May 23, 2016
An Urgent Call to All Eritreans Worldwide
Dear Fellow Eritreans in the Diaspora,
Tomorrow is our country’s 25th independence anniversary. The independence of our country was achieved at the terrible cost of hundreds of thousands of its sons and daughters who have been martyred and maimed. Unfortunately, all the sacrifices made have failed to realize the dream of a better life for the Eritrean people. There is no Eritrean who is not saddened and concerned about the increasingly worsening situation prevailing in our country. Therefore, we believe that all of us collectively have a compelling moral and national duty to ensure that all the sacrifices that were made to gain our independence and indeed our liberation have not been in vain.
We believe that the Eritrean Diaspora can play a significant role in ending the Eritrean nightmare by mobilizing and organizing its resources using the bottom- up-approach. Wherever there is a critical mass of Eritreans, a local Eritrean assembly or baito should be established and representatives thereof elected. The elected local representatives will then establish regional and country-wide assemblies/baitos to lead and coordinate the movement at that level. The said representatives from all the continents will then establish a Global Baito and its executive body that will be tasked to lead the democratic struggle for change.
This will require an intensive campaign to mobilize and reach out to ALL Eritreans in every locality. The initiative is not meant to undermine or side step the cities that are already organized. Our goal is rather to strengthen them and expand and galvanize the Eritrean grassroots movement world-wide. The success of the effort will depend on the participation and involvement of each and every Eritrean citizen irrespective of their gender, religion, ethnicity, region and political affiliation. This is for our collective good. We are, thus, inviting all sectors of our society including civic and political entities to collaborate and encourage their members to be part of the process. We understand change will come from within the country, and we believe that those agents of change within the country will be more encouraged and emboldened if the Eritrean Diaspora effectively mobilize and organize for democratic change with a clear mission.
We have to admit that what is hindering Eritreans in the Diaspora from being actively engaged in bringing about positive changes in our country is the lack of democratically elected legitimate leadership that will represent all Eritreans in the Diaspora and coordinate our activities to save our country. We need leaders who can unleash the tremendous energy and resources that we have as Eritreans in the Diaspora.
We are, therefore, writing to invite you to join us to facilitate the success of the bottom-up grassroots movement in order to ultimately elect our Global Leaders.
The Role of the Eritrean Global Leaders
The primary role of the Global Leadership Group is to chart an effective strategy to remove the dictatorial regime and prepare the ground work for transitioning the country to democracy. In all practicality, real change will only come through collaboration with agents of change inside the country. The role of the Global Leadership is to prepare a blue print for a smooth transition to democracy in collaboration with other Eritrean opposition groups. The responsibility of the Global Leadership Group will be to gain the recognition and support of the International Community and the Eritrean people both at home and in the Diaspora. Given that the Global Leadership Group is elected to represent Eritreans in the Diaspora, they will have the legitimacy to speak, to act and to represent Eritreans in the Diaspora in any forum. Through an effective and intensive diplomacy and lobbying, this leadership group should be able to persuade the International Community to apply intensive pressure that will cripple the dictatorial regime and give moral and logistical support to elements inside the country to bring fundamental (changes through a negotiated settlement or through a surgical operation that will have minimum collateral damage.
The Process of Electing Global Leaders
As stated in out introduction, the starting point of electing global leaders who will represent Eritreans in every corner of the world is at the local or city level. Wherever there is a critical mass of Eritreans, a highly publicized general meeting will be called. This will requires an intensive campaign to reach out to all Eritreans in every locality. A serious effort will be made to invite ALL Eritreans particularly those from minority groups who may not have access to the Internet or the Eritrean radio programs. The call for a general meeting of all Eritreans in a given locality will be written in Arabic, English and Tigrigna or any other appropriate language widely used in the local Eritrean community, such as German, French, Swedish, etc. The announcement will be disseminated in written form through phone messages, websites, radio programs, seminars and workshops and widely distributed in places frequented by Eritreans, such as churches, mosques, community centers, restaurants and bars. It is not enough to call a general meeting; people should understand why their participation is important to save our country.
Once Eritreans in every corner of the world elect their local leaders, the next step is for these elected leaders to meet and elect their country representatives. This process should take place in every country and every continent.
The final step is to conduct a global conference of Eritreans representatives from every corner of the world: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle-East, North America, South America and other places to elect the Eritrean Global Assembly or Hagerawi Baito that will appoint an excecutive body.
Who are we?
We, the undersigned, are a diverse group of Eritrean activists from all walks of life with different backgrounds located in various corners of the world. We are composed of various groups who have been, as a group or as individuals, advocating the grassroots movement. As our name, “Global Initiative to Empower Eritrean Grassroots’ Movement (GIEEGM)” signifies, we are taking this initiative to pave the way for every Eritrean to participate in bringing positive changes in our country. What brought us together is our conviction that the bottom-up grassroots movement is the most expedient, all-inclusive and democratic way that can end our country’s problems. We are not a political organization, and the initiative we are taking is not motivated by our desire to assume any leadership role. All that we are doing is to facilitate the election of Global Leaders by involving Eritreans in the Diaspora at the grassroots level.
Our Appeal to the Eritrean Youth
We expect the Eritrean Youth to play a leading role in ensuring the success of the people’s movement by encouraging Eritreans in their respective localities to participate in meetings that will be held in their locality. The future of Eritrea depends on the active participation of the Eritrean Youth.
Our Appeal to Eritrean Women
Eritrean women are in the world history books for the heroic role they played in the struggle for our country’s independence. It is sad to see them marginalized in post-independence Eritrea. But among the most active and high impact Eritrean activists now are no doubt Eritrean women in the Diaspora. We have full confidence that you will join your Eritrean brothers and sisters in bringing about positive democratic changes in our country by actively participating to ensure the success of the grassroots movement.
Appeal to Eritrean Artists and Musicians
First and foremost, we would like to express our profound appreciation for what Eritrean musicians and artists did during the struggle and far beyond after our country’s independence to bring the plight of the Eritrean people to the forefront through their songs and plays.
There is no doubt that you have the capacity to mobilize, energize and unite the Eritrean people and free themselves from this brutal and vision-less dictatorship. We have listened to your interviews through Radio Assenna and other media outlets. And we are proud of what you are doing.
We believe that we now have a clear and effective grassroots strategy based on the bottom-up approach that can unite and guide Eritrean communities everywhere to elect their global leaders and usher in a new democratic dispensation in Eritrea. But, all this will not succeed without your contribution. In short, you owe our oppressed society whatever you can give using your talents to the best of your capacity. We appeal for your cooperation in this final confrontation with the dictatorship to set the Eritrean people free.
Appeal to Eritrean Minority Ethnic Groups
We understand that the current dictatorial regime has particularly marginalized our brothers and sisters who belong to minority ethnic groups. Their land has been confiscated and their way of life and culture has been undermined. We fully sympathize with the plight of our minority ethnic groups, and we share your pain and suffering. We believe that the leadership that will come to power after the ouster of the dictatorship will make sure that all Eritrean ethnic groups regardless of their minority status will be treated with equity and fairness as a matter of priority. We must build an Eritrea that treats all its sons and daughters equally and equitably – and in which every Eritrean is proud to be what he/she is. To this end, we appeal to you to join your brothers and sisters in the struggle we have outlined.
Our Appeal to Religious Leaders
Religious leaders, Muslims and Christians of all denominations, have played a great role by voicing their support for our people in these bad times. The participation of religious leaders, Muslims and Christians, at the New York UN Demonstration last November, 2015, has been highly moral up-lifting and encouraging. We are, thus, appealing to all religious leaders to continue their support for the grassroots movement.
Our Appeal to Members of Civic Organization
We appeal to members of the various Eritrean Civic Organizations to be actively involved in supporting the grassroots movement. We expect members of Eritrean Global Solidarity (EGS), Eritreans to Facilitate National Dialogue (EFND), Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea (CDRiE) and other similar civic organizations to join the various teams, listed below, such as the Writers Team, the Seminars and Conferences Teams, and/or the Think Tank group.
Our Appeal to the Eritrean Web Sites, Radio Programs and Pal Talks
Credit is due to all the Eritrean websites and the various Eritrean radio programs and Pal Talks who have sacrificed so much of their time and resources to provide a forum for exchange of information and for serving as outlets for expressing the frustrations and disappointment of the Eritrean people. We would like to take this opportunity to express our admiration for the important role you have played so far, and we urge you to support the grassroots movement through your editorials, panel discussions, interviews and news coverage of the activities of the grassroots movement.
Our Plea to the Opposition Political Parties
We have no doubt the founders of the various Eritrean political organizations were motivated by their desire to democratize our country, and we should applaud and give them and their members credit for the many years of sacrifice they have made for the good of their people and their country.
At this juncture, we would like to appeal to all opposition political parties, opposition groups and their members to extend their enthusiastic support and encouragement to the grassroots movement. We believe the grassroots movement has a better chance to achieve the objectives for which you have sacrificed so much for so long, in a much shorter time. We sincerely believe it is to the advantage of the Eritrean political parties and for the good of the Eritrean people that these political groups give the grassroots movement their fullest support. Please do not view the grassroots movement in any negative way
Not supporting the grassroots movement will only result in prolonging the life of the dictatorial regime and the suffering of our people.
We hope the initiatives of Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC), Medrek, and the other political parties and blocks that are making endeavors to unite will succeed. We also hope that the amalgamated political parties will use the time to refine their vision and prepare their programs and policies that will help them to get the support of the Eritrean people when Eritrea becomes a multi-party democracy. We expect the Global Leaders will work with the opposition groups in preparing the blue print for transitioning Eritrea into democracy. At this time, we expect the opposition groups to join hands with their fellow Eritreans to work for the success of the grassroots movement.
Appeal to Eritrean Intellectuals
It is sad to see some Eritrean intellectuals and academics who seem to be oblivious of the suffering of their people under the dictatorial regime that is doing so much harm to our country and its people. Eritrean intellectuals supposed to understand better than anyone else about the damage the dictatorial regime is inflicting on the Eritrean people. They should have been on the forefront to express their opposition to the dictatorial policies of the Isaias’ regime. The intellectuals are expected to be the voice for the voiceless. We are, therefore, appealing to all our Eritrean intellectuals and academics to be on the right side of history. We appeal to you to support the Global Initiative to Empower Eritrean Grassroots Movement (GIEEGM) and actively participate in your locality in the bottom-up process to establish local assemblies and elect legitimate Global Leaders.
Appeal to those who have given up on Eritrea
Though it is difficult to imagine an Eritrean who does not feel the pain of seeing and hearing about what is going on in Eritrea, there are many Eritreans in the Diaspora who have simply given up on Eritrea believing there is nothing within their power to change things. We understand those who hold this position since some of us have felt the same more than once. But as you all know, it is not easy to give a deaf ear and a blind eye to all the atrocities that are going on in Eritrea. One can never have peace of mind if one understands the pain and suffering the Eritrean people are going through. We, therefore, appeal to you to join the grassroots movement. If you do, we shall have better prospects to change the Eritrean situation for the better.
For those who may have concerns about punitive measures that may be inflicted on them if they travel to Eritrea, or who fear for the safety of their family members due to their association with the Grassroots Movement, arrangements can be made to allow you to participate without revealing your identity. The least such individuals can do and should do is to anonymously show their support financially. Remember, if we all unite, this regime is not going to stay long.
Our View on Eritrean Community Centers
We understand the need for Eritrean Community Centers wherever Eritreans live in large numbers. Community Centers provide a number of essential services to immigrant communities. First and foremost, they serve as meeting places for Eritreans to socialize and to network with their fellow Eritreans. Community Centers provide support for newly arriving refugees, finding accommodations, job opportunities and other necessities. One important role of Community Centers is to provide comfort to grieving members, helping with funeral arrangements, assisting during weddings, and other social events. Community Centers also serve as places to teach Eritrean children, their language and their cultural heritage among other activities. In most countries, Community Centers receive government funding and they are nonpolitical entities. That being the case, they can co-exist with the grassroots movement whose primary objective is political, i.e., to bring about democratic changes in Eritrea.
Pre-requisites for the Success of the Grassroots Movement
For the grassroots movement to achieve its goals, every Eritrean in every corner of the world; Muslims, Christians, females and males, young and old, and all the Eritrean minority ethnic groups should participate in electing our global leaders.
We are therefore inviting your participation and active involvement to ensure the success of the grassroots movement. Please do not underestimate your capabilities to help save your country. Let us know if you can play a role in any of the following activities that are essential for the success of the grassroots movement.
- Writers Team: We need writers who can write in English, Tigrigna, Arabic and other ethnic dialects. The role of this team of writers will be to write educational articles, press releases, bulletins and other necessary material that will promote the success of the grassroots movement.
- Mobilizing, Seminars and Conferences Teams: We need individuals who will take the initiative to assist in mobilizing Eritreans at the local level, plan, organize and execute all-inclusive meetings of Eritreans in their respective cities/localities, country-wide conferences and global conference. Members of this team will take responsibility for organizing conferences, conduct seminars and workshops to educate and encourage Eritreans to be actively engaged in saving their country.
- Media and Communication Team: The role of this team will be to work with Eritrean websites and radio programs to promote the grassroots movement and activities.
- Financial and Logistical Team: This team will engage in raising funds and resources from a variety of sources for various activities. This group will be responsible for making funding requests to international organizations, nations and Eritreans. We will also need auditors among this group who will ensure that the financial reports are prepared properly and that controls are in place to ensure proper custody of the funds received and that expenditures are properly accounted for.
- Outreach Team: The responsibilities of this team will include:
- Reaching out to various mosques, churches and prominent individuals;
- Promoting an all-inclusive environment and harmony.
- Think-Tank Group – This group will be expected to prepare conceptual papers that will contribute to the success of the grassroots movement. It may also later assist the Global Leadership in their dealing with the United Nations, the African Union, donor organizations and countries.
- Legal Team. The responsibility of this team will be to provide legal assistance to the grassroots movement as needed. We expect Eritrean lawyers to join the Legal Team.
- IT Group. The role of Eritrean Information Technology (IT) is crucial in helping the grassroots movement to use modern technology in all aspects of the grassroots activities. We expect Eritrean IT experts to volunteer their expertise for the success of the grassroots movement.
For all the above to be carried out properly and successfully, we will need the collaboration of everyone, particularly dedicated, highly motivated individuals who can perform the above stated roles. We are confident, there are Eritreans in various countries who are able and willing to rise up to the challenge for the sake of their people.
Should you have any question, please contact us through our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our country is facing grave danger, and we need to act promptly with a sense of urgency. Your immediate response to our request, needless to say, will be much appreciated.
Names of Signatories in Alphabetical Order
|1||Abdalla Aldin||Riyadh||Saudi Arabia|
|2||Abdul Saleh||Dallas, TX||USA|
|3||Abeba Baatai||Arlington, VA||USA|
|6||Abraham Tesfu||Yamoussoukro||Côte d’Ivoire|
|7||Ahmed Abdella||Fremont, CA||USA|
|Ahmed Berhanu||Seattle, WA||USA|
|9||Amanuel Berhane||Flemington, NJ||USA|
|11||Anna George||Jackson, NJ||USA|
|12||Araya Debessay||Newark, DE||USA|
|14||Asihel Butsuamlak||Fairfox, VA||USA|
|16||Belay Iassu||Berwick Novascotia||Canada|
|17||Berhane Haile||Boston, MA||USA|
|18||Berhane Mehari||Tel avive||Israel|
|23||Daniel Teklay||Sacramento, CA||USA|
|25||Debesai Kifle||Addis Ababa||Ethiopia|
|28||Efrem Gebrekidan||Snellville, GA||USA|
|29||Firke Tsegay||Atlantic City, NJ||USA|
|30||Fitsum Mesgina||Louisville, KY||USA|
|31||Fetsum Abraham||Washington DC||USA|
|32||Ghebremichael Zeray||Boston, MA||USA|
|33||Gebrai Endrias||Southfield, MI||USA|
|34||Gebrehiwet Asrat||Lynnwood, WA||USA|
|35||George Ghebreselassie||Newark, DE||USA|
|36||Ghirmay G.Egziabiher||Washington, DC||USA|
|37||Ghrmai Sequar||Seattle, WA||USA|
|39||Habtom Abraha||Brighton, CO||USA|
|40||Habtom Hagos||Edmonton, Canada||Canada|
|42||Haddis Hagos||Woodbine, MD||USA|
|43||Haile Ghebretensae||Indianapolis, IN||USA|
|45||ibrahim Noor||London Camden Town||UK|
|47||Isayas Tekle||Dover, DE||USA|
|49||Kassahun Checole||Trenton, NJ||USA|
|51||Kidane Araya||Houston, TX||USA|
|52||kidane Beraki||Indianapolis, IN||USA|
|55||Maasho Ghebru||Glen Ellyn, IL||USA|
|56||Mebrahtu Sibahtu||Hillsborough, NJ||USA|
|58||Mekonen Teame||Sacramento, CA||USA|
|59||Mengisteab Debessay||Albany, NY||USA|
|60||Mengstab Girmay||Addis Ababa||Ethiopia|
|61||Mesfin Tsegay||Saint Paul, MN||USA|
|62||Michael W. Eyob||Somerville, MA||USA|
|63||Michael Ghebrehiwot||Boston, MA||USA|
|64||Michael Hidru||Boston, MA||USA|
|66||Mihret Ghebreyesus||Addis Ababa||Ethiopia|
|68||Mulugeta Besrat||louisville, KY||USA|
|70||Mussie Yemene||Cincinnati, OH||USA|
|72||Ogbai Ghebremedhin||Cambridge, MA||USA|
|76||Selam Asihel||Manassas, VA||USA|
|77||Semere Mebrahtu||Freestate||South Africa|
|78||Senai Misghina||Washington DC||USA|
|81||Tamrat Woldu||Evanston, IL||USA|
|83||Teka Yohannes||New York, NY||USA|
|85||Tekle Kidane||Seattle, WA||USA|
|88||Tesfaldet Meharenna||La Palma ,CA||USA|
|89||Tesfaldet Tesfamariam||Tel Aviv||Israel|
|90||Tesfay Tsehaye||Jefersson City, MO||USA|
|95||Yebio Woldemariam||New York, NY||USA|
|96||Yohannes Haile||Edmonton, Alberta||Canada|
|98||Zaid Tesfamariam||New York, NY||USA|