10 Most Censored Countries

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 11:46 Written by

Repressive governments use sophisticated digital censorship and surveillance alongside more traditional methods to silence independent media. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Eritrea is the world's most censored country, according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The list is based on CPJ's research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to surveillance of journalists and restrictions on internet and social media access.

Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek and receive news and express opinions. These 10 countries flout the international standard by banning or severely restricting independent media and intimidating journalists into silence with imprisonment, digital and physical surveillance, and other forms of harassment. Self-censorship is pervasive.

In the top three countries--Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan--the media serves as a mouthpiece of the state, and any independent journalism is conducted from exile. The few foreign journalists permitted to enter are closely monitored.

Other countries on the list use a combination of blunt tactics like harassment and arbitrary detention as well as sophisticated surveillance and targeted hacking to silence the independent press. Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, and Iran are especially adept at practicing these two brands of censorship: jailing and harassing journalists and their families, while also engaging in digital monitoring and censorship of the internet and social media.

The list addresses only those countries where the government tightly controls the media. The conditions for journalists and press freedom in states such as Syria, Yemen, and Somalia are also extremely difficult, but not necessarily attributable solely to government censorship. Rather, factors like violent conflict, insufficient infrastructure, and the role of non-state actors create conditions that are dangerous for the press.

1. Eritrea

Leadership: President Isaias Afewerki, in power since 1993.

How censorship works: The government shut down all independent media in 2001. Eritrea is the worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, with at least 16 journalists behind bars as of December 1, 2018; most have been imprisoned since the 2001 crackdown, and none received a trial. According to freedom of expression group Article 19, the 1996 press law includes a requirement that the media must promote "national objectives." The state retains a legal monopoly of broadcast media, and journalists for the state media toe the government's editorial line for fear of retaliation. Alternative sources of information such as the internet or satellite broadcasts of radio stations in exile are restricted through occasional signal jams and by the poor quality of the government-controlled internet, according to DW Akademie. Internet penetration is extremely low, at just over 1% of the population, according to the U.N. International Telecommunication Union. Users are forced to visit internet cafes, where they are easily monitored. A March 2019 report by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa suggests that the authoritarian state is so "brutal or commanding" as to "render ordering overt internet disruptions unnecessary." However, on May 15, 2019, the BBC reported a social media shutdown in Eritrea, ahead of the country's Independence Day celebrations. With the opening of the border with Ethiopia in mid-2018, some foreign journalists received special accreditation to visit Eritrea, according to The Economist, but access was tightly controlled.

Lowlight: As many as seven journalists may have perished in custody, according to reports that CPJ has not been able to confirm due to the climate of fear and tight state control. The government has refused all requests to provide concrete information on the fate of imprisoned journalists. In June 2019, more than 100 leading African journalists, scholars, and rights activists wrote an open letter to Afewerki, asking to visit long-imprisoned journalists and activists; this request was soundly rejected, and deemed "inappropriate" by Eritrea's Ministry of Information.


Nuba and Bani Amer sign accord in Port Sudan

Monday, 09 September 2019 11:01 Written by

September 9 - 2019 PORT SUDAN

Member of the Sovereign Council, and commander of the RSF militia, Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ congratulates Nuba and Bani Amer at Sunday’s signing ceremony in Port Sudan (Social media)
Member of the Sovereign Council, and commander of the RSF militia, Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ congratulates Nuba and Bani Amer at Sunday’s signing ceremony in Port Sudan (Social media)

On Sunday, El Salaam Hall in Port Sudan witnessed the signing ceremony of the reconciliation document reached to contain the recent clashes between Nuba and Bani Amer in Port Sudan.

Several days of violent tribal clashes in Port Sudan earlier this month left at least 35 people dead and scored injured. A 100-vehicle strong unit of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia, was deployed to the city.

The clashes prompted the Sovereign Council to dismiss the governor and the head of the security service of Red Sea state and to declare a State of Emergency in Port Sudan.

In accordance with the text of the document signed by the two factions on Sunday, a federal fact-finding commission will be formed on the violent events, and to open a police station in the area where the fighting erupted, in addition to the payment of compensation of SDG 880 million ($18.7 million*).

It was also decided to collect all licensed and unlicensed weapons while considering the possibility of releasing those arrested during the clashes, and it was decided to hold a reconciliation conference between the conflicting tribesmen.

Member of the Sovereign Council, and commander of the RSF militia, Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ said that “the circumstances of the country require cooperation from all”.

He said upon receiving the signed reconciliation document that “the unfortunate tribal violence in Port Sudan came while the country is on the threshold of a real change towards citizenship rather than tribalism.

He called on the parties to the conflict to bear their responsibility and prevent new bloodshed. Sudan depends mainly on the port of Port Sudan. He stressed the government’s efforts to address the problems in the state, especially recurrent water and electricity outages.


September 9, 2019 News, Top news, Uncategorized

Kibreab Tesfamichael

BBC Tigrinya confirmed that Kibreab Tesfamichael, the government’s media head of sports department – ERI-TV, abandoned his post and refused to return to Eritrea while he was covering the 12th African Games held from 19 to 31 August 2019 in Rabat, Morocco.  The report stated that Mr Tesfamichael has been relocated to a third country now.

After graduating from Barka Secondary School in 1997 in Asmara, he joined the Arts College of Asmara for further studies. After Arts College he secured a rare placement at Asmara University and studied journalism for another three years. He was even luckier to be assigned to the Ministry of Information upon completion, an opportunity which is confined to a selected group of selected individuals.

Kibreab worked at the Ministry of Information for the last 15 years; he is an experienced sports journalist.  In 2016 he travelled to Brazil with Team Eritrea during the Games of the XXXI Olympiad (Rio 2016). He transmitted numerous stories from to Eritrea.

BBC has confirmed that Kibreab is out of Morocco at this moment; however, it is not known exactly which country has granted him asylum.

During his spare time Kibreab used to write lyrics and he is the author of the TV series ‘Aye seb’ (Oh man!).

Kibreab is the brother of the renowned journalist Natsinet Tesfamichael.


Scars and trauma run deep for Eritrean refugees

Sunday, 08 September 2019 11:25 Written by

Luxembourg Letter: Europeans have little idea of abuses used to solidify EU borders

Sally Hayden and Yosi in Luxembourg: Yosi (16) was told by authorities he was 25, perhaps to circumvent fact minors benefit from greater protection.

Sally Hayden and Yosi in Luxembourg: Yosi (16) was told by authorities he was 25, perhaps to circumvent fact minors benefit from greater protection.

It’s been one year since I first started getting messages from refugees locked up in Libyan detention centres. Using hidden phones, they risked brutal retaliation to send information about the horrors they were experiencing, and how the European Union is directly implicated. They hoped some good would come from this being exposed to the world, but little has changed since.

Libya, a war-torn country in North Africa, was once a key transit state for people trying to reach Europe. Since 2017, tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned there from the Mediterranean Sea and locked up indefinitely. Most were intercepted by the EU-supported Libyan coast guard, under a deal aimed at stopping migration to Europe.

In detention, they face disease, sickness, forced labour and sexual violence. Tuberculosis is common. Medical care, food and water are lacking. Hundreds of children and minors are among the incarcerated, left without an education. Couples are separated. In one detention centre, at least 22 people died in eight months.

A small number manage to escape.

One of the first people to contact me from a Libyan detention centre was Yosi. He was being held with hundreds of others in Ain Zara, south Tripoli, when conflict broke out in August 2018. Buildings smoked around them, while fighters patrolled with anti-aircraft guns outside.

In April this year, war in Tripoli erupted again. A week into it, one of Yosi’s close friends, a 17 year old called Meron, died after throwing himself into a septic tank behind their detention centre. Meron was traumatised and depressed from all that he had experienced. “Today I hated living in this shameful world,” Yosi told me. “I lost my friend, brother, my everything . . . Meron was a good boy.”

Evacuated to Italy

In May, Yosi was evacuated to Italy by the United Nations Refugee Agency – one of a lucky few. He received little help from Italian authorities, and decided to travel on to Luxembourg, after seeing fellow Eritreans sleeping on the streets and worrying that would be his future.

Last month, I finally met him in person.

On my first day in Luxembourg, we talked for more than 10 hours. We walked around the city, through the caving park and by the ancient castles. We went back to the reception centre where he shared close quarters with dozens of other asylum seekers, all waiting for decisions on their cases.

The whole time we were discussing Libya and everything he has gone through. Yosi was tortured by smugglers and abused by Libyan guards. He has many scars: physical and mental.

Yosi doesn’t like being in cars anymore or any small spaces, because it reminds him of being locked up. He jumps at the sound of a slamming door or a dog barking.

A few days before we met there were fireworks, part of some festival. Yosi ran outside, believing the sound was heavy weapons. He wanted to know how far off the missile was.

Eritreans who flee towards Europe, like Yosi, are often underage. They escape before they are forced to begin a programme of indefinite, mandatory military service, which has been likened to slavery by the United Nations.

Ageing test

Though the UN Refugee Agency interviewed Yosi in Libya and gave him papers saying he was 16 years old, Luxembourg’s authorities accuses him of lying. They ordered a medical test designed to measure physical growth, which has been criticised as inaccurate by activists and aid workers. Afterwards, officials told Yosi he is 25.

“What’s at stake is big here: minors benefit from a much bigger protection,” Ambre Schulz told me last week. Schulz works at Passerell, an organisation that gives legal help to refugees and migrants in Luxembourg, including Yosi.

Shortly after my visit, Yosi was moved back to another detention centre, a crushing blow in the country he hoped to make his home. He may be deported back to Italy, where he was first fingerprinted. He’s hoping his case can be reconsidered.

Yosi’s age isn’t the only part of his story that has been questioned. He’s realising most Europeans have no idea of the gross human rights abuses being used to solidify EU borders. After he was taken to hospital in Luxembourg with an ankle injury, from playing football, he told one of the medical staff he has a problem remembering instructions because of the trauma in his past.

He spoke of detention centres in Libya, of torture and violence. He said she didn’t believe him. “She was confused,” he said. “She said like [/laughing/], is it a movie?”


PFDJ Militia in Norway Exposed

Saturday, 07 September 2019 10:30 Written by

September 7, 2019 News

Source: 9 hours ago Pencil http://awate.com/?p=468380">3


In recent years, the number of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Europe has increased drastically.

Most of them claim to have escaped from the harsh indefinite military service imposed on them by the, “Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice” (PFDJ), the Eritrean ruling party.

The unelected PFDJ government has been in power since 1991; it is the only political party allowed to operate in Eritrea. The PFDJ is intolerant of any dissent to the extent that it has imprisoned veterans of the struggle and senior government officials due to their dissenting views. However, the imprisoned were never charged with any offense, and together with hundreds of others, most have been in jail for decades.

Out of the tens of thousands of refugees and asylees in the Diaspora, Norway hosts about 23,000 Eritreans. A considerable number among them are recent arrivals from Eritrea and have applied for asylum claiming to have fled from the oppressive military service in Eritrea.

On August 3, 2019, many of the recent arrivals who claimed to have fled rejecting the forceful service at Sawa military camp, were at the Bryn Eventhallen in Oslo to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the same Sawa military camp they fled from. Yemane Gebreab, a senior official of the PFDJ, whose official title blurs from presidential advisor, to the chief of the PFDJ’s diaspora youth organization, to shadowing Osman Saleh, the foreign minister, flew in from Eritrea to attend the Eventhallen celebration.

Many Eritrean exiles, particularly Eritrean Norwegians were furious about the ungratefulness of the refugees to Norway that accepted them with open hands and compassion.

As if confirming their claims were lies, many staged a show, at the Eventhallen, clad in military fatigue and PFDJ paraphernalia. The event was spiced with marching band music and lots of flags. And together with the guest of honor, Yemane Gebreab, they danced off the night promoting militarism thousands of miles away from the place where they claimed they fled from to avoid the indefinite military service.

The event raised many eyebrows after Norwegian media reported it, and it triggered a debate between Norwegian parties, mainly by those who want to curb immigration.

A source told awate.com the Norwegian Justice Minister has instructed the UDI (immigration department) to investigate the cases of those who have been granted asylum on false pretensions.

It’s likely the UDI will investigate people who pays the 2% tax to the PFDJ regime, those who travel to Eritrea on green passport in violation of the 1951 UN Convention of providing travel document to refugees, and those who promote the regime they claimed to have fled from.

Professor Kjetil Tronvoll,  a well-respected Norwegian scholar, was quoted by Sputniknews.com as saying: “It’s paradoxical… some people celebrate the regime, because they are regime supporters, even though they have been granted asylum on the grounds of fleeing the regime.”

The Norwegian Justice Ministry is likely to investigate  and revise the applications. Thus, the residence permits of many who were admitted to Norway on false claims could be revoked. Norway though a welcoming and tolerant country, it is very strict on falsification of immigration claims. It’s known to have expelled several longtime residents and achievers because they had made false claims in the past.

Eritrean Norwegian activists are determined to cooperate with the authorities to help identify falsifiers in order to protect innocent immigrants from being wrongly affected by any decision.

Since the last few weeks, suspected falsifiers are overwhelmed by anxiety because they never considered the possibility that authorities could pursue them seriously in the future for any false claim.

In addition to the falsifying, and in total disregard to the conditions of their acceptance as asylees, many of them travel back to Eritrea with Green Norwegian passports, and report on the activities of dissenters. They also harass and intimidate anti-PFDJ elements in the diaspora.

Green Norwegian passports are given to non-naturalized immigrants while holders of red Norwegian passports are full citizens.

Though shooting of photos and videos was not allowed at the August 3 event, many clips were leaked and found their way to social media platforms. Since the last few days, those whose pictures appeared are frantically trying to pull off the images from social media platforms without much success.

A longtime citizen of Norway wondered, “how can one leave his country because of the oppression of the regime and then celebrate it with pride!”

We, the undersigned Eritrean Justice-seeking (opposition) political parties, civic organizations, and study groups, met in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 22-23, 2019, under the auspices of Meadi-Zete/TempoAfricTv, to discuss the need to work together to advance our common political activities in pursuit of bringing democratic change in Eritrea. After meeting for two days discussing the various fundamental issues that are affecting the Eritrean political landscape, and enhancing our common understanding in addressing critical Eritrean political issues, we resolve that:

1. We will work together and coordinate our efforts to defeat the dictatorial regime and bring about democratic change in Eritrea;

2. We will take positive actions to support each other in areas of common national interest;

3. We will strive to coordinate our diplomatic activities;

4. We will work in coordination or coalition among each other towards creating a unified Eritrean opposition movement, including all peoples’ movements in and outside of Eritrea;

5. We support good neighborly relationships with all of Eritrea’s neighbors, however we condemn all forms of agreements that the morally and legally illegitimate dictatorial regime of Eritrea enters with any foreign government or entity since such agreements violate the sovereignty of the people of Eritrea;

6. We believe that the Eritrean defense and security forces are part of the oppressed masses of Eritrean society, and we call on them to stand with their people and be an instrument in charting the democratic change of Eritrea;

7. We recognize that transition from a dictatorial regime to a democratic government is both difficult and critical process, thus, we agree to work earnestly in the development and application of a common transitional charter;

8. We agree to create an implementation forum consisting of representatives from each of the signatories; and

9. We invite other political parties, civic organizations, and study groups to affirm this resolution and participate in the implementation forum.

Glory to our Eritrean Martyrs!
Long-live Sovereign Eritrea!



Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change


Eritrean National Front


Eritrean People Democratic Party


Walta Hayltat Lewti


Global Initiative of Eritreans to Empower Grassroots Movements


Eritrean Sinit Study Group


Source: the Conversation

July 22, 2019 3.31pm BST

Post-doctoral researcher, University of Trento

Disclosure statement

An Eritrean migrant leaves a detention facility near Nitzana in the Negev Desert in Israel, near border with Egypt. EPA-EFE/Jim Hollander

Isaias was 16 when he escaped from Sa’wa, the military training camp for final-year high school students in Eritrea. His parents came to know of his whereabouts only a few weeks after. From Sudan he tried to cross the Sinai to reach Israel. But he was kidnapped by bandits. His family paid a high ransom to save him.

Isaias returned to Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia, where I met him when he was 17. His family was supporting him financially and wanted him to remain there. But Isaias had different plans. A few months later he disappeared. As I was later to learn, he had successfully crossed from Libya into Europe.

This young man is part of a worrying statistic. Since around 2010, the flow of unaccompanied minors from Eritrea has significantly increased and has become the subject of international concern. In 2015, over 5000 unaccompanied minors from Eritrea sought asylum in Europe according to the Mixed Migration Centre. In 2018, the number was 3500.

Minors are only part of a wider exodus that involves mostly Eritreans in their twenties and thirties. The UN refugee agency calculates that at the end of 2018 there were over 500 000 Eritrean refugees worldwide – a high number for a country of around 5 million people.

Initially driven by a simmering border conflict with Ethiopia, this mass migration continues to be fuelled by a lack of political, religious and social freedom. In addition, there are little economic prospects in the country.

And generations of young people have been trapped in a indefinite mandatory national service. They serve in the army or in schools, hospitals and public offices, irrespective of their aspirations, with little remuneration. Even though Ethiopia and Eritrea have struck a deal to end their border conflict, there is no debate over the indefinite nature of the national service.

Brought up in a context where migration represents the main route out of generational and socio-economic immobility, most young Eritreans I met decided to leave. While unaccompanied minors are usually depicted as passively accepting their families’ decisions, my research illustrates their active role in choosing whether and when to migrate.

I explored the negotiations that take place between young migrants and their families as they consider departing and undertaking arduous journeys. But the crucial role of agency shouldn’t be equated to a lack of vulnerability. Vulnerability, in fact, defines their condition as young people in Eritrea and is likely to grow due to the hardships of the journey.

Context of protracted crisis

Young Eritreans often migrate without their family’s approval.

Families are aware that the country can’t offer their children a future. Nevertheless, parents are reticent about encouraging their children to take a risky path, a decision that can lead to death at sea or at the hand of bandits.

Young Eritreans keep their plans secret due to respect, or emotional care, towards their families. One 23-year-old woman who had crossed to Ethiopia a year before told me:

It is better not to make them worry for nothing: if you make it, then they can be happy for you; if you don’t make it, they will have time to be sad afterwards.

Adonay, another 26-year-old man, said:

If you tell them they might tell you not to do it, and then it would be harder to disobey. If they endorse your decision then they might feel responsible if something bad happens to you. It should be only your choice.

But that is not all. As a young woman told me,

The less they know the better it is in case the police come to the house asking questions about the flight.

Migration from Eritrea is mostly illegal and tightly controlled by the government, any connivance could be punished with fees or incarceration.

The journey

Eritrean border crossings are based on complicated power dynamics involving smugglers, smuggled refugees and their paying relatives, generally residing in Europe, US or the Middle East.

In this mix, smuggled refugees are far from being choice-less or the weak party.

Relatives are often scared of the dangers of border crossing through Libya to Europe. Moreover, some may not be able to mobilise the necessary funds. But young refugees have their ways to persuade them.

As payment to smugglers is typically made at the end in Libya and then after migrants have reached Italy, refugees embark on these journeys without telling their potential financial supporters in the diaspora. Once in Libya, they provide the smugglers with the telephone number of those who are expected to pay. This is an extremely risky gamble as migrants are betting on their relatives’ resources and willingness to help them.

Those who do not have close enough relatives abroad cannot gamble at all. Sometimes relatives struggle to raise the necessary amount and have to collect money from friends and larger community networks. Migrants then have to spend more time – and at times experience more violence and deprivation – in the warehouses where smugglers keep them in Libya. Migrants are held to hide them from authorities and ensure their fees are paid.

Even in these conditions, migrants don’t necessarily give up their agency. It has been argued that they,

temporarily surrender control at points during the journey, accepting momentary disempowerment to achieve larger strategic goals.

Moving beyond the common framing

Analysing the interactions between Eritrean families and their migrant children at different stages of their journeys can contribute to moving beyond the common framing of the “unaccompanied minor” characterised by an ambivalent depiction as either the victim or the bogus migrant.

These opposing and binary views of unaccompanied minors implicitly link deserving protection with ultimate victimhood devoid of choice. Instead, the stories of Eritreans show that vulnerability, at the outset and during the journey, does not exclude agency.


  The Process of Democratization in Eritrea

Tuesday, 03 September 2019 17:45 Written by

The purpose of this article to problematize the current conceptions about the process of democratization in Eritrea. 

The process of democratization has two phases,

  1. The first aim is removal of the dictatorship and its roots from the ground.
  2. The second is to build a democratic society, thus transitional period.

 Most of the Eritrean Forces for democratic change focus only to the removal but the most hard and conflict ridden is the second stage after the removal of the dictatorship.

As some findings of studies confirmed that the outcome of the wave of democratization varied from,

  • genuine transformations and relative success,
  • Halted transitions,
  • backslides to authoritarianism,
  • military coups,
  • state disintegration like that of Libya and Yemen outbreak of armed conflicts after the fall of dictatorship.

The Eritrean Forces for democratic change must have a strategy avoiding intra-state conflict after the fall of dictatorship in Eritrea.

Today’s most pertinent question is not only removing the dictatorship but post dictatorship-transformation and state building.

Eritrean researchers, politicians and policy- makers should focus more on this issue. In this article, I will try to address some weaknesses of the Eritrean forces for democratic change.

  • Lack of skills and knowledge to build a powerful democratic opposition.
  • The presence of internal conflicts ( ethnic, religious and regional) personal rivalries and hostilities( agazian, Tigray-Tigrinyi politics) these opinions are disrupting  the operation of the forces for freedom.
  • Lack of a wise grand strategic plan for liberating the oppressed population and laying ground for durable democracy.
  • Lack of creating strong civil society movements both in diaspora and at home.
  • Lack of not standing upon your own determination by standing together and strengthening by uniting your efforts together.

The Eritrean opposition to win the dictatorship in Eritrea must be self-reliant force with wise strategy, disciplined and courageous looking forward towards genuine transformation that accommodates all Eritreans with different elements of identity. Eritrea is a country of diverse identities.

Democracy building requires a method of resolving societal conflicts in a non-violent manner, the route to it, that is, the process of democratization, is a revolutionary and conflict – generating process. This is because it involves dramatic changes. These changes include new methods of deciding who is to have political power, new methods for exercising political power and often, and as consequence, new balances of power sharing. It will be very difficult to build a democratic a system after the fall of the totalitarian regime in Eritrea with the attitude of chauvinists and ethnic nationalists dominating the Eritrean opposition in diaspora.

Let us change the old-age political culture of divisions and cross border relations, like that of today’s Agazian  and Tigray Tigrinyi discarding the Eritrean National identity. God/ Allah save the Oppressed people of Eritrea from these chauvinists who never have peace in themselves and with others.


Since the Enough/Yi’akil campaign was launched about seven months ago, the campaign has garnered support from Eritreans across the world, including from inside Eritrea. The campaign is a grassroots public movement that has no affiliation with established opposition political parties or groups. The campaign is aimed at bringing about peace, justice and democracy in Eritrea by mobilizing and uniting the Eritrean public at home and abroad to participate in national politics and to speak up for their rights and freedom. For the first time in history, the movement has succeeded in breaking the silence and the cycle of fear of speaking up against the dictatorial regime in Eritrea. Tens of thousands of ordinary Eritreans from all walks of life, at home and abroad, are voicing their support for the enough campaign and calling for justice and democracy in Eritrea openly on social media.

As the Enough/Yi’akil campaign has gone viral on social media, it has enlightened the first generation of Eritreans born abroad. It has also raised their awareness about the political situation in Eritrea. Besides it has galvanized them to join the movement for justice and democracy in their ancestral country. The campaign has also sent shockwaves through the political nerves of the regime in Asmara. That is why during his interview on the occasion of Sawa’s 25th anniversary president Esayas Afeworki tried to downplay the Enough/Yi’akil campaign by labeling the movement as a group of disgruntled people from one region.

Even though it has scored unprecedented success in stimulating tens of thousands of Eritreans, including the silent majority and some former supporters of PFDJ, to call for political change in Eritrea, the Enough/Yi’akil campaign has also had its ups and downs. In grassroots campaigns such as the Enough/Yi’akil campaign, maintaining the momentum can be challenging. Promoting increased public participation needed to make a difference and to bring about political and social change in society is even harder. While the Enough/Yi’akil campaign is still alive, it seems the movement is losing its original zest. The movement’s leadership has been criticized for lack of inclusiveness and participation by all sections of the Eritrean society and implicated for regionalism and lack of transparency. The campaign is still young, and it is expected to face opposition from certain elements of the society and the regime in Eritrea. Moreover, the movement is still very loose and less organized. Its organizers/leaders also voice conflicting ideas about how to go forward. Having said that, the campaign has to find a way to keep its unprecedented momentum and overcome the challenges it has been facing so that to stay as a viable force for political change in Eritrea. One may ask about what can be done to build on the original momentum, gain the support of the majority of the public and succeed in bringing about justice and democracy in Eritrea? My recommendations are as follows:

1.Keep the Enough/Yi’akil campaign as public/mass movement

Unlike the other Eritrean opposition groups/political parties that have been working for political change in Eritrea, the Enough/Yi’akil campaign is a grassroots popular activism initiated by ordinary individuals who are passionate about political and social change in Eritrea. This popular activism has spread as a virus and managed to mobilize the public to drive the political change in Eritrea from the bottom-up. The cause of the Enough/Yiakil campaign is very personal for each and every Eritrean. As such, the campaign must maintain its nature as a popular campaign free from influence by specific political ideologies or political groupings. The movement will lose its popular support and fail to unite the majority of the Eritrea people if it is influenced by or takes sides with political parties/groupings. The Eritrean opposition parties & political organizations must not try to politicize and influence the Enough/Yi’akil campaign. Instead, they have to join this popular campaign as ordinary citizens and contribute their part in bringing about political change, justice and democracy in Eritrea. That doesn't mean to undermine the role of the opposition parties/groups & political organizations. The cause of those opposition parties and the Enough/Yi’akil campaign is the same. As such, the members of those opposition parties/groups can support the Enough/Yi’akil campaign as concerned individuals while they also continue their work for political change in Eritrea with their respective political parties/groups.

  1. Raise public awareness

Education and information are the backbone of any grassroots mass movement as people cannot participate in the movement if they do not have enough knowledge and awareness about it. Therefore, for the Enough/Yi’akil campaign to be successful it is imperative to raise awareness of the Eritreans in diaspora, especially the silent majority, about the dire political situation in Eritrea and the urgency for justice and democracy in the country. Eritrea is at a breaking point, and all Eritreans need to be informed about it and encouraged to participate to save their country from the brink of total breakdown. In particular, the campaign has to communicate effectively with those Eritreans who were born aboard because this generation lacks a deep understanding about the real political and social crisis in Eritrea. That is why many of them support the regime in Eritrea as members of YPFDJ. These young people should not be alienated and belittled just because they support the regime. Instead, the Enough/Yi’akil campaign has to try to reach out to them, raise their awareness and educate them about what is really happening back home. If majority of these young people join the Enough/Yi’akil campaign, it would be a big blow to the morale of the regime in Eritrea. Because they are well educated, they can also be a formidable force for change in Eritrea through advocacy and raising awareness about the political situation in Eritrea in their respective countries.

The Enough/Yi’akil campaign must strive to increase political maturity of its members, particularly the youth, by providing political and civic education programs through the use of social media and other communication avenues. Political change in Eritrea does not come by insulting the regime and its supports on social media. This is a war of political ideas that requires political maturity and enlightenment. In addition, the Enough/Yiakil campaign must effectively use all available social media outlets and other communication avenues to disseminate its message and to broaden its level of visibility so that to garner more public support. Unless the campaign is able to raise public awareness about the political situation in Eritrea, attract more public support, wins the hearts and minds of all Eritreans at home and abroad, including the supporters of the regime, through effective use of mass media and strong political campaign, the movement may not go far.

  1. Focus on diversity of ideas

In some regions of the world, the Enough/Yi’akil campaign has been criticized for not being inclusive, and lack of regional, ethnic and religious diversity. Diverse Eritrean communities must add their support to the campaign because diversity in religion, region, and ethnicity adds strength to the movement. But that kind of diversity must not be a sole requirement for participation in the campaign because it could lead to division within the movement. Previous movements for change in Eritrea such as Simer and Simret failed because of regionalism and internal divisions. The Enough/Yi’akil campaign must avoid mistakes made by its predecessors. Albert Einstein once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” If the Enough/Yi’akil campaign repeats same mistakes as its predecessors, it shouldn’t expect different results. It has to avoid regionalism, ethnic and religious divisions at any cost.

The most important diversity that the Enough/Yi’akil campaign should focus on is diversity in ideas. Diversity in ideas is a prerequisite for democracy. A movement with diverse ideas grows and achieves political unity. Plato, a Greek political philosopher, in his renowned work the Republic said, “Political unity is the greatest good for a city-state/society and political disunity is the greatest evil.” Political unity is a source of power and disunity is a source of weakness and failure. As such, the Enough/Yi’akil campaign must promote unity in diversity among all Eritreans. If the campaign manages to foster diversity in ideas and political unity, it will ultimately achieve its goal of bringing peace, justice and democracy in Eritrea.

  1. Have a clear political roadmap

The Enough/Yi’akil campaign is saying enough to the dictatorship and lack of rule of law in Eritrea. The campaign is calling for regime change and demise of the PFDJ political ideology. Yes, the campaign is calling for justice and democracy in Eritrea, but does it have a clear political alternative and political roadmap on how to achieve that goal from abroad? Does the campaign have a plan on how to spread its tentacles in Eritrea? What will the transitional period look like after regime change? What will be the role of the opposition political parties/groups? …and so forth. Ultimately, the success of the Enough/Yi’akil campaign lies with having a clear roadmap for political change in Eritrea. The campaign needs to involve professionals and experts who can draft a clear political roadmap for the movement. It has to have an operational guidelines/bylaws and political agenda. In addition, the different regional campaigns need to elect pragmatic and servant leaders who can form single international leadership and unite the campaign internationally. It seems a daunting task, but with conviction and commitment it is achievable. The servant leaders have to be democratic and accountable to their people. They must have transparency in all their activities and decisions.

  1. Effective advocacy and diplomacy

We are in the age of advocacy and diplomacy. Advocacy is a hidden power that works from behind the scenes to influence the people in position of political power to help with a cause of people to make their voices heard in the halls of governments and venues of mass media. For this reason, the Enough/Yi’akil campaign needs to work hard in the field of advocacy and diplomacy so that to attract attention of governments and influential people who can put pressure on the regime in Asmara. The campaign leadership has to identify people who have the expertise to lobby foreign governments, people in power, and influential people like celebrities to advocate for the cause of Eritrean people in their respective countries. For example, some activists of the Enough/Yi’akil campaign met with Congressman Joe Neguse, the U.S. House of Representative from Colorado and discussed ways he could help and advocate for justice and democracy in Eritrea. This is a commendable work and it should be replicated in other regions and countries. If such influential people speak up about the cause of the Enough/Yi’akil campaign, they can attract the attention of the local/international media and can influence the policies of their governments toward Eritrea.


In a nutshell, the Enough/Yi’akil campaign has achieved tremendous success in its short life time. The campaign succeeded in breaking the silence and fear of speaking up against the regime in Eritrea among tens of thousands of Eritrea. The campaign has given hope for Eritreans at home and abroad that political change and democracy may be coming in Eritrea. Yet, the campaign has a long way to go.  Unless the Enough/Yi’akil campaign wins the hearts and minds of the majority at home and abroad, organizes itself as a formidable force for change that has a clear political roadmap, influences people in the position of power who can support the campaign from inside of the political system in Eritrea, and be able to replicate the campaign at home, it can be difficult for the popular movement to make real progress towards political change and democracy in Eritrea.

Having said that, I want to leave you with food for thought. The campaign is calling for a total regime change. That is plan A. However, for a regime change you need resources, easy access to the target country, and young people who can be force for political change at home. Unfortunately, majority of the energetic young people who can initiate and lead the political change in Eritrea have either left the country, some are imprisoned, or others are in the military. In addition, there is no access to social media in Eritrea capable of organizing campaigns or demonstration effectively. In the worst-case scenario, what if the struggle for political change prolongs? What if life in Eritrea becomes even harder to bear worse than what it is now? What if Eritrea reaches at the brink of being a failed state? Do the Enough/Yi’akil campaign and the opposition groups/political parties have plan B or any other alternative political solution?  I will leave the answer to the readers.

Information about the author

Nuredin Netabay has BA in Political Science and MA in International Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution.  


August 31, 2019 News

Source: Jerusalem Post

Hopes ran high when Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Instead, it has become not only one of the poorest countries on Earth

By ATHANASIUS GHEBRE-AB, Yosef I. Abramowitz
August 29, 2019 23:33


eritrea jews

He is known by his people as His Holiness Abune Antonios. The 94-year-old prelate is the patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and has been imprisoned by Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki for the past 13 years. Last month in the Oval Office, US President Donald Trump was told of his suffering as part of a conference on religious persecution. Here is the story of his people’s enslavement, brutal suffering and fear, fully sanctioned by the international community.

Hopes ran high when Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Instead, Eritrea has become not only one of the poorest countries on Earth, but labeled the “North Korea of Africa,” one of the most hostile and repressive regimes toward all religions.

Despite the enslavement by the military of about one in every 15 citizens with indefinite military service – which the UN described as “crimes against humanity” – last year the United Nations Security Council unbelievably lifted biting sanctions against Eritrea and its leadership. This was despite there being no improvement in Eritrea’s human rights record and without it releasing Antonios and thousands of religious prisoners. Christian leaders are imprisoned and tortured in Eritrea, and yet the Trump administration did not use its veto in the UN Security Council to pressure for their release. This can be corrected by the president immediately through an executive order freezing the assets of President Afwerki and his ruthless generals until these faith leaders and people of faith across the entire spectrum are freed.

The premature lifting of the UN sanctions last year was prompted by misplaced optimism after Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace agreement after 20 years of bloody war and hostilities. The state of war with Ethiopia was the pretext for lifetime forced conscription of its citizens. The treaty has been signed now for over a year, yet conscription has not been scaled back to its original 18-month limitation. Eritrea’s human rights record is actually deteriorating while its international standing, and the personal fortunes of its leader and his generals, are improving.

Indeed, the government has taken over the Eritrean Orthodox Church and is now run by dictates of the country’s national security agency and the Department of Religious Affairs, an arm of the government. Many of the leading lights of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and any clergy deemed to sympathize with the imprisoned patriarch have been languishing in prison, some since 2014.
Recently, with a tidal wave of support to the imprisoned patriarch, priests, monks and deacons, including five monks from the historic monastery of Debre Bizen, have been rounded up and imprisoned.

Earlier this summer, the military closed down 22 Roman Catholic medical centers. It had already closed down the only Catholic seminary, and is gunning next for the schools and nurseries, many in the least developed regions of the country. Indeed, a staggering two-thirds of the people live below the poverty line, largely because of government repression, incompetence, under-investment in the agricultural sector, enslavement for state purposes of working-age men and women, and a culture of fear that stymies any entrepreneurship.

And due to the complicity of the international community in allowing the widespread arrests, religious repression and state-sponsored slavery, Western nations have already absorbed hundreds of thousands of Eritrean asylum-seekers, and there will be many more. President Trump can only turn off the refugee tap from Eritrea to the United States and our Western allies by fixing the piping at the source, which can be achieved by organizing with our allies the freezing of the assets of Eritrea’s leaders and demanding the release of the religious leaders.
Meanwhile, the dictator’s personal fortunes have improved, with his assets unfrozen by the UN and now greater international investment in the country’s mining sector, which benefits from state-sponsored slave labor.

The prime minister of Ethiopia has released thousands of political prisoners and journalists in the past year, and Eritrea should follow with a grand gesture by September 12, the Geez New Year.

Otherwise, the US should lead the international community on freezing the assets of President Afwerki and his generals until the influential patriarch, His Holiness Abune Antonios, and the other religious and political prisoners, are released; state-sponsored slavery eliminated; and the military conscription reduced to back to its original 18 months. Let’s bring Patriarch Antonios to the Oval Office by the Geez New Year for a photo with President Trump, rather than just sympathetically hear his case and have it disappear, like the tens of thousands of prisoners in the country’s jails. And then let’s welcome him to the Holy Land on pilgrimage.

Fr. Athanasius Ghebre-Ab, PhD, is professor of history at the University of Cincinnati and a parish priest in the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Yosef I. Abramowitz is a green-energy impact investor in Africa and can be followed @Kaptainsunshine.