Eritrea: 2013 The year of More Heroes than Villains

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Dec 24th, 2013

Selam Kidane

“If a people one day show a desire to live, then fate is destined to favourably respond, their night is destined to fade, and their chains are certain to break”. (Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi Tunisan poet)

… so the year that started with Wedi Ali showing us what our struggle is all about is ending with my friends in Telaviv standing up to the pfdj ambassador to Israel as he tries to conduct business as usual… i.e. be a professional crook and cheat his way right left and centre… well times are different and so are we…
I guess the major shift in 2013 has been the realisation that pfdj’s long overdue end is well and truly at bay… and that has got people (including notables in the International Community) thinking about what comes next… will it be a military coup? Will it be a violent descent into anarchy and lawlessness? Will it be a reform arrangement? or will it be Martian evasion? And those speculations have in turn started their own momentum about… who-of the how-of the what… (the posturings of late are the tip of the iceberg that is the discussion about the ‘vacuum’)… but I am sure we will see more on that in 2014 and so I will have plenty of opportunities to consider it (others watch paint dry so why not watch a vacuum appeal?)

The clearest sign of things changing for pfdj was their double u turn (infact it could be called a 2.5 point turn) during the Lampedusa disaster…day one of the disaster had the victims as ‘Illigal African Migrants’ by about Day five pfdj supporters were cancelling concerts and holding vigils for the victims and by about day seven there was an official complaint blaming the US for the disaster that claimed Eritreans…the difference that made the difference was infact the reaction of pfdj supporters and the only pfdj supporters in the world are actually found in the Eritrean diaspora and this is the biggest change that occurred in Eritrosphere in 2013… the diaspora pfdj has shrunk to the brink of nonexistence… while the Resistance to pfdj (in the diaspora) has exploded and become more vibrant and visible by contrast (hopefully quality and delivery will follow in due course… not too distant please…) .

There were various other examples of things changing… General Sibhat Ephrem (or as my not so reverent friends have taken to calling him: General Golfo) exiting a pfdj ‘secret’ meeting with a golfo over his head is a stark reminder of how far things have moved from the days when pfdj used to video ‘opposition’ events to deter people from appearing at them… a complete turning of the table no less. A fully decorated General and THE defense minister was relegated to covering his face to avoid whatever it was he was avoiding, before the diaspora Resistance Movement… pfdj in the diaspora is living its last days…

All this is contrasted by the explosion of the Resistance movement… exhibit number one: the demonstrations that have become the bane of pfdj embassies across the globe… when my colleagues invaded ‘forto wedigerahtu’ in London in the Post Forto 2013 days… we realised that pfdj bravado was an empty shell pfdj really has no response to a bold and united challenge from the Resistance!

… in the days that followed pfdj threatened everything under the sun (from actions under the Vienna Convention to Criminal case at the Crown Court) and only effected a fine of £80 for a broken picture frame… the incalculable damage to collective pfdj ego was too unquantifiable for the courts to calculate the damages meted! (amazing days… amazing colleagues! More of that please in 2014)

The DC demo in May was another highlight to how far things have moved in the direction we want it to move…on one side of the streets was a might army of people seeking justice and on the other side was a group of people whose own message was swallowed by their own koboro… the choices of which side a sane person would choose were never clearer as they were that day… so proud to be on the pro justice side…

Another measure of a declining regime of the type we are talking about here is the number of defections… and pfdj is hemorrhaging from every imaginable angle, it is surprising that it is still able to carry on: a friend calculated (on FB) that the number of footballers who have sought asylum now stands at around 70… another friend responded (again on FB) boToloni akilom belu!… the stupid excuse of a president responded (last week in Nairobi)… people may leave their country but they don’t abandon it…(if anyone was looking for a live specimen of idiocy there you have it!!)… 360 dead young people floated up the Mediterranean, stunning the entire world and Issias Afwerki’s response is ‘they didn’t abandon their country!’… God I hate pfdj!!!!

On the plus side… no one puts any value on what he or any of his mouth pieces say in any format…pfdj and its media outlets are DEAD to all intents and purposes…the State is no longer in control of the information supplied to Eritreans… people may not have free access to the internet, paltalk, facebook and tweeter may have been denied them… but we are a resourceful people and we find our own (low tech) social media… an unprecedented number of people tune to Erena these days and talk on the streets is flowing with all the information that pfdj is trying to sensor… My colleagues at ArbiHarnet Asmara heard a recent interview I gave on Erena… long before I caught up with my back log of Erena archives (I could have done without the smar alecky gibes about my Tigrigna though!)… speaking of team Arbi Harnet in Asmara… their contribution to fighting back the media blackout has been an inspirational thing to watch. MeqaleH Forto their underground News Megazin is something that is worth harping about (but I won’t… since my saying anything about the groups that I work with upsets those that get annoyed when I tell them what I see and as it is end of the year I will leave them alone and hope that we will have a better 2014 with each other)…

New formations of the old EPLF in the brand new movement for change is a very interesting development too… especially if it brings those who have found it extremely difficult to criticise pfdj because of its origins in EPLF, on board. But guys please don’t repeat that mistake of extreme secrecy and exclusivism that is really not possible or necessary in the era of the 24 hours information highway and connectedness….

…Kudos to Wedi Vacaro and the dizzy making wild fire he ignited… and obviously to Wedi Tikabo and the giant leap of the Eritrea Spirit of resistance…to all the religious leaders who have so courageously grabbed the tigers tail in the wake of Lampedusa (there is no turning back now). And last but by all means not least to all my colleagues working with victims of pfdj atrocities be it inside the country or in the refugee destinations (my super heroes)

…in my books 2013 will go down as the year of more heroes than villains in Eritosphere… but by far… and a gazzillion miles far at that… our shining moment as a people in 2013 will be that Monday morning on January 21, 2013 when we all dared to hope and hence registered our desire to live and not perish… and now it is only natural that the chains are destined to break loose… 2014 will be better than 2013 may even be better than 1991!

…Happy new year all… and a blessed Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas…


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