“World’s largest prison”, Eritrea.
“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police … yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home — all the more powerful because forbidden — terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.” 1
I am reading an article by Bec Zajac, “Refugee radio voices for a new Eritrea”. Mr. Zajac is speaking with three refugees, Osman, Ahmed and Berhan, producers of “Eritrean Voices” whom he says “are using their microphones and voices to agitate for change in a country that has been labeled the “world’s largest political prison”, Eritrea.
The three Eritrean Diaspora producers tell Mr. Zajak about journalists and high government officials imprisoned, but presumed dead, “half a million Eritrean refugees in Sudan and 350,000 in Ethiopia,etc. Then they move on to discuss “the culture of silence among Eritreans in Diaspora”. Berhan says, “the culture existed, because of fear. People were so brainwashed, they thought that even if they were in Australia, even if they travel to the moon, president Afewerki could bring them back and imprison them”.
“Psychology of oppression is both a phenomenon and an explanatory construct — just as psychology is a phenomenon and also the study of that phenomenon (e.g., behavioristic psychology, cognitive psychology). The phenomenon called “psychology of oppression” is the psychological effects of social oppression, and the psychological requirements that sustain (are functional for) social oppression. In other words, social oppression includes a psychological complement in the victim that contributes to his subjugation.”2
Eritrea is worse than Oceania, in 1984 George Orwell’s novel. People who think differently from the party’s policy receive violent punishment inflicted by the “Thought Police.” The Eritrean government has created the worst state of fear on its citizens. When the former Eritrean foreign minister Ali Abdu, defected to Australia in November 2012, the hoodlum government of Issayas Afewerki arrested and put in jail Ciham, Ali Abdo’s fifteen year old daughter. Just to be sure that the message is sent clearly to all, the Eritrean thugs also put Ali Abdo’s father as well as his brother in jail.
The government in Eritrea is wicked, evil to its bones. Danger to its neighbors. Friends with terrorists and evil doers. According to Michela Wrong,” There have been nearly 13 years of lockdown in Eritrea, a period in which the country routinely dubbed “Africa’s North Korea” for its militarism and defiant isolationism has virtually disappeared from global headlines. Isaias’s support for fundamentalist groups like Somalia’s al-Shabaab — one of the reasons for eroding relations with Washington — has led the United Nations to impose sanctions on the country. Nowadays, even physically accessing what was once an African gateway to the Middle East and Europe is a challenge: Lufthansa, the only Western airline that serviced Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, ceased flying there in October 2013, and the European Union has banned Eritrean Airlines for safety reasons.Today, there is a growing sense that a crisis point is approaching. “Eritrea’s definitely going to blow,” predicts Selam Kidane, an Eritrean democracy activist based inLondon.”3
By Kidane Tsegai
2The Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, T. Teo (Ed.), Springer, 2013. The Psychology of Oppression :Carl Ratner
3”Eritrea is definitely going to blow” Michela Wrong, March 2014