Eritrean People's Liberation Front
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The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) (Tigrinya: ህዝባዊ ግንባር, ህግ?, Arabic: الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير إريتريا) was an armed organization that fought for the independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia. It emerged in 1970 as an intellectual left-wing group that split from the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). After achieving Eritrean independence in 1991, it transformed into the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which serves as Eritrea's only legal political organisation.
The EPLF was an egalitarian movement in which 30% of the fighters were women. Its influence in the extremely patriarchal and conservative Eritrean society was significant.
EPLF and ELF first struggled during the Eritrean Civil War. In the early 1980s, new armed conflicts between the rival EPLF and ELF led to the latter being marginalized and pushed into neighboring Sudan. The EPLF remained the only relevant opposition to Ethiopian occupation in Eritrea.
The EPLF captured many Ethiopian soldiers during the war for independence and kept them in numerous prisoner of war camps, although their captured soldiers were not afforded the same treatment. Due to the humanitarian ethic of the EPLF however, these POWs were not harmed by their captors.
During its protracted struggle the EPLF constructed an underground hospital. In these hospitals surgeries were conducted as well as the production of various medicines. The front also constructed schools in the liberated areas. In 1988, the EPLF started an attack from the northern province of Sahel towards the south. The (nominally) Marxist EPLF emerged as the dominant rebel force and continued the struggle for independence. In 1991 the EPLF succeeded in liberating Eritrea on May 24, 1991.
Adi Yakob - Embaderho front (Northern front), Adi Hawsha - Sela'e Da'ero front (Southern front), Military Retreat (Soviet intervention), Ela Beri'ed, Massawa I (Salina salt fields) 1977, Nakfa, Afabet, Massawa II 1990, Ginda'e front, Dekemihare front
The First Congress of the EPLF occurred in January 1977 and formally set out the policies of this new organization. At this first meeting a Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General were elected and a program adopted. This program specifically targeted a liberalization of women's rights as well as a broad educational policy for maintaining every language and improving literacy. It was also set out that the boundaries of a liberated Eritrean state would be based on the colonial treaties of Italy.
The Second Congress in 1987 brought together the EPLF and the Eritrean Liberation Front/Central Leadership (also sometimes referred to as Central Command, CC) in what was called the Unity Congress. This was the culmination of negotiations over three years which had brought together the two fighting forces in October 1986 under a unified command. On this congress, Isaias Afewerki replaced secretary-general Ramadan Nur. Subsequently, the movement abandoned most of its formerly Marxist-Leninist ideology, in favour of an own revolutionary left-wing concept and a more comprehensive and pragmatic approach to unite all Eritrean nationalists.
The Third and last Congress of the EPLF was held in 1994 in Asmara. It was important as it converted the Front from a military organization to a purely political movement. At this Congress, the name of the organization was changed to the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ).
- Johnson, Michael; Johnson, Trisha (April 1981). "Eritrea: The National Question and the Logic of Protracted Struggle". African Affairs 80 (318).
- Doris, Burgess; Cliffe, Lionel (Spring 1987). "EPLF Second Congress". Review of African Political Economy 14 (38): 107. doi:10.1080/03056248708703724. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- Shinn, David Hamilton; Ofcansky, Thomas P.; Prouty, Chris (2004), "Eritrean People's Liberation Front", Historical dictionary of Ethiopia (Scarecrow Press): 143, retrieved 15 January 2012
- Erlich, Haggai (2005), "Eritrean People's Liberation Front", Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (Harassowitz): 373, retrieved 15 January 2011
- O'Kane, David; Hepner, Tricia (2011), Biopolitics, Militarism, and Development: Eritrea in the Twenty-First Century, Berghahn Books, p. xx, retrieved 16 January 2011
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