Edited by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Roger Mac Ginty, Beatrix Austin and Christine Seifert
Chapter 11: Eritrea
The article engages in Eritrea’s political and social transformation from liberation movement to authoritarian regime. The development of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and Eritrean People Liberation Front (EPLF) is dissected in its various episodes of regime transformation. The hostile environment, starting from the Italian occupation to the Ethiopian annexation, and the recurring trauma of neglect and disengagement by the wider international community are playing a major role in the self-isolation of the country. This chapter illustrates the golden age of the struggle where the foundation for the change of society is laid. Resilience became the battle cry for decades – the resilience requested by the civilian population during the struggle and later in the increasing paranoid state of constant battle readiness. After the second war with Ethiopia, this resilience turned into a state of bare life for the Eritrean population – now fully depending on the one-man rule of the former EPLF leader and now-president Isaias Afwerki. The ideal of the eternal fighter is enshrined in the matrix of Eritrea’s self-image and enacted in the national service, which is currently the reason of the mass exodus of already more than 10 percent of the entire population.
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