Date: Friday, 17 November 2023
“From conspiracy to madness”
Published on November 7, 2023 at 11:47 am
A conversation with Tekheste-Birhan: This year, violent actions were carried out in various cities abroad to disrupt and prevent gatherings and festivals of Eritreans. It surprised many. But people like Tekheste-Birhan are not surprised. Why not?
EV (Eritrean Voice) spoke to Tekheste-Birhan about this in detail.
EV: Why were you not surprised by the violent actions at Eritrean events and festivals?
Tekheste-Birhan: Anyone who is familiar with the historical context and causes of these violent actions and is clear about the initiators, financiers and their intentions will not be surprised. However, before I address your question, I must first clarify what is meant by historical context. It is of great importance to know that our historical opponents already in the 20th century assumed that a free Eritrea would not contribute to their global agenda. Their foreign policy orientation as it relates to our region has continued to this day and is still relevant. Therefore, even after Eritrea's independence, they continued to attack us in various ways and destroy our independent national path. For a quarter of a century they have continuously tried to isolate and weaken our newborn country from the world community through military, political, economic and diplomatic conspiracies and intrigues. They wanted to make the people of Eritrea no longer appreciate and even regret the independence they had fought for, so that they would long for the old foreign rule. "From the standpoint of justice, the opinion of the Eritreans should have been taken into account. However, the interests of the United States in the Red Sea and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary for the country to be incorporated into Ethiopia." John Foster Dulles, US Senator and later US Secretary of State, before the UN Assembly in New York in 1952
EV: What strategy did you pursue?
Tekheste-Birhan: Eritrea did not have its independence handed to it like many other former colonies. After a bloody and sacrificial war, it gained independence in 1991 and was declared an independent state after a referendum in 1993. But after just five years, a so-called border dispute arose between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The TPLF government in Ethiopia was hired and financed to wage an open war of aggression against Eritrea between 1998 and 2000. This measure was intended to punish and discourage the Eritrean people and eliminate the Eritrean government. They wanted to establish a puppet government that would subordinate their regional anchor state Ethiopia under TPLF. However, the plan was not implemented due to massive resistance from Eritreans. After the defeat on the battlefield, a peace agreement was reached in Algiers. We all know this. Nevertheless, they did everything to influence and paralyze the final and binding decision of the Boundary Commission, which ultimately led to a no-war, no-peace state (2000-2018).
EV: What impact did this situation have on Eritrea?
Tekheste-Birhan: Actually, the no-war, no-peace state has led to a tense situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which has also affected the entire Horn of Africa region. In addition to maintaining a tense state of affairs, they have sought to strangle Eritrea's economic development. They believed that the difficult economic situation in Eritrea could lead the people to revolt against their own government. This could help them realize their plans for regime change in Eritrea. Western international financial institutions were also asked to stop providing loans to Eritrea. Western companies have also been discouraged from making their investments in Eritrea. In addition, baseless, unfair sanctions were imposed against Eritrea in 2009 to cruelly punish the people of Eritrea, because the people of Eritrea have proven to be able to endure a lot and support their own government. The tactic of using problems to motivate people to riot and revolt against their own government could not work for the people of Eritrea with a fighting heart. The people of Eritrea have chosen to remain free and independent, even if they have to be fed due to a shortage of leaves.
EV: There were also international organizations that criticized the state of Eritrea?
Tekheste-Birhan: The activities of the UNHCR, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Council were used to constantly criticize Eritrea's difficult situation and damage the reputation of the Eritrean government. The history, culture and values of the Eritrean people were also denigrated and a campaign of demonization was carried out against Eritrea for years. However, it was not possible to achieve their goal because the Eritrean people were aware of the political situation and were able to prevent it.
EV: What are the reasons for the migration of Eritreans?
Tekheste-Birhan: The resilience of the Eritrean people has remained unbroken despite military aggression and economic and political intrigue. This is the reason why they came up with another plan to make Eritrean youths flee. The US government attempted to immigrate part of the Eritrean population, specifically the Kunama, to the United States as early as 2004 by collaborating with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In February 2009, the US Office for Refugees announced that 10,000 Eritrean youth fleeing national service could receive asylum. In a speech in September 2012, former US President Barack Obama also referred to the cooperation with partners who helped women, children and young people escape from so-called “rogue states” such as North Korea and Eritrea. The expected results can be seen, he said. This shows the existence of a network that deals with people from Eritrea and has viewed the migration of Eritreans as a political tool. This was driven by governments, secret services and international institutions.
EV: Which international organizations took part and what role did they play?
Tekheste-Birhan: International institutions include the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. In 2009/2011, the UNHCR secretly appealed to several Western states to create a direct opportunity to grant asylum to Eritrean nationals. These countries then laid the foundation for the immigration of people from Eritrea. However, the granting of asylum rights to Eritrean refugees has meant that many citizens of East African states have been able to describe themselves as “Eritreans” and have therefore received asylum. It is no secret that many of these people who have gained access to asylum in these countries in this way openly admit this fact.
EV: Are there concrete figures and sources for this?
Tekheste-Birhan: In an interview with the APA in 2015, the former Austrian ambassador to Ethiopia, Andreas Melán, stated that 40 percent of the “Eritrean refugees” in Europe come from Ethiopia. Some places even assume 60 percent. In 2017, a study report in the Italian magazine “Panorama” also found that at least a third of the refugees recognized as “Eritreans” in Europe come from northern Ethiopia.
EV: What has the UNHCR done for the refugees?
Tekheste-Birhan: The UNHCR leaders have set up camps for refugees in Ethiopia and Sudan. This has only paved the way for migration of Eritreans. The government officials in these countries were their partners, with whom they then jointly profited from the Eritrean refugee business. The ARRA, led by TPLF cadres and security service personnel in the northern Ethiopian province of Tigray, was the authority in charge of the Ethiopian side. However, this agency has engaged in a joint interest game with UNHCR staff. It becomes clear that there are actually other interests behind the supposed humanitarian concerns. ES: What exactly is the ARRA and what was its relationship to the UNHCR? Tekheste-Birhan: The ARRA is the abbreviation for “Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs” and was the responsible agency for refugee affairs in Ethiopia. This agency leased the land from the administration of the Tigray region and established four refugee camps in Shimelba, Hitsats, May-Aini and Addi Harush. Annual lease payments for the four camps amounted to $9.6 million, provided by UNHCR. The UNHCR made the payments to ARRA through the Ethiopian central government, and the ARRA then passed on the lease fees to the Tigray region administration.
EV: How much help did the refugees receive?
Tekheste-Birhan: The UNHCR paid US$150 per month for each registered refugee, while the agency paid only 80 Ethiopian birr to each refugee. The remaining funds were transferred to the coffers of the Tigray region. In the month alone, the Tigray regional administration was able to generate a sum of 4.5 to 6 million US dollars. Furthermore, ARRA has received extensive aid from various organizations to support the “Eritrean refugees”. However, together with representatives of the UNHCR and officials of the Tigray regional administration, it used these services for its own purposes. In addition, UNICEF also provided special aid for babies and minors. These were also used without hesitation to line their own pockets.
EV: This looks like an immoral game played out in a humanitarian guise?
Tekheste-Birhan: Business was not only done with services and assistance for refugees. The ARRA and the staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have also engaged in a form of nepotism with the refugees. In many cases, people who were not actually Eritreans were given preference and offered further immigration to third countries for a fee. As a result, the number of Eritreans who are still languishing in refugee camps is really not low, while other people have immigrated in their place with their documents in Europe, Australia, Canada and America. Illegal human trafficking of Eritreans was also carried out.
EV: Was the Eritrean government unable to do anything about illegal human trafficking?
Tekheste-Birhan: It was indeed a crime that put human lives in unimaginable danger and caused serious human rights violations in the process. Those responsible for this inhumane trade were not prosecuted or convicted. Instead, they were encouraged. The Eritrean government had called on the United Nations to have an independent body investigate the crimes committed by human traffickers against Eritreans and to bring the perpetrators to justice. However, she didn't find a sympathetic ear.
EV: What was intended to be achieved by the “Migration of Eritreans”?
Tekheste-Birhan: The conspiracy behind the migration was initially aimed at weakening the number of Eritrean defense forces and depriving the country of necessary manpower. But the main goal was to use the young people to form a strong opposition to the Eritrean government abroad. In addition, sub-nationalism should be encouraged among Eritreans and more problems would be created at home, so that Eritrea would no longer be able to claim the occupied territories of Eritrea. Should the regime change be successful, a situation should be created in which the final and binding decision of the Boundary Commission could be changed.
EV: Has the opposition ever developed into a strong armed opposition?
Tekheste-Birhan: The aim was to set up groups in the northern Ethiopian refugee camps for Eritrean youth who had left their homeland and to build a strong armed opposition against the Eritrean government. However, the reasons that motivated the young people to leave their homeland were not political, but economic. This meant that most of the young people who had emigrated did not fall victim to the conspiracy. In the host countries where they immigrated, they joined the Eritrean communities and defended themselves against hostilities alongside their country and their people. Therefore, the objectives of the project of migrating Eritreans could not be achieved. This led to a crisis among opponents, which led to the well-known measures against the 2 percent construction tax. This tax is a contribution that Eritrean nationals in the diaspora make voluntarily.
EV: What damage occurred and what successes did the conspiracy have?
Tekheste-Birhan: It is undisputed that the conspiracy has significantly damaged the country and its youth. However, the desired goals could not be achieved despite the enormous investments and efforts they had put into this project. The Eritrean citizens who fled into exile to solve their economic problems have not distanced themselves from their people and government as expected. They continued to actively participate in the national program, making it clear to the architects of migration that their efforts had been in vain until then. Over the past three years of adventurous ventures and insane actions, the youth have proven their loyalty to their people and their army. This certainly caused frustration on the part of the opponent. It has become obvious that the sophisticated project, in particular the plan for the total exodus of intelligent and able-bodied youth from Eritrea, has ultimately failed completely, despite all the financial resources, generous asylum privileges and intensive misinformation and propaganda.
EV: How was Eritrea able to survive despite all these hostilities and challenges?
Tekheste-Birhan: The political and psychological superiority that the Eritrean people have contributed to the people being able to successfully overcome all the hostilities. Through the experience gained during the many difficult battles, the Eritrean people were able to withstand open attacks and campaigns of vicious demonization and various conspiracies. The behavior of the Eritrean people shows a high level of political awareness. This meant that, despite all the challenges, it was able to remain undeterred on its national path. It has always managed not to succumb to manipulations and conspiracies and not to endanger its national interest.
EV: How can one explain the events at events in Eritrea in the recent past?
Tekheste-Birhan: Should it be impossible to organize an uprising against the Eritrean government, the Eritrean people in the diaspora have been declared the immediate target. The crazy plan to disrupt national celebrations and gatherings of Eritreans abroad is a result of frustrations over the failure of the grand conspiracy. The riots at Eritrean events are a continuation of the many hostilities that the people of Eritrea have so far thwarted and can be seen as a last attempt made out of frustration.
EV: Do you have the impression that the actions were planned?
Tekheste-Birhan: These were not spontaneous actions, but rather targeted actions that had already taken months. Certain actors were positioned.
EV: Could you please tell us about those involved?
Tekheste-Birhan: Some of those involved are bums and marauders who do not expect to return to Eritrea because of thefts and crimes in Eritrea. Another group consists of people who make a living through social media and equate insults and insults with political opposition work. Others can be seen as supporters of subnationalism. There are also those who from far abroad mock the Eritreans in their homeland and present themselves as saviors and heroes.
EV: What happened next?
Tekheste-Birhan: Young people were brought together here and there and given a little money. The transport costs for the missions were covered and the necessary financial resources were provided. Many of those who supposedly received asylum as Eritreans were sent to the front line. The blue flag with the olive branch from the old days was brought out and used as if Eritrea was no longer a sovereign country. The Western secret services were said to have played an important role in the planning and financing of the actions. Western governments should also have been required to handle the unrest in a manageable manner, but with carelessness and indifference. The so-called human rights activists, influencers, hired foreign journalists and media outlets were supposed to have been given the task of propagating and disseminating the terrorist actions as political opposition to the government.
EV: Was sollte mit den Ausschreitungen erreicht werden?
Tekheste-Birhan: Die Ziele, die durch die Unruhen und Ausschreitungen erreicht werden sollten, sind nicht schwer zu erraten. Es ist ähnlich wie bei den Maßnahmen gegen die 2 % Aufbausteuer. Das eritreische Volk konnte sich, wie zuvor erwähnt, weder durch die Feuerkraft der feindlichen Angriffe noch durch schwere Wirtschaftssanktionen aus dem Gleichgewicht bringen lassen. Deswegen sollten die eritreischen nationalen Feste und Veranstaltungen, die im Ausland stattfinden, gestört und später aus Sicherheitsgründen verboten werden. Diese wahnsinnigen Aktionen können nur als Folge von Enttäuschungen und Frustrationen über das Scheitern der großen Verschwörung angesehen werden.
Hinweis: Dieser Artikel stellt die Meinung des Interviewten dar und spiegelt nicht unbedingt die Meinung des Seitenbetreibers bzw. der ES dar.
@Eritreische Stimme Eritrean Voice
*President Obama speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative
*Andreas Melán, Austrian Ambassador to Ethiopia from January 2014 to August 2018
*Refugee camp in northern Ethiopia (Tigray)
*Gewalttätige Demonstranten in Blau während einer der Ausschreitungen