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Eritrea At The Tyranny Rule Emanuel Birhane Essay Sample

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Eritrea At The Tyranny Rule Emanuel Birhane Essay Sample

Bounded by the Red Sea in the east, Djibouti, and Ethiopia in the south, and Sudan in the west and north, Eritrea is a small country that occupies a strategic location on the northern saddle of the Horn of Africa along the southwestern shores of the Red Sea. Eritrea commands the southern entrance to the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest and most critical maritime routes which adjoin the vital international shipping lanes of the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Eritrea has an area of about 125,000 km2 and an estimated population of 5.5 million, including its diaspora. Despite its small size, Eritrea exhibits great diversity and represents a mosaic of nationalities, ethnic groups, languages, religions, and topographic features.

The pre-colonial history of Eritrea was the history of fragmented constituent regions, on the one hand, and the history of the scramble of external forces for their control and domination, on the other hand. Eritrea was under the Beja confederacy from the emergence of Abyssinia on the eve of the Italian conquest in 1890. Even following the fall of Italian colonial in 1914, Eritrea did not become independent. Nevertheless the strength of the Colonials and confederation of Eritrea with Ethiopia against Eritrean’s will, strong desire for freedom along with the armed forces Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (established in 1958), however, gave Eritrea its independence from Ethiopia on May 13th, 1991, after a century of colonial domination, half a century of political resistance, and three decades of military struggle, and at a staggering cost in human life and sufferings. According to the Red Sea Press, “The war killed more than 65,000 freedom fighters, disabled about 10,000 combatants, and made over 90,000 orphans.”1 In a free and fair referendum conducted from 23 to 25 April 1993, Eritrean people decided in favor of sovereign statehood by the majority of 99.8 percent.2 This paper will examine the purpose of the war for freedom in Eritrea and its aftermath consequences; specifically, I will assess whether the Eritrean government has been faithful to the ethos of the armed struggle and the aims articulated in the documents in terms of the convergence or divergence of actual practice and stated policy.
In this paper, I will argue that freedom was not the prior goal of the Government’s policy of holding the war. Even though freedom, democracy, and prosperity were among the core objectives of the armed struggle, it did not apply on the ground. For them, it was a way to having control over the throne. All the promises that Eritrea would be a democratic state where a society governed by the rule of law were lies created to fool the people; in fact, things became worse and worse than the Colonials ‘divide and rule’ when they came to power. It soon became clear that the main purpose of Eritrean Government of breaking out a war against DERG, the military junta of Ethiopia, was nothing but to overthrow political party on the power and take it to themselves. If they were truly fighting for their people, we would see them have the intention to honor their people. As a result of their brutal administration, Eritrea becomes the hell on earth second to none not only owing to the harsh way of living but also owing to the inhuman treatment for the people, especially, for the prisoners.

In the state of Eritrea, women have no equal rights as men even if they played a crucial role during the war of national liberation. They face discriminatory treatments, unequal access to opportunities, and marginalization in the political, economic, and social life. Furthermore, the government does not defend the rights and ensure equal participation of women in all spheres of national life and to advocate equal access to opportunities for education and employment with equal pay for equal work.

No Eritrean man has a bright future. All the citizens are objected to an indefinite national service. When the proclamation of national service ratified in 1994 there were two main reasons for that.3 The first reason was that in the absence of proper education, functional skills, and opportunities for employment, a large number of urban youth lived on hand-outs from friends and family members in the diaspora. The dependence on remittances fostered a lifestyle that undermined the traditional Eritrean work ethic and sense of personal discipline. This undesirable state of affairs called for addressing the problem through the adoption of national service as a strategic instrument of self-reliance to help imbue the youth with an appreciation of the value of labor and self-sufficiency. The second reason was for regime security. In May 1993, on the eve of the formal declaration of independence, units of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) in the capital city of Asmara had mounted a protest that was later, treated as a mutiny.4 Even the reasons were clear and reasonable, it was accepted by the people to the statutory period of eighteen months- comprising six months of military training and twelve months for active military service and compulsory duty on public works, developmental projects or civil service jobs. However, the government underwent indefinite extension and violation of the provisions of the proclamation. The military duty has turned indefinite active national service and caused, over time, incensed large sections of the population and caused a huge flight of labor and brain drain, thus compromising the imperative of national development, defense.

Moreover, the secondary school students, at the end of their eleventh grade, are subject to the waste of mandatory summer work camps prior to the eligibility of an endless national service. They are forced to pay hard labor for the government, not for themselves nor for their families, because they get paid nothing. This deprives families of subsistence farmers in rural communities the vital helping hand of their children during cultivation season. After these students graduated from the summer camp, they became part of the army, with 400 Nakfa payment a month, which is equivalent to $20, for the rest of their life. They cannot further their education. For instance, my father joined the army back in 1995 right after he completed 11th grade at the age of 18 and served till we left off the country in March 2008. He participated as an artilleryman in all of the three major wars against Ethiopia from 1998 to 2000. He spent all his golden age to keep his beloved country’s sovereignty, but he benefited nothing except being a victim of it. He cannot walk freely in cold times because he got injured on his right foot. Is this how you repay the people who died, injured, and sacrificed to keep their country from being suffered?

Above all, there is a suppression of human rights in Eritrea. The government uses forces to suppress internal dissent, subdue domestic opposition, and enforce submission to its political hegemony. An Italian observer and friend of the Eritrean armed struggle have characterized the forcible suppression of the movement as a “dark chapter in the history of the EPLF.”6 Here are some of the notable cases of suppression. First, the incarceration and harsh punishment of the ringleaders and principal supporters of the protest of freedom fighters in Asmara in May 1993, demanding due compensation and improvement in the conditions of their continued military service after independence. Second, the killings and imprisonment of disabled war veterans in July 1994 for protesting and demanding an improvement in their life. Third, the internment of about 2,000 university students in Wia in August 2001 for refusing to sign up to the mandatory summer work program in protest of the terms of deployment and the arrest of the president of their student union. They were collected from dormitories and taken to Wia, about 30 km southwest of Massawa, “in one of the hottest, most desolate, and least hospitable locations in the world. The internment camp lacked adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care. Two of the students reportedly died of heat stroke immediately after internment.”

In addition, the Eritrean government practices a harsh detention and tortures. The absence of High Court owing to the absolute power of the president leads to the exercise of freezing, torture, or death. According to UN Human Rights Council reported: “[A]n overview of the most serious human rights concerns in Eritrea, including cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and inhuman prison conditions.”8 Sixth, a numerous cases disappeared taken up from home, work, and the street. Nobody, including their families, friends or colleagues, knows their whereabouts.

In addition, media are under the control of the government. They are tools that serve the government as a medium of political propaganda. They have no right to report and talk about the problems in the society. Rather, the news and journals should be prepared nothing less in support of the government actions. According to the executive Seyum Tsehaye report, ” Isaias ordered the arrest of ten journalists who had provided press coverage to the dissenting perspective and published interviews with the senior officials critical of the president’s leadership.”9 This implies that the president has an absolute power. He treats the country as his private fiefdom, and he uses to access Eritrea’s resources without restraint.

The worst of all, the Eritrean government is a threat to the globe as well. Since the Eritrean government has an absolute power, the central bank and all incomes of the country is under his control. However, all the incomes of the sate go to help the Islamic terrorist, like Al-Shabaab, instead of constructing bridges, schools, and hospitals for its people. According to the UN Security Councils report:
In a rare heeding of ‘AU calls,’ the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea on the basis of allegations of providing military aid to Somalia Islamist insurgents and refusal to comply with calls to demilitarize the border and address the standoff with Djibouti. What Eritrea did was militarize, for internal political reasons, what has been a demilitarized area. Having thus violated the colonial agreement, however, Eritrea denied the existence of any problem and spurned all bilateral, regional and international attempts to resolve the dispute until it reversed position in silence and accepted Qatari mediation on the matter.

Thus, the loss of hope living in Eritrea has brought about a significant number of Eritreans to leave their homes and their families. According to the UNHCR report, since the beginning of 2000, the youths have fled the country in increasingly large numbers; as a result, around 220,000 Eritreans, about 5% of the population had fled the country by early 2011.11 An apparently persistent and growing resistance to endless active national service has triggered widespread evasion and forced a significant mass of youth to vote with their feet and flee the homeland at great risk to their lives. It is worth noting the victims of the Mediterranean Sea and the Sinai Desert. According to a CNN documentary broadcast on 21 September 2012, showing graphics and gruesome photos of abandoned corpses, more than 4,000 young Eritreans have been murdered or left to die in the Sinai Desert after extraction of their body organs for sale by associated criminal gangs operating with the collaboration of medical doctors in Cairo.12 Without going too far we can see my aunt as a great example who is a victim of Sinai Desert. She was kidnapped in 2013 by Eritrean bandits who had a part in the government, and she suffered a lot from it. Because she was raped, nowadays she cannot bear a child, on top of that, $45,000 was paid in ransom by my uncle who has been in London for more than 14 years, however, half of the money was a loan from the government. And now my uncle is in the burden of paying loans while he is inculpable. Why is all this aggression needed to the innocent Eritrean people?

In September 2005, the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera published photographs taken by a diplomat in Asmara who witnessed a killing by security forces of a young man wounded during a giffa (roundup). According to the diplomat, a security agent shot the man at close range, execution-style, while the victim lay in the road.13546735405130

Pateman, Roy, Eritrea: Even the Stones Are Burning, The Red Sea Press, First Edition 1990.
The UN Observer Mission to Verify the Referendum in Eritrea (UNOVER), 11 August 1993.
Gaim Kibreab, “Forced Labour in Eritrea” Journal of Modern African Economy, Vol. 47,
No. 1.
Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Eritrea: Demonstration in Asmara in April 1993 by former Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) fighters.
Shimada Embaye, 24 November 2016.
Poscia, Stefano, Eritrea: Colonial Tradita (Eritrea: A Colony Betrayed), Roma: Edizione Associate, 1989.
UN Human Rights Council: Resolution A/HRC/20/L19, Geneva, Switzerland, 06 July 2012.
Seyum Tsehaye, Fessehaye Yohannes, Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Haile, Dawit Habtemicael, Amanuel Asrat, Said Abubaker, Mattewos Habteab, and Temesgen Gebreyesus.
UN Panel in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22 February, 2007.
Copnall, James, Eritrea: The land its citizens want to forget, BBC News, 21 December 2009.
A Stand in the Sinai: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary first aired on 21 September 2012.
Lists of executions in Eritrea: 48 innocent young men and women at Adi-Abeto were killed. 4 November 2004.

A Stand in the Sinai: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary first aired on 21 September 2012.
Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Eritrea: Demonstration in Asmara in April 1993 by former Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) fighters. http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad5a3c.html
Copnall, James, Eritrea: The land its citizens want to forget, BBC News, 21 December 2009.
Eritrean Human Rights Electronic Archive: Lists of execution of some prisoners, Adi-Abeto, Eritrea, 4 November,
2004. http://www.ehrea.org/exe.php
Gaim Kibreab, “Forced Labour in Eritrea” Journal of Modern African Economy, Vol. 47,
No. 1
Pateman, Roy, Eritrea: Even the Stones Are Burning, Red Sea Press, 1990.
Poscia, Stefano, Eritrea: Colonia Tradita (Eritrea: A Colony Betrayed), Roma: Edizione Associate, 1989.
Seyum Tsehaye, Fessehaye Yohannes, Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Medhanie Haile, Dawit Habtemicael, Amanuel Astra,
said Abubaker, Mattewos Habteab, and Temesgen Gebreyesus.
The UN Observer Mission to Verify the Referendum in Eritrea (UNOVER), 11 August 1993.
UN Human Rights Council: Resolution A/HRC/20/L19, Geneva, Switzerland, 06 July 2012.
UN Panel in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22 February, 2007.

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