The struggle for unified resistance against dictatorship
The struggle for unified resistance against dictatorship By Fetsum Abraham//5/21/03 I dedicate this material to Ato Weldeab Weldemarian and Shek Ibrahim Sultan, the founding fathers of our unity who prioritized their Eritrean identity to their ethnicities and
The struggle for unified resistance against dictatorship
By Fetsum Abraham//5/21/03
I dedicate this material to Ato Weldeab Weldemarian and Shek Ibrahim Sultan, the founding fathers of our unity who prioritized their Eritrean identity to their ethnicities and religions, to install a unified struggle for the Eritrean independence. They practically left us the only means of social success through diversified unity that carried us all the way to independence and that SHOULD further take us to our freedom from dictatorship. Our struggle for independence followed their legacy to succeed and we should use it to earn our freedom. We don’t deserve freedom unless we love each other and united since division and ANNENET contradict the concept of freedom. We did not choose our ethnicities and religions after all; they are imposed on us out of our control. We are destined to be Eritreans and we should maximize our role to positively affect that desperate society without any attachment to our ethnicities and religions, which will die with our flesh few years ahead.
From the FORUM: It seems like my last article provoked an academic discussion especially between brothers Adhanom and Petros and I appreciate their intense involvement in the forum. I found the following transparent exchange of ideas important to the current priority at hand and enjoy it.
Petros: “Dear Fistum, With all honesty, I don’t understand what the entire article is all about & and please elaborate what Unconditional Unity means to you and to the readers as well…”
Adhanom: ” Dear Petros, I think the article is very clear and instructive if we are able to read slowly and carefully. On my side, the core message of his article is explicit as crystal shell: We cannot be DEMOCRATS if we are not democratic in action, because true democracy is not a word or a normal codification. Even the ruling party in Eritrea, PFDJ has enshrined the concept of democracy calling his party People’s Front for DEMOCRACY and Justice, but in practice they are not democratic front. We must respect the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of Eritrea; and the future democratic and constitutional Eritrea must protect their rights. However, if we want to reach that level, what can we do? Struggling with UNITY OR FRAGMENTATION? I do believe that UNITY IS POWER FOR SWIFT CHANGE destroying division, hatred, envy, mistrust and conspiracy among ourselves.”
Me: How unclear can the self-descriptive precise expression “unconditional unity” be for one to philosophize on? There is no room for philosophy on the definite science “unconditional unity” and the backward Eritrean style of affirmation with negation or the vise versa by means of “if or but” does not apply here. “Unconditional unity” cannot accommodate if or but because doing so changes it to the opposite “conditional unity”. The question is: are you for transitional government which requires unconditional unity or not? If the answer is yes, do not contradict your position by injecting if or but to the narrative: accept it fully and move on. What I mean is that 2+2=4 is a definite science that does not require philosophical analysis and so is “unconditional unity”, a scientific phenomenon that does not accommodate philosophy. The answer for “are you for unconditional unity?” is either yes or no and it stops there. If the first, you are for transitional government in post-Afwerki Eritrea and if the second, you are not. In so saying, conditional unity is far away from our immediate priority because it ought procedurally take place in post-Afwerki Eritrea under a transitional government where political parties harmonically diverge out of the unconditional unity that gets them there. The Constitution allows the harmonic diversion or conditional diversion of the forces into different political parties that guarantees the collective unity of every citizen in defense of the motherland in any emergency situations like how the Democratic and Republican parties function as Americans in the US.
No self nominated party or group can dominate others without breaching the essence of democracy in our situation. All parties should be looked at equally in view of the society and none of them should be respected more than another in the category because this is the requirement for uniting forces towards TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT. I think brother Petros is a member of one of them, which is good, unfortunately I cannot at this point consider his PARTY OR ORGANIZATION as different from the others in the resistance, if that is the case. The process of our independence required unconditional unity to succeed and that of our freedom and democracy requires unconditional unity of all forces to succeed. Similar to there was no other way to independence except unconditional unity, there is no exit for the Eritrean government from implementing the CONSTITUTION, so is there no exist for any individual or group in the opposite camp from UNCINDITIONAL UNITY towards a TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT.
In so stating, this postulate mathematically and conceptually equalizes the dictator and the fake individuals or groups in the category in view of democracy, meaning that an anti unity group or individual (at this critical moment) is as good a dictator as ours in Asmara. Petros has showed how well informed he was on similar issues elsewhere but they are all insignificant in so far as justifying the mentality of few anti-unity Eritreans is concerned, again at this moment in our history. Every individual society is unique in some ways and we should deal with ours properly, irrespective of what happened in other societies of the world. Therefore, no analysis or philosophy is necessary to unite and form a transitional government in Eritrea for this is not a new experience for us Eritreans who were as united as concrete in our journey for independence and through out our historically peaceful coexistence. It worked then and there is no reason why it cannot work today.
Petros on Sanction: “the punishment is going beyond the intended target, and it has the potential to harm the average Eritrean”
Kalighe: “Dear brother Petros; What exactly are you proposing so that sanctions do not harm the average Eritrean? Do you think there is a way to reach the people without putting the money in the hands of the brutal regime? or you want the sanctions to be lifted because it s harming the people ?. Can you please elaborate on this .. ?
Petros: Dear brother Kalighe, I am hoping the experts will engage intensely on finding a way to protect the citizen of Eritrea, and the nation in transition period, & as the current trend stands, I see a disadvantaged Eritrea, since no one is trying to stop Ethiopia’s open and often undetected violations, here I am referring Eritrea as a country, &. Sanctions and embargos can go very wrong -if for some reason one side is fully equipped, while the other is not. However I would suggest the involvement of more regional & International neutral actors in the Eritrean & Ethiopian affairs, & this kind of approach should halt the potential crisis from harming the innocent citizens of Eritrea, and the nation at large, & and also it will be able to maintain it s peace and stability in one hand, and it will force the tyrant to change its ways,
Me: We need to fight back with all means of fight including Sanction to change our situation. Petros’s point is clear in that Eritrea should not be restricted from arming itself when Ethiopia is allowed to do the opposite. Well, the solution for getting out of the Sanction is at the court of Mr. Afwerki who has so far refused peaceful coexistence with all of us in the region. The choices are limited and precise here:
A) The regime cannot refuse peaceful coexistence with its neighbor (by refusing dialogue) and request lifting the SANCTION simultaneously. The regime’s homework in this regard is accepting dialogue for peace with Ethiopia or continue under Sanction because you cannot let a party that refuses to dialogue for peace arm itself for a potential war that its defiance may cause ahead.
B) The regime cannot refuse peaceful coexistence with its people (through absolute dictatorship) and request lifting the SANCTION concurrently. The regime’s minimum homework in this regard is implementing the Constitution.
C) Neither can it expect to get rid of the SANCTION by being the only country in the world that does not recognize the democratically elected Somalian government. Its refusal to recognize this legitimate government contrary to all nations in the world implies its active infatuation with the Al-Shabab at least spiritually if not materially (because of the Sanction). The sanction was mainly imposed because of Afwerki’s passionate attachment to the terrorist Al-Shabab and he has not changed his attitude yet and the proof is clear. He needs to recognize the Somalian government and stay away from his Al-Shabab for good in this regard to get out of the Sanction. I don’t think the IGAD will accept vigilant Eritrea before it recognizes the government of a member state Somalia, either, and it should not.
As for “the involvement of more regional & International neutral actors in the Eritrean & Ethiopian affairs” in order to avoid “worsening the situation of our people” theory, we need to first understand that our people are mostly dependent on their loved ones in Diaspora. The Diaspora is running the society’s economic survival, NOT THE REGIME. Therefore the Sanction as witnesses to date has no critical effect on the society’s survival.
An important point to share here is that there has already been a neutral International involvement from the onset and still on the go (the UN, AU, EU, IGAD, Journalists without Boarders, International Humanitarian groups, etc) and I have no idea how much more neutral involvement you are visualizing for this project. The regime did not change its nature with all the pressures applied internationally from neutral forces and I cannot see what else the international community is supposed to do here.
Petros Haile: Fistum, I just re read your article, since this particular writing is full of contradictions, and I may add, it defies logic and common sense … In one hand you totally destroy the ethnic and religious element, as if there is notomorrow, few sentence further, you talk about “unconditional Unity”, and at the beginning you seem to encourage by their past resistance record ..
Comment: There is no contradiction on the phrasing you cited and let me tell you why. My message clearly states that it is now necessary for any group affiliated with any sociopolitical or theological philosophy to accept unity as an equal member with equal significance to all others under an umbrella. Whatever they want to do with their ethnic or religious drive is their own business that should not concern the people at this moment in our historical situation. They have the right to be organized in their terms on their own but they should keep it within themselves for now because it would be premature otherwise. The moment is for unconditional unity not for accommodating their issues, which should take place in Post-Afwerki Eritrea under a transitional government through well-defined articles in an all-inclusive Constitution. If they cannot wait till then, the people have no choice except sidelining them by popular demand (the Diaspora, civic groups and other parties that may be genuinely working for a transitional government in the country).
My opinion on the so-called leaders that base their “struggle” on religion and ethnicity remains intact. They are opportunists that would first destroy their community in the process of using it to destroy other communities for their political power. These individuals would not hesitate selling their own community for power and money and should be rejected.
Petros: “… and of course, the tittle itself is scary, you seem to give us an ultimatum “Take it or leave it” … I wander if the little Issayas is on the making?
Response: I have no power to give the people an ultimatum but TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMNENT still remains to be the only road to democratic Eritrea. If you feel this pressure as something dictatorial, there is nothing I can do about it but the individuals who resist equality under a united front should rather be classified as “little Issayas” for there is no genuine reason for them to reject unity without aiming at political power without democratic process. Refusing to unite at this point in the journey is equivalent to being “little Isaias’ in my understanding. Truth, however, scares and hurts those who do not take it without contemplation: it should not scare if you are for real!!!
Petros: “Fistum, Call it Transitional or full fledged, or give it any other fancy name, The bottom line is the divided opposition has to come out clean from the dependent status, and must give up the Armed struggle strategy, or forcefully disarm by their host country, if regional crisis is to be avoided… This ought to be done before you begin the exploratory stage for Transitional Government discussions …”
Answer: I do not understand the “coming out clean” stuff and if I slightly do, they could not do it as of today. Therefore, a united CIVIC society in Diaspora should pressurize for whatever the phrasing implies. It is the absence of such a force in the struggle that is delaying the process of unification. Coming out clean is their business but imposing pressure to comply with the process of democracy, REJECTING THEM otherwise is our business. We cannot make their “coming out clean” a condition for unity and neither can we wait for them to do what you suggest but we can stand on our grounds and fight for the correct procedure to democracy. So does the logic apply to the armed units in the resistance: we can heavily dictate terms here challenging any force including Ethiopian tendency to arm some of them if we take care of our business of unification first. Our strength can neutralize Ethiopian involvement through intellectual confrontation backed by a solid Diaspora unity. Said involvement is therefore a derivative of our division that can only be reversed by our unconditional unity.
Adhanom: “Do the political strategies and agenda that the opposition parties have used bring change; and do they save our nation and our people? If the existing strategies are not working, what manners do you, Mr. Petros, think workable for Eritrea to speed up the process of liberation?”
Petros: “This is a sensible question, at least you are coming out of your box & Again, the previous conferences held in Ethiopia has not produced the desired results, partly, due to the controlled and managed of the few organizers who were close affiliates to the Woyane cliques, and that is why you see many policies and political declarations that are very similar to that of the Ethiopian government positions, including the Ethnic Federalism position taken by EDA, & don’t take me wrong I am not opposing the idea of Ethnic Federalism, I just want to show you the controlling and managing aspect of the host nation, not to mention the arming the insurgents to launch an attack , As Fistum often talks about the emerging Somali government and the potential for democratic rule, although they still have a long way to go , & but I think, we can learn a lot from them, from the relative democracy and transitional government in Somalia & It came about when various factions aggressively participated in challenging every aspect of Somali’s political power and social order & It involved from the regional warlords, religious based groups, to that of the concerted effort of regional and international power brokers & In fact Ethiopia wised up after so many attempted & failed occupation, often unilaterally, to push for regional and international forces to involve in the Somalian affairs, including the many attempts of conferences held in Ethiopia and Kenya & Mainly these two nations proved to be dis-honest brokers to be allowed to mediate on internal Somalian affairs & finally, Djibouti was chosen to be a half way decent, and best situated place to form the transitional government in exile & Once this transitional government was formed, and the question of the national army was entertained, and as the regional and international organizational mandate allows it, the Somalian army was on the making, with the help of Uganda, Burundi and on occasion Ethiopia &. As you can see where I am going on this one, not necessary a carbon copy, but similar approach can be applied on Eritrean case, but again this is just a suggestion, it can be elaborated and may even be totally different proposal drafted by our intellectuals and experts.”
Comment: Great information from brother Petros on Somalian democracy that we can learn from as he suggests. His teaching clearly tells that there is a solution that can follow the Somalian prototype for successful democratic government in the country.
Adhanom: “Mr. Festum insisted: What is our prior national agenda? Is it uniting our efforts, minds and resources to save the nation removing the autocratic regime? Or factorizing the meager human and materials resources into sub national issues prioritizing the interest of a particular groups occupied by region,religion and ethnic tendencies? We must respect the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of Eritrea; and the future democratic and constitutional Eritrea must protect their rights. However, if we want to reach that level, what can we do? Struggling with UNITY OR FRAGMENTATION? “
Petros: Petros detailed more on this subject and you can see it from his post related to the previous article, then said “ Your priority is messed up, these ethnic and religious groups are demanding, and you are telling us the future constitution will guarantee their rights ? That is not only condescending to these movements but very unrealistic, This kind of short sited political behavior will not take you any where”
Me: What else should protect them and all of us for that matter then except the future constitution of the country? I believe Adhanom’s view is realistic and the only solution for the subject on discussion. Genuine equality of all citizens guaranteed by the Constitution is the only medium of unity and respect for any ethnic or religious affiliated individuals in our diverse society. Any missing genuine concerns of any ethnic or religious group can be accommodated in the constitution through AMENDMENTS. What else can a diverse society do to equalize all its members beside this procedure? Is not this how diverse societies harmonize the relationship of their diversified members all over the world?
Adhanom: “ History confirms that this kind of sentiment or approach was/is destructive rather than constructive. In fact this can be best justified by the history of armed struggle, and the existing post independence political development which has produced nothing except hatred, mistrust, tension and division.”
Petros: “I DISAGREE ! If we agree to the need and the legitimate reason for ethnic or religious groups to resist and challenge their oppressors, & then this could be a good start for you and me to begin talking about how to solve the problem, or even better to discuss if there is an oppression on the basis of ethnic & religion exist, &.. However, I don’t think you are denying the practices of deliberate or unintended practices of discrimination, or disadvantaged past to the Eritrea’s ethnic or religious communities, including the indiscriminate oppression towards the people of Eritrea in general, & Although you seem to focus more on the negative symptoms, and the methods of the sectarian form of resistance, while you totally negate the reason why these sectarian movements resort to choose their preferred ways of struggle, & To be honest with you, if you don’t recognize the historical and current practices of the Eritrean reality, & there is no room for the sectarian groups to compromise, let alone to reconcile on the national agendas & Dear Adhanom, once you come out of your captive and exclusionary mentality, then , only then together we can carve a common strategy, in which an army of ethnic, religious or even secular based armed resistance no longer necessary & I strogly recommend you to read the series of Ahmed Raji, and other Eritrean intellectuals well researched documents & You may be able to see Eritrea, and the question of self determination from a different perspective, I am hoping ?
Me: Although our society has relatively lived peacefully with all its diversions for ages and that our struggle for independence was the result of collective resistance of the people, there is no doubt that we have narrow minded people that accentuate division and discrimination in our society. This is, however, normal to any diversified society on the planet including the US. Genuine nationalism and education will certainly minimize the problem but it is impossible to put everyone in the society in the same frame of thinking: you can not force a hater to a lover. The Law takes care of any adverse action against any citizen based on ethnicity or religion and that is what we need to live together peacefully. We cannot change a person’s concept of existence but we can lawfully control one’s drive to hurt another based on the concept. We, however, need to investigate the society thoroughly as Petros indicated for all mishaps on the subject matter within our society and academically challenge it/them directly to be effective.
Adhanom: “It is not the real time to entertain with different models of political governance that can be developed through time determined by level of economy, political maturity, technological advancement, eional distribution, social cohesion, and enhancement of justice system.”
Petros: “I DISAGREE ! You are dead wrong again, How could you be able to rule a country with out a political system, To develop a policy, to manage and administer, to enhance the bureaucracy or various institutions, political direction and its commands are vital, in fact they cannot do with out & and you go figure, the role of political parties !”
Comment: In a democratic society, political parties are entitled to develop their national program (policies based on economy, foreign policy, social issues etc.) and compete with each other on them in view of the public. The political direction of the parties basically is limited to the differences they may have on their program to advance the nation forward by which they may win elections by convincing the public on. Entertaining a political model for future application within the principles of democracy is okay at this point in the Eritrean experience for those who focus to lead the nation ahead. This entertainment, however, should stay contained within the ambitious parties until the time comes for exposure during the period of democratic election after the transitional period is exhausted. I do not think Adhanom is wrong here as Petros indicated and I tend to agree with him completely.
I love you all and let us stick together without hesitation to save our society from hell!!