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May 2008 - Celebrating Eritrea's 17th Independence Day
 
Congratulations Eritrea
17th Independence Day
 

 

Asmara Eritrea - May 24 2008 17th Independence Day

 

To minimize the chance of problems at the gate of Asmara Stadium, I only bring my camera, and no other bags. The president will be there, so security measures at the official celebration of 17th Independence Day in Asmara Stadium are very tight. Even the camera is checked carefully for whatever a camera might contain to disturb the show, or worse.

Two Eritrean women from Washington DC recognize me from my previous travel stories, while I am waiting for the entry procedures that will start at 14:00. "You are the guy that did the web site on Eritrea!". We are happy to meet in these happy circumstances, and I picture them, just in case my position in the stadium will be on the bright side, and there will be no chance to make good pictures.

But the staff of the ENCC did a good job. My invitation card has an official stamp that allows me to sit first class, one class away from the honored guests (diplomats, generals, senior PFDJ officials, and government). Police and officials are directing us to the appropriate block on the grandstand. I choose a good position, which allows me to picture just over the fences. Police and military keep an eye on the audience.

The event starts, like almost every official Eritrean event, with a commemoration of the Martyrs of the various wars. A few minutes of impressive silence, followed by a short speech of a National Holidays Coordinating Committee representative.

The 20 minutes president's speech in Tigrinya and the Arabic translation is still abracadabra for me. You will find the complete text below.

Next on the program is a parade of all branches of the Eritrean Defense Forces and four MIG 29 fighter planes flying over several times.

The parades are followed by a musical in Tigre, depicting the perseverance and unity of the Eritrean people in contrast to selfishness shown by a minority.

Next is an Independence Day poem and an other musical called "Sun Rise", followed by a narrative show "School Closing", based on a short story of a school girl at the Revolution School in 1987 who was traumatized by a family tragedy.

Then there is a 40 minutes long colorful show presented by 2800 elementary, junior and high school students, opened by singers born in 1991 on their wish to serve the people, a show based on the unified struggle for development, and a show in red, blue, green and yellow, based on Eritrea and its flag.

At last Eritrea's most popular singer, Helen Meles, sings a song accompanied by the students.

The enormous human flag covering the grass of Asmara Stadium is the logical background for the concluding Eritrean national anthem, the closing event of the official ceremony.

I am very happy not only to witness the colorful drama and shows, but especially to share the joy of a nation still abused by much of the Western World.

 

Official ceremony of Eritrea's 17th Independence Day

 

President Isaias Afwerki’s speech on the occasion of the 17th Anniversary of Independence Day

Compatriots at home and abroad
Ladies and gentlemen 

I feel great pride and joy in conveying congratulations to all of you. 

It is to be recalled that significant developments were witnessed in the second half of 2007 following the 16th anniversary of our Independence Day. Equally significant developments have also surfaced in the first half of 2008. It is proper that we should use this auspicious occasion as a forum of assessment and reminder through correctly identifying the aforementioned trends and possible prospects, and thereby reinforce our resistance on the basis of close awareness regarding the opportunities and challenges lying ahead as well as re-adjusting our plans and programs. 

In view of the fact that the border dispute and its aftermath which was instigated 10 years ago under the servitude of the TPLF regime has now reached a definite legal conclusion, the 17th Anniversary of Independence Day is an occasion in which the nation’s sovereignty has assumed an ever more solid strength. Taking into account the failure of attempts on the part of the US Administration to hamper the implementation of the Boundary Commission’s ruling on border delimitation through keeping hostage and paralyzing the Security Council, and thereby subject us to endless chase and confusion on the one hand, and Washington’s similar failure to alter the options of the EEBC as well as limit its role on the other, our border has now been delimited and the file is closed thanks to the Commission’s final virtual demarcation decision. And this indeed constitutes a very significant development as regards the reinforcement of Eritrea’s independence and sovereignty. 

In the face of deep frustration as a result of such developments, the US Administration is currently resorting to acts of putting under question mark the authority of the Boundary Commission and the legality of its ruling, trying to push the matter back under the false pretext of ‘non-clarity’ in the border delimitation decision, at other times trying to divert attention through raising irrelevant and dead issues such as that of “UNMEE,” and still at other times trying to intimidate other parties through linking them with ‘terrorism’ that is of its own making, and thereby seeking to divert attention from the main issues at hand. Moreover, the Administration finds itself engulfed in deep frustration due to the aforementioned reasons, coupled with persistent resort to repeating lies and exploring other possible means of apparently misleading machinations.

Following the defeat of 6 years of empty maneuvers through 6 years of patience and steadfastness, legality has ultimately triumphed. Hence, there is no remaining issue at all, other than the withdrawal of the invading Ethiopian forces from sovereign Eritrean territories. And as we have been repeatedly reminding, the UN Security Council is duty bound to live up to its legal and moral obligation to put an end to such invasion and its dangerous consequences.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Trying to look at the actions of the US Administration, which is astonishing to many, in isolation from other regional and international scenarios, would not provide a real picture of the prevailing situation. However, as specific developments that fully demonstrate the true nature of the Washington Administration have been witnessed, it is worthwhile to once again take a look at these in order to have a clear understanding about the whole matter.

The then prevailing objective situation which I had outlined during the 14th Independence Day anniversary in 2005 are equally being witnessed today.

In the wake of the end of the Cold War, a powerful though small clique with “special privileges” in the United Sates embarked upon a dangerous path on the basis of an adventurous ambition “We will exercise monopoly position in the planet, placing the world under our full control for the next 50 or 100 years.” This same clique further boasted that it had even a ‘divine mission’ of becoming master of an international order in which they place the entire globe under their full control, exploit the world’s resources exclusively to their benefit through employing the threat of power and intimidation and whenever deemed necessary misleading both American nationals and those in other parts of the world, as well as creating division and discord among those bent on organizing opposition to their domination.

Definitely, opportunities to such forces of world domination and plunder appeared in due course. There was the 9/11 incident. To these individuals of ‘divine mission’, the unfortunate incident represented a “blessing in disguise”. They not only exploited the incident to the utmost but also began mischievously nurturing it in a disguised manner. 

There came the march for Afghanistan, which unfulfilled adventure was soon followed by unleashing the war of invasion against Iraq under the pretext of ‘averting’ attack against the major powers through the so-called ploy of “weapons of mass destruction”. There were also talks about marching to Iran and North Korea. Besides, the invasion of Somalia took place in which apart from Ethiopia’s regular armed forces, thousands of mercenaries and military companies were enlisted. Hectic maneuvers and acts of destruction against the Somali people assumed grave proportions. Millions of innocent Somali nationals were subsequently killed and millions of others were displaced and forced to flee the country. All these acts of destruction and massacre were explained as “the necessary price for democratic change in the Middle East”. Furthermore, all such ‘sacred mission’ was christened as the “necessary price for a peaceful world”. In the meantime, people in different parts of the world voiced condemnation and called for an end to these atrocities. But they were described by the aggressors as ‘dissident’ adventurism, and the situation took a turn to the worse.

Trillions and not millions were disbursed for all this military and political adventurism. As the mission is unlikely to come to an end, making still additional trillions is expected, so they argued. Regardless of from where these extremely huge sums of dollars are to come from, the amount has to be made available at whatever cost.

As the US economy relatively makes up a huge portion of the world economy, it has become the receipt of adventure on the world economy. The price of fuel has skyrocketed over a short period, and it is still escalating; the exchange rate of the dollar is declining; the price of commodities, especially food is ever rising; the housing market in the USA is declining; and big financial centers are encountering huge loss. Moreover, unemployment and employees layoff is assuming grave dimensions, etc. It is also said that the world economy at large is on the verge of collapse. The world population, including that of the USA, is equally being exposed to acute economic hardship. Yet, it is argued that the whole scenario is not one of supply and demand but that of speculation. But the ‘speculators’ themselves have in reality become those enjoying “special privileges”. 

Simply because of these elements, terrorism has been encouraged and not dismantled; democracy has been trampled upon and the world has been placed under a “privileged few”. Human rights and the rule of law have not only been seriously undermined but the entire human race is being subjected to torture and mass extermination.

Our planet is not only becoming dangerous to live but also exposed to a situation of acute anxiety. The worst forms of failure had ensued and claims about so-called ‘we are attaining victory and looking forward to more victories’ have become nothing but manifestations of pure hypocrisy and gambling. Nonetheless, lies and deceit have now been exposed, popular awareness consolidated; popular opposition has not only been strengthened but also continues to gain momentum.

The conflicts and complications in our region as well as the atrocities being committed on our people are part and parcel as well as the consequence of the aforementioned developments. The only difference is in the details.

Where are these developments heading? How will they affect our domestic and regional situations? And what measures should we adopt? It is a stage that requires close follow-up and astute evaluation so that we can properly reinforce our resistance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The stage which our legal resistance for safeguarding sovereignty and national security has reached may bring about further hostility, and hence we should continue to reinforce our resistance tirelessly.

Parallel with this, it needs no reminding that we need to step up our efforts in the struggle for securing economic emancipation and progress, particularly that of achieving food security for which we have been giving priority. Considering the direction to which the global economy is heading, not only is the price of food items soaring but speculations suggest that their very availability could be endangered. Hence, it is imperative for food security to become the priority of priorities for us and many other poor nations. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As we all know, the abundant rains in 2007 had enabled us to gather bumper harvest. However, plans to use this bumper harvest as a buffer for 2008 and the following year had not succeeded due to poor management which consequently has had an undeniably negative impact in those areas which faced food shortage problems.

Our initiative to rectify the excessive consumption of wheat has not succeeded in achieving the desired goals. The effects of food aid cannot also be underestimated. While living in times of apparent global economic crisis and with no domestic production of wheat, seeking to consume ‘white bread’ and ‘pasta’ can only be considered as naivety. This is not to say that we should not consume ‘white bread’ and ‘pasta’, but now it is not the right time; we should first be able to produce what we consume. It should be noted that wheat is an essential but at the same time a very dangerous commodity. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

In assessing present and expected agricultural productions for 2008 in the recent meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, it was concluded that the necessary provisions should be put in place beforehand in view of the meteorological forecasts made regarding the Horn of Africa. The meteorological predictions were made by various experts based on different studies and weather indications, and thus cannot be taken for a fact, for they have many ambiguities. Yet, it would not also be wise to disregard them as false information. The most practical measure to take in such cases is to make the necessary preparations ahead of time and implement effective agricultural projects. To this end, the necessary endeavors are being exerted despite the rising price of fuel and other strategic commodities. The most important thing is to be ready for any eventuality. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Although food security is the top priority in our economic development strategy, it is equally important to address our development projects in other sectors vis-à-vis the aforementioned global economic crisis. Although it will not be possible to go into details at this moment, due evaluation will be undertaken as regards our fiscal policies, import regulations, price control, supply and provision of consumer goods, and the like, in the wake of which the necessary practical measures will be taken. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is beyond doubt that in effectively harnessing our resources and capabilities, we will persistently strengthen our struggle for economic progress. I would like to call on all nationals living inside the country to utilize all the consumer goods at their disposal to the maximum output, strengthen the Eritrean culture of helping those in need and comply with the regulations and recommendations given by the Government, as well as administrative bodies with utmost integrity. 

At this crucial stage of resistance, I would like to remind all Eritreans residing abroad to step up their ever-growing contribution to the nation-building process and more importantly reinforce and organize their unparalleled resilience, as they had done so time and again.

Engaged in the arduous development campaign to achieve economic progress, especially food security, members of the Defense Force are not only meeting the dual challenge of safeguarding national sovereignty and nation building but have also been compelled to carry the added burden of caring for their families. I would like to remind these brave soldiers to take good measure of present circumstances and intensify their efforts accordingly. 

In conclusion, I once again congratulate all Eritreans on this auspicious occasion and express my appreciation to the entire Eritrean people for their fortitude and dedication, to nationals residing abroad for their contribution and determination, and to members of the Defense Force for their martyrdom, steadfastness and productivity.

I also wish fellow citizens a promising rainy season.

Glory to our Martyrs!
Victory to the Masses!

 

May 24 -Yosief's birthday - Asmara Eritrea.

May 24 -Yosief's birthday - Asmara Eritrea.

Marching band, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Marching band, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Military parade, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Military parade, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

The audience, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

The audience, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

The audience, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

The audience, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Military parade, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Military parade, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Military parade, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Military parade, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Formation of four Eritrean Air Force MIG 29's - Asmara Stadium.

Formation of four Eritrean Air Force MIG 29's - Asmara Stadium.

Dgiena (our home) a musical in Tigre - Ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Dgiena (our home) a musical in Tigre
C
eremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Dgiena (our home) a musical in Tigre - Ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Dgiena (our home) a musical in Tigre
Ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Dgiena (our home) a musical in Tigre - Ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Dgiena (our home) a musical in Tigre
Ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

School closing, a narrative show in Tigrinya - Ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

School closing, a narrative show in Tigrinya
Ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Songs & dance, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Songs & dance, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Songs & dance, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Songs & dance, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Songs & dance, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Songs & dance, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Acrobatics, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Acrobatics, ceremony of 17th Independence Day - Asmara Stadium.

Show by students, ceremony of 17th Independence Day Asmara Stadium.

Show by students, ceremony of 17th Independence Day
Asmara Stadium.

Show by students, ceremony of 17th Independence Day Asmara Stadium.

Musical Sunrise, ceremony of 17th Independence Day
Asmara Stadium.

Show by students, ceremony of 17th Independence Day Asmara Stadium.

Show by students, ceremony of 17th Independence Day
Asmara Stadium.

Ertra, show by students, ceremony of 17th Independence Day Asmara Stadium.

Ertra, show by students, ceremony of 17th Independence Day
Asmara Stadium.

Show by students featuring the Eritrean flag, ceremony of 17th Independence Day Asmara Stadium.

Show by students featuring the Eritrean flag
ceremony of 17th Independence Day Asmara Stadium.

 
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