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Eritrea: History Simply Repeating Itself

On June 21, 2016 more than 10,000 Eritreans and friends of Eritrea in the diaspora of all ages and from all corners of Europe gathered in Geneva to march to the headquarters of the United Nations against the COI report on Eritrea. (Credit: Eritrea In-Pictures)



History, as a field of study, requires mental exercise and is a precious human asset having enormous utilitarian benefits. History is not a nail on which one hangs its own benefits, and linear or cyclical - whatever it could be - history is governed by its own laws. Dwight D. Eisenhower, post-war US president, suggested that: “Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him,” while Geoffrey Barraclough adds that “man is an historical animal with a deep sense of his own past.” Understanding history has many utility functions and ignoring history is a grave deficiency. Failing to recall history is, according to David McCullough, “A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia.”

To understand the present we have to look through the lens of history, since the lovers of truth have no option if not to turn to history. In history, the causes of events are ever more interesting than the events themselves. If so, the COIE’s flagrant and filth report and the Tsorona incident of 12 June are only sparks of the greater blaze behind. Any attempt of explanation about the current hotly contested issue without visiting its core source would be incomplete and disfigured. To rescue ourselves, we must have visit history to comprehend the present and discover the connectivity between past, present, and even future.

The 1950 UN Commission on Eritrea could not reach an agreement and finally endorsed Eritrea’s federation with Ethiopia for the “greater cause” of maintaining international peace and security. The 2016 UN Commission on Eritrea recommends Eritrea be penalized for its alleged “crime committed against humanity.” For long, without any alteration, the pretexts of international peace and security were used as a reference to bargain the sovereignty and independence of Eritrea. History is simply repeating itself.

International aid was poured to Ethiopia during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie and Mengstu Hailemariam to subdue the Eritrean resistance during the three decade bloody war of liberation. Emperor Haileslasie was helped by America, Israel and Europe – armed to the teeth – to crush Eritrean resistance. When the Derg seized power in the 1970s, the Soviet Union filled the void for the same purpose. Across the latter half of the 20th century, the amount of aid given to Ethiopia was greater than the total aid given to all of the other sub Saharan African countries combined. Then, in 1998, when the TPLF waged war against Eritrea, many of those former countries continued to assist Ethiopia’s efforts to topple the Eritrean government. The trend continues today. Over the past quarter of a century, a period that has witnessed repeated acts of Ethiopian aggression and belligerence towards its neighbours (e.g. invading Somalia and occupying Eritrean territory), Ethiopia has continued to receive vast sums of aid: from 2004 – 2013 the country was the world’s 4th largest recipient of foreign aid, receiving nearly US$6 billion. History is simply repeating itself.

In the 1950s, innumerable demands and requests were made to the United Nations by Eritreans and friends of Eritrea. The people called on the UN to shoulder its obligation, to give Eritrea the independence it deserves, and to reverse the illegal annexation of Eritrea so as to bring an end to the suffering of the Eritrean population. However, the only response was cruel silence.

Similarly, the 2016 COIE, has enthusiastically worked to brew a poison of destabilization in Eritrea, and has given no ear to the demand of Eritrean people. As was explained in thorough, comprehensive press statement by Presidential Adviser Yemane Gebreab, the COIE bases its sweeping and extreme allegations on the testimony of several hundred asylum-seekers (working out to less than a fraction of 1% of the population), while discounting the testimonies and requests of 42,000 Eritreans living in over 20 countries who challenged the partial conclusion. Moreover, 21 June over ten thousand of Eritreans from across the world congregated in Geneva to cry for justice and to oppose the sensationalist, politicized report. However, they all fell on deaf ears. Disregard of such kind is not new…history is simply repeating itself.

The UN was completely unaware and uninterested and unresponsive to the suffering of the Eritrean people at the hands of Ethiopia for 40 years until the country won its independence in 1991. The UN remained silent when true crimes against humanity and war crimes were being committed on the Eritrean people for over 40 years. When Eritrean women were raped and had their breasts violently cut, when Ethiopian tanks ran over 400 innocent people in She’eb, when Ethiopian air raids dropped massive amounts of napalm and cluster bombs in civilian-filled towns and villages, when Eritreans were hung in Keren’s public square, when the inhabitants of Aqurdet were massacred indiscriminately (now remembered as Black Saturday), where was the UN? Did the UN establish a commission to investigate war crimes and human rights violations? No. There was nary a peep. By choosing to focus from 1991 onwards, the COIE raises the question of were there no crimes against humanity before 1991? Apparently not.

When the minority regime in Ethiopia initiated war in 1998 on the pretext of a border conflict, the TPLF forcibly expelled more than 75 thousand Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin and plundered their property. Ethiopian troops killed, damaged property, and displaced innocent people in the course of their blatant invasion. They even went so far as to dig-up the graves of Eritrean martyrs buried in Shambqo. Regardless of its actions, Ethiopia was never condemned by the UN, who simply did nothing to stop the barbarity. History repeating itself.

In 1962, when Ethiopia unilaterally dissolved the federation and Eritrean parliament altogether and annexed Eritrea, the UN stood aside as a spectator. Now, despite the EEBC’s final and binding decision, Ethiopia still occupies sovereign Eritrean territory without any censure from the UN or the rest of the international community. The flagrant abrogation of the federal act caused Eritreans to intensify the armed struggle and led to the death of 65 thousand martyrs. Likewise, in 1998, Ethiopia moved to invade Eritrea with the purpose of regime change. The so-called border conflict cost over 19 thousand Eritrean lives, and the subsequent “no war, no peace” situation has put a massive strain on the nation.

During the long struggle for independence, Eritrean resistance against Ethiopian occupation was described as an Arab sponsored movement, secessionist, or led by bandits, all derogative terms used interchangeably to besmirch the genuine struggle. Similarly, the self-reliant and forward looking course of action undertaken after independence has been subject to denigration and condemnation. The business of the historical enemies of Eritrea has been and is to put Eritrea out of business. The venue that Eritrea marched with confidence before and after independence was condemned as if it was filled with mines. It’s not a surprise to hear word of condemnation coming under the guise of the COIE. The same ones making the condemnations gave Ethiopia a green light to invade Eritrea, failed to shoulder their duties related to the 2000 Algier’s Agreement or EEBC final and binding decision, and have supported illegal sanctions upon Eritrea. History is simply repeating itself.

As in the past, in this unjust international system there is no one to look toward for help. Instead, it is vital to look inward and examine our internal capability. We have to keep and enhance the perseverance, diligence and vigilance of yesterday. That is what helped us to rise and that is what will help us to stand – as a people and as a nation. We have to keep the momentum of the already started reforms and restructure our system. The safest way of doing that is to avoid quarreling or incessant bickering, which are, in truth, manufactured primarily to distract us from the train of development. The enemies of yesterday and today are working to cover the cloud of hope, to cover Eritrea and its people with the shadow of death. History will continue to repeat itself until the day we understand the lessons of history.

If the international community, led by US, truly stands for global peace and security, or cares for the welfare of the Eritrean people, it must focus on eliminating the existential threat posed by Ethiopia, call for the respect of rule of law and the withdrawal by Ethiopia from occupied Eritrean territory, remove the unjust and unfounded sanctions, promote foreign capital to invest in Eritrea and, above all, abstain from meddling in internal Eritrean affairs.
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Eritrea: History Simply Repeating Itself Reviewed by Admin on 1:20 AM Rating: 5

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