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Eritrean passions

May 21, 2009

I hesitate to blog again on Eritrea, given some of the vitriol that greeted a post last year. For some, Reuters was an apologist and mouthpiece for Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki, simply for interviewing him in May 2008. For others, we were doing the CIA’s work by taking some awkward lines of questioning to Asmara.

The passion on both sides reminded me of the torrent of deeply felt responses I used to receive when reporting on Fidel Castro from Cuba between 1998 and 2002.

Yet here I am again in Asmara, in May 2009, fresh from another lengthy interview with Eritrea’s ever-controversial leader. Whereas last year, he was quite formal with me, this time he was much more relaxed as we sat down for several hours in the colonial-era presidential palace, even poking fun before the interview at my old-fashioned tape-recorder.

We politely discussed hiking before getting down to business.

I questioned the president closely on plenty of issues, including Eritrea’s economic prospects and his views on various hot issues around the region. I was also able to discuss some of President Isaias’ life philosophy and thoughts on the past and future. Before I mentioned them, he anticipated inevitable questions on human rights and his own political longevity, saying he was used to visiting journalists raising such questions due to ‘misinformation’ from outside.

The interview was one of two dozen or so Eritrea’s leader has given in recent days in the run-up to Independence Day, mainly to African and Arab media. Eritrea feels it gets a raw deal in the international arena, and especially from the Western media. The marathon of interviews was an attempt to redress that.

I must have asked 20 or so questions over a 2 ½-hour period. Soon they’ll be playing the interview on state media here.

I’ll probably avoid looking at my emails for a few days.


lol. Yeah, we Eritreans are a very argumentative people. Try not to take the semi-literate misspelled rantings too seriously, but feel free to listen to the sincere and thoughtful ones. Difficult, I know. Good luck.


Dear Andrew, I applaud you going back to Eritrea to question the President and possibly witness what Eritrea is going through as a country to achieve development despite its controversial policies and views on many issues. One thing you may have noticed is that Eritrea is trying to do things differently. They are not necessarily right but different for it has the chance not to repeat what was tried out by many African countries and have failed. In fact, it is like a test and study case for Africans. If, despite all the hardship and isolation we are going through, we manage to survive then the world has a lot to learn from this tiny country. Mr. Issayas is a brilliant strategist who has learned to listen to his gut feelings than to listen to some scholars. He may have made wrong decisions but ultimately he hast the good of the country in his heart and that is what will keep him going. We look forward to hearing more from you on your trip reports. Thank you for giving Eritrea a chance to be heard.

Posted by Abraham | Report as abusive

My opinions on thWell my personal views on Eritrea are that it’s a young nation which had its independent in 1993 and is trying to the best with the resources it has. Rome was not built in a day .Eritrea biggest resources are its human recourses and as such use it to complete many different objectives of securing and building a nation. Some have question Eritrea use of its main resources it population i.e. mainly the young in the army there are some genuine claims and there are many lies.The claims have come mainly from George bush government, western/ foreign religious organisations, and western/ human right organisation etcMy problem is that politics and other interest groups have tried to use the claims to disproportionally punish Eritrea with sanctions, fake American terrorist list, and embargo, stop the Algiers agreement from being finished etcWhy the disproportion reaction or no good western policy I ask myself is there a hidden agenda from those how call for change do they really want government of Eritrea to be removed instead. What does removing the government do for them?Then I trace the root of the interest which is the former extremist organisation run by George bush government and Eritrea arch enemy Ethiopia (woyanne government) how still believe Eritrea is merely a province and that the red sea is there’s they both used terrorist as pretext to impose their ideals and further their strategic and economic interest father like son i say. But the policy fail terribly bring profound changes in the world and in east Africa nothing was achieved except a colour man enter the presidency of the usa and the ousted Islamic government of Somalia came back to power.One reason why the government contrary to what people say has the majority support in Eritrea is because they put Eritrea genuine interests first long term and short term and have achieve significant result in Eritrea with limited resources and the current climate of taking the piss out of Africa and its tricky neighbours


Eritrean President is 99% supported by his people. His vision is Eritrean people vision and Eritrean people are very grateful to have a leader who represents each real Eritrean. A man who called on all African leaders to public their personal bank and urge the west to not interfer in African issue can only be hated by corrupts but not by real, truthful people of Africa and the world. President Isaias is the truth and truth is him.Thanks Andrew Cawthorne for interviewing the king of the horn of Africa.

Posted by Athur | Report as abusive

Mr Cawthorne,Thank you for your coverage on Eritrea. Eritreans are passionate because almost every one is affected personally through the long struggle, and after they thought they have left the bad days behind them, we are seeing all sort of blatant conspiracies almost daily, and sadly the News Media are part of it. (They make Goebbels look like ineffective propogandist).You have only to see the recent misinforamtion campaign including by the British Telegraphy, Radio France, VOA etc inspite of President Isias challenging anyone to come to Eritrea and prove it at his expense, rather than quoting nameless diplomats, analysits etc.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Recent misinforamtion = Iran and Israel have basesin Eritrea.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

It is good to read such first hand infomation from the country, instead of he said she said. Eritrea is indeed has been under fierce negative propoganda. Had the media been fair enough Eritrea has done a lot of outstanding works to enhance the living standard of its citizen. Despite the no war no peace situation the progress made can not be comparable to any African nation at the current period.Kudo to the authorities in Eritrea.

Posted by Ibrahim | Report as abusive

Andrew CawthorneThe Tyrant Dictator of Eritrea is modern undesputed evil criminal. He leads Eritrea with no constitution, worst human right in africa possibly top 5 in the world, 0% Free Media….Many Eritreans belive that Isaias Afwerki is medically mentally insane.

Posted by Filli | Report as abusive

Mr. Andrew,It would be a delight to see the entire interview with the President of Eritrea. Eritrea has been challenged many times; only to come out successfuly albeit the hardships and sacfifices the Eritrean people have/had to go through because of the malicious campaign against setting it own parameter to define its own destiny.It is always a sweet victory for Eritreans however.

Posted by Abm | Report as abusive

Thanks Andrew for your coverage on my beloved country. Here is an article by Thomas C. Mountain on Eritrea article_4704.shtml


Most recent dis-information campaign on Eritrea is:Eritrea is sending weapons to Somalia. This is like saying “Saudi Arabia is shipping Ice to Alaska”.This is a variation is the famous white lie about Eritrea sending weapons to Somalia in 2006.

Posted by Fikre | Report as abusive

Thank you Andrew Cawthorne for the extensive interviews.We look forward to your annual pilgrimage to Eritrea.No matter what you read here, your reports are greatly appreciated for you bring a wider/angle window to Eritrean news.

Posted by Mike Haile | Report as abusive

This is a rare balanced interview by someone from Reuters, so it comes as a breath of fresh air for many of us. I can tell you we Eritreans had ceased to expect any fairness from mainstream media over the past years. Especially some of your colleagues in Reuters, such as Tsegaye Tadesse, have earned the notoriety of being an even bigger mouthpieces of the Ethiopian regime than its state owned media. That’s why I started reading your interview by saying: “here we go again.”We Eritreans have been subjected to countless, sophisticated psychological warfare with the aim of eroding our morale and faith in our country and government. The passion you mentioned is one of the reason we were able to weather it. Even though Eritrea went through some tough times, the leadership and people never wavered from their stated goals and have recorded tremendous achievements with very little resources.We are proud of our leadership for sticking to its guns and following the righteous path. We are confident that it is leading Eritrea to a brighter future.HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to all Eritreans!p.s. the opposite passionate arguments will no doubt be coming from the enemy to our south which has been immensely riled by our survival and achievements.

Posted by Abatmer | Report as abusive

Dear Cawthorne,I understand your situation. You are caught between two extremist views so to speak. To make things simple let me clarify those views. There are many Eritreans such as the person who posted the first comment (Dan?) who believe that Eritrea is cornered by the conspiracies of the West particularly the CIA. They belong mostly to the old independence struggle fighters and their supporters in the Diaspora. They can not prove anything because their source is simply the Eritrean propaganda services namely Eritrean television and radio. Whenever there is unpleasant report about Eritrea they react fiercely and with out any rational thinking and they label the reporter CIA agent if he/she is outsider and Woyane (Ethiopian ruling party member) if the reporter an Eritrean. They do not see any reason other than their own. The opposing view come is that of young Eritreans and their families who are suffering from the absence of rule of law, endless conscription, hunger, misgovernance, corruption, violation of civil rights, suppression of freedom of speech and religion, etc all as a result of tyrannical rule of the current president Isaias. The supporters of the government could not deny those facts because they are not easy to hide. But instead they try to rationalize it by indicating the border conflict with Ethiopia as the reason behind it. They never question themselves whether the tyrant of Eritrea is using the border conflict which was ended in the year 2000 as a pretext to extend his brutal regime. All men and women who expressed their view against the government are hunted and suppressed by any means available including death. But the new generation is fed up with the tyranny and flying the country at any cost. Many Eritrean young people are dying in this process. The situation expressed by the reporter of this article is clear because when he tend to report the actual fact in Eritrea he is confronted by those irrational Eritreans mostly living in the Diaspora. I insist that the fact in Eritrea is tyranny and repression and no matter how objective the reporter is he will come up with the same findings and that is tyrannical rule of Isaias in Eritrea. Therefore, instead of threatening reporters when they report the fact in Eritrea, I challenge all Eritreans living in the Diaspora to visit Eritrea and see the facts themselves first hand. But you have to approach the situation with open mindedness. As the Eritrean proverb says those who sleep consciously could never wake up!!!My message to the reporter is that as long as a fact remains to be a fact never be worried about the reactions. Just report objectively. Reporters are not meant to please one side by hiding the truth. Truth shall sets you free!!

Posted by picaso | Report as abusive

Hi,Congratulation!I really do hope that Eritrea will soon demonstrate that progress in Africa is possible. Eritreans are really wonderful people.Next time you will visit Asmara we will be very proud to show you our “dream project Za.Er”. We are producing the best shirt in Africa and we give a job to nearly 500 Eritreans. Forza Erirtrea!!!!

Posted by pietro zambaiti | Report as abusive

Thank you Mr Cawthorne you have been reporting about Eritrea many times and I enjoyed them.I am waiting for the interview with a humble, honest and non corrupt president of Eritrea his excellency Isaias Afwerki.Happy independence day to all Eritreans.

Posted by sarah | Report as abusive

Andrew Andrew CawthorneWell written and delivered articles. I read also the one on Ethiopia .Well balanced!There is no doubt that Eritreans are feeling the economic pinch like any other citizens of the world.YES The Eritrean Government policies such as never-ending conscription, lack of freedom of speech and absence of an ebullient private sector is an impediment to any healthy development.BUT , and having seen with my own eyes, the various machinations of foreign governments and NGO (and we are NOT talking about paranoia here) , I can honestly say that I am amazed that this tiny country is able to survive its 18th independence day! Amazed!Why Eritreans are so passionate about their country you may ask?Because unlike our neighbours that were “handed” independence, Eritrea conquered its independence. Against all odds! Brothers and sisters shed blood over this tiny stretch of land.So again please accept my sincerest thanks for well written articles!In fact I am considering inviting you for a symposium on Africa in September if you are available.NB I have left my email account on the form in case you would like to reply.

Posted by Hagos | Report as abusive

Thank you! Eritrea shall previal no matter what. The West’s misinformation campaign and Ethiopia’s inferiority complex infested regime will come to terms .. they will all see the light sooner or later.

Posted by Hangi | Report as abusive

Dear Mr. CawthorneIt is nice to make interview with the Eritrean brutal Dictator but how sweet word he can give or any semi smart answer he could provide the fact on the ground can never change at all. Those cheer leaders and blind folded supporters to the dictator who have identity crisis can say and tell the world that “Eritrea is at its best day”. This really a joke and insult to injury to the Eritrean people.Let me ask you a genuine question.1) why don’t you ask this dictator about the democratization of the country?2) Why don’t ask him about the political prisoners who have detained without the due process of law for more than 17 years including his government ministers, journalists, religious leaders, and uncounted ordinary citizens?3) why don’t ask him about his PFDJ party of its economical and political hegemony inorder to remain in power solely?4) The dictator has declared many times that “the border issue with Ethiopia is over and no need of any conflict” if that is true, what is the reason to put the whole Eritrean productive force ( which is the youth) on the mountain trenches for unlimited time under the pretext of National service. When is the limit time to come back to their homes and families?5) There is only one Government radio, Tv and newspapers that feeds the PFDJ propaganda to the Eritrean public. why don’t you ask him about the freedom of speech and free press in Eritrea.6) Why don’t you ask him about the Farmers ban and forbid to sell their hard grain to the market instead stealing their grain by the government forces?7) why don’t you ask him about The Eritrean youth escape en masses from the country and the killing of many under age youngsters around the borders by his unruly troops?8) why don’t ask him who elected him as president and when is the time to hand the power to the Eritrean people?I can forward you many more questions to be asked which are clearly face Eritrea as country and no one can hide them but this is enough for now.Tesfa

Posted by Tesfa | Report as abusive

Andrew CawthorneThank you for interviewing president Isaias Afwerki, he is a very smart guy who cares about his people and country so much.

Posted by Ta | Report as abusive

Congratulation you are the only wetern journalist choosen to meet the great leader.Did you ask the fate of eritrean journalists who are in jail for the last 8 years?

Posted by sofia | Report as abusive

It is a waste to spend time listening to a fascist dictator. I guarrantee you he will not last a year. He will reap what he’s sawn with all the crimes he’s committed; a traitor of the people who fought for freedom and liberty.

Posted by Geo | Report as abusive

The man is an absolute dictator. There is nothing collective about his regime. All his comrads in arms for decades are in gulags for disagreeing with his disasterous cource. He’s the most brutal un-Eritrean fascist worse than Mussolini and Saddam Hussien. He’s not going to last long, so don’t waste your time on this dirt.

Posted by Geo | Report as abusive

thank you mr andrew we eritreans are pice loving peopel &iam happy we have apresident who cares abaout his contry &peopel than him self like some ather african leaders be cause of his leadership he been seen as adictator by some western countrys who have interest in eritrea for its strategic locetion &you are going to hear alot of propoganda against the president & ihop the interviw will cofence you thank you

Posted by abraham | Report as abusive

When I logged on from Asmara’s Sunshine Hotel this morning (there’s a decent wireless connection in the morning, so it only took me two cappuccinos to file 7 photos of your running star Zersenay Tadesse!) – I was a bit nervous when I saw 17 posts already. Here we go again, I thought, with memories of the pasting I got last year from all sides. This time, however, I see lots of intelligent comment & encouragement for our work. Thank you for that. We may not always get it right, but I think you appreciate we are trying our best to be balanced and objective. … I am seeking Hagos’ email, maybe next week when I’m back at head office in Nairobi … Away from politics, I spent yesterday with Zersenay – what a character. I watched him train up on the hills near the British cemetery by the road to Massawa. Then, amazingly, he invited me back to his house & served me njera and tea. I met his mother & wife. I was humbled by his gracious attitude. Not often a sports star makes a cup of tea for a journalist!

Posted by Andrew Cawthorne | Report as abusive

The guy has failed by all means:1) People are starving more than before independence.2) People are leaving the country more that before independence.3) Refugees from Ethiopian days specially those living in Sudan have not come back.4) No employment is being created.5) No freedom of press.6) Level of education has deteriorated except for the number of schools/buildings.7) The guy has lost his popularity. More people used to love him at the time of independence, but almost none now.8) The country is a big jail.9) Corruption is rampant.10)No freedom of religion11) etc. etc. etc.With all this, it is strange to here there is a claim for progress

Posted by Tahir | Report as abusive

Continuing on my above input.12) Political prisoners has not appeared in court.13) Ratified constitution has not been implemented14) Eritrean-Ethiopian war was blamed on the president by court.15) Eritrea is blamed by all organizations (name it) for the current state in Djoubati16) Eritrea is also blamed for intervention in Somalia17) The country is almost isolated – recent IGAD decision to put the country in Sanction is good example.The list goes on….

Posted by Tahir | Report as abusive

18) National services is still for ever. Some are now approaching their 40th and no future for them such as work and establishing families. What a loss of generation19) PFJD term has expired and is now illegal. It has not met and elected its leaders officially.Last but not least contributions.20) Old fathers and mothers are forced to pay Nafca 50,000 or put in prison for escape of their children.21) Many Eritreans are conducting demonstrations in many countries against the president when once they were with his government. A sign of his mismanagement.22) Killing and disappearing of citizens that seem to oppose has not abetted.

Posted by Tahir | Report as abusive

Dear Andrew,I enjoyed your interviews very much. And your blog and blog-feedback is unique, specially coming from a prestigious media persona. Best wishes with your stay in Asmara….BTW,you are making us feel jealous!

Posted by Salina | Report as abusive

Mr. Andrew CawthorneHave you noticed there’s less vitriol on your blog from the anti-Issayas (we call them anti-eritrea because we never hear sound reasoning except for rants and insults)? I see they are trying hard to be civil logical. not bad, huh? That should make you “less hesitant” to blog on eritrea next time. ;-)

Posted by Mike Haile | Report as abusive

Mr CawthorneThank you for all your reports about Eritrea. All we Eritreans ask is, reporters to uphold what they stand for “impartial reporting” and you are doing a fine job of it. Looking at the other media, I can not say the same.The funny thing inspite of the detractors and all the hurdles that are thrown at it, Eritrea seems to be vindicate at each turn. Including the latest report from world health organization (WHO) that stated Eritrea beat most African countries including (Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia etc and to their embarrassment Russia) in life expectacy of population.Keep up the good work :)

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive

Thank you for all your pieces this week.


Mr Andrew Cawthorne,Thanx for interviewing the President, as you know it´s not a secret thing that the world is bombing Eritrea with lie. In this world today, if you are small and do not want to be slave, you are damn to be attacked with all sorts of lie campain. Eritrea however continue to exist and is as always ready to defame them with their own weapon. As far as I read Reuters news about Eritrea, it was okay and i hope it will be better. All we want is justice, this means if you write what Eritrea did wrong, then you also have to write what the world body did us wrong. For example, most of the news talk about what UN and USA claim like “Eritrea aid Somali Islamist!” But no journalist asks them whether they have an evidence or not and no one adds on this pretext that UN and USA claimed ones “Eritrea sent 2000 of it´s soldiers to Somalia”, which turned out to be lie. As neutral Eritrean who loves his country but is not at all on the same wavelength with the government, i only can say not even one Eritrean is against the governments policy. We admire our President and our governments work. There can be some narrow minded people who insult this policy as you can see on the posts here too (with dopple, treble posts), but most of these people are Weyane Ethiopians or desperated old loosers who want to divide the people of Eritrea through religion or tribe.I´m sure you are witnesing the Eritrean sweet culture, dignity and pride first hand. I hope this will facilitate your work of searching the truth.Thanx again and enjoy Eritrea, the pearl of the horn of Africa.


Dear Mr. Cawthorne,Thank you for taking the time to travel to Eritrea to interview H.E. President Isaias Afewerki.He may be a controversial figure, and while he may not be perfect, we Eritreans trust him in that he has the best interest of his country and people at heart and works tirelessly to realize the dream he and countless others sacrificed for — an independent soveriegn and self-reliant Eritrea that lives peacefully with her neighbors.That is what the president has been doing, AGAINST ALL ODDS–the unexpected and destructive war with the Ethiopian regime has set us back big time but, even at the time when everything seemed discouraging,the president once again promised that Eritrea will not cease the development and rebuilding effort of our country and will do so while we defend our nation– and that’s exactly what he has been doing ever since and look at the resuts of such resilient attitudedespite all the setbacks. As a hands-on leader, he regulary monitors all the development projects traveling all over the country in his sandals. Point to me one leader in Africa that takes his responsiblity serious enough to travel through the countrysides to witnesswhen a water project has been made operational to the local people that used to travel for miles to fetchbucker water or when a road has been built enabling children to be able to take their bikes to go to the nearest school etc..That’s why Eritreans trust and admire the PIA.He’s a no-nonsense leader who tells it like it is.thanks again, for your reporting from Asmara. If you’re getting so many hateful e-mails in the name of Eritrea, know that there are many Eritrea’s enemies out there, who do not wish to see anything good related to Eritrea.Have a wonderful time in beautiful Asmara,Eritrea!Happy 18th Independence Day Eritre!

Posted by Helen | Report as abusive

Thank you Reuters for interviewing president Isaias Afwerki, by far the most courageous, most dedicated and most visionary leader Africa has ever seen. Eritrea will certainly overcome all challenges and conspiracies.

Posted by Selam | Report as abusive

Mr. Andrew CawthorneI liked your interview with Mr. President. But why would he be ‘Eritrea’s ever controversial leader’?He is arguably the braviest leader an African nation has ever had;one who openly speaks out for the better of his people,and critisizes the unnecessary intervention of the west in his nation’s affairs,and Africa and other parts of the world at large.It is a blessing to have a leader like him for years to come.But don’t forget that he has a strong,hard working people by him.It is his people who put him in power. We Eritreans don’t need to put a piece of paper in a ballot box to elect someone,like the fictitious democracy being exercised now in Africa.ERITREA WILL NEVER WALK ALONE!

Posted by Samuel | Report as abusive

Mr CawthorneI am gland that you went back to Eritrea to interview one of the most cruel leaders in Africa. I believe u also believe in facts and u would judge some one by his actions. Well u r a journalistn, u have asked him some of the question inwhich the Eritreans journalists had asked him before he send them to Jail. And know for u that u know there journalists in prison for like 8 years with out a trail. SO I hope u have asked about them. I dont expect good answers from him anymore but atleast the world she know that he is one of the criminal supported by people who have some special interest. This man doesnt have any kind of public support. He has been in power for 18 years the same like the Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi. So both in power for decades with out the public support. So I dont know wat u have asked him but I would have liked from u to raise questions concerning Journalists and the Youth who is fleding the country. All in all I thank u for ur effort and I hope u will be one of the Journalists who will try to bring the truth and help in prevailing justice.

Posted by Yoel | Report as abusive

first thanks for giving us info,about eritrea frpm yourprspective,as for your assertion eritrea to cuba and castro, well what can we say every eritran and most of the people in most of the developing world knows how thewestern media sale their more thing to tell you which we used to say many years ago before independence is ERITREA IS ENDOWED WITHTHOUSANDS FO ISSAIAS AFEWERKI for those who try to porttray he is the only one for good or bad of the country.

Posted by asenai kibret | Report as abusive

You’re talking about Isaias Afwerki as if he matters. He is is but a useful pawn in the strugle against Ethiopia, one of the oldest Christian nations in the world and an island in a sea of muslim nations, which, as the main source of the fertility of the Nile delta in Egypt, happens to be the cradle of civilizations as far back as the Pharoes. Isaias doesn’t matter in the least. Neither does Somalia, absent the supreme prize of what is today Ethiopia. Eritreans are like children – they can’t see past yesterday or tomorrow. History doesn’t seem to have any impact on them. They seem to think Eritrea was created by Mussolini. They feel more kinship with the Italians than they do with their cousins in the south. The few that have realized the truth are either abroad or in prison. But they don’t matter anymore either. They matter even less than Isaias.

Posted by wedi'smera | Report as abusive

We all know the difficulties Eritrea is faced with over the past 7 years. We have a stubborn government that is fixated on this self reliance model …Which is noble in itself but needs partners to succeed. They need to tone down the rhetoric.I was one first few who joined a chorus of people asking for more transparency from the government back in 2000. I saw how the so called opposition was highjacked by foreign interests (USAID, England and some American NGO in the States). I was disappointed by the lack of honesty and transparency by this so- called opposition groups that I withdrew all my support. No wonder why the opposition has failed miserably .What you have now is loose association of groups with different and opposite views (one is pro-democracy and one is pro-sharia etc..) that the only thing bonding them for now is their hatred towards the PIA and the money they are getting through peace and democracy organizations.Having said that, I am fully supportive of their actions. PIAis our Mandela our Che and one thing for sure he leaves no one indifferent! –):Talking about conspiracy –):All hate emails you are getting are not all from Eritreans… Our friendly neighbors followed the story as well read below and are not particularly happy about all media attention the PIA is been getting ntent/2009/05/woyanne-reacts-to-presiden t-isaias-afwerkis-interview/Good job Andrew and so long!

Posted by Hagos | Report as abusive

Mr. Cawthorne,your interview is an exercise in sidestepping any interesting question to The Man.Just ask questions like “Where is Abune Antonios? Can I visit him?” or “I’d like to talk to the G-15 at Eiroeiro” or “Why are Dr. Kiflu, Dr. Fitsum, Dr. Tecleab and Keshi Gebremedhin still in Carshelli prison?” and watch any signs of relaxedness disappear in an instant…

Posted by AnotherAsmarino | Report as abusive

Corrected versionWe all know the difficulties Eritrea is faced with over the past 7 years. We have a stubborn government that is fixated on this self reliance model …Which is noble in itself but needs partners to succeed. They need to tone down the rhetoric.I was one first few who joined a chorus of people asking for more transparency from the government back in 2000. I saw how the so called opposition was highjacked by foreign interests (USAID, England and some American NGO in the States). I was disappointed by the lack of honesty and transparency by this so- called opposition groups that I withdrew all my support. No wonder why the opposition has failed miserably .What you have now is loose association of groups with different and opposite views (one is pro-democracy and one is pro-sharia etc..) that the only thing bonding them for now is their hatred towards the PIA and the money they are getting through peace and democracy organizations.Having said that, I am fully supportive of the GOE Actions. PIAis our Mandela our Che and one thing for sure he leaves no one indifferent! –):Talking about conspiracy –):All hate emails you are getting are not all from Eritreans… Our friendly neighbors followed the story as well read below and are not particularly happy about all media attention the PIA is been getting ntent/2 009/05/woyanne-reacts-to-president-isaia s-afwerkis-interview/Good job Andrew and so long!

Posted by Hagos | Report as abusive

Dear Mr. Cawthorne,while you are still in Asmara you might want to take a stroll to Godaif (nr. 4 bus), and find some people to interview about this ( w/5160/3/ on May 23, 2009). I’m sure the president would be delighted to talk about it, too:”In what has become an annual ritual since 2001, the Eritrean government has rounded up thousands of Eritreans, mostly the youth, from the environs of Asmara. Eyewitnesses report that many youngsters who were fleeing from the military police (MPs) were beaten cruelly to the extent of being hospitalised. One eyewitness describes the fate of a young “warsay” (conscript) who was beaten until he was unconscious. This happened in Godaif, an Asmara neighborhood. The eyewitness describes what he saw as “zeskaHkiH” (gruesome.)”

Posted by Selamawit Tesfay | Report as abusive

AndrewThanks for the articles.For those denigrators, nay sayers and day dreamers, is it not the countries that purport to be democratic countries flooding Africa with arms, sucking dry African resources with the help of few greedy citizens and vilifying any one who does not agree with them.Unfortunately in every country there are placard waving useful idiots that are clueless of what is at stake.Leaving the countless invasions based on lies and heinous crimes like Abu graib that no one wants to explain, why aren’t the so called democratic countries not accountable to the same rules and international law.My casing point is the Journalists that were locked since 2001 in Iraq with out trials, because they are allegedly “high security threat.” . I don’t see the same uproar or US ranked 173rd by RSF (that is funded by USAID & NED) the UN and AU protesting of arms dumping in Africa bought from the so called Axis of evil with uncle sam’s money orld/08ethiopia.html om/watch?v=7VJka6q16OsOne can write a book the size of “war and peace” on the hypocrisy and conspiracies that are still going on.

Posted by Dawit | Report as abusive

Selamawit,I wonder how some people could ignore this kind of brutality and praise this tyrant who’s about to be condemned by the entire world?

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

Mr CawthorneThank you at least for trying to be impartial, those who try to be impartial reporters are like a flower that sprouted in the middle of a sewage system, it gets overwhelmed by the surrounding.Journalism has become an incestuous state of affairs that gets dictated by interested parties to create initial momentum, there after they cross feed from each other .The best example of this is Dick Cheney’s saga of the Niger Yellow cake saga. Officials leak information to newspapers, and they quote newspapers as a source. Things propel themselves from there.As we know, truth in the end comes out,but by then it is history and there are new lies to be made.When Eritreans say it is conspiracy it is not a figment of their imagination but based on facts that can be substantiated by anyone, but people rarely do.Even the people that were part of the conspiracy write about it on their books and memoirs.Two such examples are the booksSurrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations by John BoltonWhere he clearly implicates the Bush Admin represented by Jendayi Frazer and Blair Admin represented by Lord Malloc-Brown as the culprits for the impasse between Eritrea and Ethiopian.“Unvanquished: U.S.– U.N. Saga” by Boutros Boutros?Ghali Secretary general for UN (92-97)In the book he accuses the current puppet master in Somalia Ould Abdallah (UN Official) the same man that is accusing Eritrea of gun running, and was instrumental for falsifying of the UN monitoring report that stated 2000 Eritrean troops in Somalia in 2007, as sleepery eel that was bought by the Americans.Here is an excerpt from(Page279):After a late Saturday night arrival in early July in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and the h ost city for the OAU summit, I be gan to seek support among the  delegates  early  Sunday morning. Although warned that  the Americans were on the scene  in force, I was shocked to find s uch a high powered U.S. team of officials work ing so intensely to discredit me.  There, in the hotel lobby, I reali zed for the first time the full m eaning of the American term “lobb ying.” Countless young American di plomats seemed to be constantly rus hing from one part of the hotel t o another. Every time I stepped in to the elevator, I would encounter a sweating American Foreign Service  officer on his or her way to me etings with African leaders. “Assi stant Secretary of State  for African Affairs George Moose wa s there. With him was the man who   had  held  that  same  job  during  the Bush Administration, Herman  “Hank” Cohen, now director of a   foundation dealing with Africa.  I knew both men, because we had o ften worked together on African iss ues.  Strangest of all  to me was  the presence of Ahmedou Ould Abdall ah, a Mauritanian I had appointed  as my special representative for Bu rundi. Ould Abdallah had slipped in to the American camp like an eel, perhaps because he had suddenly le ft the United Nations to become th e new head of Cohen’s foundation.  My aide Fayza Abulnaga cornered O uld Abdallah with  feline  fury  in a hotel corridor and denounced  him as a despicable turncoat.”

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