By Tariku Dawit
Tigrai Onlne - July 01, 2014
Recently the Eritrean government has hosted two incidents that further send the regime into more heat. The first has to do with a report that stated the Ato Isaias led ruling party PFDJ’s has been carrying out a forced labor conscription campaign by violating their human rights, whilst the second incident has to do with the recent open letter published by senior church leaders in Eritrea, on how the living condition is getting difficult for the people. Sheila B. Keetharuth, an independent investigator who is the U.N. "special rapporteur" on human rights in Eritrea, has stated that a new wave of exodus might be in the horizon as a consequence to the Asmara’s regime forced labor (conscription). It also said that the issue will be discussed in UN’s general assembly to be held next month.
The report also added not only torture, sexual violence and extra-judicial killings are getting rampant in Eritrea, but also many people are fleeing from the country ‘in droves’ fearing their country’s forced national service. BBC on its part has called the statement given by the country’s senior church leaders as a ‘dangerous’ act. This is because Shabiya’s history involves witch-hunt on religious fathers, especially Catholic faith followers and figures.
And on this article I will try walk my dear readers through Eritrea’s government clear violation on its citizens’ human right which includes torture, sexual violence and extra-judicial killings and the economic woes of the country together with the regime’s religious persecution.
As it’s known the Eritrea’s government violation of human rights’ of its citizen is many. To predict the future of the young nation Eritrea is challenging considering the fact that the country is full of people ruled by a handful Hitler-like dictators, whose ‘we know what’s good or bad for you’ mantra has led to take away the freedom of their people. Notwithstanding, that there isn’t a hint of development in the country; there won’t be any development, even if there are efforts, as any public who don’t have freedom does not involve in the country’s economic activities whole heartedly. However, Ato Isaias instead of solving this issue, he is seen tricking his people by repeatedly mentioning Somali case as an instance. The shabiya leaders, who never get tired of lying, try to deny the peace air that’s blowing in Somalia by saying “the situation in Somalia has spiraled into disarray”. Through their ‘lie factory’ national television, they try to exaggerate the problems of Somalia by saying “a lot of Somalis fled to Yemen and many died in the sea” etc … kind of news so that they can cover-up their citizens’ exodus by slipping ‘this is happening to everyone’ attitude in its people. Nevertheless, according to information more than 1800 people flee in to Ethiopia and Sudan every month – if they are successful and lucky enough. Otherwise their fate will be the bullets of the Asmara regime.
Eritrea’s youth labor is exploited through indefinite national conscription and the government’s ‘Warsay yeka’alo’ campaign. The youth are gathered in centers under the banner of ‘national service’ and are exploited for their sweat on the farmlands of the generals and the regimes’ main men without any pay. This is also true for the majority of the people of the country. And if anyone is unable to carry out this “service”, that person will face an insurmountable punishment from the regime.
According to those who follow the regime closely, the number of Eritreans who criticize and oppose the regime is growing by the day. To diffuse the situation and quench its undemocratic tendencies, the Ato Isaias regime is working hard to make a chain of Prison Mountains in the country. Now Eritrea is not only a country where freedom of expression and religion is absent, but also a country where journalists, who are not pro-Shabiya, and senior church leaders are thrown in jail. In addition to this, information indicates that as the economy is entering into the grips of the government, the country’s economy is in a downward spiral. Though the situation seemed stable for the last 23 years, courtesy of Ato Isaias regime cover up work, now everything is out in the light – as this is what the letter of the senior church officials indicates.
The national military service of the country that’s given in the name of nation building and development is one of the reasons for the failing of the country’s economy. These situations indicate that the dictatorial regime is cracking up. There are more and more international institutions that fear the country might end up being ‘the other Somalia’. The Eritrea Administration, that’s led by the iron-fist rule of the Asmara honcho Ato Isaias Afwerqi, instead of working to make its citizens life better, its delved into a havoc strategy led by its bravado (adventurous) mentality that has lived with it since its inception. As the government is busy getting involved in arming terrorists by buying weapons and exporting it to neighboring countries, instead of growing and expanding its productivity, it does not have the time to contemplate on ways to change its citizens’ life for the better. As it’s known, the dictatorial squad that’s in the driving seat of the Eritrean government is a collection of delusional, who since it organized itself 22 years ago, wanted only to grow through exploiting other country’s resources, instead of by using its own country’s citizens labor and creativity and natural resources.
As a result, the country’s economy has been drowning for years to a point where its citizen’s is forced to lead miserable and wretched life. As the Asmara’s hawkish squad turned Eritrea’s economy full attention to exporting chaos and havoc, it has lead it deep into a dark abyss. As a result, currently there’s a huge tension between the people and the Shabiya squad. And there are various reasons for the start of the tension.
The fact that the Asmara administration economic relation (link) with its neighboring countries has broken, the fact that its economy lost its labor force, the fact that it’s dependant on the Diaspora’s remittance money and the fact that it’s using the money to buy arms and work day and night to terrorize its neighbors, are some of the many reasons for the tension.
The Shabiya squad, which aims to impose its will on the region’s countries through force, and looks at military bravado as some kind “Jeanie card”, it has lost all its economic privileges it would have gotten from a peaceful and working relationship with its neighbors. And it’s plainly obvious that its erupted relation with Ethiopia is the main reason for its economic downturn.
The other reason mentioned for the Shabiya-led economy’s failings is the deficiency of labor force. As a consequence of the forced national service conscription in Eritrea; which exposes the productive and energetic youth for exploitation and slavery, and the huge exodus of most of the youth of the country to neighboring countries to get away from the brutal regime of Ato Isaias, the economy is facing shortages of labor force. So, farmers are not able to appropriately harvest their production, due to shortages of workers.
The other reason for the Shabiya-led Economy’s failings has to do with the fact that ¼th of the economy is runned by money collected from the diasporas, as opposed to an income generated from within the country. Nevertheless, Eritreans in the Diaspora have decreased the money they used to send once they realized Eritrean government’s rent-seeking attitude. And recently, following the expulsion of Eritrean diplomats from some countries like Canada; as a consequence of UNs Security Council resolution 20123, the government rent-seeking pocket has dried-up. In relation to this, it should mentioned that Ato Isaias knack of arming terrorists by buying weapons with the money he squeezed out of the people is also one of the reasons for the economy’s current dire state.
The Asmara vandal squad contemplates on elongating its time in power with militaristic thinking and dictatorship at the expense of its people well being, which led its military expenditure to reach 6.3% out of the national spending. This has put Eritrea on number nine position (from 10 countries) on the list of countries that spends heavily on arms procurement; the only African country on the list.
According to researched report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institution (SIPRI), out of the African countries with the highest share of military expenditure with proportion to its wealth, Eritrea is the first on that list. Shabiya; which spends heavily on arms procurement to quench its addiction to military-bravado, instead of importing modern tools that would help increase that poor country’s science and technology and agricultural and industrial productivity, it has turned to chaos and aggression to divert attention and cover its problems. At one time NATO has caught the regime red-handed on the Indian Ocean with a 15 million dollar worth of ground–to– air missiles, 15 ton of Rockets, grenades that it bought from North Korea.
Not only this. It’s been some time since it became clear that Shabiya’s adhered economic philosophy is “war economy”. My dear readers, you may raise the question ‘what’s war economy philosophy?
This philosophy has to do with Shabiya filling its money sack through creating and escalating war (and exploit various scenarios within the process). For instance, Ato Isaias’s government training, arming and supporting role that it’s giving in Somalia to terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab is one of the manifestation of this ‘War economy”. Shabiya, by receiving money from sides that sponsor terror activities, trains Al-Shabaab, transfers terror-waging materials through air and land, and it also works hard to escalate the conflict (war) by giving various logistical supports. Taking war as a business, it fills its money sack through the blood of innocents. In addition to this, by creating terrorists and anti-peace forces in peaceful neighboring countries with its own spit image, it uses them for its own terror work. In order not to make its vault empty, it takes its “commission” from forces that sponsors its terror services. However, according to recent confidential information gathered from ‘Wikileaks’, which cited former American Ambassador in Eritrea, this ‘War Economy’ philosophy of Ato Isaias is failing. According to this information, as half of the population of Eritrea was born after the country’s independence, it can’t be satisfied with former rebel stories of Ato Isaias. It wants economic development. Today’s Eritrea youth is facing indefinite and forced conscription with little money. Although, the independence vision which took the sacrifice of one generation had hope of better future, Ato Isaias calculated war economy is killing that hope fast.
The fact that reports that talks about Eritrea’s ailing economy and the people’s living condition are becoming more rampant, on top of the brave statement of the senior church leaders, is a clear declaration of the ‘truly shameful and unacceptable’ condition of the country. The reports that are coming out of Asmara indicate that the city ids hit by severe electric power shortage.
A very small people, who have their own generators, are the only ones with electricity in Asmara city; while the rest lives in conditions that are similar to the dark ages. In addition to this, as the city is also gobbled up with scarcity of petrol and diesel, public transport is very difficult in Asmara. As a result, the city’s dwellers are forced to use wheel-burrows and Horse drawn carts like the olden times. Also the Asmarites are forced to stand in a long queue to get clean water, while they have to visit the dictatorial government’s shops to get kerosene that would be used to cook meals, supplied once or twice a year.
A single family is only allowed to take more than five liters of oil, one packet of teabag, three kilos of sugar in a month. If any Eritrean is to use one of the city’s restaurants, it will cost him/her his/her entire monthly salary. And it is the middle income person with a monthly salary 1500 to 2000 Nakfa that’s being hit by the desolate conditions of the country. If a middle-income Eritrean has to use all of its monthly salary just to barely get by, then imagine how the low income Eritrean without a government job is living. All in all, it’s very sad the way the brotherly people of that country are living, which is in borderline Dark Age living.
However, here it’s appropriate to ask the questions; what is the reason that’s heading the people to live in a life that’s similar of the dark ages? Why does this deteriorating government interfere in other countries affairs, while having a failing economy?
The Eritrea Administration, that’s led by the iron-fist rule of the Asmara honcho Ato Isaias Afwerqi, instead of working to make its citizens life better, its delved into a havoc strategy led by its bravado (adventurous) mentality that has lived with it since its inception. As the government is busy getting involved in arming terrorists by buying weapons and exporting it to neighboring countries, instead of growing and expanding its productivity, it does not have the time to contemplate on ways to change its citizens’ life for the better.
As any reader of this article knows, the pain the Asmara squad is inflicting on the same people it patronizes of setting free is very bad. The average Eritrean which go through the day waiting in a line at Shabiya shops for its daily consumption, is leading a hellish and painful life. This has destabilized its peace.
It’s now a people forced to take two options, considering its fate will intertwine with prison if it even so much listen to talks of development and democracy, let alone raise them itself. The first one is to sit there suffering shutting own mouth, or the second option, which is to flee into neighboring countries. The Eritrean people are immersed in misery and poverty, with no right to express their views, in a country where the narrator, journalist and political analyst all is its dictatorial leader.
For this, I think we can cite “International Crises Group” one time analysis and report done on Eritrea. The report stated ‘As Eritrea is immersed in a huge economic and political chaos, the country may soon be a failing state”. According to the group, if things go on as they are now, a very bad disaster may erupt in the country.
The report implicated that the political system is close to a blood bath, and the situation is manifested by the instability seen in the country. Although the country’s economy was deeply deteriorating as all the developmental works are getting under the control of the government and has persisted for the last ten years, however the problem was covered by Ato Isaias’s regime. The report also added that the forced national conscription service, which is done in the name of development and nation building, is one of the reasons for the country’s failings. According to the group’s analysis, the Eritrea’s dictatorial regime which seemed stable is now cracking up. Many analysts are sharing their fear that Eritrea might end up being the other Somalia. All in all, the recent exposé and talked about issues that shade a clear insight into the dictatorial Eritrea government has exposed the propaganda, that’s spewed by the regime at every independence day of the country, naked. And the international community should give the duly response for the human right violation and the brutal suffering (of the people) that’s taking place in that country.