One of the most important documents which graced the pages of this genuine and un-apologetically patriotic website, Awate.com in the last few weeks, is our equivalent of the Magna Carta – the Eritrean Covenant, published by Majlis Ibrahim al-Mukhtar.
First and foremost, our heartfelt gratitude goes to all those who laboured so hard to bring this document to light. The commendable due diligence exerted by the Majlis was clearly reflected on many aspects of the document, most notably among them:
- The incredible work of interlocking historical backgrounds with current realities. [an honest account which puts the revisionists to utter shame]
- The articulation of the plight of our people supported with irrefutable objective analysis. [only in epic stories like “the eloquent peasant” could one find a metaphor befitting of such a powerful assertion]
- The structured presentation on where Muslims stand on issues of national interest – like justice, democracy, government, land, religion and economic/social disparities. [compare this to the notorious circulations of N’hnan Elamanan, Sentik, Tehaso, Anbibka-Ahlif, etc. and reach your own conclusion on who is always open & honest Vs. who has been lurking in the dark with hidden agendas for over forty years now]
- The unambiguous call to action and the charting of a way forward. [nothing is left to speculation]
The result of this meticulous work is a wholesome (comprehensive is too dry a word for the occasion) document, which in essence, encapsulates the plight of a people who have been savaged for far too long, as much as it sums up their dreams and aspirations for a better future for ALL.
In doing so, the covenant provides the most realistic and most sustainable way of reaching out between communities – communities which have been put at loggerheads for decades now, by the sole designs of a chauvinist cult, and sadly enough, to their collective detriment. In other words, it is a courageous attempt to bridge-up the big ugly crack, if you will.
The wisdom and brilliance of the authors is also amply reflected in their decision to have the document be publicly owned. “The Eritrean Covenant‘ is intended to be publicly owned by all justice, peace and freedom loving Eritreans immediately after its publication” declared the Majlis, as a primary foot note to the publication.
This is a brilliant idea for two specific reasons:
First, with no author names tagged to it, the document would be judged only on its own merit. The primary focus will be on the contents of the document itself, rather than on the personalities, the tribal affiliations or the C.Vs of the authors involved.
This way, the document’s objective contents and/or its subjective analysis will never be looked at, at a cursory glance nor will it be relegated to a secondary issue. As we all know by now, dwelling on side issues is a deliberate distraction tactic which is always employed by those who subscribe to the chauvinist agenda one way or another.
It is a familiar scene, where they always seem to be more obsessed with who said this or who said that, more than they would ever care about what is actually being said – even if what is being said is so critical to the nation’s very existence.
But this didn’t skip the Majlis at all – the covenant was presented within the broader scope of the public domain, with no copyright restrictions. No more“emo ba’Al men’yom ezi’om” type of curious and condescending quips – ezi’om is everybody and anybody who can relate to the issues contained in the document.
Secondly, to all those who may feel that their toes are being stepped on every time there is a new idea or approach to address our plight – and mind you, there are quite a bunch of such folks among us – the anonymity definitely provides a much needed solace.
It clearly shows that nobody is interested in chastising these folks for their years of inaction. It shows that there are no declared candidates with the covenant as their platform, trying to outpace them to the realms of power. It shows that gimmickry and popularity contests are not the intended goals, but rather the bridging-up of the gaps of a divided nation – a nation which is facing the perils of complete disintegration and anarchy.
As such, the format in which the covenant was presented makes all those folks who look at any new idea or approach with a bit of scepticism – it makes them comfortable enough to relate to it with considerable ease. They can actually consider the covenant to be their document, just as much as any other decent and peace-loving folks would consider it to be their own.
It is amazing to see that in the short period since its publication, the covenant has generated immense amount of support among many Eritreans, particularly more so, among those who are interested in genuine and unconstrained dialogue.
Gauging by the reactions of many – which ranged from informal group discussions of the document with overwhelmingly positive reviews, to the personal initiatives taken by some, to have the document reproduced and collated in a booklet form, so that it could be distributed to those who prefer a printed version or to those with limited access to the internet – by gauging all these reactions and more, for a document which has been in circulation for a mere three weeks – it is, without a doubt, a clear-cut indication that the covenant is definitely headed for a swift success in achieving its stated goals.
Also, what this indicates is that, given time, the covenant will find its way to every corner of the country, as well as to all those places where the Eritrean Diaspora is scattered. It will be discussed and debated not only amongst the Muslims/Lowlanders, but also amongst their fellow citizens across the political divide – the majority of the ethnic Tigrigna Christians, who like I said many times before, are decent and honourable people.
One striking difference however, is the reaction of the chauvinist bigots, those who spend their days and nights trying to pump life back to HGDEF. As is always the case with them, their marching orders or more appropriately, their cowering orders as in this particular case, come straight from HGDEF.
At this stage, HGDEF advises that its operatives and propaganda relay stations keep it low, in the hopes that this “covenant thing” will go unnoticed and just fade away. So they argue, why start blubbering now and give it “kab bahali’As degami’A” type of resonance.
That is why you don’t see flashy banners in their kiddie websites warning “the Jihadist are coming”; or you don’t see scaremongering gibberish directed at the wider Tigrigna community or you don’t even see the usual Muslim bashing diatribes. They are so uncharacteristically quiet.
But don’t be fooled by this, because this is only step 1 of their modus operandi. It is not that they are not alarmed by any movement initiated by Muslims to reclaim their human dignity, not at all. They are always alarmed, and they are always on the watch for any perceived threats to their chauvinist agenda. But also, it is always their habit to stay moot and live in denial, as their initial reaction – just in case the perceived threats go away on their own.
Step 2 will be a full blown awyat as you will see in the next few months to come, when the covenant gets a solid foothold among many Eritrean circles. The whole essence of the covenant is based on two core premises – sustainable justice and peace. As most Eritreans are interested in sustainable justice and peace, it goes without saying that they will rally around the covenant en masse. It will definitely be a centrepiece in upcoming events, formal or informal discussions, social gatherings and national conferences.
It is only then that one would be able to gauge the chauvinists’ true reaction to the covenant, because by then, they will have a fit and their second line of defence – their “kei sa’A’rere” mekhete will be in full throttle, though ultimately and as usual, to no avail.
And in a sharp contrast to that, there is quite a bundle which Eritreans could gain from the covenant:
First and foremost, for those being reached out to, namely the ethnic Tigrigna Christians, the message articulated in the covenant, from their fellow citizens on the other side of the political divide – namely the Muslims/Lowlanders couldn’t be more clearer. It is a message of truth – a message of justice and peace for all.
It is true that over the years, the Ethnic Tigrigna community has been subjected to a relentless campaign of fear-mongering at the hands of the chauvinists and the bigots in the community. The smear campaigns of “Amma haradit”, “Jihadawiyan”, “Taliban” and the relentless character assassinations of all those who were deemed to be obstacles to the implementation of the chauvinist agenda, were part and parcel of the clichéd bogy-man tactics used by the chauvinists to scare the community cold into supporting them.
The victim mentality was perfected and employed so well by the chauvinists, that even to this day, there are still some people within the community who don’t like the regime, yet look at it as a lesser of two evils – the other evil being the “unknown” or “nsatom”, as though all other ethnic groups in the country are some kind of aliens, who have no say on how the country should be run.
This deeply-rooted mentality of fear couldn’t be more evident than in what a reader once said in a brief comment to a previous posting – ”for what he has done to my family, I could go kill this guy tomorrow” said the reader, of the dictator, “but what do you offer me in lieu? Somalia? ”
This goes to show you how deep the big ugly crack created by the chauvinists is, and how an incredible amount of work is needed to patch it. Some have been brainwashed so much so, that the regime’s horrible savagery inflicted on defenceless civilians including their own families, is sadly seen as a “necessary evil”.
Through the covenant, what the Muslims/Lowlanders are saying to all those wallowing in unfounded fear is that, this is what we offer you – a just and a peaceful Eritrea, where democracy, equality and the rule of law preside supreme. If taken in good faith, the covenant should allay your unfounded fears. Let’s build the nation hand in hand along those dignified attributes as it was meant to be built, and as it was envisioned by all those who paid the ultimate price for it – our martyrs.
The covenant provides irrefutable data to support most of the arguments and analysis presented in its pages. It is all laid out in black and white – for all to see. It makes it easily discernable for decent and fair-minded Eritreans, Tigrignas and non-Tigrignas alike, to sift through the data and ask what went wrong. When the bigots and the chauvinists parrot their dictator and say where is the evidences (sic), all one has to do is confront them with the covenant.
If one looks at the debilitating perils we face today as a nation, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that we wouldn’t last much as a single entity. The savage hegemony of the past twenty or so years, has left deep social wounds – wounds, which if not tended to with fairness, transparency and a sense of justice – it will mean complete anarchy which no one could ever fix.
By then, all these empty sloganeering of sovereignty, the so-called independence, territorial integrity and so on, will just be mere anecdotal references in our short-lived history as a restless nation, which couldn’t come to grips with the requirements of statehood.
Those aggrieved among us are fully cognizant of their rights and it would be a travesty to assume that they could be taken for fools. As brother Hamid Salman asserted in his last posting, “The cheap game of violating national unity and utilizing the territorial integrity of Eritrea as scarecrow to chock the legitimate demands of non-Tigrigna Eritreans is over—they will not settle for half baked solutions”
In that regard, what the covenant does among other good things, and to the benefit of all Eritreans I might add, is to empower the aggrieved to be more assertive in claiming what is rightfully theirs. What it also does at the same time, is to assure all those on the other side of the political divide, that contrary to all the fear-mongering tactics they have been subjected to over the years – no one is targeting them for presumed reprisals.