February 20, 2008

19th February 1937 (Yekatit 12): A Day of Mourning

On 19th February 1937 (Yekatit 12), Italian Fascism showed its darkest face in Ethiopia. Following the unsuccessful attempt on the life of General Graziani by two young Ethiopians, Abraha Deboch and Mogas Asgedom, areign of terror was unleashed in Addis Ababa. With official backing, the Balckshirts, the political zealots of the Fascist orded, went berserk in the city, choping off heads, burning down houses with their inhabitants, disembowelling pregnant women and committing all manner of atrocities. The ducated Ethiopians were particularly targeted for liquidation. These included ,any members of the Black Lion Organization, disbanded after Ras Emeru's surrender, but closely watched in the capital. This elimination of the intelligentia was to create what is often called "the missing generation" in Ethiopia's intellectual and political history between the pre-war and the post-war generations.


Yekatit 12 Martyrs Square (Sidist Kilo)
The Yekatit 12 Square (Sidist Kilo) monument stands in tribute to the thousands of innocent martyrs butchered by the Fascist Italian Occupiers on that date in in the Ethiopian Calender year of 1929. The massacre took place at the order of the Italian Vice-Roy Marshal Grazziani in response to an assasination attempt against him carried out by two pro-Ethiopia Eritreans. The monument is shown here during a religious procession of priests of the Orthodox Church, probably at Timkat (Epiphany). Wreaths were laid here by the Emperor to commemorate the massacre every year. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam continued this practice during his rule, but for a time after the fall of the Dergue regime, only the Mayor of Addis carried out this practice. Recently, the President of the Federal Republic has taken over this task. The monument is in the form of a white obelisk with black bas reliefs of scenes of the massacre as well as scenes of the Imperial funeral accorded to the remains of the victims in the presence of the Emperor following the liberation around it. A Lion of Judah also decorates the face of the obelisk. Even though the image of the Lion of Judah and the Emperor Haile Selassie were removed from all over the city during the reign of the Dergue, they suprisingly did not touch this monument. The monument stands in the Sidist Kilo square infront of the Yekatit 12 Hospital (formerly Emperor Haile Selassie Hospital and known before that as the Beite Saida Hospital). Also facing the square are the southern gates of the Guenete Leul Palace, which today is the main campus of the Addis Ababa University (formerly Haile Selassie I University).

2 comments:

LOM said...

Some times it becomes so saddening to know that every time a forcefull revolution errupts it always targets the educated society.The External attack such as Fascist Italian disowned the country from what has already been mentioned "Intellectuals".And, internal,we cannot forget what had happened during the transition from the monarchical to the militant reign.The country has lost the next generation .It is not an easy matter to know about this facts especially since a country's economic and social growth highly depends on that Knowledge based human power.How about now?Keeping in mind the present situation of the country imagine the rate of people (Gen X) going abroad .Think of all the people you know for instance your own batch how many of us are in foreign countries?The same is true about the EOTC every attack targets the teachers and scolars or the students (followers) so if one what to erect an obelisk there is surely a lot to consider and dedicate it for.


YeEsrael Amlak Ethiopian Etebeke

ደጀ ሰላም said...

Dear LOM,
Thank you for your invaluable comments.
Deje Selam

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