The inexplicable fear politics in Eritrea and its dangers?

By Fesseha Nair

The fear politics in Eritrea started with the Eritrean Nationalism during the British Military administration in Eritrea. It has its foothold from the time when Eritreans grasped rudimentary political freedom under the liberal British Administration and with the birth of political parties.

The unionist party which campaigned for the union with Ethiopia was the largest party through 1947-1957, the Moselm League, next largest party emerged after when the chief administrator made them clear that they must prepare themselves, if not the Christian Highlands will do the thinking for them.

What is the problem if the Tadamn prepare themselves before the EPP, EPM, EDP do for them the thinking?

Back to the discussion point, the other parties were minor in the middle with no decisive power. There is no academic studies that show on these two parties structure, how democratic they were but both of them were imbued by religious and cultural values. The leaders of the UP were more convinced that Eritrea in itself cannot stand without union with Ethiopia, While the ML were doubtful that in joining with Ethiopia they will lose  their human and democratic rights , religious and cultural. The conflict between the UP and ML was not at all on democracy but religious and cultural identity. At that time the British were purposely firing the cultural and political diversity in order to overcome the dominance of the UP. The political climate at that time was remembered by hate and violence between the ML and UP. After many times conflict and disagreement came the middle proposal that Eritrea will federate with Ethiopia as an autonomous unit under the  Ethiopian Crown. The political climate of fear and distrust continued even during the Federation, And after ten years the federation was dissolved and Eritrea became one of the Ethiopian provinces. The incorporation of Eritrea into Ethiopia was accomplished by the leaders of the UP. The ML was completely excluded from the Eritrean affairs all offices were manned by the Christian highlanders. The leaders of the ML have written many appeals and memos to the UN and the Ethiopian crown but all were rejected.

Members of the Eritrean Assembly from the ML left Eritrea and sought asylum in neighbouring countries like Sudan and Egypt. The Eritrean politics was never divided that some were democrats and the others non-democrats. It is a politic based on mistrust and fear. The Eritrean people either from highland or lowland , Christian or Moslem are familiar with a politic of mistrust and fear from the time of Eritrean Nationalism was born during the British period. During the political and armed struggle, this politic of fear and mistrust has grown to its highest peak and led to internecine wars from 1970- 1975. Even though ,  there was sometimes dialogue between the two rival groups( ELF and EPLF) it has never ended by peace but EPLF has invited the Ethiopian Tigray Peoples Liberation Front and defeated ELF and ELF split into many groups. When EPLF and TPLF won the ruling party of the Ethiopian Government of Derg both agreed to unite their forces and rule together, Eritrea had declared its freedom by referendum and Ethiopian government ruled by the EPRDF recognized the results of the referendum. The ruling party in Eritrea never ceased to campaign against the ELF groups by calling them “jihadists and terrorists.”

The politic of fear has continued by the ruling party in Eritrea by creating fears against those who do not belong them or are not from their ethnic. It is in this politic of fear that Essayas built his foothold in Eritrea. He openly tells them that without him they cannot exist.  He further terrifies them that Moslems will destroy them.  He teaches them that the Moslems and other nationalities are an obstacle for their bright future and civilization.

The politics of fear was not born during the armed struggle or after liberation but it was since the beginning of the Eritrean nationalism and still exists either in the opposition or the ruling party with very devastating future. What are the driving forces of this fear politics in Eritrea? The driving forces of any fear politics is not the statistical but the uncomfortable feeling/emotions people have among themselves. We, as all other people in the world can have feeling of fear, marginalization and hope. In politics it is not usual to call attention to feelings but the common work is to give more importance to the rational interests of the people.

Feelings/emotions are considered to be irrelevant in politics and in its worst case a problem but this is not true, If we see President Barack’s campaign has aroused the feelings/emotions of hope. There are three kinds of feelings that can create the good/friendly climate of politics.

We, Eritreans are not only divided by Highland /lowland, Christian/ Moslem but divided by emotions. The Eritrean people can be categorized in three parts. Some of us in the opposition political organizations are in the sphere of hope, bringing all the Eritrean diversity together and work for their human and democratic rights, some are with feelings of marginalization and some are with the feeling of fear for example those under the ruling party of Eritrea.

The opposition camp for democratic change must lay the foundations of the feelings of” hope” to liberate those in fear and give equality and justice to those who feel marginalised.

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Posted by on Dec 11 2009 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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