“The local radio in Asmara describes the referendum choice simply as: ‘Do you choose freedom or slavery?’ Because of the high level of illiteracy, the ballot papers are coloured. Blue is for yes, red is for no. Or, as the local radio helpfully puts it, ‘Red is for blood.’ (Observer 28 March 1993)” (Refworld – ‘Ethiopia: Exact wording of question for referendum of April 1993 regarding Eritrean independence; whether or not the question made reference to a choice between slavery and freedom’ 19.07.2001).
Today, the Shabait published an editorial called: “Referendum: A demonstration of civilized people and mature leadership” which by all means are a fine piece. The Shabait should celebrate and educate the masses on Eritrean history and culture. That’s all fine and dandy.
However, it is funny that the Shabait and the State of Eritrea is celebrating the referendum of 1993. Especially, considering that this one was the final vote or last election to ever be held in Eritrea.
It is partly like satire and unreal reading these quotes from Shabait that says this: “The people of Eritrea have picked up the national legacy and armed themselves with civilized culture and full discipline. Finally, the results of the “Do you support Eritrea becoming an independent and sovereign country?” 99.8% were “Yes to Independence”. The blood-guaranteed right was repeated by voice – in front of the world. This result was neither sudden nor unexpected. The issue was obvious because it was a question of belonging or not belonging to a people. It is a satisfactory and acceptable historical conclusion of the election of the people of Eritrea. As a result, on 24 May 1993 -Eritrea became the 182nd member of the United Nations” (Shabait, 22.04.2023).
We know the referendum was an important one, a vital one and a monumental one. That is understandable and getting recognized as an independent nation is important for anyone. Eritrea is no different than any other nation in this. I salute them for that. That is well earned, but it is everything after that is distasteful and disgusting.
It is fun that the Shabait says the people of Eritrea showed civilized culture and full discipline in 1993. So, the same people have never been able to show that? The Eritrean who was armed themselves with these things just vanished. Because, the authorities, the regime and the ones in office never let them vote again.
The Shabait piece ended with this: “The referendum decision, therefore, was forward-looking -a demonstration of a civilized people and mature leadership” (Shabait, 22.04.2023).
So, the vote for either “yes” or “no”, or for “freedom or “slavery” was forward-looking and civilized. Alas, here is the case. The ideals of the referendum is all fine. The cause I am all in for. That is not why I am bugging.
The reason I am bugging is that Shabait is pulling a trick. It is celebrating one election and never allowing the will of the people ever again. The leadership allowed the Eritrean to give them the independence and become a recognized nation. However, the people within the Republic and within the State of Eritrea haven’t been allowed to exercise their rights or duties in an election ever again. That was a one-time bargain and since then never ever happened.
The PFDJ and Afewerki will not be mature enough or believe in the discipline of the people to allow them to vote again. If so… they would have done it already. However, here we are years later. 30 years to be exact and the current regime would never allow the people to vote with their conscience or belief. No, they have to follow the orders and the regime’s whims. That’s what they do.
It is ironic that the people in 1993 voted against “slavery”. They got released from one master and got another one instead. The people of 1993 stopped one entity from captivating them… but unleashed another to do the same.
It is tragic, but the reality we live in. Eritreans fought for independence from one entity, but got another brutal dictator in its stead. A brutal dictator that was their liberator and is now their tormentor. A man who has no faith in their abilities or their civilized ways to elect their representatives. No, it’s only the judgement of the inner-circle or His Excellency himself who is deemed fit. Peace.