May day speech in Stavanger, 1979
By  Emnetu Tesfay



Dear Friends and Comrades

First I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of this meeting for giving me the opportunity to address this gathering on the occasion of celebrating the worker's day. The 1st of May as a day of solidarity of the international working class, is vigorously celebrated in the liberated parts of Eritrea, genuinely inspired by the unity of struggle for justice, which can only be attained by the victory of the working class.

The history of the Eritrean people in general and their revolution in particular is indeed very long. Eritrea is a country of peasant society which is a victim of successive colonial aggression due to its strategic importance. In the middle of this century, colonized by imperial Italy, a number of heavy and light industries were installed.  This caused the flooding of many thousands of peasants into the town and consequently creating a working class.

Since its creation, the Eritrean working class has fought in the forefront of our people's struggle for national independence and social liberation.  In the 1950's, strong trade unions were established and they vigorously opposed the federation with Ethiopia which marked the beginning of annexation of Eritrea by its neighboring country. As the regime in Ethiopia hurriedly consolidated its control over the affairs of Eritrea, the working class was its first target. In order to destroy the trade unions, the feudal regime of Haile Sellassie dismantled the industries.  Despite the savage repression by the Ethiopian colonial regime, the Eritrean workers organized nation-wide strikes. The Ethiopian security forces responded by executing union leaders and imprisoning all its active members.

When the armed struggle began in the early l960s, the workers in the remaining factories formed cells of underground groups and actively supported the armed struggle in the countryside by financial contributions and economic sabotage of the colonial administration. The worker's cells consolidated themselves and gradually expanded into factory-wide and later city-wide branches. 

After causing the fall of the US supported regime in Ethiopia, today the Eritrean people are fighting the Soviet supported regime in Ethiopia.  In the course of this long struggle, the Eritrean masses are viciously oppressed and exploited. Our country is forcibly occupied by the Ethiopian aggressors, who enjoy the total support of the Soviet Union.  Friends and comrades:  We are waging a people`s war and it is led by the revolutionary policy of self-reliance in the strict sense of the word.  Therefore, no force, no matter how big or how well-equipped it is, can reverse the achievement of our struggle. 

In the last 7 years, Ethiopian colonialism has left no stone unturned in its campaign to liquidate the Eritrean revolution. It has waged ruthless military campaigns, ugly political maneuvers and economic pressures to bring the revolution down to its knees. The latest military offensive was launched on January 27th this year - with full collaboration by the Soviet Union and the countries it controls in the region, mainly Libya and South Yemen.  Not only a big army of 130,000 soldiers, soviet advisors, Yemeni pilots and Libyan finances were involved, but also a large-scale use of lethal nerve gas.

The Eritrean people, armed only with their determination to be free, successfully disrupted the aim of the Ethiopian Junta and its backers, which they called the "final solution". Many daring attacks on airports, destroying Migs and personnel carrying aircrafts were made. This huge army, which was sent from four directions, was successfully blocked and in some cases made to retreat back leaving thousands of dead soldiers. Nearly 17,000 soldiers have so far perished and the rest demoralized. As the battles continue, the savage reprisal on innocent people intensifies. Hundreds of thousands are deliberately made to starve and perish by burning their villages and crops.  Many Eritreans living in Ethiopian towns are disappearing without any trace.  Waves of new refugees are also reportedly camped under terrible conditions in the desert land of the Sudan.

On this occasion, we earnestly appeal to the Norwegian public to support the just struggle of the Eritrean people and strongly condemn the war of genocide perpetuated by the Ethiopian Military Junta and its backers.  Long live the Eritrean Revolution! Long live the friendship between the Norwegian and Eritrean peoples.

Thank You.

Last updated: 13.03.2011 Emnetu