The vast majority of Eritrea’s younger generation were born and came of age during the armed struggle for independence. No one knows better than this generation that fighting back and perseverance leads to victory. However, repressed under a system that yields unbearable living conditions and virtually no space for organizing and demanding rights, the youths only viable option has become running away from the country in search of a better life.
For many, life in exile is hard enough and getting settled takes time. Yet, in spite of the absence of an organized body to help them coordinate their efforts, young Eritreans did not stop their efforts to vocalize their concerns and the need for change in their home country. In the last few years, the efforts are bearing fruit and now youth-led anti dictatorship associations are flourishing among Eritrea’s Diaspora communities throughout the world.
For the dictatorial regime, it quickly became clear that it can no longer ignore this rapid phenomenon. The voice of liberty echoed from all corners and the seemingly undefeatable façade of the dictatorship has started to crumble. The Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC) was borne out of this very sentiment for change. It is a result of youth-led sister organizations coming together for a common goal.
Eritrean Youth for Change (EYC)
EYC was formed on June 20, 2008 (Eritrea’s Martyr’s Day). The founders wanted to form an organization that would serve the Eritrean community, push back the unwanted meddling by the regime, help newly arrived refugees and call for the implementation of constitutional governance in Eritrea. Over the next four years, EYC diligently worked toward the realization of these goals in Bay Area, California and managed to demonstrate that it is indeed possible to defeat the influence of the PFDJ in the Diaspora. This exemplary work soon became the model for young Eritreans everywhere to organize themselves in a decentralized manner and impact the PFDJ’s political, economical and social arms.
EYC was ready to enter into the next phase when its colleagues from the Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change invited it to merge their operations and continue as one organization. Known for its flexibility and willingness to work with others, EYC happily accepted the invitation and encouraged others to do the same.
Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC)
EYSC was formed in the midst of the Arab Spring that was sweeping countries in North Africa and the Middle East. In February of 2011, a few individuals decided to take advantage of this phenomenon and the power of cyber technology such as Facebook and Twitter to organize Eritreans online. Membership of EYSC’s Facebook group quickly rose to 10,000 and created unprecedented opportunities for all pro-democracy Eritreans to get to know each other and work together.
The group called for Isaias Afworki to immediately step down; the unconditional release of all prisoners of
conscience and the end of the campaign of slavery, disguised as national service. In June 2011, after conducting an extensive discussion and weighing all the options, EYSC Administrators and Organizers decided, by majority vote, to formally launch EYSC “on the ground” in addition to its presence as a Facebook Group. Shortly thereafter, EYSC-Los Angeles and EYSC-Houston were formed.
The merger of EYC and EYSC inspired more groups to be established. EYC-EYSC-Toronto was formed and quickly joined EYC-EYSC. It was soon clear that more chapters around the world would follow. In order to clearly and formally establish this and share its vision with the public, EYC-EYSC organized the very successful and historic “Eritrean Youth Conference” in Washington, DC from May 25th to May 27th, 2012. Shortly thereafter, after electing its leadership and choosing “EYSC” as its offi cial name, the group continues to take steps toward accomplishing the stated goals.