June 5 Proposed to Become Day of Martyred Students

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 2 (WIC) - The Ministry of Education has proposed that June 5 be annually observed as the day of martyred students in commemoration of the Ayder School students who were killed in cold blood by Eritrean air raid bombing on June 5, 1998.  In an interview she gave to an English language illustrated magazine just published by Walta Information Centre (WIC) in tribute to the martyred students, the Minister of Education Woizero Genet Zewdie said the Ayder School tragedy in which 53 civilians including children, pregnant mothers and parents were killed and 185 others wounded should be commemorated annually as a day of martyred students in every school of the country.

The commemoration of the day, besides serving as a fitting tribute to the martyred Ayder school students, also provides and opportune occasion for Ethiopian students to renew their commitment to work for the consolidation of peace and development, the Minister said.

Woizero Genet described the bombing of Ayder school as a fascistic act and one of history's horrors in which the Eritrean government, in contempt of international laws that protect children, targeted civilian areas and deliberately cluster bombed Ayder school in two rounds.

Approached by WIC for his comment on the proposal, the Vice-Minister of Education Dr. Tekle Haimanot Haile Sellasie, said it is only appropriate to annually observe June 5 as a day of martyred students in tribute to the student martyrs.  The Vice-Minister said the Eritrean regime cannot escape being held responsible for the war crimes it committed.

The same proposal also attracted extensive discussions at the recent 9th national regular educational conference held in Dire Dawa last August 23-27 during which participants fully endorsed the idea of designating a day for commemorating the event, Dr. Tekle Haimant recalled.

Similarly, Samuel Rezene of the Addis Ababa University who is also Secretary of the Student Council, while stating that the annual commemoration of the event will serve as a historical remainder about the atrocities of the Eritrean regime, expressed his full approval of the idea.

Samuel added that the proposed annual commemoration of the event in which innocent and defenceless children were brutally massacred will enable the student community and the succeeding generations to remember the day forever.

The English-language publication carried an indepth and comprehensive report about the massacre especially focusing on the bloody scenes on the day of the massacre, pictorial illustration on the wailing of parents and the public at large, the views expressed by student survivors, teachers and parents, a table carrying the list of victims, reactions from local and international media, the reconstruction activities to rehabilitate the bombed school and interviews given by prominent personalities as well as articles focusing on the psychological trauma left by the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the 36-page illustrated magazine published by Walta Information Centre to commemorate the massacre has just gone into circulation.