Background to the Eritrean independence

Eritrea was an Italian colony for fifty years. Italy was defeated in World War II and lost Eritrea. By the UN resolution Eritrea was joined to Ethiopia in 1952 under federal arrangement despite opposition from Muslim Eritreans who wanted independence (Christians wanted unification with Ethiopia). Ethiopia was responsible for foreign affairs, defense, finance, commerce and ports. Eritrea was allowed to form its own government and assembly to take care of local affairs. Eritrea had its own flag, official languages of Arabic and Tigrinya.

Haile Selassie who claimed that Eritrea or parts of it had once belonged to the Ethiopian empire interpreted the federal compromise as a step towards unification. Ethiopia gradually eroded what Eritrea had gained – political rights, trade unions, independent press.

In 1958 the Eritrean flag was discarded. In 1959 the Ethiopian code was extended to Eritrea and political parties were banned, trade union was eliminated, press censorship was introduced and Amharic language replaced Arabic and Tigrinya.

In 1962 Eritrea was annexed to Ethiopia as a province under centralized authority. The Muslims that numbered fifty percent of the population objected and initiated a long and devastating war of liberation.

Beginning in 1961, Muslims began small raids that gathered momentum and after thirty years of destructive war Eritrea became independent in 1991 was recognized and joined the African Union and the United Nations among other organizations.