The Ethiopian Derg government launched the multi-faceted Red Star Campaign in Asmara, Eritrea, to annihilate the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front "once and for all."
The Red Star campaign was officially launched after a two-and-half-year preparation. Its objective was to annihilate and destroy the EPLF army and crush all dreams for independence by Eritreans “once and for all.” Besides, the military objective, the campaign also put forth a plan for a propaganda or charm offensive to lure away the hearts and minds of the public from the freedom fighters by promising economic development for the province.
To accomplish this, all government offices including Chairman Mengistu’s office were relocated to Asmara. A budget of 2 billion Birr (approximately USD 571 Million at today’s rate) was allocated for the campaign. Many historians claim the regime put all its eggs in one basket.
On Monday, January 25, the campaign was officially launched by Mengistu Hailemariam in a large meeting where government officials, representatives from all the 14 provinces of Ethiopia, representatives from white and blue-collar sectors, farmers’ representatives etc. attended. The meeting was broadcast on radio nationwide. The meeting was concluded on Friday, January 31, with a 7-point resolution and was christened the “Asmara Manifesto.”
The day after the launch, Mengistu traveled to the Port city of Massawa to inaugurate an expo and lay a foundation for the statue to commemorate Ras Alula at Dogali. A large symposium was held at the Emperor Kaleb Hall in Massawa. Many factories in Massawa and Asmara were restored and were made to start manufacturing goods. Even the Massawa-Agordat rail line was said to have been made operational.
Following all the above events, the full-scale military campaign was launched on February 15.