By Martin Zimmerman
In recent days, Eritrea is once again pushed into negative headlines: In the Afar region of Ethiopia, European tourists were abducted and murdered. Two German, two Hungarians and Austrians did not survive the journey to the Ethiopian-Eritrean border area. For another two German and two Ethiopian companion perhaps the horror continues: These were kidnapped, like the Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon told.
This raises the question of why tourists always ignore the longstanding travel warnings for this area. In recent years there has been several robberies and kidnappings, most ending without tragedy. Before any investigation and immediately after the cruel deed has been known, the Ethiopian government spokesman named the culprit: the Eritrean Government.
But not enough. The Ethiopian propaganda machine gets going and suddenly the subject is no longer “just” murdered and kidnapped tourists, but rather, Eritrea being also accused of instigating a plot in January 2011, to disrupt the annual summit of the African Union (AU) in the Ethiopian capital. The current incident was a deliberate action, according to Simon, because in the next week in Addis Ababa AU starts again a great conference: “Eritrea wants to destabilize the entire region,” the Ethiopian foreign minister goes on in a piece of his allegations. Another target of the attack, which he accuses the government in Asmara-trained bandits of, is supposed to be the Ethiopian tourism industry.
The international media echoe the Ethiopian version of the drama in the Afar region -, the facts hardly checked by a newspaper, in spite of the well documented history of the Ethiopian propaganda. Some newspapers even noted that Ethiopia and Eritrea were involved in a border dispute, Eritrea supported Somali Islamists militarily, and Ethiopia accusations of Eritrea of terrorist acts. All this in a time, when Ethiopia finds itself exposed to harsh international criticism because of massive human rights abuses and forced displacement.
The facts and the failure of critical journalism
Eritrean government officials, including Girma Asmerom, Eritrea’s ambassador to the African Union immediately reported that the charges are “an absolute lie and a fabrication”. It had become a habit of the Ethiopian government, to blame Eritrea whenever something happens in Ethiopia, said Asmerom. This is however barely mentioned in the media. The Ethiopian propaganda machine following its scheme of “Something will always stick!” in its efforts to discredit Eritrea time and again.
This is just the continuation of Ethiopian politics, making Eritrea responsible for all internal and external political conflicts in the country: the ongoing war in Somalia, that is fueled by Ethiopia as well as attacks of various independence movements in Ethiopia -now a raid in the Afar region. Such attacks were proven of not having been controlled by Eritrea in the past, on the contrary, in the effort to liberate Europeans who were kidnapped by a tribe Afar, Eritrea played a crucial and positive role.
Facts are: alleged Eritrea’s attacks in Ethiopia have been found so far to be manufactured for propaganda purposes, as its false claims of the support of the Islamist Al Shabab in Somalia.
Example 1: On August 30, 2011 on Wikileaks labelled ‘secret’ telegram from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa published October 6th, 2006. The message has been sent to the U.S. State Department, the headquarters of USCENTCOM, IGAD, the CIA, CJTF, DIA, and NSC. The notification (Reference ID 06ADDISABABA2708) referred to a series of three planned terrorist attacks on 16 September 2006 in the capital of Ethiopia, the Eritrean authorities responsible for the security and the Oromo resistance made. Contents of the secret dispatch: The media reported that the Ethiopian intelligence The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) claimed together with the anti-terrorism task force of the federal police that the bombs as part of a coordinated terrorist attack on the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF ), the oldest national liberation movement in Ethiopia, and the Sha’abiya (Eritrea) were applied to disrupt the democratic process. In the – unsuccessful – attacks in Kara Kore-District three suicide bombers were killed. The bombs had gone off prematurely in the preparation in an illegally constructed buildings and two of the men died in the explosion, the third a little later in the hospital, the release of the security authorities.
In the dispatch of the report of an informant and secret messages of the message source was quoted as blaming the security forces of the Government of Ethiopia for the assassination. On 20 September 2006 contacted Dr. Merera Gudina, former leader of the Embassy of the ONC. In his report he stated that the deceased was not killed when a bomb, but rather have been in the hands of government cadres were imprisoned and tortured. The men had been picked up a week earlier by police and arrested. The police would have brought them into the house and raised near the explosives. It remained unclear, whether the men belonged to the ONC or OLF.
Example 2: The claim that Eritrea would destabilize the region relates mainly to the accusation that Eritrea supported the Islamist Al-Shabab militia in Somalia with money and weapons. The most recent accusation accounting for UN sanctions against Eritrea – was recently moved to the realm of fables: In November last year, Eritrea was accused of supplying arms to Kenya Al Shabab. Three planes full of weapons were said to having landed in the town of Baidoa. The “UN Monitoring Group on Somalia,” could not prove this, and recently reported that such flights have taken place and “incorrect” the assertion …
Example 3: The border dispute. The fact is that relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea have been strained by this ongoing border dispute – the blame on which is, however, only to Ethiopia. Because for this border dispute, there is a solution on the table since 2000. The International Court in The Hague ruled on the issue of border disputes to an arbitration, the two sides have in advance officially recognized within the framework of the Algiers peace agreement as final and binding. But Ethiopia refused to implement the peace agreement, illegally occupying Eritrean territories and threatening war, whenever it seems politically expedient internally.
Source: Dehai and translated by Chrischi