorned, and
overwhelmed by the support and devotion of his top military staff and army generals,
Ministers, religious leaders, members of the mass organizations, and the so-called scholars
and professionals. We have been all stooges and blindsided supporters of the PFDJ leader
and his inner circle for many years. We cannot deny now that we have clapped our hands
and hailed to the top of our lungs to cheer and show our unconditional support to the PFDJ
leadership in many occasions and events. It is time now to repent for all the sins we have
been doing for many years and bend down to our knees and ask the Eritrean people for
their forgiveness and pray to the Almighty God for His mercy and kindness. We must put
the historical facts and experiences together and try to understand them by relating to the
current situation in Eritrea and pull our efforts together to make a positive change.
We need to be aware that the PFDJ leader and his gangs managed to survive in
leadership for many years with the help and support of all of us. It took us a long time
before these devious individuals are identified for who and what they really are. We must
be either the dumbest and ignorant people or the PFDJ leader must be the most gifted
person to put us all on the palm of his hand to control and twist us to any direction of his
interest and baldly survive for many years in one position before his wicked intentions and
desires are clearly perceived by all of us. The PFDJ leader and his gangs have been very
abusive and destructive to the country and wreak havoc in the personal lives of the Eritrea
people by breaking our homes, disconnecting our family ties and destroying our extended
family system. The PFDJ leader must have an insatiable craving for admiration and
approval from the Eritrean people and recently from the Ethiopian people. The PFDJ
leader must be the kind of person who seeks a grandiose self-importance, preoccupation
with fantasies of unlimited personal glory, a driven desire for attention and admiration, an
intolerance of criticism, and disturbed self-centered interpersonal relations. In view of
these attitudes and personal behaviors, it is evident that the PFDJ leader and his gangs
cannot have the slightest desire to pursue or fulfill the people’s demand for the
demarcation of the border with Ethiopia. The PFDJ leadership has no intention to release
unconditionally the unlawfully detained political prisoners (G-15) and members of the
mass media; to implement the national constitution; to restore the life of the national
parliament; to initiate public election of its leader; and to end or limit the forced national
military service. Given the above list of facts of life in Eritrea, we all have a common
ground to bring ourselves together in unity because we are all in favor of the rule of law
and the immediate termination of all kinds of human rights violation. It is quite clear that
the PFDJ leadership is not and will not be willing to make the necessary change or to meet
the urgent demands of the Eritrean people because it is a matter of life or death situation
for those in power. We should not expect the PFDJ leadership to introduce a radical and
positive change in Eritrea any time in its remaining short life. We need to realize that we
have been in bondage to the PFDJ leadership of Eritrea for too many years. We have been
captivated by our trust and loyalty to the PFDJ government. We have been confused and
misled by the false political propaganda, corruption, betrayal, and deceit of our PFDJ
leadership. The PFDJ leader was groomed and highly respected by the Eritrean people like
a king from heaven. His words were taken for grant like the divine sermon from an angel.
At that time many people would not hesitate to walk through a glowing fire, or to sacrifice
their lives at any situation for his own sake. Instead, the Eritrean people have been
terrorized by intimidation, fear, and persecution for no apparent reasons for many years.
It is time now for the Eritrean people to come together in unity and do the right thing.
Considering the unfavorable situation in Eritrea, we need to join the Eritrean youth
in the movement for ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign. Now, it is enough to be silent and
pretend to look unconcerned and disinterested in the welfare of the Eritrean people. It is
enough to hide in our closets or behind the curtains of our houses. It is enough to hibernate
in our homes and shelters. It is enough to stand on the sidewalks and simply watch what
others are doing. It is enough to create separation and division among ourselves by
fabricating ethnic, regional and religious differences and frictions. It is enough to hate,
quarrel and even insult one another for having different political perspectives and
perceptions. It is enough to blindly support the PFDJ regime and engage in unlawful
political propaganda campaign when the Eritrean people is in the history making moment.
It is enough to sabotage and discourage our younger generations who have the courage and
initiative to start and galvanize the people’s movement for the liberation of the Eritrean
people. It is enough to procrastinate and make layman excuses to run away from
participating in the national affairs. Some of us do not intend to participate in the current
youth movement because we are afraid that we might put members of our family in Eritrea
in great danger. Some of us do not want to jeopardize the opportunity of going to Eritrea
every now and then to visit our aging parents and to check about our houses built for
retirement. Some of us prefer to closely associate ourselves with the government in Eritrea
for the simple reason that our support would reflect and strengthen our regional
belongingness and solidarity. Some of us might even expect and hope that the PFDJ
leadership to come to its senses and make a radical change. However, we need to
understand that members of our family in Eritrea have always been under the cruel rule of
the government; our retirement houses will not go anywhere any time; the government in
Eritrea is not interested in regional identity other than using regional affiliation for
creating inter-regional unrest and mistrust; and the PFDJ leadership will never change its
mind to do the right thing. To this effect, silence, absenteeism, and making all types of
excuses are the reflection or signs of coward behavior or opportunistic attitudes. We need
to grow up and identify our behavioral weaknesses and evaluate our state of immaturity.
We need to rise and walk together with our vibrant Eritrean youth for a change. The
Eritrean communities and religious institution can serve as the home base for the ‘Enough
is Enough’ campaign motivated and sponsored by the youth movement. The Eritrean
scholars and professionals can serve as the fountain and sources of wisdom and advice for
the youth who are leading the movement for a positive change in Eritrea. Enough is
enough; it is time for a change. We are winners knowing when enough is enough, to walk
away from bondage and move on to join the people’s movement which is more progressive
and productive. Knowing that silence is not right is not enough; we must react. Willing to
react is not enough; we must do our part because action speaks louder than words. The
Sudanese people have been successful in removing their notorious leader from his position
because they have a strong united people’s movement led by young men and women. They
will keep their united people’s movement intact for a while until the current military
government is replaced soon by a civilian or people’s government. The Eritrean people can
learn the most valuable lesson from the wonderful experience of our neighbor, the
Sudanese people’s movement. The most crucial and heroic thing we can do at this volatile
and memorable moment is to come together in unity to safeguard and secure the
sovereignty of our beloved country Eritrea.
At the present crucial time we need to be aware that we cannot waste our precious
time anywhere knowing the prevailing undesirable situation in Eritrea. Right now, is the
right and best time to come together and keep ourselves united and join the youth in
support of the people’s movement with dignity and integrity so that our country remains
strong and respected by friends and foes alike. The dynamics of our youth movement
together with the support of the older generation, can serve as a stepping stone and
platform in developing the most appropriate strategy to support our people in Eritrea in
removing the current political leadership and installing a democratic people’s government
in Eritrea. If we fail to join and support the people’s movement and miss the train of
freedom, justice and peace, like the young boy Arkebe’s anxiety, we would likely be
swallowed by the hungry hyaena, namely the PFDJ government. However, the current on-
going ‘Enough is Enough’ people’s movement in many countries needs to be inter-
connected at inter-regional and inter-continental levels in North America, Europe,
Australia, and Africa by forming a United Eritrean People’s Committees consisting of
elected prominent members who are devoted and committed to undertake the already
overdue national obligations. A united and well-coordinated people’s movement led by the
young men and women is the only best way and strategy that can deliver victory and
success to the Eritrean people. Thus, no more bears and no more cheers in the street bars
enough is enough and it is time for a change of moods and attitudes. No more tears and no
more fears enough is enough and it is time for a change of gears to remove the government
in Eritrea carefully. Since bloodshed does not serve the purpose, it is about time to have a
smooth and peaceful transition or transfer of political leadership to the Eritrean people.
Referring to President Kennedy’s words of wisdom, “Ask not what your country can do for
you; ask what you can do for your country.” Referring to Helen Keller’s words of
encouragement, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Thus, we cannot
afford to spare the time and the energy to give in and to give up now, but to know exactly
when enough is enough and join and support our people’s movement. We must wake up
from our day dreams and get up from our comfort seats and step forward in support of the
youth movement to say from all directions loud and clear ‘Enough is Enough’ and no
more. “Learning when ‘enough is enough’ is the discipline of a lifetime.” God bless Eritrea
and its people!

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