In the search for social justice: is there a panacea for our current problems?

By Hannan Abdullah

United Kingdom

25.07.2017

Joining the struggle for liberation and independence was not a passing frenzy or a mere show of desire by some young people nearly six decades ago. But, the desire of people longing for freedom and self-determination was what drove them to declare the revolution to liberate their country. And without a shadow of doubt, such struggle for self-determination is a right which is guaranteed by all the international covenants.

Therefore, the issue of justice for the citizen, every citizen, was from one side, a central issue that the Eritrean youth sought to achieve it by joining the Eritrean revolution, and from the other side, they needed it to be a strong message of rejection to the Ethiopian occupation, and expression of their standing against the illegitimate annexing of the country to the Ethiopian empire.

Our Eritrean struggle for justice had taken into account two basic issues: firstly, liberating the country from foreign occupation and secondly, achieving justice for all. Certainly, the two tasks are always linked to each other, and the second one is more difficult to be achieved while the land is occupied by foreign force. Justice, anyhow, is not merely a display of slogans, but rather a practice protected by laws within national sovereign governance.

However, the Eritrean liberation movements, whether was ELF or EPLF, had tried to prevail justice throughout the country by people participation in the organs of the revolution. For that purpose, national organisations, such as students, workers and women unions were established. In practice, ELF, EPLF sought to assure the popular participation through allowing local people in the liberated villages and towns to run their own people by choosing and electing their representatives.

As social justice is always at the core of gender equality, the participation of the Eritrean women in the early times of political struggle was actively witnessed. The sons and daughters` of Eritrea who called on for the independence and refused their country annexing with Ethiopia in 1950s and 1960s were all clear evidence of the early Eritreans national awareness and a real reflection of their readiness to defend Eritrea.

Unfortunately, as the international community gave deaf ears to our people`s just demands, all Eritreans especially, women and students were forced to join the Revolution and became a part of the armed struggle. That remarkable contribution of the Eritrean women happened to approve the equality and justice in society don`t come only by mere slogans, but through a genuine participation of women. Indeed, women presence in the revolution organs presented by more than a third of the fighters. That high percentage of women participation in the revolution life and their contribution in building a new free society, introduces the Eritrean revolution as a good model in the world.

As a result of that participation and the heavy sacrifices paid, Eritrean independence was realized. Hopes were not only for a fictitious justice, but for women to have a real equality. However, contrary to all expectations, the Provisional Eritrean Government that announced by the EPLF quickly repudiated its promises. The constitution, approved in 1997, was suspended and the reformist group known as the Group of 15,  which amongst its members were senior government officials such as: Mahmoud Sherifo, Potros Salmon, and Haile Duru`e, Saleh Kikya, Oqba Abraha, Hamid Himid and others were arrested. In addition, the journalists of the private newspapers who gave the media new zest by opening their newspapers to the public to raise different topics, also were detained too as the government of “President” Isaias Afeworki accused them as a real threat to the national security.

As if the new born nation`s challenges were not enough, and to make matters worse, the government applied the controversial national service policy, in an inappropriate way. Because of the service lasts for so long, it burdened the people inside the Eritrea, it shattered their hopes and devastated their ambitions and as a result it led many of them to leave the country randomly jeopardising their lives to the extent that made the country losing its backbone the young people, who were anticipated to defend and build it.

The hope was great that the period of the armed struggle that preceded the independence and the liberation was enough for the leaders of the revolution to learn various ways to strengthen the country’s unity and to know how to overcome the problems that have been experienced in other revolutions in different countries, for instance Angola, Mozambique and even South Africa, and work to create a national reconciliation through holding national gatherings. By conducting such reconciliatory congresses, we could preserve the gains of our national independence and prevent the unity and the sovereignty of the country from intervention of foreign forces.

Unfortunately, the “president” Isaias Afwerki and his group were not prepared from the outset to build a democratic state.

Because of the lack of enthusiasm the ”president”, the fate of the state has become a tool in his hand faltering while its institutions` building have been delayed until further time.

Of course, there are a set of reasons behind that delay, one main factor is the complications caused by the current regime and the “president”, but, for sure, there are other factors can be identified to point the fingers at them as culprits.

But for the time being and without delving into a deep analysis, and in a general speaking, we dare to claim that the lack of democratic practice in Eritrea is the main and sole culprit which has led us to what is seems to be a catastrophically situation at home.

To be continued…

The writer can be contacted through e-mail:

hananabdella88@gmail.com

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