Martyrs' Day in Eritrea in 2020

Martyrs' Day in Eritrea in 2020
Sunset on the borders of Eritrea. Image by Silvia De Giovanni , via Pixabay
  How long until Martyrs' Day?
This holiday next takes place in 250 days.
  Dates of Martyrs' Day in Eritrea
2020 Eritrea Sat, Jun 20 Public Holiday
2019 Eritrea Thu, Jun 20 Public Holiday
  Summary
An official holiday to pay tribute to those who died for the country's liberation between 1961 and 1991
  Local name
Maelti Siwuat

When is Martyrs' Day?

Martyrs' Day is a public holiday in Eritrea on June 20th each year.

Known as 'Maelti Siwuat' in the Tigrinya language, this day is a remembrance day for those who fell in the struggle for independence.

History of Martyrs' Day

The region now known as Eritrea emerged when Italian colonial expansion into Africa was halted by defeat at the battle of Adua in 1869. In 1936, Italy invaded Ethiopia and declared it part of their colonial empire.

After the Italians had been defeated in the second world war, the international community had differing views on what to do with Eritrea. In 1952 UN General Assembly Resolution 390 to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia went into effect. Eritrea was meant to have autonomy with a federation, but the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie unilaterally dissolved the Eritrean parliament and illegally annexed the country in 1962.

This led to the Eritrean War of Independence which lasted until May 1991, when the Eritreans overthrew the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Eritrea.

It is estimated that around 10% of the Eritrean population was killed in the conflict.

Eritrea instituted this official holiday to pay tribute to those who died for the country's liberation.

In 1997, the government opened the National Martyrs' Park, situated outside the capital, Asmara. Eritreans arrive to pay their respects to the dead by finding names engraved on the National Martyrs' Monument and walking through museums that depict the 30-year struggle for independence.

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