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Fetsum: My Experience in Denver Festival (Part III)

I like to provide my maximum respect to and gratitude for the relentless service of our anchor of communication ASSENNA and wish the best holidays to its stuff in the name of my readers. Folks, my

I like to provide my maximum respect to and gratitude for the relentless service of our anchor of communication ASSENNA and wish the best holidays to its stuff in the name of my readers.

Folks, my last two forums were silent as expected. There was simply nothing in my articles to ask, talk or comment about. It was a sweet emptiness, the bliss that gave me the chance to imagine being alone in the universe with no one recognizing my existence. I was free, the only talker and listener, peacefully meditating with no reaction to other opinions that do not exist. Even if they did, it would not matter for there is only unconditional love in this temporary connection called Eritrean. But I feel some of you are in AWAHLIL state of mind and I love it: AWAHLIL before you diffuse your mind and land your fingertips on the keyboard; AWAHLIL azika KITESTEW-EL!

There is no doubt that all of us in the Conceptual Committee were concerned about the situation of our people. We love them and have strong desires to serve them within our best capacities in our respective ways. We had been active elements of the resistance in different styles and dimensions and we have all dearly paid the consequence of being Eritrean. All of us wish the best for our people no matter how we feel about our differences. I have no doubt in my mind about the genuine drive of anyone of us in the committee to help the Eritrean people as a unit. The brothers were harmoniously working hard within the limitations to produce common grounds of struggle with their differences and affiliations in place. Veracity, however, asserts that ordinary human beings tend to be biased in favor of their ideas most of the time and life is a conflict between subjective and objective realities. Individual and group oriented thoughts may resonate to subjective realities but only the neutral or independent mind stands alone sticking to objective realities.

Brother Sengal, the Chairmen of the committee was actively communicating with the organizers before and after the festival like I used to do, and he could have been part of the individuals that drafted the good head-start called TERMS OF REFERENCE (TOR). He was also the person who opened the first meeting by the organizers’ consent, a situation that probably assured his Chairmanship by entitlement and of course, with our consent. The brother is brilliant, loaded with a lot of experience in different areas of the Isaias regime. He is a smooth talker, well informed and has the capacity to express them with admirable eloquence. He can efficiently lead meetings and conferences with admirable fluidity. In short, he is a very valuable asset to the Eritrean question of freedom but only in the condition of approaching all socio political issues from universal angle of the matter; and with equal respect to all ideas from all directions of the society. Yet, only with full transparency, well monitored over-confidence, open mindedness, willingness to learn, and honest conviction to reduce the concept of democracy and freedom of speech in practice! Otherwise, ego can take charge of the mind changing the potential to disaster!

In May 25, 2018, Sengal sent us all the following message.

“Dear Committee members,

  1. Our Agenda for discussion for the upcoming Sunday, May 27,2018 (that will be held at 19:00 Eastern Time) will be the following:
  2. Continuation on review on the TOR, specifically for Output I & II.
  3. Any other business.
  4. It is to be recalled that I had promised you last week that I will share with you the UN Declaration of Human Rights Doc, for your reference. (Refer the attached material). I propose this to be number one of “the Basic Principle” that we need to articulate. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my control, I will not attend the upcoming meeting. But Fizum will chair it supported by Dr. Gebre. Have a nice weak end. Yours, Sengal Woldetensae”

We, however, cancelled the meeting on May 27,2018 and we resumed on 6/3/2018. Then he sent us the following message on 6/3/2018.

“Hi Guys

  1. The Denver Festival Committee has informed us that Dr. Saleh Nur will join our team, replacing Mr. Saleh as of June 03,2018.
  2. Our upcoming meeting date will be Sunday, June 03/2018, at 07:00 PM at Eastern Time.
  3. Our agenda for our discussion will be

3.1 Review of the TOR (this will be the last day for this topic: as we have to go forward – as time is not on our side.

3.2 Other business

Sengal Woldetensae”

Comment: We only had a month left for the festival at that point in time and not totally organized yet. It was clear that we could not produce something conclusive within the time frame. We, therefore, needed to change the gear adjusting to that reality and continuing the workload without the pressure of time only focusing on building the foundation rather than “completing the project” which was impossible to do given the situation and in the absence of dependable Social Science oriented experts on the political question of our society. This required putting down the necessary points for future discussions and announcing them all in the festival rather than giving the public something incomplete with “complete” makeup and leaving the scene with obscure contemplations. Instead, we were rushing to complete that project as if there was no tomorrow with poor attendance, non-specialized mind power and stability.

“Report #4:  Date: 6/3/2018; 7 PM-8:30 PM; Place: Tele-conferencing

Five old committee members and a new member, Doctor Salehadin Nur attended the meeting that started at about 7:00 PM when all the participants arrived.

Action points:
1) The committee added Dr. Saleh who attended his first meeting in replacement to Ato Saleh Juhar. Dr. [S###] could not make it and may never be available for the follow up meetings based on [her] communication with Fetsum Abraham on June 3.

2) The committee used the first few minutes welcoming and updating Dr. Saleh about its activities and continued discussing the Terms of Reference after exchanging few ideas on general matters pertaining Eritrea.

3) The attendants agreed to submit few abiding points that they can use as common grounds before the next meeting and to start discussing the OUTPUT section of the Reference as the next agenda on the line.

Thank you; Fetsum Abraham”

Comment: Dr. Salehadin’s arrival was greatly appreciated thanks to Dr. Mohammad’s efforts. It even was better when brother Abdulla Yousuf later joined us, thanks to Dr. Salihadin’s efforts. With Dr. S## withdrawing, the committee at this point was relatively stabilized enough (with all its limitations) to continue working hard on its objectives.

As for the subject on the table, all countries in the world including Eritrea are signatories of the UN Declaration of Human Rights Document. I, therefore, thought we would quickly accept the package as the preamble of our principles, as brother Salihadin suggested in his first meeting and move on; but instead we dwelt on it beyond my expectation. They were deeply involved in it. We went an article at a time (30 articles total) and voting on them for approval. Of course, we all agreed on the package as expected but after unnecessary detailed discussions that consumed a lot of energy out of the committee. My problem here was the amount of time we were investing for something universal and obvious with predictable result; something important to our society only at formality level of its connection with civilization.

Still, I could have been over reacting; may be too naïve considering the diversity of the committee members. We were nervous with each other in the beginning. There was some sort of mistrust in between because of fear, which is normal for people with slightly different ideological priorities but it quickly dissolved with humility, respect and familiarity. The preexisting mistrust between the Jeberties the Tigrignas at intellectual level of the relationship was visible in the forum, though none of us was responsible for it. We just had to address the relevant matters with extreme modesty and brotherhood. These factors made it necessary for the document to be considered an article at a time as the committee was trying to amend it with applicable articles to our society in the absence of elements from most of our minority groups within. This was not a problem because we could only work with what was available at the time. Therefore, the questions of our minorities had to depend on the only available resource (the Jeberty question) in the forum, and if we consider the Jeberty community as a minority within the Tigrigna ethnic group, which is academically controversial in nature. We could only establish mutual understanding about the relationship and try hard to create a country with a system that guarantees the democratic rights of our minorities because we were not mandated to draft laws since the constitution deserves the exclusive right to decide on the matter in the future.

I think the environment was very interesting to all of us. We all supported the Jeberty question without a problem but it was a wonderful opportunity for me to share my subjective view on the matter with my brothers from that political affiliation. As I said it many times in my writings few years ago, I believe our Jeberty community is a component of our Tigrigna community at equal level of significance. They are the same family with the same cultural values but different religions. I don’t see the Jeberty community as a different ethnic group as I see our minority groups (Kunama, Saho, Afar, etc.) in this regard in relation to the Tigrigna ethnic group. I, thus, don’t see any reason for the family to declare a separate identity from Tigrigna only based on religion. But I don’t have the right to decide anything about this issue, nor do I have any interest standing against the passion of the Jeberty community. I will do anything in my capacity including protesting for their rights to make the community a happy member of the generic Eritrean identity. This means we can claim representing our communities but we have no choice aside accepting the people as the supreme power of any community and legally protecting their communal questions through their voting rights in genuine democratic ambiance. This is consistent with my belief that no political entity but only the people own their struggle for freedom.

With this school of thought in the background, I shared my thoughts saying that I have no problem with the JEBERT IDENTITY at all but I don’t believe our affiliated intellectuals or groups have the exclusive right to decide for or impose any ideology on our Jeberty community overall. They, as a portion, should only teach the community about its identity and leave it for the Jeberty people to decide their communal identification within the country by exclusive referendum free of other ethnic groups’ interference. This should also apply to all minority communities in the country and can not stop only at the Jeberty paradigm of the reality.

After hours of discussions we came with few articles that we thought would serve to this effect and amended the UN document accordingly for the comprehensive material to eventually become the committee’s most valuable achievement in DENVER MANIFESTO. This document was believed to define the Committee’s “exceptional essence” because it was officially said to have been “the first of its type in the opposition history” that can pave the way for the entire opposition camp to wedge a common fight against the dictatorship substantially based upon. The product accepts the 30 articles in the UN Declaration of Human Rights Document (available in google) without modification and adds few articles to establish the principles of DENVER MANIFESTO as the first chapter of the material (common principles of the struggle to freedom as proposed by the DENVER FESTIVAL society).

The document became the committee’s official product as of July 1st when the modest and hard working brother Dr. Gebre distributed it to all of us in complete form under the title “Snitt Festival Denver, Colorado, USA 04-08 July 2018: An Amended, to Reflect the Eritrean Reality (Article 31-34), Universal Declaration of Human Rights”

Here are the added articles to the document.                          

Article 31: Every Eritrean shall accept, the absence of “justice” in all its forms (political, social, economic, administrative, etc.) as the sole fundamental cause for the “problems” of Eritrea. Hence, every Eritrean should concur with the fact that the fundamental solution to the Eritrean ills is to make “Justice” reign over Eritrea.

Article 32: Every Eritrean (person or organization) should have respect for, uphold and be governed by the “Rule of Law”.

Article 33: Every Eritrean should “believe in” and “have respect for” the plurality of the Eritrean people.

Article 34: Every Eritrean entity (individual or organized group) should commit itself to the act of alienation of control over the outcome of the struggle for democratic change in Eritrea.

In conclusion, I did not contribute much in this process but I had no problem with the amendment. I accepted it fully and was pleased to see everyone happy about it believing the added articles would guarantee a unified struggle of all Eritreans in general and that of the Tigrigna and Jeberty communities at minimum. We then moved to the second phase (OUTPUT II) of the TERMS OF REFERENCE. We closed the last meeting as indicated in Report #4 agreeing to respectively submit our comprehensive ideas on the REFERENCE before the next meeting. We did and that will be the next subject in the line and what I think as the most important portion of the workload. To be continued.

Review overview