As Eritreans around the world commemorated Martyrs Day on 20th June 2016, Michela Wrong decided to post her latest article, “Africa’s Hottest Frozen Border Boils Over” in the Voice. Coming from someone who claims to know Eritreans and Eritrea, enough to write two books on them, the timing and jumbled contents of her report is filled with factual omissions and is not just suspect, but also quite transparent. Martyrs Day in Eritrea, is a solemn day of remembrance for Eritreans around the world, yet, while Michela Wrong mentions several issues about Eritrea, she neglects to mention this important day in her piece.
Secondly, why wait for a whole week to write about Ethiopia’s latest aggressive attack on Eritrea? This author is too jaded to believe that it was just a coincidence, or that Michela Wrong, touted as an “expert’ on Africa, with close associates in Ethiopia, would need a whole week to verify facts that were exposed within days of Ethiopia’s attack. I doubt that she would she have been as reserved if the outcome were different…
Thirdly, why pretend that Ethiopia’s latest attack has any links to the delimited and demarcated Eritrean Ethiopian border or that it has anything to do with the 1998- 2000 Ethiopia’s aggressive war of expansion and occupation? It does not.
Having followed her latest pieces on Eritrea, this author noticed that she seems to get the urge to write about Eritrea, almost on cue, when narratives on Eritrea that she helped perpetuate come under closer scrutiny. Probably with a little prodding from her partners at Justice Africa, who were instrumental in carving such a narrative to advance illicit political agendas. In any case, her appearance is yet another opportunity to clear the air, the many distortions and misrepresentations about Eritrea.
For brevity’s sakes, this response to her latest article on Eritrea will seek to correct some of most egregious factual errors found in her latest piece.
Michela Wrong wrote the following:
“…An undemarcated frontier between two governments that loathe each other is a grenade whose pin has been pulled. The international community may choose to ignore it, and in the short term may get away with this pose of studied indifference. But the grenade will eventually explode…”
First of all, the Eritrea Ethiopia border has been legally demarcated. It was Ethiopia that refused to allow the Commission to fulfill its mandate and demarcate the border by placing markers on the ground, forcing the Commission to resort to “virtual demarcation”, using coordinates on maps, instead.
Therefore, the Eritrea Ethiopia border has been legally resolved and today, the issue is Ethiopia’s 14 year long occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, in violation of its treaty obligations under the Algiers Agreements, international law, the EEBC’s final and binding decisions and the African and United Nations Charters.
The EEBC delivered its Final and Binding demarcation decision on 27 November 2007 and whilst Eritrea has accepted the demarcation decision, Ethiopia has rejected the decision calling the demarcation decision “legal nonsense”. The Security Council not only endorsed the UN Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation decisions, it also guaranteed its inviolability. The Security Council went on to enforce that decision and today Iraq and Kuwait have a secure and internationally recognized boundary.
For reasons that are still unclear to all that have been following developments in the region, the Security Council has so far refused to endorse and enforce the EEBC’s demarcation decision, whilst it has endorsed the “virtual demarcation’ of the Iraq-Kuwait border and enforced its decision.
Michela Wrong should know the importance of that the most longstanding and widely accepted principle of international law is the sanctity of treaty commitments-pacta survanda. The African Union, in fact, has long been a proponent of the permanence of treaty boundaries, including colonial treaty boundaries. Its silence on Ethiopia’s intransigence is indeed baffling.
Adding insult to injury, Michela Wrong wrote this contemptuous statement:
“…The boundary commission’s findings were clear. While some disputed areas were allotted to Ethiopia, the two-donkey village that had served as a flashpoint for the war — Badme — belonged to Eritrea. The commission found that Eritrea had initiated hostilities — a claim Asmara disputed furiously — but on the narrow issue of Badme, Eritrea was in the right…”
Badme is not a “narrow issue”-it is the central issue-the casus belli for the bloody war. In Ethiopia’s 1998-2000 war of expansion and invasion, 19000 thousand Eritreans died defending Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Once again, Michela Wrong fudges the facts, and chooses instead to regurgitate erroneous facts surrounding the “origins of the Eritrea Ethiopia conflict. The Algiers Agreement is very clear. Article 3 provided for the establishment of an independent body under OAU (now African Union) auspices to carry out an investigation ‘to determine the origins of the conflict’; in fact this body was never established.
Article 3 of the Algiers Agreement provides that:
“…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…”
Professor Christine Gray in her paper “The Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission Oversteps its Boundaries: A Partial Award?” is about the Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission and its 19 December 2005 judgment and the source of the minority’s claims about the “origin of the conflict”. Gray explains in great detail about the ECCC’s mandate and the Algiers Agreements. She said:
“…There is no suggestion in Article 5 that its jurisdiction would extend to an examination of responsibility for the start of the war…”
It behooves Michela Wrong to do better research on this issue, lest she ends up misinforming her readers by regurgitating Ethiopia’s version of the truth. She should also read the Wikileak documents that refer to the AU’s decision to table its establishment at the behest of Ethiopia, its surrogates and handlers.
In her 20 June article, Michela Wrong wrote:
“…Ethiopia said after last week’s hostilities that it was responding to repeated “provocations” by Asmara, supporting the theory put forward by a number of analysts that this latest clash at Tserona could have been payback against Eritrea for an armed raid carried out in southern Ethiopia in May by members of the Ginbot 7, an Ethiopian opposition movement that has found safe haven in Asmara and that Addis Ababa has labeled a terrorist group…”
In the myopic and scared minority regime’s mind, everyone that challenges its domestic and international policies is labeled a terrorist. The United States and many European countries “provide safe haven” for several Ethiopian opposition groups, including those mentioned above, so why single out Eritrea for an attack? The international community knows well that Ethiopia finances and harbors several Eritrean groups and individuals who have committed terrorist acts against Eritrea.
Ever since the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission delivered its final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions on April 2000 and November 2007 respectfully, the people of the Horn of Africa region have seen the US and its allies provide the mercenary minority regime in Ethiopia, with unprecedented diplomatic and political shield and support as it violated the terms of the Algiers Agreements, flouted international law, refused to accept and abide by the delimitation and demarcation decisions of the independent Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC).
Today, 14 years later, in violation of international law and UN Charter and over two dozen Security Council resolutions, as if its occupation and plunder of Badme were not enough, emboldened by the inaction of the international community, Ethiopia once again launched another attack on Eritrea on 12 June 2016 using flimsy pre-texts. Wrong ought to review the regime’s contradictory statements in order to decipher the truth about its latest adventure into Eritrea. Parroting its narratives on Eritrea will only undermine her credibility and integrity as a professional journalist.
As Eritrea celebrates its 25th Independence Anniversary, it is only fitting to look back at what Michela Wrong once wrote about the people of Eritrea. She said they were:
“…Proud, principled and impoverished, Eritrea is virtually without peer in Africa as it pursues its own model of development and vision of democracy. … Given Eritrea’s grim legacy, its challenges are formidable. But thirty years ago most observers doubted that Eritrea would even win its war for independence. Who is to say that Eritrea will not again surprise the world as it seeks to liberate itself from poverty?…”
Eritrea will surprise Michela Wrong and all naysayers once again…in the meantime, reigning in the minority regime in Ethiopia will bring peace, stability and security to the Horn region. Journalists, like Ms. Wrong ought to play a constructive role in ensuring that international law is respected.