My objective here is neither to respond on behalf of the Colonel or defend the Ethiopian government nor deny that problems exist in Ethiopia. They can do it by themselves if they find it worthy of a response. Here I am responding as a concerned individual. Why? Because I find this article to be toxic to the relations of the peoples in Ethiopia and Eritrea and because I feel obliged to respond for the sake of improving communication between the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The truth needs to be told so that a solid relationship between Ethiopians and Eritreans can be built in the future. Here I want to make it clear to the reader that I make a distinction between the Eritreans who are the supporters of the PFDJ and the majority who has nothing to do with every thing what is going in Eritrea today and with the baseless and arrogant attitudes of the elites. So when I am referring to Eritreans and Eritrean elites I mean the PFDJ folk and their supporters. I have also consciously avoided discussing the internal affairs of Eritrea other than in relation to the raised issue, because I do recognise that it is the prerogative of Eritreans alone.
It is correct that there is extreme poverty in Ethiopia. It is correct that there is no full-fledged democracy in Ethiopia. It is also correct that the Ethiopian government is not the best of its kinds. There is corruption even at the highest level. In fact there is an indication that the ruling part has learned some of the bad habits of solving internal and external disputes and contradictions from the EPLF/PFDJ. As a result the way it is handling the opposition and the free press is not to the satisfaction of all Ethiopians. But all these problems are not to be compared with those existing in Eritrea. The question/debate in Ethiopia is not whether there is poverty or not or whether there is democracy or not. It is about how to get rid of poverty and how to broaden the democratic space. Ethiopia is a country governed by a constitution and elected people, where free press thrives to a certain extent. You may call it a sham if you like. You are entitled to your opinion. Problems are not denied in Ethiopia like in Eritrea, Mr Mellese. Having said all these let me go back to your article.
With age comes wisdom and honour in our societies. Mr Mellese, you seem to be aged from your photograph. I expected honest discourse from you, to be disappointed later. Any way I will give my respect to your age and I will use the title ‘’Aite’’ before your name here after, because it is the highest title given to the aged commons in Tigrian (including Eritrean) societies. I hope you wouldn’t mind to be reminded of your roots.
In your questions directed to Col. Dawit you tried to remind us about whether the Horn can get peace ‘’with out settling the unrest and dissatisfaction of peoples of Ogaden, Benishangul, Gambella, Guragie, Haddia, Sidama etc, etc.’’, of course the Oromos, not to be forgotten. What are you actually trying to tell us? O yes, Ethiopia is under fire because of internal unrest in different regions. This is a typical wishful thinking of many disillusioned Eritrean intellectuals and a preference to talk about others rather than about their own internal affairs. Here, be honest to yourself Aite Mellese, these people have their regional parliaments and administrations. They have the right to vote and elect whom they want. They govern themselves, they use their internal resources, and they have federal support. There is a rule of law in the country. The fact that many parties, including independent individuals are represented in the parliament is a clear testimony to the presence of democracy. This is a fact to see for every body who wants to see. Is it perfect? No, it is not. A lot remains to be done to reach the level of democracy as practised in the West. No wonder if you tell us that this is just propaganda of the Woyanes. But you can not show any thing of that kind in Eritrea. Don’t you have Afars, Kunnamas and other minorities in Eritrea? Why did you forgot them and preferred to talk about Ethiopian ethnic groups instead. Do Eritreans have the right to vote? Aren’t many Eritreans voting with their feet to neighbouring countries because of the lack the elementary human rights in Eritrea?
I would like to tell you that we are proud of our ethnic diversity in Ethiopia. Ethiopian nationalities are accepted as equal partners in uniting and rebuilding Ethiopia (to borrow your words). In fact their rights are enshrined in the constitution. It must be clear here that I am not trying to say that every thing is rosy in Ethiopia. We have all sorts of malaises of an underdeveloped nation. The question in Ethiopia is not about ethnic discrimination, but about the lack of good governance. We recognise the problem and it is debated open in the parliament and outside. Nobody is arrested for expressing his/her views.
You accuse the Amhara elites and some Tigrawot for supremacy syndrome. What is strange here is that before Tigrians were accused of ‘inferiority complex’’. Now they are accused for the opposite. Interesting to observe how attitudes change with time. Any way there is no denial that there has been and there is still that kind of ‘’syndrome’’, cultural residue among some elite circles. Even then if there is any supremacy syndrome it has been and still is among not too few Eritrean intellectuals (save the decent farmers in the countryside). Haven’t you propagated that Eritreans are the most civilised in Africa, that you are special, Aite Mellese? I advise you to look at your own arrogant behaviour before directing fingers at others. The British say ‘’people who live in glasshouses should not throw stones’’. In any case the residual backward attitudes in some of our elites (especially in the Diaspora) are not hindering other nationalities from participating in the building of their country or people don’t feel aliens in their country in Ethiopia as in Eritrea. Go from North to the South and from West to the East you will observe vibrating economic activities and infrastructure building: construction of roads, electric power generating dams, universities, tourist attractions, residential houses etc etc. Is what is being done enough? No, it is not. Much more needs to be done. The question here is not to tell about what is being done in Ethiopia. It is just to show that in spite of all the multifaceted problems, there are tangible efforts being exerted to address the economic disparity and social justices you are talking about. Again what have you, Aite Mellese, to show in Eritrea if not queuing people in front of PFDJ controlled shops for bread and other household necessities? Did not the struggle after all promise bread, milk and honey? What happened?
Aite Mellese, you ask why Ethiopian intellectuals kept silent when ‘’the TPLF government horribly deported innocent Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin’’. Whether all Eritreans were innocent or not is another question. In any case all what happened is deplorable, no matter why and how it was done, because it did not follow the rule of law. The Ethiopian government has since then taken some rectification measures to correct the misdeeds. But what you, Aite Mellese, did forget to say some thing about is the behaviour of Eritrean intellectuals when thousands and thousands of Ethiopians (mainly Tigrians, your cousins) were expropriated, their properties auctioned and were forced to leave in hast when the EPLF took power in Asmara in 1991, when in thousands were arrested in the deplorable prisons of Eritrea with out any access to International Red Cross Societies or other NGOs, leave alone to relatives, when thousands of Ethiopians were mishandled and killed by hooligans and security forces in the streets of Asmara and Assab because they just happened to be Ethiopians. Didn’t you/they keep quite? What high moral do you, Aite Mellese, have now to talk about the silence of Ethiopian intellectuals? Here I am not defending the silence of Ethiopians. What I am trying to express is that we, Ethiopian and Eritreans alike, had equal responsibilities in every thing that happened. We did not say openly ‘’not in my name’’ during the horrible days. We should have courage to admit our past mistakes in order to avoid future ones. Better late than never!!
Aite Mellese, you claim that ‘’Eritreans have bled, suffered and became humiliated too much for too long by our some Ethiopian brothers and successive governments to simply forget the past atrocities. …..strangely enough Eritreans fought for Ethiopia survival during the Italian occupation up to the toppling of the Derg’’ and that you are surprised at the ‘’ humiliating reward Eritreans are still getting from their Ethiopian brothers in power’’ and you continue ‘’and the most irritating approach of is that our Ethiopian brothers seem to be concerned of us more than we can do for ourselves’’. Aite Mellese, it remains for you to prove whether Eritreans have bled, suffered and became humiliated more than other Ethiopians by successive Ethiopian governments. Didn’t Eritrea have more schools, more health centres and other development facilities than your nearest neighbour provinces Tigray, Gondar, Gojam, Wollo etc etc. during the imperial period? Didn’t Eritrea have more elites in the imperial court and other institutions? Remember that Eritreans were allowed to learn only up to grade 4 during the Italian occupation period. Facts remain facts. You can not deny them. Aite Mellese, please do some researches before you sit and start writing what comes to your mind so that your integrity is not compromised, if you are an academician. Get some statistical data to support your claims. Otherwise your claims shall just remain as only claims. Having said this I don’t have the opinion that Eritreans shouldn’t have fought for liberation.
What is the strange thing in that Eritreans fought for the Survival of Ethiopia? Yes there were many heroes who fought for Ethiopia. But they did it not because they wanted to help Ethiopia, but because they believed that Ethiopia was their land/country (unlike you) worthy of giving their dear life, i.e. worthy of dying for. I advise you to refer Zewde Reta’s book ‘’Ye Eritra Guday’’ to know your father’s generation’s contribution to the survival of Ethiopia (and Eritrea of course). You have the right no to follow the foot steps of your fathers and grand fathers Aite Mellese, but do not try to twist history. You will be cursed by the souls of your dead father from the grave (sorry if your father is still alive!).
Besides what is wrong of being concerned when our brothers and sisters on the other side of the border are exposed to horrendous repression and suffering from inhuman treatment of a brutal regime, when they are exposed to hunger and misery and when they are forced to slavery-like labour, when they are governed by decree i.e. with out law by officers, who care the least for the wellbeing of their compatriots and when they are driven in mass to neighbouring countries to live in refugee camps? Do you want me to add more Aite Mellese? It would have been strange and disgraceful if Ethiopians weren’t concerned. Shame on you if all these atrocities perpetuated against your own people don’t concern you?
As to whether it is fair to get a ‘’humiliating rewards’’ from your Ethiopian brothers in power, I do not want to dwell more on this. Because leave alone the previous governments, all the world knows what the present government has done to Eritrea in contravention to the will of the majority of Ethiopians. Nowadays many honest Eritreans do acknowledge the preferential treatment Eritrea and Eritreans enjoyed prior to the last unfortunate war.
The fact remains that it was Tigrian fighters who saved the EPLF in the bushes of Sahel from the total inhalation at the hands of the Ethiopian Army and it was the massive and heroic struggle of the Ethiopian people under the coordination of the EPRDF which opened the way for the Eritreans to marsh to Asmara. Didn’t they stay for 30+ years in the lowlands of Barka and the desert hills of Sahel? Of course you, Eritreans try to convince to yourself and the world that it was you who propped the ‘Tigrians’’ to power in Addis Ababa and it was you who helped Ethiopia to get liberated from the brutal Derg regime’’ and for that you need to be rewarded. Any way let us forget who propped whom to power, because history will reveal it sooner or later. In fact many who have been actors themselves in the action are coming out and telling their version of the story. Was it not the Ethiopian government who first recognised the sovereignty of Eritrea despite the wrong procedure of the referendum? There is a lot here where the EPRDF-government could be criticised. Analysis as how the separation was conducted is beyond the scope of this article. What the writer is trying to show is that in contrary to your and many other Eritreans’ claims, Eritrea and Eritreans had in fact been treated better than its neighbours Ethiopians proper respectively. Didn’t Eritreans enjoy a sort of illegal double citizenship prior to the war while Ethiopians were mistreated in Eritrea?.
With out feeling any shame you continue ‘’Ethiopia should not always expect the sacrifices of Eritreans to address its thorny problems of ethnicity and governance’’. Is there any other proof for the paternal attitude you display or the supremacy syndrome you have other than this? Who asked you to pay sacrifices for Ethiopia? Who asked you to solve Ethiopian problems? Let me ask you, Aite Mellese, do you honestly believe that you have the capacity to solve Ethiopian ethnic problems after all, if you were asked to? Poor Aite Mellese, you are indulging yourself in still believing in that Eritrea is a powerbroker in the region. That exists only in your mined. I admit, to think so is good for self-esteem. But to tell you the truth Eritrea isn’t considered or seen upon as an example by the majority of Ethiopians (save the disgruntled and power hungry Diaspora politicians who are running to Asmara in the hope of getting some support from Isayas). So there is nothing to be expected nor gained from Eritrea. Leave Ethiopian problems for Ethiopians to solve as we leave Eritrean problems for Eritreans. Ethiopians are capable of solving their problems. But this doesn’t mean that outside help and advice from people of goodwill is not necessary.
Aite Mellese, you continue to tell us that ‘’Ethiopia enjoyed peaceful co-existence internally for centuries. But as soon as TPLF took Ethiopia and its resources hostage, ethnic and religious unrest started to emerge. And at the midst of erratic and faulty ‘’economic boom’’ Addis and even small towns of Tigray are busy raising high rise buildings and establishing of high schools and universities in almost all towns of Tigray, that even Amharas and Oromos from very high regions are urged to attend. Sadly enough millions in Ogaden and elsewhere are going to bed hungry while the TPLF government boasts of its false and faulty double digit economic growth’’. This paragraph contains a lot of cheap claims and misinformation packed in one which could out rightly be dismissed as disinformation propaganda by the Eritrean regime and its collaborators in order to create suspicions and mistrust among Ethiopians and at the same time to mask their failures. But since this is being spread through the Internet all over the world, readers deserve to know the truth. So let me try to respond by dissecting the paragraph into its parts:
What do centuries mean for you, Aite Mellese? If I understand English correctly it must mean more than hundred years (two hundred and beyond). Do you know the history of Ethiopia (also of Eritrea for that matter, as there was no land called Eritrea prior to the Italian occupation), i.e. starting from the Axumite empire to the present day, the campaigns of the Agaw, the Oromos, the Muslims led by Ahmed Gragn, the Zemene Mesafint (the Era of the princes) etc. etc. ? It seems you don’t. The history of Ethiopia has been always the history of campaigns and wars for power. There has never been continues peaceful co-existence. But this does not mean that many of the nationalities did question their belongingness to Ethiopian (even though there are now some like the Ogaden Somalis who believe otherwise). Ethnic and religious tensions were there before the coming of the TPLF to power, Aite Mellese. If Ethiopia enjoyed peaceful co-existence for centuries as you are telling us, then why did many ‘’liberation fronts’’ or movements, including the Eritrean fronts rose in the first place? This just shows your poor knowledge of own history.
What is the erratic and faulty nature of the ‘’economic boom’’ of Addis? What is the fault in transforming the city into a modern metropolitan worthy of its name? What is wrong with construction of skyscrapers and roads to modernise the service facilities in the city? Do you wish to see Addis Ababa remains with its shanty areas for ever? It would have been right and fair to criticise the government if there was no economic activity in the city. What is the rational behind your criticism? Let every body know!! Many Ethiopians think what has been done so far and is being done is commendable, but more infrastructure development needs to done.
With regard to the development activities in Tigray, you are trying to tell other Ethiopians that their resources are being siphoned for the development of Tigray, as ‘’even small towns of Tigray are busy raising high rise buildings and establishing of high schools and universities in almost all towns of Tigray’’. By the way how many towns and universities do you know in Tigray? What statistical data can you present to support your claims? Again the facts remain for every body to see and observe. There are no more buildings in Mekelle than in Awasa, Bahirdar, Gondar, Adama (Nazereth), Jimma, Dre Dawa, etc etc, leave alone in the small towns. By the way what is the measure of high rise buildings for you, Aite Mellese? three-four story or ten story buildings? Have you been to these cities and towns yourself or you are being fed by our disgruntled Diaspora politicians?
Yes, there are three-four-five story buildings being built in all the towns in Ethiopia. There are a lot of residential houses’ building activities supported by the private sector and the government. But what is being built in Tigray isn’t more than in others. There are no more Airports in Tigray than in Amhara or Oromia regions. Only two, out of more than 20 all-weather airports, are in Tigray. Out of more than 30 Universities only two are in Tigray, which are less than in Amhara and Oromia regions. I can continue with more but this is enough for now. Where is the beef to support your claims Aite Mellese?
Let me ask you (and your likes) straight: what is the problem with you seeing some development activities in Tigray? Why are you so jealous to see schools, universities, health services and few small and medium scale industries being built in Tigray? Is it not fanny? I understand your frustrations. Didn’t the PFDJ after all have a plan to keep Tigray/northern Ethiopia underdeveloped so that it will continue to serve as a market and source cheap labour and resources for industries in Eritrea? Now you see that your dreams are shattered forever. Poor Aite Mellese!! Accept that time has changed. This kind of cheap misinformation didn’t work before and will never work again.
As to the millions in Ogaden and elsewhere are going to bed hungry, well, nobody denied that there is poverty in Ethiopia as it is denied in Eritrea. Hungry children are found also in Tigray. Do you think that we are happy with the situation? Not at all. The government is criticised always for not coming with a viable strategy for agricultural development. Again as deplorable as it may be, it isn’t hidden from the outside world as it is in Eritrea. What you, Aite Mellese, forgot to tell your readers is that the Eritrean regime is actually partly responsible for the misery in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the region. It is not secret that the Eritrean regime is trying to destabilize Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan by supporting different fundamentalist groups in Somalia and disgruntled element (OLF, ONLF, and other Ethiopian groups) in Ethiopia and other groups in the Sudan with the hope of dismantling their arc enemy the TPLF to ultimately disintegrate or weaken Ethiopia and enforcing its sinster motives in the other countries. Therefore Ethiopia is being forced to allocate a large part of its meagre resources to defence, which could have been used for development purposes.
With regards to the ‘’TPLF government’s … false and faulty double digit economic growth and faulty economic policies’', the Ethiopian government can & has the ability to respond. But for the sake of fairness you should have the economic know-how to tell what the faulty nature of the policies is. Generalization doesn’t lead to clarity. It is misleading, especially when your own government has no economic policy what so ever. Is it not your government’s policy of ‘’self reliance’’ that has drugged the country in to tragedy/misery? Go out of Asmara and see for yourself how people are living? Ask yourself why the young is leaving their beloved country in all directions in despair, Aite Mellese! What a cynicism to talk about others when your own house in mess!!
Aite Mellese, you are trying to convince us that you ‘’as a person are not against unity’’, that you have ‘’ no ill feelings whatsoever against any ethnic group in Ethiopia (except of course the stupid Tigrians, your cousines), with whom you grew and prospered during your forty years in Ethiopia and that no Eritrean inside or outside the government wishes the destruction of the people of Tigray’’. We know that the majority of Eritreans don’t wish the destruction of Tigray. But as to what you and your cohorts wish, your article speaks for itself whether what you claim is true or not. There is a saying in Amharic, ‘’ainachu techefenuna lamognachihu’’, which literally means ‘’keep your eyes closed and let me cheat you’’. Whom do you want to cheat? As to the wish of the Eritrean regime, I hope you aren’t speaking on its behalf. Every thing is still fresh in the memories of Ethiopians, especially Tigrians to say the least.
Aite Mellese, you want also to lecture on how Ethiopian politicians and intellectuals should think and behave with regard to working with the government, on issues of unity in Ethiopia and democracy, the use of ports, development etc. etc. Is there any more proof to supremacy syndrome in you? Who do you think you are? Why not you discuses these issues with your masters, the PFDJ folk first?
Aite Mellese, you make a mockery of the democracy in Ethiopia. You shed crocodile tears at the arrest of ‘’prominent people like Birtukan Mideksa, Brigadier general Teffera Mammo and Asammenow Tsigie..’’. With out taking stands as to whether these people have committed crimes or not, I can say that they are at least taken to the court and their cases are being treated open in the presence of local and international observers. Our judicial system may not be perfect; people do complain that, that it is not free of interference from the executive branch. But with all their defects the Ethiopian courts have proved that they are not always intimidated by the executive power. The release of many prominent opposition politicians free from charges or from prisons is a clear testimony that there is a rule of law. It may be weak, but it is still there at least as an institution. Aite Mellese, if you have the courage to say every thing in Ethiopia is farce or pure pretence, why not you open your mouth and ask the PFDJ to have at least a semblance of a constitution, civic courts and allow a the movement of legal opposition organizations and civic societies to operate in Eritrea? Or you think like your master that all these are luxury things for a poor country like Eritrea? Why don’t you raise your voice against the marshal law of the dictator in Eritrea and against the infinite imprisonment of your compatriots, including the G15, journalists, etc. etc. Your credibility is at stake Aite Mellese. There are many crying Eritrean mothers and children who need your voice.
According to you, Aite Mellese the mother of all problems in Ethiopia and the region in general (including Eritrea) is the TPLF regime, ‘’who don’t make a choice to peacefully co-exist with their Ethiopian brothers and neighbours’’, because they are blinded by the ‘’greater Tigray’’ syndrome, that it is tyour syndrome that led ‘’to the horrible wars to destroy the Eritrean State and to capture of the port of Assab’’. It seems that you have been sleeping for the last ten years, as you are still repeating the same old melodies, which have miserably failed to attract any listener in the past (There are sayings in Tigrigna, bzban Wube ya zistememe sebs bzban Wube indabele yinebir, which literally means ‘one who became deaf in the time of Wube (prince) goes on recalling the law under Wube, even whenr Wubo had gone a long time ago), and ‘Tsemamsia hade derfu’, meaning ‘a deaf knows only one melody’. Tigrians are living at peace with their compatriots, in cooperation with other nationalities contrary to your claims. With regard to co-existence in peace in the region, Ethiopia is trying its level best to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours, except with Eritrea and that is not because Ethiopia doesn’t want peace with it, but because of the intransigence of the Eritrean regime. As the Amharic saying goes ‘’betbach iyale nitsuh wuha yelem’’, literally means ‘’there is no pure water as long as there is a spoiler’’. As to who initiated the last senseless war, it has been proved beyond doubt that it was the Eritrean regime, with the hope of subduing the Ethiopian government to its knees. Besides if there was a plan to destroy the Eritrean State or the recapture of Assab and if there was a plan to ‘’topple the leadership and establish their version of democratic government in Eritrea’’, then the Ethiopian forces could have finished the job, if it wasn’t for Meles Zenawi, the PM of Ethiopia, who ordered the halting of the final offensive (It is only Melles who knows why!!). There was no Eritrean force capable of withstanding the onslaught of the Ethiopian army at that moment. Didn’t they reach the outskirts of Adikeyih or were not they advancing to Mendefera? Again whether it was right to stop the offensive or not, whether the result brought the desired outcome for the people of both Ethiopia and Eritrea is beyond the scope of this article. Moreover it isn’t Ethiopia which has been embroiled in wars and conflicts with its neighbours, but Eritrea. Why do you, Aite Mellese, think that the IGAD (all countries in the Horn of Africa) and the African Union ask the UN Security council to impose sanctions on Eritrea? Why not on Djibouti, Ethiopia or Kenya? Why do you think that the whole world is against Eritrea & Eritreans? Of course the expected answer is Ethiopia, stupid!!
The PFDJ and its supporters continue to complain that it is the unwillingness of the Woyanes/the TPLF to implement the border ruling which is the root cause of all problems in Eritrea. You say that Badme was not the problem. True, the Ethiopian government never has said that it was. It was you, Eritreans who claimed so and who continue to claim so. The international ruling with all its merits and demerits will not bring peace to the region with out the full participation of the inhabitants of the disputed territories. Even if the Ethiopian government was to implement the ruling, it would not bring sustainable peace unless the locals agree. So have no illusions that all problems will be solved once the border issue is solved. The problem lies in the nature of the Eritrean leadership which believes in solving all kinds of disputes by force, at any cost.
Aite Mellese, you are trying to lecture us on democracy, justices etc. etc. Has it not come ever to your mined that the Irob people inhabiting the middle of border area and the inhabitants of Badme have also the right to chose where to belong, i.e. to Eritrea or Ethiopia? In my childhood I remember elders (abeyti adi) used to discuss and solve local problems. Why not leave the issue to be solved by the inhabitants in both sides of the border. For how long are you prepared to deceive people with this kind of disinformation? Don’t you thing that it is a way out of the impasse?
With regard to the latest controversial proclamation of the Ethiopian government on the right of Eritrean deportees to return and claim their properties and savings you think that they (the TPLF regime) designed it to attract the rich Eritrean ‘’investors’’ to Ethiopia so that ‘’Eritrea becomes bereft of its rich people to kneel down under the mercy of TPLF’’, because the TPLF is ‘’ bent on to destroy the Eritrean State’’. What absurd and a pathetic way of reasoning! By the way how many rich Eritreans are still in Eritrea, who are worthy of attracting as investors to Ethiopia? Many of Eritrea’s entrepreneurs have gone bankrupt long time a go or have fled the country because of unfavourable business climate. To talk about rich people in Eritrea today is ridiculous. I understand, it is difficult to give up dreams, which have been kept for long. Old habits die hard! Whether you accept it or not the Eritrean economy is in shambles and has collapsed beyond no repair long time a go not because of Ethiopia’s blockade, but because of your master’s disastrous political and economic policies or no policies. The borders aren’t closed by Ethiopia. Your ‘’benevolent regime’’ closed them. It isn’t Ethiopia which is killing its citizens for crossing borders. The borders are open for Eritreans to cross to Ethiopia and they are doing it every day at the mercy of being shot by Eritrean border guards. Is that not true? Oh! That is also the fault of the TPLF, CIA etc etc. , So blame nobody, but yourself Aite Mellese. When are you going to stop looking for excuses?
And the ports damn! - Ethiopia didn’t boycott them. Again it is your dictator who chose to close them for Ethiopia, hoping to strangle Ethiopia. Who lost at the end? You, Eritreans. Ethiopia has survived and showed the world and its people that it can survive with out ports. Here I am not pretending that ports aren’t necessary for a country. Ethiopia could have benefited a lot if it used the near ports of Masawa and Assab. But Eritrea would have benefited much more than Ethiopia. It is Eritrea, not Ethiopia, which is bleeding today as a result.
You complain that your ‘’problems arise from the fact that it is no war-no peace situation’’. Again who created this situation? Your favourite answer is of course the Woyanes.
Why complain now Aite Mellese?. You wanted and struggled for independence and you have got it after immeasurable sacrifices. We have congratulated you. You can’t complain now that things didn’t go the way you expected. You can’t have a cake and eat it at the same time. After all, didn’t your leaders tell you and the world at large that Eritrea had all the ability and resources which would enable it to reach the industrial development level of Singapore and Germany within a few years with out any support from outside (self reliance it was called)?. More than 18 years have gone so far and the situation in Eritrea is as it was, in fact much more back than during the independence days. For sure Eritrea doesn’t lack resources and nobody said that it did/does. But the PFDJ is couldn’t deliver what it promised to this day. How would you like to explain the situation? If I were you I wouldn’t continue on dreaming and repeating old dogmas. I would stop for a moment and evaluate every thing which happened so far and the present situation and find out what went wrong. What were the elements which were missed, i.e. which weren’t factored while planning your economic development plans (if you had any I mean)? A sober analysis of situation free of emotions is sought. It is of no use to compile the experiences of different countries and tell us how they have overcome their problems and developed if you can’t learn any thing valuable from them. Doing mistakes isn’t a crime, Aite Mellese, but not to learn and correct mistakes is. What Eritrea is lacking today is a wise and responsible leadership, who is willing to learn from others and then act. The land and the sea, the raw materials and the ports can’t turn to butter and honey by themselves. People transform/convert them through hard work. Therefore you need a government which creates favourable atmosphere for business. You also need to learn more and more how to copy from near and far. There is nothing wrong with copying. The Taiwanese, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese were & are all good in copying. Copying, I mean also how to live in peace with your neighbours. Don’t underestimate the Ethiopian experience also, because you hate them. They have gone far ahead than you in all spheres in a short period. To do that, again we need to learn. There is no need to invent the wheel again and again.
Aite Mellese, you have gone to great lengths to explain about the kind of unity sought in the Horn and advises not to ‘’localize the problem’’ when the ‘’whole Horn is on fire’’. It is good to think big and to have a noble vision. The problem is you forget that every thing starts at home. If Eritrea can’t tolerate dissent (opposition groups) in its own territory, if Eritreans aren’t ready to live with their closest neighbours, the Tigrians, how is it possible to speak of respect and tolerance in the Great Horn? You go around and around and preach about cultural, economic and political integration of the Horn countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan and avoid the first step i.e. on how to bring integration between the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea. That is the first step, because these countries are the most closest in all aspects. There is already a great deal of political and economic integration between Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan. Eritrea is boycotting the integration process of its own will. Nothing can be said about Somalia, because it is not at peace with itself, thanks to the meddling of the Eritrean regime. Aite Mellese peace is a precondition for all-round integration and peace can’t be achieved by fanning conflicts as the PFDJ thugs are doing.
At the end of your article you wanted to ‘’emphasize that we East Africans will fare better if we can solve our economic, social and political problems even with out creating new conflicts. I say this because we are starting to see the effects of global worming, desertification of Sub-Saharan Africa, new epidemics, financial crises waves of fundamentalism of every kind etc etc.’’ A good presentation of a noble vision. I subscribe to it. But how can I trust that you mean what you are writing? Am I not reading your article which is meant to saw hatred among Tigrians, Amharas and other nationalist in Ethiopia? Aren’t you trying to use the smallest conflict which may exist to increase suspicion and animosity among nationalities in Ethiopia? How can any one interpret your article otherwise?
Aite Mellese, I am an Ethiopian of Tigrian origin. I know all the atrocities perpetuated against Ethiopians, especially Tigrians by the criminal regime in Asmara. They aren’t to be forgotten, but not to be dwelt for ever either. Because I also know that there is no ethnic difference between the nationalities in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Tigrians, the Sahos, the Afars, and the Kunnamas live on both sides of the border. I happened to come from the border area and I knew that during the old days, when arranged marriage was the order of the day common people went across the border to find a bride for their beloved sons i.e. to forge marriage relationships (I am not forgetting the common intermarriages which happened in other Ethiopian urban centres). People used to join in their days of happiness (like weddings) and moments of sorrow (funerals). The Italian occupation didn’t succeed in stopping the cultural and economic communication of the people. Now the PFDJ cowards have succeeded in creating artificial barrier, even though it is temporary (I hope). So we have no grudge against the majority of the people of Eritrea what so ever. In fact many families on the Ethiopian/Tigrian side are serving today as transit centres for many Eritreans who are escaping from the harsh conditions in their country to an unknown future. Doesn’t it hurt to see Eritrean brothers and sisters in the refugee camps of Shimbela and others living a miserable life when they could have enjoyed equal rights and privileges as their Tigrian kins? It is only the likes of you, Aite Mellese who wouldn’t be concerned.
Leaving the blood and cultural relationships aside, the hard reality to be recognised and accepted is that now we are two countries. We should come to terms with this fact. We in Ethiopia will design our economic and political polices which suit us. We see first to our own interests at home, in the region and beyond. There should be no illusion about that. Eritreans are also expected to do the same. Then we will meet where our interests meet and do business based on the rule of law, respect and mutual benefits. For sure we have a lot of common interests and common enemies. Whether we like it or not our destiny is tied together. There is no way we can escape from this universal truth and therefore, we have no choice, but to cooperate. However, for all these to happen the presence of elected and representative governments in both countries and peace is still a precondition. Let all of us work towards this goal.
Aite Mellese, I humbly advice you to understand that a prosperous and strong Ethiopia is in the interest of Eritrea and vice-versa and also don’t see Tigrians as your enemies. Consider them instead as your partners. There is nothing to be gained by sawing hatred among peoples and fanning conflicts.
Stop also demanding special treatment or rewards. The time when you, Eritreans thought that you could get what you want by force or by intimidation is gone for ever not to come back. Try also to forget your attitude of ‘’we are special or we are different’’, even though it is difficult, because you are not. Think on how you can navigate in the ‘’hostile’’ environment you are living in. Consider the interests of your neighbours when you design your policies. Do not try to create imagined enemies, where there are no. There is no enemy against the people of Eritrea other than the PFDJ thugs and their supporters. Don’t blame others or look for escape goats for your failures. Don’t externalise the sources of your problems. Look inwards instead while thinking beyond your borders, because solutions are to be found inside Eritrea. A change of attitude needs to come. The sooner you do it the better. No more excuses!! (Sorry for all these advices, they are meant for the likes of Aite Messele, because they don’t seem to understand)
It is only in peace that you will be able to fulfil your dreams of development, provided that your dreams are realistic. But to do all these, Aite Mellese, if you really care much about Eritrea and the people of Eritrea, you need to ask the hard questions many deliberately try to avoid (kudos to those who have started) and seek answers: What is the main reason that you didn’t achieve what you expected after independence? Is it only because of the EPJD and Isayas? Did you have realistic expectations or were your ambitions realistic? Do you really know your place in the Greater Horn and in the global arena? What are the limitations you have? Have you made SWOT-analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)? Were the conflicts initiated by the Eritrean regime against neighbouring countries, especially the war with Ethiopia in the interest of Eritreans? Is targeting Tigrians still in the interest of Eritreans? Is meddling in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia) in the interests of Eritreans? When you honestly and objectively answer these questions you will find the right path and we will be there to meet you at the middle of the road to discuss on issues of integration in the Greater Horn. It is very important to understand that trust among peoples can’t be built on lies and false premises as our fathers say you can’t build a house on sandy platform. A relationship can be permanent and sustainable if it is based on solid foundation and the solid foundation itself needs to be based on mutual respect, genuine rapprochements, clear objectives and priorities and mutually agreed principles. In this I hope, we Ethiopians and Eritreans agree. Otherwise deceit creates only contempt and we will never reach the noble vision of integration in the Greater Horn..
Aite Mellese you are telling us that you are busy with editing books. I wonder what kind of books you are editing! I hope your books will be better than your article and that they will be based on facts and enlightening.