Eritrea at 22, Demonstration of United Strength

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JUNE 6, 2013 |

“Eritreans must realize how powerful that you are” – YG.

By Amanuel Biedemariam,

Trying to sum up Eritrea’s 22nd Independence weekend, all the events, activities, festivities, and emotions in one word or a simple statement is quite a task. It is surreal and hard to believe, see or, imagine the collective joy Eritreans experienced during the action-packed weekend of celebrations.

For decades, Eritreans in the Diaspora have established activities that can bring them the feeling of home wherever they are. The Independence Day celebrations accentuate that feeling tenfold because Eritrean Independence resulted from a long struggle and sacrifices. Eritrea expresses the victory and collective experiences of struggle joyfully and colorfully. 

This year, DC, Atlanta, Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles were graced by a high-level Eritrean delegation led by HE Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Yemane Gebreab Head of Political Affairs of PFDJ and Presidential Adviser. The celebrations were then capped by a seminar that attracted huge crowds. And DC did a great job ensuring joyful, safe, and orderly participation.

However, even during the solemn occasion, Eritreans are tried. On Friday, May 24, hooligans dressed in black (expression of mourning) attempted to storm the Embassy of Eritrea in DC. They came with eggs to throw at the Embassy and make noise on a solemn day when Eritreans were celebrating or about to as it were in DC Obviously, these people are not happy about Eritrea’s Independence. Most were Ethiopians.

Some are from Tigray, born in Eritrea, and there are a handful of Eritreans with them who are known regionalists and religious zealots supported by the TPLF. It is ironic and symbolic of the resolve Eritreans demonstrate. It is a reminder of what Eritrea faces daily. It is humbling to see Eritreans together to defend their nation at the Embassy.

Moreover, the hooligans were sent by Bereket Simon to balance out demonstration news whereby Ethiopians were set to demonstrate on the streets of Addis and all over Ethiopia.

These events took place on Eritrean Independence Day in Washington DC, while Independence was celebrated in Eritrea and globally.

Eritreans responded to the spiteful insults and vulgarities by blasting music to drown the noise and dancing. The charade ended as soon as the hooligans threw one egg hitting an older man, police kicked them out.

It is spiteful to condemn the entire nation for celebrating Independence. Eritrea is a country born due to the sacrifices of thousands of dear lives. Hence, disturbing to see these hooligans oppose the average Eritrean celebrating a national event proudly.

That was how we kicked off Independence Day weekend in DC.

These are the realities Eritreans endure and overcome regularly. Once Eritreans started their dances to ward off the Embassy’s enemies, the dancing of victory continued until the end of the celebrations.

The critical point here, countries around the world celebrate Independence Day. For Eritreans, however, Independence Day is a special month-long national event. It is an event celebrated by every Eritrean young and old.

In DC, Eritrean celebrate Independence day over the Memorial Day weekend. The event started on Friday and ended on Monday after the seminar. On Saturday, May 25, thousands of Eritrean families picnicked at Fort Hunt Park in Alexandria, VA.

It is heartwarming to witness a well-organized event where families can come together with friends. Children were playing on the playground, face-painting, soccer, etc. Fort Hunt is an expansive area that accommodates all needs. The picnic is also a representation of the nine Eritrea nationalities. It was a fun-filled picnic full of memories. It was an expression of what it means to be Eritrean.

In some parts, people danced; YPFDJ set up a barbeque grill and served hot dogs and burgers. YPFDJ also set up a traditional coffee tent. The event was warm relaxing, enjoyable, and the love Eritreans show each other is simply out of this world. The same night, Eritreans kicked off the grand Indepcelebrations Day celebrations in downtown DC where hundreds of youth celebrated.

On Sunday, May 26, thousands showed up to celebrate the 22 years of Eritrea’s Independence. It was the main event. Many dignitaries, activists, media personalities, embassy representatives from invited countries attended.  Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Virginia, also attended and addressed the Eritreans and said that

“If we helped him get elected, he will establish Eritrea Virginia trade relations.”

Before the opening ceremonies, the organizers treated the invited dignitaries to a  Taste of Eritrea dinner and a traditional coffee ceremony. The guests were in awe of the colorfully dressed, beautiful Eritrean women that hosted the event for their grace and welcoming nature. They enjoyed the hospitality. A representative from the Russian Embassy and his wife enjoyed the coffee ceremony so much that they took many pictures posing as if they made the coffee.

The dignitaries then joined the Eritrean delegation to open the ceremonies and continued enjoying the celebrations afterward. It was a packed house with hardly any room to move. The atmosphere was full of positive energy, colorful, fun, and full of love. It is a testament to the excellent nature of the people and vivid evidence of how united Eritreans are.

On Monday, May 27, the long-awaited seminar was conducted where thousands showed up to hear Minister Osman and Mr. Yemane’s presentations. The topics covered many issues.

The Seminar and the Q and A session summarized many issues covering US-Eritrea relations, the economy, constitution, human rights, the youth, and many related issues. They raised many more points, including Diaspora politics. To highlight some key points from the presentations and the Q&A session:

The US Accusing Eritrea on human rights issues: The US possesses no moral authority to tell us about the rights of our people. Moreover, it is agenda-driven and not based on the interest of Eritrea.

Eritrea US relations: We have no intentions of hostility towards the US. We would like better relations based on mutual respect and sovereignty.

Development, nationalism: Why is there poverty in Africa? No nationalism.  Africans have failed to establish themselves as nations. Eritrea did not get the chance they got when African countries were handed Independence Eritrea was condemned.  On the contrary, Eritrea’s path was independent. The Eritrea we are building will be advanced, sovereign, and able to chart her destiny consistent with our history. We are in a stage where we are in the tip to ensure self-sufficiency in agriculture. That is when we can focus on exports.

Asmara: It will get its due attention because Asmara is too important to be overlooked since it is central. Hence, we will retain her beauty and develop her.

The youth, Diaspora, and newcomers: We must focus on them and make sure they remain engaged. One of the newcomers who fled from Sawa said, “I fled from Sawa and seen hardships that I only know. But my Eritrawinet is unflinching and will go back to defend my country tomorrow if I have to.”

Constitution: There are three aspects:
A) It focuses on Social Justice based on our principles.
B) On the rights of our citizenry. Anything that stands against it and those that undermine those rights will naturally pay due to price.
C) Governmental institutions that ensure the rights of the people.

When we talk constitution, we must ensure that we are not falling into the trap enemies set and set our course based on our timeline and give examples.

The Rapporteur: It was politically motivating and should have been rejected by the organization. It was illegal and unacceptable from the get-go, and we will not buckle. On June 23, there will be a meeting at the UN, and we will participate.

Human Trafficking: It is not Eritrea or country-specific. But in our case, it is a conspiracy. There are networks in Sudan, Egypt and we know individuals that are responsible. He also noted that one nation bullied nations into taking ownership of the issue and manipulating it.

Youth born in the US and 2 % Rehabilitation Tax:  We have to strengthen our communities. We need to engage them, and it is of utmost importance to focus on the ID of Eritreans. A lady told a story about the lies she heard to discourage her from sending her daughter to Eritrea. They told her all kinds of atrocities and that people were dying, etc.

The anti-Eritrean groups: Minister Osman said this is part of Weyane’s plan to create ethnic zones to divide Eritrea. He said, “Their main goal is to acquire Assab.” They want to divide Eritrea along ethnic lines, exploit them, and eventually apply article 39 of Ethiopia replicated in Eritrea. A desperate last gasp for greater (Abay) Tigray. It is part of a much bigger plan that includes territories in Tigray, Ethiopia. The TPLF believes it is the only way they hoodwink Ethiopia.

Minister Osman also said that it is time to weed out these criminal elements from our lives. He stated these are individuals going to Addis and scheming to hand over Eritrea. These are people going around and trying to create problems all around. And yet, Eritreans are simply accepting them in social gatherings as if nothing happened. He said they must be isolated from our circles.

Mr. Yemane also echoed the same sentiment by saying, we will no longer tolerate them and that we are going “on the offensive” regarding this matter. There is no need to take their insults and criminal activities any longer.

SUMMARY:

We want to make sure that we continue to grow the right way by considering education and necessary human development steps. China took 30 years, and they still have room to grow. We are showing significant progress.  Over the last 15 years, we have weakened the entire machination against us, but it does not mean we have won yet. We have to strengthen our resolve and understand that Mekete is not only against the sanction. It is alive in the economy, society, etc. The enemies aim to exploit our resources by weakening us.

It is worth noting that the statements about the anti-Eritrean element parading as Eritreans received a sustained applaud. It showed that Eritreans were fed up and eager to hear what Minister Osman said, “Isolate them.”

CONCLUSION:

After the seminar, Mr. Yemane remarked that summed up the 22nd anniversary of Eritrea’s Independence celebrations. He said, “Eritreans must realize how powerful that you are.”

It is sometimes hard to translate Tirignya and capture the meaning accurately. Mr. Yemane remarked to remind Eritreans that they possess proven powers and can utilize unexploited strengths.

The 22 Independence celebrations affirmed the unflinching unity, unwavering commitment, and the true love Eritreans have for each other and Eritrea. At a moment when international schemes have reached a feverish pitch when the strategies aimed at breaking the will and unity of Eritreans reached unparalleled high, the faith Eritreans have in each other and the leadership blossomed as demonstrated during a quiet weekend of celebrations that Eritreans enjoyed worldwide.

It is by no means is a deterrence to the enemies because they are dead set to see the disintegration and the destruction of the state of Eritrea. Years of aggression attest to that fact.

To their dismay, they found it impossible to penetrate Eritrea. That is the heart of Mr. Yemane’s comment. There are more unrealized powers Eritreans need to exercise to deal with the upcoming challenges and to place Eritrea where it needs to be. It will take the collective resourcefulness and resoluteness of the people in and out of Eritrea to overcome these challenges. The Independence celebrations and how the Eritrean community in DC hosted and conducted the events are testament to it. And as always, victory is a must!

Zel Alemawi Zikri N-swe-atna

[email protected] 

It will take the collective resourcefulness and resoluteness of the people to overcome the challenges.

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