He said the telephone messages are a new challenge to Issaias’ authority, but cautioned that they may have limited impact in a country of 5 million where “only the old, the young and the slaves” of military service remain.
However, he added that the campaign may prove useful for anyone hoping to challenge the regime from the inside.
An activist who goes by the name of Miriam September was involved in the telephone campaign in its early days. The initiative was inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions, she said, then given new energy after mutinous soldiers briefly seized the information ministry in Asmara in January.
Since then, there has been “an unprecedented energy and momentum” among the diaspora, said September, who lives in Germany.
Donations to the phone call project have increased, Kidane said, and hundreds of Eritreans have protested in several European capitals, showing their faces for the first time, something they dared not do before.
“Enough is enough. I can’t hide while my people are being killed,” Eritrean protester Mussa Beshir said during a recent demonstration in London.
Vincent said the huge challenge now was how long the exiles can keep up their fight, as Issaias shows little sign of going anywhere.