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Ginbot 7's and ESAT's unabashed adoration of President Isaias Afeworki

By Bayelegne Yirgu
Tigrai Online, September 16, 2013

It has been noticed for long that Ginbot 7's officials, operatives and media outlets, such as ESAT, hardly talk about the deteriorating political, economic and social conditions in Eritrea and the marginalization of the Asmara dictatorship by the international community.

Indeed, many of the extremists show their reverence for Isaias one way or another. They never publicly say Isaias is a dictator or Eritrea is undemocratic.

They admire Isaias by saying he is smarter than Ethiopian leaders and claim he masterminded EPRDF. They also claim Isaias’s army and war strategy has always been superior to EPRDF’s.

Ginbot 7's and ESAT's unabashed adoration of President Isaias Afeworki
It has been noticed for long that Ginbot 7's officials, operatives and media outlets, such as ESAT, hardly talk about the deteriorating political, economic and social conditions in Eritrea and the marginalization of the Asmara dictatorship by the international community. Now, Ginbot 7 and ESAT are trying to outdo Ethiopian Review and position themselves as darlings of the Eritrea dictator.

Even after Eritrea’s army received a humiliating defeat by Ethiopian forces in 2000, they continue saying the two armies are equivalent and Ethiopia lost more soldiers than Eritrea. (We don’t know if they get down on their knees or bend to kiss his forehands when they privately meet Isaias Afeworki.)

The competition of “who is more close to Isaias” is very intense among the diaspora politicians.

So far, Ethiopian Review held the recod in terms of showing the utmost reverence and adoration to Isaias Afeworki.

After all, Ethiopian Review is a website considered by many as a loyal mouthpiece of the Eritrean dictator Isaias Afeworki.

That is demonstrated by the fact that supporters of the Eritrean dictator like and regularly visit the website for lessons on how to smear Ethiopia’s democracy, development and its leaders.

In deed, Ethiopian Review is an expert in that regard. No ink is spared to insult friends of Ethiopia from America to South East Asia, from Gulf to South Africa.

It has no respect or mercy for religious leaders, the elderly, the deceased and for individual’s privacy. It fabricates stories and fake photos routinely. It kills and resurrects people with no regard to media ethics.

As a result, British courts found the website guilty of defamation and fined it millions of Birr as punishement in two law suits last year.

Ethiopian Review broke the diaspora extremists' record of “who is close to Isaias” by announcing him as “Person of the Year” in 2009. At that time, Ethiopian Review claimed, Isaias “have contributed the most to the betterment of Ethiopia” in the preceding 12 months.

According to Ethiopian Review, the list of “contributions” Isaias made to Ethiopia, was stargenly described as follows:

“The person who is leading and putting the resources of his government behind the effort to create friendship and lasting peace among not only Eritreans and Ethiopians, but all people of the Horn of Africa is Isaias Afeworki”.

”The humiliating defeat of Ethiopia in Somalia — brilliantly masterminded by Isaias Afeworki — is a major step toward that goal.”

“Under the sponsorship of the Eritrean government, EriTV and Eritrean Radio are aggressively promoting Ethiopian unity. Isaias Afeworki has also authorized a publication named ‘One Ethiopia’ for the purpose of countering Woyanne’s anti-Ethiopia propaganda.”

Ethiopian Review went as far as to shower praise on Eritrea as paradise for Ethiopians in the following words:

“Under President Isaias’ leadership, Eritrea has opened up its doors to Ethiopians. There is no country in the world, perhaps with the exception of the U.S., where the rights and freedom of Ethiopian refugees have been fully respected and protected as much as Eritrea.

Freedom fighters such as EPPF, OLF, ONLF, TPDM and others are given shelters in Eritrea so that their wounded receive treatments and their leaders hold meetings unmolested, thanks to President Isaias.”

Last year, Ethiopian Review reitreated its adoration for Isaias Afeworki by comparing the megalomaniac dictator to Nelson Mandela and George Washington.

Now, Ginbot 7 and ESAT are trying to outdo Ethiopian Review and position themselves as darlings of the Eritrea dictator.

Ginbot 7's leaders, like other diaspora politicians, often travel to Asmara to receive guidance and finance.

As we have recently learnt Birhanu Nega, chairman of Ginbot 7, received 9.5 million birr from an audio recording that was leaked to AwrambaTimes.com and shared across the social networking websites and the internet in general

Sudan Tribune had reported it as follows:

"The Eritrean government has offered $500,000 to Ginbot 7, an exiled Ethiopian opposition political organisation designated by Ethiopia as terrorist entity, according to a report on a US-based Ethiopia opposition media outlet.

In an audio recording of an interview with the group’s chairman, leaked to AwrambaTimes.com, Berhanu Nega admits that he received the the funds."

From the audio recording, we understand that Berhanu Nega presented his 6 months workplan to Eritrea government officials.

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Berhanu says, he was accompanied by three colleagues, when he went to present his workplan and recieve the money. He said the main official was not present, so the deputy attended the meeting.

In an audio recording, Berhanu Nega says the budget has been approved and the meeting went cordially, “very smoothly and very positively”.

At the end of the meeting, when Berhanu Nega co. thanked the officials for the money, the official reminded them the relation of their nature.

The official told Berhanu Nega that it is not gift rather payment. The official reminded Berhanu Nega that Eritrea is doing this for her own sake, so it is Eritrea who should be thanking.

Yes, that is what Berhanu admitted on the audio recording. But even if he did not reveal that we can be certain Eritrea's payment will continue only if Ginbot 7 remains the favorise boy of Isaias Afeworki, since there are several other opportunists like Berhanu Nega who wish to get the money.

Therefore, to keep the cash flowing, Ginbot 7 have to compete with other diaspora opposition groupings and media outlets by displaying affection and adoration for Isaias Afeworki.

That is why, last week, Ginbot 7's deputy chirman Andargachew Tsgie and Ginbot 7's media ESAT put out a show - in the pretext of interview - to show their adoration and reverence for the Eritrean dictator.

Andargachew Tsige and ESAT's Sisay Agena, acting as interviewer and interviwee, presented a wel-rehearsed drama that is even embarassing by EriTv standards.

It would be a waste of time to go through each and every utterances of Andargachew Tsegie. But let's mention a few to demonstrate the scale of rediculousness.

Andargachew Tsegie boldly said that "you don't see any armed person in Asmara".

This would be a news to ten thousands of Eritreans who are forced to live in a permanent state of military mobilization.

As Awate.com recently reported:

"the forceful arming of civilians and the economic losses are suffered by those who have to attend daily training as well as duties of guarding regime buildings.

It is a well-known fact that the regime threatens to shut business premises, if owners fail to send their employees to receive fire arms.

Many services in Asmara and other cities are often held off during en-mass rounding of citizens or other activities related to the civilian arming, trainings and guard duties.

Nowadays, just like any other citizen, Eritrean doctors are required to patrol streets at night carrying AK-47 Kalashnikovs."

The fact that Eritrea is a police state was further attested by the State Department Human Rights last year. The report noted:

"Police were responsible for maintaining internal security, and the army was responsible for external security; however, the government utilized the armed forces, the reserves, and demobilized soldiers to meet either domestic or external security requirements.

Agents of the National Security Office, which reports to the Office of the President, were responsible for detaining persons suspected of threatening national security.

The armed forces have the authority to arrest and detain civilians.

Police generally did not have a role in cases involving national security, but they were heavily involved in rounding up individuals evading national service.

During the year the police, armed forces, and internal security arrested and detained persons without due process and often used violence.

Police forcibly arrested individuals on the street who were unable to present identification documents.

Those in the government national service were required to present “movement papers” issued by their offices or departments authorizing their presence in a particular location.

Those persons who did not present “movement papers” were arrested. Participation in the national service program, which is of indefinite duration and requires conscripts to perform a wide variety of military and nonmilitary activities, is mandatory. Impunity for abuse was the norm."

In the interview on ESAT, Andargachew made even more funnier remarks. He said: "there is no corruption in Eritrea".

However, this runs counter to any assessment conducted by reputed international organs. For example, the recent State Department report described the situation as follows:

"The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials. However, official corruption was a problem and occurred with impunity.

Persons seeking executive or judicial services sometimes reported that they obtained services more easily after having paid a “gift” or bribe through a system of patronage and cronyism.

Petty corruption within the executive branch was based largely on family connections and used to facilitate access to social benefits.

Some persons who benefited from preferential treatment due to perceived loyalty to the government subsequently were denied services such as housing when their political loyalties appeared to change.

Judicial corruption was also a problem, and acts such as property expropriation generally were not prosecuted when military or security officials or those seen as being in favor with the government carried them out.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea as well as others cited allegations that leaders of the country’s armed forces, including General Teklai Kefle, were involved in trafficking in persons.

Members of the armed forces were also said to engage in illicit trade in arms and black market sales of goods such as diesel fuel and cement.

There was some evidence that members of the armed forces collaborated with members of the Ethiopian armed forces to facilitate emigration across the Ethiopian border.

Members of the armed forces also were said to visit Eritrean refugees in camps in Sudan occasionally to offer illicit passage to third nations in exchange for the payment of large fees. Some who accepted passage under these circumstances claimed to have been abused.

There were reports of police corruption. Police occasionally used their influence to assist friends and family in facilitating their release from prison.

There were reports that police demanded bribes to release detainees. There were no effective mechanisms to address allegations of official abuse, and impunity was a problem.

Reports of corruption existed in the government’s issuance of identification and travel documents, including in the passport office. Individuals requesting exit visas or passports sometimes had to pay bribes.

The government had a history of nationalizing profitable private companies, although during the year it was in the process of privatizing several large state-owned firms.

Public officials were not subject to financial disclosure laws, and no government agency was responsible for combating government corruption.

Although the law and unimplemented constitution provide for public access to government information, the government did not, as a rule, release statistics or provide information to either citizens or noncitizens."

Andaregachew Tsegie went further to say, on ESAT: "what did Eritrea do to deserve its current pariah state in the international community? What did Eritrea do that no other country do?"

ESAT's Sisay Agena kept quite while Andaregachew Tsgie white-washes Eritrea's well-recorded transgressions.

It is a widely reported matter that Eritrea has been under UN Security Council sanctions since December 2009.

The UN Security Council Resolution-1907 imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea and a travel ban and asset freeze on some military and political leaders, calling on the nation to “cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members, including al-Shabaab, that aim to destabilize the region.”

Moreover, in December 2011, UN Security Council adopted Resolution-2023 strengthening the provisions of the earlier resolution and establishing guidelines for use of the “diaspora tax” that the government levies on Eritreans living overseas.

Of course, ESAT and Andaregachew would not mention these facts under the pain of angering their financier Isaias Afeworki and thereby cutting their lifeline, which the money from Asmara.

The interview had a subtle messgae for other diaspora opposition parties too. Normally, the diaspora extremists usually recieve Isaias's orders via lower officials without getting the chance to talk to him or they have to make two or three travels all the way to Asmara to get an appointment.

So, Andargachew Tsgie was so proud to tell us that he met Isaias Afeworki in person. The message to other diaspora opposition was that he and his website are dearer to the Eritrean dictator and can mess up their relation with Asmara.

The recent accolade to Isaias Afeworki, Ginbot 7 and ESAT, must be a reminder to Isaias that they are at his service.

Now, Andargachew must be expecting a phone call from Asmara summoning him or Berhanu Nega to Asmara recieve new guidlines and the payment for the next six months.

You are not watching ER TV or it is not your ears, that is right, you are watching the so called “Ethiopian’s eyes, ears and voice” Ethiopian Eritrean Satlite Televison. ESAT TV does two things great; 1, it broadcasts the greatness of Eritrea and its leader. 2. It spreads hate against the people of Tigrai and its people. We don’t know how much of the bootlicking of their leader the Eritrean people appreciate.

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