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Eritrean remembers escape from his homeland

on May 5, 2010

Eritrea is one of the world’s youngest nations. It became independent in 1993 after decades of war. Now 17 years old, the country is in turmoil. The military group that led the independence war is still in power. The large Eritrean community is in diaspora; many of its members live here in the East Bay, and are divided between those who support the government and those who oppose it. General elections have been postponed indefinitely, and the government has been accused of forcing people into military service and jailing those who dissent or try to flee. Mario Furloni has the story of Dawit Bermane, a man who recently fled Eritrea. Sitting at a café in north Oakland, Bermane remembers his escape.

This audio podcast is the second in a series on the Bay Area’s Eritrean community. You can listen to the first one by clicking here. The third one is available here.

Click the audio player to hear an interview with Dawit Bermane.


  1. Free Dr. Fitzum on May 5, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    1st i would like to thank God for guiding Dawit Berhane. Dawit hawey (my brother in tigrigna) thank you for being the voice of the voiceless by sharing your time and efforets. Thank you Mario Furloni, Dr. Fitzum is the 1st eritrean Psychiatrist/Orthodox priest, he was educated in the UK and chose to go back to Eritrea. He is in prison since November 2004, never been charged with any offense nor allowed visitation by family, No reports of his whereabouts.

  2. Biniam T on May 6, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Dawit if you were in the national service, then do you remember the people in your platoon who gave their live for the country? How do you feel when you rubbish the blood of the heroic martyrs, just for a political asylum? … Yes the Eritrean youth are in trenches and hash condition. But it is not because of The Government of Eritrea, it is because of the Woyane and the US, the exact forces you are serving now. That’s standing against your people. Talk to your consciousness, it might do you some good.

  3. M B on May 6, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Seriously, Biniam? You can sit here in your comfortable world and judge someone like Dawit? If you feel that strongly, you go back home to Eritrea and take his place.

  4. economic migrant on May 6, 2010 at 7:55 am

    this guy in not political refugee this is a lie …yes Eritreas economy does not have jobs for ever body but this issue is the same round all Africa and third world countries
    they guy basically explain why he left he didn’t like the army hard work so he left

    So he is basically a economic migrant …but in America migrants cannot stay unless there are seeking some kind of political asylum and there for the figures are manmade self constructed because people have to lie in order to get papers to stay in America

  5. Meda on May 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Good job Dawit..we need people like you with gut to tell the thruth.

    Good job Mario for the good work if you explorer more you will find worsen than Dawit exprince.

  6. Feben on May 6, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I have question for Binyam T (and the other YPFDJ members in diaspora). If you mean what you say, go to Eritrea and join the endless national service. Then I might take you serious. Otherwise, shut your face and stop from telling the Eritrean youth to suck it up.

  7. Elias kifle on May 6, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Such kind of story coming Eritreans are no more surprising. what surprise me most is the question that was raised at the end: why there more Eritreans in the diaspora that still support the government? the answer is that themselves are not free from the hands of the government, they are in an indirect control . a simple example is that every Eritrean in the diaspora is forced to pay 2% of their income to the government.

  8. […]  You can listen to the first podcast in this audio series by clicking here. The second one is available here. […]

  9. No lie on May 6, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    =)) really funny. Alem’s cafe like this is a suprise lol. Wow if mario care to investigate most of the people who cliams “were in jail, or surved in the military” have never served a day in their live hiding for years and years holed up like Sadam Hussien when found disgraced. Mario if you were to do just a little bit investigation instead of accepting the story about said person I’m sure you would be shocked stagnant. Don’t be too shocked though even judges get fooled time after time just do a little bit more research on asylom seekers and you will find out their story isn’t true or incansistant. As for you Dawit if you got the gut I want you to come to the community center just down the block and share your story. Last thing Mario I want to give you a sound advice. Please don’t accept any one story fool hardy with out some tangable proof.

  10. […] can find the second installment in this audio series by clicking here. The third one is available here. Filed Under: Front, Oakland North Radio, Politics Tagged: […]

  11. real eritrean on May 7, 2010 at 7:31 am

    wow…mario really went out of his way to find the chalibis, quislings, and traitors of the eritrean people. you can find those kind of eritreans anywhere in the world. just like you kind find these kind of iraqis anywhere. remember those iraqi-americans that wanted the US to invade iraq and bring down saddam? they sold out their people for money and power. now these eritreans are doing the same with the addition of tribalism, regionalism, and other forms of backwardness. why not interview the real nationalists who will tell you why 95% of eritreans in the diaspora support their government?

  12. Biniam on May 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Good job for telling the story and great work by the journalist.

    What a surprise to hear from a bunch of so called government supporters. It is against consciousness to speak against the voiceless Eritreans languishing in prison and death camps. It is just black and white! All the young people suffering in Track B, Hadish Measker, Adi Abeyto, Barentu and the vrtual prison country Eritrea.

    For the so called supporters, please go to Eritrea and serve on the modern day slavery and then see yourself. You obviously know but the fact is you are in denial.

  13. Meda on May 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    @No lie…I would love to come to share the story. I have a gut and I can bring Dawit and others but y’ll don’t swallow the truth.

  14. […] […]

  15. Az on May 10, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Hey guys let’s appreciate what Dawit did. And I advice everybody to come forward and do your part that is the only way to fight the oppressive regime. Good job Dawit.

  16. Me on May 13, 2010 at 1:46 am

    True story! that tyrant and his confused supporters has to go!

  17. EH on May 17, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    welcome to “sidet” Dawit Berhane. You invested time and money to make the journey to US. I hope it was worth it.

    You know not everyone can afford to make the circuitous trip you made. We also know that you never really escape from prison in Eritrea. You were either released after serving time (returned to national service) and made another successful escape attempt or the story you are telling is not true.

    But whatever the case may be I advise you not to be a puppet for the likes of Solomon who were hardcore PFDJ and NUEY members who are now standing against it for personal reasons.

    kindey alewu kemaka! hiji gina nabra’om yigebru alewu….nabraka giber!

  18. Meda on May 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    @EH…It’s funny. Dawit has a gut to come forward and telling us the truth. Why you guys are scared when someone came forward and telling you the truth you don’t swelled. You know us for sure and if you don’t think Dawit’s story is not true, why don’t come and tell us the truth. We can meet you any where and any time. With respect.

  19. A. Yati on June 28, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for this article, please ignore all the comments made by the regime’s puppets! Dawit thank god you could make it alive and that we had the chance to hear your story. Please watch Eritrea bad things are happening there, try not to ignore the suffering of the people. forget us not.

  20. gerimuna on September 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Well done dawit,but i wonder when i see there are ppl who support the eritrean regime which is already on his way to hell!!!why don,t they go back and tell us the true instead of repeating what the dimsi hafash says!

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