By Eritrean Action Group for Human and Democratic Rights Australia

3 January, 2005


Human beings are like part of a body,

Created from the same essence,

When one part is hurt and in pain, others

Cannot remain in peace and be quiet

If the misery of others leaves you indifferent,

And with no feelings of sorrow, then you

Cannot be called a human being  

Saadi, 13th century Persian Poet and philosopher

For the last four years PFDJ supporters in Australia have been organising annual “festivals” and the Resistance Group have been staging demonstration against it.  Once again we hear that PFDJ supporters are organising a “festival” and it goes without saying that the Resistance Group will stage demonstration against it. Here, one would like to ask the “festival” participants don’t they have a feeling for the suffering of their people? Don’t they know that the country is in deep political, economic, and social crises because of PFDJ dictatorship? How much suffering has the Eritrean people to endure before these “festival” participants feel it and act consciously and rationally?  Che ones said,  “At the risk of being ridiculous let me tell you that a revolutionary is led by the love of his people”. What kind of hypocrite nationalists and patriots are these people who dance and merry to the tune of PFDJ medieval intrigues and Machiavellian politics?  Can’t they see that the country is suffering and bleeding? . What kind of perverted nationalism is this? Any institution, be it a government or an organisation should have at the centre of its philosophy the objective of serving mankind, otherwise its existence is not justified. PFDJ falls into this category and as such it should be categorically and unequivocally condemned.  No ifs and buts about it. But first what is a festival?

A Festival is a public celebration of a great religious, cultural or political event. From ancient history until now human beings have been celebrating festivals of achievement in agriculture, art, war etc. In modern Europe as in ancient Greece festivals are celebrated accompanying the planting or harvesting of important crops. In ancient Egypt too, annual festival celebrated the overflow of the Nile, which was the source of the fertility of the land. Thus festival is a reflection of the society’s success or achievement and as such no one can be against festival per se. But we are against politically motivated “festivals” such as the one sponsored by PFDJ under the guise of nationalism. Such “festivals” are objectively against the interest of the people and the country.  During struggle for independence the liberation fronts were celebrating annual festivals and rightly so. . It was supported by the vast majority of Eritreans because it had the following justifiable and noble objectives:

a.       It cements the cohesion between Eritreans in diaspore and the liberation fronts.

b.       It was a kind of annual meeting of the mass organisations from different parts of the world to hear the annual report directly from the leadership of the Fronts. (Remember there was no Internet at that time and Eritrea was isolated from the rest of the world)

c.       It was a kind of self-healing process for Eritreans in diaspora who were suffering alienation from their culture and separation from their families and loved ones.

d.      It was an occasion to celebrate the year’s successes and achievements of the revolution and assess the drawbacks and shortcomings.

e.       It was a source of income for the Revolution

f.        It was a rare occasion for Eritreans from all over the world to meet their personal friends and family members.

Thus one can be proud of those festivals because they have accomplished the historical mission successfully. But this particular PFDJ’s festival is exactly the opposite. It has neither cultural nor social content. It is simply PFDJ’s tool of propaganda. And all these are notwithstanding the fact that the country is in deep political, economic, and social crisis as the direct result of the dictatorship. Here below is a brief outline of the present situation: 

Politically the country is becoming a laughing stock around the world. It is the only African country without constitution. The ratified constitution has been sidelined for more than ten years. The scheduled election of December 2002 has been postponed indefinitely. Again it is the only African country without freedom of press and most of the journalists are behind bars. Oppression is everywhere. There is no rule of law. The word of PIA is the law. Eritrean youth inside the country are living without hope and future. Out of despair the youth are daring the vast oceans and cruel deserts and those who made it are suffering in the dungeons of countries like Libya and Malta. Eritrean prisons are full and are expanding. Eritreans of all hue and colour are incarcerated for years without due process of law. Fear and insecurity are the rule of the day.

Economically the country is in mess. There is little productive activity. Most of the working age people are in trenches in the border war. For many years now they have interrupting their regular work and study. Thus productive economic activity is at its lowest.  Foreign and local investors are shunning the country because of the in conducive business environment. Sadly education and training is at its lowest.  As if these problems are not enough it seems that nature has sided with PFDJ and there was no enough rain. Thus famine is looming over our people. The country is dependent on NGOs and donor countries.

Socially the crisis is getting worse by day.  As Balsely Olesen UNICEF representative in Asmara said   “ Child and maternal malnutrition is the highest in Africa. There is a rise in commercially sexually exploited children, and five percent of prostitutes in Eritrea are under the age of 18”. As the result of the border war about 300, 000 of our people are displaced from their own land with all the psychological and social consequences. Our youth inside country are living without hope and future and what kind of adults are they going to be. Eritrea is going to have a generation of unskilled and untrained youth. In such condition the future is bleak and it is very frightening to contemplate.

 Thus one would like to ask the “festival” organisers in Australia what is the essence behind this “festival”? Are we celebrating a “festival” out of the suffering of our people? One does not have to be space engineer to understand that Festival and Famine are mutually exclusive. Similarly Festival and Repression is also mutually exclusive. To force the people to celebrate “festival”, on top of the oppressions and suffering they have to endure, is cruelty in its highest form. It is an insult to our intelligence. Thus genuine Eritreans who believe in freedom and human right and dignity should boycott this sham “festival”. This is the least the oppressed voiceless Eritreans expect from us.


 In this respect we appreciate the highly commendable activities of the Resistance Group and they have all our support. However, we believe its activities should not be limited to the demonstration against the festival only. Thus we suggest that the Resistance Group should develop into an all-inclusive group whose activities should include not only staging demonstrations against the “festival” but also running seminars, cultural activities, and mobilising the different opposition groups with a minimum common denominator. In politics we cannot afford to be static, because remaining static can only lead to degeneration and stagnation


Eritrean Action Group for Human and Democratic Rights Australia.

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