Fetsum: On “National Unity Experiences- its challenges and opportunities: by Fesseha Nair”
Eritrea in view of the author, Fesseha Nair: “The absence of the constitution and laws had made the State of Eritrea resembles a private property of a single individual , as the events of the past
Eritrea in view of the author, Fesseha Nair:
“The absence of the constitution and laws had made the State of Eritrea resembles a private property of a single individual , as the events of the past and the present had undeniably shown, this certain individual was not ,and will never be, a fan of the Project of National Unity. The ongoing violations of human rights, the situations of terror experienced by the citizens of Eritrea, where a fear of what will happen in near future had been one of the chief premonitions of the Eritrean citizens, a fear from the indefinite military recruitment of their children, a fear of a war that could flare at any moment, a fear of the lands that are being seized, a fear of being arrested for no reason, a fear from a friend who might turn out to be a snitching spy and leads to arrest, a situation which gives no incentive for the individuals to be productive, a situation that hampers the sense of belonging to the nation.”
Nair: “The drafting of national history, well-researched according to the norms of proficient methodologies, would surely result in what is known as restorative justice process that embraces the virtues of exchanging of apology and forgiveness, which is very important towards the collective healing of the memories of the people. Accordingly, the Project for National Unity would be based on a common history. This requires a committee of experts as well as requires a consensus on the establishment in which the history could be based, and recognizing of its binding oblige, in addition to the procedures contained, Perhaps the model of the experience of South Africa in this regard would be worthy to illustrate lessons from, also our own Eritrean heritage contains a lot of good models , that could be applicable to resolve the differences and overcome the bitterness, we have an inexhaustible examples that could enforce the Project for National Unity.”
Comment: To me, the extent of antagonistic differences between our people is a fabricated and exaggerated element that our political forces during the struggle and today after independence have been bitterly expressing and modulating for personal advantages. There is no sign whatsoever as to dangerous ethnicity or religious based frictions between people in our society are concerned besides the few occasions (if there ever were) caused by the intentionally designed divisive mechanisms of the regime and other politicians. National unity is simple to our masses but has become pain on the neck to our all inclusive politicians who benefit out of division. I do not think we need any external exemplification for our unity except a favorable opportunity to reapply the examples left behind by the founding fathers of our unity, although we can still learn from other societies’ experiences.
Nair: “Perhaps, the most significant challenge facing the Project of National Unity is the existence of the Eritrean dictatorial regime, and the longer the regime survived the bitter our challenges would be, as the pillars of our National Unity would keep collapsing one by one as long as the dictatorial regime is in power, because the survival of this regime depends on exploiting secondary contradictions among our people at the expense of the Project of National Unity , the negative effects of the existence of the regime on the Project of National Unity are greater and by no means could be contained in this paper, though, it would be helpful to tap on the issues as a an starting hints bellow.”
Comment: Take for granted that the Eritrean government is divisive and will do anything to disturb the Eritrea unity for power. It has certainly divided us very much so but most effectively politically. It could not crack our solid unity at mass level of the subject matter. The seemingly ethnicity or religion based frictions in our society are amplified means of survival to the greedy and insensitive self claiming leaders of the anti unity opposition forces everywhere.
The problem is with the anti unity opposition forces who want to dominate political power in future Eritrea without democratic process. I differ from the author slightly while agreeing for the most part of it in that the divisive opposition forces and youth leaders are the most significant cumulative challenge the national unity concept is facing today because they are in the resistance in broader sense of interpretation while practically are anti the resistance for freedom and democracy in our country. They are selfish enough to be easily manipulated by external forces for some change.
In relevance to this, someone commented the following in response to my last article:
Ghenet : “Unity is power and PFDJ knows it and is enjoying the opposition’s lack of it. Our only weapon to win over PFDJ and DIA is our unity and if we do not have it we could be wasting our time crying foul. The cronies from Asmara will keep lying in meetings and on international forums because they are afraid of the truth. They keep painting and interpreting evidence of their crimes to sway public and international opinions to their favor. But the evidence is overwhelming now.
Therefore, our demonstration should focus on calling for unity of the oppositions so that we can ease the unheard of pain our people are heaving before it is too late. We all have to consider and note the rising pace of how Eritrea and Eritrean nationalism is disappearing. We should also understand that history will hold all of us responsible for failing our people. All of us- those who have the opportunity to make a difference; those of us who have been given a chance to taste peace and democracy; those of us who have been elected and trusted to bring about the downfall of brutality, slavery, and poverty in Eritrea.
This summer should be a summer of creating unity while accepting our differences; it should be a summer we all march together to get our country back!!!”
Comment: The solution is right in our face but we keep on shying away from it as if there is another alternative to the challenge on the ground. The opposition groups as divided as they are today cannot fill the void in Eritrea after the fall of this government without fighting each other for power. Different forces looking for leadership to fill the void with one of them (the fittest) to survive as a winner in the end is the only alternative we have should we fail to temporarily unite them now.
Nair: “The Regime had practiced the policies of discrimination since the early years against the education institutions of Eritrean Muslims including schools and institutes and arrested teachers and Sheikhs whom were made to disappear with unknown whereabouts and without a trial. The regime had initiated prosecution of religious believers of some groups with respect to their religion based attitude towards the National Service. “
Comment: Almost all religious denominations (Moslems, Coptic Christians, Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.) in Eritrea have been abused by this government. Leaders were arrested and some are still under arrest. In the end, all Eritreans have been indiscriminately denied Higher Education and enslaved in our country. This problem is common to all of them and it is not fair for one sect to claim discriminated against more than the others. No sect of our population is responsible for what happened to the others because they were all victims of the same injustice. Only the government is responsible here, therefore, our people have nothing to fight each other for but rather to get rid of the common problem united.
Nair: “Although the regime had been bragging about equality the Eritrean languages, but in reality those languages are none existence in everyday life and the media, worse, Eritrean languages and cultures have been confined to Expo festival shows or songs that are being aired in the state owned media, to add insult to injury, the songs, dances and the folklore of the Eritrean ethnic groups are being performed by trained professionals who are alien to the respective languages or cultures.”
Comment: The author should come up with a solution for this. I don’t think it is possible to live without a national language as a society and I cannot visualize the practicality of making all our languages the national languages of our country. I believe our people can develop their respective languages and cultures through the power of constitutional rights and equal opportunity for education and I hope this equality will protect us all individually from abusing each other in favor of mutual respect. What else can we do in this regard?
Nair: “The issue of land, settlements and demographic engineering that has been taking place under the regime ruling over Eritrea is one of the critical threats to the Project of National Unity, it should be well-understood that the issue of land is a matter-of-life -and-death for the components of the Eritrean Nation, land ownership is an authenticity existed prior to the State of Eritrea itself, it is a serious problem that will have great consequences on the future of the Nation, unless it is settled through a realistic methods of fairness wisdom.”
Comment: I do not think so. We can correct this without too much complication in peaceful Eritrea. A fair democratic government can do many things to pacify said situations if ever they may exist. We have enough land to accommodate any Eritrean should something like what the author contemplated exists. The author said “land ownership is an authenticity existed prior to the State of Eritrea itself, it is a serious problem that will have great consequences on the future of the Nation, unless it is settled through realistic methods of fairness wisdom.” That is all we need to tackle this happenstance and said realistic methodscan only be democracy and justice.
According to the author; “the reasons for the emergence of organizations based on religious or ethnic claims are created due to two major reasons: –
A / The injustices perpetrated by the Eritrean Regime are enough reasons to make resistance under any slogan really legitimate and justified, particularly, since the grievances that the Eritrean regime has been committing are manifested on the basis of religion and Ethnicity, targeting specific sectors, it is natural for those sectors to resist and mobilize their own constituencies that had on the receiving end of systematic injustices, in such cases, it is well known that the mobilization under a specific banner bears an emotional support and gets the response of the largest public.”
Comment: Everyone has been a target in Eritrea one way or another and directly. The ethnicity and religious cards the government has been using to divide us may have periodically shifted phases and faces according to specific targets but the net outcome affects all Eritreans equally. Few Christians could have been used against our Moslem communities to find justification for attacking certain Christian individuals but the reverse scenario has also been applied to attack certain Moslem individuals. While this method of division for selective punishment of individuals in the name of justice has been applied in all Eritrean ethnic and religious groups, the net result boils down to the fact that the regime indiscriminately attacks all groups of the society. Therefore, I do not think we should allow isolated grievances to disturb out search for unity because all of us have them in a sense. We should rather use them to unite us against the common enemy that hurts all of us equally.
Nair: “The Eritrean regime has been committing are manifested on the basis of religion and Ethnicity, targeting specific sectors; it is natural for those sectors to resist and mobilize their own constituencies” says the author but this does not justify Eritreans to politically organize in terms of ethnicity and religion. First because Eritreans from every sect of the society have been equally displaced, denied justice, killed, imprisoned and mistreated by the government Second, the higher stratum of the regime is composed of Eritreans from various ethnic groups and the two dominant religions; therefore equally criminals.
“B / The organizations that aloft the “National” slogans fail to address the concerns upon which the ethnic or religious organizations were established, on the other hand, the ‘’National” organizations are unable to pacify the fears and anxieties ( in the part of the Ethnic and Religious groups) of repeating the experiment of the dictatorial regime with regard to fundamental rights relating to land, religion, culture that legitimate beyond the ballot boxes and needs to be confirmed in the constitution, so that the rights of minorities would not fall prey to a compromising rivals depending the moods of the voters.”
Comment: How do you pacify the anger and the fears of said ethnic or religious organizations when realistically speaking all of us are equally hurting? Who should pacify and be pacified and on what grounds should a pacifier pacify another? Should Moslems pacify Christians for Ali Abdu’s and Usman’s crimes, while Christians pacify Moslems for Yemane monkey’s and Yemane Charlie’s crimes? The organizational leaders could have been ineffective in making a difference but I do not think they have anyone to pacify as a matter of responsibility. An excuse to disturb our unity through the act of a “VICTIM” is not going to help a lot in the resistance since every ethnic group can claim it.
Nair: “Most of these organizations are members of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance EDA, and are signatories to its charter, even the organizations which are outside the EDA have recognized and approved the EDA’s charter, which says the following on paragraphs 1, 2 and 3
1- To maintain the national sovereignty and preserve the unity of the people and the land of Eritrea within its internationally recognized geographical borders.
2- Preservation and improvement of the national unity which was consecrated by decades long heroic struggle of the Eritrean people.
3- Realization of the principle of justice and equality between the components of the Eritrean community, Proceeding from the principles of democracy and peace, human rights and the equitable distribution of power and wealth.”
Comment: I do believe the three factors above if genuinely reduced to practice will solve our common problem and improve the content of our mistrust within. Applying this commitment should be the pacifier of differences rather than one victimized group pacifying another for crimes inflicted upon by our liberation fronts and this government.
Nair: “The Charter of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance EDA – although it characterizes a Minimum Program for all the components of the EDA – it is to be deemed an important safeguard of the Project of National Unity, particularly, if it is enhanced, through a serious of frank dialogues about the issues of divergences, and upgraded from an ink-on-sheets, to a Programme of Action for EDA as one entity as well as among the political organizations of EDA.”
Comment: I agree and in fact believe that rallying behind EDA is the best and the only choice now for us to do. We should strengthen the EDA and encourage the remaining forces to join this alliance and make the resistance meaningful in view of democracy and international solidarity . Intellectuals and youth organization should make up their mind and support the EDA as the only and best way to achieve democracy in Eritrea. Our demonstrations should then focus on this to make a tangible difference in our society.
Nair: ”Another point is the option of adoption military action against the ruling regime, the Charter of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance provides in article (2) paragraph (5) the follows: The Democratic Alliance follows all available means to topple the dictatorial regime , even through the legitimacy of all available means, according to the above article, but fears remains about the negative effects of the military wings of the organizations on the project of national unity, what is required in this stage is the development of coordination and unity between the military wings of political organizations and the creation of joint command and single military doctrine ..”
Comment: Well said: I believe every military wing of individual organizations should converge to a common opposition army under the EDA’s command. The central command of EDA can then decide what to do with it.
Nair: “B / in the case of the fall of the regime, the military wing must be developed to be part of the Eritrean National Army, where its task turns automatically to maintaining the National Unity in its broader sense, and to preserve the constitution with no meddling in the political and democratic choices to the people, once the mission of regime change is accomplished, the relations between the political organizations and the military forces must be dissolved , the political organizations should have their programs that would be subject to democratic competition and not through military force.”
Comment: I think this is a good idea. The eventual conversion of the opposition military wing to a regular Eritrean army with no right to interfere in the political life of the nation is mandatory in future Eritrea. The political parties under the EDA can then diverge out of it for political power grab through democratic election manifesting the end of the EDA (transitional government) and its temporary constitution in favor of an internationally recognized government that works under the permanent constitution of Eritrea.
Thank you brother Nair for the detailed presentation of the Eritrean situation from your perspective. I wish you had presented the thesis part by part because it contains too much information that could obscure your main points in the effort. I will try to share my opinions on the rest of the thesis in my next visit at ASSENNA and God bless you. Apparently. We should always remember that none of the opposition forces are individually mandated to represent what they claim representing: all are self-nominated and their legitimacy can only be granted upon joining the common Alliance called EDA.