Why Does the Outside World Hate Eritrea?

By BBC FooC,

The small North Eastern African country of Eritrea is often in the news these days. It’s one of the biggest sources of migrants to Europe. The escapees talk of repression at home of political decent being harshly punished, of media censorship and mandatory national service which can drag on for years.

A century ago, the country was under Italian colonial rule. It left a visible distinctive mark on the architecture of the capital Asmara. The city was once known as Picola Roma “Little Rome” even today many of its shops still have Italian names. There is a bar Vitoria, and Casa del formaggio.

Foreign journalists are rarely allowed in but [BBC journalist] Mary Harper was.

Mary Harper: I pushed back the thick, dark red velvet curtains and find myself in complete darkness. Drops of rains come through the ceiling and hit the floor hard. Someone turned on the switch. A deem flickering bulb does its best to light up the place. I am in a huge Cinema.

Slowly, I make out elegant shapes on the walls. Leaping antelopes, pineapples, and dancing maidens. On the floor, in the front of the screen stand white pillars topped with the heads of lions.

I hear a tap tap tap behind me. A very old man, in red trousers, white shirt, black jacket approaches. “I have worked hear at Cinema Impero for more than 40 years,” he tells me. “We have sits for 1,800 people.”

He takes me out in to the foyer which seems to be a sort of hangout for the disabled of Asmara. A man in a wheel chair, a blind child and a women bent over on to two wooden sticks, cluster around the giant black projector, taller than any human.

Others ordered drinks from the bar, its polished wooden shelves, neatly stacked with glasses. They stems brightly coloured. Film posters on the wall advertise La Dolche Vita and African affair. It is though some kind of magic powder has sprinkled on Asmara, freezing in time, its clean lined 1930 Modernist architecture. I am told the young country’s first and only President, Isaias Afwerki, has ordered it that way.

The buildings are fading and crumbling at the edges, but most still being used. Although not the Fiat Tagliero garage, which was designed to look like an aeroplane of the future. Its concrete cantilever wings stretch out impossibly far with no supports.

Miniature old style Fiat 500s pass by, a lilacBeatle car, horse cart, Toyota land cruisers and yellow taxis. Cyclists with past and bright shiny lycra, two men in a wheelchair propelled themselves along a great speed with the help of a ski poles. Old men sit in a pavement cafes seeping Espresso. It looks more like Rome or Paris than any other part of Africa. They swap war stories, tales from the trenches when they fought and won a 30 year conflict with Ethiopia. Images of young wilthead independent fighters painted on the wall of many buildings including an old style bowling ale which double up a pool hall.

But behind all these charm lurks something else. As in the darkness of cinema Impero, details only start to emerge once you spent time looking, listening and waiting. There are hardly any police visible on the streets but people start to tell me there are informants everywhere. I meet Eritreans who have been in obligatory national service for more than a decade. Some say they want to leave, others to push for change from with in.

But then again, I meet people who have returned from a comfortable life abroad to live and work in Eritrea. One beautiful young women who grew up in Sweden asks, “why does the outside world hate Eritrea? Why are we called the North Korea of Africa? and What can I do to change that?

It’s very very difficult to work out what’s going on. Human Rights group say there are thousands of political prisoners, tortured and kept underground in shipping containers. Government ministers tell me, there are only 30 – 40 and the torture is banned.

I read reports that say Eritreans are afraid to think, let alone to speak. But almost everyone I meet is happy to talk even with an aggressive TV camera and a fluffy microphone pushed in their faces; and I was not accompanied by a minder.

I meet Germans from the Leipzig Philharmonic Orchestra who have come to perform as part of Eritrea’s 25th anniversary of independence. They tell me they will want not  to come here as the country was dangerous, a sort of giant slave camp. They delighted how safe they feel, how clean Asmara is, how friendly its people.

I start to feel that I am going to have empty my mind and start allover again if I am even going to begin to understand the country.

The German Orchestra plays in cinema Asmara, which was originally built as a Opera house in the 1920s. The crowed whistles, claps and cheers as they perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Eritrea’s national anthem as it has never been heard before.

(* Transcript by TesfaNews)

53 thoughts on “Why Does the Outside World Hate Eritrea?

  1. “No restrictions in terms of who, when and where to speak to” – Mary Harper of the BBC

    By Billion Temesghen, (1/7)

    The long standing not so pleasant narratives of Eritrea in mainstream media are often revived by visiting journalists, however, around this time, there seems to be signs of more nuanced reporting and among the few is our guest today, who’s being reporting and documenting from Eritrea for the past two weeks.

    We give you Mary Harper from London, Africa Editor for BBC World News.

    Q: I am quite certain that at times you came across not so pretty answers.

    Mary Harper: Yes. There was a mixture, and I believe I had honest answers from different point of views. To most people, we did introduce ourselves and told them that we are from the BBC, and we politely asked them to talk to us. And these were people that had no idea that we were coming here, clueless of what we were doing and nobody knew our plans as we had nobody accompanying us, it was just me and my cameraman. We didn’t have any official coming with us and as such people, almost in every place we went, they agreed to speak to us and mostly gave a positive image of Eritrea while at the same time indicating some of the challenges the country faces, particularly with regards to economic aspects.

    So it has been a range of views but I noticed that people are very positive and highly proud of Eritrea.

    1. Q: Opt for interviewees? (2/7)

      No, absolutely not. I suppose in the way I do my journalism, I avoid starting with prewritten stories so I prefer to speak as many people as possible from all age groups; men, women and children even if they want to talk to me. And many children in fact wanted to talk to me during the celebrations.

      I interviewed a great range of people; I spoke to the youth and people from the diaspora that came back for the holidays of Independence celebrations, and a number of diaspora that came back to Eritrea for good to stay, live and work here. I spoke almost with everyone, from ordinary people, to ministers and seniors in government posts.

      Q: Many foreign journalists that pay a visit to Eritrea insist that they have a ‘government minder’ overseeing them. Did you have similar thoughts or experiences?

      If that is the only way a journalist can work, and I had the same experience one time in Sudan, you have to say it straight out… if there is someone from the government minding you in many ways I prefer not to work under such circumstances.

      On the other hand here, I have been very encouraged and relieved not to have anybody with me in this trip or the trip before. I have been able to organize my day how I wanted to. Normally when you go to a country to report, you’d have a local journalist called a ‘Fixer’ helping you around, whereas here it has been just me and the camera man. I had to be the Fixer and arrange everything by my own… luckily I was here before. So generally I have been very free.

      Most of the time, my cameraman and I were on our own, we would go around and collect information randomly without a prearranged tour guide. It was dificult but full of surprises, and I think that is what we call honest journalism.

    2. Q: So you did go outside of Asmara? (3/7)

      I actually went to different places such as Keren, Bisha and small villages and towns.

      I noticed that housing is encouraged in the country as I saw new building blocks in Massawa for example and even in rural areas. Furthermore, I saw the huge investment in farming and agriculture and many attempts to encourage farmers. I admire that rural communities are not abandoned; I saw many schools, and even in the smallest community there must be at least one school.

      All in all, I get the feeling that in Eritrea despite many dificulties there is a sense of eliminating partiality when it comes to growth. As a matter of fact the gap between the rich and the poor here is so little, so unnoticeable. While let alone in Africa but even in Europe that is a problem that I don’t see much of here. For example in Angola, there is plenty of resources but the wealth is in the hands of few billionaires, and it’s upsetting.

      Your country’s ideal is admirable.

    3. Q:What is the general idea that you have now of this specific trip? (4/7)

      That is a dificult question to answer. But of course Eritrea like every other country is very complex. This is only my second visit, so I am a new comer here even though I am an experienced journalist in terms of reporting on Africa.

      However, Eritrea is a totally unique experience for me; it is distinctive for the reason that it is the only country of which, what is told of on social networks, is much different from its reality.

      As a matter of fact, before my first visit in March, I read reports in addition to everything I could find about Eritrea. Most of which were reports by human right groups, COI along with other UN reports coupled with some media reports, and they were all overwhelmingly talking harsh of Eritrea.

      According to those reports Eritrea is a place empty of its youth, were its people are tortured and are all in prison. All the more so, there was a report on people being forbidden to think let alone to speak. So when I came here I realized that of course Eritrea has its own problems but it has many more stories that could be told outside all of the negativity.

      Moreover, I have not been restricted in terms of who, when and where to speak to; I have been both in rural and urban areas, and I would say that even though Eritrea is being accused of many bad things, in a way, I would say that Eritrea has its own way of doing things in determination and resilience.

      And I do find it strange that some in the international community have chosen Eritrea, sort of picked it out, as an easy target. Lots and lots of other African countries in which human rights abuses are far worst, they really are not focused on in the same way. And I am confused, very confused about it. I can’t understand why Eritrea and its one very repetitive story of abuses.

    4. Q:Is there a story that you would tell right away of Eritrea based on your experience? (5/7)

      I suppose that a story would be of how before I came here most of the reports that I saw or read, talked about people not wanting to speak to journalists, but I was surprised as almost every single one was willing to talk to us. I was even more surprised because we were filming too, and filming is aggressive and intimidating, but people agreed either ways and were happy to talk, and that was definitely unexpected.

      Another story is that, if you compare Asmara to the other capitals of Africa, the ones I know anyway, Asmara is incredibly clean and very safe day or night. My cameraman was astonished when we saw children and women out for their walks in the evenings at 11 or 12 walking home without no fear and that is very unusual!

      What astonished me is Asmara’s incredible architecture. Other African capitals has skyscrapers going up everywhere and of course places have to move on but there must be a sustainable way. Hence, I find Asmara astonishing and unique, I hope it keeps this unique trait protected, and be a touristic revenue in the future.

      And one final story that I would tell right away, is one of the policy. From what I understand Eritrea has the policy of an evenly balanced development; I have seen how many things are being outside of the main cities. Therefore, instead of having the few cities extremely advanced while totally forgetting of the rural area, in Eritrea; growth is well distributed, which is rare in other African countries.

    5. Q: Eritrea just came about from celebrating its Independence Silver Jubilee, can you tell me how did you find the celebrations? (6/7)

      It was magical; I loved how the streets were filled with people of all ages in the evenings, I loved how the roads were closed and different shows going on the way, I loved how the streets were decorated and I enjoyed the carnival.

      The atmosphere … It was a mixture, of Eritreans being happy and reminiscing of the fact that Eritrea has been independent for less time than the length of time they had to be in war for its independence. I realised that nobody is forgetting any of it.

      The exhibition depicting Eritrean history at the Expo Hall and it was incredibly powerful. I loved the history and remembrance, you all have got it so serious and heavyhearted because several thousands died for your independence.

      So combining such opposite feelings; commemoration with joy, at the same time is truly overwhelming and powerful. I sensed sensitive balance in the Eritrean society.

    6. Q: Tips for young Eritrean journalists in order to correct the negative phantasmagorias imagery of Eritrea surfing on social networks. (7/7)

      I started off 20 years ago as a journalist in BBC and BBC has been extremely helpful to me in having a certain value to what I do.

      I know BBC heavily criticized Eritrea but it is your job to promote the fair and real image of you. So be accurate and never forget to do attributes, you always have to say x said x about x. This helps to make sure to protect yourself, because you can’t avoid confrontations. Secondly, be balanced and give us as many views as possible and defend yourself and your thoughts, be humane.

      Not overly emotional or irrational, but thoughtful and fair towards other even though we have to keep our distance. And finally be interesting! If you base your journalism on such principles you should be able to do your work without fear or favor.

      And I think that this is the best way for the story of Eritrea to be told on its most original form… for young journalist to tell their country’s stories. Sort of in a crafted way, I don’t mean to be misunderstood when I say crafted we’re not talking of inventing, rather making your stories interesting and winning the attention and responsiveness of the global community.

      Eritrea has a serious image problem, but if you work in the best of your abilities, beyond your humble and modest tradition of not bragging on your own, you will definitely be able to portray factual and progressive images of you.


      1. Thanks Mary Harper; thanks for seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel”. Truth prvails at the end. But and but, truth could only come out for all to hear if the Eritreans stoodup in defence of the country and some decent foreign jernonalist have the courage to speak the truth.
        Eritreans, you have the means. In fact thanks to technology, you are armed by the same weapon (TV, Internet, mass media, radio, and news papers) to defeat the enemies that are hell-bent destroy Eritreans,
        Eritrea, stand up and be there to defend Eritrea and tell the “tuth” with all the means you have.
        Eritreans, tell the truth, write the truth, and show the true color of your country. Yo have the weapons and ammonutions to defeat all those who mean harm to your country and people.

  2. look at the title “the outside ” world BBC and America the only outside world for the writer obviously. UK and US are most hated countries in the outside world.

    1. CL, if ever our traitors came to their sense! It is from our own informers that things go wrong. Some develop greviences because of clash, misunderstanding may be selfishness, the others could be too much expectation, immaturity, or else ignorance. Attitude matters! Always positive attitude and patience is good.

  3. ኣሌክ - Alec you · Edit

    Deqi-Erey.. its all about how to control Eritrea’s natural resources… control of the Eritrea’s natural resources is at the center of Europe’s economic agenda. Thus they will do everything in their power to pressure our gov’t in-order to control it.

    Europe’s economic agenda==> The plan was to control Eritrea’s natural resources thru those so called op-groups, to exploit our natural resources by planting a puppet government. And when that dream is impossible to come to realty,.. that’s why we’re seeing the EU cooperating with our government. Lapo Pistelli, formerly Italy’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and a member of the Italian and European Parliaments. In early 2015, he brokered the restoration of Eritrea’s relations with both Italy and the EU. — Eritrea said.. if u come in peace with fare cooperation then we have a deal. But if u try to get our minerals thru endless methods of propaganda to pressure us in to given u cheap access.. then u are out of reality. Cuz Eritrea Never Kneels Down!!.. U can’t get our minerals for nothing like some other African countries. This is Eritrea!!


    “A high-level Italian delegation which visited Eritrea in March 2015 concluded bilateral cooperation agreement with the Eri-gov’t. Doubling as EU’s proxy for the mission, the delegation also provided impetus to the reconciliation process thereby enabling the EU to unveil, shortly thereafter, its Eritrea engagement plan over the one-year period that preceded approval of the €200 million Development Package, delegations of three more countries of the group had traveled to Eritrea seeking similar bilateral cooperation arrangements.

    Mending fences with the Eritrean gov’t was made possible not just by EU’s own endeavor, but also by parallel efforts of an activist group of member states – a group comprising Italy, Britain, Germany as well as the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Finland. The European Parliament recently censured the EDF Committee, European Commission for having approved the €200 million Development Package for Eritrea.

    *Britain is taking the lead in what is expected to be a rush by Europe for resource deal in Eritrea. In January 2014, a British exploration and development company, Ortac Resources acquired a substantial stake in Andiamo Exploration Ltd. This move injected additional capital into the latter’s exploration effort thereby boosting British interests in the country’s mining sector.

    *And the chairman of Soma Oil and Gas, Lord Michael Howard led a group of British businessmen on a trip to Eritrea to explore investment opportunities in the country’s hydrocarbon sector.

    *And of-course Tullow Oil Plc’s vice president for Africa also traveled to Eritrea… in his meetings with Eri=> government officials, he expressed interest in acquiring some unspecified offshore exploration blocks. Also a German delegation composed, not surprisingly, of government and business representatives visited Asmara to discuss bilateral development cooperation with the regime.”

    And soon our gov’t will have the leverage to pressure the EU to lift the unjust-sanction against Eritrea. U see that’s how u play the game.Catching more flies with honey. Soon wr’re going to see all the propaganda against Eritrea vanishing before our eyes.

    1. Brother Alec, thank you for bringing this to our attention. Diplomacy without Economic ties is shallow and superficial. This goes very well with the GOE policy of Equal Partnership.

      1. ኣሌክ - Alec you · Edit

        My pleasure bro. Indeed ‘Diplomacy without Economic ties is shallow and superficial.’ I hope we will see something good from it.

    2. Thanks for the great presentation of the current rapprochement with the EU, and you summed it all with a lovely phrase “Catching more Flies with Honey”

  4. Basically, almost every report written on Eritrea is by foreign journalists who have never visited the country and rely on hearsay. That is the state of journalism today and why people like to say “journalism is dead.” Journalists don’t feel like going to countries anymore… They’d rather plagiarize old articles. Then they come to Eritrea, change their minds, and say “wow, this is really a beautiful country – all the reports about it have been false.” But it’s too late, the damage has already been done.

    We Eritreans know very well how the West operates with countries that do not obey. I don’t however believe our image problem is solely the fault of the West. There are some things the gov could be doing to mitigate propaganda. I think the onus is on our gov to:

    1) fix our foreign policy & how we carry out our national interests
    2) make our country less vulnerable to propaganda

    For the first point: Our gov should be operating under realpolitik – a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations. This whole Eritrean pan-African ideology, “fighting against the West” thing is bullsh*t and gets us nowhere. Look how quick other African countries were to turn on us. Eritreans know better than anyone that Africans, too, can be betrayers and colonizers. All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.

    Our foreign policy hasn’t been the greatest because we have not been forming alliances with the right countries. Making enemies of the West wasn’t smart at all. No we should not sell our country to the West, but we should also rethink making them enemies.They are always going to go use other countries and go after their interests when it comes to foreign countries – and we should do the same. The West, like it or not, is the most powerful regional entity in the world. Making enemies with them was not intelligent. What has carrying the burden of the “African independence movement” gotten us? Well, the West curbed foreign investment, they (with the help of other Africans) sanctioned us, they unleashed media wars on us, and the list goes on. Even Japan, who was the #1 enemy of the U.S. and had nuclear bombs dropped on them, understood that it was in their best interest to make friends with them. Say what you want about South Korea, Japan, and Singapore’s alliances with the West, but at least their people are in a much better situation that they were 50 years ago.

    For the second point: I think it is our responsibility as well as our government’s responsibility to put ourselves out there and make our country less vulnerable to propaganda. Giving Eritreans widespread electricity, access to the internet, and wi-fi are key elements of globalization, economic growth, and human development. It should have been a top priority this past decade. Our gov has remained in the past while the world is becoming more and more a global village. Look at how terribly they handled the situation with those boys jumping out of the trucks (taking days to respond), or how the ridiculous polygamy hoax was able to become viral in the African community, or how BBC is able to make up stories about a coup or about the death of our president. These stories sound stupid and would not have been written about more well-known countries, and yet they were able to make it through the media.

    A key reason as to why a lot of this propaganda against Eritrea is so pervasive is because little people know about Eritrea. Access to electricity, wifi, and smartphones is important for Eritrea to produce domestic journalism. We also need more sophisticated, local private media companies based in Eritrea with their own websites and foreign correspondents to write about the news in our country. I’m going to be honest and say Eri-TV isn’t enough and isn’t really a sophisticated broadcasting company for domestic and global news. So while I think the West is at fault here for their obvious propaganda and intentions for Eritrea, I do think we could be doing A LOT more to counteract this situation. This situation hasn’t been handled well at all.

    Anyway, people have been saying Europe is slowly starting to change its views on Eritrea, but I’m not that optimistic what with the coming of the COI report in three days… I’ll probably be taking a break from the internet to avoid the sh*tshow.

    1. I thank you for putting it so eloquently. It is like I am reading my own thoughts or as if you wrote it reading my mind. I simply agree with what you said here.

    2. SP, even if I agree with most of what you wrote, I have a serious issue with 1 thing you wrote.

      I want an explanation of how Eritrea picked a fight with the “west”. Are you saying that we should be subservient and go along with them because it is “realpolitiks”? Am I reading you correctly?

      Is that the type of foreign policy you want, where we say yes to the “west” just because they said so? Are you saying the “west” did not pick a fight with Eritrea to try to control us? Or do you disagree?

      1. No, I don’t believe we should be completely subservient to the West. But the world isn’t a utopia. There are some things one must compromise on to get ahead. I’d rather be like Singapore and South Korea – two countries that are allied with the West who must have compromised on certain things – where people are living relatively well with opportunity and access to healthcare; than be like Syria and Libya who fought against the West and now their people are living in squalor. I care more about the well-being of my people than some faithfulness to some ideological movement.

        1. SP, I am not convinced by your response and it is hard to accept your point. It comes across as too willing to appease the “west”, which in my opinion is led by the US and it is only interested in subjugating others. It is my opinion and you are free to disagree.

          Not “completely subservient” still implies we are going to do what the “west” want. And the “west” will only ask us to do the dirty work on their behalf to keep their “friendship”. For whose benefit? Of course only the “west”. The policy of Equal Partnership the way to go for the long term, and slowly were are getting there. As Jesus used to say, take the narrow road.

          Even if I understand the point you are trying to make and largely agree with your original post, we part way on this fundamental point of difference between us. If this generation learns to become too “subservient” then the next generation will be worse off. Less Independent.

          BTW, our history and regional dynamics are too different from the nations you mentioned, but we can and should learn from the experience of others. Point well taken.

          But I fundamentally reject this notion of doing what the “west” want. We part ways on this. I find it intolerable in my soul to appease someone just because they are more powerful.

          I say this with brotherly respect to you. Thank you for your response.

        2. It looks that you are one of the so called opposition who are dying to have relationship with west, their paymater, at any cost. That is not going to happen as long as Shaebia is around…. [admin: section of comment removed. no personal blog advertisement permitted here]

        3. Hello

          The idea that SK and Singapore were are alies to the west is a bit skeewed as both have a start in the right direction but not because they allied with the west. SK created out of the Korean war between the weest and the then communism and naturally you would expect SK to take a captalist path and have been growing immensely and managed to do so when other Asian tigers falter. As for Singapore it is a tiny island run by a family it had no significant role in the region but the Chinese family run a tight business like country and build an economy that is the envy of many developing nations again this has nothing to do with being an ally

          Eritrea was an ally to the west and still is by proxy, but when it comes to the economy GOE couldn’t compromise snd when it comes to sovereignty GOE couldn’t compromise that is where the issue is, as a new nation Eritrean policy on these two areas was clear and these are the areas where the west get you and Ere wouldn’t budge even though we paid a heavy price Eritrea is prevailing.

          I agree with you as to working on strategic infrastructure such as nation wide internet access and power which will enhance every facet of he economy. The other area is Comercial law which is still pending and should be realsesd as soon as possible.

        4. EriViglantCitizen · Edit

          I think, that sounds a lil naive if we put inconsideration what actually happened in the last 25 years.

          After our independence even if we had done what the Russians did by towing to the west until we picked up ourselves unfortunately we had a backstabing weyanay who towed too early and who didn’t mind to spill the blood of his people and ours and decided to wage a war thinking that he could annex a port from Eritrea to the adjacent region of Tigray and then succecced Tigray from Ethiopia by invoking chapter 39 of the Ethiopian constitution. Meles really did think he could strungulate Eritrea and make his mission/vision a reality. Ofcourse his ultimate defence was to provide a military base to the west or Isreal under the pretext of protecting world peace and security in the Red Sea basin….that actually doesn’t need to be done in secret, the world police USA will proudly come to station itself and the Weyanay thought that will ultimately be their protection.

          Now, w could easily done it like South Korea, but at a price of a USA military base…I dont think we want to knock on the graves of our fallen heros by letting a beast in but in regards to Singapore it don’t know about wars after their independence, and i’m not sure how much geopolitical influences it has globally, the pressure mounted to Eritrea compared to Singapore its quite huge.

          Yes, Singapore did distribute and installed TV’s in ever Singaporees house so the gov can pass information properly and etc etc but in the context of Eritrea, for example sometimes EriTv has great quality content but it doesnt have it in quantities and what would the internet mean to over the last 15 years given we didnt even have anything to eat let alone to set a budget or a branch in goverment for that. The so called Arab spring, had utilised the internet to bamboozle an already hungry and disoriented societies to take a f***up actions. In Eritrea, the growth of these technology will grow with us, the people and it should never surpass us!

    3. Two things that I felt should be put inconsideration:

      A. The 1940’s resolution that was imposed upon Eritrea is still valid and worked on as of today. Annex, Federate, and make it permanent part of Ethiopia. We win the unwinnable war, we make the impossible to possible. Westerners will never see Eritrea as a nation if dig inside their mind and soul, Eritrea means Ethiopia to them. No question asked. What will happen is matter of time. There are some superpower countries now who defend their nation for 600 years from disintegrating and dismissed from the Map by westerners.

      B. An Internet is a great instrument for many venues if we utilize it right. But before internet accesses is fully implemented in Eritrea, there are other priorities that must take place. To mention few; clean water, adequate food, basic healthcare, and education to all citizen is vital necessity before anything else. Most African countries tend to do the reverse of what Eritrea is doing and we are witnessing the result of it.

      1. Everything you mention requires electricity and internet access. For food security: modern agriculture needs electricity for cold storages and factories. Agricultural business owners need the internet to run their businesses and communicate with other businesses. For clean drinking water: to be available to everyone, we need public water systems and those require electricity. Managing these systems also requires internet access for communicating with other municipalities. For education and basic healthcare: internet access is obviously necessary for students/research (including med students and medical research). Doctors also need the internet (e-mail) to communicate amongst each other within the medical community. For graduates/young people to obtain jobs, we need an open economy and that requires electricity/internet access. What is the use of an educated workforce without available jobs?

        We can tackle different issues at once. Since they are all interlinked, it doesn’t make much sense to wait for one issue to be solved before tackling another. You see, we cannot prioritize anything over electricity/internet access. Pretty much everything requires it. It should have been one of the top priorities this past decade.

        1. This is a very simplistic and shallow approach to the challenges Eritrea is facing. If my memory serves me right, internet is a recent invention. Modern agriculture or providing clean drinking water didn’t start with the advent of internet…..After all, internet is the byproduct of education, not the other way around…So I’m not sure where you’re going with this line of argument.

          1. It somehow sounds like the cart is pulling the horse; I will still try to understand where she is coming from. We all are being prudent here. I think Sailor should try to sell us the LAN and the WAN of networking before anything else. BTW, if not all most of our schools healthcare centers, administrations already use one or the other, except and of course tilling the soil is done the traditional way; we’re experimenting with hydroponics though not at a commercial scale. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said: if it was not for books everyone will say I came up with that idea, or something to that effect.

          1. Who wants to build a society based on 1960s technology? The world has changed since then. Besides, students and teachers at high school and university levels need the internet both at school and at home… We need an educated populace for things to actually run.

      2. EriViglantCitizen · Edit

        Hello sleepy, wake up mate. In 1993, when we done our referendum, was not asking for permission for someone to give us independence, it was done so to legally annaul all their previous resolutions and hand them back the Blue flag that the UN had decide for us and install a Soverign one we desinged by ourselves.

        The referendum was the genious of our leadership, that put the Morality of the west in a test. Now, 25 years on…a generation is born under the banner of independence…there’s no relapse, Nikid Tray for the next 25 years!

    4. You may have good reasons for saying so. I personally would like to read a detailed explanation before I decide not to accept your claim. I am of the opinion that it is the West that picked a fight with Eritrea (The same could perhaps be said with Syria and Libya). Eritrea had to compromise a lot during the 1998-2000 war and during the negotiations that led to the cessation of hostilities and the EEBC border decision. The West tried to appease Ethiopia’s Weyane by even promising to build it another Badme across the border. When it refused it put the word “dialogue” and the phrase “accept in principle” in the Weyane’s mouth and it has been singing the same song and more since then. If anyone believes there could be a compromise on this point, then I would ask them, what makes you think any other agreement reached after here will be respected? That is to ask one important question, but there more important questions that could be asked before that.

      You can call me naive, but what is wrong with paying attention to moral issues in diplomacy? Eritrea’s struggle for its right to self-determination is a moral issue, don’t you agree? Sorry, I see it differently!

      As to speaking out for Eritrea, Mary Harper has listed some good suggestions about how to do it. We might all have think about it in addition to Eritrean journalists.

      I believe that it is important to learn about the opportunities and the constraints available before we delve into criticism.

    1. “Can some one show this report to the cesspool mouth” Dan Connel and the few dogs of Eritrean origin. That should give him and his dogs the sleepless night in their lonely cage.

    2. “Drops of rains come through the ceiling and hit the floor hard. Someone turned on the switch. A deem flickering bulb does its best to light up the place. I am in a huge Cinema.”
      Why do you want to show the sad state of Asmara to Martin Plaut & Co?

  5. Dear Mary Harper, if you’re reading this, I suggest one simple thing for you to do to defeat your confusion about understanding Eritrea and its “image problem”. You’re, I supposed, an English woman and as such, since England had administrered Eritrea once upon a time, I suggest you read a bit about the history of that time and what happened and your confusion will be eased. Eritrea’s problem emanates from the fact that the UK and the US had decided to merge it with Ethiopia, without the consent of the Eritrean people. In other words, you can’t understand Eritrea by putting Ethiopia and others out of the equation and seeing Eritrea in isolation. Thank you for your candor and honesty, otherwise.

    1. “I start to feel that I am going to have empty my mind and start all over again if I am even going to begin to understand the country” yes Mary, what a wise and honest plan to start educating for yourself. The whole West need to follow your path instead of wasting their time. Bottom line is that all our enemies know where ERITREA had been, where ERITREA is now and where ERITREA is heading, SELF RELIANCE!! ERITREA FOR ERITREANS!!!

      1. That is the key, I was gonna quote the sentence; yes empty out your prejudices and you will see and serve the truth. Thx Wedi Erey.

  6. Thank you for your report. As the saying goes, “Some stories are just too true to tell.” Journalist has been and still are scrutinized, defamed, or harassed for reporting the truth about a nation, organization or institution. Interest Groups, Countries or unions who follow “kill the Messenger” if they report the factual details of a Nation (Eritrea), they will be held responsible or pay the consequence for it. Having to report in a such period of time while the momentum of the fulcrum of the role that a free press is tipping in a dangerous direction, your Guts and Consciousness is very appreciated. Because as we may know now, journalists from the nation’s elite news organizations are practically hired as Intelligence Services rather than Journalists. Hope your visit will not stop here.

    1. PFDJ is Eritreans knuckle head! Testa di sasso! ርእሲ ጥምቢ (ደንጎላ)(ከውሒ) (እምኒ)። Of course you are Tigrigna illiterate, so those words mean nothing to you! Caca merda!

      1. yes pfdj is eritrean, but not Eritrea. Let’s say you go to walmart to buy some grocerry. you find bad tomatoes. you hate the tomatoes, not walmart.
        Customers (the world) hate the bad tomatoes (pfdj) and not walmart (eritrea).

  7. “I start to feel that I am going to have empty my mind and start all over again if I am even going to begin to understand the country” yes Mary, what a wise and honest plan to start educating for yourself. The whole West need to follow your path instead of wasting their time. Bottom line is that all our enemies know where ERITREA had been, where ERITREA is now and where ERITREA is heading, SELF RELIANCE! ERITREA FOR ERITREANS!!!

  8. Many works for the money and to get promoted by piling up a bunch of craps on their reports, but , some works fairly for the sake of the truth and moral stands to debunk the reality on the ground. I don’t think the world hate Eritrea except USA and BRITAIN,which are hell bent on destroying Eritrean images.the whole world is understand the game now, that is why, we have seen recent more European engagement with state of Eritrea in both Economically and diplomatically. These are the only two countries have been threatening Eritrean existence for over many years with out any meaningful achievements except failed their evil intentions miserably again and again.

  9. “Why does the outside world hate Eritrea”? I live in the “outside world” and I have NEVER heard anybody expressing that he or she hates Eritrea. How can you hate a place or a people you don’t know.

  10. The first impression one gets visiting this site is that the “editor” and the “audience” do not have basic elementary education. The poor English can be explained for the audience (mostly not their mother tongue), but not for the “editor” or “reporter”. And the BBC reporter, I am sure will be a laughing stock among her peers. I will not even address the obvious lack of investigative reporting. How about doing just basic editing? Isn’t that a basic function of reporters?

    Advice for Tesfanews: Propaganda is nothing new; however, try not to make it too obvious. Again, this is one of the fundamentals of propaganda. Since it is your profession, you should know about it.

    1. Everyone has ignored you since you are not talking any sense. Show us what you mean by correcting (editing) the mistakes made in her report. Is the following taken from your message correct? “The poor English can be explained for the audience (mostly not their mother tongue), but not for the “editor” or “reporter”. Did you use “for” in there properly? Explain TO us if you find anything wrong in her report (her English, that is). Why don’t you just say you do not like Eritrea to be shown in a positive light!

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