Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Germany’s Ambassador to Eritrea

According to the tweet on 21st October 2019, by the Eritrean Information Minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Germany’s Ambassador to Eritrea, “to seek clarification/rectification of this incessant vitriol , which has nothing to do with objective journalism, by an outfit funded by the German Government,” apparently referring to the article written by Ludger Schadomsky, a German journalist who works for Deutsche Welle (DW). 

But why is the Eritrean government so outraged by this article? And why is it summoning the German Ambassador, as if the article were the direct expression of government views and policy?

Because there is no independent media in Eritrea. Broadcasting and newspapers are totally controlled by the government there. Indeed, since 2001, all independent news services have been closed down or taken over by the government, and all the journalists of independent media have been arrested and imprisoned without trial. So, within Eritrea it has been impossible to hear or receive anything other than pro-government biased news and propaganda. Independent presentation of the truth is impossible to find in Eritrea. 

It therefore comes as no surprise to find the regime in Asmara engaged in attacking honest news reporting and the expression of independent opinion in writing.

Is it because the Eritrean authorities control every word broadcast and printed in their country that they assume the German government controls everything written or broadcast by German media? Is it because the Eritrean government has no concept of independently run newspapers, websites, radios and TV stations? We should therefore not be surprised that this month the German Ambassador in Eritrea is being summoned to be berated by the Eritrean authorities for an example of truly independent journalism. It is easy to see why the Eritrean regime would not like this article by Mr. Schadomsky! It is too near the truth! 

In writing primarily about the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Abiye Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the article reveals why the peace process he initiated has stalled and no further progress is perceptible. Schadomsky writes, “Those peace efforts… may even have stopped completely. …. Border crossings such as Zalambessa, …. which were opened with a lot of fanfare, have all been closed….  at Eritrea’s instigation …. The Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa continues to remain boarded up.” He continues, “So Abiy has received the most prestigious peace prize for a peace that exists, predominantly, only on paper.”

The article is in fact revealing the truth about an unfulfilled peace, which the Eritrean regime does not want publicised. The revelation of what has stopped further progress is there for all to see—Eritrea’s President, Isaias Afewerki, who has failed to honour the peace agreement by moving forward, and has closed the borders again. The description of Afewerki as the “autocrat from Asmara, who ruthlessly keeps his own people in chains so he can remain in power” is likely to anger the Eritrean authorities, but it is nonetheless truthful.

What is probably not just objectionable to the Eritrean authorities but also incomprehensible, is the status of a media company funded by the state which is nevertheless entirely independent of the state in its editorial decisions and journalistic policies.  Deutsche Welle is a German state-owned public international broadcaster. While funded by the German government, the work of DW is regulated by the Deutsche Welle Act, meaning that content is independent of government influence.  Deutsche Welle has been broadcasting since 1953.

 The concept of such a long-standing company being totally independent of its government, which is legally unable to interfere in its editorial policy, is as alien and incomprehensible to the regime in Asmara as are the basic principles of democracy, which include a totally free press and media.

Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)

Related article:

Telling the Truth is Not Popular with the Eritrean Government