Mass Media and Free Press in Eritrea
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Posts: 88
Reply with quote  #1 

Welcome Prof Bereket:


    Allow me to thank you and welcome you on behalf of the esteemed members of meskerem forums and visitors.

   It is in deeded a great opportunity to discuss the Eritrean Constitution with the chairman of the constitutional commission himself. 

  Let's use this opportunity to ask for clarifications, express our concerns, reservations and objections to the Eritrean Constitution.  Lets get answers straight from the horse's mouth. 

   Meskerem calls for serious discussion of this Historical Eritrean document. Many have been imprisoned, made to disappear and exiled on account of calling for the implementation of the Constitution. Those who paid dearly with their life and liberty for calling for the implementation of the constitution place upon us the burden and responsibility to  discuss and consider the Eritrean Constitution seriously and respectfully.

Thank you




Posts: 16
Reply with quote  #2 

I am very pleased to be engaged with the Eritrean public in this virtual conversation.  I hope that the interested members of the community have read my paper, which was posted to serve as framework for the conversation. It is my fervent hope that we will all make commitments to civil discourse, transitioning from the shrill battle of wits that has defined much of The Internet exchange in the past few years. We need to learn from the past and make a new beginning to such civil discourse.


You ask me to introduce myself, and I will do so, fully aware that we are culturally inhibited to speak about ourselves. I will give a brief outline of my biography for the benefit of people who may not know about me. So, here goes.


The fallowing is taken from a summary description about me sketched by the University of California, at Los Angeles (UCLA) Law School, where I was honored to give the Mellinkoff Memorial Lecture last year:

"Professor Selassie (i.e. Bereket) has held several high-level positions within the Ethiopian government, including Federal Supreme Court Judge, Attorney General, Vice Minister of Interior, and Mayor of Harar.  In 1964, he resigned his position as Attorney General in protest of the Ethiopian Emperor's policies.  A few years later, Professor Selassie became involved with the Eritrean Freedom Fighters, eventually becoming a representative tot eh United Nations fro the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front. His ongoing participation in the politics of Eritrea culminated in his position as Chairman of the Constitutional Commission of Eritrea...His work in Eritrea has been well-chronicled through a number of books he has authored, the most recent being, The Making of the Eritrean Constitutionialectic of Process and Substance (2003). 

Professor Selassie has taught at Howard and Georgetown University before joining the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He studied at the University of Perugia and received his LL.B and Ph.D from the University of London."  

I have taught law and politics for the most part in my academic career stretching from 1977 to the present time, and my writings reflect this fact.  My area of specialty being constitutional law, I teach "Comparative Constitutional Law at the the Law School of the University of North Carlina at Chapel Hill, comparing American, European and "Third World" constitutional systems.  My expertise on this subject has landed me in several important assignments, including advising the President of Nigeria on the review of the Nigerian constitution (September-December 2000), adviser to the Constitutional commissions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Congo (DRC), among others.  For a period of three years (2001-2004) I was appointed by the United States Institute of Peace to be chairman of a Working Committee comprising some of the most distinguished professors of law and political science in the United States.  We reviewed and analyzed the constitution making experience of some seventeen countries from all over the world(including those of Eritrea, South Africa and Spain), and a book of great significance will come out of this important process, which be helpful to all interested in constitution making and constitutionalism. The book will be published early next year.

I hope this gives a helpful background information. If necessary more detail can be provided if and when it is requested by readers.    

Reply with quote  #3 

Desist Prof., desist!


Prof. Bereket, the way you and many others describe your CV you must see yourself as the quintessential man of all seasons. You served, among others, a feudal emperor, a demented colonel, dubious international institution, a ruthless dictator, and,  a couple of struggling US colleges with the same single-mindedness and dedication. Dulcis in fundo, you are today a leader of a party that is positioning itself to take over power in Eritrea after the fall of the present dictator.


In your pursuit of power you are ruthless and brazenly ungrateful for you assume whatever good is done to you is due, and no need to show gratitude to those who proffered it, for that would mean a sign of weakness in your character setup. You are not a technocrat at the service of the highest bidder. You are a man of power. And like all those who wield power you are tough as nails. An ‘insignificant’ reminder to such attitude is the incident in which your life was at stake in the mid seventies, when the ELF siphoned you out of Asmara to safety. You remember how you repaid the ELF? In one of your earlier apologetic books towards the EPLF, you dismissed the ELF as irrelevant in the struggle for independence. Dear Prof., that single instance is enough to define what you are made of. Of course, you would most certainly compile a book to 'explain' those happenings! Just remember that those ELF cadres who saved your life are still well and alive.


In recent years you did spare neither energy nor time to prove in scholarly seminars and articles that you authored one of the most democratic constitutions in the world. In your learned interventions you meticulously omitted that you were neither a member of a constituent assembly nor assigned by one to compile “your” so called constitution. Of course, you also never mentioned that you were handpicked by a dictator to tailor him a constitution that would legitimize his rule, and there was no constituent assembly representing the people at the time.


The erudite jurist that you are, you know perfectly well that the mere fact that you were handpicked by a dictator makes whatever you authored under his patronage is null and void. You also are aware that a similar constitution approved by people under duress of the vigilant guns of pfdj cadres can never be the living pact of a people choosing to live together and build a nation. Of course you would not miss the irony that your highest intellectual delivery was trashed by your patron, the dictator, and never implemented. You also know better than anybody else, because of your vast readings and preparation, that the best worded constitutions, if not owned by the people, are not worth the paper they are written on, and that you can get them for a penny a pound in any bookshop. Nevertheless you continue to defend “your” constitution.


And now you cannot resist the bait thrown at you by Dear Prof., you did not invent any wheel and there is no wheel to invent. There is no virtue in holding a virtual conference on a virtual constitution. One would say for a virtual Eritrea. Prof. Eritrea is real. Admit it! REAL ERITREA DOES NOT HAVE A CONSTITUTION, period.


The Eritrean constitution will be crafted by the people of Eritrea through a mandate to their elected representatives in a constituent assembly. When that happens, will they take into consideration what you have written? Of course Prof., Eritreans are very generous, they will take it into consideration as an effort by an Eritrean jurist, as they will take into consideration all the laws and traditional conventions that have kept the fabric of our society together. And that constitution will be the living pact when all our people in all their faiths, ethnic backgrounds, shapes and forms accept it as a sacred contract in which they all recognize themselves. That will be the day we will all shout in unison “We have a constitution!”

So please Prof., desist from masquerading as a prima Donna to defend the non-defendable. For the rest, I wish you the best and hope to encounter you in the field of democratic confrontation of ideas and proposals.


Best regards,


Hamed Idrees


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