Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eritrean rebels claim to have killed dozens of intelligence agents - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
April 28, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Eritrean rebel group, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO), alleged on Monday it had killed and wounded dozens of Eritrean government intelligence agents in an attack inside the reclusive East African nation.
The Ethiopia-based rebel group said that the strike was carried out at the military barracks of an intelligence unit based in the Northern Red Sea region in the vicinity of Alhan.
Ibrahim Haron, the leader of the rebel group, told Sudan Tribune that their “forces in the early hours of Saturday attacked the military camp and killed 27 intelligence agents and wounded many others belonging to the 15th sub-division intelligence unit”.
The rebel leader said his fighters took control of the military base for over eight hours following the attack, destroying the entire camp before leaving the area.
The group also claims to have captured various types of weapons.
There was no immediate comment from the government in Asmara and the claims cannot be independently verified.
He said there were some 70 government intelligence members inside the camp during the assault but he said none of them tried to engage the rebel fighters.
“They preferred to runaway than fight against [us]. This indicates how much the government army is weakening,” the rebels said.
Ibrahim said the latest assault was in retaliation to ethnic killings by Eritrean government agents targeting Afar minorities.
This is the rebel group’s first cross-border attack since 2012 when they killed 30 Eritrean soldiers in an attack at a military base in the Southern Red Sea region.
RSADO which is a member of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA), a coalition of 11 Eritrean political organisations, renewed its calls for other opposition members to join the armed struggle to topple president Isaias Afwerki’s regime.
After the 1998-2000 bloody border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Asmara considers Eritrea’s Afars as being aligned to Ethiopia and having links to fellow Afar tribes in Ethiopia

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Eritrea: De-railing Railroads and History -Asmarino


By Zekre Lebona
In this website, a couple of articles were recently published in order to debunk the alleged de-industrialization during the period of the federation and the complete union with Ethiopia through the alleged acts of factory removals to the hinterland, discouraging direct foreign investment and complete neglect. This de-industrialization narrative was meant to leave the reader with the impression that the relatively high growth of industrialization was only during the time of Eritrea’s existence under Italy and particularly under the Fascist government. While many have chosen to keep silent, a few have however made a counter argument. They dismissed the claims about economic growth and industrial progress in Eritrea during Haile Selassie era as Asmera-centric and highland-based without making any serious effort to debate the subject. Is their critique fair? Were the lowlands in Eritrea completely a backwater with little or no connection to the economic advance witnessed in Asmera? Certainly not!
There is a parallel to the responses made by some of our cyber writers in the literature of Eritrean nationalism, among which is the destruction of the railroads in Eritrea which in the past used to shuttle from Massawa to Biscia near Agordet in the western lowlands. Without exception, all writers including the foreign ones blame the Ethiopian regimes for destroying the railway system, and particularly the Derg regime. The typical example is Michela Wrong. Having researched and dedicated an entire chapter to the railways in Eritrea (Steel Snake) in her book, she failed to discover the authors of the railway debacle; leaving her readers to be only entertained with the “innocuous” episode about the locomotive minus its operators careening through many stations, allegedly by the ELF fighters. The few who find this too unpalatable blame the vagaries of war, forcing the combatants to use the rails to build the trenches. In many instances, the alleged perpetrators are supposed to be solely the Ethiopian soldiers.
The irony is that, in their journey to fight for independence, Eritrean nationalists have used economic warfare1 to weaken the much numerous and strongly equipped Ethiopian empire and to gain propaganda in the world. They were not shy to own plane hijackings and bombings, sabotage of industrial assets, and certainly the ambushes and de-railings of many steam locomotives and litorrinas (light rails) that had no military purpose. Pictures of the incidents were either made available for major newspaper reporters or the journalists were sneaked in to the place of sabotage.
Economic warfare
The first major attack happened in December 1970 at Asciadira, a station located a few kilometers northwest of Keren. Having removed the rails, the ELF fighters removed the passengers from the trains and littorinas, subsequently plunging them into the ravine under the viaduct bridge. Rail transport was not the mode of transport for the Ethiopian army, the Eritrean police or the commando (commandis in Tigrinya) as in the adventure of Lawrence of Arabia, in which Arab nationalists fought and destroyed Ottoman trains and soldiers travelling in the strategic Hejaz Railway. To the contrary, the Ethiopian army and other units mainly depended on motor transport and avoided the slow trains and steep valleys lethal for ambush battles excepting the few policemen on official duty or vacation. In light of this fact, the policy of targeting the trains and littorinas was not legitimate. This is a stark example of the insurgents’ practice of economic warfare, but not limited to it.
In a rare case of admission, a former EPLF fighter, Johannes Beraki, stated, “We used to try and try to shell the brewery [the Melotti Brewery] from the hills,” …”We managed to hit everything around it, but never the brewery itself.”2 In her research for the Financial Times, Michela Wrong indicated that, “Attempts were made to mine the five-unit complex, but the presence of 200 Ethiopian troops posted around as protection had its effect. It was only when the guerrillas seized the port of Massawa, cutting off supplies of essential raw materials, that the brewery was forced to close.” They were however to lay siege and shell another important site in the country side.
Elabered, located on the road to Keren, lies in a bowl-like terrain surrounded by huge mountains. It was like an oasis for the weary traveler who, having experienced the relentless heat and arid landscape before it, finds relief. It was a modern commercial farm growing fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. And most importantly, “It was the most complete agricultural set up in Ethiopia” The mountains that sheltered the orchards from sudden frost and cold winds switched their purpose when Eritrean combatants dug their trenches on it and laid siege to the farming town around 1977-78.
Relentlessly bombarded, the farm buildings were seriously damaged, leaving the intricate canals and micro-dams in complete neglect. The micro-dams, having not being dredged for years, became a breeding ground for millions of mosquitoes and a hazard to the farmers and the villagers in the proximity, notwithstanding the presence of thousands of bats that made the ruined buildings their habitat. The impact of this siege has left its marks on the physical assets and inhabitants of the town to this very day. The fate of the other major farming estates such as the Barattolo cotton farm at Alighedir and the then newly established Ghinda farm were not different.3

(Photo: trains derailed and hurled down the gorge by the ELF at Asciadira, near Keren, in 1970)
The oasis farms
In the same manner, the grudging acceptance of industrial growth and commerce in Asmera, while ignoring the important roles of the major farms such as the Barattollo cotton plantation, the Elabered agro-industry and the relatively new modern farm in Ghinda is, to say the least, dishonest. Without the major input of the raw materials, most of the light scale factories in Asmera, which made them self-sufficient, would not have been able to remain competitive in the regional market. Without the important role of the railroads, the legumes, skins and hides exported in bulk to the outside world would not have been equally viable. More particularly, the pastoralists and farmers depended on the trains, which were much cheaper than the buses, for both transport and moving their little merchandise to the city of Asmera. “At its peak in 1965, the railway carried 446, 000 passengers and 200,000 tons of freight a year”4 reported New York Times, an almost impossible achievement out of a population estimated to have been less than 3,000,000. The trains shuttling along the east-west corridor of Eritrea hauled some of the products raised in the modern farms and villages of the lowlands leaving the perishable products for the flexible and speedier trucks. Here is a sample of list of Table of Exports for fruits and vegetables of the few 4 years before the Asmara Expo 69 event.
Mixed Vegetables
Totals kg.

Source: the Executive Committee of Asmara Expo 69; Il Poligrafico P.L.C., Asmara, 44.
Totals kg.

Source: the Executive Committee of Asmara Expo 69: Il Poligrafico P.L.C., Asmara, 44.
The above two tables show the figures for the fruits and vegetables produced in the farms increasing at a bigger percentage except for the dip in 1968; owing to the incomplete data for the rest of the year. The thing is however that most of the major farms were in their initial stages of business, waiting for the opportune moment to maximize their production from the yet unused but prepared of thousands of hectares. The fact that they ventured into the export sector and cornered some markets in a continent which was largely marginalized was very impressive. Unlike the white elephant projects littering the Eritrean landscape, the industries linked and the modern farms linked with them in the lowlands were vibrant and profitable. Clearly, the benefits also trickled to the thousands of workers and of both highland and lowland communities.
Vibrant communities
These modern farms became a catalyst in the growth of towns and complex societies, creating an agricultural proletariat in the tens of thousands. However, the farms were not stand alone entities making substantial profits for repatriation. The Barattolo cotton farm, for instance, made a huge investment in the communities, simply by the sprawling nature of its enterprise, which included: a vast agricultural land, 1003 hectares of partially claimed land, 578 kilometers of roads, 13 steel bridges, 39 concrete bridges, 52 kilometers of telephone lines, bore wells, an airfield at Alighedir, the Ekit Airstrip; schools, churches mosques and infirmaries; a power plant, meteorological station, pest control and plant disease center; irrigation reservoir able to hold 9 million cubic meters of water.5
The De Nadai group made similar investment among the farming communities in the town of Elabered. Neatly built blocks of houses, schools, clinics and tap water were made available still visible now from the asphalt road. The farms were also instrumental in encouraging independent farmers to launch their own farms producing cotton and fruits with the help of the companies, resulting in the spread of modern agricultural and technology among the farming and pastoral community. The Ghinda farm located in the eastern escarpment was modeled after the Elabered estate, but much bigger. The stable livelihood and amenities from it were however brutally interrupted as a result of insurgency, leaving them poor and isolated from the convenience of the railroad transport.
Starting from scratch
In the 10 Nakfa currency of Eritrea, a cannibalized Soviet Ural truck pulling several wagons is embossed, showing as some would put it the phoenix-like revival of the grandeur and inventiveness of Eritrea. What era is it evoking? The epoch of the war economy in Eritrea under Mussolini? Or the peace-time economy of the federation period and thereafter that lasted close to twenty years of growth? What is the purpose of such an engraving in light of the self-inflicted destruction of the locomotives and railways and the total derailment of the economy in Eritrea; including, yes; the lowland regions of Eritrea? If the Soviet Ural truck is meant as the proverbial turning swords into ploughshare, the war mongering policy of the present regime with several of its neighbors contradicts it.
The nationalists’ mantra in Eritrea has been “Starting from scratch”. A slogan devoid of admission about the role of the political actors in the physical aspects of the war and the opportunity lost for industrial revolution. What do we make of the other famous mantra?
The train (babur), that is, the revolution, as Eritrean nationalists lovingly call it has in deed achieved its goals of to getting rid of Ethiopia’s rule, but at incalculable cost to the resources of the land and its people. The architects of the revolution (sewra) have been applauded by many for refusing the offer of foreign companies to re-build it in a modern way, and instead mobilized domestic labor to recreate it as it was in the colonial past. In fact, most of the participants were forced laborers. The drivers of this revolution, who have lately become railroad enthusiasts, were the same people who carried economic warfare for decades that sent Eritrea’s material and human resources down the gorges to this present day. True, the insurgents, who sent the two littorinas and Krupp locomotive engine hurtling down the abyss were from the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), which dominated the Asciadira area in 1970. That doesn’t mean the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) would have refrained from the same practice. After all, they both embraced economic warfare as a means of war.
It took Italian colonial Eritrea about thirty years to build the “steel snake” to serve her as a military instrument; it equally took the thirty years of nationalist insurgency for it to wither away from the landscape (excluding its present caricature), except for the brief period from 1950-70s indicated before. Hence, the need to inspect the truth about the brief peace-time economic period, which comprised the lowland regions of Eritrea, the lowland regions’ forward linkage with the factories in Asmera and the subsequent rapid progress witnessed in industrial growth.

[1]Campbell, Franklin John. Rumblings Along the Red Sea: the Eritrean Question; Foreign Affairs; April 1970 Issue.
[2] Wrong, Michela. Survey of Eritrea (30: Operating at full bottle/ Profile of Asmara Brewery; Financial Times (FT)-Thursday, January 18, 1996.
[3] Lebona, Zekre. Asmara Expo 69: The Lost Age of Industrialization in Ertirea; Asmarino.com; April 4, 2014.
[4]Mckinley Jr., James C. Working on the Railroad, and on Eritrea’s Revival; The New York Times; May 19, 1996.
[5] Dolce Vita; the Italian Life Style; website.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Eritrea: Ambassador Girma Asmerom Presents Credentials to UN Secretary General

Hidri Publishers Indicated That It Has Posted E-Books On Its Website Www.hdrimedia.com.

Hidri Publishers indicated that it has posted e-books on its website www.hdrimedia.com. The digital material can be … see more »

Asmara — Ambassador Girma Asmerom has been appointed as the Permanent Representative of Eritrea in the United Nations, and presented credentials to the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon yesterday.

In the handing session, the Eritrean Ambassador delivered President Isaias Afwerki's message conveying goodwill to Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
In the course of the meeting, both sides exchanged views focusing on bilateral and regional relations as well as issues. They further agreed to foster such discussion on the basis of continued meetings.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon said that he has a plan to visit Eritrea, and wished President Isaias good health.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Eritrea:The authorized version of events-asmarino.com


By Samuel N
The Eritrean government propaganda are so outrageous that even the hardcore government supporters have to tune-down government propaganda in an effort to make the claims seem less stupid.
Even critics often moderate many of the government’s claims just to make them reasonable enough to be critiqued (for the claims are silly beyond that possible to criticize).
The above is taken from my post a year ago, “Eritrea according to the government”. Then I discussed how the “authorized version” of Eritrea is nothing like the Eritrea people talk about. Government supporters and critiques alike routinely moderate the government’s stand on things. It’s not fair.
Below I have laid out the typical government position on various things. I am playing the sober government official. This piece is not a satire.
[At the moment I don't have time to find references. I ask my readers to send me references on these government responses (see details on end of  post*) I will update this post regularly and keep an acknowledgement list (real or pen name). Thank you]
The authorized version of events
(1) Arrest of G-15
It is common knowledge that 15 or so high officials were arrested in 2001. Some people focus on the “how” and on minor technical details. Doing so they miss the big picture: “why?”
The G-15 were not arrested for criticizing or challenging the government. The Eritrean political culture is based on constructive criticism and discussion. Those officials were arrested for treason and for collaboration with the enemy. They trampled on the blood of our martyrs and decided to negotiate through back channels with our enemies (Western powers and Ethiopia) in order to ‘sell’ Eritrea for personal gains.
Talking on the “how” and on technical aspects of their arrest… true there might have been certain procedural oversights, or even blunders I dare say. But that should not divert us from the big picture. They deserve to be arrested. Justice needed to be done.
(2) Freedom of Press
Eritrea does not ban independent media inside the country. The closing down of the three or so non-Eritrean-government owned media had nothing to do with freedom of press. The reason these newspapers were closed in 2001 was because it was found that these newspapers were being subsidized and operated by Western elements. We have evidences that suggest they were being used by foreign intelligence agencies. Obviously we cannot allow foregn intelligence agencies to operate in Eritrea.
Various Western so called human rights and press freedom organizations have accused us of lack of press freedom. This is baseless accusation.
Reporters Without Borders  for example has ranked Eritrea as having the lowest press freedom in the world while at the same time, simultaneously, ranking Eritrea alongside North Korea. This shows the West is ignorant of North Korea.
(3) Arrest of ‘journalists’
Our constitution guarantees freedom of press and the government holds this right dear. What must be emphasized is that the so called journalists who were allegedly arrested in 2001 were not arrested for their journalistic work. No one in Eritrea has ever been arrested for being a journalist.
(4) Closing of the only University
The University was restructured to meet the ever increasing number of new students. The university was restructured and its resources reallocated to various new colleges. The new colleges were purposely installed across all regions of the country to ensure equal development of all regions of Eritrea. In short the university was “multiplied” by opening new institutions of higher education.
As a result the number of students enrolling and graduating across the country has grown dramatically. The new colleges have their own challenges: they might also be less equipped, infrastructure is still basic and so on. But that is the price we are willing to pay for the future development of education for all.
(5) Detention of University students in 2001
In 2001 students of University of Asmara volunteered to work on development projects in their summer break. Accordingly the government assigned the students  to participate in the reconstruction of their country by assigning them to work on rural Eritrea for the summer, which they did.
Some media outlets deliberately distorted this simple fact and made outrageous accusation on the government. They reported that because the university students refused to comply to work without compensation, the  government had detained the entire student body (over 2,000 students) in a desert military camp at Wia (about 45 kilometres south of Massawa city) for months. Such reports are utter rubbish.
(6) Involvement with Al-Shabaab of Somalia
We have been accused of arming, training, and/or equipping armed groups including al-Shabaab. And hence become the victims of an un-just sanction by the UN Security Council since December 2009.
Eritrea supports the self determination of the Somali people and condemns the involvement of any foreign powers trying to institute puppet government in Somali.
The Eritrean government is committed to helping the Somali people by all diplomatic and political means. Other than that the Eritrean government has never armed, trained, and/or equipped any armed group in Somalia or in the region.
(7) Clashes with Djibouti
The United Nations and the Djibouti government claimed that Eritrea had military clashes with Djibouti on 10 to 12 June of 2008. Furthermore, they claim that Eritrea has refused to disclose information on Djibouti combatants killed or captured in these so called clashes.
The government of Eritrea deny there ever was any military clashes with Djibouti. The government, therefore, has no knowledge of and cannot produce the allegedly ‘missing’ Djibouti combatants.
If there was any minor border skirmishes between Djibouti and our border patrols: we deny any minor border skirmishes.
It is a shame that this false information, along with false allegations of trying to destabilize parts of Horn of Africa was used to impose UN sanction on Eritrea in 2009.
(8) Detention of Orthodox Patriarch: Patriarch Abune Antonios
The Eritrean Orthodox Church is the biggest Christian denomination in the nation. Regarding the administration of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the government of Eritrea has knowledge of the following: Abune Antonios was elected Patriarch by the Holy Synod on March 2004 and enthroned as the third Patriarch of the Eritrean Church on April 2004. On January 2006 the Holy Synod decided to remove the Patriarch and elected Patriarch Dioscoros as his successor.
We have heard allegations that the Eritrean government was involved in removing the Patriarch. Some have even gone as far as accusing us of detaining His holiness the ex-Patriarch.
As matter of principle the Eritrean government does not involve in any internal working of religious organizations. We cannot comment on church internal procedures. We don’t keep track of citizens and we don’t have any reason to investigate the whereabouts of the ex-Patriarch Abune Antonios.
(9) Persecution of religions
Eritrea guarantees the freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Various Western so called human rights organizations (including the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International) have accused us of religious intolerance. We stand accused of the banning of houses of worship, torture, arbitrary arrest persons based on religion (including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, Orthodox Christians, and Moslems). In addition we stand accused of interfering in the religious orders and the administration of the Eritrean Orthodox, the Catholic, the Lutheran and the Moslem.
We deny all accusations.
(10) Restriction of travel within or outside the country
This piece of misinformation is repeated everywhere that it is often accepted by the gullible without question.
The government of Eritrea does not impose travel restrictions. This misinformation stems from the fact that Eritreans doing their military service under the National Service are not allowed to leave the country without completing their national duty.
In addition while doing military duty, conscripts are of course subject to certain restrictions of the army barracks they are in. this is standard procedure for any country. Otherwise any Eritrean who has completed his or her National Service is free to leave and enter the country just like anywhere in the world.
(11) Shoot-to-kill border policy
Eritrea is currently in a standoff with the Ethiopian occupiers. The Ethiopian government currently has occupied land that belongs to Eritrea and has refused to heed to the the final and binding arbitration of the  The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EECB).
Due to the extensive militarization of our borders and the repeated incursion of Ethiopian army units into our borders, people illegally crossing the border risk being mistaken for enemy combatants. So far the government has not reported of any incident (accident) in which a civilian was shot at, but it would not be unprecedented if that happens given the tense nature of our borders.
People caught leaving or entering our borders illegally are brought before civilian Court and processed according to the law. It is unthinkable that any citizen risks arbitrary arrest, torture or even death for crossing our borders illegally.
(12) Indefinite conscription
The Eritrean law requires that all men and women spend 18 months of National Service which includes six months of military training. Draft dodging is a crime and is punished as such. Cases are handled on a case by case bases and I cannot comment (nor can I remember by hart) on the possible punishment handed to individuals for draft dodging, but I can definitely guarantee that any punishment the Eritrean legal system issues if fair and fits the level of the crime.
*please e-mail me ( DissidentDiaries@Gmail.com) or use the form below to send me additional topics I should cover and any references (text, video or audio). Please make sure to mention the topic and where exactly the reference is in the document you cite (e.g. paragraph number or time).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Eritrea: National service triggers migration, UN S. Rapporteur says after interviews | capitaleritrea news

March 31, 2014 (GENEVA) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, today expressed deep concern about persisting human rights violations in the country in the context of the Eritrean national service.
“National service dominates life in Eritrea entirely,” Ms. Keetharuth said at the end of an official visit to Germany and Switzerland from 17 to 28 March 2014 during which she collected first-hand information from Eritrean refugees and migrants on the human rights situation in Eritrea.
The bulk of what the human rights expert documented reconfirmed her earlier findings: “The main reasons spurring Eritreans to flee their country are linked to the indefinite national service and the constant fear of being targeted,” she said.
Young people are conscripted into the military without any prospect of demobilization. Once they complete military training, they are assigned to various Government sectors, including in the civilian administration.
A conscript who spent almost 14 years in national service told the Special Rapporteur that ‘some families have three or four sons and daughters in the national service. The salary is paltry – too low to cover the prevailing cost of living, let alone support family members, especially children, the elderly or siblings.’
During the interviews with the Special Rapporteur, refugees described in great detail the widespread insecurity that every Eritrean citizen experienced, irrespectively of whether he or she was a national service conscript.
“In addition to regular round-ups by the military, citizens are targeted arbitrarily for reasons that remain mostly unknown to the victims or beyond their control, or at times on charges of ‘plotting to leave the country,’” the independent expert explained.
Severe punishment, including of family members of those who fled, often takes the form of arrest and detention, sometimes for prolonged periods in inhumane conditions and systematic ill-treatment. Other forms of punishment may include the payment of heavy fines, thus depriving entire families of their means of livelihood.
Harassment and intimidation of family members, including elderly parents, is routine.
“Accountability mechanisms do not exist, leaving victims without any access to justice and perpetuating a climate of impunity and fear which extends beyond the borders of the country,” the Special Rapporteur warned.
Ms. Keetharuth also expressed concern about the plight of 276 Eritreans detained in Nagad, Djibouti, with two having reportedly died while in custody. “I reiterate my call on the international community to strengthen efforts to ensure the protection of those fleeing from Eritrea by granting at least temporary refuge or protection in line with their obligations under international refugee and human rights law.”
“I request the Eritrean Government to demonstrate its willingness to deal with its human rights challenges by taking immediate positive steps to reverse the climate of impunity and fear and by inviting me to assess the situation of human rights in the country first hand so as to find lasting solutions,” she stressed.
Eritrea continues to refuse to cooperate with the country mandate created unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council and has not yet granted the Special Rapporteur a visa to visit the country.
“Due to lack of access to Eritrea, I will continue to link up with Eritrean refugees and migrants outside of their home country, as well as with all others concerned by human rights in Eritrea, including those who consider themselves to be victims of alleged human rights violations, human rights defenders and other civil society actors,” Ms. Keetharuth said.
The result of her findings, which will be strictly limited to the situation inside Eritrea, will be reflected in her second report to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Virtually No Border Control in Eritrea due to defection - Asmarino

Virtually No Border Control in Eritrea
Asmara 11-04-2014) According to Members of Team Freedom Friday in Asmara, authorities in the country are totally failing to secure the border against the outflow of young refugees fleeing the indefinite national service.
Speaking from the capital this afternoon they said: ‘the sheer number of refugees making the crossing into Europe via Libya as well as the rising numbers of those crossing the border into Sudan and Ethiopia comes as no surprise to us here, everyone here talks about those who have left the country and the fact that the borders are virtually free of security forces’. The poor border control is believed to be a result of diminished capacity in the army due to the level of defections. The gap in manpower at the military has also been reported by Eritrean media outlets earlier this week. Both Awate.com and Assenna.com have reported the situation in relation to the impact of unprecedented defections in the ranks and file of the Eritrean army.
The mood of Asmara residents is described as total resignation, whereby people listlessly spend their days queuing to buy every-day necessities.
Cooking fuel has disappeared from the market and food items such as meat and egg are luxuries that only few can afford. The expenditure of an average family is 10 times over the income of a national service recruit. Freedom Friday Team Members say this is what makes people give up and decide to leave the country.
Talking about signs of potential uprising in the country activists say ‘everyone talks about their dissatisfaction, but we are all aware of the fact that they have spies everywhere, we know even our best friends and members of our family have been recruited as spies, they pay them well and infact that is how we know they are spying for them, this again makes people decide to leave the country’.
The number of people leaving Eritrea has risen dramatically over the last few months and despite difficulties in the refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan it is estimated that between 3,000 – 5,000 people, mostly young men, are leaving the country every month. Over the last four days five boats carrying over 6,000 refugees, including many from Eritrea, were rescued by Italian coastguards.
It is to be remembered that in October 2013, 366 Eritreans died in a single boat accident along the Mediterranean. That accident triggered the setting up of the rescue operation Mare Nostrum. To date the Operation has rescued over 20,000 persons at sea

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Eritrea denies Ethiopian destabilization claims

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
ADDIS ABABA – Eritrea has dismissed claims by longstanding rival Ethiopia that it was destabilizing the East Africa region by involving itself in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
Eritrean Ambassador to Kenya Beyene Russom was quoted by Eritrean state television as saying that the allegations were part of an Ethiopian smear campaign.
Eritrea, Russom insisted, wanted to see the South Sudanese people solve their domestic problems.
Late last month, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti accused Eritrea of playing a role in the ongoing South Sudan conflict.
"We have circumstantial evidence of Eritrea's involvement [in the South Sudan crisis]," Mufti said.
Tensions between Addis Ababa and Asmara have persisted since a bloody two-year border war – in which tens of thousands were killed – ended in 2000.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar, of attempting to overthrow his regime.
The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure" while around one million have been displaced by the violence.
Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency

Eritrea Rejected Ethiopian Accusation of Helping South Sudan Rebels -geskaa

Khartoum (HAN) April 10, 2014 – Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti accused Eritrea of playing a role in the ongoing South Sudan conflict, but Eritrea has dismissed claims by longstanding rival Ethiopia that it was destabilizing the East Africa region by involving itself in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
Eritrean Ambassador to Kenya Beyene Russom was quoted by Eritrean state television as saying that the allegations were part of an Ethiopian smear campaign.

Eritrea, Russom insisted, wanted to see the South Sudanese people solve their domestic problems and again Asmara strongly denied those accusations from Addis Aababa.
Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti accused Eritrea of playing a role in the ongoing South Sudan conflict.
“We have circumstantial evidence of Eritrea’s involvement [in the South Sudan crisis],” Mufti said.
Tensions between Addis Ababa and Asmara have persisted since a bloody two-year border war – in which tens of thousands were killed – ended in 2000.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar, of attempting to overthrow his regime.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now “severely food insecure” while around one million have been displaced by the violence.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Eritrea: Three Senior Generals have been assigned to civilian positions


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Djibouti (HAN) April 6, 2014 – Eritrean Gedab News learned that several companies of the Eritrean army are being hallowed at alarming rates. Due to serious desertion of conscripts, many squads ceased to exist and platoons have been downgraded to the level of squads. At the same time, the size of companies has decreased to that of a platoon, in some instances to a lesser size.
Meanwhile, the weekly and bi-weekly drill the peoples’ militia was supposed to go through has almost stopped. Farmers and herders have gradually stopped attending the compulsory weekly or bi-weekly drills that were a common sight around the countryside until last year. Recently, the militia army has all but disappeared from the scene.
Citizens have just stashed the arms that were supplied to them by the regime and are going about their work tending to their farms and herds. In cities and towns, some militia personnel are still required to do night guard duties.
Until last year, the standing militia army numbered approximately 150,000 people who were assigned to different policing and guarding tasks.
The life of the weakest sector of the society, farmers and herders, has become abysmal while those who do menial labor and engage in petty jobs to survive have been thrown into destitution. At the same time,life has continued to be difficult for Eritreans due to taxation and other moving regiments imposed by the government, on top of the widespread corruption, mainly bribery which has become rampant.
The army is in a crisis. It has also been plagued by desertion to the extent that members of the army, mostly conscripts, have returned to their units after a leave or after an assignment, only to find that their units have disintegrated. They are usually told to return home and wait for further instruction.
Many conscripts, including junior officers, have disappeared inside the country or escaped across the border to Sudan and, to a lesser extent, to Ethiopia.
For the last six-months, the army has been in disarray after President Isaias Afwerki announced his intentions to restructure the Eritrean defense forces.
Developments in the army have become the main news that people are talking about in Eritrea. Particularly after the posthumous promotion to army chief of staff of Major General Andemariam “Wuchu” who died several weeks ago.
Major General Wuchu was being receiving medical treatment in Eritrea and Sudan before traveling to Italy where he stayed for a considerable time. Giving up on his recovery from his serious illness, Italian doctors decided to send him home to face his fate. He returned to Asmara on a chartered plane accompanied by an Italian doctor who immediately returned home after escorting General Wuchu who arrived on a wheelchair. Eyewitnesses who saw him at the airport said he looked haggard, tired and had several glucose and other intravenous lines connected to his body. He died a few weeks later.
Eritreans discovered General Wuchu’s promotion to the position of the army’s chief of staff when his bio was read at his funeral. The Eritrean regime doesn’t inform the people even about major changes in the government.
Nearly a week following the death of General Wuchu, Eritreans came to know that Major General Philipos Weldeyohannes was promoted to the rank of full general and appointed chief of staff of the Eritrean army. The Eritrean army never had lieutenant generals or major generals directly become full generals.
In all state funerals, General Sebhat Ephrem, the defense minister, used to lay the wreath on behalf of the Eritrean armed forces, but at the state funeral held for the three veterans who died two weeks ago (Brigadier General Amanuel Haile (aka “Hanjema”), Brigadier General Mebrahtu Tekleab (aka “Vaynak”), and Mr. Desu Tesfatsion,) it was General Philipos who laid the wreath on behalf of the armed forces.
In a related story, a few junior officers of the Eritrean army have been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel. At the same time, at least three senior generals have been assigned to civilian positions by the president of Eritrea.
According to our sources, at least two of them have refused to accept the assignment. It is expected those who refused to take off their military suits will be frozen with no roles to play either in the army or the public sector.
So far, after the two generals refused to accept the assignment, the position of governorship of the central region remains vacant. As usual, when it is filled, Eritreans will know through the grapevines since the government doesn’t provide timely information on such appointments and promotions.
(In Picture) - Rumsfeld was  in Asmara, Eritrea, to meet with leaders concerning defense issues of mutual interest; some of the Generals that reassigned to a civilian positions.