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This week in Eritrea’s History

• In March 1891, a Royal Commission (Italian) reported that Eritrea was economically self-sufficient and was ready for Italian emigration. By 1911 28,000 acres of concession was made available to Europeans and by 1941 the number of Italian settlers reached 75,000.

In Mar 1947, Italy rallied this large number of Italians and created an organization called Il Comitato Rappresentativo Degli Italiani in Eritrea (CRIE) towards achieving an Italian trusteeship over Eritrea although it renounced its ‘right’ over her former colonies in 1947.

Italy opposed the unification of Eritrea with Ethiopia and was cooperating with the Independence Bloc, a coalition of several pro-independence Eritrean political parties formed in 1949 to counter the Unionist Party.

Ironically, on May 10, 1949 Italy, through its Foreign Minister, Count Carlo Sforza and British represented by Secretary Ernest Bevin proposed a joint plan for the partition of Eritrea between UK-Sudan and Ethiopia. Did you know Italy was not even a member of the UN when this proposal was tabled?

• On Mar 10, 1958, the Eritrean Labor Union Federation staged the biggest and most violent demonstration ever that lasted until Mar 14. The strike completely paralyzed Asmara and Massawa. The strike is described as the “first blood” of the Eritrean revolution.

80,000 people; students, teachers, the youth and women took part in the 3 day general strike. The Ethiopian government responded with force killing 9 and wounding 500. The officers and president of the NUEWI (National Union of Eritrean Workers for Independence) were harassed and subjected to assassination attempts and they fled the country.

On March 12 some members of the Syndicates called off the strike but most workers stayed at home throughout the week. Protesting against this, 18 prominent citizens were arrested for sending a telegram to the UNSG protesting against Ethiopian violations of UN Resolution 390A (V).

The 1st Trade Unions in Eritrea were factory based and emerged in 1948. These unions later united & on Feb 4th, 1952 they formed the NUEWI (National Union of Eritrean Workers for Independence). The NUEWI was based on the principle of unity amongst all Eritrean Workers.

In the 1970s, Eritrean workers sought employment in Europe, North America and the Middle East and organized themselves along with the students to participate in the Eritrean liberation movement. The first meeting of the Eritrean workers in the Diaspora was held in Germany in 1970.

In 1977 the Eritrean organization, “Eritreans for liberation” began to organize in the different countries as the Eritrean Workers Union. In 1979 Eritrean Workers from many parts of the world gathered in the liberated area and founded NUEW (National Union of Eritrean Workers).

• On March 9, 1975, 375 Eritreans were killed by Ethiopian/Derg regime soldiers in the town of Agordat remembered as “The Black Sunday”. The immediate cause of the massacre was the assassination of a second officer in Agordet by Eritrean freedom fighters.

When Maj. General Werku Chernet, who came to visit the Ethiopian army in Barka, learnt about the assassination amidst of the meeting held in Akordet, he ordered his subordinates to kill the inhabitants of the town indiscriminately.

Sources: Erihistory/

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