To Mr. Weldeyesus Ammar

Chairman, Eritrean People Democratic Party

We would like to congratulate you for raising the issue of “The Eritrean Covenant” that was issued by Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar (Mejlis) by way of replying to a question posed to you by Ms. Jehan Essa. You stated that “…“…hidden authors cannot claim to have come with a real agenda for serious consideration.

Your reason for wanting to know names of the authors is precisely why the authors of The Eritrean Covenant chose to withhold their names—to help the people focus on the content of the document, which you characterized as a “well written and important document,” rather than on the personality of the authors. We are very pleased to see that the overwhelming Eritrean Muslims have already embraced it because of the merits of the expressed ideas without being encumbered by personality politics, which definitely would have followed had the names of the authors been released. It is gratifying to see that Eritreans are rising above petty politics and appraising an idea on the basis of rational reasoning and evidence alone rather than by judging an idea by simply liking or disliking the person(s) advocating it. The Eritrean Covenant was also meant to be a position paper by all advocates of justice.

The Eritrean Covenant was explicitly offered to the public as a tool in the hope that the public would take full ownership of it. As you know, the issues which came in The Eritrean Covenant are not new, but only an articulation of a widely accepted common view supported with well-researched evidences. Indeed, now the public has fully owned it.

The Mejlis called on, and hoped (it still does), that political parties and organizations would incorporate The Eritrean Covenant in their struggle for justice and advance its contents. Your need to know “which parties or groups or personalities in the Eritrean opposition are behind it so that one can contact and engage them in serious dialogue,” we believe, is not a helpful comment or position. There is enough bitter experience to avoid leaving such issues to inter-party engagement; and that is why, as stated in the second paragraph of The Eritrean Covenant, a public input was needed in the first place. These issues are too important to be left alone to politicians.

The issues contained in The Covenant are grassroots views, and those who endorse the Covenant would have liked to see you endorsing it and not considering it a negotiating document.

The Mejlis believes that The Covenant is a well researched and carefully written document that explains what ails Muslims in particular and the nation in general. As such, it is a perfect tool for parties like yours to communicate and relate with issues that an overwhelming majority of Eritrean care about. Today, in just about two months since it was published, one can take The Eritrean Covenant to any concerned citizen and find wide acceptance of its contents. The overwhelming majority of Eritrean Muslims now fully and enthusiastically endorse it; they consider it a well-articulated expression of their views, hopes, and aspirations. Thus, it has become a perfect tool in advancing causes that mean a great deal to them.

As a political party that aspires to lead Eritreans, we implore you to take the concerns of more than half of the Eritrean population more seriously. Perhaps, should you still need more evidence to see the plight of Eritrean Muslims, we suggest that you conduct your own survey as we have done in order to discover that the extent of support ranges in the high 90 percentile, an unprecedented unanimity by any Eritrean segment on any issue.

Most politicians and scholars publicly declare that there cannot be a stable Eritrea unless all its citizens enjoy justice and equality; we implore them all to take visible and concrete steps to make that a reality.

Mr. Weldeyesus, you stated that you could not start a dialogue because you do not know the authors. But the Mejlis never asked to enter into a dialogue with anyone. Once again, please find below a reiteration of the Mejlis’ objectives for writing The Eritrean Covenant:

“To assert our rights and to restate our core values, aspirations, and guiding principles with regard to Eritrea and Eritreans, we have authored this document as a position statement hoping it would serve as:

a.  A cautionary narration of the deteriorating situation in Eritrea and its implications for Eritrea’s national unity and the peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians.

b.  An educational tool for those who may not be fully aware of the legal, social, and economic status of Eritrean Muslims.

c.  A unified and fairly representative position statement and a platform for dialogue among Eritreans in an attempt to create a healthy environment.

d.  A discussion paper to stimulate discussions for possible solutions and a way forward towards resolving our society’s most precarious conflicts.

If what you have in mind is sitting across the table facing a group of self-appointed representatives of an Eritrean social segment, you know they do not have a mandate to represent Eritreans. The Mejlis also understands that neither do you have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of anyone but your party. Therefore, such gesture is meaningless.

You well know that today, Eritrean Muslims and Christians are represented in several political organizations and civil and professional associations. There is no single legal entity that can talk on their behalf. The Mejlis knows this very well and that is why it didn’t install itself as a negotiator or a representative of anyone. If you still insist on talking to the authors, you now have a better option. Instead, you can now talk to the owners: approach any group of Eritrean Muslims because they are the stakeholders and now the owners of The Eritrean Covenant.

Of course, we understand that there are some who do not subscribe to the grassroots views; those who are in the fringes would not add value to such a debate or dialogue in the first place.

The work that the Mejlis accomplished is a public service, akin to the work of a think tank that comes with views, researches and the like; it is not required to negotiate with political organizations on work it issues.

With this in mind, we believe the time is now for you and others to declare your views on The Eritrean Covenant. From the feedback we received, the Mejlis is now irrelevant concerning The Eritrean Covenant—if you agree with it, endorse and adopt it in your organization and use it as a tool to promote justice in Eritrea. If you partly or wholly disagree with it, it would be helpful to state your contrasting views, if any, in order to educate the public and to stir a genuine Eritrean public debate.

Finally, the Mejlis has proved that the regime meets the criteria of what political scientist identify as an ethnocratic regime. We are particularly interested in your thoughts whether the Eritrean regime, in light of the inconvertible evidence provided, can be described as an ethnocratic regime.

Thank you

Mejlis Ibrahim Mukhtar
April 9, 2010

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