24 May 2020
Eritrea Focus statement on Independence Day
We join with the people of Eritrea in celebrating the anniversary of our liberation and the establishment of Eritrea as a free nation. The entry of our fighters into Asmara was greeted with the greatest outpouring of joy our nation has ever known.
No single movement, let alone any individual, can claim ownership of our victory. This was a genuine national uprising against a foreign power. We will never forget the sacrifices so many made to allow it to take place. Men and women who lost their lives, lost their limbs and their eyesight, their friends and family members and – yes – even their honour, to fight for our liberation.
In the name of those who gave so much, we claim our freedom as Eritreans now as we did then. No-one has the right to remove our rights. Let us recall that as a member of the United Nations our country promised to abide by all the rights enshrined in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948.
This states that:
- Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
- No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
- No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
- No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
- Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
- Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This is a sample of the rights that all Eritreans have, by virtue of our membership of the United Nations. Yet every day each of these is denied by the regime currently in power in Asmara. That regime was not elected, lives outside Constitutional rule, is arbitrary and repressive. It has no right to speak on behalf of the Eritrean nation.
On this day we swear to continue fighting for the fundamental rights of all Eritreans. Nothing will deter us from this, and we call on our people to join us.
As the 30th year of our country’s independence begins, there are two fundamental questions we ought to ponder on; (a) Was the sacrifice our martyrs made to liberate our country from Ethiopian oppression, only to be oppressed even more by our own people? and (b) what we, as Eritreans are going to do about it, individually or collectively?
My fellow Eritreans, the very existence of our country is at stake and it is high time we woke up to this reality.
Our glorious martyrs fought heroically for us to have freedom and dignity. They ask no more than that we restore this to the nation. Let us make them proud; so that although it took another 30 years to achieve it, we will finally eradicate the dictatorship, so that our people can lead normal lives, enjoying the rights promised them for so many years.
We shall always remember our martyrs. May they rest in peace.
Habte Hagos, Chairman, Eritrea Focus