The book of Martyr Ahmed
The Eritrean Mass (Yeakle) Movement is a Task Force, which emanated as a result of the extreme socio-economic and political situation that has existed and is still continuing in Eritrea. That being the case inside Eritrea, the people, whether from within or from without, do not seem to exactly know how to challenge the criminal acts of the unconstitutional government in Asmara, Eritrea, which has committed such horrendous crimes, with extreme cruelty, against its own people. The socio-economic and political situation in Eritrea has now reached unimaginable proportions, denying the people the Rights of free Speech, free movement, freedom to assemble and to run a normal day-to-day life.
As a result of such unbearable life conditions inside Eritrea, and especially when about 360 Eritreans, consisting of men, women, children and infants, escaping the horrors of life in Eritrea and seeking freedom in Europe, vanished in a sinking ship in the Mediterranean Sea, by the shores of the Italian Sea coast of Lampadusa, on October 13th, 2013, many horrified Eritreans, the world over, rose up by raising their fists high, and singing the slogans of “Essayas Must Go !”, and yes indeed, he must Go !! That caused the birth of the Mass Movement, and they started to organize themselves, starting on a city by city level, all over the world. In consideration of the complexity of eventual system integration concerns at the global stage, the initial call to organize at the local level is made for the whole community, as an aggregate, not on the basis of a fragmented demographic approach. And one of the Ground Rules is to first educate the Masses about the Concept of the Mass Movement, so that they can make informed decisions.
Temporary By Laws were drafted, in order to legally guide them at the local level, and for formalizing the organizing process, on the basis of a “one person one vote” membership principle, which guarantees every member equal rights, opportunities and privileges, in the ownership of the movement. That means, the concept of the Movement is termed as a “Movement of the people, by the people, for the people. This Movement is only a task force, not an organization which ultimately grabs political power. Its main purpose is to educate, mobilize and organize the more than 90% of the Eritreans in the Diaspora, who are not yet, politically organized, and to bring them to the opposition camps. The Mass Movement is not a replacement of or in competition with any Eritrean political organization(s). On the contrary, it empowers and strengths them, by bringing in many new participants to the Eritrean public Forums. Such a process highlights that more public participation on the organizing process equates to maximization of democratic principles.
We are now at the second and hopefully last phase of the Yeakle Movement, which is action oriented. But a precondition for any action is to first have the right attitude to participate in any public meetings and events of national concern. Such participation will obviously, help towards swelling of the mass organization. After being reasonably organized on a city by city basis, a sound communication between the Deleyti Fetehi Eritreans inside Eritrea and those in the Diaspora, via Satellite TV and Shortwave Radio Services will be highly desired. But in order to reasonably utilize that bridge, a tremendous financial investments will be required, and more so when we accurately assess the financial muscle of our arch enemy, Essayas, the unique dictator who has solely amassed the whole county’s wealth. But, thankfully, with the fast and encouraging increase of the youth and women participation in the Yeakle Movement, we may keep the dictator at bay, because money alone does not fight, but determined people do.
It is a known fact that a fundamental government change in Eritrea will only come from within, but all necessary assistance must come from the Diaspora. The Deleyti Fetehi in Eritrea have all kinds of limitations, and the financial and logistical, as well as moral, supports will come to them from the Diaspora, and if there is a will, everything is possible.
The vision of the Eritrean Mass Movement is: To organize all Eritreans, from city level to an international level, under a single leadership, and after which, forming a transitional government in absentia, and upon which, create a new constitutional Eritrea, where all Eritreans can live in peace, democracy and harmony.
The defined goals of the Eritrean Mass Movement of Eritrea are :
To identify and educate, mobilize and organize, the more than 90% of Eritreans in the Diaspora, who are not yet, organized, on a city by city basis.
To optimally organize all Eritreans in the Diaspora, and by collectively creating a transitional government, in absentia, compelling a fundamental government change in Eritrea, that guarantees a constitutional government, which democratically represents all Eritrean demographics.
The different approaches applied in the optimal mass mobilization process are:
To start the organizing process at a city by city (local) level, and progress to national and international levels, under a single leadership path.
For the purpose of legality and formalized procedural steps, membership registration, which guarantees equity and equality for all members, in a bottom up progression.
As the most efficient approach, a single aggregate call is made at the inception, to all Eritrean demographics to the gathering for the initial organizing process, rather than trying to approach them multi-dimensionally.
In order to attain the most optimal mass organizing process, three different approaches are practically applied on the ground, namely, demographic, geographic and personalized canvassing of Eritrean homes throughout the entire subject city.
For simplifying the complex problem of bringing all the individuals, groups and organizations who played a role in the opposition efforts together, a newly reconstructed meaning of a new organization, measured by a certain criteria will be applied.
The advantages of the Eritrean Mass Movement are as follows:
The city by city organizing process provides the congregation with better opportunity to easily recognize and elect the best justice seekers who are committed to adhere to the principles and objectives of the Eritrean Mass Movement to represent our best interests.
It is a Movement that uses the most creative approaches and strategies, and best know-how to bring the Movement to fruition, within the shortest time possible, at a time when the overall Eritrean situation is at a critical stage.
Its main goal is to bring the more than 90% of Eritreans in the Diaspora, who are not yet organized, for different reasons, to the opposition camps.
The concept of the Eritrean Mass Movement, if properly implemented, has the ability to bring together those who are already organized and those who are not, in harmony, starting at local level, within the involved country, and then, centralizing all the organized cities of the country, under a single leadership, from which, we will proceed to the third (the global) stage, where a global Eritrean meeting will be arranged for the purpose of forming a transitional government, within a time span of not more than six (6) months.
It has the ability to defeat an illusionary myth called Fear from the minds of many Eritreans. Fear has always been one of the major obstacle to the progress of the Mass organizing process.
The Eritrean Mass Movement approach provides other members of other organizations with a dual membership opportunity, at no cost to them.
If any decision -making of the executive committee conflicts with that of the members (rank and file), the voice of the rank and file survives.
The Eritrean Mass (Yeakle) Movement is only a Task Force, whose main purpose is to optimally organize Eritreans for national salvation, and indirectly encourage and empower any and all opposition groups, rather than competing with or replacing them.
No group or organizational memberships are allowed, in order to support the principle of one person one vote.
Applicant must be at least 18 years old to become a member, to vote, or assume any legal responsibility.
For the purpose of following legal procedures, a minimum monthly membership fee of $10.00 will be assessed, against each member.
While forming a transitional government in the Diaspora, the democratic, equal and equitable way of political power sharing among all those Eritreans who have played a role in the opposition, will materialize, on the basis of the newly defined organization, whose legitimacy will be measured based on the size of its Grassroot following and the diversity of participation of the nine different Eritrean ethnic groups.
All task force members, who, starting from the local (city) level, until the International (global) level, have accomplished the successful work of mobilizing, organizing and transitioning to the highest, last, stage under a single leadership path, will retire their noble work at that stage.
The Eritrean Mass Movement started about six years ago, by Eritreans for Justice and Democracy throughout the world. The Movement evolved as a result of the unending misery, mass arrests, imprisonment and lingering impoverishment of almost all Eritreans inside their country. The horrors of that toxic environment compelled Eritrean Diaspora communities all over the world, to at once rise up with their slogans, “Essayas, the dictator, Must Go,” in loud tones, and made an immediate move to organize themselves, on a city by city basis, through individual membership registration, and a bottom up progression.
The organizing process involves three stages: 1) The local (city) level, 2) the national (centralized) level, and 3) the global level, where delegates from each participating country are invited in order to form a national Assembly for the purpose of forming a transitional government, in absentia. At this stage (the 3rd level), the successful work of the Task Force will be suspended. And all the Task Force members, who were not organized, will, at that stage, have the option to join any qualified (reconstructed) organization(s) , of their choice, which will be measured by a new set of criteria.
Representatives from each member country will agree to meet at a centrally convenient city, for all of them. Those national Representatives, should preferably possess extraordinary skills and experiences, in order to be able to handle the challenges of the global unity system integration, involving the knowledge of devising the right formulae for equally and equitably distributing the common political power pie, to all qualified political organizations, which reflect the true color of all demographics, of the Eritrean society, without leaving out any segment of the populace.
However, the system integration of all the different Eritrean political players, consisting of individuals, Task Forces and organizations, will involve many variables to apply, and the tools to be used for harnessing them all, will be a newly reconstructed meaning of an organization, because it is only upon being satisfactorily organized that we can timely get to fruition.
Due to the complexity of the system integration required, the skillful coordinating committee will have many variables to juggle. And upon redefining the meaning of political organization, the old organization’s members and other non-organized ones, and the ex Task Force members, will have the opportunity to join with any of the newly qualified organization(s).
But, the organization (s) who do not measure up to the new definition of a qualified organization, will have the opportunity to create a coalition with other groups or organizations, of the same situation, until they fully qualify. Qualification of a newly defined organization will be measured by a yardstick, such as: 1) The size of its Grassroots followers, and 2) The diversity of membership representation of most, if not all, of the different Eritrean ethnic groups, on the basis of the subject organization’s non discriminating policies. Some additional criteria may also apply, depending on the involved experts’ visionary plans.
Upon scientifically crafting a democratically meaningful representation for political power sharing, a new constitutional and truly democratic Eritrea, that every citizen can finally embrace and enjoy all its treats, will be created. The Concept of the Eritrean Mass Movement, which evolved as a Panacea to the lingering unity problems of the too many Eritrean political organizations, should, therefore, be globally adopted, as a model
of choice, to enable us to get fully organized, a goal that once seemed beyond our grasp. Because, this Concept has a great potential to get us to fruition, within the shortest time possible, and is very simple to implement. It does not require us to learn calculus or nuclear physics, in order to practically implement it, but we only need to have a change in attitude to at least, try it, before it is outrightly rejected. The Yeakle aspirants are ready to act, but the road map and other logistics planners, who are also expected to lead by example, are awaited to make the call.
The highly secretive inner workings of the dictator in Asmara, don’t allow time for us to keep trekking at our yesterday’s pace. Therefore, the present phase of our struggle requires us to work with strictly defined goal targets, benchmarks and timetables.
We also have to acknowledge that tomorrow’s new Eritrea rightfully belongs to the younger generation, and those of them who have demonstrated their unwavering dedication and commitments for the service of their people and country, should be ready to reclaim the Mantle.
In the meantime, recognition of the efforts of those who kept our struggle alive, for so long, is overdue.
Here, two equally important items to consider are: 1) To involve every Eritrean in out-of-pocket financial contributions and to raise enough funds for the noble, national cause, and 2) To take to heart the responsibility of internationalizing Eritrea’s lingering Gross Human Rights Violations and National Sovereignty problems. If our ultimate success is to be timely attained, though, the Eritrean people must be bigger than FEAR !!
In conclusion, the main tenet of the Eritrean Mass Movement is nothing else, but Unity, Justice and Democracy, in Action.
Berhe Desta / Seattle, Washington, USA
A chart, reflecting practical applications of the Mass Organizing process on a city by city approach, is attached.
With their hopes dashed that peace with Ethiopia would bring an end to national service, young Eritreans must either accept a life of forced labour or flee
Dawit was tiring, but he could not stop. An Eritrean schoolteacher on the run, he was crossing the border to Ethiopia alone at night, with only a stick to protect himself against the hyenas and the military squads who pick up runaways.
He was risking his life to get out so that he could take up a scholarship in the US. In Eritrea, one of the most isolated and repressive countries in the world, young people have no future. Their choice is to undertake compulsory national service, or try to flee.
Eritrea’s national service is harsh, pays a pittance and goes on indefinitely. Usually, conscripts go into the military. But Dawit had been doing his national service as a teacher for more than 13 years. The government would not let him go.
When Eritrea signed a peace deal with Ethiopia in July after a 20-year standoff, rumours began circulating that gave Eritrean families great hope. People whispered that political and religious prisoners were about to be freed, that the country’s most notorious jails would be closed, and that the indefinite conscription of anyone aged between 18 and 50 would end.
Many believed the historic reforms introduced by Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, were also bringing change to Eritrea, which has been ruled by former revolutionary fighter Isaias Afwerki since the country gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991.
In July, the Eritrean embassy in Ethiopia reopened, and the first commercial flight in two decades took off from Addis Ababa to Asmara, with champagne and roses handed out on board. Last month, the road border was reopened in two places. Reunited relatives embraced and soldiers in fatigues danced in celebration.
At one graduation ceremony, reportedly attended by Afwerki, a new batch of conscripts were told they would serve for no more than 18 months.
“All the mothers in Eritrea think their kids are coming back from the frontlines,” says Helen Kidan, from the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights.
In fact, nothing has changed, say Eritrea watchers. They point to the recent arrest of the former finance minister and author of a book calling for a youth uprising against the president.
The minister for labour and human welfare, Luul Gebreab, told Bloomberg recently that the government was studying the economic effects of demobilisation, but several officials said it would not happen yet.
Although the pretext for conscription no longer exists, the rumours that it will be phased out are probably false, says Fisseha Tekle, a human rights researcher on Eritrea and Ethiopia for Amnesty International. “For the last 15 years, they were blaming Ethiopia. That excuse is no longer there, so it is high time for them to stop this scheme.”
Eritrean activists and analysts say the indefinite national service is less about conflict with Ethiopia than a way to keep people weak and unable to mount resistance to the government. They suggest the authorities are unlikely to demobilise tens of thousands of militarily-trained men and women who bear a grudge against them, with no prospect of finding them alternative employment.
National service usually lasts between five and 10 years, but can last for up to 20. Conscripts often work 72-hour weeks in extremely harsh conditions with inadequate food and low pay. No one is legally entitled to take leave, which depends on the whim of commanding officers. Some conscripts have reported going for years without being allowed to visit home. If a conscript fails to return after taking leave, their parent may be jailed until they do.
Eritrean teenagers spend the last year of high school in a military camp before going straight into military service. If they get good enough grades, they might attend college and be given a civilian role. But the only way out is to leave the country.
Dawit’s midnight run to Ethiopia was the second time he’d tried to escape. About a year earlier, after being denied an exit visa to study in the US, he paid a trafficker to get him out. He was caught and jailed for seven months, moving between the country’s notorious, overcrowded prisons. Eventually, he was released and reassigned to a school in a remote area, with his small salary suspended for six months. “It’s just slavery,” he says. “You toil day and night and you get nothing.”
Every month, thousands of young people like Dawit sneak out of the country, ending up in Libya, Sudan, Europe, or dying along the way. Visitors to refugee camps on the Ethiopian side say more Eritreans have been crossing recently, amid warnings from traffickers that this could be their last chance to claim asylum elsewhere.
But false perceptions that things are improving in Eritrea could change other countries’ attitudes to taking them in. “In Europe, they’re using every excuse to deny entry, deny asylum applications,” says Tekle.
Eritrean officials have made empty promises about national service before. In 2015, Lord Avebury told the House of Lords the Eritrean ambassador had said conscription would be restricted to 18 months, but nothing changed.
For now, many Eritreans are surviving on rumours thattheir children may soon be allowed to come home, get a job, have a family life and a future.
“The mothers are expecting something. The 140,000 people doing their national service on the border are expecting something,” says Kiden. “The families of journalists and other political prisoners are expecting something. And I don’t see how these hopes will be fulfilled.”
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Eritrean Catholics in London and those standing in solidarity with them, engaged in a ‘day of witness and vigil for the Eritrea people and Catholic Church’ on Saturday 2 November, in the Piazza of Westminster Cathedral.
Opening the rally with prayer and blessing, Fr Mark White CP of the Passionist Community and Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Herne Bay, Kent welcomed the gathering. Following Fr Mark’s blessing and braving the rain, a choir from the Holy Redeemer of the Eritrean Catholic Gheez Rite Chaplaincy delighted the hearts of the people gathered by their song ‘wereb’, a traditional Gheez rite prayer, which further attracted many of the faithful that have been attending the All Souls Day Mass at the Cathedral to join the rally.
Bishop Declan Lang, addressing those gathered through his representative Fr Mark Odion MSP, expressed his ‘deepest sadness’ at news that the government in Eritrea had seized and closed a number of schools and healthcare facilities run by the Catholic Church and other faith communities in the country.
This year alone 21 healthcare centres have been confiscated in Eritrea. In previous years, a total of eight healthcare centres were nationalised, taking the total to 29 centres forcibly seized by the Eritrean government.
“These healthcare centres are almost exclusively established in rural areas and small towns to serve the needs of the poor and the needy in society,” said Bishop Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ International Affairs department. “The seizure of these facilities is, therefore, tantamount to a huge depravity of healthcare assistance to a large section of the population and certainly will have a lasting negative effect on the poor and may ultimately lead to the loss of innocent lives.”
“Through the schools and health facilities, the Catholic Church in Eritrea serves the most vulnerable members of the society: the sick, the poor, the elderly, women and children. In addition, the Catholic Church runs orphanages and maternity wards in those rural communities. To confiscate these facilities and institutions translates to a denial of the fundamental inalienable human rights of the poor Eritreans to education and medical assistance, thus casting a bleak future for those poor and needy nationals.”
Expressing solidarity with the Eritrean community in the UK and the entire Catholic family in Eritrea over the “unlawful and unconstitutional” confiscation of the schools and healthcare institutions, Bishop Lang praised the humanitarian mission of the Catholic Church in the east African country.
“We are aware of the great remarkable humanitarian service that the Church’s healthcare centres provide to the to all the people of Eritrea and we were distressed to learn of the recent decision by the government to close the healthcare centre and the schools. The Church’s witness in trying to provide the best healthcare to the people of your country, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, is a visible sign of its commitment to the good of Eritrea, and its fidelity to the Gospel.”
The Bishop concluded his address with an appeal to the Eritrean government: “We join in solidarity with the Eritreans here in the UK to appeal to the Eritrea Government to reconsider their decisions and to return the Schools and healthcare facilities back to the Church.”
Speaker after speaker from Eritrea’s faith leaders of diverse religions, both Christians and Moslems, and civic society representatives, reiterated their solidarity with the catholic bishops. Deacon Yohannes (John) Ghebrehiwet of Eritrean Orthodox Church in Manchester, UK asked the organisers and gathered people of all faith and civic societies to ask their leaders to work together to expose the dire situation in Eritrea. Adding to what had been said by the main speakers Sheikh Saeed Mohamed Ahmed further enlightened the people of the intolerable religious persecution inflicted on Muslims from the outset of the country’s independence. Dr Berhane Asmelash, representing Release Eritrea, also asked for prayers for those religious leaders who are in prison and asked all Eritreans around the world to speak loudly against human right abuse. Professor Gaim Kibreab, Director of Refugee Studies at South Bank University also shared his anger at the betrayed promises to the Eritrean people and sadness on the continued human right abuse by the government of Eritrea.
Addressing the rally, Dr Fessehaye W Zemichael, one of the organisers, reiterated the Eritrean bishops’ brave call ‘for peace and national reconciliation’. “We, who are lucky to be a voice of the voiceless from outside our country, he said, “are gathered here to demonstrate our support and solidarity with our Catholic bishops in Eritrea.” He expressed the deep concern about the ongoing human right violations and the confiscations and nationalisation of the 29 Catholic Church health centres and 7 schools of different faiths that have been operating in the country for over 60 years. He said, ‘the Eritrean people are under the yoke of human rights abuses and all their faith groups are victims of religious persecution.
Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Parish Priest at the Immaculate Conception in the central London Church and head of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission encouraged the gathering to continue praying for Eritrea and its faith leaders and assured that he would be making a special mention of this gathering in his Mass at the parish and beyond. He also pledged the support of Aid to the Church in Need.
Another speaker who gave her witness and experience of the Catholic Church’s missionary work in Eritrea was Sister Natalia Gomes of the Camboni Mission who expressed hope for the peace and reconciliation in Eritrea, and that her faith brothers and sisters in Eritrea will be allowed to continue serving the people again soon.
Watch a report on the day from the Eritrean News Channel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHHRlpGWtWo
ዘሕዝን ኣሰንባድን ሃደበታዊ ሞት መንእሰይ ሳሚኤል ግርማይ ወዱ ንግርማይ ቀድሺ ኣዚና ሰንቢድናን ደንግጽናን ንመንእሰይ ሳሚኤል ግርማይ ቀሺ መንግስተ ሰማይ የዋርሶ ንብጻይናን መቓልስትናን ግርማይ ቀሺ ካኣም ብዓልቲቢቱን ስድራቤቱን ኩሎም መቕርቡን ጽንዓት ይሃብኩም እናበልና ብሽም ተጋድሎ ሓርነት ኤርትራ ናይ ሓዘንኩም ተኻፈልቲ ምኹዋና ንገልጽ።
The North American Mass (Yeakle) Movement is a Task Force for identifying, motivating, mobilizing and organizing the more than 90% of Eritreans in the Diaspora, who are not yet organized, and bringing them to join the opposition camps. In other words, this noble action is not to oppose or compete with, but rather, to energize and empower any and all existing Eritrean political organizations.
Hence, such activism must be supported, encouraged and empowered by every Eritrean justice seeker. The key goals and objectives of the Eritrean Mass (Yeakle) Movement, are: 1) To organize every Eritrean, with no exception, on a city by city approach, throughout North America, and 2) Upon securing full organization and attaining an all-out unity of all progressive forces in North America, to bring about a fundamental government change in Eritrea. Yes, a fundamental government change is sorely needed in Eritrea!
The present socio-economic and political landscape in Eritrea is in a dire situation. The country is teetering on the brink of total collapse, and its people are loudly crying for our help, with red-hot urgency. And the time is right now!! But, the precondition for our impactful help in Eritrea is to make sure that our ultimate unity and harmony in the Diaspora is fully ascertained.
A guarantee for our continuous and reliable unity in the Diaspora is to show our proactive public participation and engagement in all activities and events of national concern, within our respective cities, so that we can lend our unwavering support, share our opinions and views, and also ask our hard questions when necessary.
That is what democracy in practice is all about. But, if we do not timely exercise it, we will definitely lose it. The three Bayto representatives, delegated from each member, North American city, are tasked with facilitating the sharing of ideas and messages between the Bayto office and the member cities. But they are not, by any means, meant to circumvent and impose their unilateral ideas and opinions upon the member cities, who are commissioned to have the ultimate say in all final decision-making.
After the Washington DC Symposium of May 23-26, 2019, it was announced that 35 cities had joined the NA Bayto. Six months later, we have added only 2 more members, and the total has now risen to 37. This is a strong message that both the North American Bayto mobilization team and the Eritrean communities themselves have more homework to do. They need to further realize that the hallmark of the job responsibilities of the Yeakle Movement is to optimally mobilize and organize the Eritrean Masses.
It is also necessary that the loudly expressed goals and objectives of the Eritrean people have to be ingrained in the NA Bayto By-Laws and websites for public record. The goals, objectives and mission of the NA Bayto must be in line with the wants and demands of the majority of the Eritrean people. The Yeakle Movement is the voice of the voiceless, and its main mission is to ensure that public representation is grounded in significant public participation and support. Some handful of narrow-minded Eritreans, who do not have significant Grass Roots support on the ground, are globe-trotting about, seeking to win other countries’ support and endorsements for them to replace Essayas Afeworki. That is totally unacceptable to the Eritrean people, because political change in Eritrea must come from Eritreans and for the benefit of Eritreans. Otherwise, there can be no lasting peace and national stability. We should also take note that most of Yeakle Movement’s activities are now being infiltrated by HIGDEF’S agents, at all levels. Those sellout agents’ purposes, as always, are to deceive and mislead the unwary, to disrupt and sabotage the smooth organizing process, and especially, to blackmail, smear and marginalize the iconic figures of the Yeakle Movement. Without being distracted by such wicked and unpatriotic actions of the lackeys, we need to focus on our own noble community agenda items to make sure that the Yeakle organizing process is going smoothly, as expected, by showing our continued presence in any and every Eritrean public discourse. As an Arabic proverb states, “trust everybody, but make sure that your camels are tied up.” We should, therefore, make sure that the NA Bayto does not conduct its business without the member communities’ continued, and proper checks and balances, and does not exceed its legal power limits !!
In conclusion, the chronic, lingering national problems of the Eritrean people have been our lack of unity and our added failure to get involved, in any problems of national concern. But now, by saying “Enough is Enough,” and getting fired up, we have managed to see some visible improvements, and have finally realized that we are the only answers to our national problems, of any nature.
Thank you very much.
Berhe Desta / Seattle, Washington.