The Camel Marches On: Legitimizing Frames of Injustice by the Dutch Young People's Front for Democracy and Justice
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis aims to research how Dutch Eritreans organized in the Young People’s Front for Democracy and Justice discursively legitimize the repressive practices of the Eritrean regime in the Netherlands. This group, the YPFDJ, is the international youth wing of the ruling party in Eritrea and has been accused by Dutch journalists and politicians of functioning as the “long arm” of the Eritrean regime. The regime imposes a diaspora tax on Eritreans abroad and seeks to deter dissent and criticism through threats and intimidation. The YPFDJ performs a crucial role in these practices, both functionally as discursively. The group maintains a significant online and offline presence by spreading narratives about Eritrea and its enemies on social media and organizing conferences and protests. The recurrent elements of these narratives consist of injustice, hostility and criticism. This research explores these online narratives through the lens of collective action framing. Using this analytic framework, this thesis seeks to analyze the discursive processes through which the YPFDJ engages in meaning-work. The specific concepts of “injustice framing” and “legitimization” offer an insight into the characteristics of YPFDJ framing, and what function these frames serve. Combining collective action framing with the theory on transnational authoritarianism makes it possible to see how harmful political structures and practices are discursively supported and continued. The main findings of this research are that the YPFDJ employs a standard repertoire of interpretation based on perceived injustice, which leads to regime supporters “rallying around the flag” with an increased aggressiveness towards movement opponents. This dynamic is salient in the context of diasporic identity since the YPFDJ seeks to conflate Eritrean identity with being loyal to the regime. This, in turn, evokes an unquestioned active consent with the Eritrean regime and practices such as the diaspora-tax. Furthermore, due to the threatening reputation of the YPFDJ among Dutch Eritreans, the credibility of its injustice frames serves to ensure that Dutch Eritreans are passively obedient and do what the regime demands of them. Again, the conflation of identity with loyalty is notable since it also serves to exclude disloyal Dutch Eritreans from the Eritrean community. I argue that a deeper understanding is needed of why youth, especially diasporic youth, support authoritarian regimes, and how this relates to the complexity of identity in a transnational setting.