What I will do is to take things side-by-side just to show how ridiculous things can become. Because, this is just showing how things are finessed and done. This is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Shabait) and how the United Nations operate. The lack of coordination and the lack of mutual consent. Which is the reason for this.
We know its getting hectic, when the Shabait response to the whole report has this headline: “Rumors Cannot be Presented as Facts”. That’s how they pop-it off. It sets the parameter and shows their ways. There is no middle-ground, but just throwing everything at it.
We know the Special Rapporteur Mohamed Abdelsalam Babike doesn’t have a nice job either. As he states early this: “given the lack of cooperation of the Government with the Special Rapporteur, who was denied access to the country, he collated the necessary information through alternative means”. Because of that he was forced to: “The Special Rapporteur conducted remote monitoring and held meetings with a broad range of actors, such as diplomats, human rights defenders, civil society representatives and academics. In addition, the Special Rapporteur collected first-hand information from Eritrean refugees residing in other countries, with a view to informing his assessment of the situation of human rights in Eritrea”.
In this regard, the Eritrean government gave him no choice but do things remotely. Still, they are saying this in their rebuttal about the method: “As with previous SR reports on Eritrea, the lack of reliable data, heavy dependence on biased sources, non-verifiable approach, and ignorance of Eritrea’s ground realities renders the methodology and the essence of the allegations tenuous and unacceptable”.
What is funny about this… the government says they want a reliable and another methodology, but dismiss and doesn’t make it possible for the Special Rapporteur to investigate in the first place. So, if you close the borders and doesn’t cooperate. How is he supposed to get the information in the first place? You cannot close the doors and also claim whatever information he collects as wrong. With this sort of look into it. It seems like the objective of Eritrea is to call everything bogus and lies, while not allowing people to look into their works. This is the United Nations and not just a random organization having a mission of some sorts. Therefore, this is just making things more suspicious in the end of Eritrea. That they don’t want information out in the first place…
When things gets really tricky, is when the Special Rapporteur says this: “The Special Rapporteur highlights that, as a member of the Human Rights Council, Eritrea should strengthen its cooperation with all human rights mechanisms. In particular, the Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to strengthen its cooperation with his mandate and engage constructively, and to enhance its engagement and technical cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which remains ready to assist Eritrea in the three priority human rights areas identified by the authorities, as well as in the implementation of the recommendations from human rights mechanisms, including those emanating from the universal periodic review”.
While Shabait says this: “Like every other country in the world, Eritrea faces challenges. However, the GoSE continuously works to address these challenges and improve human rights standards in the country. Accordingly, there is no “crisis” that warrants the targeting of the nation through HRC agendas and mandates”. When Eritrea answers the UN Special Rapporteur like this. You know the whole thing is bound to fail. The UN Special Rapporteur is there, because the UN appointed him. Not because his job is to undermine Eritrea. That’s just a fact and the government in Asmara clearly don’t want that. However, their hostility and lack of cooperation. Only opens up the questions… why are they hiding and not just giving way, if they have a perfect Human Rights record? Why are they not inviting and showing the greatness of the Republic?
Well… you go figure… right?
Then, you have this one, which is on the origin of the Tigray conflict. The Special Rapporteur says this: “On 4 November 2020, tensions escalated in the region and an armed conflict erupted in Tigray when the Ethiopian National Defence Forces launched a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in response to reported attacks against the Ethiopian National Defence Forces’ military bases in Tigray by Tigrayan forces. The Ethiopian National Defence Forces were allegedly supported by Amhara regional forces and the Amhara Fano militia in western Tigray, and in particular by the Eritrean Defence Forces in northern and central Tigray”. While Shabait answers with this: “Emboldened by some governments, the Western media, and NGOs, the TPLF, by its own admission, unleashed an insurrectionist war in November 2020 after it was ousted from power in 2018 after 27 years of despotic rule in Ethiopia. The objective of this massive, premeditated and unprovoked attack that the TPLF launched on all the contingents of the Ethiopian army in the north was to totally neutralize the Northern Command which possessed around 80% of the EDF’s total arsenal. The TPLF killed several hundred non-Tigrayan soldiers within the Northern Command and its overall plan was to topple the central government once it had pacified the Northern Command”. As Shabait continues: “Subsequent plans included military action against Eritrea to advance its avowed “regime change” agenda as well as incorporation of Eritrean sovereign territories for its long-term, multi-layered, aims and aspirations”.
Here you see that Eritrea isn’t looking into their own actions or as a part of the tripartite alliance in Tigray region. No, they are shifting everything at the TPLF. That is an deliberate act. While the Special Rapporteur is looking at it objectively. That’s why the wording is so careful. The Shabait is going after the TPLF and their actions, but not stating anything about their own. Also, giving a history lesson of the misdeeds of the TPLF. While it is not saying it is currently involved any of it itself. Implying it is all justified and there is no reason to doubt that… While all three parties was preparing and launching the attacks on Tigray. So, they could easily blame the TPLF no matter what it did… and the rest is history and a conflict living on to this day.
What is further striking is this one, where the Special Rapporteur says this: “The Special Rapporteur welcomes the decision adopted on 22 March 2021 by the Council of the European Union, under the European Union’s global human rights sanctions regime, imposing sanctions on Eritrea for serious violations of human rights, including acts of torture, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings in Eritrea. The Council imposed restrictive measures on eleven individuals and four entities responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses in China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Libya, the Russian Federation and South Sudan”. When Shabait retorts with this: “Mention has also been made regarding EU sanctions on Eritrea amid the ongoing discussion to withhold development support in particular in the pretext of the unwarranted and worn-out allegations surrounding National Service and forced labor (paragraph 24) as well as other baseless human rights allegations. Any such pre-condition on development cooperation is unacceptable. Eritrea remains committed to the effective mobilization, higher organization, and creation of national capacity in the implementation of its development programmes. It is, however, equally committed to cooperation predicated on partnership, involving mutual respect and understanding. Thus, it rejects any attempts at intimidation, coercion, or harassment under the veil of human rights and development cooperation”.
Here we are seeing a stark contrast again. What is really significant. That Eritrea is against the sanctions. That’s to be expected, because who wants to be sanctioned and getting retribution. However, instead of letting people in and see that these things doesn’t happen. The Eritrean state is just retaliating. The UN Special Rapporteur only verifies the reports and the surrounding misgivings of the Eritrean state. Something the Eritrean doesn’t prove to be wrong. They just call it baseless, but doesn’t prove anything or say anything in significant in consideration with the alleged human rights violations. Which is the reason of the sanctions in the first place. The EU will have mechanisms where there is a need for burden of proof and evidence before sanctioning a nation. Which in effect has been enacted. Eritrea furthers the victimhood by calling it harassment and intimidation. That just shows they have no intent in changing its behaviour or try to prove their innocence.
The UN Special Rapporteur says: “The Special Rapporteur is concerned that the indefinite duration of military and civil service reportedly remains one of the main causes for the departure of Eritreans from their country. With the end of the state of war with Ethiopia, the Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to outline a timetable for reforms to its national service”. The Shabait answers with: “The causality inference (paragraph 40) suggested in the present report between national service and migration from Eritrea is unjustified and unacceptable. In line with the new development drive, as well as the emerging prospects of viable peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa, efforts will gradually be made to return National Service to its original duration. Moreover, a significant number of national service members have been integrated into the new remuneration system which improved the salary scale of the civil service”.
This here shows the trouble with it here. As the Special Rapporteur states an issue with the military and civil service in Eritrea. While the Shabait tries to dismiss that. However, there is no way this is explaining the Eritreans fleeing from these state programs, which is causing this. The Eritrean government is downplaying it. This just shows how things are… and therefore, we just know the ideals will not be answered. That was a proof of the beginning.
They are both ending with this, which is interesting. The Special Rapporteur states this: “The Special Rapporteur calls upon the Government to acknowledge the persistence of human rights violations and abuses in Eritrea, and to allow him and other human rights mandate holders effective access to visit all areas of the country and meet with relevant stakeholders, with a view to addressing the human rights challenges that it faces”. While Shabait says this: “It is time for the HRC to break with its 8-years long unproductive approach by terminating the mandate imposed on Eritrea. On its part, Eritrea will continue to expand and consolidate dignified engagement and international cooperation based on partnership and will continue its modest contribution to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council, while working together with other members to depoliticize the Council and its agendas”.
This is how two worlds are colliding. A nation and a sovereign like Eritrea who is saying everything is baseless. While Eritrea isn’t opening up for the UN Special Rapporteur. Therefore, the allegations and the reported breaches of human rights violations aren’t investigated directly, but only proven by eyewitnesses in the diaspora.
The Eritrean state should consider another path, because this sort of retort isn’t safeguarding it. It is just opening up a plethora of questions. As it is not willing to open up. Shabait is just throwing shade. This sort of answer isn’t making any good grounds, but make you further questions the actions of Eritrea.
The UN Special Rapporteur is appointed and gotten a mandate from someone else. Shabait is only defending its state, but its not doing a good job. It is a hit-job, but not hitting the target. Unless, it was to make headlines in local news. Where they can look like they did something, which isn’t true. It did nothing… Peace.
There are plenty who celebrates the lifting of arms-embargo, asset freeze and targeted sanctions on Asmara and the Eritrean Government, that is happening as the second triparte meeting happened over the weekend. The Peace Agreement with Addis Ababa and Mogadishu is a giant step in peaceful interaction and a better Horn of Africa. However, the Eritrean government is still the same one as before.
It is not like the Eritrean government has stopped their long military subscriptions, using military to do slave labor for the generals and so on. The Presidency of Isias Afwerki is still more of the same. Not like there are openness and trust in the good values. Not like there are any coming elections or any sort of civic enterprise coming to the homes of Eritreans. Therefore, lifting sanctions only gives the Afwerki Administration more leeway and more fiscal funding for their embezzling ways.
The Eritrean military is known for indefinite conscription of their military personnel. That why many has fled and even done what they could to seek refuge elsewhere. On the African Continent, the Eritrean government is the one with the highest amount of political prisoners.
There is most likely no change in the structures of Asmara or the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which is a one-party state. A state where Afwerki has his fiefdom. With the 15-0 United Nations Security Council voting on the 14th November 2018 to end the sanctions. Will most likely give him more power to continue his rule. The leverage and the bargain chips the UNSC had over Eritrea is now lost. These was put because of interference with Djibouti and Somalia. The arms trading to terrorist groups there. Therefore, the peaceful transition of the latest month has been positive.
Still, the reality in Asmara is more of the same. Not like the PFDJ will be transparent, hold elections or even care for a free press. Not like the Afwerki regime will stop the enslavement, torture, imprisonment and enforced disappearance of political adversaries, these acts will continue. We know that elections will not happen, as the latest one was happening in May 2004. If it was held, it would most likely be a one-party charade to facilitate an official second term for the President and nothing else. As he has been the President without question since independence in 1994.
So, the legitimacy and the recognition from the world has come the way of Eritrea. They are not a piraya or a dangerous dictatorship anymore. They are just a dictatorship with an iron-fist. Who doesn’t deserve sanctions anymore, because of their diplomatic relationship with Somalia and Ethiopia. The peace has served them well. Clearly the Asmara has gotten well off with this.
They are not changing or even testing the leadership, but letting the external relationship help the internal problems vanish. However, the same structures, the same military and sole dictatorship is still there. Not like that has changed over the last few months. No, it is more of the same. Therefore, the ones who voted for this, should consider the ramification and the elites earning on the sanctions. As they will benefit from this.
Afwerki might have waited long, but he is off the hook. Even if he still makes his suffer and take away their freedom. The International Community isn’t hurting the state anymore, not in the way it used too. Let see what the consequences of this is, but certainly it will only do the administration good. Not the public, as they are the same one used by PFDJ, when they need it. Peace.