EMDG-Launches Its Campaign to Mobilize the Eritrean People to defend the Nation!

Jan. 12 2009

Eritreans for Democratic Governance (EDG), now the Eritrean Movement for Democratic Governance (EMDG) takes this opportunity to salute the decision of the United Nations Security Council for imposing long overdue sanctions against the government of Eritrea. This totalitarian, illegitimate, government has imposed sanctions upon its own impoverished people for the past 18 years by severely limiting Eritrean citizens’ employment, movement, and trade activities.

It is gratifying that an inclusive international organization has finally begun addressing the need to curb its destabilization of regional governments and its increasing threats to world peace.  As for the Eritrean people, the power to remove this autocratic regime lies is in their own hands.  Given the dire conditions within Eritrea, it is time for her people to coordinate efforts to defend their very existence as people and nation.

The 53-member African Union deserves credit for its historic decision to raise awareness of the conditions within Eritrea in the United Nations Security Council and to insist upon the imposition of sanctions against the PFDJ ruling junta, siding firmly with the victimized people of Eritrea.  Renowned human rights champion and Nobel Peace Prize winner Reverend Desmond Tutu once said that “freedom is free”.  The logic that operating a nation under a lawful system of government that allows freedom for its people costs less in both financial and human terms than does a system designed to control and oppress citizens using police and armed security apparatus is sound.  Spending a disproportionate percentage of national wealth on repression contributes nothing towards the growth and development of its people.  It’s time for all African leaders to assure that they themselves are not a primary cause of instability inside of their nations.  Hanging on to power indefinitely, at the justification of being under passive attack by a shadowy array of useable external forces, cannot go unchallenged forever.  History teaches us that, with or without the moral support of the international community, there is always an end to state sponsored oppression.
Eritreans in the Diaspora will play an important role by utilizing the sanctions as a peaceful tool in the struggle to identify and expose PFDJ tax collectors.  These individuals prey upon Diaspora communities worldwide, conducting illegal multimillion dollar collection of monies destined to support nefarious activities.  The international community and nations hosting Eritrean refugees must also pay special attention to the “Young PFDJ” movement organized by party members.  Through the political education and training they receive at the SAWA military summer camps in Eritrea, the youth movement poses a serious security threat to countries hosting otherwise peaceful Eritrean Diaspora communities. Be aware that there is an especially significant summer camp big one planned for 2010!  Eritrean parents must closely supervise their children’s activities and should not provide PFDJ representatives’ access to their communities for the recruitment of young children. You do not need your own offspring working for PFDJ in your own homes!

Eritreans for Democratic Governance (EDG), now the Eritrean Movement for Democratic Governance (EMDG) launches its anti-dictatorial mobilization campaign urging our citizens to defend the nation by all means to liberate themselves from unceasing oppression, unmatched even by occupation forces in its history of successive European or African invaders. After conducting extensive brain storming sessions, and pre-conference assemblies from October 2008 to May 2009, EMDG released a press note to the public on May 11, 2009.  It declared its formation by outlining its clearly defined political objectives, goals, and initiating a program intended to coordinate its efforts with other opposition organizations.  The EMDG exists to support those who are paying the ultimate price by carrying arms to defend the nation. The movement is comprised of former fighters from both major liberation organizations-the ELF and EPLF, as well as a younger generation of men and women from the Diaspora ready to challenge the status quo on all fronts. Under the tagline of “Good Governance, the basis for peace, security, and prosperity”, (“ÇáÍßã ÇáÑÔíÏ ¡ ÃÓÇÓ ááÓáÇã æÇáÃãä æÇáÇÒÏåÇÑ” “ጽቡቕ ምሕደራ፡ መሰረት ሰላምን፡ ጸጥታን፡ ብልጽግናን”), EMDG advocates strengthening the institutions necessary to build a democratic and constitutional government in Eritrea.

Members of EMDG understand that the Eritrean people are reluctant to support newly borne organizations.  Until proven otherwise, EMDG will also be tainted by the presumption of under-representation as the organization is formed by individuals of similar upbringing, culture, and socio-political experience.  We believe that this concern is valid.  Over the past forty years, primarily because the society was programmed to believe that “only one organization can function better”, broadly representative civil organizations have been slow to develop.  This notion goes back to the 1970’s when the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) attempted to scuttle the Peoples Liberation Front (PLF) by stating that “the Eritrean field of struggle cannot tolerate/carry more than one organization” (“meda eritra kab hade widb nlae’li kisewr aykielenyu”), which was later amended in its second National Congress of 1975 which concluded that two or more liberation organization can coexist and resolve their secondary contradictions through democratic dialogue.  This thinking was expressed in current form by the now infamous vow by the president ‘un-elect’ when he said “from now on there will be no merry-go-round of organizations” (“kab hiji nin’yew hashewyie nay widbat abkiuu’you”).  This was meant to exclude any viable political organization capable of surpassing PFDJ from developing.

We all remember the PLF’s popular dance style named “kuda-tewedeb” (get organized), coined only to benefit one organization. The rest of society has no right to participate but to join and ask what task one can take within that organization. This belief was the foundation for the tagline “one organization, one people and one heart!” “Hade widib, Hade hizbi, hade libi!”  The truth of the matter is that we are a multi-ethnic society enriched by diverse cultures.  This reality is negatively exploited by the regime or other enemies to divide the people along regional, religious, and sectarian lines. After organizing every citizen under one “widb”, the regime intimidates citizens considering joining any other organization, and has become increasingly suspicious of any group critical of its policies-be they civic or religious. We should learn from our mistakes.  Vowing allegiance to any one political organization for eternity, particularly when quitting that organization is considered a taboo, or even “haram” or sin, is unhealthy for the individual and society. Leaders will not change their behaviour unless they know that the loyalty of members is contingent upon their responsible stewardship.

EMDG believes that the organization has a unique role to play by implementing its vision of a united liberation army under one command- a beacon of hope for a national salvation. An army capable of reassuring members of the Eritrean Defence Forces that there is a national opposition army which is trustworthy, willing to receive and protect them if they join, and energize and rearm them if they plan to fight against a common enemy.  Moving away from a political organization already intoxicated by negative propaganda and indoctrinated by “hade libi/one heart” sloganeering, one cannot expect that a member of the defence forces deserting its ranks will join a fighting force that represents a narrow ideology, sect, religion or ethnicity.  For these Eritrean Defence Force soldiers of today to be compatriot fighters tomorrow they need to clearly understand our message that the opposition army represents common Eritrean national interests.

 Following the formation of the current umbrella organization, the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) (formerly the Alliance of Democratic Forces in 1999), various supporters—including global civic movements—have tried to address the importance of unity by demanding the formation of an army that is under one command. This fell upon deaf ears and was even mocked by certain leaders. Following the establishment of Eritreans for Democratic Governance (EDG) six months ago, we realized that the concept of “movement” adds value to our vision by reassuring our members and the general public that the organization pursues a very specific mission; the objective of the movement is to essentially put pressure on those organizations which have military wings to 1) assemble their military operations under one command and  2) lead the army as one liberation force fighting to fulfil the political aspirations of the Eritrean people. We respect each of these organization’s political beliefs, and the demands will ultimately be addressed in the constitution of future democratic Eritrea. However, in order to reach that goal, and in order to achieve military victory over the current regime, the military wings have to come under one command. The situation is so dire that we cannot afford to have fragmented armed forces fighting on various fronts with uncoordinated military strategies.

The international community is aware that the downfall of the regime in Eritrea is inevitable, even imminent, but cannot throw its support behind opposition organizations because of their fragmented military organizations. A unified opposition army is necessary now to secure a stable Eritrea and to safeguard the future of its people.  Based upon recent events, there are glimmers of hope from within the Eritrean Defence Forces.  With a united opposition the people can rise up and express their opposition to tyranny through various means including civil disobedience or even simple expression of dissatisfaction about a regime that is increasingly isolated from its own people and the international community.

The Eritrean people are waiting for the moment when they can say “yes! Now we can express our feelings in the streets” of Asmara, Keren, Massawa or Aseb because there is a unified opposition army and polity that is beginning to coordinate the future security and stability of the nation. Unified opposition will have a positive influence on Eritreans in the Diaspora by tipping the balance of the momentum towards the opposition.  Government support among the Diaspora communities is mainly driven by the untouchable appearance of the PFDJ crowd, mistreatment and constant harassment by their agents (tax collectors), and not merely from the fear that they would lose their property at home if they defy the regime and stand for justice and democracy. EMDG has a specific mission of mobilizing our people at home and abroad to rise up and defend themselves and their families.

We will campaign to discourage the youth from fleeing the country and support them in resisting, just like our former organizations did when fighting Ethiopian occupation.  We are not going to dictate tactics to the young generation that wants to demonstrate its opposition against the current government, but we will openly tell them that “fight” and not “flight” is the key to destroying the regime.  The great lyrics of Teklemichael Ghebru’s 1974 song say it best: “tokormika motye, asafihka motye, n’anay nbahri nhade amet'ye”. Loosely translated as “whether you sit here (in the city) curled up in misery or laid back  with indifference you’re likely to be killed (by the Derg), so you might as well go to the bush (the battlefield) for a year”. The youth cannot continue to flee and die crossing the desert and the Mediterranean Sea indefinitely, sooner or later they must take up their generational obligation to confront the PFDJ and defend the nation against enemies—foreign or domestic.

The movement hereby declares its firm commitment to and advocacy for:
1.Human Rights
2.Good Governance
3.Political Pluralism
4.The unconditional return of refugees to their homeland
5.Land to the Adi (village)
6.Return of power to its sole owners-the people.

We will closely work with other civic and political opposition organizations.  We will serve in a supportive role to those organizations which show and prove full commitment to dislodge the current government militarily.  This extremely authoritarian and doctrinaire regime does not understand peaceful means of transitioning Eritrea into a democratically governed state.  It does not believe in peaceful means of engagement.  The current government of Eritrea can survive years of diplomatic pressure and will continue to exploit the human and economic resources of the nation for an infinite length of time.  We believe that in addition to military and diplomatic pressures, voicing full support for African Union and United Nations led economic sanctions is the correct path to follow in opposing this dictatorial regime.

During our liberation struggle for independence both ELF and EPLF practiced economic sanctions against the enemy dwelling in the major cities.  Citizens in the rural areas were prevented from supplying food and energy sources to the enemy.  Now we can apply the same rules against the new enemy in Eritrea, and declare economic sanctions with money transfers only focused on the elderly and the vulnerable.  Financial transfers into Eritrea by the Diaspora should be limited to helping elderly parents.  All investment and business ventures, luxurious vacations, 2% taxation, and scandalous "Mekete" exploitations must end.

In the following weeks and months EMDG will engage the public and media to spread its message. Paltalk sessions reaching all sectors of our society will clarify our mission and positions.  We call for a summit of opposition political organizations currently operating militarily in Eritrea.  We call for the formation of a central command of leadership to strike the enemy in its most strategically sensitive positions.  We call upon all Eritreans to cut the chains and break the yoke from the shoulders of our people once and for all.

Victory to our people
January 7, 2010