Nobel Peace Prize in 2019: My Experience in Eritrea

Nobel Peace Prize 2019 has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr. Abiy
Ahmed Ali for his effort to resolve 20-year-long border conflict between
Ethiopia and Eritrea. I congratulate the Norwegian Nobel Committee for
conferring the award to him.
  I was in Eritrea as senior
faculty from 2005 to 2007 and observed both Ethiopia and Eritrea had awful
relation as a sequel under United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea
(UNMEE), Indian army was posted as peace –keeper. It is pertinent to mention
that fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted in May 1998, as a result of
border dispute. The Secretary-General of Security Council immediately contacted
the leaders of the countries, urging restraint and offering assistance in
resolving the conflict peacefully. Despite all efforts, the fighting between
Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted again on 12 May 2000.

      While I was in Eritrea many locals
(Eritreans) told against Ethiopian rulers but they highly appreciated our armed
personnel. Our army had great image in Eritrea.  I visited our army camp two times – one on
Republic Day and in another time I had the opportunity to visit for my ailment
(little injury in eye while playing volleyball).  During the time of my visit medical staff
after examining me gave some medicines – eye drops and tablets at free of cost;
in addition they offered me tea and snacks also. Within couple of days I was
cured. I was joyous to observe their hospitality.
After completion of my
assignment from Eritrea, I came back to my home town in Hyderabad but still
following news etc. about Eritrea and Ethiopia. Anyhow when Mr. Abiy Ahmed
became Prime Minister in Ethiopia in April 2018, he made it clear that he
wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea, so he was in close touch with Mr. Isaias
Afwerki, the President of Eritrea. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea are not
economically strong so the war had created huge economic loss to both the
countries in addition to death of thousands. According to,,
“Eritrea claimed that 19,000 Eritrean soldiers were killed during the conflict;
most reports put the total war casualties from both sides as being around
70,000. All these figures have been contested and other news reports simply
state that ‘tens of thousands’ or ‘as many as 100,000’ were killed in the war”.
Whatever the number of casualties but damage was severe, human lives were lost,
property was damaged, citizens of both the countries suffered.  Mr. Abiy Ahmed Ali immediately after becoming
President took some positive steps. The steps inter alia were a) in May, 2018 he ordered to free thousands of
political detainees, including opposition leader Andargachew Tsege b) in June,
2018 he lifted state of emergency two months early and in same month he agreed
to give disputed territory to Eritrea c) in 2018, July he along with the
Eritrean President declared ‘the end of war between the two countries’, d) also
in September itself, he arranged to reopen land border with Eritrea. Mr. Abiy
Ahmed’s another praiseworthy contribution was appointment of women members to
half of ministerial posts. I personally feel awarding Noble Peace Prize to such
peace activist of 43 years aged-person is a great step by the Noble Committee.
Hope peace will prevail in entire Africa and thus all the 54 countries will
economically flourish. All rational persons and all regions never endorse war, terrorism,
violence etc. I remember the statement of one of Saudi’s top Islamic clerics,
the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, who told “Islam does not allow
terrorism at any cost. Islam condemns all violence and terrorism plaguing the
world today. Muslims should demonstrate a love for peace and unity,”
I wish to conclude by
quoting Swami Vivekananda, “Lovers see this world as full of love, and haters
as full of hatred; fighters see nothing but strife, and the peaceful nothing
but peace.”
Dr. Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor& Head (CPME)
Hyderabad-500 030
Telangana, India