News Report on London-Forto Seminar
On a rainy London day and in the presence of good number of Eritrean-Londoners a public seminar was held in London - UK on 26 January 2014 to commemorate the first anniversary of the patriotic
On a rainy London day and in the presence of good number of Eritrean-Londoners a public seminar was held in London – UK on 26 January 2014 to commemorate the first anniversary of the patriotic operation that took place in Forto-Asmara on 21 January 2013, which heralded the beginning of the end of the Eritrean tyrannical regime.
The seminar was initiated by Mr. Hummad Kullu – a former Eritrean diplomat and present chairperson of the Coordinating Committee for ENDF (Eritrean National Democratic Forces) – who welcomed the attendees and referred to four historical events that challenged the Eritrean regime as follows: –
The first was the movement of the fighters on 20 May 1993, the second the uprising (intifada) of liberation struggle disabled veterans in July 1994, the third was the call of the G15 demanding assessment and accountability for all the mistakes committed by the PFDJ regime, and the fourth was what we have been commemorating this month (January 2014) – the 21 January 2013 – Forto movement.
Mr. Hummad Kullu called on Eritreans inside Eritrean and outside to agree on a common vision by adopting a Charter for a national action and a road map that identifies the features of the future Eritrean nation based on reconciliation and consensus, stressing that there is no one entity that is able to change the regime in Eritrea alone. Mr. Kullu added that if anyone thought that they can take on the task of regime change alone, then they are delusional and have not yet commanded the correct reading of the political map of Eritrea at the present time; even if this happened by some miracle then we will witness the birth of a failed state, which would be a disastrous fate for the Eritrean nation.
After Mr. Kullu’s speech the audience listened to a brief biography of the hero martyr Colonel Ali Said Hagai (aka Wad-Ali), which was presented by Ustaz Salah Mohamed-Zein – an Eritrean journalist and political activist based in London – UK. Wad-Ali’s biography was followed by an enlightening presentation delivered by Ms Selam Kidane – an Eritrean Human Rights activist – under the title:
From Forto to Victory – Thoughts on Strategic Ways Forward.
Ms Kidane emphasised the need for sustainable collective action based on shared values. She framed this action in the context of four factors including:-
- production of information to frame the context that the movement is embedded in,
- knowledge of cultural values enabling actions to resonate more deeply into individuals and thus anchor the actions in its natural context
- a leader who embodies the essence of the movement and has the emotional intelligence to shape the group’s reaction to particular situation, and
- sustainable actions to enable the construction of the movement and to let people adopt a collective identity.
In her presentation titled “Overview on PFDJ Regime’s Handling of Dissent Inside and Outside Eritrea” Feruz Keisy – Human Rights Activist and Anti-Slavery Campaigner, revealed a number of incidents of protest and dissent within the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) during the armed liberation struggle era (1961-1991) and post 1991, and how the regime of Secretary-General Isaias Afeworki resolved to crushing them by means of violence, rather than dialogue.
Feruz’s presentation was followed by Mr. Salah Aboray – political analyst and activist, who outlined that the 21 January-Forto movement confirmed that the removal of the authoritarian regime in Eritrea should and will only be possible, if and when the initiative is based inside Eritrea and fully owned by Eritreans.
For his part, Mr. Assefaw Berhe – a politician and leadership member of the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), stressed that the 21 January-Forto movement was a natural reflection of our people’s resentment of the pfdj tyrannical regime. He further reminded the audience of the need to draw lessons from the Forto experience and unite to overcome the challenges posed to our nation by the repressive policies of the pfdj regime.
Mr. Berhe further explained that the 21 January – Forto movement’s demands were those of the Eritrean people, which included constitutional governance, release of political prisoners, an end to indefinite national military service etc. Although the unit led by Wad-Ali and his comrades were carrying weapons, thus had the means to resort to violence, yet they chose to pursue their objective through the media and without spilling Eritrean blood beyond their own heroic sacrifices and martyrdom.
Mr. Abdul Rahman (Bohashem), who was prepared to present on the “21 January-Forto movement and the International Media”, volunteered for his time slot to be used to introduce the youth-led anti-slavery campaign initiative recently launched to exert pressure on the Eritrean regime to end forced military conscription for indefinite period of time.
The Anti-Slavery campaigners represented by Hermon and Feruz called on Eritreans to participate in the campaign by signing a petition currently circulating through Eritrean social network platforms and websites to put an end to the ongoing modern day “national slavery’.
The seminar event was concluded with a panel discussion where participants and panellists interacted in constructive exchange of views and clarification as well as the usual question and answer session.
The general feedback received from individual participants in the seminar was one of admiration for the quality of presentations and the issues tackled by each individual presenter.
Seminar Organising Committee
ENDF – UK
3rd February 2014