Today marks it one year anniversary of the historic peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Eritrean president, Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signed the agreement on behalf of their countries.
The peace agreement which was initiated by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed after he assumed office last year, ended the needless conflict that existed between both countries for 20 years.
Citizens and concerned individuals were gladdened by the peace agreement. Photos of a smiling President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed having a toast headlined the pages of many news websites.
Critics called it a new dawn for the Eritrean people, and no doubt the citizens expected some change also. It has been one year already since the peace agreement and nothing has changed!
To be fair, a peace agreement between conflicting neighbors wouldn’t raise so many hopes as it did in the Ethiopian-Eritrean case. But this was different, everyone expected things to change, especially in Eritrea.
President Isaias Afwerki led government has used every opportunity it had in the past to blame the sorry situation of Eritrea on the crisis.
For 20 years, the Eritrean president and its political leaders have used the "no war, no peace" situation with Ethiopia as an excuse for their inhumane policies and the harsh situation in the country.
It is for this singular reason that many had hoped that the peace deal will be a new dawn for the country, especially in the aspect of human rights. Sadly, nothing has changed after one year. It appears the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia was never the problem after all.
Let’s not take credit from Isaias Afwerki for his role in the independence of Eritrea. In 1993, after Eritrea gained its independence many citizens adored him as their hero and savior, but it appears he was not cut out to be a leader.
He has ruled the country since 1993, which reveals a questionable measure of greed and corruption in his character. Is there no other person fit to rule Eritrea? It also brings to question his motives behind his role in the independence struggle, and sadly so.
The greatest problem the people of Eritrea are facing is the fact that the world continues to listen to President Afwerki on the state of the nation.
He has succeeded in deceiving the international community for many years that although all is not well in the country, the government is doing so much to remedy the situation.
No, this is far from the truth. All is not well with Eritrea and nothing is being done to make amends.
Rather, the government is becoming shadier in its operations and many more lives are lost daily. The average Eritrean citizen lacks hope, and this is the worst stage of human existence.
Apart from the huge amount of human rights violations, many people outside of Eritrea do not know that the government imposes a compulsory indefinite national service, ‘in which all young Eritreans - men and women - starting in their last year of high school must serve indefinitely in the military or civil service for low pay, with no say in their profession or work location, and often under abusive conditions.’
Yes, you guessed right! The excuse for this was the threat from Ethiopia. If this is true, why has it not eased since the signing of the peace deal one year ago?
The government has used the Ethiopian-Eritrean crisis as the justification of this National service. One would have thought that it would be scrapped after the peace deal, especially since it is on record to be the primary driver behind the mass exodus of young Eritreans who risk their lives on dangerous journeys to seek asylum abroad.
The time has come for the world to listen to Eritreans and pay attention to what is truly going on in the country. We must refuse to be continually fooled by President Isaias Afwerki and his ever vocal supporters.
Demobilization of the compulsory national service and tangible progress in the eradication of human rights violations are the first steps that will justify the peace agreement. The world must stop listening to what the government of Eritrea is saying, but rather, it should consult and listen to the people.
We owe our loyalty to the people, not the government.
Header Image Credit: Africanews