THE DICHOTOMY OF ERITREAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
Ezana Sehay 05/20/2016 Amid the pernicious situation in the country; Eritreans inside and elsewhere in the world, nevertheless, are gearing to flood the streets in a mix of celebration and protest, to commemorate the 25th anniversary
Ezana Sehay 05/20/2016
Amid the pernicious situation in the country; Eritreans inside and elsewhere in the world, nevertheless, are gearing to flood the streets in a mix of celebration and protest, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the country’s independence.
The anniversary which is both exhilarating and frustrating highlights the contrast between celebration and continued struggle: the growing gap between the people’s expectations and the reality of unfinished revolution.
The dual commemoration reflects the rising tension between the regime along with its supports who are determine to maintain the status quo and those opposition activists who are calling for mass mobilization to demand for an immediate transfer of power to the people. The division is further aggravated by the political, economic and social perversions that are pushing the country in to uncertain future: as the reader is aware of, beneath the calm surface Eritrea remains chocked by qualms.
A quarter of a century after independence, the country is still dominated by an entrenched despotic system. The governing party is dominated by aging archaic individuals who represent a myopic and grudge philosophy, and amalgamated all the powers in the hand of one moribund individual: the emperor with no cloth on.
Evidently, the regime urged the people inside, to turn out to celebrate its (EPLF) role in achieving independence. That is understandable because that is the only positive political currency in its resume. Otherwise, its post independence policies have been one disaster after another to say the least. It has single handedly adulterated the once transformative and romantic sense of Eritrean nationalism.
It has been proven to be incapable of running a country. Its capacity to deliver basic goods, are paralyzed because of non-functioning economy. Its intransigent foreign policy has proven to be an exercise in futility
Eritreans, naturally, believed self determination and human rights as inalienable goals of the struggle for independence. They believed profoundly, democracy to be the ultimate goal; because despite its shortcomings, it is the last best hope of mankind. Unfortunately, PFDJ has proven to be antithetical to every democratic principle.
It has instituted draconian laws; which for all intent and purposes are a state of emergency decrees, which allow its security forces to act with impunity outside the normal court system. The regime is so sadistic and paranoid; it didn’t even hesitate to throw the stand bearers of the independence struggle [G-15] in to the gulag. Their crime: demonstrating a love of their country more than personal prestige. Among other things, they had called for ratification of the draft constitution, which was considered a prelude to engagement in democratic process and provide the basic parameters for haw the country should be governed.
Consequently, after 25 years of independence the people are struggling to redefine what that independence entails. Meanwhile, in the relentless pursuit of justice or attempt to spring away from the gravity of the PFDJ inflicted misery, Eritreans are paying enormous sacrifices.
Looking deeply in to the state of Eritrea, one can draw the metaphor and symbolism of an inescapable image of a fish in the water longing for a bird in the sky. The imagery and the context recalls the expression “neither fish nor fowl”. This expression basically refers to a state of tension and irresolvable.
This, then, is contemporary Eritrea, where the fervor of PFDJ commitment has been thoroughly discredited; where widely shared aspirations of freedom and democracy has been crushed; where Isayas has condemned the people to never ending misery; and where the spiritual foundation of Eritrean unity that was forged during the struggle for independence is suppressed.
This proves the PFDJ government has no cohesive, legitimizing narrative, nor a moral foundation to rule Eritrea. As a result Eritrea has become a country that is neither fish, flesh nor fowl.
A call to wise up
The Celebration is well deserved, but Eritreans need to pause for a break and think of the future. The protracted crisis, if not addressed quickly, will sink the country.
Sadly, Eritrean politics grows increasingly complicated as various factions interact as both allies and adversaries. To further complicate matters, the opposition is divided in their interpretation of the road map to the national salvation and the roles they see for themselves. It remains far from clear haw this complicated tug-of war will be resolved. They [the opposition groups] are dispersed and competing for ownership of the country’s future without laying down the foundation of a new democratic Eritrea or creating a balanced playing field for all the different stake holders. In essence, they are embarked on picking the fruits of the revolution before actually nurturing it to ensure a bountiful harvest.
The silver lining
People have different interpretations of the current Eritrean predicament. There are those [Eritreans and non-Eritreans], who consider the Eritrean independence as a cadmean victory. Others take it as half backed pie. Some see it as a glass half-empty. Me, I see it, a glass half-full with hope sprinkled over it.
The hope emanates from the recent positive developments in the opposition eco-system. Thanks to the indispensable role of web medias; the likes of, Assenna.com and patriotic artists like that of Kiros Asfeha, we are witnessing the youth come out of their barricades and assume their responsibility of pole bearers of the struggle for a just society.
Another auspicious development is the internal strain within the regime, especially the army. Apparently, members of the military, who are witnessing the daily suffering of their compatriots seem to have acquired social orientation and are beginning to scrutinize the regime. They are beginning to question their own sense of loyalty. Some say the Forto rebellion was the shot across the bow.
The people, who, for years have been distrustful of the army after years of being suppressed by it, have now restored their confidence in it. And hope, it would help to secure a democratic transition, though perhaps different from the opposition what that transition entails.
Ultimately, the victims [the people] themselves are the eventual emancipators. Be that as it may, no question, the alliance of the youth and the army would be the rock that will finally shake the PFDJ boat.
Let’s hope, the spirit of Eritreans past can remind the new generation, in a common drive to ensure that all the sacrifice is not in vain, work together in unison to drive the scourge that is PFDJ and ensure the realization of a democratic Eritrea.
Finally, remember, revolution is sometimes sluggish; It is going door-to-door and building from base, It is patience and fortitude, learning and trying daily. Nevertheless, is possible that, vision, tenacity and love of the people and the country will move Eritreans to forge alliance for justice and freedom.
The countervailing power of the people will prevail.
Happy Independence Day!