A Converse: One Nation and its Complications

These conversations are teken from a facebook page after a person named, Bahlibi (full name is not given) has posted the topic below. Three people involved in the discussion in addition to me. I will not include their names except mine. Rather I will replace their names with Bahlibi, Zaki and Daniel. The discussion was held on 17/02 – 18/02/2017.

Topic:

ሓንቲ ኤርትራ ዝብል ሓቓፍን ቁዱስን ቃል ዝሕምሞም ሰባት እንተሃልዮም፣ ወይ ክታብ ሸኽ ዛይድ ወይ ድማ ክልተ ሸውዓት ጋብር ደርዓንቶ ምሕጻብ ከድሊ እዩ።

Converse 

Trend 1:

Tesfabirhan Redie: 

Bahlibi I think we are familiar with the way you are describing things. Isn’t it the same what dictator Issaias told when he was asked about why the youth are fleeing the country?

No one will feel bad when the notion of one Eritrea is mentioned. But history has taught us not to accept such candy words without questioning critically.

Unfortunately, those who are trying to sell the current One Nation concept seems not to be different from existing dictatorial notion of “Hade Libi -Hade Hizbi”.

Lets accept constructive criticism before blocking anyone who tries to get clarifications.

Bahlibi: 

Tesfabirhan Redie you have a valid point, brother. A constructive criticism should always be welcomed with open arms.I don’t intend to advocate for a blind worship. But here, we are neither talking about policy nor political reconstruction. It is a simple and plain rally for unity. Regardless of our political philosophy, ethnic or religious affiliations, we all have Eritrea at heart. There is absolutely nothing wrong with “We love one Eritrea” rallying point.

Tesfabirhan Redie:

Bahlibi, thanks. But what history teaches us, there is something wrong with “We love one Eritrea”. We can’t be blind adherents of this notion again. We need to clarify again and again untill everyone feels safe with it.

Bahlibi: 

Tesfabirhan know where you are trying to get with this. But as rule of thump, you can never start a political dialogue or national reconciliation processes by focusing on things that differentiate us. But you focus on the things that bring us together-Eritrea.And then, we all sit down to discuss our grievance, our ambitions, differences and potential solutions.

Tesfabirhan Redie:

People are always there and everyone loves for the country. Our father Wedi Vacaro’s call is a strong indicator on hwo strong we are to come together. What we lack is a clear mission, objectives and strategy.

Especially, when people come together, what they are not getting is an inclussive idea.

In fact, the call for unity is becoming boring.

Forget now all the past and decades old experiences, what happend to EYS is enough to get a hint on what can be if it is empty call.

Therefore, everyone is not far from the notion but is skeptical on its discourse.

Bahlibi: 

Tesfabirhan Yes, we should have clear mission, objective and strategy. But in this simple picture/paint/slogan, the aforementioned factors are engraved. Mision? To free Eritrea together and live in a constitutional government where people enjoy the rule of law, rights, and responsibilities. Objective?To debunk the divisive and chaotic situation in the social media and fight the political arsonists who are trying to compromise our social and political solidarity. Strategy? Bringing all Eritrean nationals together to achieve a common goal-getting ride of the monster in Eritrea. Is this too much to ask? One more thing. Whether it is about the people in EYSC or EYFF, we have to learn to respect all the people who have dedicated their life, time, energy and money to be a voice for the voiceless. To me, every person in the opposition is a strategic ally. Everything they do is to help Eritrea and Eritreans. Do they get it wrong? of course. But they are ordinary human beings who are trying to do something right about the wrongs in their homeland.

Zaki:

[Tesfabirhan] So, are you telling us not to love Eritrea? What is your argument that asking people to love the country would derail the opposition?

Tesfabirhan Redie:

[Zaki] What you are saying is your own imagination. And this is mine: My belief is very simple: As much as I love my country, every Eritrean loves it. Very simple. I don’t believe on politics that tells people to love their country.

Any politics that asks people to love its country is simply to clasify people. Of course nationalists will always ask people to love their country. This is what PFDJ does.

Zaki, please lets not repeat mistakes again and again.

All what I am asking is to have a very broad definition of One Nation.

 

Zaki:

Yes, it is important for people to ask for a strategy but to oppose without even knowing the details makes one obstructionist.

Tesfabirhan Redie:

I believe that the details are outlined on the website of One Nation Eritrea. In case there is any other secret behind, I am sorry I am not aware about it. But what I depend my concern is all based on the information given on this page: http://www.eritrea1nation.com/

Zaki:

So?, it says ” no sectarianism “. Are you a sectarian?

Zaki:

Where are you getting this “telling people to love their country” from? I don’t support forcing people, either.

Zaki:

I am a nationalist, and I don’t call a forced love for a country nationalism. We don’t have the same understanding of nationalism brother.

Tesfabirhan Redie:

[Zaki] First: I am not a nationalist. But I know what nationalism is and what nationalists promote. It is exactly what you are doing.

On sectarianism – I am not sure from where you are bringing it. But I believe on a complete separation of state and religion and in a complete autonomy of religious practices that respects rights of the other each religious or non religious group.

Trend 2:

Zaki:

[Tesfabirhan] I have been waiting for the opposition groups to come out and address the toxic and divisive politics of the last two years or so. Except a couple of known political activists who showed some concern, all kept quiet. Now, those who have been in hibernation for a long time are coming out to oppose nationalism. I am confused. Are these people benefitting from division?
My slogan is:
Yes to + and ×
No to ÷ and –

Tesfabirhan Redie:

[zaki]I think you thought this One Nation to be the final and blowing movement. No one benefits from division but everyone is concerned from issues that will continue to divided us.

Daniel:

Tesfabirhan, The division is already here: Look no further, just examine the following:

Political Organizations (19 +/-)
Ethnic Based Political Organizations (5 +/-)
Religion Based Political Organizations (4 +/-)
Regional Based Political Organizations (2 +/-)
Civic Organizations (30 +/-)
Youth Oriented Organizations (7 +/-)
Women Based Organizations (3 +/-)
Refugee and Human Rights Organizations (10 +/-)
Umbrella Organizations ( 3+/-)
Radio (10 +/-)
Websites (35 +/-)
Paltalk/Facebook Pages (15 +/-)

Tesfabirhan Redie:

Daniel, thank you Daniel for this information. It is very helpful in this discussion.

Let me ask you: Have you reached all these lists and clearly identified their grievances and concerns?

I think they can not be simply called for unity irrespective of their differences. They exist because they have a reason.

No one likes to be divided but there are unavoidable circumstances that leads you into.

Just suppose the youth organizations. EYSC and ENMNS – can these two groups ignore their differences and become united?

EYSC doesn’t seem to have problem with the believes of One Nation but ESMNS will have a real serious problem.

In one of the list of One Nation belief, what One Nation beliefs is on change that comes from inside only and rejects any outside interferences. Though I can not say that EYMNS has interference of Ethiopia, their movement is so clear that change of the oppression regime includes from outside too.

Do you think then EYSC and EYMNS be united in this movement for a common goal?

Another question:

onenation-loveIn the photo that shows 9 ethnic groups – do you think Jeberti will welcome and be part of the One Nation Movement?

Thousands of questions are lining in my head to be written. For now, these are enough I think.

Zaki: 

So, are you questioning the motive behind a nationalistic movement or you are simply saying it is a bad idea? If it is the latter you just have to realize that you don’t have the monopoly of good ideas and all you need to do is accept the difference as you have accepted all the 50+ groups. It is only one more group to take

Tesfabirhan Redie:

What you said is exactly what I am addressing. There are differences that we need to address before starting any movement.

For example, you and I have different political views though we both love our country.

My point is not to make nationalist to be a bad idea, though on some specifici points I believe so, but to show that One Nation has ignored concerns of the people. Say for example, by displaying 9 ethnic groups phot and indicating that is what they are calling one Nation.

If we agree then, there is difference in our views, do not preach us “One Nation”. For me, what I am understanding is this One Nation concept is a continuation of PFDJ “Hade Hizbi – Hade Libi” mantra that is originated from Socialism or Communism definition of Nationalists.

This is my understanding.

And if One Nation Movement wants to join the 50+ list, you are very welcomed. Hopefully meskerem will include it in the over crowding list.

But my wish is to see a movement that reduces these 50+ into fewer but united and strong clusters of opposition camp.

Wish is wish!

Zaki: 

Tes, I don’t expect 100% of Eritreans to be nationalists but we do need nationalists if we want to have a nation

Tesfabirhan Redie:

Zaki, I think the Eritrean political landscape is over saturated by nationalists. What we don’t have is something higher or different than that.

And this is a view that puts democracy and justice first by incorporating human rights and rule of law within it. This is the area that we really are in shortage.

Thanks to our 30 years struggle and now 26 years constant brainwashing and chaos in accordance to PFDJ nationalistic ideology, almost all Eritreans are Nationalists by default.

And if you notice our failures, it is basically because we are using or repeating mistakes done by our previous nationalists.

No matter how often we come with new names, our mindset is still there. Look, EYSC manifestation is clearly visible in this One Nation beliefs. and we are all witnessing on what has happened and is happening to its memebers no matter how good missions they outline.

Therefore, what we need is a new paradigm, or a total shift from the principles that we are constantly utilizing.

 

 

 

One Nation Movement: A Start with a Big Mistake

On February 14, 2017, I came into an attention that put me in disarray on a new movement emmeregnce under a slogan “One Nation”.

A person named Mr. Daniel G. Mickael has posted in his facebook message as such:

“Curious what One Nation is about? Follow this link … I hope you too can join us and fight back sectarianism. Transition to democracy is only possible when we act as citizens of One Nation.  http://www.eritrea1nation.com/love?recruiter_id=2

Though I didn’t feel curious on what he wanted me to be curious about, I rather was curious to know why a new movement under a new slogan is popping up? And the person I know is the same person that I know by his close association and involvement in the EYSC affairs and an urdent promoter of “Eritrea for Eritreans” that has been used as their driving motto.

Daniel G. Michael, as his EYSC bio tells, is a co-founder and board member of EYSC. Knowing this before about him, a spontaneous question that came to my mind was, “What happened then to EYSC?” 

Having this curious question in my mind, I followed the webiste that he linked to know what is all about? The time I opened the link, what I found is as follows:

onenation-loveሎሚ ሰሉስ 14 የካቲት 2017 ዓ.ም ዓለምለኻዊ መዓልቲ ፍቑራት እዩ። ንኩሉኹም ፍቑራት ድማ እንቋዕ ናብዛ ክብርቲ ዕለት ኣብጻሓኩም። ቤተሰቡ፡ መጻምድቱ፡ ውሉዱ፡ ኣፍቃሪቱ፡ ዓርኪ መሓዛ፡ ጎረቤቱ ዝፈትው ሰብ እዩ እቲ ንሃገሩ ዘፍቅር ዜጋ። ኣብ ዓለም ብፍቕሪ ዘይፍንቀል እምኒ ወይ ዘይክፈት ማዕጾ የሎን። ምንቅስቓስ ሓንቲ ሃገር ኤርትራ ድማ ፍቕሪ ደቂ ሓላል ኤርትራ እዩ እቲ እንኮ ዋሕስ ሰላምን ራህዋን ኢሉ ይአምን። ካብ ቅርሕንትን ጽልእን ዝረብሕ ዓማጽን ተበላጽን ስለዝኾኑ ንነገራት ካብ ቅርሕንትን ሕነ ምፍዳይን ወጺእና ብፍቕርን ሓልዮትን ክንርእዮም ይግብአና። እቲ ሓቂ ዘይሰነቐ ኣብ ጽልእን ቅርሕንትን ዝስውድ ዋላ ናብ ህልኽን ባእስን ክስሕበና እንተሃቀነ መልስና ኣይፋል ንህውከትን ዕግርግርን፤ እወ ንፍቕርን ሰላምን ይኹን።

ምንቅስቓስ ሓንቲ ሃገር ኤርትራ

 

Well, what I learned from this statement is that a new movement is born. Another addition in the over-saturated political landscape of opposition camp. keeping aside on the newly popped-up movement, the picture they put(see above) is familiar to me since my childhood: A photo that is highly utilized by PFDJ junta – 9 ethic groups classification system.

Of course, Eritrea is for Eritreans – no matter to which social group we belong or from we come, who ever claims to be an Eritrean is an Eritrean. Believing to be an Eritrean is not a priviledge but a right. With this in mind, origin or ethnic classification is the least criteria I prefer to put as a symbol of unity.

I went further into their page if they have a clear objective, mission and vision. What I found is a “Five Point List” that show their detailed mission or beliefs(see in the figure below).

onenation-visiion

What I found in this list, titled under, “What we Believe” is a flaw and self – contradicting declarations. Let me try to put some of the major flaws:

  1. “… Eritrean people to stand united irrespective of their ethnic, regional or religoius differences. (What We Believe – N°. 1)…”

Here the flaw is: the movement neither specified the difference that exists nor has acknowledged its existence. It is a vague description and misleading that can be interprated in different ways for a different purpose. If One Nation Movement believes that there is a real and existing problems, it should clearly address  or indicate against what it stands for. By calling simply “Irrespective” is creating a crowd of forces that have no common unitary agenda. If, according to their belief, the existing repressive political problems is terminated, the problems will surface as they have embraced  all forces, irrespective of their differences.  From this what can be exploded is another turmoil of political struggle and chaos during the transition period of full and accountable governance.

In respective, what this newly emerging One Nation Movement has ignored during the conception phase is to learn from 30 years  Eritrean struggle under the same theme that they look to have mbraced right now. During our 30 years struggle, the then newly born EPLF(after 1970) called all Eritrean people to unite and struggle under a banner of “irrespective of our differences”. Of course the people responded positively. Once they joined in, it became a closed chamber that made a taboo to breath on their existing grievances. Since the bigger enemy was not removed, the people supressed its feelings thinking that there will be room for political evolution. 

Once independence was achieved, people’s grievances started to surface as an agenda to discuss about demanding extensive dialoge for political freedom. The then victorious force, EPLF instead hijacked all the dreams and aspirations the people had and changed itself into a totalitarian junta under the newly established front called PFDJ.  And the result is where we are now.

It is therefore a flaw of political fortune to start with the same mistake. If One Nation movement is for one and united nation, it should clearly outline the difference that exists and stand against those that damage the notion of “One Nation”.

2. “…We believe genuine change can only come from inside Eritrea. ..”

This statement has totally ignored the reality of the oppressive regime. I won’t be surprised if they claim so, but what they should seriously analyse is the objective realistic challenge of creating a force that can challenge the oppressive regime to topple PFDJ regime. It is almost impossible to emmerge a united force within Eritrea unless there is a strong force that works outside.

What makes this statement a flaw is that the movement considers itself as a supplementary, not a direct shareholder in the struggle. The term ‘supplement’ is defined as ” something that completes or makes an addition”. It shows, the movement is not the main ingredient. And this shows an escape from direct responsibility. In addition, it is trying to show that there is an on- going movement inside Eritrea that does not exist on relaity – a kind of empty propaganda in use by MEDREK. 

If One Nation Movement is really a genuine movement, it should have considered itself as part of the main ingredient for change, not a supplementary. More than that, it has ignored all the other existing political forces that are working outside Eritrea. This is an isult to forces that are working relentlessely to end the oppressive regime by being outside Eritrea. 

3. “… Anyone who denies the honorable history of Eritrea, its people, its revolutionary struggle against invaders, and one, who disrespects its martyrs, cannot be part of this movement. …”

I found this discriminatory and anti-unity. It is an absolute ignorance of the existing grievances of our people across different sectors. For example, there are Eritreans who were denied their rights to live in Eritrea under the same accusation. for example: the Jehovah Witness. These people are denied their basic human rights to live in the land they believe they belong by birth. As part of their belief, they value heavenly kingdom not earthly kingdom. just for this, they are discriminated, forced to be converted, tortured and many forced to flee from the country that they only were supposed to live peaefully. 

And with a political trauma caused under PFDJ, there are extremists who reject the notion of one nation and wanted to use their democratic rights to advocate for a greater unity or wanting to unite with Ethiopia. But first and foremost they want to end the oppressive regime in Eritrea so that they can use their political rights to advance their views.

Not only this, there are forces that want to have their own state, or at least an autonomous state, and others wanted an ethnic based administrative system. And very recently, there is a movement to create a new state out of the the existing Eritrean state and call it “Agazian Nation”.

These forces will feel excluded and might work against the objectives of One Nation Movement. This will lead into another enemy.

Hence, this objective contradicts with the notion of “Irrespective of their ethnic, regional or religious differences”.

4. “… The victory of the people of Eritrea over tyranny can only be guaranteed when all Eritreans become victorious together….”

Once you read N°. 3 of What We Believe, this statement does not make sense. My argument is: “How come a victory of a movement that becomes victorious by excluding those who does not believe on its movement mission be a victory of all Eritreans”? In fact, One Nation Movement does not include all Eritreans as its N°. 3 theme reveals. 

5. “… Our movement unequivocally rejects any interference by outsiders in the political affairs of Eritrea….”

This outlook has stayed in the Eritrean landscape since the 1940s and in modern politics with the rise of EYSC. EYSC had, now I am not sure their status, a guiding principle of “Eritrea for Eritreans”. This principle has put  EYSC at odds with Simret, now ESMNS(Eritrean Solidarity Movement for National Salvation)and many other forces that are based in Ethiopia. Notable EYSC figures worked hard to explain the notion of “Eritrea for Eritreans”. At its core value, it is all about rejecting any interference by outsiders in the political affairs of Eritrea.

These days, there are opposition groups stationed in Ethiopia and get logistical help from the Ethiopian government. It is not therefore difficult to imagine this belief of One Nation will continue to be the main leverage for disagreements that will occur between these forces. 

To expand further the flaw of “One Nation Movement” is seems to be founded on  ethnic based social category zs given in the first photo. This is a total ignorance of existing public grievances. The current social classification system is based on Socialism ideology. According to socialism, societies are forced to cluster themselves as minimum as possible so that controlling and recognistion can very simpler. In fact, the way ethnicity is recognized is by merging different cultures into a common trend so that a new social culture can emerge in accordance to social evolutions. if people are left as they are, socialists beleive that it is difficult to control and build a progressive society. This was introduced to Eritreans during the armed struggle and is further inforced after independence.

The irony is: there are certain ethnic group names that insults social values. for example, the word Tigre signifies a “slave”. Though there is a spoken language commonly used by different sociaties called “Tigrait”, there is no common cultural connection that catagorize or put them as such.These people therefore strongly reject the use of Tigre Ethnic group and they prefer to call themselves according to who they really are.

Very recently, there is also another movement that is emerging from the Tigrigna speaking society. They are starting to identify themselves as “Agazians” they reject the notion of Tigrigna as a name of their social groups though they call themselves “Tigrigna speakers”.

Another challenge for this movement is that there people who want to be identified in the way they are and that reflects their common values. For example, “The Jeberti Ethnic Group”. The Jeberti people grievances is so deep that they even established a political party called, Al-Nahda Party, that fights for their rights of recognition as a separate Ethnic group and with a national political programs.For more, they can be reached at Jeberti People. Although the party that fights for Jeberti Etnic recognition might not a political solution, it is an indication of how deeply they are affected by their call for their rights.

Not only this, there are ignored people inside Eritrea who didn’t get any opportunity to say about themselves. These include: Hausa, commonly called, Tokhirir, The Hausa and Bargo Nigerian-Eritreans, who are collectively called the Tokharir, migrated to Eritrea almost a century ago that live along Gash-river banks andDahlaki people, who native settlers of Dahlak island which have their own spoken language.

One Nation and Hade Libi Saga

It is not a surprising if one can relate One Nation and Hade Libi slogans as the same. Both recognize Eritrea as home of only nine ethnic groups, puts unity as a must irrespective of ethnic, regional or religious differences, excludes anyone who is not abided by nationalism principles defined during the 30 years struggle.

Another similarity they have is they are both a means of rebuff for anti-national rherotics that they both consider as anti Eritrean sovereignity and statehood.

The biggest similarity they have is, they put nation first before anything. Like the PFDJ mantra, One Nation is emerging with a saga of, “First Nation”. This is what is driving all youth to flee and the country to suffer under the totalitarian regime.

What is really missing from the ‘One Nation belief?

In the five point list, I didn’t read anything related to Constitution, rule of law, democracy, justice or human rights ideals. Even not a single mention of these words exists between the lines. Not a single word!

Anyone who is interested on human values and justice, the five point belief is a clear sign of these nationalist, or far right political movement. In fact, every line put indicates their nationalistic point of view, patriotic agenda and discriminatory beliefs.

Now that Eritreans are thirsty of basic human rights and justice in their home country, it is a big mistake to see another movement with an objective of enforcing “Nation First ideology”. Eritreans are not deprived of nationalistic views or ignore on the notion of One nation, what they are looking thirstly are for justice and rights to live a simple life in their home country.

Be it from outside or inside, any force or both, any force that removes the brutal regime of PFDJ is welcome. If One Nation Movement has any belief on its people, first and foremost they should also know that it is the belief of any Eritrean to invite anyone who can help them to remove PFDJ from power albeit it will happen sooner.

Another Ignored issue

In the home page of their website, one can see a slide of photos that reflects their beliefs. In one slide, there is a photo that shows a flag that is imposed to the Eritrean people by EPLF without people’s consensus. Many reject this symbol, including me, as it is a sign of oppression and injustice. Putting such flag in the background shows how much the movment is ignoring public grievances. Rather, One Nation Movement looks to endorse current impossion put by EPLF and now PFDJ as their symbol.

flag

Those who fought under the blue olive flag, and forced for exile never let down their sysmbol to fall. Rather, since 1961, the blue flag became a symbol of Eritrean people. And now, it is a symbol of justice and anti-oppression. By ignoring this flag and putting the oppressor’s flad as a background is a complete suppression of justice and historic grievances.

flag_of_eritrea_1952-1961-svg

My advice to One Nation advocators

If you really care on restoring Eritrean dignity, fight for Eritreans to have their rights as people to live, a constitution to be guided with, a rule of law to be respected, a justice to govern and all dimensioned developments for their prosperity.

No justice seeking Eritrean now will stand in the notion of nationalism under the banner of nation first – or one nation as you are standing for. This is what is going on for the last 60 years and still putting Eritreans in slavery.

If you really care for human dignity, though now you are more on national dignity, fight for it. What Eritreans are looking for is:

  1. Respect of their rights as human being to live freely
  2. Democracy to chose what they wanted to be
  3. To have a constitution as their guiding law
  4. Law that will guide them
  5. Rule of law
  6. Justice – for the daily life.

If all these are restored, it is a big endevour to witness love of the country to be a daily reflection of each individual. If not, as we can see today, people will continue to suffer and endanger their lives to escape from oppression.

 

 

Complexion of Disputes

The problem of solving a dispute is not the dispute itself but to leave it on the table and go after someone because you found that there was involment by external agent. The first dispute remains on the table and another emerges.

This happens in our daily life, be it in politics or social life. And its effect is just disasterous.

ጸገም ምፍታሕ ናይ ሓደ ዘይምስምማዕ/ባእሲ; ባዕሉ እቲ ተፈጢሩ ዘሎ ዘይምስምማዕ/ባእሲ ዘይኮነስ፤ ሳልሳይ ኣካል ከም ዝኣተዎ ስለዝፈልጥካ፤ ነቲ ኣጋጢሙ ዘሎ ዘይምስምማዕ/ባእሲ ከም ዘለዎ ገዲፍካ፡ ናብቲ ሳልሳይ ኣካል ኬድካ ክልእ ዘይምስምማዕ/ባእሲ ምኽፋት እዩ። እዚ ድማ፤ እቲ ቀዳማይ ዘይምስምማዕ/ባእሲ ከይፈታሕካ፣ ካልእ ምውሳኽ(ኣብ ዘላታ፤ ተወሰኸታ) እዩ።

ከም’ዚ ዝኣመሰለ ፍጻመታት ድማ ኣብ መዓልታዊ ሂወትና የጋጥም; ኣብ ፖለቲካ ይኹን ማሕበራዊ ሂወት። ሳዕቤኑ ድማ ዕንወት ጥራሕ እዩ።

Lets pay attention!

ነስተውዕል ደኣ!