YPFDJ: PFDJ’s Overseas Propagandists
“Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions and actions of specified target audience for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels. A propaganda organization employs propagandists who engage in propagandism-the applied creation and distribution of such forms of persuasion” Richard Alan Nelson
Since the struggle era, EPLF had been using the art of effective mobilization and propaganda to influence civilians and liberation fighters inside and outside Eritrea. Patriotic songs and dramas, mobilization and indoctrination of tegadelties through the cadre school at one hand and publishing of magazines, organizing enthusiastic musical show and the radio on the other, were some of the effective instruments that shaped the mindset of the fighters and attracted the youth to join the armed struggle. In the late 1980s, as it was the case to many Eritreans, I was exiled and became a refugee in the camps of Eastern Sudan. When I recall my memories, I wonder how I had been obsessed by Sawt-Aljamahir and Dimtsi Hafash, the voice of the masses. Specially, when I was listening to the then touching song of Khedija Adem, embel weten, embel midr, e’nnbir hina e’nnbir, (without a nation, without a land, we can never live, we can never!) Those days I had an extreme sense of nationalism, and who doesn’t!
Few years later, Eritrea became independent and I returned back home to taste the fruits of martyrdom. The possibility of being a refugee for the second time never crossed my mind. Alas, the outcome was completely to the opposite; the brutal Derg Regime was replaced by a more cruel demon ever seen in the history of Eritrea. My euphoric mood didn’t last long. I have seen the signs of despotism since the early years of liberation in front of me. The tragic events started with the disappearance of sheikhs and teachers of the Islamic Institutions across the nation and gradually spread further to target the entire populace. PFDJ transformed the nation into a “noiseless cave” where nobody is allowed to utter a word, except the greedy boss and his servants. Their promises turned out to be sham and full of hypocrisy!
The first time we heard about the PFDJ (The Popular Front for “Democracy and Justice”) was in 1994. The party was primarily founded to set a suitable organizational structure that suits and protects the ideology and interests of the inner circle of the former EPLF members. Without going into details, I would like to focus on the propaganda strategies of the PFDJ and its role in hindering Eritreans from seeing the big picture from the begining. For many years, the state owned media heavily distorted facts (to borrow one of Isaias’ favorites remark) and and deceived the Eritrean people. Yet, the diffusion of the treachery was not only limited to the media; trusted and trained cadres were carefully selected to chair vital national institutions such as the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, National Union of Eritrean Women, National Confederation of Eritrean Workers, the list is so long to mention. For an ordinary person, these institutions may look like genuine institutions that are established to support and integrate the Eritrean citizen, but, in essence, they were meant to misguide, control and tighten the grip over any potential threats of reform and disobedience that might emanate from the younger generation in due course.
Today in Eritrea, civil servants and various government officials from different ministries are purposely co-opted to pursue the inevitable curriculum of the PFDJ in the so called Nakfa Cadre School, which was later given a smart name” Nakfa School of Social Sciences.” Annually, this school graduates a significant number of participants after they embrace the intensive indoctrination courses and philosophy of the PFDJ. It is astonishing why someone should travel all the distance to Nakfa to obtain a social science diploma, a remote town where there is no access to valuable academic sources and references? Why is the course not provided in Asmara or Keren, for instance? The reason is apparent and clearly proves the nature of PFDJ that is allergic to towns and cities every time they intend to offer political or academic education. They need to command and steer the minds of the trainees on their own direction by denying them exposure and optimum environment for critical thinking.
Unfortunately, you get disappointed when you see some of the graduates return back home completely converted in terms of their attitudes, thoughts and position towards the PFDJ. When you approach them to explain what they learned, they instantly respond: we had a negative understanding about the Eritrean Government, we knew all the secrets about the G15 and the Woyane conspiracy; now we got a wider sight about the proxy war which was declared against our country by the CIA. That is all they could gain and keep repeating the words of the dictator. You get shocked and ask yourself, what is the matter with those people? Did they lose their senses or…
In that case, you can conclude that the sum of all these forced mobilizations may be the underlying cause of the passive or slow reaction from the subjects to bitterly oppose the regime in a fast manner.
Being highly dependent on the moral and financial support of the Diaspora Eritreans, PFDJ, similarly have set a method of disseminating their bogus ideals and principles to the West and the Middle East. These schemes were mainly designed to remote control and delude Diaspora Eritreans from knowing the reality in the interior, and to support the regime without actually understanding its character. These campaigns are not done spontaneously, nevertheless, the government is actively engaged in sewing snares of espionage and blackmailing by sending their accomplices and spies abroad. These concealed agents fly directly from Eritrea without any difficulties. Then they reach their intended target destination and ask asylum from the host government’s immigration authorities. Subsequent to securing residence permit, they institute their destructive actions in coordination with YPFDJ propagandists. Among other things, these monsters are supposed to:
- Chase, observe and report the activities of Diaspora Eritreans to the foreign security department of the regime and hence facilitated retaliatory measures against the innocent parents and their property at home.
- Actively involve and motivate people to participate in PFDJ’s propaganda festivals, ceremonies and pro-government demonstrations, so that to raise fund and divert the attention of the international community, as they have done it in violation of the UNSC sanctions against the ruling regime.
- Weaken and disperse the fragile the opposition block into useless clusters by penetrating its core and instigating religious, regional and ethnic tensions among the opposition members. Bickering and division is their sole profession; they prioritize differences to commonalities and keep on boycotting and gossiping against accomplishments.
- Hunt and organize new youngsters (who are born and grew up abroad) and thus increase the support base of the regime, as a result, benefitting the PFDJ and at the time hampering the process of ousting the dictator promptly.
YPFDJ: Do They Really Know What They Are Doing?
I doubt it. The majority are young adults, born outside Eritrea and raised in a democratic environment. Their passports doesn’t hold the warning, “valid for travel for all countries except Eritrea”, therefore, they visit Eritrea every summer to enjoy PFDJ’s extravagant festivals and music concerts. After they come back from Eritrea, they have nothing to tell their families than: I enjoyed it! It was a great fun!
But wait! The status of being mere children who are blessed by their parents to support and defend one of the most repressive regimes in the world would not spare them from being criminals, they will be accountable for their foolish deeds, God willing. Indeed it is very strange to see young people who are destined to live in Western countries, where they learn and enjoy all the virtues and comforts of democracy to serve as agents of a repressive regime to deprive their own brethren inside Eritrea from being free and respected citizens. What a nuisance!
The role of the YPFDJ on polarizing Diaspora Eritreans, specially the younger generation is enormous. In their regular conferences, they are told by PFDJ’s mastermind Yemane Ghebreab, aka “monkey” to establish fraudulent nationalism by emulating the boring slogans and procedures of the regime to attract more and more naïve members to their side.
However, these shaky propagandists are toying with fire! They forgot that they are vulnerable to questioning and investigation about any hidden political agenda launched by the tyranny back home. They forgot that they are carrying out smart games in the wrong place. You can’t imagine how painful it is when you witness somebody, who has never touched a real Kalashnikov gun to hold it up in a podium and brandish it as symbol of pride in a venue that abhors all kinds of violence, let alone to show up weapons and explosives on stage! What is more amazing is that the PFDJ never modified the Sahil-style outdated attitude and method of convincing the public; while the world is adopting quite a lot of transformations and coping mechanisms, they chose to live in a different planet of their own imagination.
The concept of this article however is to explore measures to be taken to stop the damaging roles of the YPFDJ and bring them to justice. We cannot differentiate between Isaias and his bootlickers when it comes to the sufferings of our people; and history will not forgive them. But before they spoil what is left, can’t we teach them a generous lesson and prevent their ridiculous actions? I think they are not out of reach; they are supposed to be warned and demoralized. I plead to all compatriots, civic society organizations and opposition groups to expose YPFDJ’s true face to the concerned authorities. We have to follow their meetings and conferences and organize counter demonstrations until they come to their senses. The recent courageous challenge that took place in Norway should be the beginning of punishing all the collaborators of the dictatorship in the Diaspora.
Finally, I would like to advice all Eritrean youth who are unknowingly following this venomous organization to be vigilant about what they are doing and revise their position of supporting the tyranny with both moral and financial assistance—especially those who have asked asylum based on a well founded fear of prosecution inside Eritrea and thus secured residence permits—you are putting yourself at the risk of losing your legitimacy papers unless you keep yourselves away from this susceptible organization.