venerdì 19 marzo 2010

Ertirea Media Watch: Sanctions Impacting Eritrea Policy; Michael Abraha

Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki returned home over the weekend from a two day visit to Libya where he met with his counterpart Col Moammar Khadafy. It is thought that Eritrea is being counseled by Libya and other rogue states including Sudan and Iran about UN sanctions imposed on the Asmara regime. These leaders have been punished by the UN in the past for lawless behavior. Eritrea needs their informed advice in formulating a tolerable plan on how to respond to the UN charges. The strategy adopted so far has been to keep rejecting the charges that Eritrea is supporting Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist violence in Somalia where over 21-thousand people have lost their lives in the last three years. The accusations are said to be serious enough for consideration under international laws governing war crimes. The latest UN status report provides more concrete evidence of Eritrean support for extremist groups in Somalia. The government claims the report clears it of any blame even though there appears no room for such interpretation. The report underscores that Asmara´s support for hard line Somali insurgents has either diminished or has become less visible following the imposition of the sanctions in December. The fact remains the Eritrean government has no choice but to give in to the mounting international pressure. That is exactly what is happening and all interested parties especially Eritreans and Somalis should find the unfolding outcome most encouraging. The hardest part is how to end oppression inside Eritrea where the regime´s violent foreign policy is rooted. Unless the Eritrean people are free from repression and dictatorship, there would be no real peace in the Horn of Africa. REUTERS´ JEREMY CLARKE IN ASMARA Thanks to an impending gold mining boom in Eritrea overshadowed by crippling UN sanctions, any report or comment coming from Reuters´ Jeremy Clarke in Asmara is of tremendous interest to policy makers, stock holders and many news organizations around the globe. Clarke´s stories are picked up by thousands of online and print media including major dailies in Europe and America. He is the only independent observer in a country regarded as the worst violator of press freedom in the world. How the sanctions will affect the British, Canadian and other western mining interests in Eritrea or how these interests will affect the implementation of the sanctions is yet to be seen. And whether Jeremy Clarke stays or is kicked out of Asmara will depend on how he portrays Strongman Isaias Afwerki presiding on a tortured, starving and terrorized population. AWATE FOUNDATION SHOULD APOLOGIZE Professor Bereket outpaced literally every other contributor by devoting close to a 15-thousand word-paper (small-size book) to respond to Awate Foundation´s anti-Christian stereotyping mission also known by many as Ali Salem´s jihadist project. This ominous project has to be called by its right name so that no more wrong medicines are prescribed as did the Professor in his otherwise very brilliant document. The paper, which is part of his yet-to-be published book, is entitled State, Religion and Ethno-Regional Politics ( 03/01/10). In it, Professor Bereket implies religious extremists will be satisfied if Arabic was made a national language or if ´exploiter Christian settlers´ vacated the Moslem lowlands. The Salem project is focused on threatening and vilifying the Tigrigna Christians in the highlands for selfish and narrow political gains and is hardly interested in working with other democratic forces to transform the Eritrean society. In fact, its objective has so far been to weaken and divide the exiled opposition and discourage and confuse the Eritrean youth. These dangerous, extremist conspirators are demonizing the ethnic Tigrignas essentially because over a century ago the Italian colonizers built the country´s economy in and around the Asmara Plateau giving them social and economic advantages over the lowland Moslems. The Belgians built the Rwandan economy around the favored ethnic Tutsis – a reality which eventually led Hutu extremists to kill almost a million of them in 1994. The Tutsis had to pay for Belgian colonial transgressions. Moslem and Christian Eritreans should remain united and guard themselves against blind and dangerous fanaticism. Professor Bereket erred in suggesting that some lofty constitutional proposal (important as this may be) would be the answer to hate. As a trained lawyer, he knows it is impossible to legislate how people should shred their hate or be selfless or inclusive. With due respect to Professor Bereket, here is a more sensible first step for him to pursue, if he so desires. He could and indeed should urge the Awate Foundation and its backers to apologize to the Eritrean people for fomenting religious hatred and tension. The damage has already been done. And there is no better way to heal and unite except through an act of reconciliation which the foundation says is one of its main goals. ASSENNA.COM´S DUBIOUS ´BREAKING NEWS´´s exclusive report on March 9, 2010 about 15 defecting air force officers should, if true, be a very troubling development for the Eritrean government. The desertions have not been confirmed by any other Eritrean or foreign news sources. This Assenna report comes against the backdrop of previous online news and broadcast information delivered over a period of time by the website in which it claimed a mutiny had occurred and that a national committee of military officers had been formed ready to overthrow the regime. It also once claimed there was an assassination attempt on the life of the Eritrean President. None of these reports have so far been independently confirmed by diplomats or elements of the Eritrean opposition active inside the country. is a competent news outlet with very capable reporters and writers. There is no need for it to try to mimic the ruling PFDJ media which regularly lies about life-and-death matters such as mass starvation, rotting prisoners or exodus of refugees. Whatever the justification, Assenna or its readers have nothing to gain from the spread of made-up or unreliable information. (The writer wishes Assenna full success in its current fund-raising drive) A few years back, falsely reported that another round of border war had broken out between Ethiopia and Eritrea and that intense fighting was raging between the two armies. It is hard to hide such bloody incidents. Of course nothing of the sort ever happened although for weeks stood by the news it had invented, which only further undermined its credibility as a media outlet. (FOR THE RECORD: AWATE.COM HAS DELIBERATELY CARRIED INCORRECT REPORTS MORE than once claiming that this writer was once an Ethiopian Derg member or supporter and that he has in the past served as political adviser to Col. Dawit Wolde Giorgis, former Ethiopian Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner. This is an absurd, cheap fabrication of facts merely intended to serve Awate´s narrow and purposeless political agenda. Here are the facts: I was part of a small humanitarian team of experts under Commissioner Dawit at the peak of the Ethiopian famine in 1984. I am proud of my part in serving drought/famine stricken Ethiopians and Eritreans at the time. I had not met or known Dawit personally until I joined his Commission in 1984 where I served for about a year. My role and that of my colleagues in my team were sponsored by donor agencies as part of international aid packages to Ethiopia. Commissioner Dawit oversaw the activities of 70 or so global humanitarian agencies operating in the country at the time.) MICHAEL IS MEDIA AND HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE AND WELCOMES READERS´ COMMENTS:

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