The Shirt-Color Rivalry

Eritrea is the home of diverse social groups, a country built on an idea. And the citizens are content on being Eritrean, despite the tribulations that have become an alibi for those aiming at dismantling, deforming, and making it a fascist state.

For a while, known bigoted elements are recklessly attempting to destroy it; they are oblivious to the great risk their efforts entail; yet they insist on pursuing the fantastic illusion, forgetting the country’s borders cannot be whimsically redefined based on primordial narrations originating from the Middle Ages.

Though we tend to blame narrow-mindedness, the dame is also a reaction to the injustices of the ruling party. However, the patriots continue to fight the PFDJ in a just and peaceful way, while the racists and ethnocentric elements give no consideration to that.

‘Politics is the art of the possible’

The agitators raise justice as a slogan, but they do not respect human rights or justice. On the contrary, they are unjust, anti-modern, and espouse feudalist thoughts; they promote chaos, wanton destruction, and disruption. Citizens have choices—they can embrace their citizenship or leave the country alone.

Eritrean boundaries cannot be altered to fit an imagined linguistic map, their supremacist vehicle towards hegemony. They forget that the rest of the citizens will not watch silently as they work to become Eritrea’s hegemonic group. Are they done with the 9-ethnic group slogan? Many citizens are furiously watching the group advance cross-border interests at their expense. 

The Indoctrination Assembly Line

The world is going through more nuanced competition to control natural resources, get hold of strategic locations, technology, and economy, while the beleaguered people are eager for a repose, to break from their violent reality. Matters of justice, peace, and stability cannot be left to the intellectually challenged and thoughtless brutes.

Since the 1990s, fascists, bigots, and chauvinistic gangs have hindered the Eritrean quest for justice and equality. But the chaotic forces are offering the oppressed two proposals: fascism and disarray.

The disruptive groups have been stifling meaningful discourse among Eritreans, while the incompetent Eritrean regime ignored the signs of the social fragmentation that was growing under its nose. Worse, the opposition didn’t realize as the agitators infiltrated its ranks.

Today certain groups are dreaming of creating an imaginary, or virtual, country in from their place of exile and are destabilizing the diaspora! There were clear signs where their agitation was leading. Sadly, both the PFDJ and others with vested interest ignored the warnings by many thinkers and writers. Now the disturbing results are there for all to see.

There was a time when Eritreans waged a gallant and heroic struggle against occupation inside Eritrea, while adhering to the culture of peaceful demonstrations and solemn processions everywhere else. While the ruling party has inflicted heavy damages on Eritrea, the disrupters have defaced the name and image of Eritreans.

The violent activities by the supporters of the regime and the new movements have led to an embarrassingly bloody confrontation. It started to manifest itself in Israel before spreading to other countries. Migrants and refugees who mainly left through Ethiopia, some opposing the Isaias regime, and others supporting it, are entangled in a violent confrontation.

Sabbe’s Insight

In one of his books, the late Eritrean leader Osman Saleh Sabbe wrote about the Abyssinians’ love of singing and dancing. The EPLF exploited that tradition for propaganda purposes; the PFDJ is continuing the behavior.

During the struggle era, there was hardly an EPLF unit that didn’t have a Krar (lyre) and barrels for making beer (Swa). A PFDJ cadre, a friend who was an undeclared opposition since then, once told me, ‘Che Guevara advised that combatants must be protected from boredom by providing them with entertainment, books, or battles.’ 

The liberation fronts provided limited political space that was filled with indoctrination. Every recruit went through such political training before joining the fighting units; there is no wonder the average combatant has low political conscience and high skill of mimicking empty slogans.

After the independence of Eritrea, that indoctrination continued in a sophisticated manner. They expanded the cadre training centers; PFDJ ideologues like Zemehret Yohannes, Yemane Gebreab, and others run it. Trainees rolled out of the centers with an identical militaristic mentality, devoid of critical thinking. In the PFDJ circles, Eritrea is equated with the party, and further with Isaias Afwerki. Do you wonder why they betrayed the G15, their historical commanders, the moment they had a fallout with Isaias?

Such mentality has infiltrated some quarters of the opposition through a few who deserted the PFDJ and are stuck in the swamps of the ‘old habits die hard’ dictum—amel ms megnesz. Very few managed to free themselves from the mental bondage and maintain their dignity and character.

Do you wonder why singing and dancing on every occasion is the defining habit of Eritrean public meetings? Do you wonder why every seminar hall displays tasteless decorations, like so many flags? Isn’t it strange that the PFDJ supporters and its opposition portray the same mannerism, and nothing is different except the colors of the flags? The hats, shawls, dresses, and paraphernalia–the regime supporters raise the PFDJ flag, while the opposition raise the original Eritrean blue flag? Why do you think most members of both groups are inclined to resort to violence for trivial issues and minor provocations?

In 2019, rouge elements stabbed deacon Alazar in Tel-Aviv multiple times and left him for dead—he survived, and the culprits were jailed. Since then, things have gone downhill; it has become very difficult to tell between Eritreans and non-Eritreans? Why are so many Tigrayans carrying the blue Eritrean flag?

It’s become difficult to tell between the aggressor and the assaulted; individuals are being targeted not only for their political views but based on their region, religion, and ethnicity. The only identifying symbols are the over-exposed flags and bandanas—to the uninitiated, it may look like the Crips and bloods have come all the way from Los Angeles to fight it out in Europe and Israel. The violence among Eritreans is increasing and many lives have been lost. Observers are beginning to lose count.

Most of the members of both groups are from the countryside, straight from herding family animals; they are insufficiently educated. Most left their villages when they were forcefully conscripted. The route took them to Sawa military training camp, and from there they ended up in refugee camps in the neighboring countries before proceeding different countries.

Except for the educated, they do not seem to know their rights and obligations in the host countries. They have poor knowledge of the basic laws and rudimentary awareness of what is legal and/or illegal. Strangely.

Who is the real justice seeker? Certainly not the PFDJ, but the attitudes of some of their opponents is also not better, provoking many by zealously defending Tigray at the expense of Eritrea. And they have no qualms about their close association with the fanatic cross-border expansionist elite of Tigray—that is serious provocation.


Are you not annoyed by the flags that both groups wrap themselves in? Does the tasteless sight of decoration-pollution in their venues or their binge drinking and dancing after each demonstration escapade?

I think, despite the presence of many innocent citizens who are emotionally manipulated, both PFDJ and the “Blue Wave” movements are falling prey to some extremists. Political hacks and partisans are taking advantage of them by exploiting their emotions; and some of the common members are agitated to the extent of committing murder.

Meanwhile, Eritrea for whose benefit (supposedly) all rivalry and violence are being carried out, is still under the grip of a brutal regime and has not benefited one bit.


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