June 19, 2000
In a normal situation and environment, it is natural to seek good human relationships and maintain an open dialogue or communication. That relationship should be based on mutual respect, affection and reciprocity.
Human beings, whether on an individual, familial, group dynamics or on national and international basis, seek to maintain a mutually respectable affinity and relationship.
When there are some animosity, distrust and lack of respect, relationships get strained and it becomes harder to restore the previous love, friendship and form of communication. When the heart is hurt, it takes time to heal it.
Now, let us turn to the 2-year-old Ethio-Eritrean war and examine the process of deliberate and systematic alienation of human beings, exclusively done to hurt the other side and to get the maximum benefit of stolen and looted properties and to inflict a maximum embarrassment and humiliation.
The minority-led government of the Tigrayan Meles Zenawi and the current leader of the empire state of Ethiopia has committed unparalleled atrocities over civilian Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin. Before the border war of May 6, 1998 started and up to the present time, civilian Eritreans have been striped off their human dignity. About 70, 000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin have been forcefully deported from Tigray and Ethiopia. Families were separated. Marriages were broken. Children were left behind to become homeless and orphans. Properties have been stolen and looted. It is estimated the stolen and looted properties are worth more than $800, 000, 000.00
In the urban and rural areas of Eritrea that Tigray and Ethiopia invaded, houses and properties have been destroyed and burned. Crops have been deliberately destroyed and burned. Innocent civilians have been killed, imprisoned, banished, and tortured. Women have been raped.
There are about 1,500 young Eritreans detained in a concentration camp in Dediesa, in western Ethiopia. About 2,000 civilians have been banished. It is the Tigryan leaders who took these deliberate acts of terrorism and vandalism.
Since May 12, 2000, the recent and flagrant invasion carried out by Ethiopia, and the occupation of undisputed Eritrean territories, it is estimated about 1,500,000 Eritrean civilians have been homeless and displaced. Hundreds of thousands are living in make-shift tents, in refugee camps, in caves, under trees, in river beds, in ravines and in open areas.
The situation of these displaced Eritreans has reached a humanitarian crisis. Different international organizations and non-governmental agencies are coordinating their efforts to help the displaced Eritreans and to avert a human disaster. The displaced Eritreans need: food, water, shelter, and medicine. These Eritreans constitute the 2nd phase of the UPROOTED. The first happened when the expulsions and deportations from within Ethiopia and Tigray were carried out right after the beginning of the border crisis in May 1998 and continued until January 2000.
Some Eritreans have crossed to the Sudan and have become refugees. This is the second phase of being refugees in the Sudan. After the end of the 30 years war of liberation and the beginning of return or repatriation of the former refugees, no one thought the Weyanes and their agents would commit such heinous crimes upon the Eritrean population!
Agricultural areas in western and central Eritrea have been destroyed. The area is full of land mines. This time, it is the season of plowing and planting. But, in the occupied territories there is no activity. The civilians are displaced. It is expected next year there will be no harvest. Thus, these steps are taken by the Weyanes to cause massive starvation in Eritrea. Western Eritrea is considered the breadbasket of the nation. About 60% of the agricultural produce comes from this area.
We need to remind ourselves, the barbarians and undisciplined Weyane armies have taken, killed and slaughtered thousands of Eritrean cattle, donkeys, camels, mules, sheep, goats and other domestic animals. Some of the animals have been taken to Tigray as war booty.
These steps have been taken by the Weyanes of Tigray to deliberately humiliate, embarrass and make the Eritreans as destitute as the rest of Ethiopians and the people of Tigray. Hence, Eritreans have been exposed to all kinds of human sufferings: displacement, disease, malnutrition, famine and long term psychological maladjustment.
Tigrayan leaders and their accomplices, the Amhara chauvinists, are responsible for these massive human sufferings in Eritrea and should pay for it. It is here that we should raise the issues of war reparations and compensations. Full payment should be made. The perpetrators should be punished.
During the time of Haile Selassie and Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Amhara rulers tried to subjugate Eritrea and the Eritrean people in the name of Greater Ethiopia.
Today, it is the greedy and jealous Tigrayan rulers who are creating havoc upon Ertirea and Eritreans in the name of Greater Tigray. Their target is to terrorize civilians and create economic dislocation.
The Weyanes of Tigray have purposefully looted properties that belong to Eritreans, so that they would use it for the development of Tigray. During the process of looting and stealing, sacred churches and mosques have been destroyed. Sacred items were taken, broken and burned. Some items were taken for personal use by the marauding Weyane soldiers.
The familial relationships, communications, contacts and cross border trade have been damaged due to the insensitive nature of the leaders of Adwa, Agame, Axum, Endirta, Shire, Tembien, and other areas of Tigray. Individuals like Abay Tsehaye, Alemseged Gebre Amlack, Awalom Weldu, Berhane Gebre Kirstos, Dawit Yohanes, Gebru Asrat, Haile Kiros, Meles Zenawi, Seye Abraha, Seyoum Mesfin, Tewelde Woldemariam, Tsadkan Gebretensae, and other members of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Party ( EPRDF), Tigrayan People's Liberation Front ( TPLF ) and the inner circle members of the politburo who authorized the vandalization of Eritrea should be accountable for the misery and suffering they committed upon the Eritreans.
Due to the anger and frustration they felt, some Eritreans are proposing a physical wall should be built over the border areas, like the Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China. It is not an unreasonable request, when we consider and compare the degree of humiliations, embarrassments and sufferings the millions of Eritreans have gone through and are going through right now. How callous can the government of Tigray and Ethiopia be? What kind of moral attitude do the leaders have? This is pure and simple state terrorism and lawlessness.
The tragedy of this is the international organizations and nations, like the Organization of African Unity ( OAU ), the United Nations ( UN ), the European Union ( EU ) and above all, the United States of America ( USA ) did not condemn Ethiopia on its blatant invasion of sovereign Eritrean territories. Ethiopia was not told to withdraw from undisputed Eritrean territories. In fact, Ethiopia has been financially helped to do the damage on Eritrea. How can a poor country conduct a war that eats up about $1,000,000.00 of its economy on a daily basis? Hiring mercenaries to conduct their wars has become the norm of the leaders of Tigray and Ethiopia.
A physical building of the wall to separate the two neighboring peoples may not be a practical step or idea. It appears a wall of separation has already been built! There is a wall of the heart, which is the highest and strongest of any physical wall. There is already a psychological wall of rejection. Anger and betrayal are being built in every Eritrean heart. The hearts of the Eritreans have been hurt. It will take years to heal the wounds. Eritreans believe the damages done by the Weyanes are far greater than the damages done by Haile Selassie and Mengistu Haile Mariam in their combined rule of 39 years.
I remember my grand father used to pray: " ata feTari kab eshoK mdrbiet kab Hsum gorebiet adHnena." An English translation would be: " O God, please deliver us from the thorns of the floor and the actions of an evil neighbor." Those who grew up walking bare-footed know how irritating it is when a sharp thorn pricks your feet! It is also clear when you have a neighbor who is evil, you do not have serenity and peace of the mind and the neighborhood is always in a state of turmoil.
Every Eritrean knows how our neighbors to the south behave. There are endless stories that tell how innocent Eritreans have been duped, deceived and betrayed by crooked and greedy Tigrayans. For those kinds of people, Eritrean fathers, mothers and children do not have a heart of love and compassion. Every Eritrean mother is bleeding when she hears and reads about the atrocities being committed by the lunatics of Tigray.
It was remarkable how fast the wounds of the 30 years of war have been healed. Now, another cycle of violence started. This has become a deeper wound. As it was during the struggle for national liberation, every Eritrean family is affected by the deportations and uprooting of civilians. It is also true, every family has a member of its household in the battle front defending his/her country. These young people are the natural resources of Eritrea and we do not want them to be wasted in a senseless border war. These young Eritreans are not like the expendable Weyane soldiers.
Deliberate steps have been taken by the Weyanes to exacerbate the situation. The Weyanes never thought beyond the tip of their noses and could not see beyond the eyebrows of their eyes and have completely forgotten the common elements, historical connections and inter marriages that have kept the two peoples together for centuries. In many ways the inhabitants of the highlands of Eritrea, especially those who live in the border areas, are not totally different from the inhabitants of Tigray. Why damage and destroy the historical relationships?
Considering all of these, why do the leaders of Tigray turn their backs on Eritrea and the Eritreans? Does this bring trust and respect? There is no logical explanation to the utter madness and desperation of the Weyanes!
In the military and diplomatic fields and in getting legitimacy, was it not the Eritrean People's Liberation Front ( EPLF ) that really helped the TPLF gain power in Addis Ababa and chase out Mengistu Haile Mariam and make him run to Zimbabwe in May 1991? Are these mayhem, destruction and dislocation of civilians the reward of Eritrea and the Eritreans?
At this time, a big gulf has been created by the Weyane leaders. This gulf will grow wider and wider, unless there are national reconciliation and formal apology by Meles Zenawi and his cohorts to the Eritrean people. There has to be a day of atonement and a day of forgiveness!
If there are no formal apology and an outright compensation by the governments of Tigray and Ethiopia, the relationship will be maintained at a distance. There will not be a need for communication and normalization of diplomatic relations. There will not be any border trade. Hence, the wall of separation will grow wider and deeper. It should be noted the people of Tigray are going to suffer. For many of them Eritrea has been a haven and a place of prosperity, modernity and advancement. At this time, it appears the Eritrean door is coming to a close.
All Eritreans, who are truly Eritreans, who live in Ethiopia and Tigray should be allowed to go to Eritrea. Ethiopia or Tigray can't be a safe place for Eritreans. Eritrea will be a better place for all true nationalists and dedicated Eritreans. They have the mechanical and technical skills that can be used in Eritrea. Eritrea is ready to accept them with open and wide arms. There has to be an orderly repatriation process, so that all Eritreans arrive safely in Eritrea. International organizations should be allowed to verify the process.
Those who wish to stay in Tigray or Ethiopia, can stay at their own risk. If they do so, let them accept Tigrayan and Ethiopian citizenship. However, by doing so, they will lose their connection with Eritrea and beloved family members.
All Tigrayans and Ethiopians, who are truly Tigryans and Ethiopians, who live in Eritrea, should be allowed to go to Tigray and Ethiopia. Those who wish to stay in Eritrea and accept Eritrean citizenship, should be allowed to stay. They should be given full protection by the Eritrean law and government. There should not be any harassment on any law abiding Tigrayan or Ethiopian who resides in Eritrea and respects the institutions of Eritrea.
The Eritrean economy does not need to depend on the manual labor of Tigrayans and Ethiopians. All of the young people who are coming home from the war fronts will be redeployed to go back to their places of employment, schools and farming areas.
As we know, today, more work is being done by computers and we should not depend on imported manual laborers. We have to educate our young people to be the masters of their destiny and the captains of their future. They are expected to be the producers and consumers of the modern marketplace. They should be able to compete with the world.
It is to be recalled during the 30 years of national struggle, the nationals of Tigray were collaborators with the government of Haile Selassie and Mengistu Haile Mariam. Tigrayans were the instruments and agents of spying, sabotage, killings, torture, rape against Eritreans and the poisoning of Eritrean wells inside Eritrea.
The Eritrean government was magnanimous and generous to let thousands of civilian Tigrayans and Amharas stay in Eritrea, right after the liberation of Eritrea on May 24, 1991. Others were allowed to leave Eritrea and left without any retribution.
When the dust of the war settles down and the border is demarcated, Eritrea should not look toward the south. Its trade partners should be the countries in the EAST, WEST and NORTH.
The southern wind is not a wind that brings good news or good rains. It is a whirlwind of misery, betrayal, deceit and greed. We should not expect anything good to come from the south. Our experience with the south has been an experience of disappointment, betrayal and back stabbing.
There is a Tigrigna expression: "lamsi bida zQerbas bigra tHakk." An English translation would be: " a cow scratches itself with its back legs, when it is evident the front legs are closer to it." Out of illogical thinking and contorted national pride, the Weyanes refused to use the Eritrean SEA PORTS of Massawa and Aseb and refused to accept the NAKFA as the legal tender! Are Djibouti, Berbera and Mombassa closer to Tigray than the Eritrean SEA PORTS?
Economically, they thought Eritrea would die and would beg to be incorporated into Ethiopia. How foolish could they be! How mendacious, audacious and sagacious could they be! The Eritrean economy is growing. It has survived two years of blockade. In spite of all of these damages, the Eritrean economy will prosper and Eritrea will stand on its feet very soon!
We need to let the Weyanes know Eritrean independence is real. It is not reversible. Eritrea will shine for forever. A lot has been paid to secure Eritrean independence. It is through the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices of Eritreans that, today, Eritrea is free and independent.
The slogan of Eritreans is: "ONE PEOPLE, ONE NATION AND ONE HEART!" It is this kind of unity that has identified Eritrea as a unique country. The people who live in the DIASPORA have worked like hand and glove with those who live inside Eritrea. Financial contributions have been flowing from all corners of the world and they will continue to flow in the future. Their unity has become stronger than the cement blocks, iron and steel reinforcements used to build houses.
Every Eritrean is a defender of the covenant and is a soldier to maintain the sovereignty and national integrity of his/her country. Eritrean resilience and perseverance will not be diminished.
The leaders of Tigray and Ethiopia do not want to see a stronger and economically independent Eritrea. They had planned to build Greater Tigray at the expense of Eritrea. They wanted to occupy Eritrea again. They wanted to get an access to our Red Sea by force. All of these sinister ideas did not work for the benefit of the Weyanes.
The war they unleashed against Eritrea did not help them overthrow the government of Eritrea. They did not establish a puppet government run by the remnants of the anti-unity elements who have become the Quislings of modern Eritrea. The backbone of the Eritrean army is not broken. The Eritrean economy has not melted down. The Weyanes were not able to deliver Assab to the Amharas in a silver platter! Ethiopia is still land locked. It will remain land locked!
If there is peace and the border area is demarcated in a fair and equitable way, it is believed Eritrea will gain more land. Hence, the blood of thousands of Amharas, Gurages, Hadiyas, Oromos, Sidamas, Somalis, Welaytas and many other ethnic groups in southern Ethiopia will haunt the Weyanes. It is expected there will be a major unrest in Tigray and Ethiopia. It also is conceivable Ethiopia will be the Yugoslavia of yesterday, which will be divided into several mini states. The ethnic-based areas ( Kililat) the Weyanes created will rebel against them. Thus, the fragmentation of Ethiopia is eminent.
If this happens, Eritrea will not be blamed. The outcome of Ethiopia's fragmentation will be the consequence of the unjust war the Weyanes have unleashed. Hence, the Weyanes will be the victims of their won deceit, greed, avarice, audacity, sagacity and mendacity.
Therefore, until formal and normal relations begin, our communication with the Weyanes of Tigray and Ethiopia should be from a distance. It is better to be like that for sometime. The level of trust, mutual respect and coexistence will take awhile to be cultivated.