Berhane Tadese, New York City
February 23, 2021.
Ethiopians residing in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut held a virtual remembrance day commemoration on Sunday, February 21, 2021 for mass massacre committed by Fascist General Graziani’s on Yekatit 12, 1929 (Ethiopian calendar). This observance event was organized by Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association of NY, NJ, and CT (ECMAA) and the NY committee of Global Alliance for Justice- the Ethiopia cause .
Even in midst COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia take time to remember and honor the patriotic heroes and innocent civilian victims perished by Italian fascist armies. The program was streamed via https://m.facebook.com/ecmaanytristate/.
The commemorative ceremony started with a minute of silence prayer and was followed by inspiring panel discussion by the well-respected guest speakers Mr. Jeffery Pearce the Author of the book “Prevail: The inspiring Story of Ethiopia’s Victory over Mussolins’ Invasion”, and Mr. Nicolas DeMarco human rights advocate in New York City. In 2015 Mr. DeMarco was featured in the documentary film ”If Only I Were That Warrior” directed by Valerio Ciriaci. The film describes Mr. DeMarco’s work to campaign against an illegal memorial to Rodolfo Graziani in a small village in Italy.
Mr. Pearce made a presentation on the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia between 1935-1941 and the five-year Ethiopian patriotic resistance. He described the historical facts on Addis Ababa massacre that took place on Yekatit 12, 1929 (Ethiopian Calendar).
A special Power point about Sidest kilo Martyrs ‘memorial monument was also presented by Professor Ayele Bekerie. An Amharic poem entitled” የፆም ቀን የካቲት ፲፪ “ by Gebre-Kristos Desta was beautifully read by Hanna Yesuf . The organizers kept the forum’s participants – engaged with quizzes about Yekatit 12 historical facts. The questions and answers session with the speakers was lively and educational.
Yekatit 12,1929 in Ethiopian calendar the fascistic Italian army went on a rampage for three days and massacred 30,000 innocent people in the city of Addis Ababa. During the five-year Italian occupation, it is estimated over one million Ethiopians were killed,2000 churches and 525,000 homes were destroyed. The massacre started after two patriots Abraham Debouch and Mages Asgedom made an assassination attempt on General Graziani, who was the supreme Italian commander in Ethiopia. He and several of his Italian entourage were wounded.
In Addis Ababa a memorial monument (Sidest kilo) has been erected in memory of those Ethiopian victims massacred by the Italian occupation Army. Sidest kilo Martyrs ‘memorial monument, standing tall in heart of city of Addis Ababa, is a constant reminder of the lives lost during fascist Italian. In current Ethiopia’s political affairs, it is increasingly becoming difficult to pass this important history to the young generation accurately. This is due to the ethnic nationalist relentless fake propaganda about the history Ethiopia.
The history of Ethiopians defiance to colonial empire has become aspirational for many Africa states. The colonial power supremacy certainly did not break the will of the Ethiopian patriotic warriors. Emperor Tewodros attempted to stop the colonial power at the Battle of Maqdala in 1868, and Emperor Menelik defended the Ethiopian heartland at the Battle of Adwa in 1896. King Hailesellasie returned from exile in triumph in 1941.
We must care about our culture, heritage and the well-being of all Ethiopians and should continue commemorating Yekatit 12 each year. An annual panel discussion like this one serves three purposes:
• Educate the young generation about Ethiopian patriots who gallantly fought, sacrificed their lives, and kept Ethiopia free and independent.
• Commemorate the Ethiopian martyrs and innocent Ethiopians massacred on Yekatit 12
• Gives the diaspora a sense of attachment to our motherland and reflect more deeply on the history of Ethiopia.
One hopes the young generation will keep the memory by paying tribute and commemorating Yekatit 12 yearly as one of important historically significant day.
Ethiopia will Prevail!