By  Emnetu Tesfay
Coordinator for Rice - Norway



 Ladies and Gentelmen 

It is with great relief and pleasure that we have received the news that Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, is liberated.  With about 130,000 Ethiopian Soldiers barricaded in and around Asmara, it was the last strong pocket of the Ethiopian occupation army in Eritrea.  The liberation of Asmara is specially a memorable day for the Eritrean residents of Asmara who in the past 30 Years have always been under the yoke of Ethiopian occupation. 

At this junction it is very important to mention that the liberation of Eritrea was not an easy task for the Eritrean people to achieve. It required enormous sacrifice of blood, suffering, labour and overall strong determination to be free. The Eritrean people lead by the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front has resisted not only Ethiopian military rule but also several international conspiracies to make our demand for the right to self determination null and void.  The Ethiopians have always tried to make the Eritrean struggle look like one of secession. The superpowers were by turn or even by collusion supporting heavily the Ethiopian position.  Many regional organizations, individual governments, for their own selfish commercial or other interests, supported Ethiopia. The successive governments of Ethiopia used to the maximum possible the legitimacy they have as recognized member of the U.N. and the O.A.U. to isolate the Eritrean struggle as if it does not exist.  Warning and sometimes threat were sent to governments, political parties, regional organizations and individuals who tried to raise the Eritrean question in different forums. 

It can therefore be said that the struggle we have waged had multiple objectives. The EPLF had to destroy the biggest army in sub-saharan Africa armed to the neck by large deliveries of Soviet modern weapon and supported by large number of Soviet and other East European advisors. The EPLF had to give economic life to the liberated areas under the ravage of war by establishing small manufacturing industries and agricultural products. The EPLF had to fight all the international conspiracies mentioned above by firmly sticking to principles. The EPLF had to revive and develop the Eritrean languages, provide education and health services to the public while the Ethiopian colonial rule was openly and systematically destroying them. And above all the EPLF had to organize and inculcate the Eritrean people in order to struggle with determination. 

Every Eritrean is a witness to the brutal administration of the successive Ethiopian Governments in all fields of life. Political persecution, economic stagnation, violation of basic human rights, cultural suppression, resettlements and intentional demographic changes were the instruments used to realize their control over Eritrea.  All Ethiopian soldiers who were in Eritrea were in reality above the law. They killed innocent individuals, raped women, and confiscated properties without being accountable to the rule of law.

All these sufferings is now over with the remnants of the Ethiopian colonial army being wiped out. It is now time to rejoice as a free people.  This is not a time only for the Eritreans to rejoice.  It is a time for all people of good-will, people who respect freedom, democracy and development all over the world to rejoice.  The Eritrean people have now come to a new cross-road.  The time of suppression, injustice and fear is over. Now is the time for the Eritrean to enjoy freedom and dignity as people and as a nation in the world community. 

Of course now that the war of independence has come to an end it does not mean we have to spend the rest of our time rejoicing.  No.  The country is totally destroyed as a result of 30 years of war. It has to be re-built. The new independent Eritrea needs to develop its industries, agriculture communication, mining, health and education, to mention some of them. To do this we need to have the same strength and determination as we had during the struggle. To be developed and developed fast from the ravage of war, it will require the Eritrean people and all our supporters to make continues sacrifices and make input in the reconstruction programme.

Last but not least I would like to congratulate all the Norwegian friends who have helped Eritrea in different ways during its struggle for independence.  All the various forms of support from Norway by student organizations, trade unions, relief organizations, politicians, the organization Felles Kommitte for Eritrea, professional associations and many individuals was a source of encouragement for the fighting Eritrean.

Everlasting memory to our martyrs who made the Eritrean dream a reality. Long live free Eritrea. Let relations between Norway and Eritrea flourish. The Eritrean people have now come to a new cross-road.  The time of suppression, injustice and fear is over.  Now is the time for the Eritrean to enjoy freedom and dignity as people and as a nation in the world community.

(I am very sorry that I could not be with you all at this special day of celebration but as a result of poor health I now find myself admitted in a hospital.)                                                                                                                                               

Last updated: 13.03.2011 Emnetu