Asmarino Fundraising: Because There Is So Much More to Be Done!


INDEPENDENCE DAY! Makes you think, doesn’t it? I write this as I see the cover of a book titled ‘Soldiers, Martyrs, Traitors, and Exiles’. Why… she’s talking about me and my family. Yet it seems my parents, those ex-soldiers in exile and deemed traitors, are now being confused for the bandits who wrenched the helm of the country from the Eritrean people. My uncles’ martyrdom was in vain? Indeed, much to think about. I too am in exile, and lately, I find it especially hard to explain to fellow young and educated Eritrean adults who support the government the reasons for my being against the PFDJ (People’s Front for Democracy and Justice) government. When I demand democracy for example, at one point of the conversation push comes to shove and they tell me that actually totalitarian rules have been the most productive in history. It reminds me of this guy I saw once wearing a t-shirt with a picture of the pyramids of Giza with a caption underneath that read ‘SLAVERY: GET $**T DONE’. Without fail this admission astonishes me: the people telling they believe totalitarianism is the best option are often my age (30s) or younger. I then find myself having to debate the merits of democracy instead of focusing on why and how the PFDJ government isn’t doing the Democracy and Justice parts of its name. Inevitably, it somehow transpires that they seem to believe Eritreans, like me, who are against PFDJ rule are a bit ignorant of geopolitics.

I wrote the following list years ago on Facebook, more than once, but it got deleted when I went on hiatus, as one does, from social media. I feel it’s still true and sadly things haven’t changed much, but we must keep demanding a better tomorrow. In the following, I explain, in bullet points and as concisely as I can, what some views of an average anti-government Eritrean are. This is just part of the discourse and cannot hope to debunk all the fallacious arguments that get thrown at anti-PFDJ Eritreans, but there are some myths to dispel:

  • The fact that I'm against the government doesn't mean I don’t care about my country. By my country I mean the people that live in the land, the land understood as physical space to live on and its natural resources that are used by the inhabitants of the country to make their living. Currently, this land is demarcated by the Eritrean borders.
  • I am not dismissive of the border issue with Ethiopia. I know that Ethiopia is failing to respect the Algiers agreement. I know that it is not being pressured by the international community to respect this agreement although the UN said it would enforce this. I think Ethiopia should respect this agreement, acknowledge the border issue is important and move to resolve it a.s.a.p.
  • I understand that some people or political entities will try to hijack my cause for their personal gain; they might even rally behind my cry for freedom and justice. I am expecting this to happen: it’s not new nor should I be naïve enough to believe all of those who say they love and support me actually do: some are just lying full stop. This is something I need to watch out for and is a normal peril in politics. The fact that I am against the government doesn't mean I'm blind to this reality and don’t take precaution to identify who are the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
  • I know that historically the USA, European countries and other powers have used and abused a myriad of poor countries, sometimes under the pretense of actually helping them. I do not think they changed and fully expect them to do so even with Eritrea. The fact that I am against the government doesn't mean I think the Eritrean people or any Eritrean government at any time needs to bend to their pressure and compromise the future and well-being of the Eritrean people.
  • I know that some Eritreans want Eritrea to be united with Ethiopia and have one united country under the name of Ethiopia. I do not agree this should happen and recognize that many Eritreans died fighting for the independence of the country. The fact that I am against the government doesn't mean I think Eritrea should be wiped out from the map and its history forgotten. Eritrea, not as a colony, not as a federal state, but as a country of its own came to be in 1991.
  • I know that some Eritreans are instruments for Ethiopia or other countries and would like to help install a puppet government that will bend to the desires of foreign powers at cost and detriment of the interests of its citizens. The fact that I am against the government doesn't mean I think a puppet government is acceptable.
  • I know that many powerful countries are not democracies as they portray themselves and their governments make policies that are geared to benefiting financial, military, pharmaceutical, resource and other kinds of corporations rather than the welfare of their citizens. I know that these same countries push to make poor and developing countries dependent on their financial help whilst at the same time depleting them of their natural resources and impoverish them both materially and in terms of education. The fact that I'm against the government doesn't mean I am not aware of these political realities or that I'm not going to guard against them, it doesn't mean I want Eritrea to be drained of its material and intellectual riches to benefit these countries which don’t even respect their own citizens.
  • I know that Eritrea is poor and that the people as a whole will have to struggle to get out of their poverty. The fact that I am against the government doesn't mean I think there are no sacrifices to be made on an individual and community level.
  • I know that people in Sudan, Egypt and other North African and Middle Eastern countries are falling subject to organ traffickers and being held ransom. The fact that I am against the government doesn't mean I support human and organ trafficking.

The fact that I am against PFDJ doesn’t mean I agree completely and absolutely with everything anyone who is also against PFDJ says or does. Indubitably, we will have a lot of views in common but ultimately it simply means we both see PFDJ as oppressing us and our fellow Eritreans.

The fact that I am against the government means I think the Eritrean government is violating human rights and stunting the education, economy as well as future of the country. I would like for the government to acknowledge its shortcomings, be held accountable for them and step down from power. I also acknowledge that a sudden void of power carries enormous risks; that’s why I believe Eritreans who would like the government to step down need to do a better job at discussing real solutions in terms of what comes next, what change we’d like to see happen and how to bring it about in realistic ways. We’re already failing at this and external powers have already started interfering in our business: if we don’t solve our problems ourselves others will take matters in their own hands and, that, is the beginning of the end.

As always this can’t be all there is to say. I would say I can only speak for myself here but I know I'm speaking on behalf of many who share these views. I don’t think the people who support the government are monsters or animals nor should they be depicted that way, they’re humans with whom I’d like to live in peace with. They too are part of the Eritrean people and whether you’re pro or against the government the other side is also part of the equation that you need to consider unless you want to violently exterminate people who don’t hold your beliefs.