When our staff at asmarino was searching the web for any worthwhile news regarding Eritrea, the following title popped up: Rupert Cornwell: We live in Washington DC, but we might as well be in Eritrea. The first thought that might come to a reader on seeing such a title is that the news article might have to do with the Eritreans living over there – say, about a certain area in DC where a large number of Eritreans congregate or reside. But to the surprise of the reader, the entire article has nothing to do with Eritrea or Eritreans. This is the case, where the name of “Eritrea” has outgrown its usual meaning – that of a proper noun denoting a certain area in Africa – to become such a recognizable name that it easily lends itself for universal application outside its confined geographic self.
The whole news article has to do with the voting rights of the residents of the District of Columbia, they being the only citizens in the USA who cannot elect their representative in the Senate. Certainly, the writer is exaggerating when he compares the democratic shortcomings in the District of Columbia with the utter despondency in Eritrea. But that is the whole point – only by making a “superlative” out of Eritrea does he think he could get his point across.
Think, if you will, of such place names that have come to outgrow their geographic denotations, to signify something foreboding or extreme: Sodom and Gomorrah, now signifying all kinds of debauchery; Babylon, another term denoting the excesses of all kinds of hedonism; Timbuktu, signifying unreachable distance; etc. Now, Eritrea has become the unit against which all kinds of deprivation and despondency are measured. So in the end, what we find out is that, even though the news article has nothing to do with Eritrea, it has in fact all to do with Eritrea.
We Eritreans have been so obsessed by the word “Eritrea” we thought we should be or should have been of some value to ourselves and the outside world. Our identity got the better of us. We exist but we don’t matter. Eritrea has finally achieved a status – a cliché for not being worth its salt. Imagine the word “Eritrea” being used as a euphemism or a kind of parlance to mean "not fit for purpose". And that is exactly what is happening in Eritrea as well. Eritrea and its people have nothing to show for what they fought for. The title reads like harmless reference at first but it gives Eritrea the front page it deserves – for delivering nothing.
Some of the comments given underneath the article accuse the writer for being insensitive to Eritrea and Eritreans. What is sad is that the most vociferous defenders of the name of Eritrea happen to be the most silent when it comes to defending the people. These are the very people who wouldn’t dare utter a word of condolence to the more than 400 dead in Mediterranean anywhere in Shaebia-affiliated websites. Yet, they would throw tantrum at the mere mention of ‘Eritrea” that they think puts it in a negative context. To show the extent of deprivation (emulating the land they are defending) these foot soldiers are capable of, the following is the kind of stuff that they are writing in Dehai:
“Please delete Mr. Mountain's outlandish claims of 200 Eritreans dying. There isn't any facts on the ground to substantiate such bogus claims. All these rumors started from 2 guys who probably concocted the story to gain quick status entry to Italy. The fact is, no such evidence suggest anything of that nature took place. Again, this does not mean a few didn't die or there aren't any Eritreans over there trying to enter Italy. All rational Eritreans are stating: show us the evidence. There is NONE and it's been more than 3 weeks. Matter of fact, it was a lie. This is another 2,000 Eritrean troops in Somalia bogus story that a few media outlets + the Ethiopian funded and created cyber opposition ran away with. You can't claim 350 Eritreans die yet have ZERO evidence for such calamities. No shoes, no pictures, no boat wreckage, no clothing, no witnesses, etc. In fact, those two losers who claimed that 400 were missing never even stated they drowned, they just stated they are missing. Meaning, they could of long have made it to a different part and never touched base with (that's assuming their story was even real). So how can you state 350 Eritreans died without no evidence? My goodness, I think Eritreans are becoming simple minded, annoying and backward. This has nothing to do about politics and everything to do about rational, intelligence, facts, motives, lust for money, etc.”
And this was not written while the news was hot, and there might be some lingering doubts on the minds of many. It was written on April 18 (yesterday), under pen name of “Razor Ramon”, after all the facts were in (after three weeks, as he self admittedly writes). Not only has it been confirmed by Western media, but their families back at home have been notified of their beloved deaths. In border areas, in villages around Adi-Quala and Senafe that have been hit the hardest, there is a mass mourning going. Even the regime is now exploiting the news as a warning to the rest of the youth in Eritrea, who are hell bent to escape the indefinite national service. Yet, these demented characters in Dehai, who wouldn’t spare a single teardrop for the hundreds drowned, have gone way beyond their eerie silence as to deny that such tragedy has ever taken place.
If these demented characters are the defenders of “the good name of Eritrea”, aren’t they themselves the real proof (or the “evidence” as they would love to put it) of the utter deprivation of the nation they are defending? After all, the “Eritrea” that they are defending is being made in their image. If so, they have proved Rupert Cornwell right. Come to think of it, Cornwell needn’t go as far as Eritrea to make his point. He would find those deprived Eritrean tribesmen, the die hard followers of the totalitarian regime, right under his nose in the District of Columbia.
It is clear from the above that if the regime’s foot soldiers would do anything to deny the present, they would do everything possible to deny the past. They did the same thing when a massacre took place three kms away from Asmara in Adi Abeyto, where more than 50 young men were mowed down to their death. That is why asmarino made it its task to build a monument for the fallen, with their names inscribed in each stone. We need to erect a similar monument now, with all the 300+ names inscribed, to remind the regime and its followers that we will neither forgive nor forget this atrocious crime committed against the youth of Eritrea.
For Rupert Cornell article and its comments, here is the link : Rupert Cornwell: 'We live in Washington DC – but it might as well .