While making dinner and having my children run around the house, I thought about how to increase the understanding towards the Bologna Summit. So I sat spontaneously down to type a few words into my computer, which ended up to be the outline below thirty minute later. I hope it is worth your consideration.
You see, we always ask ourselves how to make the opposition more impactful and here is a chance for each one of us to play our part this summer.
Three Bologna Summits are planned for 2015 to increase accessibility, participation, and ultimately output: In London (July), Oakland (August), and in the end in Bologna Italy during October. Here are 10 quick reasons why attending and supporting the Bologna Summit 2015 may be worthwhile.
1. Creative anti-PFDJ action and demos are important to mobilise the wider mass and create momentum – but they cannot take the biggest worry of us: How will a weak and fragmented Eritrean opposition ever be an alternative to the dictator and his regime, now or post-PFDJ? The Bologna Summit aims directly at strengthening the opposition’s effectiveness and work towards increased unity among like-minded groups. It’s one avenue among others you can join.
2. Democracy is not just established on paper or through a system, it first needs to be installed in the mindset of Eritreans, both abroad and inside Eritrea. The Bologna Summit strongly rallies around tolerance, mutual cooperation, and democratic values.
3. One of the opposition’s greatest failure thus far, in my view, has been the inability to link up with the people of Eritrea and pro-democratic entities inside the country. The Bologna Summit actively incorporates the strategy to link up with change agents inside Eritrea. They are our most valuable hope and the greatest fear of the dictator. They deserve our attention and combined effort.
4. World statistics regarding regime change have shown that the large part of regime change that took place through armed struggle resulted in another authoritarian regime. Eritrea’s struggle for independence is a relict to that (Eritrea, Libya, Syria etc). Unfortunately, non-violent struggle and non-cooperation is widely misunderstood among Eritreans and sometimes even ridiculed, yet it is the most powerful strategy towards democratic regime change with the least casualties (Tunisia, Serbia, Burkina Faso etc), and believe it or not, the one dictators fear most.
5. The Bologna Summit is independent. If something has been missing in Eritrea’s opposition policies it is a strong, independently managed and lead Eritrean opposition entity. The Bologna Forum is a young effort, but recognising the fact that it runs independent and can survive self-sufficiently (including financially) is important and in that respect Bologna has achieved rather great momentum and has kept the peace among endorsing organisations.
6. The Bologna Summit is growing organically. We ache for unity, however all hasty attempts in the past to ‘unite’ under one name, one umbrella, or one event have often not resulted in effective cooperation. The Bologna Forum deserves a chance, it is growing organically, and you can become part of that grassroots growth story.
7. The demo in Geneva was a historical moment for all justice seekers and one of great hope and pride. Having said that you cannot build a political platform or alternative to Higdef through mass events without a leading body and clear political agenda. That gap needs to be filled, in many ways. Bologna is just one avenue, and you can choose to strengthen that further, among other.
8. Bologna has attracted a high participation of youth and women at all levels. In fact, women participation during the last two summits where around 40%. Among the highest in any opposition-lead effort (accept for women groups) – The Bologna Forum believes in the active role youth and women have to play on Eritrea’s path towards democracy. And I think what is also worth mentioning is that the Bologna Summit managed to adopt an image and dynamic that fits into the 21st century.
9. The Bologna Summit focuses on the mantra ‘Eritrean solutions for Eritrean problems’ as an effective strategy towards a Eritrean people-lead democracy. This strategy has thus far been largely misunderstood and has been nearly invisible in Eritrean opposition politics. When it was made public, HIGDEF noticed: I don’ t think it was a coincidence that they cancelled all festivals to summon in Bologna in 2014 after 23 years. This mantra hits PFDJ propaganda right into the foot and weakens its political stand point.
10. And lastly, the Bologna Forum is a gathering by Eritreans who want to see justice, freedom, and prosperity, and peace in Eritrea. It is an open platform to learn, debate, work, connect, and make new friends – it is an effort by Eritreans for all Eritreans and friends of Eritrea, and we hope at least that this is worth your support and participation.
We hope to see you at the Bologna Summit in London, Oakland, or Italy – you are warmly welcome.