I do have a wider experience about PEN Eritrea as I am one of the founders of the Centre. My strong aspiration has been to build an organization which was immune to any form of political substance with the following a solid value:
“We acknowledge and honor the fundamental value, liberty and dignity of all individuals; dedicating ourselves to the creation and maintenance of an environment that respects peace, enlightenment, justice, and democracy with the spirit of transparency and accountability; with honesty and professionalism; with neutrality and independence.”
Nonetheless, the public is frustrated by the trend of the organization as it becomes a Centre of conflicting personal and political interests which paralyze the progress of the organization for more than a year. At this moment the Centre has no a clear working plan, run by illusions and delusions, ignoring to register new members, holding a periodic election and conducting a transparent and open an annual assessment.
I utilized some basic indicators of democratic approach to compare and contrast PEN Eritrea with the political character and nature of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) which has already been accused for violating human rights in Eritrea. Does PEN Eritrea have a clear motive and integrity to be human rights defending Centre by promoting the values justice, liberty and equality? Do you think that the organization genuinely involve in promoting freedom of expression with respect to practical values and principles of PEN International? Obviously, you can have a broader picture about the nature, composition and character of the organization by skimming the following indicators in order to get a tangible answer for the above stated questions:
On contrary PEN International acknowledges that
“It is of primary importance to be permanently committed to creating conditions that can lead to ending conflicts of all kinds. There is neither freedom without peace, nor peace without freedom; social and political justice is inaccessible without peace and freedom.” (http://www.pen-international.org/bled-manifesto-of-the-writers-for-peace-committee/#sthash.NiQdczm9.dpuf)
Suspending a free and fair election, the corrupted, discriminatory, secretive, intolerant, violent and authoritative leadership of PEN Eritrea strives to change the constitution of the organization without any notification of the General Members and the public at large.
In this context, the whole organizational charter of PEN International is totally violated, but let us only scrutinize a single Article-3 as an example:
“Membership of PEN shall be open to writers, editors and translators, qualified by reason of literary merit or body of work, who subscribe to the aims of the Charter, without regard to nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour or religion. Centres may offer associate membership to any individual to honour a considerable personal contribution to promoting the aims of International PEN.”
However, PEN Eritrea does not allow any form of diversity in its composition, and it argues: “We can do the usual informal campaign and keep the person we need to be on board. And one of the criteria we have applied was the issue of like-mindedness and age also, to some extent”
The PEN International has a strong rule regarding the violation of its organizational charter by emphasizing: “Centre shall exclude a member if it finds his or her conduct blatantly inconsistent with the spirit of the PEN Charter.” It adds: “A Centre shall immediately inform the International Secretariat of any member disqualified under Article 3(d)”.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of all concerned Eritreans at large and PEN International in particular to turn the organization into a right path to fulfill its mission, respecting the organizational charter of the parent organization. The justification that I brought here is not a science rocket - unless we change ourselves we cannot change others. If we are still slaves of injustice, how can we liberate others whose hands are in chains? In fact I feel sad when I see PEN Eritrea fails to be a professional, independent, reflective and exemplary institution in its character. The leadership is more capable in developing a theory of conspiracy than a genuine agent of defending of human rights, playing a game of political insanity. Now, it’s the real time to emancipate the Centre from a political pollution and narrow mindedness of its bad drivers, because the approach of PEN Eritrea and PFDJ is the same coin of different face as the indicators imply.
Founder of PEN Eritrea.
March 28th, 2016