EYSC hereby presents its vision for defeating the dictatorship in Eritrea and replacing it with a constitutional, democratic and just system.
Whereas the Eritrean people in general and the youth in particular continue to endure insurmountable repression and the country’s future remains bleak, we consider it our sacred duty to respond to the needs and aspirations of our people. While we are grateful to those brave Eritreans from every walk of life who have struggled for decades to expose, challenge and depose the illegal , one-man dictatorship of Isaias Afeworki, at this juncture, we believe the opposition movement needs to utilize an urgent strategy that ensures a decisive victory.
We recognize that the authoritarian regime remains the biggest obstacle standing between the Eritrean people and their aspiration for a free, united and developed nation that equally nurtures all its citizens and peoples through espousing the principles of universal human rights and political pluralism. We firmly believe the Eritrean people are quite capable of independently achieving this dream without any interference from third parties. There is no better alternative to building a democratic society at peace with itself and its neighbors based on the supremacy of law; and there is no better alternative to erecting a system that truly represents the free will of the people.
The Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC), in accordance with its mission to galvanize the youth and encourage them to be active participants in the fight against the dictatorship, deems it necessary to craft this vision toward a better tomorrow. We firmly and without reservation believe in the following truths and that today’s youth has an obligation to work hard and address the following.
- National Salvation
We recognize that the deteriorating situation in our country requires a sense of urgency. The speed at which the fabric of our society is being undone is astounding. Just in the past decade, hundreds of thousands of young people have left the country; leaving behind a police-state rampant with corruption and the total absence of legal rights. The status quo is unsustainable and if things are left to fate even darker lay ahead. It is imperative that a corrective action takes place right away to rescue the country and salvage its hard won independence.
- EYSC’s Three Declared Goals
We acknowledge that the origin to most of what ails Eritrea can be traced to: the dictatorial powers of one man; the total absence of constitutional governance and respect for human rights; and the ill conceived and mismanaged National Service scheme. Therefore EYSC continues to call for:
a) Immediate resignation of Isaias Afeworki
b) Immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience
c) The end of the campaign of slavery disguised as national service
- Masters of Our Destiny
Building a democratic system, a cohesive society, intellectual pluralism and legal institutions is contingent upon a nations ability to remain master of its destiny. We believe that it is imperative that the agenda of defeating the dictatorship and subsequently rebuilding the administrative functions remains under the total control of Eritreans. Our legitimate cause deserves help and support from the international community, but decisions are best left for Eritreans to decide. There is major and stark difference between help and interference. While we unequivocally reject any outside forces interfering in our national matters, we acknowledge the need to obtain material, moral and political support from our neighboring countries and the international community at large. However, it is important that such alliances are mutually beneficial, strategic and far sighted.
- Individual Freedom
The building blocks of democracy are free citizens who take responsibility for their rights. We have learned from the past 20 years that collectivism leads to conformity and the surrendering of individual freedoms. We believe that all people are born with inalienable rights which supersede that of any group, association or government . EYSC encourages the empowerment of individuals to join the fight for democracy in a way that fits their ideology, philosophy and life style.
We recognize that matters such as drafting a national constitution, formation of political and civil institutions, national reconciliation, rebuilding the nation’s economy, erecting a judiciary system and other institutions are all important endeavors. However, all these will be possible only after the dictatorial system is duly defeated. EYSC firmly believes that all these important aspects can not be decided upon without the active and free participation of Eritreans who live in Eritrea. First things should come first. At this time, all our energy, unity, resources and focus is best spent on creating a viable road map and get busy executing it.
- Regional, Religious and Ethnic Demands
We believe administrative regions, religious associations and ethnic groups have the right to peace, security and equality. The Eritrea we are aspiring to help build should be one that respects the sanctity of religious doctrine and one that does not compromise the interest of one region, religion or any other group at the expense of the other. However, in order to defeat the dictatorship, we believe all individuals stand up and get counted as Eritreans first and foremost. The opposition camp can not win the hearts and minds of all Eritreans if it fails to be viewed as a nationalist movement.
- Principle of Resistance
We recognize that the issue of peaceful and violent resistance is a matter of debate and controversy among the opposition camp. For the purpose of clarity, we believe we have to clearly define this separately for resistance from the Diaspora and delineate it from that of inside Eritrea. EYSC strongly believes in abiding by the laws, rules and customs of the foreign countries Eritreans live in. Therefore, that part of the movement can only be a peaceful and non-violent movement. In Eritrea, we believe the regime has already chosen a violent method in response to any legitimate call for change. We respect every group’s or individual’s right to defend themselves or engage in a method of resistance of their choice. In any eventuality, we consider it our duty to help ensure that the Eritrean Defense Forces side with the Eritrean people and hasten the downfall of the regime in the least costly way possible.
- Popular Participation
For one reason or another the majority of Eritreans in the Diaspora have chosen to remain silent albeit their desire for change. Fear still reigns but for those who can speak up and participate, the opposition movement has not succeeded yet in creating an atmosphere and organizational structure that makes it easier. We believe this revolution requires the participation of not only the youth, but also the older generation. EYSC will create forums where our poets, musicians, singers, actors, cultural performers, writers, painter, designers, photographers, film makers, and journalists can express themselves and generate the badly needed energy.
Eritrea has a rich cultural, ethnic, religious, linguistic and topographical diversity. It is important that our movement reflects this reality and beauty to the extent possible. However, we believe this goes beyond symbolism and token inclusion. What is more important is that all of Eritrea’s voices are heard with respect and without suppression and chauvinism. EYSC will strive to be a welcoming organization any Eritrean will be proud to belong.
- The Road to Victory
The time has come for the Eritrean people to unite and take a swift action against the regime of Isaias Afeworki, a regime that has been granted ample time to reform and mend its ways. We are confident in our people’s ability in general and our faith in our youth in particular to defeat and depose this evil system. EYSC believes the path toward that vision starts with the grassroots mobilization of Eritreans in the Diaspora, a call for the international community to pressure the regime, a call for the Eritrean military to stand up and save the nation and a united, focused, inspiring and popular opposition movement that is flexible and willing to compromise for the common good to lead the way to victory.
Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC)
This proposal from E.Y.S.C North America is intended to serve as temporary document until EYSC adapts a formal document at a future conference.