BADME – A Political Pawn for the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL)

Paulos Tesfagiorgis, an opportunist fast talking sleek, who works day-in-day-out to provide the minority regime in Ethiopia what it could not get in the battlefield or EEBC

By Sophia Tesfamariam,

The 12-year long treasonous betrayals and crimes against the people of Eritrea committed by the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL) and that of their coteries, bandwagon activists with lynch mob mentalities, have been well documented. As it was impossible to keep up with the various names given to the groups that keep hatching in cyberspace, it was much easier to label them the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL). The EQL falsely claimed to be representing a large section of the Eritrean Diaspora, when in fact, their support remains minimal or non-existent. 

The EQL is a dubious alliance of the jilted and scorned and those who abandoned the people of Eritrea in pursuit of other personal agendas. This assortment of like-minded defectors, disgruntled runaway diplomats, pedophiles, rapists, self-professedintellectuals and professionals”, deceitful counterfeiters, information launderers and an assortment of shameless scandalous opportunists have made it their forte to create various cyber political parties, cyber “human rights” and “democracy” groups, who spend every waking minute churning out reports to denigrate the Government of Eritrea, its people its leadership.

The timing of the emergence of such groups in cyberspace suggests that it was aimed at distracting attention from the minority regime’s scams. As a matter of fact, the “Open Letter” (also known as the Berlin Manifesto) authored by Paulos Tesfagiorgis and the Berlin 13, a group of self professed “Academics and Professionals”, was first posted online by the regime in its government website. Since then, these faceless Astro turf groups have emerged under various names. At one point these fake “human rights” and “democracy” groups had set up 47 one and two-persons groups throughout Europe and the United States.

Launching a vilification and defamation campaign against the Government and people of Eritrea, the EQL sought to hijack Eritrea’s political, economic and social development. Rejected by the people of Eritrea in Eritrea and in the vast Diaspora, the EQL turned to western institutions such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Committee for the Protection of Journalists etc. to amplify and lend credibility to their illicit campaigns. Working in tandem with the frightened, frustrated and minority regime in Ethiopia, the EQL’s desperate 12 year campaign to blemish Eritrea’s image in the international arena have failed miserably.

The EQL is back in cyberspace once again; this time the group is part of a Horn coalition calling itself HOPEHorn of Africa for Peace Engagement, The EQL is represented by Paulos Tesfagiorgis (B-13), Assefaw Tekeste (G-15), Dawit Mesfin (B-13) and other lesser known individuals. More on Tesfagiorgis’ latest initiative later, but first, a little bit about Badme, Ethiopia’s pretext for the 1998-2000 border conflict.

Today the EQL is comprised of individuals who left Eritrea to dodge mandatory national service, and then there are those who have used “religious persecution” and “Free Press” as their asylum ticket. Amongst them, we will also find those who feigned illness to leave the struggle, or the country. These opportunist bandwagon activists cannot commit to anything long-term. They have jumped on several bandwagons to date, first it was “human rights”, then it was “democracy”, and when the United States (main sponsor) mentioned “religious persecution”, they jumped on that too. When the US said “Al Shabbab”, they joined the minority regime’s chorus and pointed their bloody fingers at Eritrea. For instance, when the HIV-Aids epidemic was the topic for the day in the late 1980s, one of these bandwagon activists claimed that he was suffering from HIV-Aids and required treatment. He abandoned the Eritrean struggle, only to return shortly after independence.

In today’s piece, this author intends to show yet another attempt by Paulos Tesfagiorgis, an opportunist fast talking sleek individual who has partnered with “like minded” individuals to give the minority regime in Ethiopia a political victory it has been seeking for over a decade. It is not this author’s intention to relive the last 12 years but to bring attention to the EQL’s latest gimmick, a desperate and futile attempt, to provide the minority regime in Ethiopia what it could not get in the battlefield, or through the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC). It is also an attempt to present the lawless belligerent regime in Ethiopia, which is occupying sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, the casus belli for the Eritrea Ethiopia conflict, as a peace loving, dialogue seeking regime.

Badme is a town in Southern Eritrea which was used as a pretext to launch Ethiopia’s 1998-2000 war of aggression and occupation of Eritrea. Ethiophyles and the western media have consistently undermined Badme’s value. Some said it was “geographically small and economically valueless”, “remote pockets of barren land” etc. etc. Regardless of its size and topography, it was and remains a precious sovereign Eritrean territory. There was never any doubt in the hearts and minds of Eritreans, and judging from the Wikileak cables, the minority regime in Ethiopia also knew that Badme was sovereign Eritrean territory.

Meles Zenawi and his propaganda machinery rejected any dialogue in 1998-2000 and chose instead to fight a bloody war. The minority regime, by its own admission, set out to “humiliate” Eritrea and to teach Eritrea’s leadership “a lesson”. A cable from 10 August 1998 shows the callousness of the regime in Ethiopia and its total disregard for the lives of Ethiopia’s youth. In the cable, the American official makes comments about the leaders of Eritrea and Ethiopia and says they were “sources of helpful expertise and analysis in regional issues”, but “distracted by their own conflict”, the US official said, “their leadership is sorely missed”. Meles Zenawi told the official that President Isaias Afwerki “didn’t understand the rules of the game” and that there was nothing anyone could do to prevent the war. According to the cable:

“…Thus it is better, Meles suggested, if the U.S. lets things take their course and evolve naturally. Just be aware, he added, that nothing will prevent Ethiopia’s attempt to dislodge Isaias from badme if he does not withdraw voluntarily…why not prepare for the eventual aftermath? … a better use of our analytic capacity, Meles proposed, is to assess the end game and what the U.S. might do to pick up the pieces later, after the worst happens and the two countries fight it out. A friend with resources and a plan for the aftermath would be most welcome. Why not prepare for the three eventualities: Ethiopia cracks, Eritrea cracks, there is a draw….”

Meles Zenawi chose war and hundreds and thousands were killed, many thousands more maimed and injured. Thousands were displaced from their homes and villages and the regime’s marauding forces destroyed vital infrastructures including clinics, hospitals, private homes, banks, hotels, Martyrs cemeteries, churches, mosques etc.

Eritrea has always maintained that Badme was a pretext for war and the evidence to support its assertions has since come to light with the release of the Wikileak documents. The 1998-2000 Ethiopian aggressive war of invasion and occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories cost the lives of over 120,000 Ethiopian youth who were used as cannon fodder and minesweepers in the minority regime’s misguided adventures. The war was imposed on the people of Eritrea by the minority regime and its handlers and Badme was a pawn in their evil agendas.

Let us take a look at some of the comments made by the regime regarding Badme and the Eritrea-Ethiopia border conflict.

“…When we were told Asmara is not Ethiopian, when we were told Asseb is not Ethiopian we said – sure, if the Eritrean people think that Asseb is Eritrea and not Ethiopia, that’s alright. And we went to Asmara and celebrated with the Eritreans the independence of Eritrea. Badme is not bigger than Asmara. Badme is not more important than Asseb by any stretch of the imagination. It is some godforsaken village. So it’s not about territory. According to the latest rendition of the Boundary Commission, Badme would be 800 metres inside Eritrea. What’s 800 metres in a country as big as Ethiopia? What’s 800 metres compared to what we willingly and happily gave up as Eritrea? It’s nothing. But it is 800 metres which we are told is something it has never been, and something that it will never be. That’s the point. That’s the crux of the matter…” (Meles Zenawi in an interview with IRIN 2003).

“…Something positive for Ethiopia must emerge from the process What was needed was a comprehensive package that could only be develope through dialogue. If a package of concrete measures, mostly economic, could be assembled to restore the bilateral relationship to normal — pre-conflict — then territorial issues like Badme would seem far less important. Whether a particular village like Badme was on one side of border or the other would matter less to people, and less to both governments…”- (Mulugeta Alemseged, Meles Zenawi’s National Security Advisor to Vicki Huddleston, 4 November 2005)

“…Meles admitted “no one really cares about Badme, rather it was a symbol of how you prove you are in the right…” (To Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn B. Pascoe, August 2007)

“…Meles has always indicated in very private meetings that he is willing to compromise on Badme if it would bring sustainable peace, but it would cost him his prime ministership. Until there are signs of compromise from Eritrea towards an Ethiopian solution (normalization of relations in conjunction with demarcation), Meles is stuck in the current impasse…”-(September 2007 cable from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

“…The outbreak of hostilities in 1998 between Eritrea and Ethiopia was never about the border dispute in Badme and Zelambessa… It was about economic and political differences…Meles noted that after conflict broke out and the cessation of hostilities agreement was negotiated, a 26 mile buffer zone located in the Eritrean side was advocated by hard-liners on the Ethiopian side only as a means to humiliate Isaias…”– (Meles Zenawi during meeting with Susan Rice 21 May 2009)

Etc. etc.

All things come to an end and in June 2000, Meles Zenawi’s minority regime signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, bringing an end to the bloody two year war. In December 2000, the US brokered and authored Algiers Agreements between the State of Eritrea and Ethiopia were signed. The Agreements called for the establishment of three Commissions; a neutral Boundary Commission, a Claims Commission and a Commission to investigate the origins of the conflict.

According to Article 2.4 of the Algiers Agreements:

“…The parties agree that a neutral Boundary Commission composed of five members shall be established with a mandate to delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902, 1908) and applicable international law. The Commission shall not have the power to make decisions ex aequo et bono…”

The Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) delivered its final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions on 13 April 2002 and November 2007 respectively. The EEBC decided that Badme, the casus belli for the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict was “unequivocally” sovereign Eritrean territory, but the minority regime refused to accept the decision and has sought many gimmicks and ploys to have the decision overturned.

The EEBC was forced to fulfill its sole mandate, to demarcate the Eritrea Ethiopia border, and it did that by using coordinates on maps, “virtual demarcation”, as the regime in Ethiopia refused to allow for the demarcation of the border by placing border markers on the ground. After waiting for over 5 years, and tolerating the minority regime’s abuse, insults, intimidations, harassments, and childish tantrums, the EEBC was forced to close its offices and leave the area. Ethiopia called on the UN and US not to accept the “virtual demarcation” of the Eritrea Ethiopia border, and both have given their tacit acquiescence to Meles Zenawi’srequest.

The regime and its handlers used various pretexts such as “villages being divided”, “churches being split into two” etc. etc. to get the delimitation decision reversed. A bigoted regime that maliciously deported over 80,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin from Ethiopia, that destroys the burial grounds of Eritrea’s beloved Martyrs, burns and loots Churches and Mosques, deliberately displaces hundreds and thousands from their villages in its money making schemes, sells thousands of Ethiopian children in its adoption programs etc. etc. does not have the moral authority to talk about humanitarian issues.

Furthermore, unlike what Meles Zenawi and his apologists insinuate, there has never been a single demarcation process in history that has not involved the splitting or dividing of villages and communities. Most African states are composed of a variety of ethnic groups, and often some of these groups straddle boundaries with neighboring states. Suffice to mention that there are Somalis in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and in Somalia, the Afar are found in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti etc. etc. Much the same is evidenced in Europe and Asia and even right here in the United States wherein communities near the US-Canada border and US-Mexico border remain divided.

But as the EEBC explained in its 23 March Observations, the regime in Ethiopia and its multi million dollar lawyers knew and both Eritrea and Ethiopia knew in advance and agreed that:

1. “…the result of the Commission’s delimitation of the boundary might not be identical with previous areas of territorial administration and might follow a course which resulted in populations ending up on the ‘wrong’ side of the boundary, and that where such a situation arose the ensuing problems were for resolution by the UN rather than by the Commission (Article 4.16 of the December 2000 Agreement)…”;

2. “…it was not open to the Commission to make its decisions on the basis of ex aequo et bono considerations (Article 4.2)…”;

3. “…the boundary as delimited by the Commission’s Delimitation Decision would be final (Article 4.15), i.e., not subject to amendment, including therefore amendment during the process devoted to and limited to demarcation of the boundary delimited…”

The duplicitous regime and its handlers keep harping about “dialogue” to resolve the “root cause” of the conflict between the two countries and yet, they have done everything to prevent the African Union and the United Nations from establishing the Commission mandated under the Algiers Agreement to investigate the origins of the conflict. It should be recalled that Article 3 of the Algiers Agreement clearly stated:

“…In order to determine the origins of the conflict, an investigation will be carried out on the incidents of 6 May 1998 and on any other incident prior to that date which could have contributed to a misunderstanding between the parties regarding their common border, including the incidents of July and August 1997…The investigation will be carried out by an independent, impartial body appointed by the Secretary General of the OAU, in consultation with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the two parties…The independent body will endeavor to submit its report to the Secretary General of the OAU in a timely fashion…The parties shall cooperate fully with the independent body…”

12 years later, the Commission has yet to be established.

According to a 1 December 2005 Wikileak cable from Ethiopia which details a 25 November 2005 meeting between US’ Donald Yamamoto and African Union officials. The African Union seems to have made a unilateraldecision to delay the formation of the Commission. The cable said:

“…Peace and Security Commissioner Djinnit said that the AU favors prioritization of Algiers Accord requirements and indicated that the AU does not believe the time is right for a study on the causes of war between the two countries, as provided for under Article 3…”

Judging from Ethiopia’s interference with the work of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union to get the latest US-Ethiopia engineered sanctions resolutions against the State of Eritrea and its people, there is no doubt that the AU was acting at the behest of the US and Ethiopia. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Algiers Agreement that allows the AU or the two parties to cherry pick parts to implement or delay. In addition, as one of the witnesses and guarantors of the Algiers Agreements, the African Union is morally and legally required to fulfill its obligations under the Agreements.

The regime in Ethiopia and its handlers have come up with various ploys to amend, revise, reverse and even annul the EEBC’s decisions. The regime has also employed distractive, disruptive mercenary Eritreans to advance its agendas against the State of Eritrea and divert international attention away from its violation of international law and occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories. Paulos Tesfagiorgis, Bereket Habte Selassie and Assefaw Tekeste, three of the self proclaimed “intellectuals”, have played leading roles in organizing these miscreant individuals and groups. In addition to organizing various conferences in Ethiopia and in neighboring states, the EQL have worked to recruit young educated Eritreans to defect and join their groups.

In a recent article posted in an enemy site, Tesfagiorgis attempts to justify his frequent trips to Ethiopia by claiming that it is his right to travel, and that his work takes him there. Tesfagiorgis ought to know, it’s not his travels to Ethiopia that are of concern, but rather his treasonous activities in Ethiopia. He labels Eritreans as being isolationists, yet this is the same individual that has campaigned to isolate Eritrea from the international scene. It is Tesfagiorgis and his cohorts that have called for the restriction of the movement of Eritrea’s leadership. It is Tesfagiorgis and his cohorts that have campaigned to isolate and ghettoize the Eritrean Diaspora by campaigning to stop Eritrean cultural and traditional groups from attending the annual festivals and other holiday celebrations in the United States, depriving the Erispora of its rights to Eritrean culture and music.

Tesfagiorgis blames Eritrea for not participating in African Union meetings in Ethiopia, when he knows full well that it is the minority regime that has prevented Eritrea’s participation by refusing to issue visas for its representatives. Eritrea has participated in each and every meeting of the African Union held in other countries. This is the same person that talks about human rights and the brotherly relations between the Ethiopian and Eritrean people, but has yet to pen a single particle calling on the regime to respect the rights of its own people. This is a guy that feigns concern for Eritrea’s youth, but remained silent as they were being killed in refugee camps in Ethiopia. Today, he continues to work in tandem with the regime in Ethiopia, and to give the minority regime the political win it could not get in the battlefield or in the courts.

One of Tesfagiorgis’ recruits is Daniel Rezene Mekonnen, a graduate of Asmara University who was sent to South Africa for further studies. Instead of returning home and serving the people that paid for his education, he spends his time in European capitals and in Ethiopia undermining Eritrean women, Eritrea’s legal system, Eritrea’s sovereignty and more. He writes about human rights, yet he works to deprive the Eritrean people of the right to live peacefully within their internationally recognized borders and their right to development. His NGO, the EMHDR, was financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and by Dan Connell’s Grassroots International. EMHDR recruits are scattered in the Eritrean Diaspora and are responsible for the spike in crimes in Eritrean communities, a desperate attempt at intimidation and harassment and create a rift in the otherwise tight knit community.

Mekonnen also worked with the Albert Einstein Institute to translate Gene Sharps book to Tigrinya (Eritrean language), with the hopes of orchestrating a colored revolution in Eritrea. Mekonnen forgets that it is the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) and the struggles of the Eritrean people against Ethiopian colonialism that can teach the likes of Gene Sharp a thing or two about the power of the people. He has also co-authored articles and participated in forums with Paulos Tesfagiorgis in Ethiopia.

Today, Tesfagiorgis and his cohorts are attempting once again to use Badme, 19,000 Erirteans gave their lives to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Tesfagiorgis wants Eritrea to relinquish all sovereignty over Badme. But this is not the first time that he and his cohorts have used Badme as a pawn to advance their political agendas against the State of Eritrea and its people. In June 2000, the Erispora found out that Bereket Habte Selassie and Assefaw Tekeste held a secret meeting with Meles Zenawi’s advisors, the late Kifle Wodajo and Endrias Eshete in Tokyo, Japan. When confronted, these treasonous individuals first evaded the questions and then Bereket Habte Selassie decided to respond. His rambling article was an insult to the intelligence of the Eritrean people. Bereket in his August 2002 article “Grammar of Eritrean Politics” wrote:

“…Early in the Spring of 2000, they approached me and Dr. Asefaw with a view to exploring ways of (a) helping in finding ways to end the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and (b) planning the creation of institutions of higher learning as well as small industries in or around the areas of the conflict (in this case Badme) after the conflict is over. The idea was to bring together individual citizens from the warring countries in an unofficial setting, to engage them in constructive dialogue and use the outcome of such dialogue to help create bridges of understanding that would reduce tension and eventually resolve the conflict…”

If they invited the two Ethiopian advisors to Meles Zenawi, why didn’t they invite two advisors from the Government of Eritrea? Why the meeting was kept a secret? None of them have ever provided a justifiable response to date. Anyway, that is water under the bridge, but these clowns continue to advance Meles Zenawi’s agendas using various pretexts.

Most recently, Paulos Tesfagiorgis co-authored, “The Causes and Consequences of the Eritrean-Ethiopian Border Conflict” with Daniel Rezene Meknonnen, a paper presented in a conference held in the Ethiopian capital. In that paper, the disruptive duo advocated for Meles Zenawi’s regime and blamed Eritrea for everything, including the war. Tesfagiorgis also advanced Meles Zenawi’s call for “dialogue”. His contempt for the people of Eritrea is evident throughout the paper.

An astute Eritrean responded to that secret paper as soon as it was discovered. He wrote:

“…It is revealing that Mekonnen and Tesfagiorgis felt forced to create a whole new legal theory to promote the result they want. There just isn’t anything already in international law that takes them where they want to go. With some of the highest paid international lawyers on the planet on its payroll, Ethiopia made every argument to the Boundary Commission that could possibly be propounded with a straight face. And ever since the decision was announced, Friends of Ethiopia have rehearsed every possible legal argument that can be pressed into service to attack the Boundary Commission and undermine its Award…”

On the issue of dialogue, he wrote:

“…Setting aside thoroughness and accuracy, Menonnen and Tesfagiorgis’ arguments also make no attempt at principled consistency. For example, they say that Ethiopia was entitled to refuse to enter into discussions with Eritrea during the 1998-2000 border war because Eritrea was at that point in time in physical possession of territory that Ethiopia had been “peacefully occupying” before the war. Their principle seems to be that if the status quo came about unlawfully, then it must be reversed before the other party is obliged to negotiate. The authors do not seem to notice that under that same principle, Eritrea is equally entitled to refuse to negotiate with Ethiopia until Ethiopia gets out of Badme and other Eritrean territory…”

Today, Paulos Tesfagiorgis and his handlers have concocted another ploy to reward Ethiopia. From “transitional justice”, these miscreants are now touting a new initiative-“HOPE”-Horn of Africa Peace Engagement. This latest shenanigan is part and parcel of the various schemes advanced by the regime and its handlers, tunes to which these mercenary foot soldiers have dutifully marched. As part of the new initiative orchestrated by Tesfagiorgis and his group, a series of meetings/conferences have been held. They have been held in London, Atlanta and Djibouti. At the 2010 meeting held in Atlanta, GA. they proposed, amongst other things, the following:

“…establishing the border town of Badme as a neutral zone recognised by both Eritrea and Ethiopia to be run by faith groups…”

This is the same proposal advanced by the minority regime and its cadres once they realized that the independent Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission had awarded Badme to Eritrea.

This interview by the regime’s cadre in 2003 will illustrate how closely the EQL coordinate their efforts with that of the regime in Ethiopia. In 2003, Medhane Tadesse, advisor to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, conducted an interview with IRIN (http://www.irinnews.org/Report/44620/ETHIOPIA-Interview-with-Horn-conflict-specialist-Medhane-Tadesse). When asked about the best way to deal with the EEBC’s decision and the fact that the Commission had determined that Badme was unequivocally sovereign Eritrean territory, Tadesse said the following:

“…It depends on the response of the Eritreans, if the Eritreans are ready for some kind of compromise. It is possible for example to map out creative ways of dealing with that problem. In Latin America, contested areas have been turned into national parks owned by two countries. The only thing is to get the political will. Otherwise Badme is not that important with regard to resources. In order to de-politicise Badme there are a lot of creative solutions. What is required is the political will…The issue of Badme could lead to the downfall of a regime. Any government that controls Badme could easily destabilise the other regime, that is why is has become so politically sensitive…”

These un-elected treasonous individuals have no qualms surrendering Eritrea’s sovereignty to the highest bidder. Here is what they declared at the meeting in Djibouti in 2011.

“…All agreed that borders must remain porous and the migratory routes of nomadic communities open. Dual citizenship was explored as a possible right for border communities….Delegates highlighted the importance of trade being resumed along contentious borders. Eg trade across Eritrean/Ethiopian border and reviving the port of Assab…there was an agreement that outside perspectives were refreshing, helpful,  credible, and to be encouraged in future – eg. A Djiboutian journalist writing about Sudan, a Somali academic researching Eritrea…”

The people of Eritrea, the peoples in the region, and history, will judge these opportunist sell outs, fools who insist on insulting the peoples’ intelligence, and hold them accountable for their injustices.

Badme is unequivocally sovereign Eritrean territory and will not be used as a pawn by self serving, power hungry opportunists. It is not a no-man’s land; it is an Eritrean real estate of the highest value! It is a sacred Eritrean land where precious Eritreans shed their blood to defend and protect. The people of Eritrea will fight Paulos Tesfagiorgis and his ilk to the end and will never surrender Eritrea’s sovereignty, least of all to a bunch of self serving NGOs!

Finally, the UN Security Council, if it wants to salvage its fledgling reputation and integrity, ought to call on Ethiopia to unconditionally vacate from all sovereign Eritrean territories it is militarily occupying, including Badme. It should also immediately annul the illegal, unfair and unjust US and Ethiopia engineered sanctions against the State of Eritrea and its people and demand verifiable evidence to prove US and Ethiopia orchestrated allegations against the people of Eritrea.

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!

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