Eritrea aka North Korea of Africa
History repeats and duplicates itself. Seven years from now, with the current trend, I predict the doors to Eritrea will be completely shut, because Eritrea is North Korea in the making. One only needs to read the history of the two Koreans to almost determine our fate. North and South Koreans are the same people but politically completely different. Because the former Emperor of Ethiopia’s dream was to unite and co-mingle Eritrea with Ethiopia he had done a tremendous job to make us in-laws with each other. Thousands of Ethiopians and Eritreans are relatives by marriage. Thousands of Eritreans live in Ethiopia and vice versa.
And then Mr. Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who fought for justice shoulder to shoulder along with Eritreans decided to betray Eritreans. Seventy thousand Eritreans or Eritreans of Ethiopian origin were evicted from Ethiopia. Right now we are engaged in a bitter rivalry and we have drawn the line on the sand (except in the Badime area of course). It has been over eight years since my Ethiopian of Eritrean origin friends got separated from their wives and children in Ethiopia. The separation is as severe and as similar as the two Korean countries. The similarity is striking , North Korea is separated by the Korean Demilitarized zone with South Korea, whereas Eritrea is separated by the Temporary Security Zone consisting of 25 km by 900 km of demilitarized zone with Ethiopia. Thousands of children in these four countries are growing and have grown without a mother or/and father.
The Military First policy of 1995 of North Korea can be contrasted with the Construction and Defense Program of Yikalo Warsai program of Eritrea. Following a major famine in the early 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union (previously a major economic partner), leader Kim Jong-il instigated the "Military-First" policy in 1995, increasing economic concentration and support for the military. Almost the same thing could be said about the Eritrean leader instigating the Construction and Defense Program whose program is tightening security by focusing on military and using the military to construct the country. The motto of PFDJ has been, all youth must (not by choice but by force)serve in the military and all youth must participate in the construction of the country indefinitely.
It is obvious Mr. Isayas Afwerke has been reading the book of Kim Il-sung on Juche ideology of self reliance, only Isayas calls it PFDJ ideology. Or if you choose to give him the benefit of the doubt we may say the similar mishaps of North and South Korea ended up creating a character of Mr. Kim Jong-il, and in the same way the mishaps of Eritrea and Ethiopia ended up creating a similar leader of Mr. Isayas Afwereke. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (KPRK) is similar to that of Isayas’s People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). Both subscribe to the Stalinist dictatorship. Both parties, as their name indicates, stress the fact that they are for the people and are democratic. But both are single party states. No freedom of press, or religion and no individual, economic, or political freedom.
To have a policy of “Self reliance” is not bad and should be commended for any people or country, but what makes it wrong is the means they use to get there. Mr. Isayas uses the youth just like Mr. Kim Jong-il does. “Use” I mean it is an ideology of use, abuse and discard ideology. A youth in Isayas’s and Mr. Kim’s world is a property. The “property” has no right. These ideologies decide what you should learn, what you should be, what you should believe and how and where your creative years are spent.
They disguise this slavery by naming it “service to the country” and yet the service has no end in sight. To end PFDJ’s “service” either you have to be deathly ill and incapacitated, or escape to one the neighboring countries. Some “lucky” ones who got a chance to participate in some kind of sports in a foreign country end up disappearing in one of the big cities of the western countries.
- Hostility and cold war remains to be the modus operandi of North Korea with its South, and of Eritrea with Ethiopia. These leaders know if they make peace and the need for recruitment of the youth is minimized, trouble for them starts and things will begin to be out of control. If this happens, the youth will want to be free and creative and eventually the power of these mighty will be threatened. Therefore, they have to keep the youth busy night and day, digging dams by hand, constructing roads by carrying rocks on their backs etc,.
Media in Eritrea is all one source, and the source is the government. EriTV (TV) transmits infomercial globally with the motto of “Serving the Truth”. PFDJ thinks Eritreans are naïve and will believe all infomercials they broadcast as long as you tell them we are “serving the truth”. If they want to be truthful, they should privatize TV programs and should let the people decide what TV programs to broadcast. And then there is the national memo called “Hadas Eritrea”. True journalism was killed and buried when PFDJ imprisoned all private journalists in 2001. Now Eritrea does not have freedom of press. The similarity with N. Korea can be seen on the 2007 Reporters Without Borders, Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index which ranked 168 out of 169. Eritrea ranked 169/169 in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
The common friend of Eritrea and N. Korea is China. Why China? It is because China has non-interference policy. As long as China can get into the country and get what it wants, it does not care about human rights (as in Eritrea and N. Korea) , genocide (as in The Sudan), political turmoil (as in Zimbabwe), brutal government (as in Myanmar) or illegal occupation (as in Ethiopia). When China exercises “no-see no-hear” policy, obviously dictators around the world cherish it. (Myanmar is by the way China’s best friend!).
The Eternal President of the Republic Mr. Kim Il-sung (deceased) “has” a cult personality. Yes, it is “has” not “had”, because he still rules. He is called the Eternal President because he had worked so hard to bring the youth up to worship him like god, and thus has a cult personality. Mr. Kim Il-sung never made a mistake, is always right, what he says goes. Any one who opposes his ideas is buried underground or jailed for life. It is a taboo to oppose the Eternal President of the Republic Mr. Kim Il-sung. The supporters of PFDJ and the person of Isayas reflect a cult personality in the making. Try to argue any kind of policy mistakes by the PFDJ leader you get shut down, shunned and yelled at. If you bring an undisputable policy mistake and try to win their argument, they tell you that his subordinates did it, but never Isayas. If this is not a cult in the making then what is?
Before the Korean War Pyongyang was the center of Christian activity. Now 71.2% of N. Koreans are Atheists, while 2.1% are Christians. Official government statistics report that there are 10,000 Protestants and 4,000 Roman Catholics in N. Korea. The N. Korean constitution states that freedom of religion is permitted, however, according to Human Rights Watch, free religious activities no longer exist in DPRK as the government sponsors religious groups only to create an illusion of religious freedom. According to a ranking published by Open Doors, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, N. Korea is currently with the most severe persecution of Christians in the World.
The deterioration of Freedom of religion is also clearly seen in Eritrea. Currently PFDJ only allows four groups, namely The conservative Protestants, Moslems, Catholics and the Orthodox Churches. Each religious leader is directly linked with the government and their loyalty is ensured. Even with these “permitted” religious groups, we know the Orthodox church was defiled, the protestants controlled, the Moslems are being watched and the Catholics are been censured. It is reported that many Christians have been nabbed and imprisoned while celebrating wedding ceremonies, or simply gathering for worship in their homes. The severity of the punishment by the government is so inhumane that some have been incapacitated, some are thrown in a container without proper ventilation or clothing, some are starved and brutally beaten, many are put in cells underground and while others are put for hard labor in harsh climate conditions.
Eritreans are getting the exact opposite of what they bargained and struggled for. We do not want to be enslaved like the North Koreans. When Jesus asked the following questions what do you think his expected answers were to be? “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” No, indeed! How about, “If an Eritrean shall ask bread…of “Issays” the GOE leader, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? Yes, indeed! and the proof is in the pudding.