The Need for Unity to End the Eritrean Nightmare – by Prof Araya Debessay,
The Need for Unity to End the Eritrean Nightmare An Appeal to ALL Eritreans in the Diaspora Araya Debessay, Professor, University of Delaware, USA Introduction A group who identified themselves as “Our Voice – Eritrea” has recently written
The Need for Unity to End the Eritrean Nightmare
An Appeal to ALL Eritreans in the Diaspora
Araya Debessay, Professor, University of Delaware, USA
A group who identified themselves as “Our Voice – Eritrea” has recently written two articles. The first was titled, “A Swift, Effective and Lasting Solution to the Eritrean Nightmare”, www.awate.com, May 16, 2015., and the second which was posted at Awate.Com and demo.archive.assenna.com on , “Formation of an Eritrean Think Tank for Democratic Change – Our Voice – Eritrea,” (July 25. 215). My name was mentioned in the second article in reference to Global Leadership. The article did not elaborate on the need for Global Leadership. The purpose of my writing is, therefore to elaborate more on the need for Global Leadership and the crucial role the unity of Diaspora Eritreans plays in electing Global Leadership that has the mandate and the legitimacy to end the Eritrean nightmare.
There were critical comments that have been written against the most recent article by “Our Voice” but I have chosen to focus on the positive aspects rather than to dwell on the shortcomings of the article.
What I consider positive about the “Our Voice” articles is that both are focused on searching for solutions to end the Eritrean nightmare something that I found appealing. The group is seeking support and constructive comments on a draft they have exposed to the public. It is in response to their call for comment and support that I am writing this appeal to all Eritreans for unity to end the suffering of our people.
I believe there is no Eritrean who is not aware of how bad and deplorable the situation in Eritrea is. And now the UN Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea has made the world community know the extent of the problems the Eritrean people are facing. The presentation by Mr. John Stauffer, the President of the American Team for Displaced Eritreans made to the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the US Congress, (https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-africas-displaced-people) has vividly brought the plight of the Eritrean people to members of Congress. Hence, instead of spending time to discuss the obvious problems our country is facing my focus will be on suggesting ideas on how to end the prolonged suffering of our people.
The need for Unity
There is an Amharic saying that I find relevant. “Dir Beiaber, Anbessa Yasser” loosely translated, “single threads together can tie a lion.” Equivalent to saying, “united we win, divided we fall.” It should be obvious to us that we can only end the Eritrean nightmare through our unity. The question is how to bring about this much needed unity among the Eritreans to save our country, and this is a question that we should all try to answer. As the articles by “Our Voice’ imply, we need to create a structure that will enable the Eritreans in the Diaspora to elect Global Leadership something that we are lacking now.
The thousands of Eritreans who poured to Geneva, and the thousands of Eritreans who demonstrated in Israel, Ethiopia, USA and other places to support the report by the UN Inquiry Commission, that has officially documented the intolerable condition in Eritrea, is a testimony of the anger Eritreans have expressed about the conditions in their country.
The Need for a Global Leadership
The reason why the International Community seems to ignore the plight of our people, and the reason why the Eritrean people at home seem to have lost hope on the Eritreans in the Diaspora is because we are not united. If the Eritrean people in the Diaspora could organize themselves in their respective localities and elect leaders that represent them, then they would have proven to be a formidable force to be reckoned with. In short, what we need to do is to get organized in our respective localities, a first step to be able to elect leaders that will have the legitimacy and the mandate to represent us. I was pleased to note that this is what “Our Voice” plans to do, and we should all support their initiative.
The Mandate of the Global Leadership
Leaders that are democratically elected by the representatives of Eritreans in different corners of the world will be the legitimate leaders of the Eritreans in the Diaspora. The mandate of this Global Leadership would be to devise effective strategies that will bring an end to the dictatorial regime in Eritrea swiftly with the minimum collateral damage.
The Global Leadership will give hope to the Eritrean people at home and more importantly will inspire those inside the country who could play a critical role in bringing down the dictatorial regime through a surgical operation with minimal collateral damage. The Global Leadership will be in a better position to gain the support of the International Community, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and all the countries that are being flooded by Eritrean refugees.
One of the mandates of the Global Leadership will be to prepare an effective blue print and a road map for smooth transition to transfer power to the Eritrean people.
Having a Global Leadership will make it easier to bring Isaias to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
The idea of mobilizing Eritreans in every corner of the world to democratically elect Global leaders will ensure that such leaders will have the support of the Eritreans in the Diaspora and will have the mandate and the legitimacy to appear in any forum on behalf of the voiceless at home and for the Eritreans in the Diaspora.
The Step- by-Step Approach to Electing Global Leadership Group
I highly recommend to the Our Voice Group to read an excellent article by Asihel Betsuamlak “Outline of Basic Approach of Uniting Eritrean Democratic And Civic Resistance,” Asmarino.com, August 6, 2013. This article provides the basis for a “Bottom Up” (grassroots) approach to organizing Eritreans. Essentially, what Asihel suggests can be summarized as a three-step process that will culminate in the election of Global Leadership of Eritreans in the Diaspora.
Step No. One: Forming local organizations
Forming organizations of Eritreans wherever there are critical mass of Eritreans in the Diaspora, which practically is all over the world. Step-one is already underway. Particularly after the Lampedusa tragic incident that outraged Eritreans everywhere, Eritreans in different parts of the world have already started forming groups to save their fellow countrymen and women and to end the suffering of their people at home. Also the campaign that has been waged by the late Dr. Tewolde Tesfamarim, (Wedi Vaccaro) and Amanuel Eyassu of demo.archive.assenna.com who have visited several cities urging Eritreans in the US and Europe to get organized have contributed a great deal in mobilizing and encouraging Eritreans to unite in order to be catalysts for positive changes in our country. In the United States for example, there are several cities that have already formed groups and they are growing. Among these cities are: Atlanta, Bay Area, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Indiana, San Diego, Seattle, Washington Metropolitan Area, etc. And the same is true in many other parts of the world. And now with the release of the UN Report of the Inquiry Committee, Eritreans everywhere are energized to play an active role in ending the suffering of their people. The role of “Our Voice” should therefore be to serve as catalysts in collaboration with other Eritrean activists and in collaboration with the leaders of the already organized communities to organize Eritreans in every corner of the world. They should make every effort to appeal to all sectors of the Eritrean communities Moslems, Christians, male, female, and members of various ethnic groups to get together for national survival. They should spare no effort to pave the way for every Eritrean in the Diaspora to contribute to ending the sad state of affairs in our country. In the process of organizing Eritreans, it is very critical to reach out to all sectors of the Eritrean communities in their respective localities. Nobody should be left out; the movement should be as inclusive as possible encouraging every Eritrean of all ethnic groups, religious, males and females to be involved.
Step Two: Forming National Organizations
As the second step the Our Voice Group should play an active role to form Union of Eritreans for Democratic Change at national levels, USA, Canada, Australia, every country in Europe, Africa, South America, the Middle-East, Far-East, etc. These national unions of Eritreans will be made up of the chapters in the given country. The role of the national organizations is to coordinate the activities of the chapters in a given country.
Step Three – Forming a Global Union of Eritreans in the Diaspora for Democratic Change and Electing the Global Leadership Group.
Once the national organizations are formed, they will jointly form the Global Union of Eritreans for Democratic Changes and elect a Global Leadership Group. The election of the Global Leadership Group should be done at a global conference of all the national leaders representing their respective countries. Details of how many should be elected and how many of them could be serving as Executive Committee, and the number of subcommittees and task forces that will be needed can be worked out at a later stage by the Think Tank Our Voice is planning to form For sure, there will be a need for competent and dedicated individuals to serve as a skilled lobbyist, public relations and outreach group, foreign relations activists, media specialists, funds raising experts, seminars and conferences organizing groups, security committee, etc.
My Vision of Post-Isaias Eritrea
My vision of Post-Isaias Eritrea is a country that transfers power to the Eritrean people, a country that will be governed by a constitution that protects and treats all its citizens with dignity making sure no one is marginalized regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender, and political beliefs, etc. I would like to see Post-Isaias Eritrea to be a country that is particularly committed to ensure the minority groups: the Kunamas, Afars, the Sahos, Asawrtas, Jebertis, Rashaida, Hidara, Bilen, Nara, etc. are treated fairly and equitably. In other words, my dream is to see the Post-Isaias Eritrea to be a country that embraces all its children equally giving them equal opportunity to excel in whatever occupation they are engaged in. I envisage post-Isaias Eritrea to be a country at peace with itself, and all its neighboring countries maintaining productive and mutually beneficial relations where trade and commerce will flourish to accelerate the economic development of the country and uplift the standard of living of the Eritrean people. I dream the day when all Eritreans will set aside their differences, and past grudges and animosity, and with a spirit of peace and reconciliation together focus on developing their country, addressing the critical problems of hunger, disease, lack of education and other myriad problems that Eritrean people are facing. It is my dream that Post-Isaias Eritrea will be a country that will be conducive to attract Diaspora Eritrean entrepreneurs, farmers, skilled and unskilled labor force to work together to develop their country. I dream of the Eritrea of tomorrow that celebrates freedom of the press, association, religion, and a country that will follow the South African model of forgiveness and reconciliation for a better future of its people.
Appeal to Members of Opposition Political Parties and Political Groups
The unity of the Eritrean people in the Diaspora will not be possible without the active participation of all the opposition groups, political parties, the youth and civic organizations. I urge all these groups and all Eritrean activists to play an active role in organizing Eritreans in their respective localities. It must be clear that the post-Isaias Eritrea will be a multiparty democracy, but to make that swift transition to democratic rule in Eritrea, the opposition parties should play an active role in mobilizing the Eritreans in their respective localities. The priority now should be to unite in order get rid of the dictator within the shortest possible period.
Appeal to Members of Youth Association and Civic Organizations
It is heartwarming to note that Eritrean youth are taking the initiative to get organized and to play an active role in their country’s affairs. To accelerate the demise of the dictatorial regime, Eritrean youth, the future leaders of the country, should collaborate with other civic organizations, and other activists to support the mobilizing initiative of the members of Our Voice.
Appeal to the Eritrean Web Sites
Credit is due to all the Eritrean Web sites who have sacrificed so much of their time and resources to provide a forum for exchange of information, ideas and to be the outlets for pouring the frustrations and disappointment of the people. I commend the role these websites have played so far, and I urge them to be actively involved in the effort to organize and mobilize all Eritreans in the Diaspora. I was particularly pleased to listen to Amanuel Eyassu’s announcement of the initiative taken by “Our Voice – Eritrea.” The role of the Eritrean Websites in encouraging Eritreans to get organized in their respective localities through their news coverage, and editorial pages will be critical in encouraging Eritreans to unite to save their country and their people
To borrow what Our Voice has stated, “The Eritrean situation is extreme, and nobody expected it to be this bad and so shocking. But, it should not be allowed to get any worse.” The solution is our unity. Let’s get united and elect our Global Leaders by actively engaging the Eritreans in the Diaspora at the grassroots level.
I wish “Our Voice – Eritrea”” success in forming an effective Think Tank and a Mobilizing wing that should start its mobilizing campaign without any delay.
 At the risk of being redundant I want to underscore that this appeal is to all Eritreans: Muslims, Christians, all the Eritrean Ethnic groups, males. females, young and old, all organized oppositions and political groups and those who are not yet organized, civic organizations, youth organizations, religious leaders, the Eritrean websites and others.