Awate Team Blog Dr. Habte Hagos eritrea Eritrea Focus Gedab News NGO funds Political NGO

Correcting the Focus of Eritrea Focus

An “Open Letter” by Mr.  Habte Hagos of Focus Eritrea was despatched to to precise his disagreement with our Gedab Information report titled, “The London Conference Stirs Controversy” relating to the “Building Democracy in Eritrea” convention that was held in London on April 22-24, 2019.

The next is Awate Staff’s response to Mr. Habte Hagos’ letter of through which he accused to have “chosen to make ill-informed and incorrect assumptions about what took place [the conference].”

Our response just isn’t meant to impugn the character or motive of neither Mr. Hagos, nor the members, or the organizers, or the funding sources, or anybody else associated with the convention because we consider the overwhelming majority of the invitees are well-meaning.

1.The Trigger

Just after the social media backlash from the Eritrean public, especially the youth inside the “#Enough #Yiakl #Kifaya” grassroots motion, several individuals advised us they regretted attending the conference. Nevertheless, we consider many are unaware of the controversy and in hindsight, they might really feel the similar means we did. So, what was the controversy that prompted us to put in writing the report or even take note of the convention?

2.Questions Raised by the Youth

First, we consider Mr. Hagos should take up no matter bothered him with the BBC Tigrinya reporter, not with – the messenger. Higher yet, he ought to take it up with the youth activists who posed live-stream questions to the BBC stressing ‘enough is enough with the divisive conferences that are tearing our society apart.’

Subsequently, we have been neither ill-informed nor have we made incorrect assumptions.  Importantly, the merchandise in question was not an editorial, but a Gedab News report informing our readers about the essential and controversial questions raised by the youth.

three.The Conference’s Objective

When the BBC-Tigrinya reporter requested Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie to elucidate the objective of the convention, he stated, “according to the organizers, the purpose was to answer the question of whether democracy works in Africa, and if does not, what are the reasons for its failure.” As a reaction, considering that BBC Tigrinya has broad protection in Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Eritrean regime’s propagandists pounced at Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie’s remark and run with it to recommend that Eritrea isn’t prepared for democracy.

Furthermore, confusingly, Mr. Hagos’s letter said that “the aim of the conference was to look ahead to post-Isaias rule.” Two paragraphs later, he stated, “the primary focus remained marking the start of ongoing dialogue relating to democratic reforms in Eritrea.” We do not know which one it is!


The difficulty of representation was raised in the similar BBC interview and never by Gedab News, although in lots of of our editorials we have now written extensively about illustration, a problem that has bedeviled the Eritrean oppositions for the several many years.

In his letter Mr. Hagos admits that the convention was not inclusive as he had wished it to be.  He then added, the Convention Planning Working Group met recurrently for 5 months making an attempt to extend the Muslim individuals, however fell brief of the 30% it initially targeted. He didn’t clarify why he thought 30% can be the target, but at the similar time he acknowledges that a completely inclusive conference would have been 50:50. Does the Conference Planning Working Group assume Muslims make up 30% of the inhabitants?  We hope not, as a result of only the Agazian hate-group is capable of making such a false claim. At any price, we came upon the selection was drawn from an inventory of  a really slender social circle and that there was so much of nepotism concerned. Worse, even Christians from sure areas have been either underrepresented or excluded.

The failure of the Conference Planning Working Group to arrange an inclusive conference after making an attempt for five months raises many questions. Why didn’t they modify their strategy? Then, what qualifies them to arrange such a conference when it didn’t happen to them that the youth need to both go to high school or work on weekdays? Have been individuals declining the invitation as a result of they did not like the proven fact that solely 30% of Muslims, ladies, and youth have been initially targeted? Perhaps, since the conference was not publicly introduced for, they usually may need feared criticism for attending a secretly organized conference.

Figuring out that three out of the 16 of the Eritrean presenters or moderators have been Muslims, didn’t the organizers assume individuals will need to speak about the elephant in the room? Or, figuring out ahead of time that the convention won’t be inclusive and nonetheless holding it was damaging the Eritrean material as some of the youth alleging?

As we speak, Eritreans are once again fiercely preventing to say their sovereignty that is being assaulted by Isaias, the neo-unionist, and the expansionist Ethiopians. Is it attainable that some individuals withdrew from attending once they realized that 11 of the 29 presenters have been non-Eritreans, for worry of being perceived as ceding the Eritrean sovereign proper to chart their very own path in the direction of democratic change, to others? The optics don’t look good in any respect — it’s already getting used as a propaganda fodder by the regime’s supporters.


Many of the individuals, whom Mr. Hagos refers to as professional delegates, will not be recognized in the Eritrean educational, or professional, or activist communities.  This made us curious to seek out out what standards have been used to qualify the members.  And apart from the single press release, no info was publicly obtainable about the conference.  Nevertheless, now that the convention program was made public, we nonetheless have no idea the choice criteria.

Without mentioning names, and with all due respect to all members, we consider the vast majority of them usually are not ‘high caliber and world-renowned Eritrean and international speakers’ as Mr. Hagos would really like us to consider.  A modest participant advised us that he was embarrassed by that characterization and remarked, “it is just a marketing hyperbole like the press release stunt aimed at an audience of one: the donor NGO.”

The convention would have benefited immensely from the many certified Eritreans who have been unfortunately excluded for partisan reasons. They might have offered competing concepts, dissenting views, and broader views; not wanting to listen to opposing views is a PFDJ tradition and shouldn’t be practiced in our public discourses.

Eritrea has a lot of its personal well-qualified specialists to help it make the transitions. They possess the essential material expertise in the process of transformation and other elements of governance–they are succesful of addressing all the challenges their society faces, they usually perceive it higher than anyone else.


The Eritrean public knew about the conference the day it started. And since the organizer was Eritrea Focus, an entity that may be a newcomer, we would have liked to know extra about it. However thus far, its web site doesn’t record its board of administrators or administration group. It says that it information annual and monetary stories, but we’re still unable to seek out such studies anyplace–Mr. Hagos’ letter did not disclose where such reviews are filed or how they are often obtained.

Briefly, Mr. Hagos’ letter missed a chance to place the transparency situation to rest by not disclosing the names of the Conference Planning Working Group. Doing so would have shed some mild if any of its members had a checkered past of partaking in exclusionary practices, or in nepotism, or in peddling wedge points in the Eritrean society. We consider it is the right of each Eritrean to remember of people recognized for partaking in such undemocratic practices–it’s the obligation of to tell.


Just as we call out the PFDJ’s and the opposition’s blunders, we additionally reported that Eritrea Focus issued a press launch falsely stating that Ambassador Haile Menkerios can be the keynote speaker. We questioned why the organizers would begin a conference with a false statement, especially when the stakes of dropping the trust of the Eritrean individuals are very excessive!

Mr. Hagos’ letter does not explain the purpose for the false advertisement that may be easily uncovered on the day of the convention, when he knew the Ambassador was not attending.

Based on our supply, Eritrea Focus was notified on April 2, 2019 (three weeks before the conference) that Ambassador Haile will be unable to attend.

We might additionally like to emphasise that we stand by our reporting, and we firmly consider Gedab News has achieved its due diligence in gathering the information from multiple sources, and corroborating them immediately by the Ambassador himself.

Lastly, has been around for close to two-decades and has revealed hundreds of news stories, analysis, and editorial pieces by adhering to a very high professional and moral standards. It has not earned its status as a dependable supply of news by ‘choosing to be ill-informed and by making incorrect assumptions.’

Nevertheless, since we have been advised that Mr. Hagos is a current retiree who finally determined to be half of the Eritrean political activist group, we might give him the profit of the doubt–he doesn’t know something about and the way it has been working for many years. We advise that Mr. Hagos use this expertise as a learning second, assume private duty, own up to his rookie errors, and take time to study the ropes first before popping out swinging with some wild accusations.