Over the years, I have been following Haben Girma’s achievements, making me proud as Eritrean American. Recently, I introduced her story to African American dear friend saying, “Haben Girma is the Hellen Keller of our time.” My friend was very impressed and admired her gifts. Her name came into our conversation when my friend shared her admiration of Congressman Joseph Neguse, finding out he is of Eritrean origin. For me this was a perfect bragging opportunity, so I dished out all emerging Eritrean Diaspora leaders and personalities. We, parents of the first generation Eritrean Americans, live vicariously through our children, who like Haben and many others make us proud. “Haben” literally means “Pride.” Successive Ethiopian rulers cut our dreams short, followed by Dictator Isaias Afeworki, who is the worst of them all. Against all odds, Eritrean Diaspora are showing us the lost opportunities in our homeland. While I am at it, I would like to acknowledge the emerging leaders of Diaspora Eritreans in higher proportion compared to the same size population of other national communities in the Diaspora. The primary drivers of Eritrean movements for social and political justice are largely Haben’s cohort. This gives me hope that Eritrea will not be a lost cause.
My primary purpose, however, in support of Haben for standing up against the inhumanity and injustices perpetrated on the people of Tigray. She is an excellent lawyer, who can defend herself in the court of law, if necessary. Her responses are sufficient. I just wanted to let her know, I am proud of her and she does not have to fight her fight alone. The haters are skilled in isolating and alienating though do not agree with them, supporting dictatorship and human right abuses while they live in democratic and tolerant societies. My intervention, therefore, is to put a mirror in front of those who claim to see physically but their minds are pitch-dark, deprived of commonsense. Their hearts are full of poisonous hate, spewing indiscriminately. Sometimes, I wonder if engaging them has any value, at they are self-exposing shamelessly their inhumanity, like their godfather, DIA.
While I am at it, I would like to point out to our readers, the tactics DIA lovers use to silence their critics. If a church leader criticizes them, stay with the confine of your prayers, if the person is medical doctor, stay with your patients, and now they used the exact same pattern to silence Haben, to confine her advocacy to issues of disability. Imagine, these are the same people, who cheered when the disabled veterans were mowed indiscriminately for saying to DIA regime that they were hungry and asked to improve our living condition. Unfortunately, the majority is cowed into silence like Haben’s environment, “It is not your business, stay out of it- – እንታይ ኣእተወኪ ስቕ ዘይትብሊ aentay a’eteweki sQ zeytbli.” Such intimidation has worked ever since Isaias took over the helm of leadership in EPLF for the last 50 years. If we cannot echo the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We were silent when injustice was flourishing in Eritrea for the last thirty-years, why are we surprised now when spilled over the border, into Tigray.
All Eritreans should stand with Haben Girma, calling the whole world to stand against injustice in Tigray and anywhere in the world. To Eritreans, Haben is a prophet calling us to redeem ourselves from the mess DIA has put us in Tigray. Eritreans implicated in such heinous acts of war, crime against humanity, rape, destruction of properties, killing of civilians in Tigray but the majority are in denial. Those who are directly involved are hell bent to mar everybody, taking us all down with them. Haben and other prophetic voices like her are standing in their way. We all are Haben. Though I might be close to the age of your parents, I proudly say, “When I grow up I want to be like you.” Keep it up daughter; you are our hope and Haben.