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UN Monitoring Group Report: Lies, Damn Lies and Distortions (The Action Group for Eritrea – 02 August 2011)

posted 29 Jan 2012, 06:49 by D Woldeab

On Christmas Eve in 2009, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed sanctions against Eritrea, which include an arms embargo, travel restrictions and a freeze on the assets of its political and military leaders.   It is to be recalled that tens of thousands of Eritreans went out in the streets of major cities around the world to oppose the sanctions. Resolution 1907 (2009) against Eritrea remains unjust and unfair for a simple reason that it is built on lies and fabricated stories.  It should have been repealed long ago.

The Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group has finally released its latest report and this one is no better than the previous reports.  It is full of lies, damn lies and distortions.

This is what the Monitoring group reported in its 2006 report:

            "........... On 26 August 2006, three (3) dhows transporting 2000 fully equipped combat troops from Ertirea arrived at Warsheikh, located north of Mogadishu, along the coast. On arrival at Warsheikh, the troops were re-located to an area in north Mogadishu for ultimate re-deployment to different ICU held areas. They were re-deployed as follows: 500 of the Eritrean troops went to Baledogle, 500 to Hilweyne training camp, 500 to Lower Shabelle, and 500 remained in Mogadishu and were stationed at Villa Baidoa and the former Police Academy"

For any layperson, the above sounds very convincing.  It is very specific with dates, numbers, and names of different places.  A professional liar would not find it too difficult to come up with such impressive story giving attention to detail.  The Monitoring Group has made it its job to lie through its teeth to justify their existence and achieve a political agenda.  As the world now knows, the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian forces proved beyond doubt that the Monitoring Group was not gathering evidence but in fact was busy fabricating them. Not a single Eritrean soldier was located in Somalia.  Judging from their latest report, it seems that they have mastered the art of deception.

The above is just one example out of many.  To this day, the Monitoring Group is yet to admit that they have lied and apologise to the people and government of Eritrea for associating them with terrorism.   It is because of such lies at the behest of other forces that Eritrea is under UN sanctions today.

In a meeting with the British government on 23 December 2009, members of the British Eritrean community had presented the inconsistencies and pure fabrications in the previous report that the Monitoring Group had produced.  In their latest meeting on the 20th of June 2011, representatives of the Eritrean community in London asked if there was any guarantee that the biased and discredited Monitoring Group will ever produce accurate, fair and balanced report.   The British government’s response was that the Group would not want to compromise their credibility and reputation by producing fabricated stories.  Unfortunately, the Monitoring Group has no reputation to keep and they do not seem to have learnt from the past. 

The Monitoring Group has, yet again, managed to produce another report full of unsubstantiated accusations against Eritrea.  To cover the bogus claim, the Monitoring Group has gone to extreme lengths to produce receipts, money transfer and other documents which have little relevance to the accusations.  The aim of bombarding the UNSC with a pile of irrelevant documents and information is to give the report a semblance that it was well researched and evidenced.  The fact of the matter is that the report contains very little verifiable evidence.  Some of the accusations are based on statements not supported by verifiable facts and made by entities that have axes to grind against the government of Eritrea.  They know that no Security Council member is going to go through all these in detail and verify the authenticity and relevance of the documents presented.

If there is one country in the world that fought terrorism tooth and nail since its inception, it is Eritrea. Eritrea has never made civilians a target even in its long history of struggle for independence.  It is unimaginable that Eritrea would target any civilian venues in Addis, let alone the AU Summit.  It is simply unthinkable.

The Ethiopian government has again managed to stage a drama to convince the world that Eritrea is a country that supports terrorism.   The evidence presented to support the accusation that Eritrea was involved in the plot to attack the AU is laughable.

The Monitoring Group claimed that the rifle and explosives captured were traced as being sold to Eritrea by Romania and Bulgaria.  The Ethiopian Government could have captured Eritrean rifles and explosives during the war and perhaps also from Eritrean deserters.  When the whole region is awash with weapons with unknown origins, one would be naive to think that Eritrea would send terrorists to attack the AU with traceable rifle and explosives.  It is an insult to the intelligence of any average person to present such absurd claims.

The Monitoring Group has accepted Ethiopia's claim at face value and had no qualms in copying and pasting their statements.  The Group has claimed to have spent 22 hours in three days interviewing 7 detained members involved in the alleged operation.  That is about 3 to 4 hours each.   With such serious accusations, one would expect that these people would be cross-examined by professionals to corroborate the story.   It would have been easy to find holes and gaps in their story. 

The main actors in the drama are Fecadu, Omar and Mohamed Nur 'Doctor' who are leaders of the three teams dispatched for the operation. These are trained by Eritrean Officers “Gemachew Ayana” (this is not an Eritrean name), Wedi Iyasu and Jamal in various camps in Eritrea. When Omar learned that 'Doctor' was killed and some of his team members captured near Bati in an attack by Ethiopian forces, he suspended the operation and travelled from Metemma to Bati to rescue the team members who survived the attack and fled.  Having met some of the survivors, Omar travelled to Addis Ababa to proceed with the attack on the AU.  However, their plan did not work out and instead they planned to attack two other venues. They transferred the explosives to Fecadu's house in Addis, but Fecadu and his associates were arrested the next day.  As Omar was not able to contact Fecadu, he panicked and transferred his team to different hotels and then to kombolcha, but he still went to Fecadu's house later and found it empty.   He was later arrested on the way to Nazret. What a story!

One would think that any sensible person would try to keep as far away as possible from the scene of the incidents, but Omar seems to take huge risks by travelling to Bati first and then to Fecadu's house knowing that the Ethiopian security services could be well aware of his existence.  They had to dream up a story to get him captured.

The Monitoring Group also claims to be in possession of an audio recording of conservation between Colonel Te'ame and Omar which is said to be independently verified and archived with the United Nations.  The Monitoring Group, however, did not present the contents of the conversation and say whether it is related to the plot.  It is possible that Omar may have spoken to Colonel Te'ame, but this cannot be presented as proof that Eritrea was plotting to attack the AU Summit.    

One of the reasons given as to why the plot to attack AU failed is absurd. In a city that hosts the African Union, this organisation was spared from a devastating attack for a reason that most car hire agencies in Addis would not provide a car without a driver.   How odd. 

The Monitoring Group did not undertake any investigation of its own apart from reviewing the documents provided by the Ethiopian government and the interviews conducted with the captives. There is no incriminating evidence in the story to show that Eritrea was involved in the planning.

On Page 362, there is a copy of "Pages from ONLF fighter's training notebook...".  This is a badly written Amharic diary entry and there is nothing in this that connects the owner of the diary to Eritrea. There are pictures from video footage showing Eritrean license plate in one and Eritrean flag in another.  This again proves nothing of Eritrea’s involvement.

Page 364 of the report contains "Material recovered from ONLF".  On this page, there are pieces of papers from visits to the Asseb Military Hospital.  This was meant to prove that the captured ONLF members were trained in Eritrea.   One of the papers was for certain ‘Hagos Neguse Gebremariam.’   Now, this is pure fabrication as a person with such name cannot be an Ogadeni or Somali in origin.

On Page 85 (# 316), the Monitoring Group claims documentary evidence of Eritrean payment to a number of individuals with links to Al-Shabab.  Amazingly, the report states that these documents were received directly from the Eritrean Embassy in Nairobi.  If Eritrea has anything to hide, why would it provide evidence that would implicate it?  The Monitoring Group has also included receipts to prove that Eritreans have paid money to the Eritrean Embassy in Kenya.  This money could have been paid for any service or transaction.  These again prove nothing.  Eritreans pay money to their Embassies for various valid and legitimate reasons.  The fact that the Eritrean Embassies are issuing valid receipts only goes to show that they have nothing to hide.  

On Page 86 (#317), the Monitoring Group admits that the documentation they have on Eritrea’s financial support to Al-Shabab dates to the year 2008, which is before the imposition of the sanctions.   They have no new evidence.  The report states that the information that Eritrea pays roughly $80,000 per month to Al-Shabab comes from an Eritrean businessman who works with the Eritrean government and has in the past provided reliable information to the Monitoring Group.  We suspect that this Eritrean businessman is the same person that the American Ambassador to Eritrea refers to in documents released by Wikileaks as providing reliable information.  This businessman has confirmed that he has links with the Eritrean opposition and that he would like to see the Eritrean government replaced.  It is absurd that the Monitoring Group would put forward claims made by people who may have a political agenda without any supporting evidence.  The Ethiopian government has released a statement quoting the payment and linking it to the Monitoring Group, knowing full well that this figure has come from someone who may have an axe to grind against Eritrea.  The Monitoring Group has in a typical fashion provided no evidence to substantiate this figure. 

Even if we assume that Eritrea pays Al-Shabab $80,000 a month out of its meagre resources, which amounts to under a million dollars a year, this would only constitute to about 1% of the income that Al-Shabab is claimed to have made in a year.  The Monitoring Group has gone to detail highlighting Al-Shabab’s extensive economic reach and activities.  If this is to be believed, Eritrea’s alleged contribution is peanuts in comparison and it would make no difference to Al-Shabab activities or influence the situation that Somalia is finding itself in.    

The Monitoring Group has tried to tarnish the image of the Eritrean communities across the world.  The Monitoring Group has listed names of ordinary Eritrean citizens who are involved in community activities. The Monitoring Group even got some of the details about these community workers wrong.  They claim that some are being investigated and this can only be considered as a witch-hunt and intimidation.  It is known that there are thousands of Eritrean community activists and they are proud to be serving their community and country. It must be said that Eritreans, like all other communities, have every right to support their families and country legally.  Eritreans are law abiding and productive members of society wherever they go.  People of Eritrean origin in all countries in the world have a right to organise and support their community.  Any attempt to deny them this basic right will no doubt be challenged fiercely.

The report claims that Eritrea makes tens of millions of dollars from various sources including the Eritrea diaspora and then goes to say how the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Eritrea experience a chronic deficit of hard currency.  They have gone to extreme lengths to prove their bogus claims on how such a poor country can manage to finance all these activities.  Eritrea is a poor country that is trying to survive without being dependent on aid.  It has managed to do so for years and logic would dictate that it is a country that should have been encouraged and not abused.  The fact that it has managed to survive without handout only shows that it is using its meagre resources wisely.  It simply would not have been able to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals if it was handing out cash like confetti to every Somali with links to Al-Shabab as the Monitoring Group want us to believe.   

On Page 48 (#148 – 150), the Monitoring Group claims that there have been flights to Somalia reportedly originating from Eritrea as well as return flights from Somalia.  It states that the information has come from two independent sources that a flight made a round trip from Eritrea to Kismaayo in support of Al-Shabab.  They say that they could not independently verify these claims.  If that is the case, then why is it included in the report? Who are these independent sources and how did the Monitoring Group establish that they were independent? How is it possible for Eritrea to send an aircraft to Somalia without being noticed given all the high tech surveillance in the area?  The report has no answers to these basic and simple questions.

On Page 51(#160), the report claims that the 'Government of Ethiopia has long been a sponsor of various authorities and armed groups in Somalia.  The Ethiopian government provided diplomatic, financial and military assistance to a variety of armed groups.   

The report states:

            "At no time, however, has the Government of Ethiopia sought or obtained authorization from the Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea for its support of those groups and it is therefore technically in violation of the general and complete embargo on Somalia."

The crimes that Ethiopia has committed in Somalia need no elaboration as the entire world knows about it.  Many countries including Ethiopia were accused of violating the embargo in the past.  Yet, ironically only Eritrea was targeted for sanctions. Questions need to be asked again why the Security Council is ignoring these violations of the sanctions by other countries while only targeting Eritrea for sanctions, despite the glaring unfounded accusations. 

Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia at the behest of the US government has created a catastrophic situation in Somalia.  It is clear that Eritrea is used as a scapegoat and is targeted to cover up the crimes committed in Somalia.

AMISON and other private companies are also accused of providing arms to insurgents.   Annex 5.5 lists non-compliant states and organisations and these include France, United States, Kenya, Sudan and the UN itself.   AMISON is not only accused of providing arms, but also killing and injuring innocent civilians.  The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has complained against AMISON and it is stated that some UN officials believe that the attacks against civilians were not 'isolated incidents' carried by 'low level soldiers'.  It is this force that is keeping 'peace' in Somalia.  What a sad state of affairs.

The report states that the 2009 sanctions imposed prohibit “harbouring, financing, facilitating, supporting, organizing, training, or inciting individuals or groups to perpetrate acts of violence or terrorist acts against other States or their citizens in the region”.   While Eritrea is considered to be in breach of the Resolution, simply because it provides base to many Ethiopian armed groups, Ethiopia has formally announced that it will endeavour to achieve regime change in Eritrea by supporting Eritrean opposition groups including known terrorist groups and extremists.  Ethiopia has also announced recently that it is in the process of purchasing 200 T-72 tanks. Despite such incitements, Ethiopia is allowed to go scot free.  With the imposition of the arms embargo, Eritrea has been denied its fundamental rights to defend itself from these armed groups supported by Ethiopia. The British government had stated in a meeting with British Eritreans that it is Eritrea and not Ethiopia which has been sanctioned, and the focus of the Monitoring Group therefore is Eritrea.  This is totally unfair and unjust. 

The report has included details of Eritrea's arms purchase pre 2009.  It also goes into details on Eritrea's military hardware and maintenance agreement while asking questions which clearly infringe on Eritrea's sovereignty and security.   At a time when Eritrea is on a war footing with Ethiopia, providing details of Eritrea’s military capacity can only have one purpose and that is to give Ethiopia advantage in the conflict between the two countries.   

The Monitoring Group sent 6 letters to the USA requesting for information and none were responded to.   The group sent 96 letters to various governments and they received a full response on only 40% of the letters sent and none at all on 50% of the letters.  This shows the lack of respect countries have for this biased Monitoring Group.

The UNSC failed to force Ethiopia to accept the decision of the Boundary Commission and vacate Eritrean sovereign territories that it is illegally occupying.  Ethiopia continues to violate numerous UN resolutions.  The Security Council ignored these violations and decided to impose sanctions on Eritrea based on lies and fabricated evidences.  An arms embargo against Eritrea when Ethiopia is on a shopping spree for weapons is a reckless undertaking purely designed to weaken Eritrea.  At a time when millions of Ethiopians are starving, the Ethiopian government has spent huge sums of money acquiring military equipment.  The peace of this region was wrecked and millions continue to live in abject poverty for the simple reason that the Security Council took numerous unfair and unjust decisions going back over 50 years.  We continue to witness history repeating itself time and again. We will hold the Security Council responsible for any deterioration of the situation in the region because of the reckless and politically charged decisions that are being passed without any due regard to the wishes and aspirations of the people in the region.  The Security Council should not compromise the principles of the UN for political expediency and protect national interests of powerful nations at the expense of small and weak ones.  If past history is any indication, injustice breeds resistance and it is through her resistant stand that Eritrea was born and prevailed. 

We urge the UNSC to maintain an independent, rational, fair, just position to bring about peace and stability in the region.  When passing judgements and imposing resolutions, it should be less dependent on information and pressures originating from entities who have political agendas.  It should exercise wisdom and honesty in its mandated activities and always bear in mind that those who have less power are not compromised.