News / Africa

Short-lived Takeover of Eritrea’s State Media Not a Coup Attempt, Says Journalist

Ashenafi Abedje
Eritrean-born journalist Tewolde Tesfagabir says the brief seizure of the Information Ministry and state media in Asmara Monday was an effort by dissident soldiers to focus government attention on issues of concern to many Eritreans.

Political Prisoners  
           
The release of political prisoners is one of the demands issued by the dissident soldiers. Tewolde, who works for the VOA’s Horn of Africa service, says civil society and the Eritrean government do not agree on who is considered a political prisoner.

“In a country where the constitution is not effectively implemented, political movements can be considered as paramount to treason,” he says. “In a democratically-elected government where the term of the president in limited by the constitution, it’s another issue.”

Freedom of Speech

Human rights and media watchdog groups have long documented what they see as the lack of press freedom and freedom of assembly in Eritrea. Tewolde concurs that private media is non-existent, but explains what surprised him during his recent trip to Eritrea.

“In Asmara cafes, I was amazed to hear people criticize the government. I also see people criticize the government in state media,” he says. “But again, I haven’t noticed a self-organized group of people or associations discussing politics.”

The Eritrean-born journalist says even where people appear to freely express their political views, they do so in the company of those they know well and feel comfortable with.

Elections

Eritrea became officially independent in 1993 and has had only one president, Issayas Afeworki. Based on his interviews with the long-time president, Tewolde sees the prospects for democratic elections close to nill.

“According to the president, 20 years is very short. And he seems to understand that it should take 100 years (to hold elections.) He cites as a new country, Eritrea is not ready for democracy,” says Tewolde.

And when elections do take place, Tewolde adds, “the type of democracy President Issayas wants to implement is different in its description and meaning from what we know here,” he says.

Listen to interview with Tewolde Tesfagabir
Listen to interview with Tewolde Tesfagabir i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: EritreanAmerican from: Columbus, Ohio
February 08, 2013 6:56 PM
Tewolde T is trying to be fair and honest. He knows deeply that Eritrea is headed in the right direction as a nation. He should never bow down to the western ideology of Democracy. Democracy is measured by the majority in one country and be it in Eritrea or the Eritrean diaspora across the globe it has been indicated over and over again the VAST majority subscribe to the point of view of the President. The President and Eritrea would rather build democracy for a long term rather than appease those who did nothing for Eritrea during it's struggle years.
No western journalists or for that matter policy maker sitting on Capitol Hill, White House or EU working along with sellouts can separate the relationship that the Eritrean people enjoy with their leaders. Demonizing the President and working hard to alienate him from the people will only help garner more support for him because he is the symbol of the Eritrean nation. Today he has also become the symbol for the oppressed people of the horn of Africa, which indicates that Eritrea is also becoming the same.
In order to understand Eritrea VOA must and should continue to engage it and accept that it is a unique nation built on TRUST. Like the US Marine Motto in the ERITREA the people are a few compared to some big nations but PROUD! and they are real ERITREANS! Peace loving and god fearing.

by: eritreanin exile from: canada
January 28, 2013 7:21 PM
Absolutely the demand that was made on the only national tv and radio that prisoners to be released and constitution to be implemented is the request of any Eritrean with sense. we stand for peace reconciliation and rule of law. Enough of the lunatic dictator who is responsible for all of Eritrean people's suffering.

by: Alex from: Nairobi
January 24, 2013 12:52 AM
PRIDE KILLS...

by: Mulugheta from: Seattle
January 23, 2013 7:55 PM
Tewolde seems to be a very reasonable journalists who doesn't seem to have ulterior motives or hatred against the government in Eritrea. To many Wetsern Journalists, not having an election is like not having a religion. What they forget is building a country, institutions, ethnic harmony and culture that can sustain elections without violence is a huge Task that Eritrean government understands and will take a long time. It it also impossible to talk about meaningful election when the country can not even feed itself. So, in that respect Eritreans are well aware of what the government is doing. There are some other issues that the people and government are not on the same page. The hardship that people have to endure to be self sufficient is getting too much for the young and the government needs to look at ways to ease the pain in this area. Unlimited service is impossible and people can simply not tolerate it. A balanced approach is needed. But one thing is sure, we must work harder and smarter in order to catch up with the rest of the world. The world resources is not enough for everyone. Rich countries will have to keep others poor in order to sustain the level of consumption they are used to. THEREFORE WE CAN NOT TAKE ADVICE FROM THE WEST ON HOW TO LEAD OUR COUNTRY> that should be our business, point!!!
In Response

by: Mesfin from: UK
January 24, 2013 5:21 PM
Eritrea does not even have a constituition! The current generation of youth lost 20 years of their life! Only slavery in the dark times beats the hardship that the eritrean youth are in. It is very patronising of the government to say that the Eritrean people don't need democracy, we have the right to choose our own leaders for a simple reason - they should serve the people not the otherway round! If they are not performing, they get removed by the people. Their removal is long overdue - president has blood on his hands. He is a criminal and must face justice!

by: Ghezae Hagos from: Winnipeg, Canada
January 23, 2013 4:22 PM
Eritrea has been ruled by one-man, one-party rule for two decades. No dissent is allowed. It has consistently referred as the North Korea of Africa, as the country with as many as 5 000-10, 000 political prisoners, as the the country with no free media, as a country with the biggest number of journalists in prison, as severe persecutor of Pentecostals and Jehova Witnesses and as one of the top refugee producing countries in the world. There is no amount of white-washing to cleanse the record sheet of Issayas regime. The constitution which was ratified in May 1997 has yet to see a light of day. The sad thing is when people are jailed, they don't get access to defend themeslves. They will just rot in underground and other prisons, indefintely. Disappearances are common. Eritrea as a country could be young. Eritrean government is old, especially if one person has led a nation for more than two decades. There is only one defintion of democracy; rule by the people under the law. What type of other 'democracy' are there, alluded by Mr. Tewelde?

Ghezae Hagos
Winnipeg, Canada

by: yohannes from: boston
January 23, 2013 3:43 PM
I have to be naive to believe any thing real happened, it was just a fabricated coup that was staged by the government to check how the information minster react to it after the of the information Minster, Boss, Ali Abdu left the regime. the result, many information minster employee will end up in jail.

by: IKM from: USA
January 23, 2013 2:29 PM
Very precise report....I'm sure this report resonates well with most Eritreans and those who know Eritrea very well.
In Response

by: IAI from: Arlington
January 23, 2013 3:28 PM
The comment of the so called Eritrean journalist seems to lack some of pivot points. As such the question of election and democracy. I am sure Tewelde misunderstood the point that HE the president of Eritrea was trying to register.

Democracy can not be given like a bread and implement it overnight. It has means and ways on how to come to complete democracy. Eritrea's situation is different than that of anyother country. So, Eritrea will adopt its own democracy the way that fits its needs and may require 100 of years until it is fully mature and complete democracy. He also mentioned do you think what is going on in US is a Democracy? How come someone say we have democracy while can not go for health checkup unless he is insured and have money.
How could you claim to have democracy when schools are not free to all with out any numerations linked to.

That is what the president of Eritrea was trying to tell Tewelde. I think Tewelde has a problem understanding Tigringa and have some difficulties translating his thinking to English.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs