YPFDJ: A potent transnational organization
By Simon Weldemichael
The 15th YPFDJ–Europe Conference conducted its regular annual conference from 19 to 22 April 2019, in London under the theme “Nation Building in the Era of Peace and Development”.
The Conference was officially opened by Mr. Yemane Gebreab, Head of PFDJ Political Affairs and was attended by Eritrean ambassadors, diplomats and around 700 youth representatives from Europe and America.
Youth- Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice (YPFDJ) is a transnational organization of Eritrean youth in diaspora that was established in 2005 by a very hard working community of young Eritreans living abroad who are determined to contribute toward the development and defence of Eritrea. The aims and objectives of YPFDJ include dealing with the challenges that are faced abroad and maximizing the contribution for the defence and development of Eritrea. Since its establishment, the organization has been successfully organizing thousands of Eritreans who have proved to be the guardians of Eritrea’s national interest.
PFDJ as a political organization with clear and appealing ideological and political capacity has proved to be an organized political force for the Eritrean people. It has been a broad national front and made popular participation a reality. It led a successful revolution that ended Ethiopian colonial rule in 1991. After independence it has organized and led Eritreans living inside and out side of the country to foil the TPLF war of aggression, political and economic maneuvering and finally the unjust and illegal sanction imposed over Eritrea. As a political organization, it has been enjoying a widespread public base and support. It is committed to protecting the national interest, national sovereignty and ensuring social justice in Eritrea. By its strong organizational and adaptive capacity, the Front becomes the center of political gravity of Eritreans who are interested in the unity, peace and prosperity of the country.
YPFDJ is an organization of an active and capable youth who have close and emotional contact with Eritrea. It was developed to cultivate a new generation that is capable of carrying the responsibility of nation building. The members of YPFDJ are committed to inheriting the principles and values of the revolution (Peoples Front) and to work for the protection and development of the nation. The members have confidence in the Eritrean identity and in their own human capacity. YPFDJ has constructed a bridge of nationalism that connects the Eritrean youth in diaspora with Eritrea and played a great role in building mature, open and broad minded citizens.
The youth are competent, unaffected by the evils of migration and determined to inherit the revolutionary legacy of the Peoples Front. YPFDJ are determined to make the history of their own and in various challenging occasions they demonstrated their willingness to fight courageously to protect the national interest of Eritrea. Hitherto, YPFDJ has made substantial achievements in different areas of activity including fighting the negative propaganda campaigns, presenting Eritrea’s questions to the international community, serving the Eritrean society, donating toward the martyrs fund, lobbying and staging demonstrations against the illegal occupation of Eritrean land by TPLF.
The YPFDJ has struggled a lot in foiling the politically motivated accusation of human rights and the unjust sanction imposed on Eritrea. Besides that they have made enormous contributions to the ongoing development projects in Eritrea. They presented themselves as the real ambassadors determined to advance Eritrea’s national interest in foreign land. They expressed the reality of Eritrea and their support for the government and people of Eritrea.
In many parts of the developing world, Diasporas are seen as part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. Demmers describes the long distance interaction of the diaspora groups in the homeland problems. He said that they are engaged in a sort of virtual conflict: they live their conflicts through the internet, email, television, and telephone without direct (physical) suffering, risks or accountability (Bahar Baser and Ashok Swain 2009, p49).
Against this general reality, the intention and action of the majority of the Eritrean diaspora has been directed toward peace, unity and prosperity of Eritrea. The remarkable spirit of cooperation, solidarity and integrity of Eritrean transnational community played a great role in the struggle for independence and in the post independence Weyane invasion. The Eritrean community in diaspora has a long and glorious history of participation in national struggle against foreign invasion and injustice. Eritreans who live abroad share the experience of the Eritrean people living inside the country. They keep their emotional attachments and, through regular visits, ensure their physical presence in the homeland. They gave their time, money and intellect to the development of the nation. Many among them joined in the struggle for independence. It is the record of history that Eritreans abroad have always sympathized and identified with the just struggle of their people. This tradition continued well after independence and many Eritrean youth who were born and raised abroad have come to Eritrea to do their national service.
YPFDJ was set up 14 years ago, with a small number, with the aim of building a strong and patriotic youth movement. It has now become the strongest, largest and potent transnational organization that connected Eritrean youth in the diaspora with the homeland. It has evolved into one of the most powerful Eritrean nationalist organizations in the world and a platform of political participation. In terms of its organizational capacity and effectiveness, YPFDJ is one of the victorious post-independence organizations created by Eritreans in Diaspora. It has become a center of attraction and a fountain of pride for Eritreans outside the country.
During the opening ceremony of the 15th YPFDJ conference, Mr. Estifanos Habtemariam, Eritrean Ambassador to the UK and Northern Ireland, called on the participants to work towards strengthening organizational capacity and contribution in the national development drives. YPFDJ’s leadership capacity, adaptive capacity, managerial capacity and operational capacity have to be innovative and responsive to cope with the newly created conditions. In order to meet its goals and achieve its mission YPFDJ has to tune its organizational performance and its operational apparatus with the demands of the era of peace. Above all, the organization has to keep its relevance as before. As a transnational organization it has to invent mechanisms aimed at integration and ministration of the new migrants as well. In defence of the Eritrean cause, YPFDJ has gained sufficient experience and geared its organizational effort in exposing the lies spread by the enemies of Eritrea. During the critical times of TPLF’s military adventure, isolation, accusation and sanction, the role of YPFDJ was significant. Besides the regular moral and monetary support, the role played by YPFDJ at publicizing the truism of Eritrea and mobilizing international support was miraculous.
Meawhile, Mr. Yemane Gebreab, head of PFDJ’s political affairs, has addressed a number of issues on the current situation of Eritrea in the context of the hard found peace. In his key note address to the participants of the conference, he said that the conspiracies to reverse the independence and sovereignty of Eritrea have been foiled for the second time, underlined that the era of peace demands the channeling of all resources for the development of Eritrea.
The 15th conference of YPFDJ was held at an important historical juncture of the culmination of the chapter of war and confrontation and the opening of a new page of peace and cooperation. After twenty years of strained phase Eritrea is now entering a relaxed phase of peace and development. The theme of the conference, “Nation Building in the Era of Peace and Development,” has a telling story. After twenty years of resistance, we have come out victorious. This new phase of peace and cooperation presents us with immense opportunities and challenges. Consolidating the hard-found peace and building vibrant and functioning institutions would, however, require an even greater patience. It has been said that the building of peace and development is more difficult and more complicated than winning war.
In order to maximize the benefits of peace, we have to quickly and systematically adjust our organizational capacity and political and economic system, including our mindset. Eritreans living inside and out side of the country have to enhance their cooperation. Eritrea’s stable political system, its embryonic but functioning economic system and societal harmony have entirely depended on cooperation. The Peoples Front has to be empowered again to reach the heights of excellence and meet its goals and achieve its overall mission. PFDJ has to strengthen, revitalize and surpass the organizational level reached in the past and protect the country’s national sovereignty with national prosperity. More than ever, all the country’s organizations operating inside and out side of Eritrea have to enhance their capacity and manage their affairs successfully. YPFDJ, as a potent transnational organization, is expected to strengthen its capacity and increase its contribution toward the ongoing efforts for national development.