What took place in San Francisco on March 26, 2021, when hundreds of Eritrean and Ethiopian pro-regime supporters took to the streets, should be condemned for what it was – a reactionary, fascist mobilization no different than white supremacists storming the streets with chants to “make America great again.” There is no coincidence that there were several signs that read “make Ethiopia great again” at this rally. 

Last week’s counterrevolutionary rally was trying to propagate the lie that Ethiopian dictator Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean dictator Isaias Afwerki are defeating terrorists – or, as KPFA reporter and writer for Black Agenda Report Ann Garrison recklessly claims, that they are “restoring law and order.” 

Ann writes: “Ethiopians and Eritreans from all over Northern California rallied for peace and for the sovereignty and self-determination of their home countries.” This is gross, lazy analysis and flat-out dangerous reporting on the genocidal crisis happening in Ethiopia. 

The people who rallied in support of two warmongers are in no way a representation of the views held by oppressed people within these nations. Eritrean PFDJ-ites are pro-Isaias regime supporters who won’t admit the truth about Eritrean suffering, who rallied with Ethiopian nationalists, who have no solidarity with oppressed indigenous struggles for sovereignty and self-determination of the Oromo, Ogaden or Afar people within the empire, who champion the war in Tigray – they do not care about freedom. 

Contrary to what many have been taught about Ethiopia being the pinnacle of anti-colonial struggle and “the only country to successfully resist colonialism,” Ethiopia’s history is, in reality, one of feudal monarchs and neocolonial stooges committing violent genocide on the indigenous peoples. 

Bay View reporter Malik Washington met Dina Tesfay at the “peaceful protest” in San Francisco on March 26, 2021, capturing her statement on film and publishing it live on Instagram @sfbayview. – Video: Malik Washington

There is a genocide going on in Tigray and Oromia where innocent people are being butchered like cattle by warmonger Abiy Ahmed and dictator Isaias Afwerki’s troops. These coldhearted fascist forces are committing massacres that will leave you distraught for weeks after reading testimonies coming out from survivors. 

People are being beheaded, thrown off gorges, whole villages are being burnt to the ground. Millions are starving to death, with aid deliberately blocked. It is important to note the Ethiopian empire has long been using famines as a tactic to maintain power and take land from its victims, i.e., Menelik II and Haile Selassie. 

The Ethiopian government cowardly drops bombs on defenseless women and children. Colonial soldiers rape children as young as seven, infecting them with HIV. Tens of millions have been displaced from their ancestral land, forced to be the next generation of refugees leading miserable lives. 

In no way, shape or form will a fascist military alliance – by two unelected officials at that – translate to peace for the oppressed people within Ethiopia or Eritrea. 

I find it disturbing that I received coordinated pushback on my statement saying “Free Eritrea” by known members of PFDJ (People’s Front for Democracy and Justice) – an organization that seeks to legitimize a dictator – on the video posted by the San Francisco Bay View. They say genocide is not an appropriate word for what is happening. 

Excuse me? Did they want Black death to sound palatable? 

More than 60,000 people have been murdered since the start of the war six months ago by Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki’s troops – what else are you supposed to call tens of thousands of defenseless people slaughtered and millions more being deliberately starved to death by the state! 

Another disgraceful commenter says: “This girl is lying. She was trying to change the narrative the march was about peace and Ethiopians and Eritreans coming together.” They throw the word peace around the same way the fascist Democratic Party does.

Another reckless commenter says: “It was quite bizarre seeing the young woman tagging along on our march and attempting to cause raucous … it was a momentous day, where Eritreans and Ethiopians set aside our differences to prioritize peace back home.”

Let’s be very clear, the only unity going on is the integration of two fascist corrupt militaries that will inevitably result in more destruction in East Africa. In no way, shape or form will a fascist military alliance – by two unelected officials at that – translate to peace for the oppressed people within Ethiopia or Eritrea. 

After 30 years of anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, protracted armed struggle in the longest war in Africa, waged by the Eritrean masses against Ethiopian colonialism, Eritrea was rightfully recognized as its own sovereign nation with a history totally separate from the Ethiopian empire.

Did the Eritrean people wage a war against Ethiopian colonists just for the unelected dictator of Eritrea to align himself with the corrupt Ethiopian government and send our people to die helping Ethiopia crush other people’s struggle for sovereignty and autonomy? 

I hope my people’s sacrifice and struggle was not in vain. My ancestors fought for a Free Eritrea, not an Eritrea where the youth are forced into indefinite military conscription to be cheap slave labor for multinational corporations and cannon fodder in the ruling class’ wars. 

If I was born in Eritrea, I would have been forced under the orders of dictator Isaias to ally and help support the same Ethiopian colonial troops who killed most of my family and displaced them from their ancestral land. 

Those that refused to fight and kill their brothers and sisters on the battlefield are murdered. I find it disturbing that American journalists who are not affected by proxy wars, ethnically motivated massacres or land grabs are so adamant about championing a war that is sending many of my people off against their will as cannon fodder.

The poor, oppressed people of Eritrea have suffered greatly at the hands of dictator Isaias Afwerki. Like I stated to Malik Washington of the Bay View: It is one of the world’s least known repressive regimes. Eritrea is the most censored country in Africa and has one government-controlled media station. It is also one of the poorest and largest refugee-producing nations per capita in the world. 

All youth are forced into indefinite military conscription and trained at the SAWA Defense Training Center, where they are taught that other poor Africans are their enemies and undergo a MAGA-style indoctrination to Isaias, who has been in power since independence 30 years ago. 

Dictator Isaias Afwerki is a stooge for imperialism – more aligned with the interests of capitalism than the poor, struggling masses of Eritreans. Just investigate how much money Isaias has in Swiss bank accounts: Isaias personally profits from the exploitation of the Eritrean masses.

Today, thousands rot in containers in the middle of deserts for their faith and political beliefs. Where is Ciham Ali, disappeared by the Eritrean government at just 15? 

What PFDJ pro-regime supporters don’t want the world to know is that there is a mass exodus out of our homeland. More than 5,000 fled Eritrea every month – and that was before the war! 

Eritreans who try to escape for a better life drown at sea, are abducted by human traffickers, are abused and raped in refugee camps in neighboring countries and are routinely caught and tortured to death by the Eritrean government. 

Today, thousands rot in containers in the middle of deserts for their faith and political beliefs. Where is Ciham Ali, disappeared by the Eritrean government at just 15? 

Imagine a government so cruel it imprisons a child to punish their father for defecting from the military. Ciham turned 24 today, and her parents haven’t heard from her since her abduction! 

Where are the thousands of frontline guerillas and political activists who have been disappeared by the Eritrean government? Where are the journalists and members of G15 and those who questioned Isaias’ power-hungry antics from the start? 

Pay attention to the oppressed people of Eritrea saying #Yiakl or “Enough!” Isaias must go! We deserve peace and to work towards the truly socialist, free Eritrea that our martyrs, like my uncle Tesfay, died struggling for!

At this so-called peaceful protest, I was hit, grabbed, shoved, told I was a disgrace to my family, told to be happy about my people’s turmoil, old men threatened to beat me – they shouted “agame” and “woyane,” as if a city name and Tigrigna word that translates to “revolution” are derogatory slurs. 

I was told I was not a real Eritrean by Ethiopian chauvinists for condemning a government that has many of my family members living in exile. While I counter-protested alongside them yelling “down, down Isaias, down, down Abiy!” I was called a terrorist and accused of being paid by the “terrorist junta” nonstop.

How can you take people seriously who label whole groups of people as terrorists? Let’s not forget: Racist, white Amerikkka calls BLM a terrorist organization. The victims in this war are not terrorists, they are defenseless people!

“Restoring law and order,” as Ann writes in her article about what is going on in Ethiopia, is a white supremacist justification for repressing exploited, subjugated people. Law and order enforced by our enemies has always resulted in our doom.

Pay attention to the armed struggle being waged by the Oromo Liberation Army against the Ethiopian empire. The same people at the rally yelling “Amhara genocide” were saying that Oromo Liberation Army is a terrorist organization. They are trying to play victim and are not even attempting to hold the corrupt Ethiopian state accountable.

There’s an old African proverb: “Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” 

The OLA does not commit war crimes. They don’t go slaughtering innocent defenseless people, like Ethiopian national defense troops do to defenseless Oromos. Guerilla movements to free the land are motivated by selfless love for the people, unlike the hate that motivates colonial troops, like Ethiopian National Defense Force, to maintain their empire.

For centuries, the Oromo people, indigenous to one of the richest lands on earth, have resisted and been the victims of brutal slave trade, exploitation, massacres, land grabbing, mass unemployment, repression and discrimination at the hands of the Ethiopian Abyssinian empire.

The poor, colonized masses of the world must pay attention and raise awareness to the anti-colonial armed struggle being waged by these heroic fighters – for defeating imperialists anywhere in the world means another limb of the capitalist global stranglehold is cut off! 

Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki must be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. Take heed, white journalists – whatever your intention may have been, politically uninformed reporting is dangerous! Insinuating that people are lying about their families getting killed is disgusting. 

The numerous times Ann Garrison has tweeted that the “alleged genocide is being pushed as a state department excuse for imperial aggression in the horn of Africa” is time she could have spent actually researching the disturbing testimonies of survivors in Tigray and Oromia.

Makes me think of the old African proverb: “Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” 

Down with neocolonialism! Down with imperialism! Down with capitalism! Down with the financial predators preying on the people! Long live the African revolution! Africa will be free!

Dina Tesfay is a Pan-African organizer and writer from the Bay Area dreaming of and building towards a United Socialist Africa. She can be reached via Instagram @youthaftertruth.