"The Emperor's New Clothes" is a short tale written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and published in 1837. The story is about an emperor who was sold a wonderful set of clothes by two embezzlers.

Let’s jump to a conclusion here; the moral of this story is that we cannot let pride keep us from speaking up when we know the truth. 

Many Eritreans, PFDJ (government party members), supporters, and the ‘self-respecting’ Eritreans citizens are quieter now than before – after noticing “the emperor’s new clothes”.  

It is to be remembered that the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces, an end to the Ethiopian government’s deployment of regional forces in Tigray, and increased humanitarian access.

The United Nations had also raised concerns about atrocities being committed in Tigray, while Blinken, once again, described acts carried out in the region as ethnic cleansing.  The ‘Emperor’ rejected Blinken’s allegation entirely. That was until last week.  Now the story is quite different.

Eritreans in Denial

Let’s bring the denial home.  Many Eritreans were in denial since the conflict in Ethiopia started last November. “This is TPLF propaganda – there are no Eritrean troops in Tigrai” they claimed time and again. 

As accusations and condemnations continued regarding the atrocities the Eritrean troops were committing in Tigrai, the “self-respecting” Eritreans intensified their ‘fake-news’ campaigns.

The fact is for the past five months both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have adamantly denied the existence of Eritrean troops, together with their military hardware, in the northern region of Tigray.

Senator Chris Coons’ Visit

It has been reported that Senator Chris Coons had a successful visit when he traveled to Ethiopia on 18 Mar to get to the bottom of the turmoil and cruelties that are occurring in Tigrai.  A ‘successful visit’ denotes ‘diplomatic communication’; it means that a “watch it otherwise …” warning has been conveyed to PM Abiy.

Lo and behold, there was a sudden twist of events in Ethiopia the next day; Prime Minister Abiy publicly acknowledged for the first time that troops from neighboring Eritrea have been in the Tigray region following the outbreak of conflict in November 2020.

PFDJ members are left with nothing to deceive themselves with now. Who knows, they might come up with a new motto to avoid humiliation or embarrassment.  Eritrea’s poise has been affected; under President Isaias Afwerki it lost its dignity.

Hiding behind Party line

Propaganda can be considered as a fact of life in Eritrea.  All is done in accordance with the party line.  Ideas, facts, or allegations are spread deliberately to further the government’s cause or to damage an opposing cause.

According to Eric Hoffer, the renowned American moral and social philosopher, propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.  That is what Eritreans have been doing all along – deceive themselves.   

On 30 Nov 2020 Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told parliament on Monday that federal troops had not killed a single civilian in their nearly month-long offensive against rebellious local forces in the northerly Tigray region.  (Reuters)  It was a big lie.

The statement from Mr. Abiy’s office said “the active phase of the operations has come to an end”, and the government is now “restoring law and order” while resettling those who’ve fled the region.

(Information available on the official Twitter handle @PMEthiopia). That too was a lie.

Abiy Ahmed consistently DENIED that troops from neighboring Eritrea have not been in the Tigray region following the outbreak of conflict in November. (Reported by major international media including BBC, Reuters, AFP …etc.) That was even a bigger lie.

Actually …

Official Ethiopian and Eritrean denials that Eritrean forces are operating in Tigray are contradicted by eyewitness accounts. Amid the murk, it seems clear Eritrea’s dictator-president, Isaias Afwerki, has made a common cause with Abiy. The two met in Addis Ababa in October, shortly before the war was launched, to discuss the “consolidation of regional cooperation”.

An Amnesty International investigation into the same events detailed how Eritrean troops “went on a rampage and systematically killed hundreds of civilians in cold blood”. That was vehemently denied by the prime minister. 

Aljazeera reported the following on 26 Feb 2021: On November 28 and 29, Eritrean troops killed hundreds of civilians in a 'coordinated and systematic' manner in order 'to terrorize the population into submission. It has been deemed fake news by the devotees all along.  Well, that is not fake anymore, is it?

The list of accusations and condemnations is long. 

Why did Eritreans choose to go through the scandalous journey of denial?   

Now the question is to do with the next step – will Eritrean troops ever leave from the territories PM Abiy allowed them to invade?