Eritrea: Outline of Basic Approach of Uniting Eritrean Democratic And Civic Resistance
Eritrea achieved its independence in 1991 after a bitter and long political and armed struggle for freedom and independence. The people of Eritrea and the gallant heroic fighters (Tegadelti/Munadlin), who hailed from diverse backgrounds, fought a bitter war of liberation and paid heavy sacrifice in an effort to achieve their people’s freedom and their country’s independence. Today, 22 plus years later, a country that was once known for its fierce citizens and strong sense of freedom is subjected to the oppression and control of a brutal and inhuman totalitarian dictatorship of PFDJ.
Complete political and economic domination, complete ban of political rights, severe restriction of civil liberties and total ban of free press and freedom of expression is imposed on the Eritrean people by PFDJ. The most productive sector of the society – the youth are subjected to indefinite conscription and modern day slavery and isolated from their families in a never ending servitude. Those that flee in hopes of a better future are often targeted by PFDJ killing squad, and those that are fortunate to survive often face kidnapping, torture, rape, and organ harvesting by traffickers. To add insult to injury, reports found that the faceless human traffickers who commit these inhuman offenses are sponsored by high ranking officials of the regime. The regime’s response has been shameful and is often condemned by human rights organizations.
When Eritreans demand political freedom and basic democratic rights — the regime responded by building thousands of prison facilities and inhuman network of underground dungeons where tens of thousands of Eritreans are now in prison with no recourse to the rule of law, in a blatant violation of their human rights. A growing population inside and outside of Eritrea are now opposing the regime. Our beloved nation Eritrea has been transformed into a dark prison to its own people. As a result, Eritrea’s citizens have no option but to wage a democratic resistance to remove the totalitarian regime of PFDJ.
II. United Eritrean Democratic Resistance
Eritrean Citizens and their democratic and civic forces are now engaged in a struggle to defeat PFDJ’s dictatorship and to restore their freedom and human dignity. A multitude of resistance activities are underway inside and outside of Eritrea. Plenty political organizations and numerous civic and civil associations are operating simultaneously in different parts of the world. However, the resistance movement is suffering from absence of a united national mission, vision and grand strategy to defeat PFDJ’s dictatorship. The catastrophic nature of the situation in Eritrean in general and the suffering and disintegration of the youth in particular, and the dangers of further complacency confirm that a Unified Democratic and Civic Resistance is needed now more than ever.
The core mission of the Democratic and Civic Resistance must be clearly defined and clarified. Defeating PFDJ’s totalitarian dictatorship and destroying its dictatorial political and security apparatus, and establishing a free and democratic nation that enshrines Eritrean citizen’s freedom and people’s sovereignty should be the core mission of the united democratic and civic resistance.
In order to bring the core mission to life and achieve the basic objectives of freedom, the United Democratic and Civic Resistance need to crystalize a shared vision for success. Ensuring all Eritrean citizen’s ownership of their nation and their future; enshrining the inalienable right of Eritrean citizen’s freedom to life, liberty and property; respecting and protecting the freedom of each and every citizen by accepting the diverse composition that makes up the population of Eritrea should be incorporated in the shared vision of the united democratic and civic resistance.
Most important, the core values – - tolerance, respect for diversity, reciprocity, and trust in each other — must be respected and preserved — in order for unity to be achieved among democratic and civic forces. Above all, the guiding principles of the United Democratic and Civic Resistance including:
- Citizen Power and peoples’ sovereignty.
- Democratic and civil rights
- Rule of Law
- Transparency and Accountability need to be fully implemented in all facets of political and economic national life.
III. Organizational Structure of Eritrean United Democratic and Civic Resistance
The Eritrean United Democratic and Civic Resistance’s organizational structure should be based on the following organizational principles:
- Bottom-up structure that provides freedom, liberty and a sense of responsibility of citizens in all aspect of their life.
- Democratic structure that facilitates full participation of all stakeholders and effective process of give and take in political decision making.
- Accountable execution of political functions and activities.
- Dynamic and responsive organizational structure that can meet ever-changing challenges of the struggle.
The basic unit of the United Democratic and Civic Resistance is — Local Citizen’s Chapters formed by dedicated democratic adult Eritrean citizens of the locality/city. The local citizen’s chapters elect their board/committee to lead and coordinate the United Democratic and Civic Resistance in their locality/city. The directors of the boards of multiple localities form the coordinating board of their respective region.
On a national/regional level, the local chapters of the region organize an annual convention of the United Democratic and Civic Resistance. . The national/regional level convention/conference evaluates past performance and draws effective operational strategies of resistance for the upcoming year.
Global conference can be organized every two years to draw global strategies and to elect global leadership for the United Democratic and Civic Resistance. The global conference will be constituted by representatives of the EUDCR chapters and Eritrean democratic and national political organizations, civic associations, religious and community leaders and prominent Eritrean individuals. The role of the global conference may include approving grand strategy of the resistance and electing a global coordinating council of the resistance.
IV. Grand Strategy of United Democratic and Civic Resistance
The core mission and shared vision of the United Democratic and Civic Resistance should be the source of the grand strategy. The grand strategy should be formulated after an extensive assessment of the overall situation of Eritrea’s internal and external environment. It should be a living document that is constantly revised to reflect the objective situation of the democratic and civic struggle. The following crucial steps need to be conducted to draw a winning grand strategy:
The first step of drawing a winning strategy is to assess the capacity and potential of the people and its democratic and civic forces in order to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. This requires an objective assessment of weaknesses and strengths; followed by an assessment of best practices. At this point, democratic and civic forces can devise ways to convert weakness into strengths and solidify existing strengths to achieve democratic and civic resistance objectives. A unified citizen’s resources with effective tools and means of struggle need to be used and bolstered to overwhelm the dictatorial regime. Understanding ones resources and employing those resources to the fullest potential is the secret behind all victories. The opposition camp must become more strategic in exploiting its greatest resources effectively and efficiently.
The second step is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the brutal dictatorial regime. The brutal totalitarian dictatorship of PFDJ is an illegitimate regime. Lack of legitimacy and ruling by the whims and ambitions of a small group dominated by a single person can’t stand for long. It is a home-grown totalitarian regime that surpasses most, existing totalitarian regimes, in cruelty and barbarism. The regime commits huge blunders on a national and regional level that should be exploited to expose and weaken the regime.
Although the regime is exploiting modern technologies of communication, mobilization and organization, it’s financial and human resources are dwindling by the day. It dominates and monopolizes almost all productive resources inside Eritrea and continues to engage in unimaginable illegal activities at the internal, regional and international levels. Furthermore, the regime employs a brutal security, spy and prison networks that commit grave crimes of torture, disappearance and killings against the Eritrean people which can be challenged in regional and international courts and institutions. Almost all aspects of the regime’s activities include inherent weaknesses and vulnerabilities that can be targeted by the United Democratic and Civic Resistance to defeat PFDJ and to destroy its dictatorial apparatus.
The third step of drawing a winning grand strategy should consider the regional and international factors that are relevant to the democratic struggle. Eritrea is surrounded by two relatively big neighbors and it is located in a very hyper sensitive region of the horn of Africa and close to the main international oil shipping route of the Red Sea. The geopolitics of our region creates opportunities and challenges that need to be handled strategically. Eritrean United Democratic and Civic Resistance could benefit from regional favorable factors by establishing transparent and mutual relationships for cooperation with friendly entities and organizations in line with Eritrea’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, it is imperative that the Democratic Resistance works strategically and efficiently to avoid external conflict and coerciveness by conflicting agendas.
The fourth step in drawing a winning grand strategy is to select the appropriate means of struggle that is capable of weakening and defeating the brutal regime. The means of struggle should be selected thoughtfully after a comprehensive study and analysis of the situation. A winning grand strategy contains various tools and means to carry out its core mission. It includes a diverse range of operational strategies that utilize diverse tactics to achieve the main objectives of the Democratic Resistance. Empowered and dedicated free Eritrean citizens are the owners and implementers of the grand strategy. Unleashing the power within the Eritrean citizen and its democratic and civic forces through bottom up structure is one of the main components of this grand strategy.
The Eritrean opposition is debating the issue of effective means of struggle to defeat the tyrant PFDJ for far too long. One side maintains that the brutal bloody dictatorial regime can only be defeated by violent means of struggle, while another side believes the struggle should be based on non-violent means of struggle. Far from sloganeering and fruitless competition of the opposition on the subject of means of struggle, the selection of effective means of struggle should depend on the core mission of the United Democratic and Civic Resistance and objective situation of the struggle.
Instead of what means of struggle, the big question should be how to strike the dictatorial regime at its weakest points and dismantle its machinery. If the Democratic and Civic resistance restricts itself to one means of struggle, it may not achieve maximum results with the scarce resources available to it. Therefore, the winning means of struggle should be dynamic and utilizes every sustainable and practical means of struggle to weaken and dismantle the regime by preserving and bolstering the strength of United Democratic and Civic Resistance.
Moreover, the overarching objective is to ensure liberty, democracy and lasting peace for Eritrea and Eritreans. Therefore, the main objective of the grand strategy include the achievement of peace and tranquility; while implementing the grand strategy requires deploying various operational strategies, effective tactics and methods to dismantle the dictatorship. The current violent and non-violent debate is focusing only on some aspects of the struggle and not grasping the totality of the democratic and civic resistance. The grand strategy, then, proposes that the struggle should focus on the power of the people and build a bottom-up structure; and utilize a dynamic means of struggle to achieve the core mission of the Eritrean Democratic and Civic Resistance.
The dire and catastrophic situation of our beloved nation Eritrea and its heroic people is going from worse to worst by each day. The majority of our people are now opposing the regime and a multitude of political and civic entities and civic minded citizens are fighting the regime. However, the level of democratic and civic resistance has not been united and coordinated to the extent of the required level to weaken and defeat the brutal dictatorship. Efforts of unity and alliances with top-down approach were undergoing with no or little progress. Instead of depending on top-down based approaches only, the democratic and civic resistance can consolidate the efforts of uniting Eritrean democratic and civic resistance with basic bottom-up approach. Eritrean Democratic and Civic Resistance need to clarify its core mission, crystalize its shared vision and adopt a citizen based bottom up organizational structure. A wining grand strategy and an effective execution mechanism can be drawn to unleash Eritrean Citizen’s power in order to establish democratic and constitutional governance in Eritrea by defeating the PFDJ dictatorship and its dictatorial apparatus.
Victory to United Democratic and Civic Resistance
Glory to Our Martyrs
August 4, 2013
These are my personal views.