Unsolicited Advice to Brighed N’Hamedu (BNH)
Introduction. The birth of Brighed N’Hamedu (BNH), in Cologne, Germany, in 2022, has greatly energized justice-seeking Eritrean youth in the Diaspora. It has been one of the current encouraging developments. The BNH slogan from” Diaspora to Asmara” has given a renewed hope and breath of fresh air to all those who aspire to see regime change in Eritrea. This grassroots movement that has spread like wild fire in many parts of the world has achieved spectacular successes in foiling the dictatorial regime’s fund-raising festivals, in several countries in Europe, the US, Canada, Israel, Australia and some African countries. Its presence is even felt inside “the belly of the beast” when BNH youth left a graffiti on the main building of the PFDJ office, in Asmara, declaring “We Stand with Brighed N’Hamedu”.
More importantly it has exposed the true nature of this despotic regime for all the world to see. As a result, many countries in Europe have decided to ban Eritrean Government sponsored festivals, that are designed to spread hate speeches and brain washing propaganda. As a result, many countries have made it difficult for the government of Eritrea to collect the 2% tax it has been imposing on Diaspora Eritreans. BNH, by its own admission, is a “direct action group” whose objective is regime change and has recognized the need to have an overarching Political Body. This Political Body will give legal advice and guidance to the direct action group. More importantly, the same Political Body is supposed to serve as a legitimate representative of BNH and all other justice-seeking, pro-democracy Eritreans Diaspora.
The Need for the Formation of a Political Body.
One of the glaring weaknesses of Eritrean opposition groups in the Diaspora has been and continues to be the lack of a legitimate Body that has the mandate to speak on behalf of those who have been opposed to the dictatorial regime in Asmara. So far, Eritreans in the Diaspora have been operating in a fragmented manner that proved them to be ineffective to bring about positive political changes in the country. Countries which are sympathetic to the plight of the Eritrean people need a representative group that can speak and act on behalf of the Eritrean people.
To this end, forming a Body that can speak for all pro-democracy and justice-seeking Eritreans in the Diaspora and who can provide BNH guidance, legal and financial support is long overdue. More importantly diplomatic and lobbying effort will go a long way to make the slogan from “Diaspora to Asmara” a reality. The need for this representative Body is becoming more critical and urgent now given the risk of the Abiy Government that is poised not only to annex the coastal areas of Eritrea but is also threatening to obliterate Eritrea as a sovereign nation.
Hence, in light of this dark cloud hovering over Eritrea, Diaspora Eritreans in the opposition camp should urgently form a Body that can speak on their behalf and save their country.
Make BNH a Formidable Force.
My first advice to BNH is to make BNH a formidable force through an intensive registration campaign. BNH has attracted the attention of Eritrean youth all over the world. As they say, “Strike the iron while it is hot”. Don’t lose the momentum! Urge those who are supportive of BNH and who are eager to play a role to change the regime, to register and be part of the BNH movement. The Eritrean opposition media outlets, should also play an active role in the registration campaign. This can be done expeditiously through an online registration process.
There are Eritrean IT professionals who will help in designing an online registration process that will ensure the confidentiality of the registrants. Membership fee should be charged to those who can afford. A control mechanism should be created to weed out agents of the regime who may try to infiltrate BNH. This can be done easily by forming BNH task force that will monitor and verify the authentication of those registered in every locality. Hence, concerns of government agents infiltrating the registration process should not be a deterrent to the process of conducting an intensive registration process.
Election of a Legitimate Representative Body. Once the registration process is over, in a reasonable period of time, an Election Committee should be formed to conduct elections. The Election Committee should establish criteria for nominations and encourage the registered members to nominate individuals who have the caliber, experience, and integrity to serve as a representative body. The Election Committee should also encourage self-nomination of those who have the qualifications and the passion to serve as members of the representative group. Details on the number to be elected should be determined by the Election Committee.
After a reasonable time for nominations and campaigning, elections should be conducted online, in a democratic and transparent manner, on a one-person, one-vote basis. The Election Committee should devise an alternative mechanism to those who do not have access to the Internet. It is also important for the Election Committee to ensure that the elected Body reflects the diversity of the Eritrean population by having the discretion to exercise positive affirmative action.
It must be remembered, that a Facilitating Body that has been formed by members of Kufut Meadi Zete and other activist groups whose goal is to form an Eritrean National Force for Democratic Change (ENFDC), has been making presentations on the need and the process of how to form the ENFDC. The role of the ENFDC, as presented in the documents of the Facilitating Body, which I have listed below, with slight modification, is what I believe should be the role of the Political Body of BNH. Hence, in my view, it is prudent for the BNH to reach out to the Kufut Meadi Zete Facilitating Body to collaborate on the modalities of electing the Political Body.
What Should the Role of the Political Body be?
The primary goal of the Political Body should be is:
(a) To help map-out an effective strategy that will expedite the transformation of Eritrea to become a democratic nation.
(b) To represent BNH and all justice-seeking, pro-democracy Diaspora Eritreans – in any national, regional or international forum – be it at the African Union, United Nations, European Union, and the Arab League, etc.
(c) To speak with one voice to the International Community on behalf of the Eritrean people.
(d) To conduct diplomatic effort and lobbying particularly with governments, such as the United States and the various governments in Europe and Africa, to support the Eritrean people.
(e) To help prepare the groundwork required for orderly transition to democratic rule in the aftermath of regime change. The representative body will also be expected to help prepare a Transition Charter to ensure a smooth transition to a democratic rule.
(f) To work towards the establishment of a constitutional government through the drafting and preparation of draft codes for the forthcoming Constitutional organs.
(g) The Political Body should be able to raise funds through registration fees, soliciting financial help from well-to-do Eritrean professionals, and businessmen to cover the operating expenses of the Political Body and BNH and to provide financial assistance to the forces of change inside the country. In addition, the Political Body should approach NGOs, governments and International Organizations that provide can funding to promote democracy. The Political Body should particularly approach countries that are concerned about the possible influx of Eritrean refugees.
(h) Another important role of the Political Body is to partner with the UNHCR and other international organizations to assist Eritrean refugees who are facing extreme hardship in Sudan, Libya, Ethiopia and other countries.
(i) One additional important responsibility of the Political Body should also be to reach out to every justice-seeker Eritrean and encourage them to join the BNH movement.
In conclusion, the time has come for BNH, in collaboration with all those who share the same aspiration, to form a legitimate body with the mandate to represent justice-seeking, pro-democracy Diaspora Eritreans. This Body is what BNH and all other justice-seeking Eritreans need to achieve regime change in Eritrea. I hope and trust the process outlined in this unsolicited advice will go a long way in achieving our collective dream – transforming Eritrea into a democratic nation.