Moral Crusade: that has changed the political landscape of Eritrea
By Petros Tesfagiorgis The occupation of Forto, the Ministry of Information, on January 21, 2013 by soldiers from the Eritrean Defence Forces has shaken the foundations of PFDJ and exposed the emptiness of its repressive ideology. The
By Petros Tesfagiorgis
The occupation of Forto, the Ministry of Information, on January 21, 2013 by soldiers from the Eritrean Defence Forces has shaken the foundations of PFDJ and exposed the emptiness of its repressive ideology.
The demands for the implementation of the constitution and the release of all prisoners of conscience, is the demands of the oppressed Eritrean people who are silenced because they are denied the right to express themselves. The Forto mutineers made the demands visible for all to see, the Eritreans in particular and the international community in general. Although they have not achieved their mission, their bold initiative and selfless sacrifice has become a moral crusade that opened the gates of hope for the people of Eritrea. Wedi Ali will be remembered in the Eritrean history as the first martyr in action in an attempt to deliver the people of Eritrea from PFDJ serfdom.
The legacy of the January 21 Forto uprising:
The event has reinforced the conventional truth/wisdom that, more often than not, change comes from the inside. It has ushered in a fundamental change of views in the thinking of those who expect change to come from the outside believing that the people of Eritrea are incapable of bringing change by themselves. This is not to deny outside help but to establish that Eritreans should be on the driving wheel. In a way this can be a defining moment of realizing the state Eritrea is in and draw some sort of road map of struggle compatible with the objective reality of the country.
The Forto uprising has broken fear: For too long the people of Eritrea were seized by a contagious disease called conspiracy of silence more often than not out of sheer fear. The uprising has inspired the people particularly the youth in transforming the height of fear into a spirit lifting challenge. They felt the fire, they felt the energy so much so as to boldly invade the Eritrean Embassies in Europe, USA, Canada etc. expressing support to and solidarity with the Defence Forces and calling for the implementation of the constitution and the release of all prisoners of conscience. In Eritrea leaflets are being distributed and graffiti are drawn in strategic places.
The mutineers left a legacy where the people of Eritrea should focus. They pressed the right button that raised the fundamental issues that restores the dignity and respect of the Eritrean people. The burning issues are to fight for justice, the rule of law, respect of human rights, the release of all prisoners of conscience and the implementation of the constitution. It is essential to adopt these issues as a core strategy in which all Eritreans from different walks of life, religious denominations and nationalities could rally behind and establish them as the common denominators for unity in struggle. The people of Eritrea have to move on and deal a death blow to the divide and rule policy “divide et Empera” of PFDJ and avoid the temptation of falling into that trap. PFDJ is still capable of playing such games as reflected in the Forto uprising by imprisoning more Moslems.
The Challenge for the people in Diaspora:
Those people in Eritrea either member of the Defence Forces alone or with help from the civilians are the main actors to bring change in Eritrea. However, the Diaspora has a crucial role to play.
The armed forces demand has reverberated all over the world as featured by the international media such as Aljazeera, BBC and many more. The challenge of the Diaspora is to build on it and carry the struggle forward and seek support from the international community such as governments, political parties, human rights and humanitarian organisation, and peace and freedom loving individuals from all walks of life.
Therefore, working with the international community is crucial to advance the activities for a just cause taking advantage of the freedom of expression and association prevailing in those countries. Some of the measures to be taken are enumerated by Yosief Gebrehiwet in his article at Asmarino.com. It goes, “It requires active participation on our side. Among other things, this will require intense focus (a) on the mining companies, with the goal of stopping all mining prospects in the country; and (b) on the Red Sea Trading Corporation’s (and other parastatals’) economic dealings outside the country….. (c) On the regime supporters network in Diaspora etc.
But parallel with this, which happens to be the most important and difficult, is the challenge of empowering the people. It means raising their level of their consciousness as to feel powerful to believe in themselves and get involved in the activities that bring democratic change in Eritrea.
At the moment apart from those active few unsung heroes silence still prevails. The majority of those who support the PFDJ are also victims enslaved by TV-ERE powerful propaganda and luck of awareness. Bob Marley, the Reggae legend: in his song “the sound of freedom” goes, “let’s emancipate ourselves from mental slavery”. The Eritreans who supports PFDJ are found in the same category. It is also a pattern in most of the African and Caribbean countries. Bob Marley’s message is central to this tragedy. The Civil Societies must try to engage with the supporters. However they have their own weakness and are not strong enough or organised enough to take up such challenges. They need to create institutions with clear objectives, organisational structures with an inbuilt system of accountability and work plan against which failures are recognized and achievements can be measured, monitored, assessed and reviewed every six months or every year. (To be discussed in my next article).
The truth is those in Diaspora who supports PFDJ are losing self-respect and personal dignity by the day as the regime starts to collapse from the inside. They are being pushed out from serving the regime but the pull factor is weak.
The Diaspora’s other responsibility is to help the refugees, advocate for their safe sanctuary. In this particular objective the human rights activists are doing a good job, they are relatively efficient and high achievers.
However in the area of humanitarian assistant the support is still rudimentary. There are many humanitarian organisations but they are fragmented and their scarce manpower is unable to reach out those who need support.
I quote “Only Eritreans can bring this about, but there are things we could do to lessen the suffering of the victims of this tyranny.” Asmarino.com
In his article Dan Connell brought into light the challenges of the Eritrean Diaspora, the friends of Eritrea and the international community in general in helping the refugees to build their lives in the countries they have been allowed to settle. (I will touch on the need of support to Eritrean refugees in article to follow.)
To be continued: