…it must have been in 2007in a conversation with a young Eritrean woman I stopped to think about the ‘advances’ that pfdj were making to rebuild Eritrea.

Back then it was fashionable for proponents of the regime and the ‘selfish majority’ to talk about these phantom developments. Electricity line in this village or the other, a road here a micro-dam there… a clinic… a school… and we had to play a balancing act as we didn’t want to be accused of blanket opposition to everything…. Well in this particular conversation I asked my fellow conversant that we will just play the very game of balancing… I asked her to pretend we had a scale and asked her to heap every ‘achievement’ of pfdj on her side of the scale… I asked her not to leave anything out… every last micro-dam was supposed to be on her side of the scale… when she was done heaping her end of the scale with everything she could think of I told her: for me a single Eritrean that spends a single night in jail unjustly is more important than all this… and we had thousands of Eritreans in that position… way more than enough to tip the balance away from the phony… phantom progress of pfdj’s

….on balance in the quarter of a century that pfdj have been running Eritrea they have brought us nothing but untold misery turning Eritrea from a shining beacon of hope to a land of destitution and misery.

Last night I sat to reflect on all this and the only image I kept getting of pfdj was a punctured ball that is good for nothing!

Below I have listed just a few of the many failures that got us to where we currently are as a people… and the only response from pfdj is to blame others for all of this and more (much more)… well this is 2016 and Eritrea’s woes are too painfully chronicled in the perished lives of an entire generation and no one can absolve them of this… not even their well trained mouth pieces whose actions of speaking from a far distance and speaks louder than their empty babble…   

1991 ELF fighters were denied stakeholdership of the country they fought to liberate, they were effectively denied the right to freedom of association.

1992 EPLF fighters were skilfully conned out of their right to demand the ideals they paid everything there is to pay for. Women and disabled veterans were particularly hard-done.

1993 Eritrea’s Jehovah’s witnesses begun to face a total denial of their citizenship rights owing their religious beliefs.

1994  Disabled Liberation War veteran were mercilessly massacred in Mai-Habar, for peacefully demanding to be heard.

In December 1994, Some Muslim imams and teachers were accused of ‘jihad’ and arrested. Their whereabouts still unknown (they disappeared), several are said to have been killed.

1995  Eritrea launched an operation to take Hanish island by force from Yemen ( later the  Court of Arbitration determined that the archipelago belonged to Yemen)

1996 Amnesty international reported the detentions without charge or trial of suspected government opponents and appealed to the government for the release of the four Jeberti detainees and any others who were prisoners of conscience, and for all other political detainees to be given fair trials or released. It called on the government to disclose details of all political detainees and to allow them access to their families. It urged the authorities to establish full and impartial investigations into the cases of all detainees who were alleged to have "disappeared". A call that remains unanswered!

1997 The still born Eritrean constitution was  approved, however,  the document had no provision for its entry into force and was indeed never implemented

1998-2000 – Eritrean started border clashes with Ethiopia, this turn into a full-scale war which left close to 100,000 people dead

2001 over 2,000  university students were detained in wea, when they demanded reform of a mandatory summer work program. Two students died from the harsh conditions.

2001 politicians and journalists who sought accountability for the border conflict disappeared. Independent press was banned and thousands of people were accused of siding the dissidents and they met the same fate

2002 Eritrea's highest legislative body, the National Assembly, decides not to allow the creation of any political parties in the near future. That was to be the last meeting of the assembly.

2002 Warsay Yikealo Development Campaign (WYDC), was adopted officially turning the 18 month national service into a lifelong bondage of slavery for young Eritreans. University of Asmara  stopped new student enrolments as the regime issued a directive effectively shutting down all of the university's undergraduate programs.

2003 the regime started to routinely arrest and torture members of minority protestant churches (following the banning of their churches the previous year). Metal containers came into wide use during this period.

2004  UNICEF expressed concern at the requirement that all secondary school students must complete their final year at a school at Sawa military training camp if they wanted to graduate or to attend higher education. The practice still continues.

2005 Amnesty international reported: 110 people who had fled to Libya and were forcibly returned to Eritrea. On arrival they were detained and placed in incommunicado detention in a secret prison.

In November 2005, Dawit Isaak a Swedish-Eritrean journalist who disappeared in April 2002 was released from jail but after two days of freedom, and while on his way to the hospital, Isaac was imprisoned again. Despite concerted global campaign he hasn’t been seen nor heard from, since that time.

In January 2006, a secret session of the Holy Synod held in Asmara  removed the his Holiness Abune Antonios the Patriarch of the Eritrean orthodox Church from office and he has since been incarcerated in an incommunicado detention.

2007 a UN Team monitoring the arms embargo on Somalia reported that Eritrea had supplied ‘huge quantities of arms’ to the ICU.

In April 2007 Eritrea suspended its membership of IGAD.

2008 Fighting broke out between Eritrean and Djiboutian forces, over Eritrea’s incursion into the Ras Doumeira area in Djibouti.

2009 Human Rights Watch produced a 95-page report, "Service for Life: State Repression and Indefinite Conscription in Eritrea," documenting serious human rights violations in Eritrean, including arbitrary arrest, torture, appalling detention conditions, forced labour, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, expression, and worship.

Also in 2009, trafficking of Eritreans in the Sinai desert started to be reported. It involved the abduction, extortion, sale, torture, sexual violation and killing of men, women and children from Eritrea. Many young Eritreans fleeing the endless national service died in Sinai. 

2010 Eyob Bahta Habtemariam, a defected team leader at the Era-Ero prison, stated the prison housed the high profile prisoners including the G-15, of this group of 35, 15 had died due to torture and medical neglect, food deprivation, and excessive heat. Of the remaining 20 nine were reportedly disabled physically or mentally. The 11 remaining inmates are kept in handcuffs and leg chains 24 hours a day. Inmates only received one meal a day.

2011 Eritreans started to flee the country in unprecedented numbers. The regime started harassing and fining families of refugees. UNHCR, issued a recommendation that states refrain from forcibly returning rejected Eritrean asylum-seekers to Eritrea. Some 2010,223,562 Eritrean refugees and asylum-seekers were said to be living abroad, according to official figures.

2012 Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth (Mauritius) was appointed in October 2012 as the first Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. A series of reports outlining the severe human rights violations came out of her investigations. The regime ignored all her recommendations and her call to be allowed a visit to Eritrea.

2012 Weynay Ghebresilasie Eritrea's flag-carrying runner sought asylum in UK during the London Olympics, there were many more defections including mass defections of athletes and footballers since (and before) that time

October 2013, a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa, 366 Eritreans died in that single incident (the Italian Coast Guard rescued 155 survivors), the Eritrean regime refused to acknowledge the disaster.

January 2013, around 100-200 soldiers of the Eritrean Army  seized the headquarters of the state broadcaster, EriTV, and broadcasted a message demanding reforms and the release of political prisoners. The mutineers and their alleged collaborators were killed or disappeared including Abdullah Jabir – general-secretary of PFDJ and Mustafa Nur Hussein governor of the southern region.

2014 the world was shocked at the Eritrea Refugee crisis, gripping Eritrea (second only to Syria), during the first ten months of 2014, the number of Eritrean asylum-seekers in Europe nearly tripled. In Ethiopia and Sudan, the number of Eritrean refugees had also increased sharply, more than 5,000 Eritreans crossed into Ethiopia during the month of October alone. About 90 per cent of those who arrived in October 2014 were between 18 – 24 years old.

2014 fighter pilot Dejen Ande escaped from a maximum-security prison in Asmara where the government had held him without charge for 15 years. In an interview he reveals the appalling  condition of Eritrea’s prisons, the many prisoners who had disappeared without trace and the great injustice that continued unabated.

2015 the UN commission of Inquiry on Eritrea concluded that the regime engages in ‘systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations’ carried out in a ‘context of total lack of rule of law’

2016 well over 400 Eritrean children arrive to refugee camps in Ethiopia per month; thousands of unaccompanied children reside in the Shire refugee camps. According to UNHCR one option for a durable solution is to facilitate the children’s reunification with parents or relatives in Eritrea, however despite on going efforts no such returns from Ethiopia have occurred in recent years. In fact, in early 2015, the Eritrean government blocked an attempt to return 50 children.

A lot more can be said about the social, political and economic decline that the regime has plunged Eritrea into… but this will for now suffice as a backdrop to the empty ‘celebrations’ that the regime is attempting to orchestrate… 


Eritrea: An Extraordinary Love Story from 1920s

Documents of the colonial era are sparse and incomplete, but they are also one of the written...

Eritrea: Veronica Almedom - A defender of Eritreans’ human rights

Veronica Almedom, who arrived in Switzerland from Eritrea as a baby, is now a member of the...

Eritrean cyclist Eyob conquers steepest climb in Stage 4 of Tour de Indonesia

Eyob dominated in ascending the 147.3-kilometer stage by clocking in at 4:16:33. It was an...

Eritrea: Haben’s First Book

Eritrea: Part II - Deciphering the Peace Accord between Eritrea and Ethiopia - An Interview with Yosief Ghebrehiwet

The fact that both Isaias and Abbiy have conditioned the implementation of the Peace Accord on the...

Eritrea’s Saba Kidane: Write Saba Write!

What is unique about Saba is the fact she gets lost in her poetry during recitals. Poetry is her...