Negarit 230: Campaigns of Brigades
Whenever there’s something on the news, writers are pressured to comment on it. However, I do not comment instantaneously without knowing the background or having enough information about it—sometimes the topic doesn’t inspire or interest me and I do not like to sound robotic— repeating what everyone and their uncles are saying. Yet, many rush to weave theories based on their preconceived wrong perceptions or prejudices.
In short, what do I think about the Eritrean civil brigades in Europe? I will explain that for the curious. But for more on that, check Negarit 186 on this link. In that episode, I explained about my itch to find more information. I even went to the wrong German city, Giessen, never imagined they had two of them. I hope today’s episode answer some of the questions I was asked.
First, I hope by now my audience knows that I do not mince words; what I say pleases some, and annoys others. But like the Chinese say, wherever there is Ying, there is Yang, two opposites, and I see different reactions; it’s natural and thankfully I am used to it.
Do you know for how long I was abused (still do) for having the original flag as a symbol of my political values? I can’t imagine the hero Awate without that flag. It is on the logo of awate.com which I founded, to inform the public and to promote reconciliation, my main slogan. Despite the abuse, the blue flag is the symbol I raised for more than 3-decades; after years of abuse because of it, I was finally vindicated by Haileselassie Woldu. In 2018, Haileselassie Woldu wrote a book about Hamid Idris Awate.
These days, I am elated because so many people have embraced Meley; but I have a mixed feeling about that. Meley is not a mere flag, it’s a sign of true Eritrean patriotism. That’s why I appeal to those who raise it to realize it deserves respect and they must try to adopt the values it represents—which is everything that the PFDJ is not.
Eritreans are waging a popular struggle unlike the armed struggle for independence. So, if crowds organize for a task, there is a chance they will form haphazard organizations. And though no one has the right to impose a mode of struggle on another, it’s vital that we realize a few things:
1. Since the struggle is supposedly for the same goals as others, they must believe they are part of a bigger struggle—and that entails taking into consideration the concern of allies.
2. They must resist the temptation to alienate their close and potential allies.
3. They must be careful not to act in a way that could damage the image of their people and the image of their struggle.
4. They must totally avoid PFDJ mannerism; shun vulgarity, arrogance, oppression, and injustice.
5. Not everyone is a leadership material; they must find and push to the top cultivated, able, and skilled individuals who will not embarrass the movement, or create gaps between supposed allies pursuing the same goals as they are.
6. Anyone can be reformed if they have an honest will; PFDJ members who are willing to reform must be welcomed. However, a supposedly Eritrean movement cannot disrespect Eritreans. It must not be bigoted or embrace bigoted, racist, fascistic individuals. Those who trample on the rights of others and lack basic decency should not be accepted unless it can be proven they have renounced their unjust and discriminatory practices.
7. Movements must remain civic action groups with specific agenda and goals. If at some time they fancy practicing national and international politics, they have to formally become a political party, have known spokespersons, leaders, and known program.
The above concerns the movements; other Eritreans, must be mindful of the nature of the movements. They must not be carried away by emotions and raw nerve tickling when they support or join movements. And when they do, it must be with unflinching commitment to the gaols.
Importantly, they must shun all PFDJ mannerism: blind partisanship, self-centered, and corrupt. But most of all, Eritreans should not fall prey to egoistic populist individuals. They must avoid the pitfall of the EPLF that brought an unrestrained dictator on the helm of power.
For the criticizers of those seemingly aggressive movements, it’s important to remember the following:
anyone whose future is snatched from him, was enslaved for years, and denied proper care, education, and was forced to escape from his country in tears, the reactions are only natural, add to that the hot-blooded nature of youth. So, be easy on them, advice but do not pontificate.
The above is directed to (and about) the movements that believe in saving Eritrea from the yoke of tyranny. Those who are struggling to help the people to break the chains of dictatorship and breathe a sigh of relief. Eritreans deserve that after a long and endless era of oppression.
Finally, I do not care about the movements that do not respect Eritrea or Eritreans, and their history. I detest bigots, sectarians, and chauvinists whose goal is to install themselves in the helm of power as hegemons. And I call on those who are pumping them up and giving them false hope, to cease and desist—the yearning for peace must not be rewarded with chaos and bloodshed. However, sadly, knowingly, or unknowingly, some entities are kindling a dangerous spark.
Last Saturday awate.com and Negarit had planned a seminar and fundraising event in Oakland, California. Unfortunately, the inefficient managers of the venue had hired a contractor to refurbish the halls without informing us though we reserved and paid the dues. We arrived at the place only to find the venue full of construction workers who were as surprised as we were. We apologize to all those who came to the venue—we are sorry, but we appreciate your time and effort.
The organizers are trying to hold the event on the coming weekend—we will announce it soon.