Propaganda and Sycophancy Masked As Book Review!

Propaganda and Sycophancy Masked As Book Review!

Paulos M. Natnael


A couple of people hiding behind fake names (Asminew Ewnetun and Aradom Fedai Haqi) have written a review of Dr. Bereket Habte Sellassie’s two memoirs/books: (1) The Crown and the Pen: The memoirs of a Lawyer Turned Rebel, Red Sea Press Inc. 2007; and (2) A Wounded Nation: How a Once promising Eritrea was Betrayed and its Future Compromised, Volume II , Red Sea Press, 2011.

You can read their review here: http://hornofafrica.de/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/review-Bereket_Habte_Selassie-2013.pdf

However, their so-called review is but a campaign of defamation and hatred, a propaganda and a sycophancy masked as a book review.

A dozen years ago in 2001 when Dr. Bereket spoke against the dictatorial regime in Eritrea, or even earlier when he joined the G-13 in sending Isaias Afewrki a letter, many of the regime's blind supporters began attacking his reputation, suggesting that he was power hungry, etc. But to his great credit, unlike many other well-educated Eritreans, he didn't fold, but stood firm and continued to speak up against the evil regime.

Now, this purported review is a continuation of that propaganda and hate-mongering.  The so-called “Review Article” is 48-page long; but I stopped reading on page 5 because I realized it was full of innuendos intent on defaming the good name of the professor.  On page 5 of their review, they accuse Dr. Bereket for claiming to publish a booklet titled “Reflections on the Future Political System of Eritrea (June 1990)”, “where I proposed among other things that the ELF be considered as a future opposition party in a democratic Eritrea (Vol. 11, p 107).” They accused him of fabricating this publication of the booklet wondering, “If this booklet had been published in 1990 when Eritreans (and Ethiopians) were reading anything and everything on developments in the war, Eritreans and Ethiopians alike would have been talking about it! Yet, nobody we contacted seems to have any recollection of what would have been a best seller!! Which company published? Which libraries have it? Do the ELLF and EPLF have it? What was the ELF’s reactions to the recommendations? Was there a book-review? Will any publisher send us copies, if it exists!”

This is beyond pathetic! If they and their contacts do not have the book, it never existed, never was it published!  Amazing! These nameless or fake-named cowards think they can persuade public opinion and besmirch the good name of the Professor.  What they have managed to do instead is show us the extent Isaias Afwerki’s sycophants and apologists will travel to defend the indefensible: a tyrant, liar, and fascist murderer.  However, by now, except few sycophants, apologists, and mentally sick people, everybody who is familiar with Eritrea and Eritrean politics knows that Isaias Afwerki is an incorrigible dictator, a liar, and a murderer.

I happened to have the booklet in question.  It’s titled: “Reflections on the Future Political System Of Eritrea” by Bereket Habte Sellassie, Eritreans for Peace and Democracy, Working Paper No. 3, June 1990.  The table of contents gives the reader the intentions of the writer.

After the introduction, Part II deals with 'Some Pertinent Questions for Eritreans". Part III, the Democratic Imperative; Part IV, Eritrea's Road to a Democratic System; Part V, The Source of State Power and Its Institutions; and Part VI deals with The Limits of Power, where a) Judicial Independence, b) Human Rights and Civil Liberties, c) the EPLF and the Future: A new Political Culture, d) Politics of Pluralism, e) A Rare Instance of Self-Restriction, and f) Democracy with Authority are the topics and are extensively discussed.

On page 23 (“Reflections…) and under the topic “A. Popular Base and Primacy of Politics”, Dr. Bereket, referring to “a recent public seminar given by Mr. Isayas Afwerki, EPLF Secretary General”, writes about the question that was raised at the seminar.  The question was “Will this mean that the EPLF will automatically become the government upon gaining independence?”  Professor Bereket continues, “The Secretary General ventured to add, to what has been noted  above, by stating that in the future even some members of the EPLF may conceivably join other political parties whose platforms may appeal to them”. Dr. Bereket concludes the said topic: “Thus, a multi-party political system is envisioned for an independent Eritrean state. This means that the vanguard role played by the EPLF during the armed struggle will be replaced upon the termination of that phase of the struggle.  In this respect it is obvious that the EPLF has learned from its own experience and from that of other countries.” See, page 24, “Reflections on the Future Political System of Eritrea” June 1990.

Moreover, on page 26, Dr. Bereket under the topic “C. The EPLF and the Future: A New Political Culture” writes, “But that is in the past, and power can change people, it may be argued.  Power can indeed change people; it can corrupt them.  But then, there is another factor in addition to the EPLF leadership qualities” (page 26). “The popularity of the EPLF at the moment is such that the certainty of victory in any post-independence election against any combination of other political groups or parties would seem to be virtually assured. This may be an important additional factor to explain the acceptance of a pluralistic political system by the EPLF” (page 27).

Furthermore, Dr. Bereket writes "The EPLF program provides a framework for a future election platform assuming the EPLF competes as a party.  Section 1(D) of the Objectives commits the EPLF to "protect the democratic rights of freedom of speech, the press, assembly, worship and peaceful demonstration as well as the right of nationalist political parties and nationalist associations of workers, peasants, women, students, youth and professionals...Under such a system, all competing parties would put forward alternative platforms which would provide a literate Eritrean public with the choice of competing programs on which the country's future would depend." See, page 27.

Therefore, not only Dr. Bereket was hoping the EPLF would do the right thing, but he wrote about it almost a year (June 1990) before the independence of Eritrea (May 1991) believing what Isaias Afewrki and his organization, the EPLF, were promising at the time. That of course was the problem: Isaias Afwerki’s game of deception.  It is obvious now that Isaias Afwerki never meant what he said then in 1990 or in subsequent years about the future of the EPLF and the governance of Eritrea after independence.  It was all part of Isaias’ grand deception scheme.

This being the fact in present-day Eritrea, the propagandists and sycophants continue to defend the dictator by defaming anyone, including a respected scholar, who opposes their beloved tyrant.

Shame on them!

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