Don’t Worry About Eritrea, Be Concerned About Ethiopia
|Eri-TV anchorman Raphael Giuseppe (R) with staff members in Asmara. These men dedicate their lives to informing the public and fighting disinformation against Eritrea - Credit: Afshin Rattansi|
Don’t Worry About Eritrea, Be Concerned About Ethiopia
Written by Aron Abraham,
Over the years, Eritreans have witnessed an increased number of, for lack of a better term, cyber commentators, who made taking cheap and illogical shots at Eritrea and its people their hobby. Basically there are two groups who seem to be engaged in this activity more than any. Discerning their thin facade reveals their true identity and motives which, although it might not come as a surprise, as all are well known in the community and people whom they are trying to prey upon, it’s not to be ignored and should be addressed.
For starters when analyzing such intense obsession, it’s prudent to look up the word “obsession” itself, which both groups have displayed they have in common regarding Eritrea. This obsession, which is medically termed as “mania”, will definitely make an interesting study into the human psychology in the near future about what drives one to ultimately grab onto the success (be it a person, an object or even a race or a nation) either in a positive way (feeling and claiming allegiance) or in a negative way (lashing out and bad mouthing). Sharing or voicing one's opinion or thoughts is not a problem, rather a sign of civilization and maturity but a targeted, pointed and constant negation and instigation in one direction has lifted those individuals from that sphere of doubt and cast them into an absolute, doubt free zone where souls that can’t be condoned exist.
The first group with the likes of Leonardo Vincent, Dan Connell and Martin Plaut have been discussed and discarded quite often so I will not dwell upon those individuals. The other interesting group of experts, commentators and analysts regarding Eritrea are the Ethiopians. Mostly compromising of ethnic Tigrai scholars who seem to be on a mission to lecture Eritreans about Eritrea.
Looking back on how most came about, its easy to see even though given a wide range of platforms in the internal Ethiopia Media from 1998-2002, they were driven out of this as their readership and influence dwindled. The Ethiopian public became more informed about actual events and started to discern this false information being fed to it. But with the active help of the TPLF regime those same people began using other external platforms.
Including the Ethiopian Government sponsored websites of Eritrea, they found sympathizers who are simply following the general anti Eritrea direction given and encouraged by the misguided west by such media outlets as Aljazeera (English), AllAfrica.com and Sudan Tribune.com .Those news agencies, happen to be owned by foreign entities and provide news as they see fit, not as is or not even attempting to provide a balanced outlook.
As an example, view the content of these articles:
- This article published on AllAfrica.com was written by Berouk Mesfin, who has the title of Senior Researcher and works at the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division (CPRA) in Addis Ababa. CPRA is part of a “think-tank organization ” called Institute for Security Studies. Staffers at ISS, despite the institutes claim to be a regional and continental organization, appear to be ignoring the plights and inhuman conditions the Ethiopian population are suffering while wasting no time in criticizing any Eritrean mishap or situation.
- Sudan Tribune; picks and chooses what to publish from only pro Ethiopia and/ or anti Eritrean sites, and on the occasions it does publish its own articles usually appearing under a nameless byline. Check this article as an example of a news report which was made to appear it was reported from Shire, Ethiopia. Does it make any sense that Sudan Tribune would have a reporter in Shire, Tigrai, Ethiopia? How large and well-funded must it be to have a reporter in such a small village such as Shire? A reasonable explanation would be it was reported by its regular contributors such as Tesfa-Alem Tekle and others who are reporters in Mekele?
- Aljazeera, certainly not to be left out, publishes articles written by such individuals as Goitom Gebreluel an academic hailing from Mekelle University.
Now as a normal, logical train of thought one would have to ask why is this intense attention given to Eritrea? Have those people who are spending valuable time worrying about Eritrea? Have they uplifted their own country from its problems? Have they cleaned their homes enough to feel obligated to such attention to their neighbors’ house?
Let considering the following articles of events happening in Ethiopia at the same time most are writing about Eritrea:
1) Internal Displacement due to land being sold to highest bidder and forcing the indigenous people out of their ancestral land has and is creating a mass exodus to neighboring Kenya which is currently hosting over 100,00 Ethiopian Refugees from Southern and Western Ethiopia.
A recent move by the US Congress regarding this landgrab is a late but positive reflection of what has been a tragic end to a traditional way of life for many.
2) The disturbing genocide being conducted in the Ogaden Region, which has and still is claming the lives of thousands as we speak.
Presently this is being investigated by Swedish military court and soon possibly by ICC as its first genocide case.
While these are the major situations which require immediate media, analysts, conflict prevention and academics’ attention, why are they focused on Eritrea? Other issues the current minority government of Ethiopia and its mouthpieces need to deal with and solve include education, water and electricity, migration and the effort to attain that taboo word of being aid and reliance free from donations and the sympathy of the world. Ironically, there is always this underlying effort to compare Eritrea with Ethiopia. But truth of the matter is, Eritrea which is well under way to sturdy and unshakable self sufficiency and infrastructure development in most sectors, while their nation which is rich, fertile and much more older is still at the top of the list of aid supported and donation receiving nations in the world year after year.
Looking at some outstanding facts certainly gets one thinking a lot regarding criticizing others while your laundry is full of dirt. As simple examples let’s see the following:
Fact #1: 2013 alone has seen the migration of 160,000 legal and tens of thousands illegal’s to nearby Middle Eastern countries. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-24/saudis-turn-to-ethiopian-maids-after-beheading-limits-supplies.html
Fact #2: After decades of being the poster nation for aid, drought and famine, still more than 13 million are expected to be kept alive by UN WFP aid. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/to-survive-famine-will-work-for-insurance/?_r=0
Fact # 3: The Governments corruption which is eating away the economy from its core is estimated to exceed 16 Billion.
Fact #4: Ethiopian youth illiteracy rate is at its lowest since it began getting recorded with less than 39% getting education: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ethiopia_statistics.html
Fact #5: 61.5% of Ethiopia’s population is deprived of adequate schooling http://www.ophi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Global-Multidimensional-Poverty-Index-2013-8-pager.pdf?18be84
Fact #6: 50 % Unemployment rate has led the youth to seek migration.
Fact #7: As for much spoken double-digit economic growth, the Economist Magazine casts doubt on such an assertion by noting: “….the Ethiopian inflation figures is fiddled with even more than those in Argentina” and “the double-digit growth rates predicted by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi look fanciful.”
Fact #8: Even though most of those commentators enjoy labeling Eritrea a “failed state”, a recent study has put Ethiopia at the top spot for a Failed State Prize.
Fact #9: Religious, political, and ethnic tensions are on the rise in Ethiopia, making it more vulnerable to a coup.
So with all the issues plaguing Ethiopia, why do these cyber Ethopian commentators worry so much about Eritrean issues? I, for one do not wish to overburden my neighbors south of the border with a task that does not require their attention or expertise but might be better for them to pay attention to their own issues at hand.
The other main issue at hand is why are those media organizations mentioned above giving these individuals space and opportunity to publish? Why not allow a response or a second opinion (rebuttal) to be published? Quite frankly those individuals who, without a doubt represent the desperate regime in Addis Ababa, can write what they wish on their blogs or government sites, but to be given access to outside source is nothing but a concerted effort to derail the slowly but surly gaining momentum train that is Eritrea while they might be better off salvaging their own conundrum, if it can ever be solved.
As a conclusion, I would like to stress that no matter what’s being written or published the nation of Eritrea will continue on its path. I would also like to leave you with this timeless message from a recent interview with EDF Minister Gen. Sebaht Eferem:
"We cannot make drama and hysteria like the Weyanes, so there's no reason to try. We are not liars and we don't have access to international news agents, because our cause does not interest international news agencies. So when they make noise by ringing the church bell we can just look at it knowing that the movement of the bell going back in forth will stop sooner or later and when it does, we will either talk if it benefits us and if its irrelevant we will just watch the issue die."
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