Eritrean Nationals in the Greater Bay Area Celebrated 22nd Independence Day with Great Enthusiasm
Large crowd of mostly youth Eritreans gathered in Oakland, California on Sunday May 26 to Celebrate our country’s 22nd Independence Day. This gathering was exceptional in many ways. To begin with, the National Holiday was prepared by the effort and co-operation of different political organizations, civic societies and independent citizens namely, Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC), Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC), Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) and Eritreans with no political affiliation. Secondly, the hall was packed with participants of all ages with mostly young men and women.
The ceremony was led by Ms. Asghedet Mehreteab. After explaining the program of the night, she introduced the guest speaker Mr. Ahmed Salah, an Egyptian activist for democratic change.
Mr. Salah is a young Egyptian who was one of the main players in organizing Egyptian people’s Arab Spring which ousted dictator Mubarek through civil disobedience. Mr. Ahmed Salah presented an inspirational speech with detailed account of their struggle and how social media was used to overcome the harassment by Mubarek’s regime. In a nut shell, Mr. Salah said “Our main problem was fear. Our people were very afraid of the tyrant. The second biggest obstacle was the propaganda of the regime’s instruments. For years they spread lies to scare our oppressed people by saying “Mubarek is the only one who could lead our country”, “If it wasn’t for him, Egypt would be disintegrated by our foreign enemies like CIA” or “If we replace him, our lives would be worse”. He also emphasized that the vast majority of Egypyian people were not happy with the Mubarek’s government, but they chose to be silent because no one was ready to face the brutality of the consequences. In the end, he concluded by saying “You Eritreans must never give up. You try, you fail, try again and again until you win. I am sure you are facing the same obstacles we encountered. Our revolution didn’t go the way we wanted it, but we are still fighting to preserve our human dignity, build democracy and justice. You must learn from our experience and keep on fighting till you win. No tyranny has ever lived forever. Yours is no different”. The audience was visibly moved.
Following the guest speaker, Mr. Solomon Ghebreyesus, one of the leaders of EYSC, who participated in the successful peaceful demonstration in Washington DC, presented the speech of the night. He started by giving a brief report of the demonstration and went on to explain that 30 years of bloody war and all the lives of our martyrs gave us a free land, but as a people we are still oppressed. We must fight until the dreams of our heroes are realized. Those heroes who paid the ultimate price, their lives, did not sacrifice for the Eritrea we have now. They did not die for Eritrea that does not respect human rights, Eritrea that does not allow free press, Eritrea that does not respect freedom of religion, Eritrea that is isolated from the world community, Eritrea whose youth get slaughtered for organ harvesting in Sinai or Eritrea that closes it’s only university. We can’t let down our martyrs and wounded heroes. Moreover Solomon gave heartfelt gratitude to the opposition force that never gave up and kept the spirit of fighting alive. The audience responded positively.
A bright young lady, Sabrin Hassen followed with motivational speech about what freedom means and how we Eritreans are still suffering from lack of freedom. Sabrin’s speech stroke every nerve and the audience listened with great hope for our future. She concluded her excellent speech by asking questions “It has been 22 years since we got our independence, but do we ask ourselves why we still are here? Why young Eritreans, some young mothers are being sold for ransom? And do we ask ourselves what we are doing to save our people and our beloved country? The audience was mesmerized by her eloquent speech.
The celebration continued with cultural dance until the wee hours. Young vocalist Yonatan Habte (From Germany), Dr. Amanuel Kahsai (Kirar player), Dawit Kidane (Keyboard) and Kebede Demoz (Base Guitar) played great songs with messages of hope, determination and unity. It was obvious that the audience manifested a sense of closeness and determination to continue the ongoing struggle for justice and liberty until final victory.