Last week saw the closing plenary of the ‘Talking Eritrea’ seminar series organised by Justice Africa and SOAS, entitled ‘Limits on Research and Reporting in Eritrea: The Implications for Peace and Rights’.
This marked the conclusion of a four part series, with the previous talks addressing the critical issues of: Human Trafficking and Torture in the Sinai; the impacts of Eritrea’s mandatory national service programme on Eritrean society; and the phenomenon of survival migration out of Eritrea.
Unfortunately, but rather predictably, it quickly became evident that however nuanced the research presented on Eritrea was during the session, certain audiences will continue to interpret it in purely binary formulations.
Somewhat like the unhelpfully reductionist dichotomy between ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ in which Rwanda scholars are often pigeon-holed, a series of other well-versed, mutually exclusive categorisations for research on Eritrea pervaded the heated Q&A that followed the presentations.
The reactions of certain (Eritrean) members of the audience showed total intolerance to the middle ground presented by many of the speakers.
One sensed that, to them, it appeared one is either: pro-Eritrea or pro-Ethiopia vis-à-vis the border question and sanctions; pro-PFDJ or conspiring to topple it; and most disappointingly in this context, either pro-government or Click Here to Read More