Call for Civil disobedience. (4)

When one comes across the phrase “Civil Disobedience”, Martin Luther King & Mahatma Gandhi pop up with out permission and unconsciously one often tends to associate it to a non-violent defiance

The term “Civil Disobedience” coined in 1866 was originally published in May of 1849 under the title ” Resistance to Civil Government”, from a lecture delivered by Henry David Thoreau.

One of his disciples, a 20th century proponent of civil disobedience, martyr Luther King said:

“I became convinced that non cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, these are outgrowths of Thoreau’s insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice”.     

  From chapter 2, “The autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” book

But Henry David Thoreau also goes in his famous aforesaid lecture:

“ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation of such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness” 

Indeed, it is the RIGHT of the People to alter or to abolish government, and to institute new Government. But the point is, what government and HOW?

As mentioned earlier, Civil Disobedience proper shall not be limited to antiviolence. This is even inevitable when looking into our state of affairs without bias of any sort.

To call for a civil disobedience in Eritrea is tantamount to calling for BLOOD SHED elsewhere. Compare this to the peaceful protest in MyHabar that did not target the very power of the ruling junta it only pleaded for justice and fairness to those who lost part of their bodies, if not their future, for the country and very existence of the state and its commanders. We may recall the G’s in/outside the State and their present fate, regardless of their long-lasting record and means of encounter, which was not only peaceful but also never over sighted to pay the due tribute and respect to the Despot. 

So, Civil Disobedience works well under a civilized or less civilized state. It works even with traditional governance and not Eritrea of the day.

A quick glance to the Sudanese and Ethiopian protest marches would elucidate what it needs to make it effective.

 In Ethiopia there was a track record of almost a decade of University students’ unrest and rallies within the campuses. Prison was a second habitat for many student activists and even their leadership was assassinated. Many of them did not, on purpose; complete academic years straight. Finally their voice reached to other sectors including the military. They have propagated the culture of protest and demand for rights even at a lower level of salaries and compensations, petrol prices etc. Such environment agitated many probably including PIA (Addis University student at the early stage of the rallies) and certainly Melles at its climax.

When finally the call reached beyond the campus walls, thereabout, emerged clandestine groupings (and probably parties). The collective efforts brought about the 1974 civil disobedience that caused the end of the unassailable! Empire and the doom of the clerics blessed sacred Emperor.

Sudan supported by the Westminster culture of accommodating opposing opinion had sound grounds in the campuses. Enlightened populace that debate and vote, notwithstanding for traditional parties. Sudan has also a long history of popular demands, with blood and tears, which among others forced promulgation of labor laws. In the mid 70’s Nimere was unable to raise the price of sugar, or was made to revise his proclamation. Sudan although witnessed coup d’états and counter coup d’état to the higher level of armed rebellion.

In both cases, there were official/clandestine parties and organization. The concerted efforts of all brought about the successful protest marches in both cases.

In Eritrea of today, if the opposition has undercover groups (likely Shabia veterans) and/or communication/coordination then that may lead into a protest of a sort if not into, God forbid, a planned coup.  Nevertheless, the opposition has to take into account it is not Americas/Europe/Australia or Sudan it is Eritrea of the one. They have to contemplate on escalation to the only one, the Gun, which should not be overruled or shelved at this crucial stage.

If visions are gloomy given the Global unilateral double standards, then let an official call for peaceful protests (politically transient), go on side-by-side fastened vests and serviced arms.

However; it is not only possible but also an urgent requirement to mobilize peaceful protest marches with integrated/meaningful badges and placards against the regime, under the convenience of hosting countries’ constitutional tolerance. Say in Australia, Americas, Canada, Europe as well as the transient forbearance in the Sudan /Ethiopia and perhaps Doha!.

But this also needs organizing and coordination. The influence of partisans, although effective, entirely depends on their heads’ plans/maneuvers, if we abstain from delving into the nature of alliances and degree of external influences. The collective efforts by the majority of non-partisans may coordinate demonstration at a time through out the Diaspora. One of the opportunities is communication between all Eritrean web sites, papers, magazines, NGOs, study centers, student communities, interested groups, mosques, churches etc. to assume the hub and the rest will follow including obsolete organization(s)

Such relentless gatherings, demonstrations, campaigns and appeals to international organizations and interested groups shall assist in convincing and at least neutralizing the junta’s armed guards (the only organized sector) during the inevitable encounter in the streets at home. We are from the human race, and history testifies no soul had endured endless atrocities.

Yet, History also tells us the feeble the alternative forces the perfect recipe to trigger temptations of a private (or general) to topple the Junta and announce his first draft. “Freedom for the prisoners, water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, dual official languages, freedom of press/ faith, land to its legitimate owners and long live Free Eritrea, AWAT ne’haffash” , to be shelved next day, a quenching launch of yet another vicious cycle.

Thus the need for fair play, ratified constitution, civilian governance, right of self-determination and ‘democratic’ state should broadly be digested to remain the tenets through out. Simultaneously armed struggle on the most repressed areas SHOULD continue to compliment the demands, or history will never forgive our life(less)long wishful thinking. 


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Posted by on May 28 2005 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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