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Opinion Editorials, January  2008



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US Eritrea Relations:Soured by Design 

By Sophia Tesfamariam, January 10, 2008

On 4 August 2004, James Swan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs addressing the 4th International Conference on Ethiopian Development Studies at the Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo Michigan took the opportunity to “discuss U.S. policy and engagement in the Horn of Africa”, and leveled unwarranted accusations against the Government of Eritrea and the people of Eritrea. As if that was not enough, the vindictive, incompetent Secretary of State for African Affairs sent out another one of her pitiful surrogates, James Knight, Direct, Office for East Africa, Bureau of African Affairs, for yet another campaign of misinformation and deception. This time it was the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego that was used to disseminate her venomous and unsubstantiated allegations against the Government and people of Eritrea. 

Neither Jendayi E. Frazer, nor her two surrogates, or even her boss Condoleezza Rice have ever been to Eritrea and yet presume to tell others about Eritrea from “reports” and “analysis” they have cut and paste from dubious sites and personalities of ill repute. While deliberately exaggerating and fabricating issues relating to Eritrea, these US officials insist on deceiving the American public by covering up, downplaying and even denying Meles Zenawi’s genocides in the Gambela and Ogaden regions of Ethiopia. 

They have also emboldened the regime to violate international law, reject the Final and Binding demarcation decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission and for the last 10 years, Eritreans in the Diaspora have watched the emergence of certain groups and individuals-Eritrea’s own Chalabis-groomed and financed by the US State Department and its many tentacle organizations, as well as the mercenary minority TPLF regime led by Meles Zenawi, US’ “staunch ally”.  By preventing the expeditious demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border in accordance with the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s 13 April 2002 Final and Binding decision, Jendayi E. Frazer and her cohorts have emboldened the minority regime in Ethiopia to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories for over 6 years, in violation of the African Union and United Nation’s Charters. 

The record is clear, from undermining Eritrea’s economic development, to sabotaging and manipulating its nascent press, encouraging civil disobedience and more, the list of illegal intrusions on Eritrea’s sovereignty by the State Department and its many tentacled organizations (CIA, NED, USAID, VoA etc.) is long and sordid. The State Department attempted to hijack Eritrea’s economic and political development by funding groups and individuals who have worked incessantly to destabilize Eritrea, isolate the Government and people of Eritrea, undermine Eritrea’s peace, stability and security. 

Allow me to address each of the issues raised by these US officials for the record. The American public must not be duped once again into supporting another senseless war. I will also endeavor to educate the greater American public about the State Department and its illicit activities in Eritrea that have contributed to the deterioration of US-Eritrea relations since the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict in 2000. Bear with me, it is a long read. 

Eritrea’s Economy

Both officials told their audiences  “Eritrea has experienced economic decline”. Let us examine the facts. During the armed struggle for independence in all the liberated areas, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) now the People’s Front for Justice and Democracy (PFDJ), set up schools and clinics, repair shops and other small industries to provide for the people in the area. It’s post independence goals and priorities included achieving food sufficiency, providing universal health care, equal opportunity for education, clean water for all, and making sure that there is equitable distribution of the country’s resources. In order to do that Eritrea embarked on an ambitious infrastructure development program, and the results are remarkable, by any standards. Eritrea believes in a self-reliant economy, for it is the only kind that can be sustained. 

Here is a short list of what has been accomplished, despite the situation that has prevailed for the last 10 years since the Ethiopian war of aggression and invasion in 1998-2000: 

·        Massawa International Airport was built entirely by Eritreans and it is now one of the most modern airports in the Horn of Africa. The airports airside comprises a runway of a length of 3500 meters – enabling it to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Category I standard, and can be used by large-capacity aircraft to take off and land. Construction began in 1999 and is already providing service. 

·        Sawa Airport-also built entirely by Eritreans 

·        Ports and Jetties all along the Red Sea Coastline: Establishment of Free Trade Zone in Massawa, refurbishing of the Ports of Assab and Massawa and the construction of several jetties along the Red Sea Coastline to enhance Fisheries and Tourism related development efforts. 

·        Harena Boat Factory: Started in 1998 and produces different types of boats ranging from 3-meter small open boats to 25-meter fishing and patrol vessels 

·        Health Services: In addition to the 200-bed Orota Referral Hospital inaugurated in 2003, regional referral hospitals have been constructed in Assab, Barentu, Dekamhare, Ghidae, and Mendefera. There are also health clinics throughout the country. Eritrea has eradicated malaria, polio and Maternal, child and infant mortality rates in Eritrea have all fallen by about a third since 1995, a direct result of better access and healthcare for pregnant women and ongoing nationwide immunization programs. In addition to building clinics and hospitals the Government of Eritrea has trained hundreds of health providers, has bought and installed modern equipment, and continues to enhance its health care delivery system. 

Eritrea’s ambitious health program to combat communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis was set up to coordinate and improve the treatment and management of these four communicable diseases. Eritrea's first "free-standing" HIV testing facility represents part of a nationwide campaign by the government to improve AIDS awareness as well as care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs). At least 20 other such centers have been set up in hospitals around the country and counselors have been trained. Eritrea is also one of only three countries in sub-Saharan Africa that will meet the Millennium Development Goals in Health. 

·        Education: In addition to the many Kindergartens, primary and secondary schools constructed all over the country. The Sawa Training Center is now providing vocational training in catering, hospitality management, computer skills etc. the Eritrean Institute of Technology (EIT) at Mai Nefhi, College of Business and Economics in Halhale, Hamelmalo College of Agriculture, Hagas Agricultural School, are just some of the many educational facilities that have been built in addition to the many satellite schools operating under Asmara University. 

·        Dams and microdams have been built or are under construction all over the country. Anseba, Gerset, Harenet, Mereb, Toker, Seled Tinkul, and Titri to name a few of the big ones. 

·        Embankments and terraces: In line with the soil and water conservation scheme and with the full participation of the inhabitants in the area. 

·        Housing Projects-Throughout the country, the Government of Eritrea is working to alleviate the housing shortages, especially in the urban areas and through the Warsai-Yikaalo Program for development, large housing projects have been completed. 

·        Roads: There is not a single village that cannot be accessed by road today in Eritrea. The most fantastic rides are the Massawa-Assab road and the road through the Northern Red Sea Zone. Feeder roads connect all villages and towns to the major highways, which have been expanded and renovated. 

·        Railway: The old railway system has been revived and has become a special treat for tourists and natives alike 

·        Electricity- The Hirgigo plant in Massawa is providing electricity to surrounding vicinities that did not have power. Eritrea’s electrification project is continuing with more and more villages now having access to electric power. Solar energy and wind energy have also been utilized for wider distribution and usage of electricity. 

·        Telecommunications- Mobile phones have been introduced and are now widely used pretty much all over Eritrea. 

·        Reservoirs and access to clean drinking water- More and more villages are getting access to clean water, more wells have been dug and the effort is continuing. 

So, if this is a sign that Eritrea is going backwards, in order to make a fair comparison perhaps these officials can tell us what Ethiopia and others in the region have accomplished in the last 10 years. Contrary to what they have been telling their audiences, Eritrea’s economy is not heading backwards; the facts on the ground speak otherwise. Mr. Swan’s and his neocolonialist colleagues are upset because Eritrea has rejected the tried and failed World Bank and IMF development models that have crippled African economies and sustained poverty, as opposed to enhancing development in Africa. 

On the issue of the G-15 or “the detained Government officials”

Neither Swan or Knight, or their boss, Jendayi Frazier, know anything about the G-15 or the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) or the history of Eritrea. I doubt that the audience Mr. Swan was addressing or the media that Dr. Frazier was addressing know about them either; but that does not matter, because the intention is not to inform them of the truth, but rather to paint an ugly picture of Eritrea by jumbling the issues and misrepresenting the facts. To them, they are just political “sound bites”. But since they mentioned them, allow me to shed more light on that issue. 

They should know that, even though the Government of Eritrea has not to date disclosed fully the information at its disposal, there is ample evidence that shows how US intelligence agencies were embroiled, at the height of Ethiopia’s third offensive in May 2000, in instigating acts of sedition and treason, including attempted liaison with Ethiopia, within a small ring of senior government officials [known as G-15]. There is no need to shed crocodile tears for the predicament of this group of Eritrean officials. The Government and people of Eritrea are handling this delicate issue of national concern with great care and magnanimity. It should be recalled that the State Department and its hired guns labeled the coup makers “reformists” and launched a vicious slanderous campaign against the Government of Eritrea and its supporters inside the country and in the Diaspora. 

Mr. Swan told his audience that the “G-15” were missing. If he knew anything about them, he would know that, out of the 15 original members, 11 are detained in Eritrea (for crimes against the State), 3 are outside Eritrea-2 right here in the USA, and 1 is living and working in Eritrea. Of the three in exile, Haile Menkorios is at the United Nations (he was hired by Kofi Annan at the height of the Eritrea Ethiopia conflict). The other is Adhanom Gebermariam and he earns his keep by churning out anti-Eritrea articles on enemy sites such as and for use in the annual reports produced by the State Department and organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Mesfin Hagos is somewhere in Europe, trying to stay relevant by making periodic appearances in cyberspace. 

As far as those detained in Eritrea are concerned, there is not a single foreign entity (much less the US State Department who is primarily responsible for their predicament) that could care more about their well being than the people and government of Eritrea who are most saddened with the events that led to the detention of these individuals. The Government and people of Eritrea will resolve this very painful issue in their own way and do not need to be continuously harassed by self-serving individuals and groups that contributed to their delinquency in the first place. These folks are not in Guantanamo Bay or some unknown secret CIA prison in some godforsaken place. They are in Eritrea, amongst the magnanimous Eritrean people who have, for over 30 years, sacrificed their own safety and security to provide these EPLF veterans, shelter from ruthless western backed Ethiopian regimes. 

Finally, I doubt that the detainees would approve of the evil campaign against Eritrea that has been orchestrated in their name. 

The issue of the Independent Press in Eritrea

The Government and people of Eritrea opted to close down the “independent press” that had mushroomed in Eritrea in 1999 for two reasons: they had seized being independent and were endangering the peace, stability and security in Eritrea and disrupting the unity of the nation. In addition, they had violated Eritrea’s Press Proclamation No. 90/1996. Internal and external groups and individuals hijacked their “independence”. They ended up becoming mouthpieces for forces that sought to destabilize Eritrea in time of war. The arrests of these persons in Eritrea had nothing to do with them being “journalists”. Eritrea has a rich history of journalism and do not need to be lectured by those who abuse and use the Press as political tools. 

For a better explanation of who they were, I will refer to reports written by Neil Skene, an American journalist hired by the State Department to conduct “training seminars” for journalists in Eritrea between 1999-2001, during the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict, to give the readers a bit of background and facts that neither Reporters Sans Frontiers (I call them reporters Sans Couth), or the State Department ever mention. In a matter of 3 years, the budding journalists turned from nationalists to enemies of the State. How did this happen? Well let us take a look at what Neil Skene has to say. 

On 24 April 2002 Neil Skene wrote the following about the detained journalists: 

“…I know most of them, because they were my students in three weeklong training programs financed by the US State Department over the past three years. What they lacked in experience they made up for in dedication to learning to be journalists in a country that had no experience with journalism. During breaks, we drank cappuccino in a cafe downstairs from the American Cultural Center. They took me to their favorite places for dinner and invited to me to their offices, which were usually drab rooms with peeling paint, sparse furnishings, a couple of computers and sometimes a single window …” 

So far so good…there is more. 

On 01 October 2001 Neil Skene wrote: 

“…On my first visit, in October 1999, the mood was very different. The journalists were novices. Patriotism among them was high. They were eager to form a press association to organize further training sessions…By my second visit a year ago, the journalists were more skeptical about the failure of the government to introduce democracy. They were still something of a ragtag band and retained the mild manner endemic to their culture, but they were no longer naive. They discussed continuing to meet informally…” 

It was in May 2000 that the Ethiopian regime launched its third offensive causing the displacement of hundreds of thousands from their homes and villages. I suppose Neil Skene is talking about the National elections, which were postponed, for obvious reasons. Why would that raise the skepticism of these journalists, if they were truly nationalists? What did Neil Skene discuss with his students in their “informal” meetings? When two of the “journalists” in his class, Milkeas Mehreteab and Semere Taezaz, escaped in 2001, they contacted Neil Skene and within days, the State Department arranged for their entry into the USA at a time when the country was still recovering from the terrorist attacks of September 11. Soon after the arrival of the two journalists Milkeas Mehretteab and Semere Taezaz, the anti-Eritrea media campaigns began with CPJ in the lead and Neil Skene working in tandem with them. Here is what he writes about Dawit Isaac, one of the detainees: 

“…Dawit Isaac, was one of my students. He worked for the largest and most pro-government of the papers, Setit. It was his newspaper that most clearly signaled the end of naivete about President Isaias' democratic intentions. The paper wrote an editorial gently suggesting it was about time to implement the six-year-old constitution…” 

There was nothing naïve about Dawit Isaac or the “journalists” courted and groomed by Neil Skene and they are not detained for their “gentle suggestion” to implement the Eritrean Constitution. He neglects to mention the role of the journalists in the campaign against in by members of the G-15 and their sponsors in the Diaspora, of which he is one. The Eritrean Constitution was ratified in 1997, shortly before the border conflict with Ethiopia began. The war did not end until 2000 when the Algiers Agreements were signed. With hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes, homes, schools, hospitals and vital infrastructures destroyed, “implementing the Constitution” was not a priority…Eritrea’s security, stability and sovereignty were. 

Let us see what has become of Neil Skene’s “journalism students” who managed to leave Eritrea under suspicious conditions: 

-Milkias Mihretab, was awarded the Percy Qoboza Award from the U.S.-based National Association of Black Journalists and also Amnesty International’s 2002 Special Award for Human-Rights Journalism Under Threat. He was issued a US visa in Sudan and brought to the US just weeks after the September 11 attacks. He was the most vocal “journalist” in exile and stayed in close contact with Nail Skene. 

-Khaled Abdu, co-founder and former editor in chief of Admas, became a recipient of Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. 

-Aaron Berhane, writer and editor at Setit, now living in Canada is also a recipient of Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. 

-Kidane Yibrah Beyene, a reporter is also a recipient of Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant.

-Semere Taezaz Sium, a reporter at Keste Debena was brought to the US and was awarded Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. 

What were they being rewarded for? After all, they were not established “journalists” with any record to speak of. What was Neil Skene teaching these Eritreans? How did the “nationalists” turn into runaway defectors and informants? Whose interests were they serving with their publications? A lot of unanswered questions remain. If there is one thing that Eritreans have, it is patience. We will wait to find out. 

The advent of the Internet, and opportunity it allows for all citizens to play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information has diminished the role of the mainstream media, as we know it. In my opinion, the issue of the independent press in Eritrea neither warrants the attention of nor is it of any concern self serving organizations who have contributed to its closure in Eritrea. Eritrea is a very young nation and for those who have been watching the institution building process in Iraq and Afghanistan, at a cost of several billions, will appreciate the growth and progress in Eritrea, considering its limited financial and human resources, not to mention the incessant interference by those seeking to destabilize the young nation. 

William Blum, who left the State Department in 1967, noted that amongst America's prison population of more than two million, there are probably at least a few hundred who have practiced journalism at one time or other, in one manner or other. Can we then say that the USA has imprisoned hundreds of “journalists”? I hope Mr. Swan and others will understand, once and for all that the “journalists” in Eritrea were not detained for their “criticisms” of the government. It serves no purpose to continuously state otherwise when the State Department itself is complicit in that sordid affair. The State Department and its hired mercenaries should stop insulting the Eritrean people’s intelligence. 

On the issue of the implementation of the Eritrean Constitution

In Eritrea a very conscious and healthy democratic attitude has been cultivated over the long and bitter struggle for independence. There is also no connection between democracy and having a written Constitution. Britain and New Zealand stand out as strong democracies and yet do not have written Constitutions. Where citizens of a country have no sense of democracy, a written Constitution, however eloquently it proclaims democracy, will be insufficient to guarantee it. Democracy depends on certain values such as tolerance and trust, which cannot be secured in a Constitution. 

I am by no means implying that Eritrea should not fully implement the 1997 Constitution, nor do I have doubt that it will. I say fully because most of the articles in the Constitution are being implemented. The one that has the destructors and defectors up in arms is the one that deals with the national elections. Suspending certain Constitutional rights during war is not unique to Eritrea. The fact that national elections have been postponed does not mean that Eritrea is not implementing the other articles in the Constitution. There are articles that call for the defense and security of Eritrea, for equal opportunity for health care and education for all Eritreans, for developing Eritrea’s infrastructures and developing laws and structures in support of the Constitution are ongoing and cannot be achieved overnight etc. etc. all of which are being implemented Conducting elections is not a determinant of a democratic system. We need not go further than Ethiopia to see that an election every 5 years does not produce a democratic state. 

The process of adopting a Constitution is as important as its substance. The process must be legitimate, and in order for it to be legitimate, it must be inclusive. With thousands of Eritreans in the frontlines defending Eritrea’s sovereignty, and the country held politically hostage in a no peace, no war situation, holding national elections cannot be a priority. The stability and security of the State is. Elections are not new to Eritreans who have held democratic elections for various positions within the EPLF during Eritrea’s long struggle for independence. Eritrea has, since independence, conducted several local elections for the people’s assemblies, local courts etc. etc. not to mention the worldwide referendum on Eritrea’s independence. When Eritrea conducts its national elections, it will be all-inclusive, free and fair, just as it has been in the past. 

Eritrea’s role in the region

Jendayi E. Frazer and her surrogates are telling their audiences that Eritrea was destabilizing the Horn region. Eritrea’s record is clear. 

Eritrea has been instrumental in the Sudan achieving peace after the decades long war between the North and South. Eritrea has also helped resolve the Eastern Sudan problem, which culminated in the signing of a peace agreement in Eritrea on 14 October 2006. Today Eritrea is involved in the Darfur issue and is seeking to find a lasting solution to that problem at the invitation of the Government and people of Sudan. 

In Somalia, Eritrea has called on the international community to respect the rights of the Somali peoples. Eritrea has provided a peaceful venue for Somalis to engage in dialogue to resolve their issues. Eritrea is promoting peace and stability in the region while the US backed minority regime in Ethiopia is working day in and day out to destabilize the region by waging aggressive wars of expansion and invasion. The TPLF regime is also militarily occupying sovereign Somali territories as well as sovereign Eritrean territories. 

While the fact that the minority regime in Addis has been financing various Eritrean “opposition” groups including the Eritrean Islamic Jihad is well known and documented, little is said about the role of the State Department sponsored groups and individuals who have been working to destabilize Eritrea. For the record and for brevity’s sake allow me to mention a few known and verifiable facts. 

The State Department has been funding Paulos Tesfagiorgis’ illicit activities against the State of Eritrea and its people (see for years. This individual’s history of betrayal is too long to be detailed in this one piece. Suffice it to mention that he is considered one of Eritrea’s most notorious traitors. His dubious activities before Eritrea’s independence in 1991 and his activities after independence are a matter of public record and known to all Eritreans. It is no wonder then that he would be the person leading the anti-Eritrea campaign in the Diaspora today. 

In western capitals, betraying the trust bestowed upon them by the people of Eritrea, Paulos Tesfagiorgis partnered with runaway disgruntled diplomats such as Hibret Berhe, Adhanom Gehbremariam, Haile Menkorios (hired by Kofi Annan ), Mesfin Hagos and others, he set out to blemish and tarnish Eritrea’s image and present Eritrea as a pariah in the international arena. While the Eritrean Diaspora overwhelmingly rejected Paulos and his coterie, they were welcomed and cuddled by the State Department. These mercenary individuals, Eritrea’s “Chalabis”, set out to wreck Eritrea’s international image and are today shamelessly (not surprisingly) celebrating the latest assault by the State Department on Eritrea and Eritreans living in the United States. 

In 2001, encouraged by their handlers, Paulos Tesfagiorgis and his coterie called on all Eritrean Americans: 

“…to organize and petition the US, EU, other governments as well as non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, as part of a sustained political, diplomatic, and economic campaign…For Eritrean-Americans, a good place to start with respect to the new struggle is the [an anti Eritrea website] database that houses contact information of the approximately 5000 individuals …will need to build an informal and consequently formal network that is action-oriented… Through this network, letters will need to be drafted, finalized, and distributed to US government representatives, World Bank, IMF, Amnesty International and other organizations…will need to be disseminated electronically, i.e. inside popular Web-sites, as well as physically, i.e. attending forums… Diplomatic efforts should result in the total alienation of the regime, leading to the imposition of sanctions and freezing of development aid…” 

While the State Department funded and courted the “opposition” and plastered their names and pictures on a flurry of “alerts” and posters, and provided them with airtime on Voice of America and the BBC, the Eritrean Diaspora turned away in disgust.

The frenzied western media led by VoA and BBC, recycled and amplified the unverified reports laundered by the above-mentioned individuals and groups. Their pages were filed with stories of “dissent”, “crack’, “reform”, etc. etc. Economic and humanitarian aid to Eritrea was stopped. US led western governments, who were looking for ways to subdue independent Eritrea, found a way. Eritrea’s own children, encouraged and funded by NED and others, served their cause, by inventing the most brazen lies about the Government of Eritrea and especially the People’s Front for Justice and Democracy (PFDJ). Their camping in the Diaspora was categorically rejected and it failed miserably. 

Today, most of the defectors and runaway disgruntled diplomats and members of the “opposition” are eking a living hiding in western capitals doing menial jobs and living on handouts, cursing the darkness and hiding their shame. Talk about fall from grace!

Adding insult to injury, the Thorolf Rafto Foundation awarded Paulos Tesfagiorgis in 2003 for his efforts against the government and people of Eritrea. Paulos has been fleecing NGO funds throughout his adult life and is still doing so today raising the “human rights” and “democracy” mantra. Today, the anti Eritrea campaigns have intensified and the “opposition” is working closely with the TPLF regime as it prepares to launch another ill-advised attack on Eritrea. 

As if all that was not enough, in 2005, the State Department turned its attention on Eritrea’s youth. Again through NED, it funded a group calling itself the Eritrean Movement for Human Rights and Democracy (EMHRD) to translate and distribute manuals on civil disobedience. This group comprises of young Eritreans who were sent to Universities in South Africa for higher education. The Government and people of Eritrea borrowed 50 million dollars in order to give young Eritrean men and women an opportunity for higher education outside the country in South Africa, UK, US and other places. 

These young men, wooed by Paulos Tesfagiorgis and Dan Connell, are now engaged in anti-Eritrea activities in the Diaspora. While the Government and people of Eritrea are left to pay the debts incurred for their education, these young men are gallivanting in western capitals maligning the Government of Eritrea through State Department sponsored and funded “seminars”, “youth forums” etc. etc. Dan Connell, known to many Eritreans for his book “Against all odds”, in which he chronicled the Eritrean people’s long and bitter struggle for independence, was now working to reverse it by funding and teaching young Eritreans subversive techniques he learned (from the CIA). 

According to the NED site, the young Eritreans are “developing a manual for non-violent resistance, which they will print in several Eritrean languages”. These manuals according to NED, are to be distributed throughout Eritrea and the Eritrean Diaspora. I got a copy and read the manual, it neither promotes “human rights” nor “democracy”, and it encourages anarchy and lawlessness. It says a lot about Dan Connell and his real reasons for spending so much time in Eritrea in the years leading up to independence. It is an open secret that he was there, not to tell Eritrea’s story, but to plant the seeds for future discord, hence his obsession with the G-15 and now Eritrea’s youth in the Diaspora. 

On the issue of USAID being kicked out of Eritrea

Neither Jendayi E. Frazier nor her surrogates bothered to tell their audiences why USAID had to leave Eritrea. She didn’t bother to tell them about Kevin Turner, a fundamentalist Christian, Todd Nettleton, another extremists and others who entered Eritrea posing as “humanitarian NGOs” and “journalists”, recruited and hired by the State Department through USAID. The activities of these “Christian” fundamentalists in Eritrea are a matter of public record. The Government of Eritrea did not ask USAID to leave for no reason; it told the US Ambassador that it was not “comfortable with its activities in Eritrea”. Any sane person can see why. 

These individuals and groups using “religious freedom” as a pretext, encouraged civil disobedience, provoked conflicts within long established religions in Eritrea, “harvested” new churches etc. etc. forcing the Government to take action to protect its citizens. It passed a new law requiring the registration of all Churches including a submission of their funding sources etc. In February 2004, the State Department put Eritrea on its list of “Countries of Concern” for taking actions to protect the people of Eritrea from those who were working hard to disrupt its harmonious and exemplary religious institutions that have thrived in Eritrea for over 1500 years. 

The State Department’s activities in Eritrea are not indicative of those who want healthy and good relations, quite the contrary. The increasingly hostility and negative propaganda against the Government and people of Eritrea is not winning the hearts and minds of Eritreans. There is little confidence in the US Administration’s ability to use its influence to bring peace, stability and security to the region. On the contrary, it is seen as a destructive force bringing with it, more misery, more chaos and destruction. 

The State Department must respect Eritrea’s sovereignty and stop meddling negatively in the internal affairs of Eritrea. It should promote the rule of law and respect Eritrea’s national laws. US-Eritrea relations can improve with positive and with continued constructive and informative dialogue, not by disseminating distorted information through its many institutions of higher education or think tanks. Undermining Eritrea’s economic, political and social development will not help mend US-Eritrea relations and will not secure US interests in the Horn of Africa. 

The Government and people of Eritrea have remained silent throughout the past six years hoping that the State Department would mend its ways, but to no avail. It is time to speak up and divulge the sordid facts and let the American public know the facts about the State Department and what is being done in their name. 

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!




Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent