By Daniel Berhane,
In his mission to misinform, thereby tarnish the image of Eritrea, Martin Plaut has yet organized another event titled “Africa’s most Repressive State” at University of London this week. He also used the event to sell his new book, ‘Understanding Eritrea: Inside Africa’s most repressive state‘.
Martin Plaut has clearly thrown away any pretension of objective journalism. Despite his claim that the book is about understanding Eritrea, its content is a pure propaganda to misinform, misrepresent, and misconstruction of Eritrean history in order to fit his agenda.
There were a number of factual errors and outlandish claims reported as historical facts by both Martin and Vanessa Berhe, the two speakers in the event. To cite as an example, one of his malicious misinterpretation and misconstruction of recent history with the aim of justifying TPLF’s aggression on Eritrea, is what he terms as a “key moment” in breakdown of relations between EPLF and TPLF in the eighties.
Martin blamed the EPLF for closing the only road through which aid could have been delivered to the starving peoples of Tigray at one point in the past. He said: “at a critical moment when people of Tigray were starving, genuinely starving, there were deaths, thousands of deaths, the EPLF closed the road, which was the only way you could bring aid from Sudan.”
He claims the TPLF is still angry and ‘that they will never forget.’ This is typical menacing Martin Plaut, misinterpreting history out of context and selectively to fit his agenda.
Contrary to his malicious claim this was one of the moments that the EPLF demonstrated its strategic handling of historic issues. EPLF did not react to TPLF’s ideological blunder simply stating it had chosen to remain quiet and not react in anyway for strategic interest of both people.
Moreover, the real truth is, the EPLF extended a humanitarian hand to the Tigray people at that time. Thousands of Tigray people were assisted with their humanitarian and medical needs in Teseney, which was parr if the librated area at the time. The EPLF also assisted many in transporting them to the provided camp.
Besides TPLF never was and is not angry, since it was its own making. Why is Martin getting offended on balf of an organization that has never care about interest of the people.
Wasn’t it his own media organization and that he was also involved, which uncovered the TPLF used millions of aid money to purchase weapons during the most catastrophic famine in Tigray in the nineteen eighties?
Drought was his latest addition to his ongoing campaign of topics. Disappointed by the fact that Eritrea – as non receiver of any Western aid- was not listed at any of the famine warnings, which made it the Oasis of the Horn of Africa region, he went on talking about malnutrition in Eritrea and showing a picture of a child that he claims was smuggled out of Eritrea.
It is not a coincidence that Martine Plaute is bringing this issue forcibly at this time. As he has always done, it is to deflect attention from the latest Ethiopia’s request to the international community for billions worth of aid for the millions of Ethiopians who are starving.
This events are well targeted at students and researchers, who could potentially further spread his misinformation that is dressed as an academic production. Fortunately, there was strong presence of Eritrean patriots, who challenged Martine and his entourage with the very little opportunity that was given.
Dr. Berekhet Fessehatzion challenged Martin on many of his claims on malnutrition in Eritrea and his past misinformation that include Eritrea’s vote at the UN in which Martin had falsely reported. Martine accepted it as mistake, however, declined to apologize.
Dr. Mussie Tesfay challenged one the most repeated lies that Eritrea is a country without a single University. Dr Musie, who used to work at Eritrean Institute of Technology as a lecturer eloquently laid out the facts, highlighting spread of higher education in Eritrea since the expansion of the technical and social studies colleges to different regions of the country. He also underlined that these institutes of higher education have degree awarding powers.
There were also a number of other Eritreans who expressed their views on the issues that were raised in the meeting in the little time that was afforded to the audience.
At the end of the event, the discussions with the panelists continued outside the meeting hall. Overall the meeting was a rare opportunity for Eritreans to present their own narrative.