Meeting with women's front (kvinnefronten)
Meeting with women's front (kvinnefronten)
By Emnetu Tesfay
Dear members of the Stavanger KvinneFronten:
First, I would like to express my gratitude for inviting me to address this meeting of the Stavanger women’s association.
The history of the Eritrean people in general and their revolution in particular is, indeed very long. However, I will present a birds-eye-view on the what’s, who’s, and why's of our struggle, and the situation of students and schools in today’s Eritrea.
Eritrea lies between the Red Sea to the east, the Sudan to the north and west, and Ethiopia to the south, and has an area of ca.117,248 sq. km. ( 45,800 sq .miles). The estimated population census is about 3.5 million. Eritrea is a small African country but is strategically located. As a result of this location it has been a victim of imperialist aggression and ravage throughout its history.
Colonizers of Eritrea
The Eritrean people have heroically fought the Ottoman Truks ( 1557 - l865 ) the Egyptian expansionists ( l865 - l876 ) and the Italian ( 1869 -l94l ) and British ( l94l - l952 ) colonialists respectivly. At this very moment, the Eritrean people are vigorously flighting to liberate their homeland from the yoke of Ethiopian colonialism supported by various big powers.
In l952, against the wishes of the Eritrean people, the United Nations passed an American sponsored resolution to federate democratic Eritrea with feudal Ethiopia. Adding insult to injury, the federation was unilaterally and illegally abrogated by the Ethiopian regime of Haile Sellasie in l962. The Ethiopian King, with the encouragement of the U.S. government, dissolved the Eritrean parliament, banned all trade unions, lowered the flag and arrested political leaders.
The United Nations, ignoring its responsibilities, was silent to the cries of the Eritrean people. And when all peaceful channels landed on deaf ears, the Eritrean people decided to liberate their country by means of armed struggle.
During the Ethiopian colonial period, the Eritrean people not only lost their freedom of press, expression, trade unions, parliamentary representation, but also fell victim to barbaric and wanton atrocities.
Today, the Eritrean people united and armed are determined to uproot all forms of foreign aggression and social suppression and build a new Eritrea free from all exploitation. In January 1977, the vanguard of the Eritrean people,the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) hold its first congress in the liberated areas, and adopted the national democratic program of the revolution. The program calls for:
- The establishment of people’s democratic Eritrea.
- A self-reliant, independent and planned national economy.
- Safeguarding the unity and equality of all Eritrean nationalities.
- The development of a revolutionary culture, education and health-care.
- Safeguarding the economic, political and organizational rights of the working class.
- The complete equality of women in the economic, political, social and cultural life.
- A foreign policy of peace and nonalignment, of anti-imperialist solidarity with all just and revolutionary movements.
Led by this revolutionary program, the Eritrean people succeeded in liberating a big part of their country with the exception of few cities. In the last 2 years there has been a dramatic political changes in the region, The fascist government of untutored soldiers that replaced the monarch in Ethiopia, unwilling to give the Eritreans the right for self determination, and unable to continue its colonization of Eritrea, made a sham alliance with the Soviet Union. As a result of this alliance the Soviet Union is providing the Ethiopian fascist government with huge and sophisticated modern weapons. This new supply of arms has created enormous suffering on the part of the Eritrean people. Only in 1978, more than 300,000 people have lost their lives or fled to the bushes.
Dear members of the Kvinnefronten:
The Eritrean struggle is a just struggle
The Eritrean struggle is a popular struggle
The Eritrean struggle is a revolutionary struggle
These are the factors that guarantee its inevitable victory. And with this in mind, the EPLF has set up mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth and students to mobilize, organize and draw into the revolutionary struggle the masses in the urban as well as the rural areas. Besides the EPLF is leading the masses in carrying the land reform, uprooting exploitive relations of production and combating backward sentiment and harmful customs. Following the principle of self reliance, the EPLF is developing agriculture and handcrafts, setting up schools and hospitals, clinics, peoples shops and building roads.
Although we have surpassed many hurdles and scored brilliant victories, we do realize that a long and complex road is ahead of us. Imperialism and Ethiopian colonialism will persist and devise more complex machinations, resort to more adventurous crimes against our people, since the establishment of an independent and progressive Eritrea in this strategic place is against their interest.
At this juncture, I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to your association to continue supporting our cause. I will let you know if/when a fighter woman comes to Stavanger for you to meet her and have first hand information about women and their participation in the struggle.
(Stavanger October 25, 1982)