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            The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COI) is a UN commissioned body with a mandate to shed light on the human rights violations being perpetrated by the Eritrean government against its people. It is carrying out its mandate by collecting oral and written testimonies of ordinary Eritrean citizens.  Most Eritrean households, both at home and abroad, can bear witness to the level of brutality and inhumanity of this regime.


            The Commission‘s mission is to document the horrific, widespread and systematic human rights violations that are currently taking place in Eritrea. It is an absolutely necessary endeavor because it will help to bring the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) to justice.


            The PFDJ’s reign is a tyrannical one and continues to hold the Eritrean people hostage for no other reason except to maintain power. The threat of arbitrary arrest and detention is very real in Eritrea and has been for a very long time. This regime is ruling Eritrea with impunity. It has imprisoned and tortured all those that it deemed to be a threat to its hold on power, among them journalists, former high-ranking government officials and their family members.


            There are over 300 prisons in Eritrea and conservative estimates state that there are about 35,000 political prisoners languishing in Eritrea. Never before seen footage smuggled out of Eritrea’s Adi Abeto prison shows images of 500 or so prisoners crammed into dangerously over crowded, unsanitary halls. It is worth mentioning that these prisoners are ordinary Eritrean citizens who have been denied legal due process.


            Furthermore, under the guise of military service, tens of thousands of Eritrean men and women have been subjected to forced labor and indefinite military service. In a 2015 Amnesty International report, the following was stated about Eritreans fleeing national service:


            “These people, many of them children, are refugees fleeing a  system that amounts to forced labour on a national scale and that robs them of choice over key aspects of their lives”


            The situation in Eritrean can be best described as a form of slavery that deprives Eritreans of the basic human right to live their lives free from exploitation and abuse. These inhumane conditions have left Eritreans with no other option but to flee in order to save their lives.


            The PFDJ usually responds to the mass exodus out of Eritrea by implementing an inhumane shoot to kill policy on its borders; as a result, Eritrean men, women and children are being met with a barrage of bullets as they seek to escape the open-air prison that is Eritrea today.


            Sadly, Eritreans feel that they would have a far greater chance of survival if they risked the wrath of human traffickers, militants or even the sea as opposed to staying at home and continuing to suffer abuse at the hands of their government. 


            It is of no surprise that the PFDJ is seeking to level a smear campaign against the COI and the sincere individuals assisting them in their efforts to give a voice to millions of subjugated Eritreans. This same regime would like to have us believe that the tens of thousands of Eritreans escaping the country (an estimated figure of 5,000 a month) are doing so purely for economic gains and not because of the PFDJ’s tyrannical policies.


As advocates for human rights in Eritrea, we are extremely concerned about the PFDJ’s mounting efforts to pressure Eritreans living in the diaspora to attend its meetings and fill out forms designed to undermine the COIE’s work. The regime and its agents are doing this with the intention of delaying the inevitable, the prosecution of criminal government officials at the International Criminal Court.


            As a moral obligation, we urge all Eritrean refugees in their respective host nations to remain vigilant and steadfast in the wake of such aggressive disinformation campaign. We request that you stand in solidarity with your oppressed people and to extend your hands to the COI. Only with your support can we solve our problem and make the dream of a prosperous and thriving Eritrea a reality.


Thank You!


Eritrean Solidarity Movement for National Salvation

Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change – North America

Eritrean Law Society

Freedom Friday Project (Arbi Harnet) 

Stop Slavery in Eritrea Campaign

By Petros Tesgagherghis

There is persistent talk that the Eritrean political parties should hand over leadership to the youth. But it is not possible to hand over leadership in a silver plate. Leaders emerge or evolve in the process of organised  activities.

So my New Year resolution is “Don’t agonize, organize”. This was a slogan of a ground breaking conference of South African Students in Diaspora during Apartheid South Africa.  The concern of the South African youth – is to search an effective tool to carry out their struggle.  That is to identify an effective organisation.

Youth movements are not to grap power. They are not political parties – They are agents of change.  Their ideology, their vision are geared to raise the level of consciousness of the youth. They preach the values of justice, freedom of expression, freedom of worship and association. They empower the people with these values. Once they are empowered they can join or support political parties that stood up for these values.

While South Africa’s Nelson Mandela was into direct politics, Steve Biko belongs to the youth (student) movement. He tried to empower the oppressed black people by preaching “Black Consciousness”. To fight the prevailing white supremacy by first believing in self. Once they realize that they are not inferior to the white man, then they can use their discovered power to transform the South African Society into a democratic society that belongs to all people. In this mind-set to divide the people on the basis of race has no place. 

When it comes to the Eritrean reality the challenge for the youth is to find an effective organisation that the youth can easily relate to and be members or staunch supporters. There is no need to expect some old generation fighters to hand them political power.

But first few committed individuals can draft the constitution or manifesto. Then it can be circulated to all chapters or towns for discussion in the course of which they put down working notes to clarify the character and activity of their organisation and the necessity of its relationship to the Diaspora political parties.  It means they must maintain their independence to any political parties or any organs of a government even if PFDJ is ousted.

The youth manifesto or constitution can bring into focus – what the youth movement is all about: understanding the depth of the gross violations of human rights that is destroying the fabric of the Eritreans society, so they can stand up and fight for justice.  Also understanding the political, economic and social changes reshaping our world – in particular – the interference of PFDJ in the civil war in Yemen that ushered in geo-political change in the Horn. And also the implication of the EU and others to prop up the PFDJ regime and the activities to paint PFDJ a humane face. 

They need to come up with transparent structure that enables the organisation capable of acting in a politically centralized manner, with speed and effectiveness, as they are confronted with the unpredictable challenges created daily as the interest of the West is growing because of huge mineral, gas and oil deposits in Eritrea.

The resolution of the New Year is to live up to the challenges: Get organise and not agonize. 

A New Year's Resolution is a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something better than the past. I will here deal with The properties( both physical and chemical) we have failed in the past and start act to improve.


1. Building cooperative relations: ምሕናጽ ሓባራዊ ዝምድና/ To be successful you must build a cooperative network among a diverse set of allies. The Eritrean Opposition forces in Diaspora failed in the past to build a cooperative relationship among different groups both locally, regionally and globally. Let us renew our relations with special attention and devotion that we missed in the past.


2. Building Trust:ምሕናጽ እምነት/ The absence of trust in the opposition has been seen many times in their actions. The concept " trust" is difficult to define but one way to understand trust is to see it through character and competence. Character focuses on personal motives ( i.e, does he or she want to do the right thing?), While competence focuses on skills necessary to realize motives ( i. e., does he or she know the right things to do?).  Stephen Covey has clarified in his book ( Seven habits of highly effective people)


The traits of character are consistency, openness and purpose.

Consistency/ምእዙዝነት is when people are guided by a core set of principles, they are naturally more predictable because their actions are consistent with these principles.


Openness/ ግሉጽነት when people have a clear sense of who they and what they value, when they are more receptive to others. This trait provides us with the capacity to emphasize and the talent to build consensus among divergent people.


Purpose/ናይ ሓባር ዕላማታት is when leaders are driven not only by personal ambitions but also for the common good. Their primary concern must what is best for the people not the organization. This willingness to subordinate personal and organizational interests to higher purpose, in our case saving the Eritrean people from the oppression of the dictatorship garners the respect, loyalty, and trust of the people.


3. Creating A shared Vision:ምፍጣርናይ ሓባር ራእይ-What is a vision? A vision is a dot on the horizon at which all subsidiary actions and efforts are directed. In the Eritrean opposition forces what is that dot in the horizon? Are all have the same understanding about this dot? Have we  directed our main actions towards this dot? No, not at all. A vision is not simply sloganeering but it must be effective. There are four essential qualities of creating a common vision. A vision must be communicated. A vision must have a strategic sense. A vision must have passion. A vision must  inspire others. The opposition lacks a shared vision that fosters the common good. Let us promise to act build a shared vision by working together instead of negation and defamation of each other.


4. Managing conflicts:/ ኣፈታትሓ ግርጭታት/ Disagreements and conflict emerge at any time in the life of any work. The Eritrean opposition have been disagreeing over solving problems internally and externally. The Eritrean opposition has been pursuing an adversarial conflict management in the past years. Let us change this trend and adopt an integrative conflict management that fosters trust and mutual respect.


5. Partnering:/ ምሕዝነት Partnering is a state of mind, a philosophy on how to conduct business with others. Partnering represents a commitment from all the participants working on the project  to respect, trust, and collaborate. Let us promise this new year to have a mind and philosophy that can help us build respect, trust and collaboration.


6. Learning to separate the people from the problem:- ምምሃር "ጉዳያት ካብ ሰብ" ፈሊኻ ምርኣይ What is learning? Learning is commonly associated with a change in how we understand and interpret the reality that surrounds us. We have been focusing on personalities instead of focusing on issues. Let us promise this new year to focus on issues instead of personalities. Our life is always learning. Those who think they already know will never learn. Some elements in the opposition specially in the social media think that they already know and never learn their real surroundings and the issues that need to be focused. Let us promise to create a learning environment. Positive lessons can be best derived from an environment free of suspicion and mistrust. Let us create an environment that is free of suspicion and mistrust.

"Change won't come from the top; Change will come from mobilized grassroots." Barack Obama

Markeng and promong new concept or idea is very important in order to persuade & get people’s attention and support. Many corporations fail not because they do not possess a good product, but because they fail to market their product. Millions of Dollars is spent every year by big corporations for adversement. To sell an idea or concept such as the “Bottom-Up Grassroots’ Movement”, you need to have a clearly defined concept; you need a promoter, and a medium (media outlets) and audience that can buy the idea. Clearly defined concept needs to be clear and easy to understand by people. You need promoters who are skillful enough to carry the message, convey or sell the idea. You need to have a media outlet that can relay your message to the general public. Of course, you need to have an audience that is interested in your ideas. I think most of us try to sell new ideas without knowing these important components. 

Most of us, we want the Media outlets to run our ideas without even contributing or parcipating in their fund raising campaign. After all, the very existence of these media outlets depends on funds collected from individuals. If your audiences are in Eritrea, you need a media outlet such as Assenna, Medrek, Radio Wegahta and Radio Erena that are proven to have the capability of broadcasng that reach the homeland. In this information age, we also need to be technologically savvy enough to use the social media to reach to a larger audience and demographics. 

My article will mainly concentrate on the concept and the need of Media or media outlets in relaying and selling the concept and what need to be done to advance our cause. 

The Last Two Years Effort in Promoting the Concept

In the last two years, the Eritrean association for Jusce (EAJ), an Indianapolis local chapter of the Eritrean grassroots movement has written many articles and published multiple magazines in Tigrinya in an attempt to promote the idea or concept of bottom-up strategy, as well as to nurture the Grassroots movement as an alternative means for tackling the Eritrean problem. In addition, in order to lay a common groundwork for the grassroots movement, a “Working Together on a Local Level” principle was adopted on March of 2012 in Indianapolis. Later on in September of 2013, a drafting committee was formed and prepared a document (platform), which supports the need for establishing a bottom-up strategy for grassroots movement. The Eritrean Association for Jusce circulated to the general public its initial draft and ratified goals and by-laws in November and December of 2013 during the formation  of the Eritrean Associaon for Justice (EAJ) in Indianapolis. During the year of 2014 alone, EAJ had held about 6 public meetings in Indianapolis and also were published in the major websites

About 16-18 cities/localities formed a Temporary Representative Regional Council (2 individual representatives from each city). The Temporary Representative Regional Council then elected a temporary coordinating committee in an attempt to work together on a Regional level. Currently as broadcasted on Assenna, a regional draft is finalized which entails common goals, strategy, roadmap etc. for people to discuss and improve the draft on a local level (cities). Many other local chapters, individuals such as Amanuel Iyasu, Dr. Araia Debesai, Memhir Ibrahim Mohammed, Mr. Ashiel and groups such as “Our Voice” also have written and advocated about the need of Grassroots Movement on different occasions. Wedi Vacaro also played a positive role in advancing the cause during his tour in North America and Europe.  Amanuel of Assenna is playing a pivotal role in articulating why we need a People’s Grassroots Movement. 

On my part, as the 2014 year EAJ chairperson, I did a presentaon in the Smerr Paltak room and explained about the concept and our ratified document, as well as answered questions posed by participants.  I, as a former member of the North-America Temporary Coordinating Committee, and two of my colleagues were interviewed, and the content of the interview was broadcasted over the air to the public by Radio Assenna. Further, on March 24, 2014, I participated in the DC Conference panel discussion for which I advocated for working together through a grassroots movement in order to save the nation and its people from further devastation. In addion, at the end of August of 2015, in my status as a spokesperson of EAJ, I attempted to promote the idea of bottom-up strategy, as well as explained all the challenges that the Grassroots movement is facing during my interview with Samuel Ghebrehiwet of Medrek.  

Yet, despite all the efforts we made, it seems either the majority of the Eritrean People were not paying attention or we were failing to explain about the concept of Grassroots Movement, which is the bottom-up strategy.  Honestly though, it is not for lack of effort on our part as some might think. On the contrary, and based on the questions posed to Amanuel during his presentation in Smerr room, it appears many people haven’t read the Tigrinya articles, including magazines such as Fithi that the EAJ so far published. Some of the problems might be attirbuted to language barrier while others are simply to lack of interest in reading materials in print. It stands to reason then majority of people prefer to listen to radio rather than reading magazines or articles in print. I don’t know whether this is political, social and demographic in nature or not, but reading books, magazines, newspapers or articles in print is declining in our Diaspora society. The danger is if all magazines and articles are not read over the air on radio Assenna, Medrek, Dimzi Delina, Radio Erena or other independent Media, it becomes very unlikely to sell/market the concept. The point is it is imperative that mass participation in the struggle is decisive both through listening to radio and reading materials in print. 

I appreciate Assenna and Medrek for hosting and helping us promote the concept without us asking them to do so. At the same time, I appeal to them and the other media outlets to conntiue to help in promoting the idea so that our people can work together for the same objective. We also call upon the public to be supportive in raising funds to the independent media. 

Understanding the Bottom-Up Concept/Strategy and its Hierarchies

We need to recognize the bottom-up strategy is a deep-rooted concept in the cultural and political fabric of Eritrean society. It gives power to the localities where the people reside. Decision is made democratically based a workable agreement of the local people. Every citizen has the opportunity to participate or involve in the political power decision-making process regardless of the citizen’s political Party affiliation. And this is the beauty of democracy in which the society is put on an equal level or footing to secure their liberty and equality. After all, those are the reasons why the Eritrean people fought for thirty years against foreign occupiers.

In order to have a Global People’s Congress whose main task will be to represent the people in Diaspora, we need to start from the local level where the power of the people resides. We cannot short cut the process for polictial expediency purposes. As we all know, individuals (members and/or leaders) who are affiliated with political organizaons live within the local people and they do have the right to participate in the local process unless they opted-out voluntarily as some did in Indianapolis area. The localities will then democratically elect representatives who will represent the city/locality based on proportional representation in relation to the size of the region. The sub-regions/regions will also have the same procedure and elect their Regional Representatives to be members of the Global People’s Congress.

For simplicity and for illustration purposes, let’s assume there are only 5 cities in Germany so that we all can understand the bottom-up Grassroots movement structure and relationship between the 4 stages or hierarchies reflected below: 

GoitomImam 1

To avoid the confusion whether there is a need of a Region vs. a Sub-Region, my view is it will depend on the composion of the region. We can use a sub-region also for horizontal networking among localities for mutual cooperation and to facilitate common project (such as seminars, demonstration, festivals etc…). I do believe continents such as Europe, a hierarchy of a sub-region is necessary as depicted in the hierarchy above. This might not be necessary in North America unless you split Canada and US as two sub-regions. Either decision, it is up to the localities to decide and agree. I am just explaining the available options not to dictate the right of the people or take away the right of the locality. 

Grassroots Movement vs. Medrek Initiative

On the surface, there seem to be two competing ideas emerging in the Eritrean opposition as a means to overthrow the Eritrean dictatorial regime and to establish a smooth  transition process towards constutional democratic governance.  On one hand, the ongoing initiative by The Forum or “Medrek N’Zete” is an attempt to bring all political organizations, civil associations…etc together for the achievement of common goals & objectives in the struggle against PFDJ. On the other hand, the ongoing bottom-up approach of the Eritrean People’s Grassroots Movement which is already adopted by about 16 cities in North America and some cities in Europe such as in England, Germany, Swiss and the Netherlands etc.…. 

Unlike some who prematurely criticize the “Medrek N’zete’s initiative, I, for one, would like to encourage them to continue to facilitate dialogue especially among the Eritrean political organizations on how to work together towards a common agreeable objectives by adopting a common strategy, roadmap and work plan. To me, I do not care who takes the initiative. What is important is the end result agreeable to all stakholders and the general public. If we are naysayers all the time and become suspicious of every initiative taken, we cannot move forward and accomplish anything. According to Medrek, the Kenya initiative is the beginning not the end. They also stated, their initiative will not stop with the political leaders or organizations, but will expand to include all stakeholders for democratic change, including Media outlets. The objective of the Eritrean People’s Grassroots Movement is to overthrow the dictatorial regime by working and coming together based on a bottom-up strategy, a strategy that involves people at the local level. Coming and working together of political organizations is a positive addition or complement to the Grassroots movement rather than a hindrance. Since both approaches are saying let’s work together, I do not understand why there is a need of negative reaction. I understand the devil is in the details and the question becomes how to get out of the current entanglement.  

We need to give Medrek the benefit of the doubt that they will do the right thing for the sake of the country and people they fought. If all the dialogues are managed correctly and if all parties are open to new ideas, at the end I believe all will endorse the People’s Grassroots Movement, the bottom-up strategy. It must be pointed out here that our ideas are not in conflict or competion with each other but are rather complementary when it comes to the role of the people and the political organizations. 

I think, political organizations should and ought to recognize that they will not exist and succeed without the will and parcipation of the people they claim to represent. Also, it is no secret that there are some Eritrean political organizaons who are working hard to weaken the Grassroots movement for their own selfish political interest rather than for the interest of the general public. I wouldn’t name them here (since it wouldn’t be helpful), but I know and they also know who they are. If we play a positive role in helping the Forum/”Medrek N’zete” initiative to succeed based on what they have stated, I do believe eventually the political organizations will endorse the “bottom-up” strategy of the Grassroots movement. Important, the Grassroots Movement is not an alternative to the political organizations since its aim is not to hold power, but rather it is a means of expediting the downfall of the dictatorial regime, as well as it is a means to restore and protect cizens’ rights and to make sure that the Eritrean people have the last say in their future desny by establishing a government for the people by the people. It is to the benefit of the political organizations to ‘work with the people rather than against the people. It is also to the interest of the public to have sound and credible political parties with competing ideas from which the public chooses and votes during elections after a constuonal government is established in Eritrea. 

The Opposion’s Treatment to Former PFDJ Members and Scholars:

In general, I do think our treatment, hospitality and scrutiny to former EPLF/PFDJ members and Eritrean Scholars when they join the opposition seem unfair and unwise strategically. It doesn’t encourage for others to abandon the regime and join the opposition. I think we need to give credit to those who joined the opposition and focus on bringing those who are still on the sideline and still with the regime. We are pushing people away instead of enticing people to join. No one has the monopoly of becoming an opposition or adhering to standard what they wanted. I think we all failed in our human management skills and we need to check our own democratic behaviors before demanding justice from the PFDJ regime. 

The Need of Assenna and Medrek in Working Together

I am a great admirer of Amanuel Iyassu and his relentless effort in working for the sake of the Eritrean People. I had the opportunity to spend few days with him during his tour in 2014 to North America in support of the Grassroots movement that was already established in many cities in North America. I could testify that he is a man of principle with great compassion who sleeps no more than 3 hours every night. Sometimes, he calls you or emails you around 3AM of London time. He is a human machine who accomplishes multiple tasks on a daily basis for the sake of his country and the people he loves.  

I thank him for supporting the Grassroots movement, but I disagree with the spirit and tone he used on his first article regarding “Medrek N’Zete’s” initiative. I wish he didn’t use certain adjectives/words that are not helpful in promoting and advancing a civilized dialogue and constructive engagement. The opposition media outlets need to cooperate instead of competing and arguing among themselves. As a representative of friends of Assenna in Indianapolis area, I received many calls from friends of Assenna who are unhappy about the reaction of Amanuel. I think, it also shows that Amanuel is human, and that we all have our good and bad days. I think he appears to correct his tone and approach during the Smerr room discussion and his analysis was respectful even to Medrek. I agree with 90% of his analysis at the Smerr room in advocating about the need of transparency and grassroots movement. I think, it is paramount for the interest of the Grassroots movement that Assenna and Medrek resolve the appearance of feud through a civilized dialogue. 

On the posive note, Amanuel has brought the discussion to the table for us to explore whether the Medrek’s initiative is in contradiction to the Grassroots movement bottom-up strategy or not. According to Amanuel’s argument, the Kenya initiative is a top-down strategy, meaning it is an attempt to seek a solution without the involvement and participation of the people, which could potentially render us a regime change in name only. It was also argued by Dr. Tekeste that if the leaders of the polictial organizations agreed to work together, the general public does not have a problem to work together with the political organizations. In other words, one could assume that the political organizations’ leadership is one major obstacle (or one of the major obstacles) in the opposition that should be blamed for the lack of coming or working together among the people in the struggle for democratic change, thereby failing to remove the dictatorial regime. Who is right or who is wrong? Could both arguments be right or wrong or is it premature to tell which one is which? 

A Way Forward

I think we have a golden opportunity to reconcile any difference of approach or ideas on how to create a Global People’s Congress without shortcuttng the process. I also have presented a draft which is at the bottom of the page what a Global People’s Congress organizaonal structure should look like for discussion purposes . We all can agree that there is an imminent need of a Global body and the discussion is how do you formulate that body that is supported by all stakeholders (general public). This can be done through a process of constructive dialogue without accusing each other. The country and our people are in great danger and the stakes are high. We need to take the issue seriously and come to a resoluon within a short period of me. Every minute we spare, a life of an Eritrean is at stake in the hands of the dictatorial regime. The solution is in the people’s hand. If we use all our resources wisely, efficiently, and collaborate our efforts through endorsing, campaigning, participating in the bottom-up approach of the Grassroots movement, as well as through a clear objective, winnable strategy and roadmap in which all stakeholders can participate and involve, I believe it can be done. If any one has an alternative better solution, I encourage you to present it to the general public so that we can select the best solution among the available opons. 

On the Grassroots Movement Side 

1. Create local movements in all regions 

2. Elect local representatives that represent a sub-regional or regional level

3. Hold a Regional Congress and Elect Global Representatives proportionally based on the number of people who participate in the region.

4. Hold a Global People’s Congress and elects an Executive Branch whose responsibility shall be to run the different departments etc.…

For more detailed approach, please read similar articles in Fithi magazine in Tigrinya.  

On Medrek N’Zete and Political Organizations’ Side 

1. Continue the ongoing consultative process based on the stated laid out plan to bring all political organizations to work together based on an agreeable goals and strategies.

2. Discuss whether or not Medrek (the agreed political organizations) should support and endorse the bottom-up approach. If not, explain to the Eritrean people in writing your alternative solution and why you have a better solution that the Eritrean people can support in lieu of the Grassroots movement. 

3. If the political organizations support the Grassroots movement, discuss and come-up with a document that defines the role of political organizations within the grassroots movement.  

On resolving the misunderstanding between Assenna and Medrek 

As the Americans say, “we have bigger fish to fry” instead of squabbling among each other. Our main target should focus on removing the dictatorial regime and create a foundation for smooth democratic transition. I do believe there is a sense of misunderstanding that potentially could be resolved through civilized dialogue.

1. I encourage and appeal to Amanuel and Medrek to stand for your principled convictions without using words that are not helpful towards working together and the Grassroots Movement objectives.  

2. Medrek N’zete, I encourage you to keep clarifying what your end goals are about the  Kenya initiative and where your stand on the Grassroots movement (bottomup strategy). 

3. I encourage Medrek N’Zete to invite Amanuel for a meeting and resolve any misunderstanding so as to create an atmosphere of mutual respect that could lead to cooperation and mutual benefit for the sake of Eritrean people. 

4. I appeal to all Eritreans to play a positive reconcilitary role instead of adding fuel to the fire as some appears to do. Only the PFDJ regime can benefit out such kind of disagreements. 

5. I encourage Assenna, Medrek, Dimzi Delina, Radio Erena and Radio Arkobkobay and others involved in media (Radio and TV) to have a workshop to create a joint committee for the purpose of cooperating and running an effective media campaign against the dictatorial regime, as well as to help us advance the Grassroots movement, the bottom-up strategy.  

Global People’s Congress – Draft Organizational Structure for Discussion Purposes 

I appeal to readers to think the benefit for our struggle having a one body and voice with the legitmacy that can speak on behalf of the Eritrean People. Think treang our problem as a one big project with common goals, strategy, road map and work plan so that we all can contribute towards the agreed objectives. As I have stated, this is a draft that is intended to advance a discussion and to think through in how to get there and and come-up with better alternative structure.  

መደብ ስራሕ ናይ ክፍልታትን ቤ/ጽሕፈታትን

GoitomImam 2

Note -  Due to my time constratints, I wasn’t able to translate the article in Tigrinya.  I encourage anyone to help me translate in Tigrinia and Arabic. The same article will also be included in Fithi, Tigrinia Jan-March2016 edition.  

May Year 2016 be the year of Mutual Cooperation, Glory and Happiness! 

Happy New-Year!


The European Union today has announced €200 million of new long term support to promote poverty reduction and socio-economic development in Eritrea through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).

Until 2020, under the National Indicative Programme (NIP), the European Union will support two main areas - energy and governance. The programme has the full agreement of the EU's 28 Member States.

Announcing the new programme on behalf of the European Union, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "The EU provides development aid where it is most needed to reduce poverty and support people. In Eritrea, we have agreed to promote activities with concrete results for the population, such as the creation of job opportunities and the improvement of living conditions. At the same time, we are insisting on the full respect of human rights as part of our ongoing political dialogue with Eritrea. As in other countries, the EU engages with governments around the world to promote human rights, democracy, and people-centred development everywhere. " 

Support to the energy sector

In a country with one of the lowest access rates to electricity, supporting the energy sector is crucial for the Eritrean people as it will allow better access to social services, including schools, hospitals and health centres. The support will also facilitate irrigated agriculture and the development of the country's considerable fishing potential. A more efficient energy network will have a broad positive effect on the social and economic development of Eritrea. 

Support to governance

The EU's support for governance is designed with two goals: to strengthen Eritrean capacity to better manage public finances, and to help Eritrea implement the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review (the United Nations mechanism examining human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States). With regards to economic governance, support will be given to the production of reliable statistics, and to help build a conducive environment for the private sector. 


The National Indicative Programmes represent an important step in the programming of EU development aid. In 2013, EU Member States agreed on the overall amount for development cooperation that will be channelled to 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries through the 11th EDF during the financing period 2014-2020.  The total amount is €30.5 billion.

On Eritrea's National Indicative Programme, the European Union and the Government of the State of Eritrea agreed to converge efforts on the most critical issues for the local socio-economic development in the years up to 2020 - notably energy efficiency and sustainability, and improved governance. 



Khartoum Journal
Eritrean asylum seekers meet at the Wad Sharifey refugee camp in eastern Sudan, near the border with Eritrea.
Mohamed Nureldin

KHARTOUM, Sudan — He crossed the open plains of the border on foot more than a year ago.

Once inside Sudan, he was picked up by border patrol officers and sent to a crowded, decades-old refugee camp. He stayed there for one month. From there, after paying the equivalent of $500, he was smuggled on a pickup, along with 17 others, into the capital, where he worked for months in a cafeteria and tried lying low, or as he put it, “cooling it.”

Then he got ready for his next move: Libya.

“I know it is dangerous, but I am forced to,” said a nervous Yusuf Muhammad, 27, an Eritrean migrant in Khartoum. “I have no choice. I want to go to Europe or America.”

Thousands of migrants and refugees, especially from neighboring Eritrea and Ethiopia, come to Sudan every year. Many arrive with plans to earn some money and to connect with smuggling networks, making Khartoum a major launching pad for migrants heading to the Mediterranean and, ultimately, to Europe.

“There are people who come here with the sole purpose of moving, stay for a few months, work, gather money and go,” said Renata Bernardo, project coordinator at the International Organization for Migration in Khartoum.

The migrants and refugees say they are escaping harsh political and economic realities in their own countries, and sometimes both. In Eritrea, torture, extrajudicial executions, disappearances, forced labor and sexual violence are widespread and systematic, according to the United Nations, along with an indefinite military conscription system.

“Life is really hard in Eritrea, no freedom, no work,” Mr. Muhammad said.

Ethiopia boasts a fast-growing economy, but the benefits of this growth are not felt widely through the populous country, with more than two-thirds of the population living in severe poverty, according to the United Nations Development Program. The government is widely criticized for political repression and rights abuses.

Tasew Taero, 33, said he was a university student in Ethiopia, from the region of Oromia. Political unrest in his area brought on a security crackdown. He was arrested and tortured, despite not being involved in any activism, he said, so he decided to leave.

After traveling for a month and paying smugglers $350, he made it to Khartoum two years ago. Now he is waiting for an opportunity to go to Libya.

“If I get a chance, I will go,” he said. “When I have the money.”

Even after two years, some may consider him a recent migrant here. For decades, eastern Sudan has hosted refugees from both countries. Eritrea’s decades-long war of independence brought tens of thousands here, as did political strife in parts of Ethiopia. While many have accustomed themselves to a challenging life in Sudan, many of their children now are looking for better opportunities elsewhere.

“Sudan has always been at the crossroads of migration routes, for refugees and migrants,” said Angela Li Rosi, deputy representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Sudan.

Ghere Abraham, 45, is an Eritrean refugee who has lived in Sudan for nearly 30 years. A video of Islamic State fighters in Libya slaughtering Ethiopian and Eritrean migrants this year sickened him. Two of the people killed in the video had lived in his neighborhood in Khartoum.

The April evening the video was released, he went to the neighborhood church where condolences were being offered. It also reminded him of what could have happened to his eldest daughter, who tried recently to cross the Sahara to the Mediterranean with hopes of reaching Europe. He managed to stop her just in time, after threatening to kill the broker responsible for putting her in contact with smugglers.

“I cried when I saw her,” he said.

His daughter, Hiweit Abraham, 20, spoke grudgingly about the events, with no regrets about making the attempt to leave.

“I have no life, no respect, there’s nothing I can do here,” she said. “Because I am a refugee.”

Mustafa Ismail Abdalla, 25, grew up in Sudan. His father was a political activist with the Oromo Liberation Front, an Ethiopian rebel group labeled a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government. But his life he is about working: He has been doing it since he was 8 and juggles three jobs today.

“Some of my friends went a few months ago and are in France now,” he said. “I just need a little more money and I will go.”

The high season for departures is February to October, when the waters along the Mediterranean tend to be lower, migrants here say. The smugglers have waiting lists, and many who make the trip face the dangers of detention, beatings, abuse and sexual assault in the desert.

While most of the migrants heading to Libya are from Eritrea and Ethiopia, increasing numbers are Sudanese, especially from Darfur, as well as Syrians and even Pakistanis and Nigerians who travel to the Mediterranean via Sudan. Here, they contact the smugglers through brokers, who take off into the desert from meeting points throughout the capital that shift to avoid detection.

“It’s around $1,200 to get to Libya,” Ali Ibrahim, a smuggler, said. “Prices go up and down if there are problems.”

From the outskirts of Khartoum, four-by-four pickups with 20 to 30 “heads” journey through Sudan’s northern desert to the Libyan border, where they are delivered to another group of smugglers.

“If you die in the desert, no one would know,” said Mr. Ibrahim, the smuggler, elaborating on the dangers of the trip.

In Libya, the migrants stay in smuggler camps. Those who have not fully paid are told to call their family for the balance. Sometimes, extra payments are extracted to release migrants who are effectively held hostage.

“There are children that run away, make their arrangements with smugglers, call their parents, ‘Mom, I’m in Benghazi’” Bernardo said.

The Sudanese government is paying more attention to migration. Last year, the Sudanese Parliament passed an extensive anti-human-trafficking bill and held an international conference to address the problem.

“We lack the experience and are calling for more training,” said Awad Dahia, head of passports, immigration and civil registration at the Ministry of Interior.

But some migrants contend that Sudanese officers are involved in the illegal trade as well.

“If there is credible evidence against anyone, an officer or a government official, then the law should be applied against them,” Mr. Dahia said.

For the migrants and refugees here who want a better life and to move on, there is a debate on the fruitfulness of the risks taken.

Mr. Abraham, who said that he was worried that his 14-year-old son would also try to leave, believes that the risks taken by the younger generation of refugees and migrants are not worth it.

“They are after a life that does not exist,” he said.

But Mr. Taero, the former university student, felt that was no reason to stay.

“It does not matter,” he said. “I am also dying here.”





Residents explain why so many risk death to reach Europe, as the Guardian gains rare access to report from inside the country

All Eritrean are conscripted into the army – a national service that can last indefinitely. Photograph: Steve Forrest/EPA

David Smith in Asmara

Wednesday 23 December 2015 22.00 GMT Last modified on Thursday 24 December 2015 00.45 GMT


The shrill blast of a whistle still makes Almaz Russom wince. “You’re sleeping nicely, dreaming something, then it wakes you at 4.30am,” he said, clenching his teeth and mimicking the pitch. “I still don’t like the sound of that whistle.”

Inside Eritrea 1

All Eritrean are conscripted into the army – a national service that can last indefinitely. Photograph: Steve Forrest/EPA

Russom, whose name has been changed here for his own protection, was giving a rare account of a military bootcamp in Eritrea, one of Africa’s most secretive totalitarian states. It forms part of a compulsory “national service” for young men and women, an indefinite purgatory that robs them of the best years of their lives and is the key to understanding why so many flee its borders.

Eritreans are now the third biggest group of people embarking on the risky Mediterranean crossing to Europe, with an estimated 5,000 leaving every month, behind only Syrians and Afghans. As the first British newspaper for a decade to gain access to this little-understood nation, the Guardian interviewed citizens, diplomats and government ministers about the motivating forces behind the mass exodus.

Most suggested that while poverty, joblessness and political repression are important, what sets Eritrea apart from many other African countries is the conscription that forces them to take on often interminable military and civilian work for the equivalent of less than $2 a day. Speaking in the capital, Asmara, Russom said: “If they told you national service would end, it would be bearable. But it is never-ending.”

He recalled being at a military training camp in the fierce heat of the Sahel which houses 20,000 conscripts at a time. A typical stint is six months, but he was lucky to spend only half that time there. The men were forced to sleep on the floor in tents and had to bring their own blankets, he continued. “There are guys lying all around you. The food is not for fit for dogs.

“You get a timetable showing what you’ll do today and tomorrow. Today might be running and political school, which is the history of the liberation struggle. Tomorrow might be shooting practice: most guys deliberately miss the target so they won’t be recruited by the army. But they never tell you anything beyond that. They can call your name at any time and make you gather your things and you have no idea where you’re going.

“If you’re not in position when they call, they will punish you. They might say ‘Go and lie in the sun for an hour.’ It is so hot, it is worse than a beating. They can also tie you up in ‘the eight’ – binding your arms and legs behind you – and make you lie in the sun for an hour. That is very painful because it’s like a stove: 55C. It’s like you’re close to the sun.”

There is a demonisation campaign focused on the government and the president

Yemane Ghebre Meskel, Eritrean information minister

The camps are run by military trainers who have the power to impose discipline. Russom continued: “You ask yourself, ‘Why am I here? What did I do to deserve this? The next time I see my trainer in Asmara, I’ll shoot him for making me lie in the sun.’ But when you see him in Asmara, you are friends: you buy a beer and tell your friend, ‘This is the guy who tortured me at the camp’.”

Inside Eritrea 4

An Eritrean migrant tries to get into France after being blocked by border police. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

There are usually two responses to any mention of Eritrea, a former Italian colony which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. One is a blank expression: Michela Wrong, author of a book about Eritrea, I Didn’t Do it For You, said she frequently encountered people who had never heard of the place. The other is a kneejerk characterisation of this nation of 6 million as “the North Korea of Africa”.

It is a glib analogy that bestows on Eritrea an aura of mystery that is neither desired nor deserved, and not only because the country poses no nuclear threat. Far from the cult of personality around Kim Jong-un, President Isaias Afwerki’s image is harder to find than those of leaders in many African nations, despite his 22-year rule. Tremendous progress has been made in healthcare, with HIV prevalence at less than 1%.

Residents reported that satellite television offers international news channels while Asmara’s numerous internet cafes do not block websites except those featuring pornography. The WhatsApp and Viber messaging services are popular because they are thought difficult for the government to monitor. Warnings that the Guardian’s movements would be followed by government agents in the capital proved unfounded. “You can say anything you like here,” Russom confided. “You can insult the president. It will be treated as a joke.”

Foreign diplomats and development workers based in Asmara are mostly baffled by the Pyongyang comparison. “It’s not an adventure: not that much happens here,” the spouse of one said. “It’s very safe. It feels more isolated than when we lived on an island.”

UN security council to assess expert report on alleged support for subversive activity as EU moots possibility of increasing aid to tackle migration problem

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However, Eritrea’s government has been its own worst enemy in feeding conspiracy theories among the diaspora and western pundits. It has repeatedly denied access to UN investigators and independent human rights watchdogs such as Amnesty International. Foreign media have been shut out for about 10 years, with a trickle of reporters permitted only in the past few months. The immense tourist potential of its Italian art deco and modernist architecture and pristine beaches has been squandered.

Instead the country is a political and economic pariah with streets full of bicycles, donkey-drawn carriages, 1960s cars and overcrowded buses. Power cuts are a way of life, the state-controlled mobile phone network is supplemented by public payphones and there are virtually no advertising billboards, newspapers or international brands except Coca-Cola. “No, Eritrea does not resemble North Korea,” observed Richard Poplak of South Africa’s Daily Maverick after a recent visit. “It resembles Cuba 15 years ago.”

The prosaic truth is that this is just another of the nasty regimes that persist in parts of the world. Eritrea is a one-party state with no elections, has had no functioning civil society since 2001 and, with at least 16 journalists currently behind bars, is ranked bottom of 180 countries assessed in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index. The regime sows paranoia and uncertainty, leading to divergent views over how far the limits of free speech can be tested.

A recent UN inquiry on human rights described extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, indefinite military conscription and forced labour. Its report found “a pervasive control system used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety”.

This mood was evident on the streets of Asmara, where a foreign photographer who took pictures of one of numerous beggars was swiftly approached by men in plain clothes and ordered to delete them. Strangers were polite and friendly but, when conversations turned to politics, guarded and hushed. “Even standing here talking to a white man, I am taking a risk,” one man muttered. “If you publish my name, I will be taken in 24 hours.”

Inside Eritrea 6

Faded 30s glamour in the capital, Asmara. Photograph: Natasha Stallard/Brownbook


Christine Umutoni, UN’s Eritrea humanitarian coordinator

The man, who did national service for 11 years, reflected: “Now I’m 32. What future do you think I have at 32? How old are you? What had you achieved by 32? The situation hits us hard, especially young people. They are leaving because there is no hope.”

On the bustling, tree-lined Harnet Avenue, a young student kept walking as she remarked: “We don’t have diplomacy, we don’t have freedom. I cannot speak as I want. There are no jobs. I want to study in London because my university cannot afford a lab.”

And the head of an English language school pre-empted an interview by apologising: “I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about politics. I wasn’t born for that. Your questions are very interesting. If you find anyone who’ll help you, you’ll succeed.”

Money is scarce and opportunities are few. Solomon Beraki, 30, earns just 1,000 nafka (£43) a month as a student nurse. “This is very little when you see it with our standard of living,” he said. “This is the main problem, not because people dislike the government or president, but because of their financial situation. There are many educated people who don’t have enough work. They don’t dislike national service but there is no cutoff point: it is lifelong.”

Yafet Russom, who was running a small shop, said he earned just 800 nafka a month from national service. He was selling a loaf of bread for 3 nafka, a can of beans for 40, bottles of water for 35, tins of sardines for 58, cheese for 75 and a box of tea for 120. At the central fruit and spice market, a kilo of oranges went for 85 nafka, while a kilo of onions cost 60.

A different view was offered by Rebecca Haile, a retired nurse who now lives in the US but returns home to Eritrea regularly. “The government doesn’t torture people,” the 65-year-old insisted. “It’s just politics. When people go to America, they just say it to get a green card. Most of them are not Eritrean but have come by an Eritrean name. Real Eritreans love their country.”

A sticker with the words “I love Eritrea” adorns a locker in the offices of the government-backed National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, whose courtyard has a full-size replica of the classical statue Discus-thrower (Discobolus). Okbay Berhe, 37, its deputy chairman, admitted that conscription was driving young people away but claimed it was for economic, not political reasons. “It’s not national service any more,” he said.

“It’s uncertain time and it’s not easy for the youngest to tolerate that. This creates unemployment by default. If you’re on national service you can’t make money. It is killing opportunities as you can’t make money for your family. There may be people who say they are leaving because the government is repressing them but they are trying to politicise these things. When they go to Europe about 70% send money back to their families because they know how their families are living. This is the main reason they go to Europe, logically.”

We don’t have diplomacy, we don’t have freedom. I cannot speak as I want.

Student on streets of Asmara

Berhe believes that an additional factor is that western governments give Eritreans “special treatment” when considering asylum applications. “The west motivates Eritreans to leave,” he added. “And many Ethiopians in Europe and Israel are registered as Eritreans. If someone asks where are you from, they can’t differentiate.”

The Eritrean government justifies national service as a necessary precaution in case of fresh conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia – the countries remain in dispute after a 1998-2000 border war killed tens of thousands of troops. This followed three decades of conflict that resulted in Eritrea’s independence but left almost no family untouched by loss.

Inside Eritrea 8

Medebar market in Asmara – a shopkeeper said he earned around 800 nafka (£34) a month. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo


Yemane Ghebre Meskel, the information minister, insisted that there was still “sabre-rattling” from Ethiopia and a tense limbo of no war, no peace. “If you talk about the issue of prolonged national service, that might be debatable, but what are the alternatives? These are not hypothetical issues – we are talking about existential threats.” He claimed “migration happens everywhere” and in Eritrea’s case “there are push factors but I think the pull factors are much stronger”, in particular America and Europe’s willingness to accept Eritreans. “We’re talking about several countries which for their own reasons wanted to grant asylum for people from the national service.”

During an interview at the information ministry sitting on top of a hill along with the state broadcaster overlooking Asmara, Meskel rolled his eyes heavenward before answering each question. “It’s automatic to say, ‘parliament is not there, no elections for 20 years’,” he said. “It does not take into account the special circumstances that forced the government to abandon the project of nation building that had begun. The absence of formal opposition does not mean there is not debate within society.

“There is a demonisation campaign focused on the government and the president. I know him. There is a huge different between how he’s portrayed by the negative media and him as a person. They say ‘dictator’ but don’t talk about certain attitudes of his character. Sometimes you wonder if they are talking about the same country.”

Meskel dismissed the recent UN human rights report, claiming it was based on interviews with Eritrean exiles “who have an agenda against the country”. He continued: “The UN said the government doesn’t allow people to meet. If there is a wedding here, what happens? I go to weddings, on buses, in taxis, nobody cares. People gather together and say whatever they want. I don’t have anyone arrested for talking negatively about the government. I find it difficult to say this country is governed by fear and nobody wants to talk.”

With many of the best and the brightest living abroad there is little sign of an uprising against one-time liberator Afwerki, and that suits the international community just fine. Eritrea’s location in the Horn of Africa, notably its proximity to Yemen across the Red Sea, makes it an important bulwark.

Christine Umutoni, the UN’s resident humanitarian coordinator, said: “Eritrea is in a very strategic position. It should be in everyone’s interests to have stability in this country for the sake of international trade. Half the population is Christian, half is Muslim. There is no sign of fundamentalism. It’s an important ally. If things were to go wrong in Eritrea, it would affect the region.”

For many here, however, the peace, stability and remarkably low crime rate are illusory. Russom observed dryly: “Most Eritreans are suffering but it is in our culture to act as if we are living nicely. We like to pretend. If you go to bar, someone is pretending to live well, but if you go to their home you will see they are struggling. If you could ask 20 people how they are doing, only two will actually be living well. People like the president but, in their hearts, they do not like the president.”



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Friday, 25 December 2015 23:45 Written by


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Eritrean People’s Democratic Party

His Holiness Abune Diyoskoros passes away

Monday, 21 December 2015 23:15 Written by

Abune Diyoskoros

Asmara, 21 December 2015 -  The 4th Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthhodox Tewahdo Church, His holiness Abune Dioskoros, passed away today following a long illness. The Patriarch had been receiving treatment both at home and abroad in the recent months.

The Holy Synod of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church expresses deep sorrow on the passing away of the Patriarch.

Funeral service for His Holiness Patriarch Diyoskoros will be held at Abune Abranios Monastery, Mendefera sub-zone, at noon on Saturday 26 December following prayer sermons at Asmara’s Saint Mary Church earlier in the day.

The Holy Synod of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church kindly informs that the Book of Condolensces will be open, from Tuesday 22nd Decemebr until Friday 25th Decemeber from from 9:00 am in the morning till mid-day for signature by dignitaries, including Ministers, PFDJ Officials, other senior Government officials, Resident Ambassadors and other diplomats.


A very basic indication of dictatorial rule is the absence of constitutional order that compels those in power to be accountable to citizens. In the absence of any legal restraint on their power dictatorial regimes generally tend to become self-serving, regardless of how popular their beginnings might have been. Self-serving dictatorial regimes, such as the one in Eritrea, increasingly becomepreoccupied with safeguarding their incumbency in power, especially if they encounter or perceive opposition to their rule. They deploy policy and resources primarily for purposes of ensuring their survival in power. They also engage in robbing the resources of their countries and stashing them in foreign banks to ensurecontinued luxurious lifestyle for their family members if and when their rule comes to an end. The outcome of this excruciating political and economic tyranny is misery, gross human rights violations,and humiliation of the population.

Today, Eritrea has become the third largest source of refugees next to Syria and Afghanistan, two countries plagued by long lasting civil wars. Eritrea is also the most food insecure country in the Horn of Africa next to South Sudan, which is also being destroyed by a deadly civil war. When the youth are abandoning the country in droves and the country is suffering from chronic food deficit, the frequent claims bythe regime that the country is registering impressiveeconomic progress are simply hollow. The regimealso asserts that the country is peaceful and stable. This, however,cannot be the case when the youth are forced to leave the country into a life of exile with all the hardship, humiliation, and death that faces themand when the country’s social fabric is being destroyed by their flight. There cannot be peace and stability when the prisons are filled with people who do not even get access tothe fundamental right of trial in the court of law for the crimes they have allegedly committed. Poverty-alleviation and development also remain a pipe dream as long as there is no accountability for the country’s resources. Those of us in diaspora, away from the reach of the tentacles of the regime,cannot turn a blind eye to this onslaught on our peopleand the destruction of our country, which was liberated from the clasp of Ethiopian rule with the martyrdom of thousands and painful sacrifices by the rest of the population.  

As destructive as they are when in power, self-serving dictatorscan leave behind even more hellish conditions when their rule comes to an end.One of the characteristics of dictators is that they block all effort at building of institutions of governance, after usurpingpower. They also do not allow independent existence of political parties or civil society organizations. They even emasculate the political organizations they ride to


power so that they don’t constrain their personal rule. The EPLF (PFDJ), for example, has become an empty shell of its old self and is hardly in a position to influence the dictator’s policy decisions. As a result, at the end of their rule dictators generally leave behind a power vacuum that can be detrimental to the survival of the state. They do not allow the different organizations of the state or the different branches of government to conduct their expected responsibility with any level of autonomy. They concentrate all power in their own hands and become centers of all policy decisions. In so doing, they make the state and the government inseparable from them. In other words, the dictator becomes the state and the government all by himself, as it has been the case in our country. Under such circumstances, whenthedictator’s demise comes there emerges the danger that the state and government also collapse, as we have seen time and again. The experiences of Somalia and Libya are good recent examples. People, enduringso much misery and humiliation under dictatorial tyranny, often find themselves in starkly horrendous situations when the state collapses with the demise of dictators. Statelessness can be even more denigrating to a population than an oppressive rule by a dictator.Under statelessness, thecountry becomes a free hunting ground for global and regional powers, which takeadvantageof the fragmentation of domestic forces. Moreover, it becomes extremely challenging to recreate the state once it collapses, as external powers obstruct such a process in order to preserve their free hunting groundby fomenting corrosive rivalries among domestic forces. In other cases, external powers may rule the country through handpicked domestic puppets, for all practical purposes colonizing the country.

Under such frightening threats to our country and our state, it is not too early for concerned Eritreans to dialogue and chart consensus arrangements that would secure the state. A number of options and arrangements might be possible. Perhaps the least risky for the state is for the Eritrean military to assume the reins of power, as the custodians of the state,for a short transitional period until an elected government is formed. However, this possibility raises somecritical questions.One is whether the military remains a cohesive force to be able to save the state. Another is whetherthe military would have benign political will and surrender power once it takes it. The answer to the first question is largely an act of faith. A force with the proud history of liberating the country and defending it at huge sacrifice, hopefully, has not been degraded into a personal security force of the dictator. The answer to the second question is rather complex. It is possible, although not likely, that the militarywould surrender power to the people, as General Suwar al-Dahab did in Sudan after he ousted President Nimeiri in 1985. More realistically, the military would retreat from power only if political partiesand civil society groups reorganize themselves and struggle in unison to demand that the military transferpower to an elected body within the shortest possible timeframe. It is, thus, absolutely essential thatpolitical organizations and civic groups overcome their myopic behavior and fragmentation in order to find common ground that would allow them to


have some voice. They are presently voiceless, due to rivalries, organizational fragmentation, and lack of coherent political vision. Civil society groups in the diaspora also need to form a global organization under a common agenda of saving the state. The Eritrean diaspora is rapidly growing in size, due to the exodus of the youth. It is likely to become a source of a major influence on Eritrean affairs both politically and economically. It, however, needs to be organized to influence the transition in the aftermath of the demise of the dictatorial regime. Non-inclusive meetings and workshops by selected political groups or civil groups would not advance the cause of saving the Eritrean state; they are no substitute for the proper establishment of a united and strong global civil society that is able to cultivate strong links with civil society groups inside the country. In the final analysis the will of the people and placing political power in the hands of the Eritrean people can only be guaranteed by an inclusive united front of civic organizations. For detailed discussion on transitional phase read EFND memorandum (reference link below).

The Eritrean people fought bravely for a generation with unprecedented determination, resilience,and sacrifices to secure the independence oftheircountry. Yet, they allowed their freedom to be stolen by the leaders of their liberation. Now every day that passes is bringing the endof the dictator closer. However, it may also be bringing closer a trying time for our state. This brief note is a call for us to liberate ourselves from the ‘narcissism of minor differences’ that seems to have inflicted us and unify our efforts in craftingpolitical arrangements thatwould safeguard our state. It is high time that we remind ourselves that we will not have the space for politicking and advancing our collective or private interests if we fail to safeguard our state. EFND iscommitted to do all it can to facilitate the establishment of global Eritrean civil society organization and we are confident that other civil society organizations share our views.

Previous EFND communiques, publications and conference activities

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EFND memorandum presented at the conference

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