All we had - our Veterans

03/08/2017 22:15 PM

All we had - our Veterans

by Kiki Tzeggai

All we had - our Veterans

At a time such as the last sixty (60) years in Eritrea where human rights of the Eritrean people are the focus of each conversation, be it at the vast alley of the UN building or at coffee shops in Europe and the USA - and why not- whispering those two words at the “enda siwa” in Abashawul/ Asmara, the discourse keeps becoming so loud that we got used to it and just walk by.

They say that the use of “Human rights” words has increased by the fold. But the end result has decreased.

I would like to focus on my country’s Veterans’ basic right such as acknowledging their lifetime giving to obtain our independence from a brutal occupier.

Our Veterans gave their lives, their future, their limbs and their hopes for a life of basic comfort and basic rights for Eritreans and a free Eritrea.

We – the Eritrean people – never criticized the lack of, let alone asked to defend our Veterans’ rights.

Many of us think that including the rights of our Veterans in our Constitution is a moral obligation and a great moral achievement in our history. Because giving those rights would give us – the people- equal respect and expectance for the rest of our rights. A basic recognition for our Veterans, deprives any government of their riposte about anyone accused of abuse. A Veterans’ Day would give us protection against the power of government. Be it present or future government. It would cement the base of all Eritrea stands about.

No Constitution can be validated as the backbone of a country if Veterans that gave such country freedom are simply dismissed and ignored.

Acknowledging our Veterans gives us a legal binding of future rights and the eternal peace we wish for our country and our people.

There is no clearer rule than creating a Veterans’ Day in Eritrea. This is not a day based on vague aspirational terms that can be interpreted in many ways. It is clear, simple and straightforward.

There cannot be a free Eritrea if we do not acknowledge the existence of those that provided freedom to us. They cannot be dismissed. They are ALL WE HAD during the terror of the Ethiopian occupation.

The road they walked, the sandals they felt worn we cannot feel because they did it for us. Our Veterans smile, but so many tears are hidden behind their smiles. They still hope things will get better. They started counting the months, the days, now the years of disappointment because they knew victory would be sweet and hoped for days under the hot sun of Eritrea. The dust from their feet at the edge of their parents’ graves in our land. The distance they have travelled, we will never have to. How long will we deny them honor?

We give our Veterans a day and we – the people – will never foreshadow our own rights to a better relation among people. This is a day that is based on gratitude, love, principles and all our ancestors taught us. No racial discrimination among the many factions, no faith’s divide. This is a day that will simply capture and forge for eternity our first and foremost vote: THE VOTE TO GRATITUDE!

This vote might be the first rule to prevent our intellectuals and politicians from a self-cult society. For, our Veterans never lifted their hands to bring attention to self.

When I read about the horrifying genocide of Rwanda and the civil war in Yugoslavia, the cluster-clan based society in Somalia I turn towards our freedom fighters, our people and I see unity in one common denominator: a free Eritrea.

We fought side-by-side. Our Martyrs gave it all. Our flags wave not because of wind but because of their last breath.

Eritrea will never be Rwanda, or Yugoslavia or Somalia. We were a united people, but the reality today is that we are divided. We created such a divide as dangerous as craters deeper than volcanos and darker than the abyss the oceans’ beds. We are at the blink of losing each other.

songAn Eritrean Veteran’s’ Day is the first solution of unity that could make us walk towards each other and fill the deep void of our confusion created and be the beginning of healing a pain that has become the daily mode of Eritrean lifestyle. We need to fence the evil and cryptic fire that resides among us and make the love for country that seems latent, an explosive constant.

The rules of an Eritrean Veterans’ Day are not vague. No political agenda. No faith divides. No financial gain. No bipartisan alliances of former freedom fighters’ groups. No groups aspiring at replacing a government.

Our bylaws will be drafted by all. Approved by many. No sloppy draftsmanship but rather a deliberate choice of intent, shaking hands across from any bridge we stand at. No defined obligation, for we are not replacing the government of Eritrea. Nor, are we preparing a base for a political party.

This is a day that will protect any political group from denying each other of the basic rights. Right to write our history. These are rights worth protecting. This is a day that will protect from and deny the sheer ambiguity of intricate politics. It will protect families all while protecting one another.

It is a civilized effort preventing entangling power struggles. It is based on clearly defined bases such one of gratitude for the men and women that gave us freedom and are still on standby holding their weapons of love and loyalty to defend country and people.

It is a humbler approach, but a stronger one to the solution of going back home. Our Veterans gave us not only freedom, but the right of expression, of existence. The right to dare to dream and dare to do in a free country.

A defined Eritrea is worth protecting. But how could we if we are simply dismissing those women and men that gave their lives to restore dignity from the humiliating oppression by Ethiopia? This day will give guidance and virtually protect all human rights and interest in our Eritrea. An Eritrean Veterans’ day will be the first rule of law to peacefully write our history from the very beginning. Let me emphasize on the word peacefully. By reminding you all the aforementioned rule of shaking hands and respect for each other. Because we cannot write and teach our history if chapters are missing or intentionally omitted.

The declaration of this day will make our history rise from the ashes of our present pain. It will bring a brighter era of national and international relations. It will provide Eritrean families the joy of applauding the very sons and daughter they gave to the liberation war.

This day will also ask us to bow our heads in unity and give thanks to our Martyrs.

Death is uniform. The Ethiopians’ bullets never discriminated among different factions, it just aimed and killed Eritreans that strongly believed in a free Eritrea.

Eritrean blood is red. Eritrean tears are salty. Eritrean pride is uniform and still our strength. This day will influence all the best Eritrea can be. And should be.

Help us. Join us. An Eritrean Veterans’ Day is long overdue.

Celebrating the 2nd Eritrean Veterans’ Day in the diaspora - August 5th, 2017

by Kiki Tzeggai


"Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope. With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream. If you have hope, you have everything."

" Peace is a wall we will all create by building it brick-by-brick together". (Trade mark)

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