Eritrean Youth Action Network – Australia (EritrYANA)

Roughly, over five thousand Eritreans reside in the city of Melbourne,  Australia, with additional 2-3 thousand scattered in other cities and towns. Of course the Eritrean community here has its own share of problems. Disunity and divisions related to differences in views regarding matters to our country have resulted in the mushrooming of several Community groups. The Eritrean Community in Australia (ECA) and Victorian Eritrean Community Association (VECA), being the largest. VECA was branched off from ECA.

Divisions in the Eritrean community existed prior to liberation, but it became worse after liberation. Several failed attempts were made to reunite the community. Eritreans in Australia had a real desire to be united. This explains why even those who had differences with the Government of Eritrea, were prepared to put their differences aside and continued to formally request from the Eritrean Embassy in Australia and all high ranking officials who visited in the past, to mediate between the various community groups.

No one can deny that in every single meeting this appeal for mediation to visiting Eritrean officials was always raised. Unfortunately, the common reply from GoE officials and The Embassy was that they would prefer not to get involved in issues concerning the community and that the leaders of the communities can resolve their differences themselves in addition the GoE would rather remain neutral on this issue. They argued the Embassy had more important tasks of lobbying Australian government, raising money for Eritrea, and many diplomatic responsibilities that would not allow them to get involved in such matters. They argued if the two community organisations wanted to seriously be united, they could do so without the help of the GoE. Thus all calls and appeals from Eritreans in Australia for mediation and help from the GoE and its Embassy were neglected.

One can’t imagine a more irresponsible and careless excuse in refusing to mediate than the above. If the Eritrean people in Melbourne did not truly want to resolve their problems they would not have asked for mediation from the Embassy in the first place. If the leaders of the community did not feel they needed help in saving their unity, they would not have asked for mediation.

This was a golden opportunity for the Embassy to win the respect of Eritreans from all sides, and they blew it up big time, nothing new. The Eritrean Youth of Australia were the ones to suffer most as a result. Our youth have lost hope, and the many problems they are facing right now are abundantly evident, but we will discuss this another time.



To look back into the sequence of events, one can only make one obvious conclusion that the unity and harmony of Eritreans is not of interest to the Government of Eritrea. Nothing should be more important for any Government than the unity of its people, and nothing should be more important for an Embassy than to listen to the calls of unity. Unfortunately, the GoE does not believe so.

The Embassy was more interested in milking every dollar they could from the people. The only thing it did was to ask for dollars in every opportunity. “Give me money, don’t worry about unity” seemed to be its motto. In every meeting there was a new excuse. The PFDJ officials would unashamedly announce “you can not possibly expect an official coming all the way from Eritrea or Canberra with a certain agenda to waste his time in listening to issues that concern the locals”.

Of course, the officials had to report promptly that whatever agenda they came to discuss was “passed unanimously” and that “the meeting was a success and people declared their unconditional support to the government”. The truth is that every meeting ends up with people walking out frustrated, the people’s priority is to unite, and the Embassy’s priority is to report a lie.

Now the GoE, through its PFDJ office in Melbourne is waving a “candy bar” to seduce and lure people, another PFDJ festival coming up.

* A government that holds Eritrean Culture and Art hostage.

* A government that uses festivals to destroy the moral of Eritreans inside


* A government, that uses Art and Culture as a political weapon to spread 

   lies and false propaganda.

* A government that use Art and Culture to silence people.

Should you go and be part of this PFDJ gag this year?

Ask yourself honestly and deeply before you go.


Eritrean Youth Action Network – Australia (EritrYANA)

1-The real reason behind the Melbourne Festival

 Months prior to the first PFDJ-2001-fiesta, the then non resident  Ambassador Tewelde (Nikroma) conducted a meeting in which he aired his annoyance at Eritreans in Melbourne who have not been as compliant as PFDJ would have liked them to be in the fundraising campaigns it runs. Ignorantly he posed “why a handful of Eritreans in a small city like Brisbane can raise more money than those in a city like Melbourne with over three thousand Eritreans”. Ignorant because he has failed to recognise all the fundraising efforts that Melbournians organised on numerous occasions for refugees in Sudan and other projects in Eritrea. He has purposely failed to acknowledge these efforts because they were not done through PFDJ.

In a second meeting, the Ambassador accompanied Mr. Musa Naib who was visiting Melbourne, and he repeated again his ignorant comments about Melbournians, but this time he had found the solution on how to make them submit to the will of PFDJ, he announced arrogantly that, the PFDJ-fiesta train was coming to Melbourne. “Let us see if they can resist this” bragged the followers of PFDJ. A collection of the best Eritrean performers were on route to Melbourne, not one, not two, not three, but FIVE singers,

a popular comedian/MC, and a complete band. The first Melbourne festival was big, but Melbournians that “The festival of the oppressed” was even bigger and more successful.

2-PFDJ Festival VS the Festival of the Oppressed

The announcement of the festival did catch some Melbournians by surprise. PFDJ supporters were enjoying seeing people debate “to go or not to go.” For the majority however, it was a plain “NO”. People made it clear, it the musicians were allowed to hold a private concert, they would go to support them, but as long as they are performing as part of the festival and the money is going to be for PFDJ, they would not go. Some made a suggestion to the PFDJ festival management if they could allow the musicians to have a private concert after the festival. It was rejected on the basis that since those making the request were mostly people who would not go to the festival and considered opposition and if a concert is allowed and it becomes more successful, it would look bad for PFDJ. The idea became popular however, even some PFDJ members thought it would be nice for the band to go home with a little of pocket money.

A few days prior to the departure of the band, the concert was approved.

The PFDJ purposely did this expecting that a concert organised within two days would be doomed to fail. There was no time to advertise or to even find a venue, but Melbournians were determined that it must happen, and it did. It was the hottest day that summer, the venue was an old town hall with no air conditioning system, but people came regardless. They came to give a message, that they support their musicians and that they reject PFDJ. The attendance matched that of the festival. PFDJ office regretted allowing that to happen, which explains why they did not allow it in the second festival. Many Melbournians refer to that concert as “nay wuSuAt festival” “the festival of the oppressed”.

3-How PFDJ uses festivals to destroy the moral of our youth and our people back home: The first festival was shown on EriTV so many times, people in Eritrea have memorised it. “Hadas Eritra” with a big headline announced, “Eritreans in Australia convey a message of support to their government – March and we shall march with you”. A typical report on TV goes like this.

* TV Reporter: “Ab Australia zelewu eritrawian festival akayedom, ab goni mingistom dow elom kem zelowu aregagiSom” {A clip of people dancing and having fun is then follows. Includes an interview with some of the festival attendees who sound so fake and obvious that they are reading from a script with the usual PFDJ cliché’s} Then the reporter comes again to talk about another festival or event around the world in the same manner. This goes on and on for the entire day.

Eritreans inside Eritrea see this and they curse those in Diaspora for being the cause of their misery. They end up with of a feeling that they are alone, that no one is speaking for them, that they have been betrayed by the government and all the Eritreans in Diaspora. They became demoralised and lose hope that their life will ever improve.



In case it is not obvious by now, our position is NO TO PFDJ FESTIVAL and anything that is conducted as part of the festival. This includes.

1-Actual concert, 2-Seminars, 3-Sporting events, 4-Exhibitions

Some are arguing that people should go to the seminar, we totally disagree. PFDJ officials are not interested in listening to people this should be clear by now. PFDJ expect us to be there when they call us for a meeting, but when the people call for a meeting they refuse. Why should we then go to their seminars and meetings? For those who want to go to the festival to support the artists we say, Have you ever thought that may be those artists would wish deep in their hearts that you free them from the prison they are in? Did you consider that may be deep down they wish you would boycott this festival and tell PFDJ



Just for the record: PFDJ figures Vs True figures:

*          2001 First Festival attendance over three days:

PFDJ figure: Over 3000 (three thousand)                         

True figure: 650-700 (Six fifty-seven hundred)

*          2002 Second Festival:

PFDJ figures: 1000-1500 (one-one and half thousand)

True figures: 400-450 (Four-Four hundred fifty)

A big drop from 3k in first festival to 1k in second festival wouldn’t you say so? No, the PFDJ will never admit, even if it was their own figures

*          2003 Third Festival. We know what happened in that one.


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