”The emergence of the EPLF as a political power promoted the geo-political interest of the Eritrean people”: Mr. Alamin Mohammed Seid
Mr. Alamin Mohammed-Sied, Secretary of PFDJ, conducted an interview with the local media outlets on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the demise of Nadew Command and the liberation of Afabet town. Excerpts of the 4th and final part of the interview follows.
As a freedom fighter and a senior official of the PFDJ, what messages do you want to share with the public?
I would love to reiterate what I stated earlier. If everything we do is to be fruitful and effective in Eritrea, there is no option other than strengthening the front. All the citizens in this country, young and adults, have spent their precious time in the struggle and sacrificed all their resources for that matter. And still we should relentlessly continue what we have been doing. We need to work hard as ever before and we should be all committed. This is the belief of the EPLF. When I say the EPLF, I am not referring to individuals. I am talking about principles, about politics, about unity and about perspectives.
While the EPLF was encircled in the Sahel hills, the struggle was against all odds. At that time, the freedom fighters had to pay all the sacrifices on their own with no option to reinforce what they were doing. To the contrary, the divisions of the Derge regime were being hatched almost daily. The regime had no problem at all to replace those who were either killed or disabled in the battles. Were there some doubts and a tendency to give up harbored in the minds of fighters during those trying times? How do you see such a situation?
The EPLF becomes far stronger in trying times, unlike in stable situations. Trying times to the EPLF are the same as fire is to gold. As fire enables gold to glitter more, challenges further strengthen the EPLF. The EPLF was tested beyond measure, but it eventually tackled all the challenges that faced it. There were a number of groups and individuals who wished its demise, but the EPLF was able to effectively strongly resist all the odds and was able to ultimately get where it is now. Challenges make one much stronger.
At that time there was no option at all. The only resource was the fighter. When a fighter was wounded in a battle, it was a norm for him or her to go back to the trench with unhealed injury. The fighters used to refuse being hospitalized, even if they were medically required to do so. They wanted to go back to their comrades in the trenches so as to assists them in any form (e.g. relaying water) – even if their situation made it impossible for them to actually fight in the battles. It is this spirit that enabled the EPLF to succeed. Our enemy lacked this quality as it was overly dependent on external support. Actually, the Derge regime was overly supported by the super powers and many others. But all this was futile. To the contrary, the EPLF was not all externally supported. Let alone other supplies, we had no enough to eat; we endured and resisted hunger for years. The fighters resisted and endured everything. This is what we call a real freedom fighter. And this was the reason behind destroying the Nadew Command.
Diplomatically, how was the image of the EPLF in the eyes of the international community and the impact of its diplomatic efforts? Did the Eritrean revolution have any allies at that time? If any, who deserve to be remembered now? It is often said that the foreign offices of the EPLF were repeatedly closed, would you shed more light on it?
Virtually every foreign force was against the front. In this case, the support or lack of it can be described in two different ways – lack of official support on the part of governments and individual level support. In the first case, we can take the Sudan as an example. All successive regimes – Abud through Numeri- of the Sudan, had never sided with the Eritrean revolution. The interest of all these regimes was aligned with Ethiopia. By their calculation, Eritrea is a small nation with only three million populations whereas Ethiopia, with 80 million populations, was a great nation. And they were calculating our relative capacity based on such factors. Therefore regimes with such kind of political infantilism fall under this category. So, despite the legitimate and just cause of Eritrea, they chose to side with Ethiopia.
In the 1950s, the regime of Huzbel Uma, which preceded the regime of Abud, had close friendship with Haileselasie. As a result the regime had no political will to duly consider the Eritrean question. To the contrary, the regime was torturing the Eritrean-Sudanese citizens for their sympathy with the Eritrean cause. These people had endured all such hardships! We Eritreans patiently and relentlessly endured such bitter experiences in our struggle to be an independent nation. We were tested by all forms of regionalism, tribalism and division along religious lines. But Eritrea stood against all odds.
To come back to your question, as I mentioned, there were two contrasting realities. While the leadership of the regimes had never sympathized with Eritrean revolution, we had grassroots support of their citizenry. The citizens of Sudan, Yemen and even Djibouti were on our side. In 1977-1978 Djibouti’s regime closed our office there and jailed our representative, Hamd Ali Dafla. We inquired why such violence happened. There was no any justification. It was simply the direct influence of the Mengistu regime. But the people of Djibouti at that time were beside us. Even in Sudan the condition was the same; we had no any support from the political establishments but the citizens had close ties with the Eritrean revolution. Their citizens were reading our materials and were participating in our meetings. And the case in Yemen was also not different. Therefore we can say we had close grassroots support and solidarity with the people of the nations in our region. But there was no regime level support to the Eritrean revolution.
We thank you Mr. Alamin Mohammed-Seid