Monthly Archives: October 2017

Voice of Eritrean Liberal Democrats: Why Liberal Democracy is the best option for Eritrea and Eritreans?(Part II)

In part one, I tried to explain the long march to search an ideology that has a potential to answer my quest of Eritrean mindset and why an ideology is a necessary tool to comeout with a vision that can be defined ideologically. In the discourse, I created a triangular shape (as shown in figure below) of drawing human activities based on a political philosophy and an ideology produced. And in all these phases, human being is the main actor in framing its own ideology and the master head of all activities based on the projects available.

Pyramid

In this second part, I will discuss what Liberal Democracy is and what values are encompassed within its basic principles. By doing so, I will try to create the link between Eritrean needs and the values that can be obtained from adopting Liberal Democracy.

Liberal Democracy: Definition

Liberal democracy is a democratic system of government in which individual rights and freedoms are officially recognized and protected, and the exercise of political power is limited by the rule of law. (Source: Oxford Living Dictionaries).

From this definition, those who embrace liberal democracy vow to protect individual rights. By protecting these individuals, it gives freedom of the over all society through mutual respect. This is crucial political stand that is highly demanded in countries where individual freedom is absent and mutual respect does not exist or is in danger.

In addition, liberal democracy encourages political, social and economic competition between political parties and pressure groups(such as civic societies and NGOs).

Basic Beliefs of Liberal Democracy

 1. Universal Suffrage

Liberal democracy  believes that the government to be formed gets its legitimacy from the people through regular elections (Universal Suffrage). All citizens who are legitimate to elect, attend regular voting in a fair, free and competitive elections to elect their good candidate in a secret ballot  regardless of race, gender or property ownership. And the candidate who gets the highest vote takes responsibility to govern the government. The elected government is accountable to the people for what it does, with Parliament holding it accountable.

2. Separation of Power

To define the system in practice, liberal democracy draws upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. Liberal democracy stresses on the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and a system of checks and balances between branches of government.

The constitution defines the democratic character of the state. The purpose of a constitution is often seen as a limit on the authority of the government.

3. Human Rights, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and Political Freedom

Liberal Democrats believe that equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people must be gauranteed under the constitution and the law to be written must protect these rights.

4. Freedom of Press and Free Speech

Freedom of press and free speech is guaranteed. A central aim of liberal democracy as a system is that it tries to create more trasparent governance system and freedom of expression of thoughts that encourages citizens to engage at all levels. Freedom of press is also a vital component in the chech-and-balance mechanism of the goverment actions by bringing important issues to the public attention. It can also be used as a tool to fight against corruption by allowing different actors to play an active role in exposing the government system.

5. Freedom of Movement

Liberal democrats believes that citizens have full freedom to movement within and outside the country. There is no question that how absence of freedom of movement limits people’s freedom to live freely and work for their economic well being. 

Absence of freedom of movement is the worst form of violating human rights. Therefore, liberal democrats have genuine political interest to gaurantee citizens their absolute feeedom for movement. By doing so, individuals have an advantage of looking opportunities that might not be available in their local areas. 

Today, there are security issues which are putting some scrunity procedures that may affect the kind of freedom of movement advocated by liberal democtats for the last two centures. 

6. Free and Competitive Market

Since the introduction of liberal democracy as a political system, the world has witnessed massive increase in wealth across nations and advancement in living standard. People were allowed to own properties and make profit on sell. Trade between countries became simplified and predictable. And industrialization expoded massively to produce commodities for profite making. Investors got new freedom to look business opportunities via opportunity costs and resource driven expansions.

In this regard, there is no doubt for a necessity to embrace liberal democracy as it is the sole political ideology that gaurantees market freedom. Though, there is critics towards it as the main cause of economic stratification among citizens, it is strong system that can provide opportunities for hard working people.

7. Transparency

Without transparency, there is no accountability. Therefore, it is crucial to build a system that allows transparency. Citizens and press have a right to get information about their country. And information sharing is vital in the life of every citizen.

According to principles of liberal democracy, the degree of transparency defines the level of government quality. The more the transparency is, the more accountable it becomes.

8. Sovereignity 

Liberal democrats believe that each state has a sovereign power to govern its internal affairs without outside intereference where the sovereignity is safeguarded and protected under international laws. Having such self governing power, it gives a relative gaurantee from alien forces by providing formal and legitimate recognition.

As liberal democrats believe on international treaties and mutual respect between sovereign states, sovereignity has insignificant incidences to be endangered by outside forces unless internal political dynamism leads to state failures leading to division. In case of disputes, the international community has a legitimate mandate to safeguard the sovereignity based on state demand and bring a peaceful resolution.

Having this kind of sovereign power, it gives the government to focus on improving the livehood of citizens without significant external threats and pressure unless.

Here, it is important to mention sovereignity does not mean isolation. The country has national and international obligations to fulfill the rights of its citizens.

9. Rule of Law

Liberal democrats strongly believe that law should govern a sovereign nation.  By doing so, they refer to the influence and authority of law within society. Individual decisions has no room in governance unles it follows proper law abiding processes.

Freedom in soceity is only subjected to laws made by a legistlative body that apply to every individual citizen on equal basis without restricting upon liberty.

Liberal democratic countries may differ on the way they apply rule of law. However, as principle, international treaties and agreemets have a central focus to incorporate with their domestic laws. And Constitution becomes the supreme legal reference in writing domestic laws and limiting government power. For example, France puts International Regulations as top reference in applying Rule of Law. As shown in Figure below, national Constitution becomes second to International conventions and laws are outsourced from this domestic constitution.

Hierarchy of norms

Liberal Democratic Countries

Today, most advanced countries are liberal democrats. According to the Freedom house countries that fall in this category are:

Europe: the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland,

Asia: Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Israel

North America: the United States, Canada, Mexico,

South America: Uruguay, Costa Rica,

Africa: South Africa,

Australia and New Zealand.

It is not a surprise to have only one country as a liberal democrat in the continent of Africa. It is the prime prove to know how much liberal democracy is in creating an advanced country. Africans had

Liberal Democracy and Eritrea

It is quite known that today Eritrea is under absolute dictatorship. The notion democracy is an alien word. In recent reports of United Nations Human Rights Council, Eritrean regime is committing widespread and systematic violations that amounted to serious crimes againist humanity. It is therefore an obsolute to talk about liberal democracy.

At the same time, there are significant forces that are fighting against the dictatrial regime to remove it from power and replace it by a democratic government. Nevertheless, there is no concrete political ideology to fight with to restore human freedom and create a government that respects Rule of Law.

Many actors in the opposition camp are conservative leaning to nationalist ideology with some reminants of socialist forces. Today, due to lack of well defined ideology, the opposition camp is found in political chaos. Some extremists are also hatching based on identity and regional politics.

So far, there was no political force that openly claims itself as a Liberal Democrat. Therefore, it is a historical record to claim myself as a Liberal democrat.

Being a liberal democrat is freedom by itself. This self attained freedom will give power to inject liberal democratic values in the conservative society and thereby to change the dictatorial government we have into a liberal one.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

PFDJ is a Male Chauvinist political organization: The case of Eritrean Women

A news report of November 20, 2017 published in the only existing Eritrean news has brought into my attention what I was thinking about the PFDJ nature of male chauvinism. The report, as given below, reports that a conference was held in Massawa to discuss about women in general and women students in particular about mesntrual cycle related topics such how to deal with psychological stresses and hygiene related issues during menstrual.

The conference was held based on a research findings about Problems and Challenges women during menstrual cycle. The research was conducted in 10 schools scattered around the country,

The conference was held in corporation with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and other stakeholders[though not mentioned, they are PFDJ members, Administrators, and Ministry of defence].

women in Eritrea

What strucked my attention is about the participants. It was not a surprise but a revelation about the nature of PFDJ control power. Though the objective of the conference was about women issues, those who participated in the conference are dominated by men. Only 13 women were present among 30 men. It is almost 3 men to 1 woman ratio.

This is not abnormal under PFDJ rule. No one has a power to talk about his cause. PFDJ appointed officers talk on behalf of everybody. What makes it disturbing is PFDJ has so many promotions on securing women rights.

Eritrea is accused of committing rape and sexual harrassement to its women citizens which may be amounted to crimes against humanity. Yemane Gebremeskel, Director of Presidential Office and Minister of Information, once said, “rape, like many parts of the world, happens here and there.”

Women are not free to fight for their rights. The only women association that exists in Eritrea is under full control of PFDJ political office. Even in high UN meetings, Eritrean women are accompanied by men who talk on their behalf. For example, in this photo, Ambassador Ghirma Asmeron and UNDP representative in Eritrean were talking on behalf of Eritrean women delegates.

eritrean women in UN

Eritrean women were the main actors during the armed struggle for liberation making more than 30% of the over all fighters. They were supposed to secure a right place by having equal power as men. Unfortunately, 26 years after independence, they are even unable to talk about their most striking natural issues.

On behalf, they are dominated by male chauvinists. Men decide what is right for them and what should do in their life, including their biological nature.

Voice of Liberal Democrats: Why Liberal Democracy is the best option for Eritrea and Eritreans? (Part I)

It is not a surprise if I can claim that I am the first Eritrean who is openly advocating for Liberal Democracy political philosophy to reign over Eritrea and Eritrean mindset by replacing the most barbaric, totalitarian and inhumane political ideology of PFDJ.

I am also a self-proclaimed Liberal Democrat who is working to inject Liberal democratic values in the Eritrean political landscape and gradually to be the strong foundational guiding principles of Eritrean democratic state.

I came long way to claim Liberal Democracy to be my political guidelines after years of struggle with my mind to liberate from PFDJ imposed mindset. It is no wonder that I started my public political activism by writing a series of three articles that focus on PFDJ political ideology and PFDJites mindset. These articles were published at awate.com in the year of 2014 and can be found here:

  1. Rule of the Jungle and a Quest of PFDJ Mindset(Part I)
  2. Rule of the Jungle and a Quest of PFDJ Mindset (Part II)
  3. Rule of the Jungle and my Quest to PFDJ Mindset (Part III)

These articles are produced based on my own experiences under the PFDJ Regime. And from 2014 until 2016, I spent my time and energy figting against PFDJ political thinking through a fearless arguments now documented in Disqus.  Most of the arguments were trying to expose how PFDJ systems works. My argument was centered on demolishing PFDJ as a system.

But there was one missing element, the element that I had no idea but a wish. Many people including myself were asking, “how to demolish it and what tools we have to replace it?” Some people were constantly pushing the strategy that we have to weed-out PFDJ and replace with one that can fulfill our long march to freedom.

I was not in hurry to propose a strategy. My argument was,,’to have an effective strategy we need a strong political ideology otherwise it will be reformation of the system without destroying the ideology.” My reasoning was:

  • Activities/events come from projects
  • Projects come from Programs
  • Programs come from Strategies
  • Strategies come from policies.
  • Strategy comes from plans
  • Plans come from policies
  • Policies come from objectives
  • objectives come from goals
  • Goals come from missions
  • Mission comes from Vision
  • VISION comes from an IDEOLOGY
  • IDEOLOGY comes from a philosophy(political).
  • And Philosophy comes from Human Being.

Pyramid

After framing my thinking in this clear way, I went on contemplating what political philosophy should I comes with so that I can have a clear vision about Eritrea. By doing so, after more than three years of reading and contemplating, I finally met face to face with Liberal Democracy.

Barak Obama has lots of impact to come out with political thinking. And later on, it during the French 2017 Presidential campaign that I came to know what liberal values are through the hard fought campaign of Emmanuel Macron. Readings about French revolution and its 1789 declaration of Human and Citizen Rights and well as the UN 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights have also profoundly shaped my thoughts to center my political thinking on Human Being. 

Now, I am the first Eritrean Liberal Democrat.

To introduce you why I have embraced Liberal Democracy as my political philosophy and why I believe it is the best option we have to liberate Eritrea and Eritreans from the chains of PFDJ Ideology and nationalistic mindset of most Eritreans, I will try to develop it fully in the ndxt to be published articles.

Voice of the self-Proclaimed Liberal Democrat 

Language Issue: An outdated and old fashioned Political Debate

In this modern day, language is NO MORE an issue. It is an outdated debate. What you need is interpreters(even a computer program is doing this service). Then, anyone can speak in a language that he masters. And listeners can switch the language they want.

We are living in the IT era.

Personally, I have excluded the language issue from my political argument. It is old politics.

As a human right advocator, I believe everybody’s choice of using a language that he/she can master.

And any official publication, state publication, must be produced in all languages at the time of release.

For this, what we need is establishing strong institutions who specialize in languages.

Even if there is a langage that is spoken by a single person or small number of people, they have a right to be educated and read official publications using their own language. And this is one of human rights aspect.

I can not excuses on experts. The state has an obligation to respect and protect the rights of every citizen citizen.

Radio Jahray: Fearless Voice of the Voiceless Eritreans

When there is freedom, the is a voice. When there is no freedom, there is a voice but is silent. That is why we are voice of the voiceless people.

It is this simple mission, being voice of the voiceless people that is keeping us fighting against those who oppress our freedom.

Eritrean people are denied their freedom by one of the most notorious brutal regime of 21thC, called PFDJ. everyone is forced to be silent and left to live in giant state prison. Nothing is coming out from and going in to this country.

And those who managed to escape this police state, the first thing is to search protection. Once protected, different paths are followed. Some simply keep quite while others speak out. And very brave and courageous people speak out for those who are still living in the condition they left.

One of these brave and courageous people is Abdu Mohammed. Abdu is one of the founders of the only radio program that broadcasts in Bilen language inside Eritrea. he worked for this radio for 15 years before he finally left the country for good. After he asked for an asylum in Switzerland, he did not keep his voice to be silent. He started to contribute to an online Blina radio program stationed in USA. 

I have no detailed information what motivates him to leave that radio and start a new radio broadcast of his own. But I suspect that he wanted to be more free to voice his own voice freely. He has all the talents and gifts to produce noble articles.

Abdu is the co-founder among 10 founders and the main contributor to radio Jahray. This radio is revolutionalizing communication approach. Mr. Abdu has succeeded to attract like minded people who are highly educated  and critical to dissiminate fearless messages on behalf of the voiceless Eritreans.

Though Radio Jahray uses Bilen language, its message is universal and is voicing on behalf of Eritreans. Every Eritrean who listens Bilen language will find this program unique in its approach and content. Its contents are diverse and upto date.

I am a contributor to this program. And my focus is on human rights. I write articles based my own experiences and enrich them with world literature to fit Eritrean situation.

You can check my contribution starting from 20:00

I encourage every Eritrean to listen this program.

To be the voice of the voiceless is not an easy task. But there is always someone who voices the voice of the voiceless people.

At individual level, many are doing it. When a group of people or society come together to voice their voiceless voice, it becomes so strong.

This is what Radio Jahray is doing.

I will write more detailed analysis about Radio programs that are broadcasting in Bilen language. This article is a short essay directed for public awareness. I hope I will come with more insight information from the two radio programs that are currently targeting Bilen speakers.

Radio Jahray is A Swiss based online radio program that is broadcasting its program using Bilen language. It has about 6000 listeners. 

Standing Against School Punishment: The beginning of my Struggle for “Human Rights”

Fresh Memories from my Elementary School

During my elementary school, I attended a Catholic School in my home town. It was the best school that has shaped my life unil today. The school had excellent teaching methods and discipline was always strict.

What I experienced in this school has in many ways shaped my life.From this school, I have learned compassion, kindness, love, charity, fear of God, forgiveness, competition, self-discipline, toughness, believing on what you stand for, perfection, struggle for your own rights, wisdom and righteousness. To summarised it, it was all about giving what you have.

I remember going to the school with empty stomach because we had nothing to eat at home. At school, we had biscuits and sometimes breakfasts. Because my family can not afford it, I barely paid my school fees. I had to register on loan bases which I was always exempted every new academic year.

This is my general good memories, there was also moments that I stood for my rights and the school did not forced me to obey.

The event

I still remember vividly what happened to me in my 3rd year grade elementary school. A Catholic priest whipped me 12 times in my bare white hand(6 each) simply because I didn’t attend the church evening program. It was so paining but I didn’t cry. Normally, I don’t cry when I am hurted phsyically. What makes me to cry is when my heart is hurted so deeply or when I see human suffering.

What happened to me in my early school years had forced me to question the priest’s authority. I asked, “why I am supposed to go to the church if this priest is going to punish me like this just for not attending?” And then, I quited going to the church for the next three years stay at the Catholic School. I never attended any church program and no one asked then again.

I think they understood what they did to me.My family are from Orthodox. I used this as a cover for not attending Catholic church programs. And thanks God, they didn’t insist me to attend. It is only after my university study that I thought it is good if I go back to the church. And at my wedding day, I reconciled to become a member of the catholic church. Sorry I didn’t confess about this. I think the priest who did this to me has to confess not me.

I could say, this single event forced me to stay away from the church for such a long time, though I was attending occasionally whenever I need to attend.

Since after, I didn’t like any teacher who punsihed me physically. And in general, I had very rare disciplinary mistakes at school.

The Struggle

I could say, this single event that happened at school was the beginning of my fight against inhumane treatment. At the age of 9, I was able to stand for my rights. The school did not forced me to attend church programs. I think it was out of full respect. And I finished my elementary school peacefully without any church interference.

Conclusion

Standing for your rights is deep within every human being. The only difference is whether you are passive or active about it. The majority are passive until they are fully aware about their mistreatement. For this, we need to raise people’s consciousness so that we can ALL STAND TOGTHER in Unity. Together, we can end human rights violations.