Mr. Gebre Bahdurai

Eritrean Satellite Television (ERISAT) was born as a Satellite TV communication platform around November 2018. It was formed with few determined Eritreans to educate, inform, and counteract the regime’s misinformation and disinformation campaigns.

ERISA’s vision is to be at the forefront of nurturing democratic culture and justice in Eritrea by creating a platform for diverse voices, thereby encouraging and promoting tolerance and engagement among Eritreans inside and outside Eritrea. Well, that is what Erisat is doing today.

Some Erisat team members explained that ERISAT had nothing when they joined the organization: no money, expertise, human and material resources, and no Bylaws. They sacrificed their time, family time, money, and other resources to advance ERISAT ‘S objectives, believing that ERISAT would find its way and help reassure its existence. They were right; finally, Erisat found its way to not only survive but also thrive to serve the public.

Erisat members, in the past, have sacrificed their credit cards, taken personal loans, gave money from their 401 k only because they believed in the organization and wanted to ensure its existence. It was not all cozy and rosy.

Within a short period, Erisat grew bigger. This giant, this enormous creature, this elephant trapped inside this small room, was having a rough time moving around. There were no windows big enough to stick its neck out nor a door large enough to get his body out.

They must break the door and knock on the walls to get the elephant out of the room. It burst out of the room with cheers and happiness. It did not die. If in the creation of a big idea, errors can happen. Big ideas have been born in smaller rooms, dorm rooms for students, garage rooms, etc.

Today, ERISAT is not alone in raising the baby. What they considered yesterday became our baby today. Erisat is bigger and better today than yesterday. I consider myself an Erisat family. Erisat is in good hands with capable people sacrificing their time as volunteers to benefit the general public.

I can not say enough about the volunteers who, day in and day out, contribute to the growth and direction of Erisat. I salute all of you, including all former volunteers who were part of the Erisat team.

So what is next to Erisat? I believe the sky’s the limit. We know the despotic regime has put our youth in the dark, and education for our children is the last thing on his plan. Erisat can fill in this crack. They can add more educational material for students back home. Since there isn’t much internet, we can aggressively try to communicate with the people at home using satellite alternatives. So if we decide to move in that direction, we must support Erisat with the necessary resources, funds, and expertise.

We believe Erisat is the authentic voice for the voiceless in action. We have used the platform of Erisat to advocate for our refugees in Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. We used Erisat to raise funds worldwide for our refugees, including to help release the famous Alem & Kibrom from the Egyptian prison. Erisat was a partner in helping us accomplish our fight. I want you to support the organization with your generous contributions and organize fundraising on their behalf.

The above statement was part of my testimonial speech at the Erisat Symposium 2022.

My take from inside the hall of the Erisat Symposium:

I am proud to report from the beautiful city of Washington, District of Columbia, USA. The occasion was for the longest awaited and highly anticipated first Symposium of Erisat 2022.

The auditorium was packed. We had guests from around the globe and from all walks of life. Zacarias Kibrab, Mestyat Betna from Germany, the poet and author Yirgalem Fiseha from Germany, Dr. Mehari Zewde, the long-time Eritrean friend Don Conell, and Ambassador Steven C. Walker’s touching messages directly from Asmara, Eritrea, are a few to mention.

Many guests came from out of state to join the symposium. I happened to travel from Atlanta, GA. It is worth the travel and any trouble it may cost to be part of the crowd. I met a lot of people in person for the first time. The program was very long, but I have not heard anyone complaining. Some of us came early, from noon EST until 10:30 pm EST. Despite minor technical issues, the program went very well. Technical problems do occur during live shows. There were dedicated teams to fix whatever challenges they might have faced.

Two keynote speakers, Zacarias and Yirgalem, have shared very moving, personal stories. Yirgalem went far enough to explain her experience in Eritrean prisons, including torture. The hall was very silent, and we were listening with disbelief. We did not want the story to end; however, there was a standing ovation at the end of her speech.

A long-time friend of Eritrean, Dan Conell, explained that the change in Eritrea must only come from the Eritrean people. No one can do it on our behalf. He mentioned rumors or expectations that some other powers, including TDF, could do our job. He simply said that would not happen, and TDF was not going to Eritrea. It is more of a myth than anything close to reality. He wondered why we couldn’t figure out and understand the tactics used by PFDJ to keep Eritreans divided.
Eritreans must come together unified to affect change. Then and only then can the rest of the world come to support our cause.

The most important message from Ambassador Steven C. Walker resonated with me: the US has no plan for regime change, so the Eritrean people must decide their future. He is the only voice we have inside Asmara. He said it not only once but twice. I can read many embedded messages between the lines. The mention of regime change in itself is what they wished to see, but who can they partner with? I believe something positive is cooking to affect change. Not having a unified front and running around for 31 years, it must stop here and now.

We are willing to take charge without hesitation, lead the movement to the next level and give a clear direction to the proper highway. We read and understand the missing link inside the action. It is time to ponder and wander around like a lost child. We promise to lead the way and affect the desired change.

Thanks, Mr. G

June 12, 2022