The Summer PFDJ Died – A Dossier
By Habte Hagos
The summer of 2022 saw an unprecedented challenge to the grip that the Eritrean ruling party, the inaptly named “People’s Front for Democracy and Justice” [or PFDJ] exercises over the Eritrean population dispersed around the world. Perhaps as many as a quarter of all Eritreans currently live in exile, having fled the intense repression that has blighted the nation that won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. No-one can be sure of the numbers. There has been no modern census of its estimated 3 to 4 million population, which is ruthlessly ruled by President Isaias Afwerki.
Eritrea is effectively “owned and controlled” by the self-declared president and his tiny clique, who have never held an election of any kind. The president openly declared there will be no election in the country for “generations”. He and his associates run the country in much the same way as mafia gangs operate. It is a one-party state with no functioning constitution, freedom of expression or independent media. There is no independent judiciary and tens of thousands of people locked in prisons (some in shipping containers) for decades, without due process of law.
This is what PFDJ stands for; it an organisation without principles or ideology, purely focused on the survival of the president and his inner circles through the grotesque oppression of its own people. The regime is the worst kind of dictatorship. Recently the former US Head of Mission in Asmara righty described Eritrea as a “human rights house of horrors”.
One of the key means the President and his associates exercise their hold over the diaspora is through PFDJ run summer “festivals” at which the government uses songs and speeches to propagate its message. They say only the current regime can ensure the country’s safety and independence and that alternative views are treason. The festivals, which began in Bologna 1974, are also an important source of finances for the regime. It funds its repressive hold over the country as well as external aggression. Since November 2020 it has helped pay for Eritrea’s war against its neighbour: the Ethiopian region of Tigray.
But in recent years the hold of the PFDJ has begun to be challenged among the diaspora. The Eritrean people have at last risen up against the brutality and lies of the regime in Asmara and its extended, thuggish arm abroad. This dossier brings together evidence of the resistance worldwide to the PFDJ “festivals” and to President Isaias’s ruthless rule.
It might be a little premature to
write a PFDJ obituary just yet but
after this summer’s “festivals”
fiasco it certainly is on a
life-support, gasping for breath.