English Translation of FRM. Minister of Finance Berhane Abrehe’s Message to the Eritrean People and Dictator Isaias Afwerki
Translator’s Note: This is an English translation of the speech the former Finance Minister of Eritrea, Mr. Berhane Abrehe Kidane gave on the occasion of the release of his new book, Eritrean, My Country. I have tried to remain as literal as possible, but I have found it difficult to be consistent and render a readable and semi-natural English translation. My goal here was to honor the integrity of the message and not the literal rendition. I hope I have done justice to his important and unprecedented speech. My hats off to my new hero, Berhane Abrehe. Is Berhane Abrehe a hero or a man who is simply living up to his name: a light which kindles light? But a hero, according to the late Joseph Campell is someone who has given his life to something bigger than oneself. Berhane Abrehe is giving his life, for the second time, to Eritrea and the Eritrean people and nothing can be bigger than that. In our darkest moment, he kindled a great light and gave us hope. Berhane Abrehe is a therefore a bonafide hero. Thank you for making us proud aya/aboy Berhane. Atsmeka ykhber.
Any mistakes are mine and for any verification, please refer to the original speech in Tigrinya.//Semere T Habtemariam
Dear Eritrean People,
First, please accept my heartfelt greetings. My name is Berhane Abrehe Kidane. I am the author of the forthcoming book titled, “Eritrea, My Country.” It is being published abroad (outside Eritrea) and it will be distributed to all readers in the next few days.
As far as my age goes, I am 73 years old who just stepped unto 74. It is possible that I might have both frailty-fatigue and an aggression (straight talk) which both come with old age.
Today, on the date that marks Bahti Meskerem (September 1, 2018), the start of the Eritrean Armed Struggle, I want to address the Eritrean people and Mr. Isaias Afwerki on the following issues (points) that I have.
For the last 17 years, all Eritreans, inside and outside the country, have endured a life of misery, hardship and wretchedness due to the abusive dictatorial rule of Isaias. It is the truth of a bitter life that you, the Eritrean people, bear witness to and this situation of yours must change and you’re, as always, the one and only, who can change it. On my part, I want to tell you now to be strong and steadfast and fight till you achieve victory.
This was for my Eritrean people. I also have some for ato Isaias.
- You’ve an obligation to convene now an urgent meeting of all of us, the members of the Eritrean National Assembly (ENA). We have a lot of important affairs that we need to take care of and it is absolutely necessary that you convene a meeting of the ENA without any further due. You’ve absolutely no reason to hesitate–do it right away.
- You need to immediately cease all the swift and not-well-thought-out diplomatic agreements you’re single-handedly making with some nations of the world, without any transparency and the knowledge of the Eritrean people and the due guidance of of the National Assembly; all these have the potential to jeopardize the national interests of Eritrea. You need to put on hold all of these till you convene the meeting of the National Assembly. I plead to you not to deprive us, the Eritrean people and the Eritrean National Assembly the honor we deserve. Please respect us.
- I call upon you today to be (both of us) willing to come on Television and debate me in front of the Eritrean people. I hope you respond in the affirmative. I propose that the subject of our debate be the issues that explore the state of the political, economic, social, and culture life of the past, current and future. If there are other issues that you deem to include, please take it upon yourself and inform us.
Please be aware that the moment the Eritrean National Assembly meets, it will issue some important decisions and particularly the following:
- You, ato Isaias, will be removed from your power through a peaceful, legal, civilized and Eritrean manner; and in your place shall be elected a new person who will serve as the chairman and leader of the Eritrean government.
- It will make a decision on how the members of the National Assembly will be elected in a short and timely manner.
- It will also make decisions that are timely and important to our people and country.
You, the Eritrean people and us equally know that many of the members of the National Assembly are no longer with us due to their deaths; and those of us who are still alive, our number has surely gotten smaller. Of those of us who are still alive, some are confined to imprisonment, some have fled into exile and some are dispersed all over Eritrea. Regardless of this, you have an obligation you can no longer fail to honor and call all of us, wherever we are, for a meeting.
My dear Eritrean people:
The most recent process of change that has started and is progressing well, will continue without any interruptions, till victory is achieved. If there is any force that wants to derail the process, he would have to face the Eritrean youth. Likewise, the Isaias regime should not have any intention of derailing the process; for Isaias is not the owner of the process; the Eritrean people are the only owners.
Here is the speech in Tigrinya: