ERITREA: The Modern Day Carpetbaggers and Scalawags
|Dan Connell organized Eritrean opposition youth protest in Washington, D.C.|
ERITREA: The Modern Day Carpetbaggers and Scalawags
By Sophia Tesfmariam,
When the monkey sees a nice fruit in the tree that can’t be grasped, then the monkey says the fruit is rotten-African Proverb
The African proverb reminds me of the naysayers who insist on pushing their narratives on the State of Eritrea, regardless of the evidence, facts and realities on the ground. Acting like the jealous lover who insists on killing his/her mate so as to not allow others to have her/him, Eritrea’s modern day scalawags and carpetbaggers are burning the midnight oil, not to mention abusing US and European tax payer’s monies, to advance their narratives on the nation, its government and people. Realizing that they cannot have a say in Eritrea’s economic and political life, have decided that they will instead tarnish its image, with the hopes of bringing the Eritrean people to their knees…
Eritrea is indeed surprising many who may have been disillusioned or influenced by the aggressive, well-funded (NED and George Soros) 14-year long defamation and vilification campaign against the State of Eritrea and its leadership. They are now realizing that the naysayers were nothing more than the Eritrean version of carpetbaggers and scalawags. Eritrea’s self -reliant economic policies are being touted as the way for Africa, that Eritrea’s ability to develop its social capital adds to the sustainability of the gains made etc. etc.
I chose the title for good reason. The term “carpetbagger” refers to a traveler who arrives in a new region with only a satchel (or carpetbag) of possessions, and who attempts to profit from or gain control over his new surroundings, often against the will or consent of the original inhabitants. In the post-US Civil War south, carpetbaggers were Northerners who moved to the South to take advantage of the unstable social, financial, and political climate. These transient characters moved south carrying all their possessions in a carpet-bag, they moved to the South after the Civil War to get rich, to take over all jobs, land and money.The reconstruction era in the South gave birth to new enemies who were in a unique position to exploit those in dire straits. While their stated mission was to rebuild the war-torn Confederate states; their personal mission was to make money – and they didn’t care how they did it.
Scalawags in American history refers to Southern whites who formed a Republican coalition with black freedmen and Northern newcomers (carpetbaggers) to take control of the state and local governments. Some misguided, selfish and myopic Eritrean “academics and intellectuals” in the Eritrean Diaspora are good examples of scalawags. Those who work with Eritrea’s enemies to undermine Eritrea’s development. Those who betray the trust of Eritrea’s martyrs to advance narrow personal agendas. Those who have used their academic and other institutional contacts and networks to undermine the Eritrean government and people. Those who insist on creating conflicts in the otherwise tight knit and tolerant Eritrean Diaspora Communities. Those who insist on advancing their illicit agendas through intimidation and harassment of members of the Eritrean Diaspora who refuse to follow their anti-Eritrea agendas…Hasusat and Kede’at in Tigrinya.
The mercenary Eritreans, members of the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL), are today playing the role of the scalawags-for in their warped minds, these culturally blind Eritreans who want to undermine their own cultures and presuppositions in a bid to become “westernized”, believe the West and its institutions, which denied and suppressed the rights of the Eritrean people for over half a century, knows what is best for Eritrea and its people, and those who fought for their rights and sacrificed life and limb for Eritrea, for just as long, somehow do not. Serving those who are responsible for the massacre of thousands of Eritreans, the destruction of their homes and villages, those responsible for the desecration of cemeteries of Eritrea’s fallen heroes, is somehow supposed to make them more acceptable to the West and garner them preferred positions in their circles.
For the modern day carpetbaggers, their mission of exploitation and plunder has caused havoc in Africa using the language of “human rights”, “democracy”, “freedom of expression”, “freedom of religion”, “war on terror”, and now “human trafficking”… sugar coated pretexts for more deadly, more insidious and more widespread intervention in the sovereignty of African states-especially those not amenable to the West and its tentacle organizations such as the IMF and World Bank.
The carpetbaggers, along with some disgruntled NGOs, and academics with no knowledge of Eritrea or her people, have partnered with self-serving defectors and their coterie and have pretty much the same missions or worse than that of the western missionaries that enabled the colonization of Africa. As an Eritrean-American, while flabbergasted, and sometimes even flattered, by the enormous amount of literature on Post-independence Eritrea by individuals and groups, neither I , nor the vast Eritrean Diaspora was hoodwinked by them.
Considering the fact that for over 30 years, and especially during the struggle for Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia, there was an unspoken gag on the name “Eritrea” from being mentioned in the mainstream media or in western academic institutions. In the meantime, Ethiopia’s true history was adjusted and re-written, the Ethiopian myth was perpetuated, and distorted to justify Ethiopian colonization of Eritrea. While there was some literature on Eritrea written by those who visited Eritrea and believed in the Eritrean struggle, it is in no way comparative to the number of “academic” and other reports that have been produced in the last 23 years-the last 14 making up the majority.
What is shamefully absent is the voice of the so-called “intellectuals and professionals” who have been co-opted and silenced by the very institutions that have been at the root of the suffering of the Eritrean people for so many decades. Choosing to advance their own personal careers at the expense of the Eritrean people, set out to serve as the “Eritrean Faces” for the anti-Eritrea defamation and vilification campaigns. The Eritrean Diaspora-whose hearts and minds they have been unable to win, continues to reject their many gimmicks and ploys. But there are some gullible young Eritreans who have been caught up in the deceit and they are unknowingly being used to advance the agendas of Eritrea’s enemies and it is important to expose them for what they are and set the record straight.
These self-serving individuals feign concern about the people of Eritrea but have done everything they can-with the help of their handlers-to strangulate Eritrea’s economy and isolate Eritrea diplomatically and politically. And true to their nature, and almost on cue, a whimper of their stench lingers in the air whenever the minority regime in Ethiopia finds itself in some kind of quagmire. It is as if they are attached at the hops with the minority regime in Ethiopia…
The 1998-2000 Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict ended when the Ethiopian regime was forced to sign the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement on 19 June 2000. Successive offensives against Eritrea and the regime’s last ditch effort to capture the Port City of Assab failed miserably, forcing it to return to the negotiating table. Eritrean villages were destroyed, Martyrs cemeteries desecrated, over a million were displaced from their homes and villages, but the “Eritrean Academics and Professionals” were busy working with the enemy to undermine Eritrea and its leadership.
Two such individuals, Assefaw Tekeste and Bereket Habte Selassie met in Japan with Kifle Wodajo and Endrias Eshete, advisors to Meles Zenawi. The meeting in Japan took place during the third offensive, in early June 2000, to be exact. This happened a couple of months prior to Dr. Bereket and the infamous B-13 meeting in Berlin. Despite Dr. Bereket’s claim that these two men, Andreas Eshete and Kifle Wedajo being just “interlocutors” in this meeting arranged by Peace Boat, it is a known fact that they were not merely there for conversations, but were in fact representing Meles’ government. Of all the individual Ethiopians in the Diaspora, how is it that Peace Boat decided to pick two of Meles Zenawi’s advisors to converse with two anti-GoE and anti-PIA Eritreans?
Bereket Habte Selassie attempted to insult the intelligence of the Eritrean people by writing the following when questioned by this author:
“…Early in the Spring of 2000, they approached me and Dr. Asefaw with a view to exploring ways of (a) helping in finding ways to end the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and (b) planning the creation of institutions of higher learning as well as small industries in or around the areas of the conflict (in this case Badme) after the conflict is over…”
While Eritreans all over the world waited anxiously for the war to end, this man and his accomplices met with enemy agents and now want us to believe that it was all perfectly innocent and was done for the benefit of Eritrea. As this author said back then, the moon is right and he was born with the star of good luck on his palm!!!
But soon after in October of 2000, the Eritrean Diaspora would be introduced to a group of self-professed “Academics and Professionals”, better known as the Berlin 13 with Bereket Habte Selassie and Assefaw Tekeste played the leading roles. Coincidence?
So what did the “Academics and Professionals” do?
These self-professed “Academics and Professionals” had a secret meeting in Berlin and came up with a letter to the President of Eritrea. That letter was leaked by the Ethiopian regime and its surrogates at Awate.com. Explaining how that happened, Araya Debessay, a member of the Berlin 13, in an email sent to this author and others in 2001 stated the following:
“…How Awate.com received an advance copy of the letter is an item that needs clarification since this has been a point of contention among those who speculate on how the letter was leaked. The version that was posted by Awate.com is not the final version that was mailed to PIA. Salih Gadi, the owner of Awate.com who was invited but unable to attend the meeting has been a distant on-line participant, and as a result he was getting copies of the drafts of the letter. At the last minute, it was decided that the signatories of the letter should be only those who met in Berlin. As a result, Salih Gadi did not receive a copy of the final version of the letter, and what was posted at Awate.com, a day after the scanned version of the authentic letter was published in Dehai, is an earlier version of the letter…”
It has since become known that Awate.com, as were the Berlin 13 and some members of the G-15 (members of the Eritrean government), were working closely with Meles Zenawi’s minority regime and its handlers. In the letter to the President of Eritrea, the Berlin 13 found it prudent to question “the nature and style of our leadership in the post-independence period”. They then went on to insult the President of Eritrea, blame Eritrea for the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict and presume to give the President advise on how to run the nation. They ended their self-serving letter with this ultimatum:
“…On our side, we will spare no effort to help secure Eritrea’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty. At the same time, we will endeavor to promote a culture of openness, tolerance, accountability and rule of law. To these ends, we intend to broaden our base by convening a larger meeting which will consider your response to this letter. The idea is to begin and institutionalize a government/civil society dialogue on a continuing basis as a critical part of a healthy development of our future…”
The President of Eritrea, however, was magnanimous enough to meet with them in Asmara. The group met with President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara on November 25th, bringing yet another letter with them. In this document they stated that they were not a political group and made a formal request to work with the government “as much as possible.” They denied having anything to do with leaking their original Berlin letter. The President expressed his views about the group and their opinions and decided that he did “not see any substantive issue on the paper outside the publicity given to it”. Bereket Habte Selassie did not attend the meeting.
Araya Debessay, someone whose hate-filled obsession with the President of Eritrea has prevented him from making any meaningful intellectual contribution to the country or its people, is one of those that has made it his raison d’etre to seek and find Eritreans in the Diaspora who could help advance his anti-Eritrea agendas. Working closely with Assefaw Tekeste and Paulos Tesfagiorgis, he continues to show his utter contempt for the Eritrean people and insists on insulting their intelligence with open letters and manifestos.
Before this author addresses his latest attempt, let us take a look at his sordid record.
On 8 October 2000 in his article, “Meeting of Eritrean Academics and Professionals in Berlin”. Araya Debessay writing about the letter to the President of Eritrea and his group’s agenda, said the following:
“…The letter concurs with the Eritrean National Assembly’s recent resolution condemning the criminal acts of the Ethiopian government, and condemns the many egregious acts of violence, vandalism, rape and theft that have been perpetrated, and are being perpetrated, by agents of the said government against innocent Eritreans. In this respect, we pledge to commit our intellectual and financial resources in the ongoing effort to mobilize support…The gathering in Berlin also decided to call a larger meeting within the next few months to follow up on developments in our country and to take appropriate measures to help secure Eritrea’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty… On the international front, the group commits itself to continue its efforts in supporting the Government’s diplomatic efforts through its lobbying and media relations activities and to promote the image Eritrea as a friendly and peace loving country. Finally, the group reaffirmed its commitment to support all nation building and social and economic development programs…”
Contrary to what he said in that October 2000 article, Araya Debessay and his coteries set out to do just the opposite. In one of their articles posted in Asmarino, which according to Wikileaks, is an anti-Eritrea CIA funded site, surrogates of the Berlin 13 wrote the following:
“…Like-minded Eritrean-Americans with a firm dedication to democracy will need to build an informal and consequently formal network that is action-oriented… Through this network, letters that expose the autocratic nature of Issaias’ government will need to be drafted, finalized, and distributed to US government representatives, World Bank, IMF, Amnesty International and other organizations… Also, key messages that publicize the tyrannical orientation of the system of government in Eritrea will need to be disseminated electronically, i.e. inside popular Web-sites, as well as physically, i.e. attending forums sponsored or attended by representatives of the Eritrean government…”
In the last 14 years, Eritreans have seen what the likes of Araya Debessay, Bereket Habte Selassie and Paulos Tesfagiorgis and their coteries, the “Eritrean Faces” that served to advance the agendas of Eritrea’s historical enemies, have done to undermine Eritrea diplomatically, economically and politically. They have been instrumental in producing the volumes of unsubstantiated articles and reports about the Government and people of Eritrea. Establishing one and two-man NGOs, these un-elected individuals with no mandate from the people, have flooded American and European institutions of government with letters and petitions on behalf of the Eritrean people.
The regime in Ethiopia and its handlers have come up with various ploys to amend, revise, reverse and even annul the EEBC’s decisions. The regime has also employed distractive, disruptive mercenary Eritreans to advance its agendas against the State of Eritrea and divert international attention away from its violation of international law and occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories. Paulos Tesfagiorgis, Bereket Habte Selassie and Assefaw Tekeste, self-proclaimed “intellectuals”, have played leading roles in organizing these miscreant individuals and groups.
In addition to organizing various conferences in Ethiopia and in neighboring states, the EQL have worked to recruit young educated Eritreans to defect and join their groups. Today, Paulos Tesfagiorgis and his handlers have concocted another ploy to reward Ethiopia. From “transitional justice”, these miscreants are now touting a new initiative-“HOPE”-Horn of Africa Peace Engagement. This latest shenanigan is part and parcel of the various schemes advanced by the regime and its handlers, tunes to which these mercenary foot soldiers have dutifully marched. As part of the new initiative orchestrated by Tesfagiorgis and his group, a series of meetings/conferences have been held. They have been held in London, Atlanta and Djibouti. At the 2010 meeting held in Atlanta, GA. they proposed, among other things, the following:
“…establishing the border town of Badme as a neutral zone recognised by both Eritrea and Ethiopia to be run by faith groups…”
This is the same proposal advanced by the minority regime and its cadres once they realized that the independent Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission had awarded Badme, the casus belli for the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict to Eritrea.
A friend forwarded a letter that was sent to him by Araya Debessay, similar to other letters that have been sent out by the good Professor to others he foolishly believes agree with his outlook on Eritrea and its future.Today, Araya Debessay, a member of Paulos Tefagiorgis’ cyber AstroTurf NGOs, is back again and this time he is once again trying to resuscitate the fledgling anti-Eritrea campaign. Araya Debessay
After 14 years, there are three constants that stand out-his obsession with the President of Eritrea, his contempt for the people of Eritrea, and his warped notion of what the role of the Eritrean intellectual ought to be. Suffice it to mention excerpts from his latest “Open Letter to My Fellow Eritreans”, which he intends to disseminate in Tigrinya and Arabic when it has been cleaned up. This self-professed intellectual, who is obviously detached from the reality in Eritrea, as he has not been there since 2000, begins his 11-page letter with this:
“…our country is in the worst situation possible. The economy is in ruins with a galloping inflation rate that has left many families begging for day-to-day survival. For many families, it is through the generous remittances from family members in the Diaspora that they are barely able to sustaining themselves…”
If that were true, Araya Debessay and his cohorts would be celebrating, not bemoaning the situation in Eritrea. Blemishing Eritrea’s image, distorting the exaggerating the realities is their way of making themselves feel relevant. They have somehow convinced themselves that Eritreans lacked intellectual capital and that they could continue to blackmail the people and government. Not anymore. Thanks to the sound economic and social policies of the Government of Eritrea and the gallant work done by the people, Eritrea today is one of a few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that is on track to meet or exceed 7 out 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Access to healthcare, education and potable water has greatly improved the lives of the people. The mining and other industries are doing quite well, despite efforts by Araya Debessay and his cohorts to halt the progress and hold Eritrea’s development hostage.
This professor who has no relations with the vast Eritrean Diaspora and has no firsthand knowledge of its activities and relations to Eritrea said:
“…it seems most Eritreans in the Diaspora have given up on Eritrea, leaving the fate of Eritrea to some divine intervention…”
If this Professor knew a thing or two about Eritreans, he would know that they are a tight knit, vibrant, productive community, very much engaged with their country of origin. From participating in the economic, social and political life of Eritrea, they are also instrumental in combatting and frustrating the ongoing anti-Eritrea efforts of his partners and their sponsors. Convincing himself that the unified people of Eritrea are in need of his intervention, he wants to create what he calls a “Global Union of Eritreans in the Diaspora”.
Araya Debessay states in his letter that:
“…Many nations and the International Community as a whole could not support our cause up to now and the main reason for their reluctance is the fact that we are too fragmented and they do not know whom to deal with and whom to trust and support. With the election of the Global Leadership, a body that will have the legitimacy and the mandate given to it by every Eritrean in the Diaspora, our Global leaders will get the attention of the International community and will be able to comfortably appear in any forum to speak effectively on behalf of the Eritreans in the Diaspora and on behalf the voiceless at home…”
What he does not seem to understand is that the vast majority of the Eritrean Diaspora also does not trust them, but more importantly rejected them in 2000, and will reject them again, as they do not represent them in any way. Of course those in their coterie (mostly family members) will remain as their only constituents. Insulting the intelligence of the Eritrean Diaspora, Araya Debessay wrote:
Anti-Eritrea individuals and groups
These are the individuals and groups who make up the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL)
“…the campaign that has been waged by Dr. Tewolde Tesfamarim, (Wedi Vaccaro) who has been visiting several cities in the US and Europe, and by Amanuel Eyassu of Assenna.com have contributed a great deal in mobilizing and encouraging Eritreans to form groups. In the United States for example, there are several cities that have already formed groups and they are growing. Among these cities are: Washington Metropolitan Area, Boston, Atlanta, Bay Area, San Diego, Denver, Indiana, etc. And the same is true in many other parts of the world. I was pleased to read a report by Petros Tesfagiorgis at Asmarino.com about a group that was formed in London…For sure, there will be a need for highly competent and dedicated individuals to serve as a Lobbyist Group, Media Group, Funds Raising Group, Outreach Group, Think Tank Group, Seminars and Conferences organizing groups, Public Relations group, Foreign Relations Committee, Security Committee, etc…”
The good Professor goes on:
“…For those who may have concerns about punitive measures that may be inflicted on them, should they dare to travel to visit their family members in Eritrea, or who fear for the safely of their loved ones and family members due to their association with the Union of Eritreans for Democratic Change, arrangements can be made to allow them to participate without revealing their identify. The least such individuals can do and should do is to unanimously show their support financially and other ways…”
How cowardice…so un-Eritrean.
Majority of the Diaspora continue support for the government and people of Eritrea in some of the most hostile nations-including the United States and Canada. They have stood up for their country and people, and most of all for justice. The best that Araya Debessay can hope for will be members of the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL):
“…an alliance of jilted and scorned individuals, of like-minded defeatists, self-serving defectors, deserters and draft dodgers, disgruntled runaway diplomats, pedophiles, rapists, deceitful counterfeiters, information launderers and an assortment of shameless scandalous opportunists disguised as “journalists”, “human rights” and “democracy” activists, pawns who serve as runners for western fundamentalist Christian cartels and Western agencies and NGOs, self-professed “intellectuals and professionals”, and pseudo-intellectuals who call for academic freedom while engaging in academic dishonesty, a loathsome miscreant mercenary Eritrean elite who have spent the last 14 years slavishly parroting prepared anti-Eritrea propaganda, in exchange for pitiful stipends…”
As if the Eritrean Diaspora has not been following his destructive agendas for the last 14 years, the Professor offers the following n the EQL:
“…I understand there are over 30 political parties and groups at the present time…There are several civic organizations all over the world. To mention some that I am familiar with: (a) Eritrean Global Solidarity (EGS), which is US based organization that was formed in 2007 “to struggle for Justice, Human Rights and Democracy”. EGS “promises to struggle tenaciously to empower the peace loving Eritrean people in their quest for justice, human rights and democracy.” I am a member of the Advisory Group of EGS, (b) Eritreans to Facilitate National Dialogue (EFND), of which I am a founding member, was formed in August 2013 with “the sole aim to facilitate civilized and constructive dialog among Eritreans to help build a better foundation for Eritrea’s future.” And (c) Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea (CDRiE). I was one of the founding members who created CDRiE…”
Araya Debessay ignores the dedicated, successful professional youth who are making contributions to Eritrea’s economic, social and political development, those who are returning to Eritrea to provide technical support, teach in the schools and colleges, and those who financially and morally supporting children in the orphanages, disabled veterans and families of Eritrea’s beloved Martyrs, but instead reaches out to groups such as the EYSC that are responsible for the destruction of Eritrean Community Centers in the Diaspora and intimidate and harass its members. He stands up for the rights of these hooligans and troublemakers in our midst and denies Eritreans the right to live in peace.
Once again, insulting the intelligence of the Eritrean people and adding salt to their wounds, the good professor elevates the stature of the three individuals who have been responsible for the suffering of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, the trafficking of Eritrea’s youth, the detention of Eritrean youths in places such as Ethiopia, Israel, Libya and the United States, those responsible for the illegal adoption of Eritrean children born in Ethiopian refugee camps, to that of heroines. Here is what he said in his letter:
“…I would also like to take this opportunity to express my admiration to individual Eritreans for the exemplary role they are playing for the good of their country and the Eritrean people. Elsa Chirum, Dr. Alganesh Fisseha Ghandi, and Meron Estifanona are some of those that come to mind among the many other individuals who have been doing remarkably outstanding job to help Eritrean refugees and to bring their plight to world attention. Please continue your relentless effort in helping those who desperately need your help. You will be in the history books of Eritrea for what you are doing. I wish you all the best…”
Yes, history and the people of Eritrea will judge them harshly.
If he knew a thing or two about the majority of the Eritrean Diaspora that he labels “supporters of the government”, he would know that they are well organized and have close ties with their compatriots in Eritrea. Their priorities differ from that of the good professor and his ilk. The most important issues for the people of Eritrea today are:
- The unconditional removal of Ethiopian forces from sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme
- A repeal of the illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions imposed against the people Eritrea at the behest of United States and Ethiopia
- An independent United Nations investigation into the luring and trafficking of Eritreans. That includes groups and individuals that Araya Debessay is involved with.
Once again, the good professor and his ilk can do all of us a favor and crawl back into their holes as they are were not fit to speak on our behalf then, any more than they are today. Judging from what has transpired in the last 23-years since independence, and especially in the last 14 years since the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Eritrea and the sudden mushrooming of non-descript cyber NGO’s calling themselves “human rights” and “democracy” activists, I am inclined to believe it is the latter.
The anti-Eritrea campaign has been long and varied, but the narrative remains the same-Independent Eritrea is not economically and politically viable. It is the same narrative of their forefathers. The use of “Eritrean faces”, such as that of Araya Debessay and his cohorts, as cover for the anti-Eritrea campaigns is also not new-it is one that has been used in the past. The difference today is that the Eritrean population is much more conscious, politically astute and media savvy…can easily spot the rot from a distance. More on Araya Debessay and the modern day and carpetbaggers and scalawags next time… and lest the good Professor deny the existence of such a letter, it will be published soon in its entirety.
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