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Reflections on the Eritrean people struggle for independence

መጀመሪያ ሰዉእ

“ዕላማ ክብሪ እዩ…ዋጋ ክብሪ ድማ ህይወት እዩ!”

Researched and compiled by Resoum Kidane [30/08/11]

On the occasion of the commemoration of the 50 anniversary of the beginning of the armed struggle for national liberation, this paper argues that the Eritrean people's struggle for liberation was not started 50 years ago on 1st September 1961 but in 1958. Even though the ELF and EPLF leaders have tried to persuade the public that the Eritrean struggle started on 1st of September 1961, by commemorating it every year on 1st September, the Eritrean people's struggle for independence goes back to the flourishing of political parties in the 1940s, and in the 1950s. Pool(1983) also mentioned that the political roots of the Eritrean struggle for independence from Ethiopia can be traced back to the formation of parties and organizations which sprang up during the period of British military administration which lasted from 1941 to 1952.Read more

In the 1950s  the Eritrean people's struggle for independence was revived during the formation of the following youth and professional associations: Shabab which was the Moslem Youth League, Partite Giovanile Federalists Eritrea (The Young Federalists) and the Eritrean Youth Peace Council); professional Association ( the Asmara Teachers' Association; Mah'ber Memheyash Hagarawi Limidi (Association for the Development of National Culture M.M.H.L) and trade union (The Workers Syndicate of Eritrea).

The above associations and the workers' syndicate of Eritrea played an important role in organizing the 4 days general strike in 1958 to protest against the violation of UN 390(AV) Resolution by the Ethiopia government. However, the 1958 peace demonstration was violently suppressed by the Ethiopian army that caused 88 deaths and 440 wounded.  As a result of this atrocious crime the Eritrean people began to search for an alternative way to challenge the Ethiopian policy of coercion leading to the rebirth of the Eritrean people's struggle for independence in 1958 by the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM)/ [Harakat Atharir Al Eritrea]

By and large the suppression of the four days' general strike contributed to raising political awareness that led to the development of a strong Eritrean national consciousness and the foundation of the Eritrea Liberation Movement ( Harakat) in 1958. Reid, (2011, 159) states that the ELM or Harakat espoused religious unity as well as armed struggle in the pursuit of independence from Ethiopia, and began to organize clandestine cells across Eritrea.

Iyob (1995:103) adds that the ELM's ideal of a secular Pan-Eritrean identity, activated through its politics of protest and reconciliation, set the foundation for a rich nationalist culture. All this had a profound effect on the defiant youth of the 1950s, the same generation that was later to construct the basis of modern Eritrean nationalism. However, the Moslem-Christian schism and ethnic rivalries resurfaced in the course of the armed struggle in the late1960s and 1970s.

Akinola (2007: 10) cited Markakis (1988: 52) “Muslim pastoralists on the lowlands and Christian peasants on the plateau had never been good neighbours … the reason was a perennial competition for land, not the difference in faith.” From this viewpoint, religion has had a far more instrumental value as a mask for the competition for mundane rewards. Read more

During the 30 years of the armed struggle religion and ethnicity were exploited by the former revolutionary leaders to come to power.  This has also left its mark on the current opposition leaders. Indeed the exploitation of religion, ethnicity and region with the opposition group leaders and their supporter Eritrean educators, who are currently engaged in a cyberspace civil war on websites such as did not suddenly surface but is inherited from the former revolutionary leaders.

Although the ELF leaders and their supporters most of who are with the opposition groups claim that the ELF was the mother of the Eritrean revolution, and the EPLF leaders and their supporters who are mostly with the government claimed that the EPLF was more progressive than the ELF (the mother of the Eritrean revolution). Neither the ELF nor the EPLF was founded by leaders who emerged as a result of a democratic process.  The only genuine and progressive movement in the history of the Eritrean people struggle for independence was ELM’s (Harakat).

Alsayed (2009) states that for the first and perhaps last time in Eritrea’s delicate history, the ELM managed to appeal to Eritrea’s diverse society, united Eritrean Muslims and Christians, Highlanders and Lowlanders, infiltrated institutions including Eritrea’s police force, spread its organisation and mobilisation cells of 7 (famously known and still remembered by our Kebessan counterparts as “mahbar shaw3atte” and in the lowlands/Muslims as “Haraka or Haraket”). Alsayed adds that the ELM’s (Harakat) path for liberation and independence was interrupted and later replaced by the ELF whose leaders were arrogant, intolerant of dissenting views and resorted to subduing opponents by force. This culture of intolerance and lack of democracy had continued until now.

Generally the Eritrean people have suffered over half a century because their leaders are not committed to harmonize Eritrea society. Like the former revolutionary leaders, the current the opposition leaders have still tried to divide the Eritrea society through the formation of ethnic and religious organizations. This is done deliberately to fuel tension between Muslim and Christian as well as within various ethincs to cover up their narrow power struggle.

It is worth noting in connection with the above that histories of the Eritrean independence struggle written by the EPLF and ELF supporters during the liberation struggle and after independence are just propaganda [Example articles written by Woldeyesus Ammar, Fesseha Nairad,   FARJAT Team etc. Both the ELF and EPLF leaders and their supporters never acknowledge the role of the Harakat and of the 1958 general strike in the rebirth of the Eritrean struggle for independence.

Therefore it is timely to mention briefly how the struggle for independence started in the 1940s & 1950s, and to review the consequence of the former revolutionary leaders’ disunity during the liberation struggle which has left its mark on the conduct of  post-independence politics. The purpose of compiling this document is to provide concise background information that will help younger people to have a comprehensive understanding of the contribution of the former revolutionary leaders in prolonging the struggle of the Eritrean people for decades.

It also provides references to re-examine the history of the Eritrean people's struggle for Independence from 1958-1991 which will be useful for people who may not have a background knowledge about the beginning of the armed struggle by the ELF leaders their rivalry with the ELM. This paper also conveys the message that the Eritrean people have been the victims of their political leaders for the past 50 years (1961-2011). The Eritrean people should learn from their past naivety in trusting those former revolutionary leaders and their collaborators.  By their internecine conflicts they set back the victory of the liberation struggle in the 1970s and these still bedevil the opposition leadership.

The compilation in this document is organized into six sections: the first section provides brief chronological history of the  struggle for Eritrean independence in 1940s; the second section looks briefly at the rebirth of Eritrean nationalism and early development of the Independence struggle (1952-1958). The third section is more focused on the formation of the Eritrea Liberation Movement (Harakat) and its liquidation by the ELF ( 1958-1965); the fourth sections deal with the rivalry among the ELF leaders(1965-1969), and between the ELF and EPLF leaders (1970-1981); the fifth section covers briefly the crimes committed by the Ethiopian rulers as well as by the ELF and EPLF leaders ( who are currently either in the Eritrean government or in one of the opposition groups) during the liberation struggle in the 1960s 70s and 80s ; Section six looks briefly at the crimes committed by the Eritrean government between 1991 and 2011 ; the last section provides a snapshot on the narrow power struggle of the oppostion leaders from 1991 to October 2011 (the commence Eritrean National Congress).

Brief chronological history of the  struggle for Eritrean independence in the 1940s

The British took Eritrea in 1941 - History of Keren[youtube]

MASSAWA ASMARA 22 MAY 1941 Youtube]

Extended Interview With Veteran Fighter Ibrahim Mahmud Ghedem Part 2


Formation of Mahber Fikri Hager

  • Gebre-Medhin , (1989 p72) in his book Peasants and Nationalism in Eritrea states that the legal status of "Occupied Enemy Territory" aside the British were welcomed by the people of Eritrea as liberators from Italian racist and fascist rule. Anticipating self-determination, a group of first generation politicized Eritrean Intelligentisa began to hold meetings. After a few months of discussions in late 1941 they formed a political organ called the Party of Love of Country(PLC) influenced by Western liberal democratic tradtion, the PLC opposed monarchy, feudalism and aristocracy, with the exception of the Abyssiana Coptic Church, Ethiopia had no formal link with Eritrean groups Gebre-Medhin , (1989 p58) gave an explanation for this. According Gebre-Medhin, during the British rule (1941-1952) the Church petitioned the new adminstrators for return of the Church land. The British failed to respond favorably" Only union with Ethiopia and the favour of its traditionall protector, the Emperor of Ethiopia could now restored its property to church. The church became one of the major advocates of union with Ethiopia read more
Gebre-Medhin , (1989 p72) adds that the Crown began to organize Eritrean's in Ethiopia to champion its cause in their homeland. By then no fewer than 100, 000 Eritreans had crossed into Ethiopia. Some of whom were employed by the Ethiopia state. In 1944 through the direct intervention of the Ethiopian Minister of Pen these Eritrean were organized to form the Society for the Unification of Eritrea with Ethiopia (SUEE). The Addis Ababa based SUEE a well funded grouping began to infiltrate Eritreans politics and society. As a result the PLC split and a pro-Ethiopia tendency was born. As a rsult of this the rift between the pro Ethiopia for the unity of Eritrea with Ethiopian and the pro -independence movement was exacerbated in 1944. This was happened when Haile Selasse sent Eritreans from Ethiopia to rename Mahber Fikri Hager as Yehager Fikr Mahber to instrument in its campaign to annex.

Addis Abeba-Resident Unionist(source Jelal Yassin)

Intially Mahber Fikri Hager Eritrea (MFH)(Association for the Love of the Country of Eritrea) was formed on 5th of May 1941 to represent the Eritrean society in its daily interaction with the BMA through co-ordinating the relationships between the British Military Administration (BMA) and the Eritrean society. Gebremeskel Woldu (pro Ethiopia for the unity), Woldab Woldemariam (pro independence movement) , and Ibrahim Sultan (pro independence movement) were among its founder (Berketeab 146, Makakis ).

However as a result of the rift  between the pro Ethiopia for the unity of Eritrea with Ethiopian and the pro -independence movement, Woldab Woldemariam (pro independence movement) , and Ibrahim Sultan (pro independence movement) were  resignated (Sorenson,305). Eventually, the resignation of the pro -independence movemen leaders contributed for splitting of the Mahber Fikri Hager. The first signs of the split in the MFH became clear in 1944, when UNIONISTS dominated the association and the independentists started to abandon it.

Woldab Woldemariam (pro independence movement) left Mahber Fikri Hager Eritrea (MFH) in 1944 and established another clandestine group in 1945, later known as Eritrea n'Eritrawean (Eritrea for Eritreans) Woldab's group opposed the dominance of the Coptic Church and sought to preserve the liberal pluralism introduced by the the British Military Administration (BMA). Source (Iyob, 1995:66)

    56th Anniversary of Waala Biet Giorghis

    Waa’la Bet Gherghis and The proliferation of political parties

  • In October 1946 the BMB lift the ban on political parties and encouraged the institutionalization of political activities. A proposal to reconcile former member of the MFH who had opted for separation from Ethiopia and Unionist within the MFH was proposed by Woldeab and Moslim and Christian notable, and a date was set for Sunday November 23, 1946 to convene an assembly or Waa’la at Bet Giorgis, Asmera. Source (Iyob, 1995:67-68).
  • On November 22-26, 1946, a meeting was held   in  Bet Giorgis, Asmara,(locally known as The Waa’la Bet Gherghis the meeting of Bet. Giorgis) to resolve the conflict between the pro Ethiopia for the unity of Eritrea with Ethiopian and the pro -independence movement but it failed, this was because of the Unionist wing of the MFH rejecting Wold-Ab’s proposed compromise which gave a good opportunity for the unity between the Yehager Fikr Mahber and the unionist section of the Mahber Fikri Hage
  • Bereketeab also states that both the  Pro-independence  and the Unionist  reached a compromise in  October 1946 to effect the “Eritrea should; be an autonomous state within the framework of the Ethiopian  Empire. This agreement reached due to the absence of the Ethiopian liaison officer Colonel Negga Haile Selassie. On his returned from   Addis Abeba in November 1946 not only the agreement was discarding but the chief advocate of the agreement and the Secretary General of the Unionist Gebremeskel Wold lost his post, Bereketeab  (2000: 180),  Killon (1991: 15]. (source for the photo Jelal Yassin)
  • On December 3, 1946, Abune Markos appointed a new leadership consisting of Ras Kidanemariam Ghebremeskel (Honorary President), Dejazmact Beyne Beraki ( President, and Saleh Ahmed Kekiya ( Vice-president) and Ato Tedla Bairu as Secretary   General, Fitawrair Taha Adem (Treasurer and Fitawrari Harego Abay ( Deputy Assistant Secretary).
  • In reaction to the campaign union of Eritrea with Ethiopia, Ibrahim Sultan, called a meeting of all   Moslem Communities to consider the question of Eritrea’s future in December 1946
    The Independence Progress Party IPP also known as the Liberal Progressive Party (LLP) was  established in Adi Kheih for the creation of an independent Eritrean government.  Ras Tesemma Asberom was elected President, Dejazmatch Maascio Zewede as Vice-president,  and Grazmatch Seyoum Maascio as Secretary –General.rom note no.3 pp 38-39 Killion, 1997]
  • Ras Tesemma Asberom, one of the great Eritrean leaders for independence

    On February 18, 1947 the Liberal Progressive Party (Independence and Progress Party: Eritrea for Eritreans) was established in Adi Keih. Ras Tesemma Asberom was elected President, Dejazmatch Maascio Zewede as Vice-president, and Grazmatch Seyoum Maascio as Secretary. Ras Tesemma announced in his opening speech that the goal of the Party was the creation of independent Eritrea free of any European control. He added “This country belongs to Christians and Moslems and for thousands of years we lived in harmony with respective religions and helped each other. Today we express our desire and that of our people for independence: He objected to the role of the Coptic Church in political affairs. Referring to the failure of Waa’la Bet Ghiorgis, he said “ The Waa’la was intended as a forum where we could resolve our differences was disrupted. This disruption was legitimized by religious leaders who intervened in public affairs”. Ibrahim Sultan and Abdul Kadir Kebire from the Muslim League (ML) attended the founding conference. One month later a branch of Party was formed in Mendefera, Seraye. The leaders were Dejac Sebahtu Yohannes (president), Atzmatch Berhe Gebre Kidan (Vice-President) and Gratazmatch Asberom Wolde Ghiorgis – Secretary. Source: Eritrean Struggle for Independence by Ruth Eyob
    When the independence Bloc was formed in Dekemhare on February 10, 1950 Ras Tesemma Asberom was elected President and Ibrahim Sultan Secretary General. The family of Ras Tesemma and the members of the Progressive Liberal Party were harassed by the unionists. There were many assassination attempts on Woldeab Woldemaraim one of the prominent
  • A British survey of 1947 claimed the population was divided as follows: 44.8% Unionist;
    40.5% Muslim League; 9.2% Pro-Italy; 4.4% Liberal Progresive (pro-Independence) [Source ]
  • In July 1948 the Moslem League were regrouping in Asmara and formed a  coalation with a Kebessa political party the Liberal Progressive Party (LPP).  Ibrahim Sultan and Seyoum Masscio, the LPP leader, then drafted a document  and sent it by registered airmail to the UN.
  • By 1947 Colonel Negga Haile Selassei, the Ethiopian Crown's representative in Asmera not only co-ordinated Unionist activity but was involved in bribery, intimidation and violence (Sorenson, 1991:305).
  •  In August of 1948 the BMA's chief civil affairs staff officers was contemplating taking " action against  Tedla Bairu and others, for the escalation of intimidation and violence"  against pro-independence parties and individualist (Gebre-Medhin 1989:157p.)
  • Regarding the political violence against the pro-independence party leaders and intolerance by the UP  leaders, (Iyob, 1995:72) stated that, the UP’s new Secretary General, Tedla Bairu, proved to be  authoritarian and intolerant. He was ruthless in eliminating opposition to the union with Ethiopia  and attacked aggressively the ML and LLPs platform.
  • For example Ato Woldeab Woldemariam suffered severe wounds from an attempted murder on July 7, 1947.  In August of 1948 the BMA's chief civil affairs staff officers was contemplating taking " action against  Tedla Bairu and others, for the escalation of intimidation and violence"  against pro-independence parties and individualist (Gebre-Medhin 1989:157p.).
    There was also five assassination attempts on Knzmaa Berhzanu  Hmdyn who was one of the founder  of the Moslem League on 03/12/1946.
  • The New Eritrea Party was founded, as the New Eritrea Pro-Italy Party, on September 29, 1947 by members of the Eritrea War Veterans Association and the Italo-Eritrean Association. The party advocated Italian trusteeship over Eritrea in preparation for full Eritrean national independence.[1] Omar Mohammed Baduri was the president of the party, Blatta Mohamed Abdella Ali the vice presiden. In May 1949 the party changed its name to 'New Eritrea Party'. At the same time it reformulated its agenda, supporting immediate independence. The party sought to build an alliance with the Moslem League. In June 1949 the party became a member of the Independence Bloc. The Independence Bloc called for immediate independence of Eritrea within its 1936 borders Readmore.
  • By 1949, there were nine Eritrean political organizations. Only one, the Unionist Party which was fully financed and supported by the Haile Sellassie regime, pushed for unity with Ethiopia. The rest, in one form or another, fought for the independence of Eritrea and eventually formed the Eritrean Independence Bloc with Ibrahim Sultan at the head. Read more
  • The proliferation of political parties

    Source: Redie Bereketeab, 2000, p.148 [fig.1]

    Despite all the intimidation, by the Unionist, the independence block group such as the ML, LPP, NPW, and NEPIP had never stop from demanding independence when the Four Power Commission of the UN visited Eritrea between November 7, 1947 and January 3, 1948.  The anti- unionist movement and pro-independence formed a coalition  known as the Independence Bloc(IB) on July 1949,with the aim  of immediate independence of Eritrea and establishment of a democratic government.

    The Independece Bloc was a coalition of several parties espousing independence for Eritrea. In 1949, Abdulkadier Kebira was chosen as Independece Bloc deligate to UN.

Abdel Kadir Kebire,  who was first vice president (1941-46) of the Mahaber Feqri Hager(MFH) and President of the ML-Asmara  branch, was assassinated on March 30, 1949 on the eve of his departure to attend the meeting  in Lake Success, New York, as well attacked on Dedjazmach Hassan Ali of the Moslem League by Unionists (Spencer, 1984:197). This was because of the of UP intolerance. [find more information about Shifta in the 1940s]
Abdulkadir Kebire believed that only through education  and unity can a people control their own destiny.
Abdulkader Kebire  who was a businessman funded many charitable projects including one for the establishment of a technical school in Mai Dshto in Akria, Asmara (Gabeel Team, 2005). Sheikh Abdulkader Kebire(1902 - 1949 )  who became a controversy by calling for the education of women, something, which was a taboo in those days. He believed that only by education and unity can a people be masters of their own destiny. These messages were his vehicle to the world of politics.

Members of the Independence Block in Cairo in 1949

Members of the Independence Block in Cairo in 1949 on their way to the UN. from left Ibrahim Sultan, Mohamed Abdella and Geberemichael Barakhi
source Mohamed Kheir Omer facebook Source: Jelal Al Din Mohamed Saleh's book, 'Keren' in Arabic

Osman Abdulrahim song , Kelem.ቀለምyoutube


By 1950 the IB had failed to achieve its goal  because of a number of underlying factors :

  • The disintegration took place within the ML and the LPP which weakned both the coalition and the independence  movement. Example, Liberal Unionist Party led by  Dedjazmatch Abrah Tessema, who supported a conditional union  after receiving assurances from Ethiopia that the Eritreans would be left alone to manage their own affairs, and the Independent  Eritrea United to Ethiopia Party (previously Independent Eritrea Party) split from the LLP. The Liberal Unionist Party led by Dedjazmatch Abrah Tessema, split from the LLP.

  • According Markakis' book, NATIONAL AND CLASS CONFLICT IN THE HORN OF AFRICA in the western lowlands, 'a considerable proportion of the representatives of the aristocratic classes were in favor of union with Ethiopia, though some of them admitted that they left the Muslim League because it had promised their serfs more rights…' (FPC, Eritrea, 1948:120] Gebre-Medhin(1989 p155) also states that a variety of forces, representing disparate  political, economic and cutltural groupings was incorporated in the coalition(serfs, aristocrats, religious leaders and urban middle class). Consequently, when the serf-dominated Moslem League advocated the independence and emancipation of the serfs many of the members from the aristocratic class abandoned the Independece Bloc and supported union with Ethiopia. Example: Sheikh Ali  Radai and Mohammed Idris Adem.

Sheikh Ali Rada /Idris Mohammed

A. Sheikh Ali  Radai  leader of the National Party of Massawa who opposed Ibrahim Sultan’s leadership also split afrom the ML  and established  a separate party, the Independent Moslem League and joined  the unionist camp (Iyob, 1995:77)
B.Mohammed Idris Adem(the founder of the ELF in 1960), and other groups of the nobility from the feudal Moslem landowners realized they were dominated by the serf emancipation movement seceded from the Moslem League. Following this, Kentebai Osman Hidad of Rora and Diglel Gelani of Beni Amer approached the Four Power Power Commision, pledging their support for a union with Ethiopia.

The movement for independence had its origins in the `serf emancipation movement' formed in 1942 to organize for liberation of the ogre from the rule of the nabeab and shumagulle, the aristocratic clans of the west and north. The movement was encouraged by the British and was a reaction to the blocked process of change during the Italian period. In brief, the pastoralists in the west and north (the Bani Amir and Habab being the most numerous) were divided into `aristocrats' and `serfs' with the dominant position of the former based on an historic claim of conquest over the indigenous peoples.The aristocratic clan livied tax on their conquered subjects who payed a range of dues and provided services in return for protection. (Pool, 1983). Read more

Source Eritrea and Ethiopia: the federal experience:p.108

This picture is a depiction of the Wa"la Betgiogis , that is so much talked about before the beginnings of party organization in Eritrea. The Bishop, as the Metropolitan for Tigray and Eritrea was considered as part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church , whose head was the Emperor, had diplomatic immunity according to the terms of Italian surrender to the British Military Administration. As a result, he was not entitled to participate in any poltical activity. As a result, the governor, General Longrig , sentenced him to a year of house imprisonment, so he could officiate at the Church, his priestly duties and then return home. Kennedy Trevaskis, as the politcal officer was in charge of enforcing the judgment of the Governor. The faces of most of the people in the crod are recognizable and are dfinitely members of the Andnet group. On the lower leftis Dej. Zerom Kifle, the 5th on front is Dej. Gebreyohannes Tesfamariam, ; next to him is the lawyer, Misghina Almedom. The abun Marksos can be easily identified, with the one to his left is Ra"si Kidanemariam; and Keshi Dimetros Ghebremariam can be seenon the third row and is the 3rd from the left. An effort could be done to recognize most of them preset. The same picture was published in "Zemen" with the names of everyone present identified. Source taken from (Taken from the comment FB Posting by Habte Teclemariam

.Generally, in the late 1940s, these political leaders of Moslem League such as Mohammed Idris Adem who split from League joined the Unionist party, instead of working together with the Ibrahim Sultan for Eritrean independence.

According to Jordan Gebre-Medhin, out of a total of 42 Central Committee members of the Unionist Party, 22 were Moslems. Jordan Gebre-Medhinadds that it is wrong to assume that the Unionist Party at the leadership level was predominantly Christian. At the same time,only in Massawa was the Unionist Party supported by a local ruling class. In any case power in the Unionist Party was not exercised by the Party's ruling body but by its elected officials, who were handpicked by the Ethiopian Liaison officer in Asmara and were presented to the Central Committee for automatic approval. Those were Tedla Bairu; Sa id Ahmed Hayote, Fit Tahr Adem and Fit Hargot Abbey, who served as General Secretary, Vice Secretary, Treasure and Vice Treasure respectively.

The most powerful of this group, Ato Tedla Bairu made his entry into Unionist politics preceding the waala Bet Giorgis Conference and acquired fame and his zealous sabotage of the Waala's efforts at peace and reconcilation [Source Jordan Gebre-Medhin 1989: pp118-119]

  • As a result of the disunity of the political leaders and splitting within the Independence Bloc, finally the Independence Bloc changed its name to the Eritrean Democratic Front (EDF), 1950s.  [see fig. 1]. On 2 December 1950 the UN adopted Resolution 390A(V) which provided that Eritrea Would become a federation with Ethiopia on September 11, 1952.

"...I also have in me the courage to die for my political beliefs, for the cause of liberty of my country, and for the genuine interest of my brothers and sisters." Woldeab Woldemariam in Hanti, Eritrea, Issue#, August 22, 1951

Tedla’s unwavering Unionist position and personal patronage network led to his unopposed election to  the first Assembly for his home district of KARNISHEM. In March, 1952 the Eritrean Assembly elected Ato Tedla Bairu as President and Sheik Ali Radai as Vice-President of the Assembly, both of them from the Unionist party which played a great role in weakening Eritrean nationalism in the 1940s.

Asmara, Eritrea 1952: British Troops' Farewell Parade Youtube

The Rebirth of  Eritrean nationalism

Historical background on the rebirth of  Eritrean nationalism and early development of  the Independence struggle (1952-1958)

On July 10, 1952, the Eritrean Constitution was approved by the Assembly and  Emperor Haile Selessaie ratified the Federal Act (the central core of UN resolution 390 V) which establishing the federation on September 11, 1952. The federation became formal with Ato Tedla Bairu as the chief executive of the Eritrean government. However, on September 30, 1952, Proclamation number 130 was issued by Emperor, declaring the federal Ethiopian court to be the territory's final court of appeal. This was in violation of Articles 85 and 90 of the Eritrean Constitution which was approved by the Assembly on July 10, 1952.

1.The Workers Syndicate of Eritrea was founded with the help of Ato Wolde-Ab Woldemariam in late 1952. According Gebre-Medhin, (1989:171) the veteran workers and agitator Aldo Mafess, and another member of the Italian Communist Party, Carlo Bregaro played important roles in the formation of the Syndicate. Gebre-Medhin adds that the Syndicate was a political as well as a trade-union organization which played a great role in the Workers' strikes and boycotts to frustrate Ethiopia's ambition in Eritrea. Gebre-Medhin adds that during this period the self-employed tailors also formed an underground organization.  The workers (dock and railroad workers) defended democratic rights such as strikes, demonstrations and associations enshrined in the Eritrean constitution.

As extension of the September 30, 1952 violation of the Eritrean Constitution in 1953, the Empire tightened its control by passing a law that required all males in urban areas to carry identity card at all time. In protesting against this on May 25, 1953, Omar Kadi, jurist , former President of the IML, and editor of the pro-unionist newspaper Andinet'nMe'belnaan/Union e Progresso(Union and Progress) was one of the few members of the Eritrean Assembly to lodge a letter of protest to the President of the Assembly. By September 1953, oppostion movement were beginning to emerge ( Negash, 1997:85). In October 1953, all parties, with the exception of the Unionist Party, made an appeal to the U.N., requesting this body to insure respect of the Federal Resolution.

Bereketeab (2000:176) also pointed out by 1953 “the more fanatic of the young Unionists, formerly of a ‘union or die’ attitude, have now changed their cry to’Federation or die, this was reported by  British Police Commissioner of Eritrea, Colonel Cracknell.

In 1953 Three youth organizations were founded. The one commonly called simply Shabab which was the  Moslem Youth League. The second one called Partite Giovanile Federalists Eritrea (The Young Federalists) held their first organizational meeting on Dec.26, 1953.

According to Killion (1997:50)  The Young Federalists had about 60-80 members and their first leaders was Tesfai Redda from Dekemhare,  who was repeatedly imprisoned and tortured.

By 1958 the Young Federalist movement were part of a widespread "Federalst-Independence movement" noted by the US Consulate in Asmara, and their ideology had gone beyond the idea of simply preserving Eritrean autonomy to seeing Federation asa "stepping stone" towards independence.

The Muslim Youth League (commonly called simply Shabab) was more militant than the You-1950s. A leading figure in it was Imam Musa Adem, who had already been arrested for anti-government actions in 1954 along with Haji Suleiman Ahmed. [source from note 50 Killion (1997:51]

 Both organizations were composed primarily of young men, representing the new and much more militantly anti-Ethiopian nationalist, generation of Eritreans who came of age after the demise of European colonial rule (Killion 1997:51).

By 1958 the Young Federalists were part of a widespread " Federalist-Independence movement" Their ideology had gone beyond the idea of simply preserving  Eritrean autonomy to seeing Federation as a " stepping stone" towards independence. (Killion 1997:50).

The third youth organization called the Eritrean Youth Peace Council. According to Berketeab(2000:169)  an organization called the Eritrean Youth Peace Council emerged, which was an amalgamation of the  Youth wing of the Moslem League and the Unionist Party

3. Two professional associations, the first known as the Asmara Teachers' Association following  the strike the Teachers' Association was banned, its Club closed and its leaders (such as Issayas Tesfai,  A bebe Yasin & Tsegai Negash) were briefly arrested, and the other was called  Mah'ber Memheyash Hagarawi Limidi ( Association for the Development of National Culture M.M.H.L)  was founded in 1957 when its 45 members staged several singing and drama productions in Mendefera and  at the Cinema Impero in Asmara ( attended by 3,000. Amine Gebre-Kirstos a participant and worker at the Government Printing Press, along with two other M.M.H.L members were imprisoned and tortured for 3 months following the Asmara show.

All the above organizations took an active role in the resistance against the violations of the Federal Constitution between 1952 and1958. For example between 1954 and 1956 sporadic student strikes were common, especially in Asmara.

  • On May 22, 1954 a resolution condemning " Ethiopian interference in Eritrean affairs" was adopted by the Eritrean Parliament, with numerous Unionist deputies voting in favour of the resolution. (Bimbi, 1982:179)

Resistance in the Press

The weekly Voice of Eritrea (Dehai Eritrea)became the principal channel through which actions of the Ethiopian government and their impact on Eritrea's autonomy and constitution were discussed. The paper's first appeared one week after the inauguration of the Federation. In its inaugural issue of September 21, 1952 the Voice of Eritrea advised its reader that it was no longer the voice of the M.L., rather the voice of all Eritreans, a non-sectarian and non-denominational weekly open to all views.

Since Woldeab's Hanti Eritrea had ceased publication, the Voice absorbed some of the editorial that worked with Hanti-Eritrea. The Voice's editor was Mohamed Said Mohamed, its staff writers included Sirji Abdu and Elias Teklu. Until it was shut down two year later in 1954, the Voice of Eritrea was fearless champion of Eritrea's Consitution and autonomy [Tekie p41]

In the year 1954, the publisher of "Dehai Eritrea" Mahmoud Saleh was imprisoned and a contributor to the newspaper and writer Elias Teklu was also imprisoned by the government of Ethiopia which later is charged for life imprisonment. Elias Amare Gebrezgheir on December 17, 2001 wrote . Dehai Eritra entered the stage with gusto and started to write provocatively critical articles pertaining to the government of Eritrea’s activities. Its editor was Hussien Seid Hayoti (for a while Mohammed Said Mohammed was also the editor) and it was a weekly newspaper written in Tigrinya and Arabic, with a smattering of Italian articles occasionally. Two of its brilliant writers of the early period were Elias Teklu and Siraj Abdu. Elias Teklu was later imprisoned for his vigorous defense of the democratic constitutional rights of Eritreans and was taken to Ethiopia were he languished in prison for some years and finally joined the rank of the earlier martyrs. One article of the early period was titled “wshTawi naSnet iertras nabey abilu Kon iyu zguAz zelo” (Whither the internal autonomy of Eritrea?); another expose under the title of  “qunqune ab hnSa mengsti iertra” (termites inside the structure of Government of Eritrea) warned against corruption of power of the Baito representatives [Read more]

One of the several articles  that alarmed the Eritrean and Ethiopian government was an article by Elias Teklu. The two-part article was entitled “Stagnation or Progress” In the two part article Elias drew a comparison between Eritrea’constitutional government and Ethiopian’s monarchy. The editors was warned several times, said the Secretary, but continued to publish tendentious materials “until the paper was closed” Even after the paper had won the first court  battle the constitutionalty of closing  the paper in the first place was kept alive in the Assembly. Ibrahim Sultan reminded Tedla Bairu that suppressing the paper was unconstitutional, a breach of Articles 22 and 30. Elias Teklu was sentenced to five years of jail time [pp47-48]
Source Tekie Fessehatzion A brief encounter with Democracy: From acquiescence to Resistance during Eritrea’s early Federation Years Eritrean StudiesReview  vol.2 no.2 1998

In 1956, a major student demonstration protesting all forms of human rights violations was brutally suppressed.

In 1957 the Ethiopian  government  in order to restrict the progressive education system in Eritrea took  the first step  by  replaventuacing  Tiginya and Arabic the official Eritrean languages guaranteed by the federal act with  Amharic ( the Official language of Ethiopia). Killion (1997:53) the student ) demonstration occurred May 9 against the imposition of Amharic as the school's language of instruction. Among its leaders was Tuku'e Yehedego a soccer star , who achieved fame by 'heading' the police commander, he later helped organize the ELM in Asmara. [Read Mysterious death of Tuku'e ]

Thereafter,  all the school textbooks and other documents which had been  written in Tigrigna   were burnt [11],  by the Ethiopian government.  Yohannes Zeggai  documented it as follows.

“A greater part of the books, together with other documents, were burned in 1963 in the industrial  oven of the Matches Factory in Asmara. The same took place at the Ceramic Factory in Asmara. Private collections were also gathered and destroyed in similar fashion”    (Negash , p10)

In 1957, the Ethiopian government also banned trade unions, closed many Eritrean industries, dismantled Eritrean factories and moved them to the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. In consequence, the number of workers in Eritrea declined from 32,400 (27,000 Eritreans; 5,400 Italians) to 10, 350(10,000 Eritrean; 350 Italian) (Kidane, 1999)

The 1958 General Strike

Following is an excerpt from "The Eritrean Workers' Orgnization and early National Mobilization 1948-1958 by Tom Killion]

The 1958 General Strike was inteded to be nationwide, but the major organization drive was in Asmara, where the HZSKSE had its strongst ties[ HZSKSE=Hara Zekhone Semret Kefletat Serahtenyatat Eritrawiyan, officially translated into English as the "Syndicate of Free Eritrean Workers. Wolde-Ab also advised that workers change the organisation's name to HZSKSE when the BA approved the new organisation in January 1958.]

Although the strike call was honored by some workers in Massawa and Keren, the repression of the preceding months made the majority of Muslims in these cities wary of public confrontations with the police, and demonstrations took place in Masswa only on March 14 and 15. In Asmara, however, the strike committee planned a massive public demonstration at the Monophysite (Tewahdo) Cathdral of Kidist Mariam. Tho plan called for a march the Cathedral plaza, Piazza Selama, where the workers would pray for their demands to be recognized. Through the HZSKSE's network of local trade unions, the strike committed mobilized 700 bicycle-mounted workers wearing white armbands to actas its peace guards"(selam zabenyatat) and assure public order and reduce the possiblility of violent confrontations. As a word of strike spread through the city during the weekend, it was greeted with an outpouring of support.

On Monday morning, March 10, no shops or businesses opened in Asmara and an Italian journalist reported that the city was "paralyzed". During the morning a "disciplined" crowd estimated at 80,000 gathered in the Piazza Selama to hear speeches from labor leaders describing the purpose of the strike and the promised appearance of the Eritrean Chief executive to explain the government's postion. On Tuesday morning, a second demonstration was held at the Cathedral.

Tedla Ogbit & Goitom Gebrezgh

Tedla Ogbit again ordered the workers and their supporters to disperse, but instead a group of women, symbolically blindfolded and carrying candles, surged up, the cathedral stairs loudly praying to Saint Mary for aid, and were pushed back by the police. This provoked an angry confrontation and the police commander of Asmara, Goitom Gebrezghi, ordered his men to fire tear-gas into the crowd, followed by rock-throwing and then police gunfire which wounded at least 30, several of whom later died. The strike continued and during Tuseday night guOn Wednesday gunfire and bomb explosions were reported throughout the working class areas of Asmara. On Wednesday the Asmara schoolteachers' union, many of whose members belonged to the Young Federalist movement and related cultural organization declared a sympathy strike.
The Asmara Teachers'Association as "strongly participating" in the strike. Following the strike the Teachers' Association was banned. Another, related, cultural association which included many teachers, as well as singers and dramatists, was the Mah'ber Memeheyash Hagarawi Limidi(("Association for the development of National Culture" M.M.H.L). It was founded in 1957, when its 45 members staged several singing and drama productions in Mendefera and at the Cinema Impero in Asmara (attended by 3,000). Amine Gebre Kristos, a participant and worker at the Government Printing Press, along with two other M.M.H.L. members were imprisoned and tortured for 3 month ollowing the Asmera show. On the cultural associations' 1960s resurrection as the Mah'ber Teatro Asmara [Source from "The Eritrean Workers' Orgnization and early National Mobilization 1948-1958 by Tom Killion].

In November 1958 there was  another  two-week general strike of workers, students, and self- employed  which paralyzed Eritrea . This strike called by the underground Eritrean Labor Union Federation protesting the violations and coercion took place in all major Eritrean cities but it was suppressed by force which caused for the death of 88 demonstrators and 450 wounded, and thousands were jailed. Killion added that the  General strike was participated by the workers included the Young Federalists, the Muslim Youth League  and the Asmara high school students led by Tuku'e Yehedego ( Killion, 1997: 40).

Raid (2011, 156) cited Tom Killon has suggested the Eritrean labour movement was in the vanguard of protest in mid-late 1950s. Raid adds that workers' protest culminated in the general strike of 1958 which was violently crushed by the Ethiopia security force, and although ostensibly the strike was concerned with workers' rights in reality it represented the crystallization of political protest against the undermining of Eritrean autonomy and civil rights more broadly.

In protesting against this in  March and April 1958, eighteen prominent citizens including Omar Kadi (note) were arrested for sending  a telegram to the UN Secretary-General protesting against Ethiopian violations of UN Resolution 390A(V).  As a result, coercion   of the Eritrean people by the Ethiopian government and the four days’ general strike   which greatly contributed in raising political awareness that led to the rebirth of Eritrean nationalism.

As a result of this, in late 1950s there were high migration of Eritreans to Ethiopia ( see fig 2), this was when the Ethiopian Emperor had a policy to modernize Ethiopia by devitalize Eritrea's economy. This was more exacerabated after the Ethiopian government’s suppression of the four days General Strike in 1958 which caused 88 deaths and 440 wounded, and closed of many industries. As a consequence of this supprestion, there were also 30, 000 workers migrated to Saudi Arabia, and 20,000 workers to Sudan ( Mengisteab, 2005:305). According to Yohannes (1993:7) annexation killed Eritrea's economic dynamism if only because of the pillage that took place. Wholesale factories were disassembled and reassembled in Shoa. The pillage was one of the motors of modernisation of the Ethiopian economy in the 1950s. Cbaac (2008) also adds Federation was imposed against the will of the people in order to entertain imperialist's interest. Federation with Ethiopia brought with it, organized crimes, terrorizing and murdering Eritrean political party leaders, dismantling the remaining industries and forced poverty upon the Eritrean people.

The once urbanised Eritrean population, who originally came from rural areas, could not return to the countryside, because the skills which they acquired during the period of Italian colonial rule and British administration could not be applied in the rural areas. Consequently, most Eritrean skilled workers started migrating to Ethiopia to seek for work, to reunite with families, to obtain opportunities for further education and to establish businesses.

Most Eritrean skilled workers who arrived between 1957 and 1975 in Ethiopia succeeded in securing jobs in road construction, transportation service and in the food and textile manufacturing industries. In the late 1960s Eritrea was among the main sources of students for the university in Ethiopia. Erlich (1983), who was lecturer at the University of Addis Ababa, observed that the proportion of Eritreans at this University was higher than of Ethiopians in the early 1970s, which might be attributed to the higher standard of education in Eritrea during the federation period. The strong enrollment of Eritreans for higher education was not limited to Ethiopia. In the 1960s there were  also more than 300 Eritrean students pursuing higher education in Cairo and at the American University in Beirut. 800 or so enrolled in the institutions of higher learning in Ethiopia.

Once  the students had gained qualifications in Ethiopia or overseas, they had wider opportunities than their Ethiopian  counterparts. Most of them secured better jobs in the private and public sectors.  Many modern organizations employed a disproportionate number of Eritreans in jobs that included  the Ethiopian Airlines, Telecommunications, Ethiopia Electric Light  and  Power Authority (EELPA),  the Air Force, banks, hospitals and other public sectors.   As a legacy of  the Eritrean federal government educational system in the early 1960s, Eritrea had a sizeable intelligentsia at an intermediate professional  level. 

Spencer(1984: 303) also states that Eritreans came to Ethiopia in such numbers that they gradually dominated the Ethiopian Air Force and the police, 40 percent of the Army officer corps, much of telecommunications and nearly 100 percent of the taxi drivers in Addis Ababa. From 1952 to 1966, a considerable number of Eritrean polit- ical activists and their sympathisers fled to Sudanese border towns and elsewhere to escape harassment, intimidation, and persecution (Kibreab, 2000:254).

Fig. 2: The fluctuation of Eritreans immigrating to Ethiopia between 1957 and 1998. Source: from the statement by the delegation of the State of Eritrea to the UNHRC, 4th August 1998. The origin  of this source was presented in table format not in a  graph. 

The formation of the Eritrea Liberation Movement (Harakat) and its liquidation by the ELF:


Background information on the formation of the Eritrea Liberation Movement (Harakat)

Extended Interview With Veteran Fighter Ibrahim Mahmud Ghedem Part 2

In the late 1950s the Eritrean people began to search for an   alternative way to challenge the Ethiopian policy of coercion.   This generated Christian-Moslem co-operation, leading to the emergency of a "modern nationalist underground political movement led by the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM ) Bereketeab(2000:170).

On 2 November 1958, five-eight young Eritreans, among them Mohamed Said Nawud, Saleh Ahmed  Eyay,Yasin-el Gade, Mohammed el- Hassan, and Omar Gonahta met at Mohammed Saed Nawd’s house at Hay Al-Transit in Port Sudan and formed the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM – Mahber Shew'ate)  that spread all over Eritrea within a short time to conducted resistance to Ethiopian authority in Eritrea

According to Gebre-Medhin, Mahber Mahber Shew'ate (Union of Seven) began to coordinate the various sectors of Eritrean struggle in the urban areas of Eritrea as well as Ethiopia. The Eritrean Liberation Movement (Harakat) played a great role in organizing, raising national consciousness through distributing leaflets, and its annual student demonstrations in the main cities.

Mohamed Said Nawud

Saleh Ahmed Eyay

Yasin-el Gade

Omar Gonahta

Mohammed el- Hassan

Mohammed Saeed Nawed was the founding leader of Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM), which he launched along with his comrades of the time in November 1958. The ELM was the first ever movement that brought together the politically, socially, culturally and regionally divided Eritreans under one movement and cause: the total liberation of Eritrea from Ethiopian occupation and the establishment of an inclusive national democratic system of governance (Arkokabay Team, 2010)

The founder of the ELM, all Moslems, were conscious of the harmful effects of the religious divisions which had pitted Christian against Moslem in the 1940s. (Iyob 100). From the outset, the ELM's leaders attempted to overcome the religious hostilty fanned by the Ethiopian and Eritrean Coptic Churches in the competition for power during the British Administration, Ioyb added.Mohamed Said Nawud, the principal leader, had contacts with the Sudanese Communist Party(SCP), which at that time was one of the best organized of such groups in black Africa.(Iyob, 1995:99). The goal of the movement was ‘to wrest the administration of the Eritrean people from Ethiopia by various means ( Markakis 1987: 107). After Salih, Yasin and Mohammed el-Hassan returned to Eritrea from the meeting of Haraket which was held on 2 November 1958.

Salih Iyay became the representative of Harakat in Keren, Yasin was stationed in Asmara represented
Kebesa and Mohammed el-Hassan went to Asab. The founder of the ELM, all Moslems, was conscious of the harmful effects of the religious divisions which had pitted Christian against Moslem in the 1940s. (Iyob 100). From the outset, the ELM's leaders attempted to overcome the religious hostility fanned by the Ethiopian and Eritrean Coptic Churches in the competition for power during the British Administration, Ioyb added.

Mohamed Said Nawud, the principal leader, had contacts with the Sudanese Communist Party(SCP), which at that time was one of the best organized of such groups in black Africa.(Iyob, 1995:99). The goal of the movement was ‘to wrest the administration of the Eritrean people from Ethiopia by various means ( Markakis 1987: 107). Markakis adds that as a model for the organization they chose the cell structure used by the Sudanese Communist Party. He adds that cells of seven members were formed, and each member was instructed to recruit six others to form a new sell. Thus movement spread amoeba-like in the towns of Eritrea. To avoid the sectarian divisions that had marked Eritrean political activities in the 1940s, the ELM activists set out to recruit within the urban Christian community, stressing, in the words of the preamble to the ELM status, that “ Muslims and Christians are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one “ (Markakis also added that Christian response was encouraging, and the movement became known among them as Mahber Shew'ate (Association of Seven)

  • The first clandestine cells of Mahber Shew'ate (Association of Seven) were established by Yasin el-Gade(a tailor from Asmara) after he returned to Asmara, Tuku'e Yihidego and Kahasai Balbi

Yasin el-Gade

Tiku Yihdego

Kahsai Bahlbi

Some members of the first clandestine cells of Mahber Shew'ate

Mahmmod Ismael Al-Haj

Saeid Moh.Saleh

Mussa Araho

Abdul Salam

Teklay Haraka

Nour Abdul Hai

Ahmed Bin Abdulqader

Welden kel. Abrha

Mehari Debessai

Abdul Salam

Mohammed Burhan Nagash

Alsayed (2009) states that for the first and perhaps last time in Eritrea’s delicate history, the ELM managed to appeal to Eritrea’s diverse society, united Eritrean Muslims and Christians, Highlanders and Lowlanders, infiltrated institutions including Eritrea’s police force, spread its organisation and mobilisation cells of 7 (famously known and still remembered by our Kebessan counterparts as “mahbar shaw3atte” and in the lowlands/Muslims as “Haraka or Haraket”). By April 1959 clandestine cells had been established almost all Eritrean towns and the first conference of the ELM were held in Asmara in 1960. According to Ammar (2004) there were 40 participants including:  Mohammed Saed Nawd, the ELM co-founder-leader, Salih Iyay, Yassin Uqda, Adem Melekin, Mohammed  Burhan Hassen, Ali Berhatu, Tiku’e Yihdego, Kahsai Bahlbi, Mohammed Omar Akito, Abdulkeri Before the conference Salih Iyay was stationed in Keren represented Senihit, Sahel, Baraka and Gash m Saed Qasim, Sheikh Saddadin Mohammed, Khiyar Hassen Beyan.  whereas Yasin was stationed in Asmara represented Kebesa. After the conference Asmara became the centre and Yasin, Tuku'e and Mohammed Birhane led the movement ( Bereketeab, 2000:220)

In the process of the Eritrean struggle for independence, the Mahber Shew'ate or Haarakat had contributed a great deal to narrowing the rift between Christian and Moslem, which had been developed by the Unionists in the 1940s; through employing the slogan “Muslims and Christian are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one”The founder of the ELM, all Moslems, were conscious of the harmful effects of the religious divisions which had pitted Christian against Moslem in the 1940s. (Iyob, 1995:100). According to Killion (1998:142) the ELM started recruiting Eritreans under the policy that Moslem and Christian is brother in Eritrea, Ethiopa, Sudan and Saudia Arabia. according to (Arkokabay Team, the ELM was a unique movement of its time. It had overcome the religious division between Eritreans; the polarisation that was instilled by the Ethiopian monarch of the time: Haile-Sellassie I and some Church leaders in Eritrea, such us the infamous “Qeshi Dimitros”, who intimidated and lured Eritrean Christians towards preferring union with “Christian Ethiopia” to “Independent Eritrea composed of Christians and Muslims”. The ELM challenged and defeated this fear and mistrust and managed to unite Eritrean Muslims and Christians to fight for their self-determination and independence 2010)

The ELM members included Eritrean police officers, civil servants, intellectuals and merchants among many other professional categories. ELM’s priority was to first raise the Eritrean people’s national political awareness that can then be used to launch a popular revolution to oust Ethiopian occupation (Arkokabay Team, 2010).

Iyob (1995: 102) also states that in addition to the participation of students and workers, artists and musicians joined the underground conglomerate of radical nationalism. The Mahber Teatre Asmara(MTA), a cultural association, was established in 1961 by singers, composers, poets, and university students returning from the Haile Selassie I university in Addis Ababa. Plays, singers, and stand-up comics satirized the federal scheme and warned against the evils of "alien" cultures. Shigey Habuni, a popular song of the mid-1960s, is an example of the creative nationalism resonanting within the population.

Shigey Habuni


Intay Gher'e Iye?

Shigey Zei'tbuni?

Give me my torch

How long can you deceive me

What have I done?

That you deny me my torch?

Source Iyob, p.103

Shegai habuni by Tewolde Redda Youtube

In 1959, the ELM sent Tahir Ibrahim to contact them but he was met with suspicion verging on hostility, except Wolde Abe Wolde Mariam, who later agreed to become  the movement’s representative in Egypt (Markakis 1987:107). In connection with this, Killion (1998:433) wrote that the sectarian politics of most of the Muslim exile community in Cairo left Woldeab isolated until 1959. With the rise of the secular Eritrean Liberation Movement ( ELM) whose labour-oriented political programme coincided with Woldeab as own political vision, he returned to political activity serving  as the ELM's Cairo representative.

Following is an excerpt from The Eritrean struggle for independence by Iyob, Ruth (1995: 103).

The ELM redoubled its efforts to publicize its existence and obtain outside recognition and support after it failed to obtain the backing of the exiled Eritrean politiciands in Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. But before the ELM's coup could be mounted the establishment of a new organization in 1960 -the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF)- by former political leaders in exile further complicated the simple strategy of liberation by coup espoused by the ELM. Thus while the first ELM Congress was held in Asmaera in September 1960 to discuss the "necessity of armed struggle" in the event of a failed coup the erosion of the fragile unity nurtured by the ELM was already well underway, spearheaded by the ELF under Idris M.Adem. All this occurred during the 1959-1961 period; in the meantime, the ELM had the political field within Eritrea much to itself.

The role of the former Eritrean Political Leaders in impeding the victory of the Eritrean people’s 30 year independence struggle


ክዝክር ኣፍቅዱለይ!!
ሕዳር 1962 ኣብቲ ንሂሩ ማEቢሉ ዝነበረ ምንቅስቓስ ሓርነት ኤርትራ ብሓራካ
ማሕበር ሸውዓተ ተሳትፎይን ኣበርክቶይን ተራ ዝሃብኩሉ ኣያታተይ መስረትቲ ስውኣን
ትኩE ይሕደጎ፡ ኣብ ድሕሪ Eልልታ ናጽነት ብሕማም ምኽንያት ካብዛ ዓለም ዝተፈልዩ
ጀጋኑ ሃገር- መሓሪ ደበሳይ፣ ተኽላይ ገብረስላሴ (ሓራካ)፣ ካሕሳይ ባህልቢ (ወዲ ልቢ)
ኣብ ጥቓ ማይበላ- መጀመርያ Eቲ ብጎድና ኣንትስ ማቴንስ ዝጽዋE ዝነበረ ጎድኒ ክበብ
ጋንታ ኣዱሊስን ዙላን ዝነበረ Eንዳ ኣህለንዎ ሳህለን Eንዳ ሻሂ ጸዊOም ካብ
Read more

Extended Interview With Veteran Fighter Ibrahim Mahmud Ghedem Part 2

Background information on the formation of the ELF in competition with the ELM : 1960-1961

Sheikh Ali Rada

Idris Mohammed

In the late 1940s, some political leaders of ML split from League and joined the Unionist party, instead of working together with the Ibrahim Sultan for Eritrean independence. Idris Mohammed Adem founder of the ELF and Sheikh Ali Radi were amond them. Sheikh Ali  Radai  leader of the National Party of Massawa who opposed Ibrahim Sultan’s leadership also split afrom the ML  and established  a separate party, the Independent Moslem League and joined  the unionist camp (Iyob, 1995:77). In addition, when Idris Mohammed Adem and other groups of the nobility from the feudal Moslem landowners realized they were dominated by the serf emancipation movement seceded from the Moslem League. Following this, Kentebai Osman Hidad of Rora and Diglel Gelani of Beni Amer approached the Four Power Power Commision, pledging their support for a union with Ethiopia.

Ibrahim Sultan

According to Mengesteab (2005:40) "Idris Mohammed Adem took a group of Moslem lowlanders out of the Moslem League (ML) headed by Ibrahim Sultan Ali, because the League and its leader possessed progressive ideologies with which Idris Mohammed Adem disagreed. Having eliminated his group from the ML, Idris allied himself with the pro-Ethiopian Unionist Party. This opportunistic maneuvering enabled Idris to become president of the unionist dominant Eritrean parliament. Idris Mohammed Adem was president of Eritrean parliament from1955-1956. Ali Radia who was closed to Idris Mohammed and split from ML in 1950 along with Idris Mohammed Adem in favour of union with Ethiopia in the late 1940s was killed by the ELF in 1974 while Idris Mohammed Adem was in the ELF leadership.
Ali Radia was also forced to resign along with Tedla Bairu. Ali Radia President of Eritrean Parliament 1952- to July 1955. He was replaced by Idris Mohammed Adem who joined the Unionist camp towards the end of 1950 which enabled him to become president of Eritrean parliament in 1955 [Ali Radia served the Ethiopian government until 1974 when he was assassinated by the ELF. This was when Idris Mohammed Adem was a chairman of the ELF]
in 1957,  Idris Mohammed Adem was also forced by the chief executive to resign due to implementation of an Electoral Law with the Chief Executive, Asfaha Wolde-Mikae’el. ( Patemen 1990: 72) in his book states that Article 45 of the Constitution stipulated the establishment of an independent commission to conduct the elections. This was never implemented. Idris Mohammed Adem was replaced by Melake Selam Dimetros G/Mariam - Staunch Pro-Unionist Figure who Helped Effect the Transition from Ethiopia-Eritrea Federation to Union.

Hamed Ferej Hamid He was killed at the mosque in Agordat. He was an astute politician. At the time the Federation was dissolved, he was being treated at the hospital for wounds from a trip to Agordat, where the Eritrean Minister of Justice, Ato Hassen was murdered. Therefore Keshi Dimetros Ghebremariam, chaired the meeting as the Deputy Speker of the Assembly. If my memory servs me right, he may have not signed for the dissolution of the Eritrean Parliament, eventhough the Dagna of geza Birhanu, who was also named Berhanu was brought from the hospital in order to sign for the dissolution. The representative of Massaua in the Assembly, Mr. Akito was the only member who declined to vote or was against the dissolution. General Abiy is reported to allow him to vote against without any repurcussions. All the rest of the members voted for the dissolution even though they were promised life long remuneration even though theur duties as members were terminated. [

After Idris Mohammed Adem went to exile with Ibrahim Sultan in 1959, he displayed extreme hostility towards the formation of the ELM.( Harakat). Bereketeab (2000:184) states that the leaders of the ELF, and Idris Mohammed Adem in particular dislike the strategy of the ELM ( Harakat) to broaden its organization through recruiting Christians because in their view, it was Christian that delivered Eritrea to Ethiopia in the first place. Mengesteab (2005:40) also adds that , Idris launched a vitriolic campaign against ELM and its leaders threatened by the youthful and secular orientation of the Harakat leadership and by Nawid's early affiliation with the Sudanese Communist Party
Mahmud Mehamed Saleh who was recruited by Saleh Eyay in 1959, in his interview said that when Idris Mohammed Adem went left to Cairo, most of the people there were thinking that Weldeab Weldemaryam,
lbrahim Sultan and Idris Mohammed Adam as national figures would do a lot, they were expecting a lot of them. Harakat once sent a pamphlet that neither ldris Mehamed Adem nor Ibrahim Sultan want to cooperate with Harakat that they refuse to cooperate and work with it.

Furthermore, According to Markakis ( 1987:107) Tahir returned to Cairo with the same mission in 1960,  only to meet with unconcealed hostility this time from the exile led by the former president of the Eritrean Assembly, Idris Mohammed Adem who was then in the process of organizing the  Eritrean Liberation Front ( ELF)

Markakis( 1987: 108)also mentioned that in the fall of 1961, Ibrahim Sultan, and Idris Mohammed Adam separately visited the Eritrean community in Saudi Arabia to raise support for plans to organize opposition to Ethiopia. There, they were both urged to contact the ELM and possibly join forces. Both stopped in Port Sudan on their way back to Cairo, and met Said Nawid and his colleagues but the meetings were fruitless. Idris Adem roused Eritrean nationalists against the ELM, this was through using religion and ethnicity recruited a number of Eritreans from the diaspora.

In the furtherance of sectarian politics,Idris Mohammed Adem led the creation of a new organization, known as the ELF in 1960. without political program and organizational accountability, the leaders of the ELF believed that mandate had been bestowed upon them during the time of political struggle in the 1940s and 1950s.

Idris Mohammed Adem and some of the students in Cairo established the Eritrean Liberation Front, in July 1960. Idris Mohammed Adem, Idris Osman Gelawdewos, Mohammed Saleh Humed, Seid Hussein Adem, Mohammed Ali Akte, Taha Mohammednur and many others joined together to form the Eritrean Liberation Front and declared that the movement is an armed struggle against Ethiopian colonialism. The above mentioned individuals were also elected as the executive committee of the front. Idris Mohammed Adem as the chairman and Idris Gelawediwos were elected as the vice- president of the front. In the following year, Osman Saleh Sabe from Jeddah joined the committee upon the request of Idris Mohammed Adem. On arrival, Sabe called for the abolishment of the executive committee and since he had some knowledge of foreign affairs, both Idris Gelawediwos and Idris Mohammed Adem accepted his request and dissolved the committee. After that Idris Mohammed Adem and Osman Saleh Sabe entitled themselves as the leaders of the Eritrean Liberation Front.(Winta Woldeyesus,06 August 2010 )

They therefore believed that newly emerging political forces had no legitimacy. Moreover, their view that the Eritrean arena could not accommodate more than one organization (Bereketeab, 2000:184). The object of their political and armed campaigns was not only Ethiopia but also the ELM ( Harakat). Because of this motivation the ELF leaders launched the armed struggle on 1st September 1961 under the leadership of Idris Hamid Awate. Raid (2011:159) states that the ELM was denounced by the exiled leaders in Cairo, who had established the ELF, they rejected the ELM as communist (they claimed) a cover for the Ethiopia security force

The three ELF leaders Idris Mohammed Adam, Idris Osman Geladewos and Osman Saleh Sabbe began to lead an armed struggle by remote control from Cairo ( Mengesteab 2005; Gebre-Medhin 1989). Since formation of the ELF in July 1960, the ELF leaders instead of working with the ELM for the interest of the Eritrean people against a common enemy, but they launched a campaign of denunciation against the ELM ( Harakat) by portraying the ELM ( Harakat) as communist in ideology and anti-religious. According to the founder of ELM( Harakat) Said Nawid, ELM ( Harakat) disagreed over the ELF leadership's belief that they had the sole mandate of representing the Eritrean people.

Liquidation of the ELM(Haraka) by the ELF 1965

Idris Mohammed Adem also showed his hostilty toward Woldeab Woldemariam who welcomed the formation of the ELM ( Harakat) and offered his services to further its cause..Based on the allegation mentioned earlier, when the unity meeting between ELM ( Harakat) and ELF was arranged by the Sudanese government in 1962, neither Idris M. Adem nor Osman.S.Sabbe attended it (Iyob, 1995 :104-105). At this meeting Woldeab Woldemariam was present, and the veteran politician joined the ELM in 1962. (Bereketeab, 2000:184) also mentioned it in his book that the ELM made a proposal to the leadership of the ELF to merge the two organizations but this proposal was rejected by the ELF's.

According to Negash(1994:138) By the end of 1962 there were three political organisations based in Egypt carrying out political campagins against the incorporations of Eritrea into Ethiopia and supplying arms to the armed band led by Idris -el-Awate. The first organisation was the United Party of the Eritrea Democratic Front which was an umbrella organisation. This was a direct successor of the Moslem League, and since it was led by lbrahim Sultan and Idris Nur. Negash adds that although both lbrahim Sultan and Idris Nur describe themselves as member of the Eritrea Islamic Party, they also added that they belonged to the Coalition Democratic Front and the Eritrean Political Delegation Abroad [the Coalition Democratic Front was made up of the Eritrea Islamic Party and other seven coalition parties composed of Christians and Moslems;] the seconforganisation was the ELF led Idris Mohammed Adam, Idris Osman Geladewos and Osman Saleh Sabbe.The third was the Eritrea Liberation Movement[ELM or Harrakat]led by Mohamed Saleh Nawd and Woldeab Woldemariam

Initially the goal of the ELM was to stage a coup to overthrow the federal government and declare Eritrea's independence. However when the ELM began to face both the hostility of the rival ELF and the threat to its existence from the empire, in 1961 the ELM ( Harakat) declared its aim to launch an armed struggle to liberate Eritrea. The ELM leaders finally decided to establish a military presence in Eritrea to advance the cause of Eritrean nationalism under conditions of secular politics. In 1962, the ELM leadership was able to convince thirty policemen to leave their posts with their weapons in order to form the nucleus of the armed struggle. However, they were quickly encircled by the Ethiopian security forces and their effort was extinguished ( Mengisteab 2005:41). Furthermore, according Negash (2005:138) the activities of the ELM were first discovered in Addis Ababa toward the end of 1962.

The ELM's decision to launch an armed struggle came too late for two reasons. The first was that the open discord between the ELM and the ELF had alerted the Ethiopian government to the threat of organized opposition. Secondly, in consequence, official surveillance became more acute, making the underground resistance's operations more difficult to carry out. As a result of the ELF leaders' unwillingness to work with the ELM ( Harakat) for a common goal, the ELM in 1963 began procuring arms for its intended armed struggle. ELM cells were reactivated and proceeded to procure arms to recruit fighters, but the organization soon discovered that many cells had already been infiltrated by ELF. The rivalry with the ELF made the ELM''s preparation more difficult ( Iyob, 1995:104 -105)

Throughout 1963-1964 the ELM ( Harakat) persisted in the mobilization to launch armed resistance inside Eritrea, however this was not accepted by Woladb Woldemariam as he thought this was dangerous, warned Mohamed Nawud against such step. When Nawud proceeded with preparations to send acontingent of fifty men into Eritrea, Woldeab Woldemariam resigned at the end of 1964( Iyob, 1995:105) .
Towards the mid-1960s the antagonism between the two organizations reached its peak, this was when Haraka had a plan to wage military activity inside Eritrea against the Ethiopian army in 1965. However, the leader of Haraka received a warning from the ELF spokesman, Osman S. Sabbe who pointed out that a liberation front already existed and told Nawud that his organization (Haraka) should unite with ELF or face elimination.
1965: "A liberation front (ELF) already existed Haraka should unite with ELF or face elimination."

Despite this warning the ELM leaders dispatched a force of 50 armed men to the Sahel to fight the Ethiopians in May 1965, and six the ELM ( Harakat) armed forced were killed by an armed contingent from the ELF force at Ela Tsada in 1965 (Mengisteab, 2005; Bereketeab, 2000; Patemem 1990, Paice 1994, Iyob 1995, Shinn 2004). This was happened due to the ELF Supreme Council decided to take military action against the movement. Among the dead was the group's leader,Mohammed Saleh a former policeman

Mahya-El Din Al
Ahmed Salih Ali
Idris Mahmoudi
Ali Mahmo
Mohammed Saleh

The Supreme Council of the ELF decided to liquidate the ELM'S military wing in 1965.The ELF portrayed itself as the logical extension of the ELM's urban-based resistance and justified its brutal elimination of the ELM in 1965 as a necessary step (Iyob, 1995:112). The ELM's achievements were
appropriated by the ELF, which presented itself as a sole liberation front dedicated to bringing independence through armed struggle. Bereketeab ( 2000:185) states that many believe that the legacy of this military action set the precedent for the later civil wars between the Eritrean organizations. Mengisteab ( 2005:41) adds that this marked the beginning of the bloody civil war in Eritrea that was going to haunt the nation for decades.

Ahmed Mohammed Nasir who replaced Idris Mohammed Adem as chairman in 1975 said that the chief reason for the ELF attacking the ELM was its belief that the Field could support only one organisation [ Bereketeab, 2000 :184).

Furthermore Mohammed Ibrahim Bahdurai who was among the first the ELF fighters with Idris Awate, his attitude toward eliminate of Harak is not different from what Ahemed Nasser said. Mohammed Ibrahim Bahdurai in the interview with Nhrent, he said that the ELF’s success against the armed bands of the ELM was welcomed by all nationalists because everyone knew that the presence of more than one organization in the country would invite divisions based not on political line but on the backward regional and confessional sentiments. This is a contraversion to what Iyob mentioned on her book; according to Iyob(1995: 98) The urban-based ELM used secularization as a strategy to reconcile the moslem-christian schism. However, the ELM's attempt at secularization was stymied by the formation of a rival organization, the ELF in 1961.

A/Rahman Alsayed - Aug 05, 2009    gave more explanation on ELM in the following :

  1. The Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM) was a natural and subsequent political development in Eritreans’ struggle for their legitimate right to self-determination. The ELM (1958 – 1965) came about in the wake of Ethiopia’s unilateral violation of the Federation arrangement and the lowering of Eritrea’s legitimate flag[i]. Since Ethiopia failed to respect the compromise federal solution imposed by the UN through Resolution 390-A, Eritreans had to decide whether to submit to Ethiopia’s will and become second class subjects in the Amhara ruled Ethiopia or pursue their legitimate, but temporarily interrupted, right to full self-determination. They chose the later and ELM was born as a true expression of this choice.
  2. For the first and perhaps last time in Eritrea’s delicate history, the ELM managed to appeal to Eritrea’s diverse society, united Eritrean Muslims and Christians, Highlanders and Lowlanders, infiltrated institutions including Eritrea’s police force, spread its organisation and mobilisation cells of 7 (famously known and still remembered by our Kebessan counterparts as “mahbar shaw3atte” and in the lowlands/Muslims as “Haraka or Haraket”).
  3. Having succeeded in winning over and uniting all Eritreans to the Independence cause, albeit through peaceful means and not by coercion, ELM’s path for liberation and independence was interrupted and later replaced by the ELF. 30 years later we can clearly see the strategic error committed by the founders of ELF in the cost not only to our lives and properties, but also to our social fabric and cultural values, including the refugee exodus (mainly from the Muslim/Lowland areas), in addition to the arrogance and militant dictatorship displayed by the armed struggle leaders in their intolerance to differences of opinion and their resort to subduing opponents by force, and the continuation of this culture to this date. [readmore]

The ELM's decision to launch its own armed struggle was violently crushed by the ELF. Following the liquidation of the military wing of the ELM, its forces disintegrated, former ELM members were contacted and persuaded to join the ELF's cell for armed struggle, and a number of ELM members who wished to continue the armed struggle joined the ELF (Sherman, 1980:42). Other like Woldeab-Ab and Wed-Libe attempted to create a Unity Movement to reunite the nationalist group. Killon (1991: 196-197).Mahamoud Nawd kept the core of the ELM alive but was driven out of Sudan by the ELF in 1967, and in 1970 the Organisation was formally dissolved to enable its members to join Osman Saleh Sabbi, new ELF-PLF in 1970.

Why Woldeyesus Ammar (Chairman of the ELF-RC) didn't mention the liquidation of Haraka ( Harakat) in his publication? He only wrote that Saleh Eyay a co-founding leader of the ELM had no problem of changing membership to ELF in 1965 when he was convinced that he would do good to the cause for national liberation than by insisting to revitalize ELM.


Rivalry between the ELF leader

The number of the Eritrean Liberation Army gradually increasing from 13 in 1961 to  2000 in 1965.  Factors which had contributed to this number could be:. 1.Protest against annexation of Eritrea in 1962 ; 2 The imprisonment more than 3,000 civilians under suspicion of sympathizing with the guerrillas between 1961 and 1963, 3. The escalation of hit-and-run guerrilla operations between 1962 and 1964. [Up to 1964, not less than 150 successful operations and raids were undertaken [ELF, 1977: 36]. 4. A three-day strike of the secondary school students in Asmara 5. The liquidation of Haraka also greatly contributed for growth of fighters in the Eritrea Liberation Army (ELA) in 1965.

Following the liquidation of the military wing of the ELM, a number of ELM members joined the ELF to mention a few of them:Saleh Eyay, M.Burhan Nagash Tuku, M.Ismael Al-Haj, Teklay Haraka etc.

M.Burhan Nagash

M.Ismael Al-Haj

Saleh Eyay

Tiku Yihdego

Teklay Haraka

Ibrahim Haj


Find more about them [1] [2]

By the middle of 1965, the number of fighters in the ELF had increased from 800 fighters in 1964 to 2,000. This was because of the following factors:
1. A three-day strike of secondary school students in Asmara from March 8-12 , 1965 which caused about 2, 000 students to be detained on the outskirts of Asmara ( Ammar, 1997: 71). Ammar (1997: 60) adds that during the early 1960s, Asmara students staged demonstrations whose political significance and mobilizational effect in reviving Eritrean nationalist feeling was quite high.

Many of those who participated in the strike joined the ELF in that year. Example Ghilai Ghirmai one of those students joined the ELF in 1966 and was a political cadre in the 5th Zone. It was sad that he was killed by Osman Hishal, deputy commander of the fifth zonal division in 1967, this is one of the ELF leaders' crimes committed against innocent fighters in the 1960s.

2. After the liquidation of the military wing of the ELM in 1965,many members of Haraka joined the ELF without trying to revitalize its organization.

Gebre-Medhin (1989:171) states that with the demise of Harakat (Mahber Shewate) workers and intellectuals who had belonged to it turned to open resistance. He adds that in a matter of a few years the social composition of the fighting forces began to change. Pool (2001:52) and Ammar (1997:75) also point out that most of those who joined the ELF army in the mid-1965 came from the Christian and Muslim population who were better educated, or workers who were Harakat members influenced by the Haraka slogan,

“Muslims and Christian are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one” than the early soldiers from the Sudan. However, this was not welcomed by the ELF leaders and former fighters, and created tensions and conflicts in the organization.( Pool 2001:53)

However their arrival created tension and conflict in the organization. The conflict arose between the new comer who were used to be a member of Haraka, Young Federalists, Muslim Youth, Teacher Association and the banned trade union who belief that belief that “Muslims and Christians are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one, and ELF leaders who hated ELM because of their secular (Iyob, 1995:102).

Prior to this the ELA was composed entirely of emancipated serfs from the lowland, because of this the arrival of these newcomers, together with the influence from ELFs outside supporters created tension and conflicts in the organization, as the leadership still after Awate's death in 1962 was dominated by Muslims from Western Eritrea (Peter 1987: 57). Iyob (1995: 112) adds that young recruits from the highlands and lowlands were rudely awakened to the ugly realities from the factional politics of the ELF leadership.  ELF recruits were particularly dismayed by the persistence of the corrosive Moslem-Christian schism.

According to Breaketeab(2000:184) Idris Mohammed Adem in particular, dislike the stretegy of the ELM to broaden its organisation through recuriting Christians. Because of this attitude of the ELF founder leaders, the ELF was founded on fostered religious antagonism and fanned backward differences and sentiments, of a regional and ethnic nature which is still left some its trace among the leader of the opposition groups.

In 1965 the Supreme Council of the ELF leadership decided to establish five military zones based on a territorial division (see . fig 1. below.). Despite the ELF in its publication of 16 years of armed struggle states that the ELF introduced a new strategy of dividing the army into 5 military zome was to confront the counter-insurgency commandos (ELF 1977:38). However the true story which caused for divided the ELF into military zone was to control these conflicts which might be triggered between the old and new political trends
Having first weakened and then removed the ELM altogether from the liberation landscape, Idris Adem, Idris Geladewos and Osman Saleh Sabbe proceeded to construct the liberation army on the basis of sectarian criteria of religion, region and Etnicity (Mengisteab 2005:42).The executive committe or Supreme Council was formed by Idris Muhammad Adem remained head and spokesman for the front, Idris Osman Gelaidos in charge of military affairs from Kassala and Sabbe foreign relations and fundraising. 1965 meeting in the Sudan, the Cairo-based Supreme Council formed a new body called the Revolutionary Command (kiyada sawriya) based in Kassala. The local commanders (Zone Commands) were picked up by the Supreme Council, and the guerrillas then were placed into the different zone according to their ethnic origin. The regional-based military structure instead of minimizing the ethnic, religious and personal conflicts but made them worse.  The ethnic and religion divisions in the Zones  also expanded into the population as a whole, highlighting the traditional animosities which had generated the fragmentation of Eritrean nationalism in the 1940s.  Veteran political leaders of the 1940s who were concerned its consequence they sent their message of reconciliation to the Eritrean people. Below is an excerpt from what Woldeab Woldemariam said when Ato Ibrahim died in 1987 regarding establish five military zones based on a territorial division
Do you remember in 1965, when our revolutionary children became splintered into five factions because of the evil machinations of their leaders and that this division was deteriorating into a civil war that caused us much alarm and concern and that we went to discuss the matter with our Syrian friends to Damascus where they gave us a warm welcome and arranged for us to transmit our advice to our revolutionary children by radio, and that we, you in Tigre and myself in Tigrigna, managed to send our message of unity and reconciliation?.
Read more

In the history of Eritrea armed struggle the period between 1965-1968 is calledzemene kiflitat. This new military structure instead of minimizing the internal dispute, the ethnic, religious and personal conflics were exacerbated and resulted in intensive rivalary between different zones. which was cause of inefficiency and disunity among the Zone Commands.

Following the formation of five military zones based on a territorial division, the fierce power struggle within Supreme Council also exacerbated the mutual suspicion and hatred among the fighters.  Shermam,(1980:75) states that the leaders of the  regional-based military structure (zones), were not  only  far from helping each other to resist the offensive  which was launched by the Ethiopia army in 1967 but also were rejoicing at each other’s defeat. Haile Drue in the interview with Dan Connel said that whenever there were military operations against the government, nobody from one division wanted to help the other division. Even to the extent that every division would not allow fighters from other division to go around their area (Conell, 2004:31).

The Ethiopian army through exploiting the ethnic rivalries between Eritrean launched a concerted offensive by attacking one zone at a time Patment( 1990:118). As a result of this offensive the unarmed civilian population became victims of the Ethiopian atrocities . The civilian population not only became the victims of the Ethiopian army but also became a victim of the zones commander. According to Peter(1987), the zones commander when came to collected money from the local population  through  taxes, fines and donations; some commanders even accumulated property for themselves by  confiscating  cattle and other property from the people they rule. These seem to have been mainly in the zones 1 and 3, where the leaders mobilized Muslim fighters under the slogan of Jihad   (holy war) against the   unbelieving kafir-the Christian highland peasantry.

There was also a report that Osman Hishal, deputy commander of the fifth zonal division,  summarily executed twenty-seven Christian fighters alleging poor performance or for the military setback from which they suffered (Paice 1994, ; Mar kakis, 1987; Sherman, 1980, Human Rights Watch (1991:47).   Amar (1997:82) adds that Ghilai who was a political cadre in the 5th Zone also was killed  by ELF unit leaders in 1967. Probability he was one of those 27 victims who were executed by Osman Hisha

Furthermore Usman Saleh Sabbea in his interview mentioned Osman Hishkal from the Beit Juk was appointed after Weldai left. He had 27 Christians and Jabartis killed in 1967 as they left a store unprotected and the Ethiopians took the arms. As a consequence of the ELF leaders use religious prejudge and regionalism large numbers of ELF fighters  captured or gave themselves up to the Ethiopia government during 1967-1968.

Ammar (1997:74) also states that during 1967, the student movement was weakened by arrests of key members in Asmara an several fighters from the ELF. The problems within the ELF and mass defections, almost all of whom were students, led to a total but temporary collapse of the student movement in Asmara and Addis Ababa. According to Pool (1985) between 1966 and 1969 about 400 to 450 were either killed, surrendered to the Ethiopian authorities, or fled to the Sudan.

This gave a good occasion   for Ethiopia to publicize that the Eritrean nationalist struggle as a religious and tribal insurgency led by  Islamic fanatic. To challenge this propaganda, the ELF leadership in Cairo attempted to keep distance itself from the "jihadist" actions of some of the zone commanders by nominating a Christian as the Vice-president to the Supreme Council Ato Tedla Bairu(Iyob, 1995:113).  


In 1967 Ato Tedla Bairu joined the independence movement in contradiction to what he did in 1940s. Killon (1999) tried to give a brief explanation for this, stating that, according some who knew him, he already had become “disillusioned” with the federation by 1955, and his ambiguous commitment to Eritrean autonomy led to his increasing support for the Eritrean nationalist movement in the 1960s. Nonetheless, Tedla accepted the Emperor’s appointment as ambassador to Sweden, where he stayed until he defected to the ELF in 1967. In that year he was appointed to the Supreme Council and made a number of nationalist radio broadcasts on behalf of the ELF (Killion,1991:393-394 )

In 1967 Ato Tedla Bairu joined the independence movement as the Vice-president to the Supreme Council.These former Unionist leaders Idris Mahammed Adem and Tedla Bairu who were against the independent of Eritrea became the chairman and vice chairman of the ELF.

The self appointed of the ELF leadership

Idris was one of the founder of the established the Eritrean student union in Cairo in 1952, and he was chosen to lead delegations to a number of progressive countries. First he led a delegation composed of other two members of the S.C, namely, Taha Mohammed Nour who was known for his connections with European progressive parties and organisations; and Mohammed Saleh Hommad who went to China in 1967 where they convinced the Chinese to support the revolution by supplying it with arms and training of cadres. Regarding this, Haile Duru in the interview with Dan, stating that when Idris Ghalaudios came to china to visit the Eritrean students and at the same time to establish a relationship with the Chinese government, he was very keen to win their support, so he told them "These are your disciples who will expand the Red Book and make the whole Horn of Africa and the Red Sea area red with your teaching.." and the Chinese were convinced. When the student finished the course, they flew to Damascus, Syria When they reached there, it was Idris Ghalaudios who received them and told them that he was playing a trick with the Chinese." No red book, no party, no ideology. We want only to exploit it in order to get arms and money (Dan.47)


Idris also represented the ELF in the Afro Asian solidarity conference in Cuba, which also trained some ELF fighters in City commando- warfare, among whom were famous freedom fighters such as martyrs: Mahmoud Hassab, Debrome Tuluk and Ibrahim Afa. In 1968 Idris and Taha Mohammed Nour also visited some European countries at the invitation of European progressive parties and organisations to seek their support for the Eritrean revolution. It was also thanks to Idris's diplomatic endeavours that the ELF was admitted as a member of the Afro- Asian solidarity organisation.

In 1968 a new chapter was opened in the history of the armed struggle as the young recruits (Christian and Moslem alike; these new educated recruits were sent to Syria, China and Cuba for military training) after their returned began agitating for change and reforms within the Front, and protested against the repressive measures which they took against some sections of the Eritrean people. Additionally another important issue in the discontent among many fighters with the Supreme Council was that most of its members portrayed Eritrean Society as predominantly Arab and Muslim, and the struggle as a fight for Islam and Arabism.  These and other discontents led the Democratic Forces to question the legitimacy of the “Self-appointed" Supreme Council, and to ask for leadership elected by the partisans themselves through a congress (Peter, 1987).

In June 68 rank and file delegates from all five zones met at Aredaib to discuss the problem, and in  September at the Anseba conference. In this conference the Tripartite unity was formed from the old  zones 3, 4 and 5. The Tripartite unity forces maintained logistical links to Sabbe. Leaders of the Tripartite Union elected at the Ansaba Meeting were :19681.;Mohammed Ahmed Abdu, chairman 2 ;Abdalla Idris Mohammed Mohammed Ali Omaro 4.Ramadan Mohammed Nur 5.Abraham Tewolde 6;Isayas Afeworki 7.Mohammed Omar Abdalla (Abu Tiyara) 8.Ahmed Ibrahim 9.; Mohammed Abdalla Taha (al-Safi)10.; Omar Damer 11.; Abdalla Yusuf 12.; Hamid Saleh Read more. However, the leadership of Zone 1 tied to Idris M.Adem was opposed to the new movement, and Zone 2 had been decimated by Omer Ezaz disastrous attack on Halhal in August.

In the battle Halhal which took three days,  the second division suffered high causaulities and the Commander of the 2nd division Omer Ezaz was killed with 45 fighters. The Ethiopian army brought the 45 dead bodies from Halhal battle field into Keren and their unburied were left on the street for a day, and then hung up In the city centre (see the left hand side picture) after then they buried them in Islamic cemeteries in order to convince people that the Eritrean nationalist struggle was led by Islamist influence.
[ ኣብ 60ታት ዑማሮሓላፊ ራብዓይ ክፍሊ ኣብ ዝነበረሉ ግዜ ንተጋደልቲ ኣኪቡ “…ከምዚ ንሕና ሳልሳይ፣ ራብዓይን ሓሙሻይን ክፍልታት ሰሚርናዮ ዘለና፤ ቀዳማይን ካልኣይን ክፍልታት (ናይ ማሕሙድ ቲናይን ዑመር እዛዝን) እንተተሓዊሰናና ዎላሂ! ናጽነት ኤርትራ ኣብ 69 ክንጭብጣ ኢና” ኢሉ ንተጋደልቲ ክገልጸሎም እንከሎ እንተዚዝክሮስ እንታይ’ኮን ይረኣዮ ይኸውን ዑማሮ? ሽዑ ብዙሓት ተጋደልቲ ሓሪቖም ከይተመስሑ ውዒሎም ኢዮም። ምኽንያቱ ናጽነት ኤርትራ ንምርካብ ካብ 1968 ክሳብ 1969 መን ክጽበዮ ኢዩ ዝብል ገምጋም ስለ ዝገምገሙ። [Read more ].
The formation of the Tripartite Union in 1968 in turn affected a split in the SC between Osman Saleh Sabbe who supported the Tripartite unity and Idris M.Adem & Idris Ghalaudious supporters of the zone 1 and 2 respectively. Peter()r pointed out that, there was fierce power struggle between the Supreme Council members from different region. For example there was competition for power between Osman Saleh Sabbe who took the responsiblity for external relations and Idris Ghalaudious who took the responsibility for military affairs..
(Dan 30).The formation of the Tripartite Union in 1968 in turn effected a split in the SC, roughly parallel to the ethnic dividing line between the Union and the zone 1 and 2 .In August 1969 a military conference was held at Adobha, its aim was to bring different military units under the umbrella of one political organization. At the Adobha Conference in 1969 all five Zones  joined into one united army and a new leadership the General Command (Kiada al-Ama) formed.  However the General Command (Kiada al-Ama) was failed to achive its aim.  This was happened because of the conference was held with mistrust among the participants emanating from conflicting attitudes among the Zones they came from.
Kidane Kiflu was killed shortly after 39 members of the new leadership (Kiada al Ama leadership) were elected at the Adobha Conference because of his dissenting opinion   (Read how he was brutally murdered in Kassala)Paice (1994, 34) adds that Wolday Giday and Kidane Kiflu, two prominent ELF members were also killed in Kassala by comrades.  The splitting of the ELF was also caused by religious prejudice which was used by ELF leaders in a similar way to how the  Unionist leaders used it in the 1940s. As a result of this, there was a report that a group of university students known as Siriyat Addis was executed on mere suspicion of being Ethiopian agentsThis persecution caused for running away of the Ala group from the ELF probably in September 1969. In March 1970 Mesfin Hagos defected from the PLF and joined the Ala group. Later in April Issayas also defected from the ELF and joined the Ala group.

Wolday Giday & Kidane Kiflu,

Ibrahim Berhan (2001) also states that Kidane is one of those gallant and brilliant fighters,TeGaDeLTi,who was assasinated in Kassala,Sudan in the late 60s.He was not only a heroic fighter who relentlessly opposed the sectarian and backwarded political outlooks of the then Jebha,he was a decent person with exceedingly pleasant personality.Those who were incarcerated with him in Sudan's jail in the late 60s attest to those facts.Once he was released the butchers of the then Jebha killed him and put his body in a trunk of a taxi.So was the barbaric acts of QiYaDa ALaMa that left no options for the true and patriotic fighters that they have to emabark upon seeking a different path of pursuing the nationalist agendas.

Source kab riqe -hefeneti Tekie Beyne (2009: p.123)[ listen interview

source Kab_Mezgeb_Tarich_2004.pdf Alem Tesfay (2003) listed some names of victim of the 1970s and 1980s     

Here is a piece of information on the 1967-1968 of the ELF from Tekae Byne's book kab Reiq p.123

Find more information from Mr Berhan Belata interview with Eritrean Tv. Demtsi Hezbi 9 February 2013

From 1963-68 800/5000 Eritrean Students were in Kedemawi HaileSillasie Nowday AAU Universty and some of them were
1,Dr Siuom Hargot,Prof Leggese Asmerom and Haile Monkorios were fm Harvard 2,Huruiye Tedle was also fm Oxford On the other way Dr Biement Mahamed,Dr Weldeab Issack,Alemseged Tesfia,Tekie Tesfia,Beyne Tekie,Kidane Adgay,Weldeyesu Aammar,Semere Ressom,Arefaine Berhe,Prfo Daniel Haile,Martha Mebrahtu,Amaniel Yohannes Radio,Temsgen Haile Tihsha,Michial Gaber,Teclia Aden,Petros Solomon,Melaeke Tekle,Gen Sibhat Efpriam,Mengisteab Asmerom Ferro,Iyob Beamnet and ofourse my Father:-) the list …long….. Haftina [Source from Responses to Srryet Addis: Blatant Lie? Lameak a says: March 26, 2012 at 11:26 am. Erlich (1983) who was lecturer at the University of Addis Ababa also observed that the proportion of Eritreans at this University was higher than for Ethiopians in the early 1970s.   A lecturer, who had worked in Ethiopia  in the early 1970s claimed  that  there were more Eritrean students  than Ethiopians at Haile Selassie I University during the period that he taught there.

Siriyet Addis 1969

In the mid 1960s clandestine group of Eritrean students at the University of Addis Ababa were formed probably by Kidane Kiflu.  Since its  formation there were a growing number of Eritrean university students from Ethiopia joined in the ELF, this was possibly after they were recruited by Kidane Kiflu. These students who joined the ELF in the 1960s were not welcomed by the Kiada Al Ama, and hundrend of them who were at the time referred to as " Sriya Addis" were executed on mere suspicion of being Ethiopian agents. According various sources these fighters were made to endure unbearable torture at the hands of ELF interrogators; a large number of them were also summarily executed, this was mentioned by several writers(Paice 1994: 34; Human Rights Wartch 1991: 47; Mengesteab 2005: 43). Issayas was among the members of Kiada al Ama leadership who is responsible for the massacre of those students.

Siriyet Addis 1969

Responses to Srryet Addis: Blatant Lie? published by

Lameak says:

Read the books:-
Alamin Mohammed Said 1994 Red Sea press “Swra Ertra:Msgamn Mnqlqaln: Page 22
Antonio Tesfia 1995 Stockholm “Menqel :Ertrawi Hagerawinet ” page 71

Khuro Tseba says:

What you are doing is interesting and might give an insight into this complex history of ELF and EPLF. It would broaden our understanding of the whole issue.

There are two things though that don’t seem right. You seem to downplay the killing of those two most important heros and seem to say ‘it is ok’ for ELF to kill those two. If they were the leaders and purged, do you think their subordinates would be spared by the killer, who ever they were? Is this a prelude to clear ELF from its tarnished history of killings? I hope that your next similar article would not tell us that martyrs like Melaake Tekle were not killed by ELF leaders. How sinister Isayas might be, irrespective of the number, highlanders from Addis universities were purged. Now you can rationalize on thier killings of those victims as you have interestingly enough done with killing of Fallol- the mish-mash…anarchists….insubordinate…. to borrow your words. This also begs another question ofcourse. From whose point of stand were the fallol mish-mash mutineers….anarchists….insubordinate…and whatever name you are using to call them? So it is ok for you for the ELF to kill these ‘mish-mash mutineers’ who so happen to question the leadership as if the ELF leadership itself was not full of intrigues and conspiracies to allow itself to stay in power? It is a fact that the few ELF leaders, just like thier EPLF counterparts, stayed in power for that long through conspiracies, coercion, and purgation. And when ‘mish-mash mutineers’ have a demand, you don’t simply purge them like that summarily.

The second interesting things is your strong conviction in using Ghebremedihn zegergish’s article or book as the most compelling evidence to disproof the claimed calamity that befell on srryet addis. What he has written is just one person’s outlook. You beat the drum as if a conclusive evidence has been excavated. I say lets just wait and many more people will eventually come forward and share their experiece. It just a matter of time. Then we will most probably be closer to the truth. As much as it is mindboggling for you on why the ELPF leaders have not brought forward some of the list of names the alleged victims, it is also so for most of us on why the ELF leaders has not done enough to teach and inform the public that sryet addis insident was an orchestrated bogus claim.

Lets hope that digging the past does not pull us back to ugly scene of the 50 and 60.
Wedahanka read more

Dear Awate team, has proclaimed its slogan: “inform, inspire, embolden, reconcile.” The team has given a judgmental conclusion to the history that start to open its book but yet has a lot of undiscovered truth to the complex Eritrean revolution. If I am not wrong, the team as an editorial board of an institution of the budding Eritrean news industry, should strictly stay with informing the public in order to make an informed and conscious judgment.

I have seen many unforced errors in your judgment in your investigative report, at time giving many negative political connotations derived from limited individual perspectives. Some of the negative connotations in your remarks are “mish- mash,insubordinate,troublemakers,anarchist…etc.” Instead of trying to influence the public by your judgement, as an investigative reporters, you should have left to the public to make themselves an informed judgment. In fact you should make aware the public also, that the info in itself is incomplete, because (a) due to the obstacles that time and space has created (b) due to the insufficient sources of information we have at hand. When history revealed fully the important layers of truth to the public in due time, you will be judged for your miss-judgement. Now your judgment fits snugly within the pattern of the divided society.

As much as you are the main source of information, the public would like you to restrain from unnecessary historical judgment, which I am afraid by the way, not to be detrimental to the reputations, you have harvested so far. Stick with your slogan. The public will determine whether they have enough info to make their own judgment.

Hameed says:

First of all I thank and primarily Gebremehim for his witness about our struggle in its critical period. The people of Eritrea expects all who have information to come out of their hide and give their witness.

I think no sane person will confine our history in the experience of one or two persons. The actors were thousands of Eritreans and each and everyone has a different experience from the other, therefore instead of underrating the witness we get, they should encourage others to do the same. The people of Eritrea wants to get the reality and curb the liars from feeding on historical events. Jabha is neither negative nor positive hundred percent and the same with Shabia. Divulging of the reality will protect the people of Eritrea from those who employ it for their menial agendas.

Some of the Srriyat Addis members may be alive, I hope to come out and witness what happened to them and even some of the leaders of ELF also may be alive, therefore we call them to inform the people what had happened before four decades and beyond. Anyhow, after the collapse of the regime the Eritrean media outlets will be congested with information that we will not get time to read or listen to. The lucky ones who will get more attention will be those who witness today.



Responses to He And His Objectives published by

He And His Objectives February 13, 2012 by []

  • Mahmud Mohammed says
    Thanks Awate! the darkest side of our struggle history must be revealed regardless of who committed what but it is very crucial to teach our kids about their history. History should not be distorted or inclined but the truth must be said on heaven's fall. Esyas is not the only criminal we have had however there are many hidden criminals who slept on Eritrean blood. Some have committed mistakes without knowing or forced to do by their superiors, some have joined the struggle for personal interest and as servants of the foreigners, some were deeply mislead by their bigoted commanders who were motivated by regional and religious points of view. However, there must be a balance between the incidents happened and the golden age lost in serving Eritrea and Eritreans. We have to look on the positive sides too!
  • Wedimerhay says:

    I always enjoy’s articles from long time, but this article seems to me a bit favouring the ELF. The ELF was responsible for as much evil as Issayas did. The number of people slaughtered by the ELF and thrown in the fox hole (Gudgad wekaria) are too many not to mention how much our mothers have suffered under their liberated eara, the amount of confiscated properties (land and live stock).
    We all hate the current governmnet as it denied us the basic human rights and destroying our country economically, socially and politically. We have a purpose to attain ” A free Eritea were Eritreans live freely as long as they are Eritreans”. As much as we want this, we cannot distort history to suite us now for the current situation.
    It is now a dream that ELF was killing people using a knife. It is a reality that we have experienced in our neighbourhood. It is real that ELF has confiscated belongings. It is true that ELF depended on our mothers to live from day to day and they used force. It is true that ELF created many conflits in a previously peacefully coexisting communities.
    No dought the Nhanan Elamanan document is a destructive document, this article is also hurting as it try to justify the evils of the ELF that has affected many families lives permanently.

    I think let us not change history the exact the same way the Isaya regime did because it can weaken our struggle for democracy.
    With the short time that I have my emphasis is that the evils of both ELF and EPLF are beyond excusable and in an unreasonable magnitued.
    My advice to the Awate team is that, during struggle, many Moslim and Christian families were affected. The memory is not faded as it was hurtfull at family and country levels. If you are not sure about something rather display the message that is you are sure about.

Jebha and shaebia are the two sides of the same coin.


Rivalry among factional organisation leaders[ ELF, EPLF & others

The rift between Idris Mohammed Adem (supporter of Zone1 Barka ) and Osman Saleh Sabbe( supporter of (Zone 4 Semhar)exacerbate after the formation of the Tripartite unity forces from the old zones 3-5, 1968. and more getting worse after Adobaha meeting in 1969 which was cause for spliting of Zone 4 (Semhar and Dankalia) from the Eritrea Liberation Army. According to Nahrent , the cause for the above was due to the differences, mistrust and conflicts that were created during the 1965-1969 period of the Regional Commands (zemene-kiflitat or ayam-menatiq) were not to be healed easily. Understandably, the conference was heavily affected by the legacies of the ethno-regional divisions of the preceding five years. Even in the aftermath of Adobha, allegiances to personalities in the Supreme Council continued as before. The former members of the Tripartite Union were still supported by some elements in the Supreme Council and the rest by other.

Peter (1987)States that, the fragile unity established at Adobaha Conference did not last long, this was due to the General Command (Kiada al-Ama) not working to bring different military units under the umbrella of one political organization due to that Kiada al-Ama were held by conservative supporters of Idris Mohamed Adem, such as Abdallah Idris. According to Breketeab (2000:193) when it became clear that the reformists' intention was to curb the power of the Supreme Council, the three prominent figures of the Supreme Council(Idris M. Adem, Idris Geladewos and Sabe moved to create their own power base, which assumed sectarian, regional and religious social forms.
As a consequence of the above mentioned, after the Adobaha conference the relation between Sabba and Idris M.Adem became more severe due to conflicts which   was generated between 1965-1969 (zemene-kiflitat).  As a result of the rift between Sabba and Idris M.Adem all fighters member of Zone 4 (Semhar and Dankalia)who supported by Sabbe flee from the ELF persecuation in the late 1960s.
After Sabbe split from the Supreme Council of the ELF in late 1969, the General Command (Kiada al-Ama) began to condem loyal to Sabbe. Osman Saleh Sabbe in his interview mentioned that Umaro ( Commader of Zone 4) sent a letter to me claiming that General Command wants to make a coup. I called a meeting of outside forces to Amman. but Idris and Glawdiyos and others refused. The slogan was to discuss foreign poltics but I had also other ideas. One month later that we heard of the arrest of 6 General Command members from our side. Read more. Abedella Adem,in his interview with Awate also confirmed that he left the ELF when the “General Command” (Qiyada Al Ama) detained combatants from Zone 4 (Semhar) just for expressing a dissenting opinion. This is also confirmed by Omer Jabir,( August 17, 2011) according to Omer, in 1969 the General Command, arrested six of its members; and they were all from Semher.

Regarding the cause of the ELF split, Osman Saleh Sabbe in his interview also states that there was a coup which was planned in September 1969 in Iraqi embassy in Khartoum. Farouk Hamadalla Awadalla, Baathist Sudanese connection, he was killed in the Coup 1971, and Muhammed Suleiman Khalifa, who died in an aircrash in Jeddah 1971, were there. Baathist plan was to use Eritreans as support base for coup in Sudan. Encouraged the youngsters to make coup against us as we were against these plans. Sebba adds that we went to Iraq in January 1970. Abdalla Idriss, Tesfay Tekhle and Mehamed Abdu went to Iraq to ask for help. I and Romadan (he was elected to be secretary of the General Command when he was outside) and Mehamed Ahmed Yassir (now head of military office of ELF-PLF) met with them and 5 Iraqi Baath-leaders. GC people denied that they had arrested people. Iraqi Interior minister said they have made a coup and you have to accept it. Then we refused and decided to have a new organization. Su­dan was then pro-General Command. We had our base in Aden. Fighters escaped from the GC and came to Sudan. We rented a charter plane from SUSCO air compa­ny, we had 6 flights in DC-6 with 100 fighters each. Source Notes Of A Talk With Usman Saleh Sabbe On The History Of The ELF Khartoum/April 4, l983 (Transcribed from notes taken during the talk

source Kab_Mezgeb_Tarich_2004.pdf Alem Tesfay (2003)

Brief background information on the Ala groupThe Ala group went to hide in Ala region in the highland s probably in September 1969, this group did not have any intention to split from the ELF. Abrham Twelde who was the leader wished to resolve the problems with (Kiada al-Ama) through in dialogue not by splitting. However, after Mesfin Hagos joined the Ala group in March 1970 and Issayas on 27 April 1970, the PLF II or Selfi Natzinet was founded at a meeting at Ala by Issays. This was just after the death of Abraham Tewelde on 17 May1970 which is still secret to most of us. According to some sources Abraham was poisoned in suspicious circumstance, this was well documented by Human Rights Watch, (1991: 42p) ; by Erlich( Eritrea in the Western Media p.97 1988) Erlich states that one of Issayas' main rivals in the rebel movement was found poisoned to death in 1970; and by Alem Tesfay, 2004. Furthermore Alem Tesfay 2003 explained the cause which led to the death of Abrha Tweldo in the following words:
After Issays came back from the meeting he held with the members of CIA members to Ala he decided to split from the ELF. Because of this there was an argument with Abraham Tewelde who was not in favour of spliting from the ELF. After one month of argument between them Abraham Tewelde die suddenly. After his death, Issayass succeeded to the leadership of the group and the group then took steps to split from the ELF [Ammar, Woldeysus 2004) ELF .

Although from the early 1970s many Eritrean students member of Tihisha joined the EPLF from the Haile Selassie I University, Addis Ababa University and abroad, many of them became victims of imprisonment torture or execution in the 1970s and 1980s. Those studentswho joined the EPLF from Haile Selassie I University or abroad like Mussie Tesfai Mikael  or Tewolde Tesfamariam were genuine revolutionaries. They participated in the struggle with the purpose to educate and politicize the fighters. They were prepared to die for their principles in the battlefield, but did not expect to be killed by the bullets of the EPLF .In the 1970s many students particularly those who joined the EPLF from Haile Selassie I University, the University of Addis Ababa or abroad were killed on the orders of the EPLF leaders because they were too internationalist in their outlook.. Isaias and his collaborators used regionalism as a card against progressive fighters in the 1970s.

ኢሳይያስ ኣፈወርቂ ካብ ጀብሃ ተፈልዩ ምስቶም ኣብ ዓላ ዝነበሩ ተጋደልቲ ኣብ ዝተሓወሰሉ ግዜ፣ ነቲ ብመንገዲ ሃብተስላሰ ገብረመድህን ተጀሚሩ ዝነበረ ዝርርብ ቃኘው በቲኹ ባዕሉ ነቲ ርክብን ዝርርብን ምቕጻሉ፤ ብድሕሪ መስዋእቲ ኣብርሃም ተወልደ ኣብ ዝተገብረ ምርጫ ድማ ሃብተስላሰ ተመሪጹ ከብቅዕ፦

“… ኣብ ጀብሃ ዝነበረኒ ሓላፍነት ጠንጢነ ስለዝመጻእኩ፣ ኣነ እየ ሓላፊ ክኸውን ዝግባእ። ወላ ክሳብ ኣብ ካልእ ስፍሕ ዝበለ ጉባአ ዓቢ ምርጫ ዝግበር ድማ ኣነ ከም ግዝያዊ ሓላፊ ክምረጽ ኣለኒ” በሎም ደረቐኛ ኢሳይያስ። ከም እንሰምዖ ከኣ ሃብተስላሰ “ኣነ’ውን ካብ ሓላፊ፣ ተራ ተጋዳላይ ኮይነ ክሰርሕ እዩ ዝብርሃኒ። ሓላፍነት’ኳ ንዓይ ቀናዝማች ወይ ግራዝማች ክኾነኒ ኣይኮነን” ምስ በሎ ኢሳይያስ ብደስታ ነታ ናይ ዲያብሎስ በትረ-ስልጣን ኣብ በዓቲ ዓላ ተረከባ። ኢሳይያስ ኣብ ግዜ ናጽነት /1991/ ቀደም ምስ ሃብተስላሰ ገብረመድህን ዝተሳእላ ስእሊ ኣብ እንዳ ዘመድ ሃብተስላሰ ተሰቒላ ከም ዝነበረት ሰምዐ። ብህጹጽ ሰብ ልኢኹ ከኣ ጠርነፋ።ብዛዕባ ጉዳይ ሰብዓታት ርክብ ኢሳይያስን ኣባላት ሲ.ኣይ.አ.ን ኣብ ቃኘው፤ ብዙሕ ግዜ ብሓርበኛ ኣቦ ኣቶ ሃብተማርያም ኣብርሃን ካልኦት ዜጋታትን ይግለጽ ስለዝነበረ ኣብዚ ኣይክደግሞን እየ። ነቲ ዝነበረ ርክብ ኢሳይያስ መራጎዲ ግን ኣይሰኣንን ነይሩ። ኣብ 1975 ዑስማን ሳልሕ ሳበን መሓመድ ስዒድ ናውድን ምዕባለታት ሜዳ ንክዕዘቡ ንሜዳ ኣትዮም ነበሩ። ኣብ ምምላሶም ከኣ መሓመድ ዓሊ ዑማሮ ክሳብ ፖርት-ሱዳን ንከፋንዎም ምስኣቶም ተበገሰ። ሽዑ ወዲ ናውድ ንዑማሮ “እዚ ኢሳይያስ ኣባል ሲ.ኣይ.አ. ስለዝኾነ ጽቡቕ ጌርኩም ተኸታተልዎ ኢኹም። ብላዕሊ መዓር ብታሕቲ ግን ዕረ ሰኒቑ ዝተበገሰ ሰብ ኢዩ” ኢሉዎ ነይሩ። እቲ ካብ ግዜ ሰብዓታት ክሳብ ምእሳር ጉጅለ 15 ብሓሶት ዝልለ ተጋዳላይ መሓመድ ዓሊ ዑማሮ ከኣ ነታ ዘረባ ተቐቢሉ ናብ ኢሳይያስ ኣመሓላለፋ። ኢሳይያስ ካብ ሽዑ ኣብ ስኑ ነኺሱዋ ክሳብ ግዜ ናጽነት ከየውጽኣ ጸኒሑ። Read more At the end Habte Selassie was executed for having allegedly “spied” for the Ethiopian Government and the CIA in 1975. Mesfin Hagos is the only person who can provide the right information about Habte Selassie whether he was a spy or not because Mesfin Hagos participated in the decision for sentenced Habteselssa and other menka ringleader in 1975.

PLF2 [Selfi-Natzinet]:The splitting of the Ala group from the ELF was initiated by Mesfin Hagos and Issayas which was strongly opposed by Abraham Twelde who was not in favour of spliting from the ELF. Abrham Twelde wished to resolve the problems with (Kiada al-Ama) through in dialogue not by splitting.After one month of argument between them, Abraham Twelde die suddenly. Following his death, Issayass succeeded to split from the ELF. PLF1 [Shabia] In the early 1970 Sabbe brought  three hundred fighters  opponents of the Region 1 and 2 from Sudan to Aden and then to the Dankael cost where  they were joined by several hundred more fighters from Massawa area led by  Omero and Rahemodan in June 1970. The General Command (Kiada al-Ama) began to condemn loyal to Sabbe who was split from the Supreme Council.
Brekeateab describes the first decade (1961-1971) in the following  :The first decade (1961-1971) of the national liberation str uggle was beset with serious problems because of the lack of a clear political programme, a capable, disciplined and efficient political leadership and clearly defined organizational structure
Civil war between PLF/EPLF and others development [1972-1977

ELF [Obel]:In the early 1970 Abu Tayara (Mohamed Omer Abdullah) who was leader of Obel group (the Marya faction of the ELF-PLF)  made contact with Osman Saleh Sabbe. In January 1972 ELF-PLF was formed by merging the ELF(Obele) with the PLF, and in June 1973 the Obel group and his  Marya fighters merged.

In October 1972 the three [PLF1; PLF2; and Obel] dissident group of the region 1 and 2 created a provisional transitional united administration at Gehteb, whereby they were put under a centralized leadership structure while at the same time, preserving their organizational independence. According  to Haile Menkorios who joined the PLF 2 in 1973, in his interview with Eritrios [Reference], the PLF 1 (Shabia) were about 150 men, PLF 2 (Selfi-Natzinet) about 120 and Obel 20-30 men.

To see briefly the early development of the EPLF formation from different writers.

  • Sabbe sponsored a number of dissident groups who were opposed to the old leadership of Region 1 which was supported by Idris M. Adem and Region 2 which was supported by Idris Geladewos including elements of the Conservative Muslim Obele faction the Marya group led by Abu Tayara( Killion 183). This groupcomprising fighters from the Brka region and formed after the Awate Conference in 1971. The other dissident group sponsored by Sabbe was the Christian di ssidents including Mesfin Hagos who were fleeing perescution by ELF military leader Abdella Idris.
  • In the early 1970 Sabbe brought three hundred of these fighters from Sudan to Aden and then to the Dankael cost where they were joined by several hundred more fighters from Massaw area led by Omero and Rahemdan in June 1970. They all met with Sabbe at Sudohaila in the Southern Dankel and formed PLF whose external representation would be Sabbe General Secretreal.
  • The small christian contingent in the PLF led by Mesfin Hagos also withdraw and joined the Christian fighters who had gatherd at Ala in MARC 1970 and the PLF II or Selfi Natzinet was a, this group founded, at a meeting at Ala by Issays, this was just fter the death of Abrham Twelde in March 1970.Abrham was poisoned in suspicious circumstance . This was well documented by Human Rights Watch, 1991: 42p.
  • The three groups(PLF1, the PLF2 and the Obele) sent deligations to Beirut to meet the Amana Ama ( which later changed its name to the Foreign Mission) and agreed to work together through a united front. The three groups created a provisional transitional united administration in October 1972 at Gehteb, whereby they were put under a centralised leadership structure while at the same time, preserving their organisational independence
  • Regarding these groups Bereketeab (2000:193) added that, the motives, objectives and political colour of these groups, of course, varied immensely. The setback in the effort to unify the ranks of the liberation movement was perceived by some observers as epitomising the fragility and feebleness of Eritrean nationalism, particularly from the viewpoint of the need to achieve a choesive and united nationalist movement
  • In January 1972 ELF-PLF was formed by merging the ELF(Obele) with the PLF represented by Ramadan and Ali Saed, and the ALA group represented by Isias and Mesfin Hagos.
  • Sabbes announcement of the new organisation promoted the ELF RC decision to liquidate it in Feb 1972 which sparking the first civil war( Killion 185).

1971: “Eritrea can’t and won’t accommodate more than one organization/front was the motto of ELF leaders.” read more

Omer states that in 1971 the first National Congress passed a resolution to liquidate other factions mainly the Osman Sabe & Obel groups(Omer Jabir, August 17, 2011). The ELF First National Congress instead of avoided any explicit declaration of civil war but it passed a resolution setting the stage for civil war on the grounds that 'Eritrean field cannot bear more than one organization and one leadership'.The ELF repeated what it said in 1965 when Eliminated HARAKA again in 1971 by passing a resolution that the field couldn't tolerate more than one organisation.Herui who was elected vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Council in 1971 Following in his father's footsteps, participated in the decision to liquidate the EPLF in1972 (Killon, 1991:251).

The announcement of the new organization by Sabbe also promoted the ELF RC decision to liquidate it in Feb 1972 which sparking the first civil war( Killion, 1991:185). The ELF Revolutionary Council initially tried to convince the PLF 2 that they should stay away as the military operation was not directed against them but it was against PLF 1. Pool (1997:11) notes that “sensitive legacy of the killing of Christian fighters, the Ala group was not initially a target".
This showed that the civil war not between the Muslim and Christian fighters which is still used for propaganda purpose since then.African confidential in its publication of November 27, 1970 states that the ELF has always received support from amongst both Christian and Moslem elements of the population, but for propaganda purposes it has usually presented itself as a Moslem movement which is pro-Arab and anti-Zionist. This publication also gave more explanation of this motivation, according it, The Moslems, on their part, are fearful of possible Christian domination in any future independent state, especially as the Christians 'are a more educated ' group.
The civil war between the ELF and EPLF rivalry leaders also used to eliminate their opponent under the pretext of martyred in the civil war.Examples. Mahmoud Ibrahim Muhammad Saeed (Chekini) who went to China for training with the first group he was killed (martyred) during the first Eritrean civil war. However, according to a reliable source Chekini was murdered in the Sahel, 1971. Tuku'e Yehadego who was co founder of Mehaber Showat inAsmara was also one of the victime of the EPLF who was eliminated under the pretext of martyed during the civil war.

Abdalla Idris Mohammed, ELFsecond vice president
Herui Tedla Bairu, ELF first vice president
Issayas, ELF-PLF (Ala group) leader
Idris Mohamed Adem, ELF President
Osman.S.Sabbe, EPLF Foreign Mission
ELF and EPLF leaders who should be blamed for the death of 3000 fighters in the civil war 1972-1974

In January 1975the ELF and EPLF reached an agreement to end their hostility.This was because of the public putting pressure on both organization to initiate negotiation and halt the civil war, it was also the dissatisfaction that arouse within the rank-and –file of the ELF regarding the continuation of the war as well as the increasingly close balance of power between the two organizations. Mengestaeab ( 2000: 197)

Interview with Tesfay Temnewo - Part 30

In May 1975, the ELF at its second National Congress confirmed the ceasefire with EPLF by a resolution calling for peaceful solution of secondary contradiction. As a continuation of this, in September 1975 Sabbe attended the Khartoum conference to form a unity with the new leaders of the ELF, and both of them reached an agreement which could lead to unity in Khartoum, however their agreement was rejected by the PLF leadership in the field.

Ismail Ali (20/10/2002) states talks were held in Bagdad, Iraq, where official and meaningful talks were planned in Beirut; Lebanon, on 12 August 1975. At these talks, the leaders of the Popular Forces were positive in their response to the ELF initiative; and the two sides agreed to finalize the talks in Khartoum, Sudan, where on September 1, 1975 the Khartoum Unity Agreement was signed at a ceremony where officials from the host country and foreign friends were present.  Unfortunately, though, signs of discord within the leadership of the Popular Forces had soon begun to lurk on the horizon and create complications. Actually, the fractious state that continued to exist in the organization since its formation in 1972 in Beirut, Lebanon, as get-together of three breakaway factions started to unravel and throw ominous shadow on the Khartoum Unity Agreement. The Administrative Committee which had been running the internal affairs of the organization under the domination of Isayas Afewerki had adamantly refused to abide by what the late Osman Saleh Sabbe had signed. Persistent calls of the latter in his bid to persuade the former fell on deaf ears. Contrarily, to underscore his rejection and authority, Isayas gathered his trusted followers at Shimal Bahri and came out with a statement that categorically rejected the Agreement. Hectic back and forth correspondences, emissaries and threats to cut off   supplies did not succeed. However, after much haggling, and enlisting the prestige and supposed influence of the late Ato Woldeab Woldemariam on Isayas, the two side agreed to came together in Khartoum from 18-23 May 1976 whose outcome became total divorce. Two days later, the late Osman Saleh Sabbe issued a statement declaring independent existence of his own organization Read more

In March 1976 the leaders of the PFL, Obel and Osman Salah Sabbe held a meeting in Khartoum
to resolve their difference. However the meeting was ended without an agreement between Osman Salah Sabbe and the leaders of the PLF. As a result of this the PLF broken into two faction EPLF and PFL.Sabbe
formed EPLF[Eritrea Popular Liberation Force in 1976 and the Obel group leaders(Abu Tayara & Saleh Mohamed Idris( Abu Ajaj) who were member of the leadership left the PLF and joined the EPLF.
The Eritrean Liberation Front-Popular Liberation Force(ELF-PLF) formed by Sabbe in 1977  which was split in March 1979 with the formation of the ELF-PLF Revolutionary Council headed  by Osman Ajib.In November Ajib was assassinated in Khartoum, after Ajib assisnation the leadership
was taken by Abdel Gadir Jeilani.
According Amanuel Hidrat the split Of Isaias and his group and Sabbe was officiated early 1977. Respectively, the policy of ELF leadership has changed for calling unity with the two splits (klte hizbawi Hailetat), which by the way had brought frictions within the rank and file of the ELF organization itself. On October 20, 1977, President Numeiri called the three organizations to resolve their difference and unite all their efforts for independence. Isaias and his group known as EPLF refused to have any meeting in which Sabbe and his groups could participate. In the end, on a deal that the Numeiri  government brokered, Sabbe and his groups agreed to withdrew, provided the two organizations are united.

Despite the PLF1 and PLF 2 merged in 1973, but failed to elect a new leadership until the broken away of Sabbe from the PLF , purging the Menka and Solomon Woldemariam groups. Thereafter decided to hold an organisational congress which was held in January 1977. At this congress Ramadan was elected General Secretar and Issays Vice-General Secretar, and the the name of the organisation was changed from PFL to EPLF [Popular Liberation Front].
Purging the Menka and Solomon Woldemariam groups: In 1975 and 1976 a large  number of the recruits who had joined the EPLF from high schools and university became victms of the EPLF leaders. Sherman( 1980:64) also states that in 1976 perhaps as many as 200 young EPLF intellectuals were arrested. Solomon Woldemariam,who was in the EPLF leadership from 1971-1977, also suggested that the number of people killed was much larger.Furthermore Teklay Aden, an EPLF security chief who defected to the Ethiopian regime in 1981, revealed that three thousand fighters were physically liquidated by the Front between 1973 and the time of his defection in 1980. Read more
In 1977 Solomon Woldemariam was accused of regionalism as cover up of power struggle and he lost the vote for the EPLF leadership or Central Committee at the EPLF's first organisational congress which was held in January 1977. At the EPLF's first organisational congress in 1977 the new elected leadership refused to recognize the Sabbe force. On the other hand the ELF declared its intention of effecting a preliminary merger with Sabba prior to unity with the EPLF. But the plan backfired within the ELF ranks and generated a grassroots mutiny among guerillas who foresaw the possibility of war with the EPLF in the event of such a realignment(Dan Connel, 1978). Later in 1977 the ELF leadership took a military action against the ELF ranks by labelling them anarchist or Fallul

Although the second Congress of the ELF was attended by 949 democratically elected delegates, many new recruits from secondary schools and Santa familia who joined the ELF were not welcome to the elected leaders of the ELF-RC in the mid-1970s. As a result of this there was conflict between new fighters who joined Front with a secular vision and seeking greater democracy, and the old ELF leadership.
Here is more information related to the ELF internal crisis from ታሪኽ ኣይንረስዕ፡ ጉዕዞና ክቐንዕ -ካብ 1973 ክሳብ 1975 ዓ.ም. ኣብ ዝነበረ መድረኽ፣ ተጋድሎ ሓርነት ኤርትራ ብሓደስቲ ተጋደልቲ እናተዓብለለ እዩ መጺኡ። እዞም ተጋደልቲ እዚኣቶም ብሓያል ሃገራዊ ስምዒት ንናጽነት ክቃለሱ ዝመጹ፣ ኣብ ዝኾነ ድሑር ፖለቲካ ዘይተመራስሑ ንጹሃት መንእሰያት እዮም። ብዘይካ መስዋእቲ ከፊልካ ናጽነት ኤርትራ ምምጻእ ድማ፣ ካልእ ድጉል ተጻባኢ ዕላማን ድርኺትን ኣይነበሮምን። ይኹን እምበር፣ እዚ ምዕባለታት’ዚ ንዓብደላ እድሪስ ኣይተበርሆን። ካብቲ ድሑርን ወገናዊን ኣጠማምታኡ ዝብገስ፣ ነዞም ሓደስቲ ተጋደልቲ ፍጹም ኣይፈተዎምን። ብዓይኒ ጽልኢን ስግኣትን እዩ ጠሚትዎም። ከም ንኣሽቱ ኣሕዋቱ፣ ከም ወገኑን ጸግዑን ኣይርኣዮምን። ምኽንያቱ፣ እዞም ሓደስቲ ተጋደልቲ መብዛሕትኦም ተማሃሮ እዮም። ብዙሓት ካብኣቶም ድማ ደቂ ከበሳ። ዓብደላ እድሪስ፣ ምምጻእ ናይዚ ሓድሽ ሓይሊ ከቢድ ጥርጣረን ፍርሒን እዩ ኣሕዲሩሉ። Read more

Furthermore, Berekhetab Habtemariam in 2010 in his article "Harmonized Constitution’: Too Good To Be True" wrote that... The signing of the Khartoum Accord in September 1975, which contravened resolutions of the Second National Congress (SNC) and was intended to further marginalize and attack the EPLF, caused a series of opposition within the rank and file of the ELF known as the Rejectionist Movement or derogatively as Falul. Contrary to the Second National Congress’s decision of negotiating unity with the field leadership of the EPLF, the ELF leadership signed the Khartoum Accord only with Osman Saleh Sabbe – a self-appointed leader of the foreign delegation of the EPLF – thus completely disregarding EPLF’s field leadership. This was the cause for the Rejectionist Movement and its members felt that peace and unity could not be attained without direct talks with the EPLF field leadership. This was the recommendation of the SNC. Nevertheless, this movement was seen as a Christian-highlanders motivated plot and the ELF leadership resorted to take drastic measures to quell it. According to Dr. Gaim Kibreab most members of the Rejectionist Movement were in Battalions 262 and 149, and in July 8-9, 1977 they were encircled and cruelly massacred. In his ‘Critical Reflections’, Dr. Kibreab records the following testimony from those who escaped this cold-blooded murder of innocent combatants:

    “All the people I have interviewed argued that the aim of the ELF leaders was not only to defeat the internal opposition, but also to use the opportunity to eliminate groups and individuals whom they regarded as a threat to their power. If the aim was to quell the rebellion, the Front could have captured them easily without the use of force. The fighters in B149 were caught unaware while they stood motionless to observe a minute’s silence. They posed no danger to the leadership or to those who attacked them.” (Kibreab, ‘Critical Reflections’, 2008; p. 303).

In the same page, Dr. Kibreab continues to assert the following: “Most of the interviewees say that the overwhelming majority of those who actively advocated for change and rejected the mistaken line of the leadership…and its corrupt practices and nepotism were Christian highlanders. There were some in the leadership, especially in the military office, they argued, who loathed and were suspicious of Christian highlanders. The military office was dominated by Abdalla Idris (and) his tribe, the Beni Amir.” (Kibreab, p.303). Other known members of the military group were Mahmoud Dinai, Mahmoud Amharay and Hussein Kelifa (Kibreab, p. 303). Read more

In 1977 the conflict between those who were seeking greater democracy (the Falul movement) and the ELF leaders who were against change as the EPLF leaders led the ELF leaders to take military action against the Falul. What is ironically tragic is that all those Falul insurgents who died valiantly in the Massawa front ended up in their executioner’s roaster of martyrs. G. Hiwot (2008). Mengesteab in his book “Anatomy of an African Tragedy” wrote Simple commensense dictates that the EPLF leadership would have integrated these democratic by spreading them around the front’s various entities. Instead, the Isaias leadership deployed them as a group to Massawa front where a fierce battle was raging between the EPLF and the Ethiopian army. Massawa Front was where the former ELF democracts perished without enough survivors to tell their storyYoesef adds that The Falul group is part of that naïve student generation that, with all optimism and good will, flocked to mieda in a futile search for that elusive “unity”, that common thread that would weave “Eritrean identity”, only to be wiped out by two regressive identities – the sectarian identity of Jebha and the alien identity of Shaebia"source: Falul and identity crisis] by Yosief G. Hiwot.

Wolde Yesus Ammar the leader of the ELF-RC accused Abdella Idris of being sectarian in killing Melka. However Wolde Yesus has never said any thing about liquidation policy of the ELF against Fallul movement in 1977 . This was when Seyoum’ campaiged against the Fallul  movement by  saying “HA Hu Bel Falulay” through  broadcasting over ELF’s radio programme from Omdurman. Why does Wolde Yesus keep silent about the ELF's victims? those who were tortured by the ELF security personnel in 1977. Mussie Gebreab (May 03 2009) who was imprisoned in 1977 states that it takes a book to tell all the untold crimes comitted by Vaseline and his bosses on the Eritrean youth at the Eritrean field, but let me share few of them read more.
In the 1970s the victms of the ELF leaders were not only Falul but also those fighters who crticize the leadership of the ELF were eliminated under different cover up Yemin, Dugul Yemin, Dugul Falul) by the ELF leaders.

Nabira in his paper Where are the Dots to be Connected Here? point out the declaration of war on the alleged Yemanwi kinfi (right wing) in 1978 in Dankalia, in which many unsung patriots such as Omer Suba were killed and liquidated by special ELF units. Referring the ELF liquidation policy in 1970s there is also a report from other source about individual fighters who questioned the ELF leadership’s corruption and division were placed into the security’s hand and interrogated, imprisoned, tortured and killed.

In October 1977 the ELF and EPLF leaders showed their good willingness for the unity talks, the first talks of this was held in Zager, in April and May 1977.As the progress of the above talks, an agreement was signed between the two fronts in October 20 1977.This opened a new phase in the Eritrean people struggle for national unity. In this meeting the two front agreed on all the basic issues which could lead towards the realization of one national democratic front in the the Eritrean areana. (The Eritrea Newsletter, September 1981 p.17).
However the agreement which was made between the ELF and EPLF leaders in October 1977 without the ELF-PLF also reject by the veteran ELF fighters. The ELF experienced further defections of its right wing to the Sabbe group. According to Dan Conne(1978) ELF-PLF elements within the ELF attempted a series of coups d’états and mutinies which were put down by that front. Ahmed Nassier also said that we foiled this reactionary project by resolutely liquidating these elements on May 22, 1978
Omer M. Suba Omer M.Omer Abdu Idris A. Haji Saleh M.Shedeli Ismail M.Mansur

Read more

The ELF and EPLF had the power to take Asmara in 1978, but at the last minute their mutual hatred proved stronger than their hatred of the Ethiopian army and lost their opportunity. Dawit Wolde Giorgis(1989: 93)

1977-1981: Rivalry between the EPLF and ELF leaders

Despite ninety percent of Eritrea was liberated in the late 1977, the EPLF and ELF leadership instead of agreeing bilateral talks with Dergue but they engaged unilatery peace talk with Degue.
The EPLF leader, Issayas had a separate talk in Brlin from 31 January to 3 February 1978, and the ELF leader Ahmed Nasser (ELF-RC) in Moscow from 7- 8 June 1978. This gave a good opportunity to Ethiopia for preparing a large scale offensive to recapture all the towns which were liberated by both front. For example on July 25. Ethiopia recaptures major Eritrean supply town of Tessenei. Wolde Giorgis(1989: 93) wrote that the ELF and EPLF had the power to take Asmara, but at the last minute their mutual hatred proved stronger than their hatred of the Ethiopian army. He adds that, they lost their opportunity because they could not come to an agreement
Until 1977 the EPLF argued that secondary contradictions could not and should not be resolved by armed means, suggesting that political dialogue and ideological competition were the proper methods of handling inter-liberation differences and conflict (Megseatab 51). This was when the EPLF was militarily weak relative to its rival between 1971-1977. However later in 1977 when the ELF forces had dropped to  7,000 while EPLF could count on 30,000 during that time.( Sherman, 1980;   Megesteab, 2005). One of the factors for th declining number of fighters in the ELF was due to the dispute between conservative and reformist factions Purging [EPLF] , it was estimated that the ELF may have actually lost as much as one-third of its strength.

The EPLF exploited  this circumstance and began to reject the ELF second national congress resolution. This   was calling for peaceful solution of secondary contradiction which was also the principle of the EPLF in the early and mid-1970s. The  EPLF  returned  to the old ELF argument that Eritrea could not support more than one liberation front,  as a justification  to  annihilate the ELF, 
Ibrahim Afa had been one of the members of the Joint Supreme Political Leadership ( JSPL). In March 1979, the fifth meeting of the JSPL charted out a common military strategy for the Eritrean revolution and decided that the Northern Sahel would be a common base area for both fronts. In the meantime ELF units had joined the EPLF's forces in Northern Sahel. In 1980 the ELF was defeated and ceased to have any fighting forces within Eritrea. Based on information gathered from ex-fighters, the author learned that Ibrahim had not been happy with what happened to the ELF in 1980. This could have been one of the causes for the rift between Issayas and Ibrahimwhich he had planed in  the early 1970s. According to some source there was also a power struggle between Issays and Ibrahim Afa which led to the mysterous death of Ibrahim Afa in 1985. [[[[[[[[ [ ERITREAN IBRAHIM AFA Youtube P1] [ERITREAN IBRAHIM AFA Youtube P2]]]]]]
ዒርኪ ሮሞዲንን ወዱ ሰሇሞንን ዛነበረ ሓጎስ ዲንግሽ፣ ቅዴሚ ናጽነት ኣብ ሱዲን ስራሓት ውዴብ ህዛባዊ ግንባር እናሰርሐ ምስጢር ናይ በዒል ወዱ ዒፋን ሰሇሞን ወልዯማርያምን ስሇዖምሎ቗፤ ሓሇፍቲ ስሇያ ህዛባዊ ግንባር ኣረቂ ኣል-ዓሽ ኣስትዮምን ኣስኪሮምን ካብ ፖርት-ሱዲን ከም ሬሳ ጠቕሉሎም ኢዮም ናብ ሜዲ ዛመሇስዎ።
ኣብ ቤት ማእሰርቲ ሓሇዋ ሰውራ ብከቢዴ መርመራ ምስ ተሃርመ ከኣ ሓንቲ ዒይኑ ዛሰኣነ ሰብ ኢዩ ዛነበረ። እነሆ Source ሓዴሽ ሃንዙ ናብ ዛዒሶወ ሞሶብ ALENA
1981: The  EPLF  returned  to the old ELF argument that Eritrea could not support more than one liberation front,  as a justification  to  annihilate the ELF.
When the TPLF started the armed struggle on 18 February 1975, the relation of the TPLF with both the EPLF and TPLF was not good. However later the relation between the TPLF and EPLF was improved. This was when the EPLF had a plan to drive out thhe EPLFin the end of the 1970. Based on the principle "The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The EPLF leadership formed an alighn with the TPLF to attack their common enemy the ELF.This cause the cvil war between the ELF and EPLF in 1981.According to unofficial report this war caused an estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 casualties].
According to Paulos M. Natnael (2011) the 1981 war was not strictly between the ELF and EPLF; it was between the ELF and the EPLF/TPLF coalition forces. TPLF forces participated not only in the border areas but within Eritrea proper in EPLF units as well. There were also two thousand or so TPLF recruits who were in training in Sahel when the war broke, and the EPLF simply sent them to its own units, instead of to their organization in Tigray, Ethiopia. So, in a way, it is hard to characterize it as a "civil war" between Eritrean forces in the literal sense of the word. Paulos's argument is supported by Aregawi Berhe (2008) Aregawi in his Ph.D thesis is also mentioned that the TPLF-ELF relations had been rocky from the start and continued to be so despite the conciliatory gestures made by the TPLF. At last it had led to this bloody confrontation in which the ELF was defeated and ceased to exist as a viable organization. The defeat of the ELF opened up the opportunity for the EPLF to control rural Eritrea without a rival. The TPLF too had nothing to fear from behind for some time to follow. This was also a relief for the Tigraians living along the borders. Afterwards splinter groups formed, made up of dispersed ELF members, and they vowed to continue the struggle for independence. Later, the TPLF began to support the Eritrean Democratic Movement (EDM) and the Eritrean Liberation Front Central-Command (ELF-CC), better known as Sagem, as a countervailing force to the EPLF[Read more]

After Abdella Idris was defeated by his long rival Issay in 1981. Abdella Idrise took military action against his opponents Melake Tekele, who was killed by Abdella Idris during the coup.  Following this coup, Abdella Idris  organized his own election as head of ELF-RC in 1982, and he started  to accuse Christian elements in the ELF of destroying the organization,  this  was to justify for his legimatmacy.  Abdella Idris committed crimes on the Ten fighters executed in Dankalin in 1978 who were all Moslum fighters ust as Issaya committed crimes on Eritrean educators who were Christian fighters than any leader during the armed struggle.

Regarding the period between 1981 and 1991 on how the ELF fragmented into several groups, there is a concise historical information which was published on 22/05/2011 under this heading :Reflections on the contribution of the opposition leaders in prolonging the suffering of the Eritrean people for the last 20 years

In this brief review of the ELF and EPLF leaders' destructive role during the liberation struggle, it is important to mention that the EPLF and ELF leaders  also committed the crime of burning books as the Ethiopian army had done in 1963.  This was in 1976 when literatures (eg Dialectical Materialism, Four Essays of Philosophy etc,) were translated to Tigrigna by the leader of the Eritrean Revolutionary Party'  Goitom Berhe (bitsay). After he was arrested all the literatures were collected and burnt by the order of EPLF leaders.

Similarly in the late 1970s the Tigre  text -books which  were prepared for school children in the ELF were condemned  and burn after the executive committee said that " teaching in Tigre was not our policy "  (Negash, 1999: p.59). According to Negash the curriculum section of the ELF, on their own initiative without consulting the executive committee…, Ibrahim Mohammed Ali, wrote in Tigre under the presupposition that people had to learn in Tigre. They prepared educational books.These people (Teachers) were new comers to the organization. Because they agreed among themselves that the official languages of Eritrea ought to be Tigrinya and Tigre, they prepared and printed material in Tigre for first and second graders……The executive committee said that “teaching in Tigre was not our policy and decided that the book be burned and it was burned according. The main opponents were Abdella Idris and others three from Tigre speaking ( Negash 1999, p59)
Miran(2005) states the EPLF included both Christian and Muslim members and moved away from Arabism in favor of more pronounced socialist Marxist ideological orientation. Breaking off with past sectarian approaches, the EPLF emphasized the pluralist nature of Eritrean society. Readmore

In the 1980s Said Saleh, Woldedawit Temesgen, Idris Hangela, Mahmud Hasseb Haile Garz and others were also killed by the EPLF security inside Sudan. Although there is no written information about the ELF crime inside Sudan in the1980s, the ELF wasn’t innocent from committing crimes inside Sudan in the1980s. Haile Garza was killed with the conspiracy of the ERA head by the EPLF security in 1987 just after returining from the Conference which was held in more

source Kab_Mezgeb_Tarich_2003

Crimes comitted against the unarmed civilian population by the Ethiopian Emperor
from the early 1960s to 1974

From 1952 to 1966, a considerable number of Eritrean political activists and their sympathisers fled to Sudanese border towns and elsewhere to escape harassment, intimidation, and persecution (Kibreab, 2000:254). In 1967 the unarmed civilian population also became victims of the Ethiopian atrocities,this was happened because of unwillingness of cooperation among the Zone Commanders to resist the Ethiopia advance into the lowland areas.

Scorched Earth: The 1967 Killings

ዝኽሪ ህልቂት ሰላማዊ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ብግዜ ሃጸይ ሃይለስላሴ

Phase 1 : Barbaric crimes committed by the Second Ethiopian Army division in the 1960s

Based on the Human Right Watch report (1991:44) the first large-scale abuses of human rights occurred during three army offensives in 1967. Here is a short list of atrocities that committed against civilians by the Second Ethiopian Army division

  • 1965 at Merara, Hamassien province, and at Medeka, Keren province 67 men and 46 men respectively were killed by the Ethiopian soldiers.
  • On 11 of February 1967 many villages were burnt down in Barka district by the Second Ethiopian Army division. According to reports from local community leaders, 402 civilian were killed, and about 60,000 cattle and camels slaughtered with machine guns and knives and burning alive. In addition 21 detainees, most of them teachers and government employees were summarily executed in Tessenei prison on February 12.
  • Following an attack launched by the Ethiopian army against the area where the Eritrean Liberation Front was operating, 28, 600 refugees crossed into Sudan in March 1967. (Kibreab, 1987:71).
  • Between February and April in 1967, the Ethiopian soldiers burned 62 villages, including Mogoraib, Zamla, Ad Ibrahim, Gerset Gurgur, Adi Bera, Asir, Fori and Ad Habab. Furthermore, 402 civilians were killed, and about 60, 000 cattle and camels slaughtered with machine guns and knives and by burning them alive. This was reported from local community leaders.
  • Between 30 April and 8 May 1967, the Ethiopian army burnt 120 villages to the ground, with an estimated 10, 000 people killed and approximately 50,000 fleeing to more secure parts of the country, or into Sudan as refugees. Eritreans for Liberation in North America,( EFLNA, 1977:23.).   Reporting on the military actions against civilians in the southern lowlands and districts surrounding the town of Keren in Senhit Province, an Ethiopian prisoner of war commented.
    " It is true that whenever we were going to or coming from a battle, we used to burn many  village s on the way, kill anyone in sight and take away whatever property we could put our hands on. For instance, I can recall, when we were engaged in a battle near Keren around December 1967, seeing many villages burnt such as Babjengen" , Halhal(cited in Eritrean People's    Liberation Front, 1982: 72). Furthermore, according to the ELF (sep.1977) report an estimated number of 40,000 civilians were massacred during the six years of the armed struggle. Over 1,500 villages were given to flames, 3,000 forced-settlers were created
Between Feb. and June 1967 the following criminal acts were committed by the Ethiopan army
Province Villages leveled Civilians massacred Livestock killed
Barka 80 700 600, 000
Semhar 10 98 600
Senhit 176 uncounted uncounted
Akele Guzai 86 148 7, 000
Total 352 946+ 67,000+
Source ELF Foreign Information Centre Sept.1976

  • On 11 July in 1967 the villages of Eilet and Gumhot were burned, and 30 young men tied up and burned alive inside a house. Five other villages were burned over the following days, 51 people killed. 6, 000 domestic animals were killed. According to reports the soldiers singled out camels for slaughter, because they were vital for transport. Wolde Giorgis (1987:82) also cited those soldiers slaughtering cattle, eating what they wanted, and then leaving the rest to rot. He adds that sometimes soldiers would kill cattle just to get the livers.
  • In November 1967, almost all the villages of Senhit 174 in all were destroyed by soldiers from the Second Ethiopia Army Division . Some reliable sources reported atrocities included: Kuhul and Amadi: the army ordered the people to collect in one place, where they were bombed by air force planes
  • Asmat: the army opened fire on a wedding party, killing an unknown number
  • In 1967, over 40 men were slit on the neck in front of their children and wives at Misyam
  • In 1969, marshal law was proclaimed, as armed resistance became stronger. Haile Selassie used to say that ‘We need the land but not the people'. Ethiopia first attacked the lowlands, and gradually the whole Eritrea was on fire, except the cities. In the lowlands, villages were burned to ashes and its inhabitants slaughtered, and some children were found sucking the breast of their dead mothers. He had problems governing Eritrea as a whole. (Cbaac, 2008)
Phase II : Barbaric crimes committed by the Second Ethiopian Army division in the early 1970s

    The civilians also became victims of the Ethiopian atrocities because of rivalry continuation between Idris M.Adem and Sabbe which cause for the two years civil war in the early 1970s

  • In March 1970 32 civilans were shot dead when the army burned Arafali village. 88 people were executed when the people of Atshoma refused army order to relocated in a protected village this was in March of 1970. as a result of this 700 refugees fled to Sudan, mostly to the Tokar area along the Red Sea coast.
  • The period from April to July witnessed many atrocities as military activities spread to eastern lowlands. 32 civilians were sho dead when the army burned eastern lowlands.
  • 88 people were executed when the people of Atshoma, Arafali village refused army orders to locate in a protected village. Violence against the civilian population increased towards the end of the 1970s
  • In November, 112 people were killed in a mosque at Basadare. The people were collected in the mosque by soldiers who said they would be safe there from a planned air strike; the soldiers then opened fire.
  • Another was the destruction of the village of Ona on December 1, in which an estimated 625 people were killed.
  • On January 27, 1971, about 60 civilians, most of them elderly people, were killed by soldiers in a mosque in the village of Elabored.
Despite the Ethiopia army killed many civilians from Arafali, Atshoma, Ona etc. and burnred their villages between 1967 and the early 1970s, Issays held secret talks with the CIA in order to eliminate the ELF which he achieved in 1981. Regarding his secret meeting with the CIA, Amar(2004) states that Wodi Giorg , who was at the meeting with Issays and Col. Mamuzer Copland had an interview with the local press in Addis which appeared in an Amharic newspaper called "Senay", volume 1 number 3 of February 1993. A short while later, Wodi Giorgio was shot dead in front of his Addis Ababa house in order to keep the meeting secret. Weldemariam Abraham also added that Asrate Kassa had wanted to get rid of Haile Selassie and wanted a military wing of his own. He did not trust the Ethiopian military and wanted his own secret army started by Isayas who was entrusted by the Americans and Israel, to Eritrean front. And in the other hand bring chaos in the Eritrean struggle, bringing animosity between Christians and Muslims, and in regionalism. [ኢሳያስ ሰላዪዶ ወይ ተጋዳላይ ነይሩ]


Crimes comitted by the Fascist military dictator of Ethiopia in Eritrea from 1974 to 1991

Habte Teclemariam wrote These are three interesting personalities who had a role to play on the life of the Eritrean people long , long time ago. Ato Amanuel was the Governor General of Eritrea during the time of Weki Zagr meetings. General Goitom was the Police Commissioner and General Aman was the Chairman of the Derg. All three personalities were of Eritrean origin. General Goitom was trying to direct the traffic so the Eritreans could travel to Weki/ Zagr to mediate and visit between the Eplf and the Elf. The Ethiopian Army was about to use tanks and Army personnel to punish those who had made the trip to Weki/ Zagr on their way back to Asmara. General Goitom argued with the Army, that the issue was a police matter and that he wanted to try to resolve the issue peacefully. The Army insisted that it was taking place in an area that was declared in a stste of emergency. So Goitom complained to the Governor General, an excessively intelligent jurist, thay he could not resolve the matter without intervention from the Chairman of the Derg, General Aman Michael Andom. After a telephone conversation, General Aman made it to Asmara in an Air Force trining Jet, that made the trip in less than 20 minutes from Debre Zeit (Bishoftu). He was enraged against the Army commanders for their erratic position and made a determination that the Police will be handling the issue until everyone who had made the trip had returned back safely to Asmara. Consequently, the residents of Asmara who had never heard of General Aman started having second thoughts about the Army's and Dergue's actions during that time. There would have been a bllodbath. But General Aman saved the day with help from General Goitom and Ato Amanuel Andemicael. Ato Amanuel was a world respected jurist, for I saw one day Senator Robert Kennedy vvisiting Asmara on his way back from laying the foundations of the Kennedy Library in Addis Ababa and also back from a trip to South Africa. I heard Senator Kennedy call Ato Amanuel by his first name because they had been classmates at Harvard Law School. At that time Ato Amanuel was the Attorney General of Eritrea before he was prompted to the same position for the whole country in Addis Ababa by the Late emperor. This is a history making picture and should not be skipped easily.


Crimes committed by the Fascist military dictator of Ethiopia in the mid and late 1970s

Crime committed by the Ethiopian soldiers inside Abraham Woldu‘s family at Gejeret neighborhood on July 1975. Read More

Although the ELF and EPLF leaders agreed to end their hostility in 1975, there was no willingness for military cooperation between them. As a consequence, the unarmed civilian population also became victims of the the Fascist military dictator of Ethiopia in the mid 1970s. In the mid-1970s  the atrocities and massacres against  civilans continued  in both urban and rural areas. The burning of villages was extended  throughout Eritrea  in the 1970s and 1980s. A conservative estimate of the number killed in 1975 puts it at more than 10,000. The number of refugees in the Sudan rose to more than 130,000 in that year. More than 200 villages were devastated and more than 50,000 people were made homeless

Here is a short list of atrocities that committed against civilians by the Ethiopian Army

  • •On10th of July 1974 over 170 civilians were massacred in Om Hager.
    • On January 31, 1975, when the Eritrean fronts launched an attack on Asmara city. Over the following four days, government soldiers went on the rampage through the city. Civilians were dragged from their houses and executed. According to the Human Right Watch up to 3,000 people were killed in the city

  • Between February- March 1975, more than 500 innocent civilians were massacred on the streets of Asmara.
    • In March, 1975, 100 patients in Asmara hospital were killed, their bodies being taken out in trucks to be buried.
    • On 9 March 1975 over 200 civilians in Agordat were killed by the Ethiopian soldiers
    • On 13 March 1975 the Ethiopian soldiers rounded up the villagers of Woki on a piece of waste ground and shot 37 dead
    • On 14 March, 1975 many women, children and old men were bayoneted and pregnant women were slit open / The Ethiopians then killed all the livestock and set fire to the house
    • On 17 April 1975, 235 civilians in Hirgigo were killed by the Ethiopian army
    • In summer 1975, 110 people in the village of Wokiduba were herded into an orthodox church and massacred.
    • In 1975-1976 many youth were killed by steel wires and knifing down in the streets of the capital of Asmara
    Source (Dines 1988; Human Rights Watch 1991)
  • In  March 1976 the army also  shot dead 42 civilans in the capital Asmara. Ato Irgau Bahta was one of these victms
Generally speaking with the  beginning   of  the  independence struggle  in 1961 and  with  the  state of emergency  declared  in  1970  Eritrean students, teachers  and  other educated classes  became a  target  of the   Ethiopian government.  There   was a great deal  of violation of academic freedom at the  University of Asmara, which included  the killing of Dr. Petros Habtemikael  and others in 1975. 

During the period of the Dergue (1974-91) there were a number of egregious abuses against academic
freedom at Asmara University. An early incident was the killing of Dr. Petros Habtemikael, an economist, in 1975. Dr. Petros taught extension courses in the evening, and some of his students were Ethiopian military officers, who objected to his use of Eritrean rather than Ethiopian examples in his coursework, and to the low grades they were given. It is believed that the officers caused Dr. Petros to be detained and executed. Source
Freedom of Expression and Ethnic Discrimination in the Educational System: Past and Future [Findmore information related to the killing of Dr. Petros Habtemikael

On the 28th of March 1976 an Ethiopian army Colonel,  Bishu Gebre Tekle and his bodyguard, were assassinated by  EPLF fighters aided by the colonel’s mistress Nebyat. Nebyat was the patron of a bar and lured her lover into meeting her at the entrance of her establishment. The ambush happened in the city center in the Eritrean capital Asmara, in the early hours of the evening. Nebyat and her young son along with the two fighters who shot the colonel escaped swiftly arriving safely in the countryside under EPLF’s control. (Connell, 1993). Ato Irgau Bahta lived in the same block where the assassination had occurred, alongside his wife, seven children, his mother and brother in law. Around 11pm that night members of the 30th brigade of the Ethiopian Army dispatched from the the Kagnew Station military base forced their way into Ato Irgau Bahta’s apartment and terrorized the defenseless family. 0ne of the soldiers shot Ato Irgau Bahta in the head. Ato Irgau Bahta was holding one of his young children in his arms when he was shot and fell on the ground alongside his child. Read more
  • In March 1976, 60 women  and chldren were machine gunned in the Red Sea village of Imberemi.
  • On 1 January 1977  when  the troops moved into Hirgigo, (12 km from Massawa) they burned it to the ground after massacring 64 women , children and the elderly who were  too weak to escape.  
  • In the same year  on 19 February, six villages around Elaboret in the province of Senhit were also set alight by the Ethiopian troops. ( Dines 1978: 2) 

Wolde Giorgis (1985:51) who was a chief representative of COPWE(Commission to Organize the Party of the Workers of Ethiopia) in 1979, described 1975 atrocities against the Eritrean people by the Ethiopian government as follows:
Young men and women were dragged out of their homes at night, strangled and thrown into the streets in  what the death squads themselves called the “ Piano Wire Operation” Hundreds were killed in this terrible manner.

According to cbaac (2008), almost every family went through the nightmare of purge, imprisonment and torture. In the cities soldiers were going from house to house looking for women's gold. Once they have loathed the house they will kill almost everybody, men, women and children alike. Innocent young and under age girls were taken from their homes and murdered after being raped. If parents refused to give their daughters' hand to an Ethiopian soldier, the whole family was murdered. The repression and crime was so high that parents were encouraging their daughters either to join the liberation movement or else leave the country. Last but not least, many young Eritrean girls raped by Ethiopian soldiers preferred to commit suicide rather than carry children of ultimate violence.

Here is an interview made by Amrit Wilson with an Eritrean woman Saba Asser, one of the survivors of Ethiopian prisons and torture, after eleven months of detention in one of Asmara 's toughest prison, Mariam Gimb. She refused to admit that she was working for the EPLF organization. She was not willing to collaborate and denounce her comrades.

“For each arrested person there are seven to eight interrogators. They tie your big toes and your hands together, your arms around your legs. Then they put a stick under your knees: this is called the number eight because your body is in the shape of an eight. They make a ball from the cloths and vomit of prisoners and put it in your mouth. They turn you up side down and then they start beating the bottom of your feet. You hang from the stick which they lay with its ends on two tables. Seven or eight people take turns beating you. When one gets tired, another gets over. On the first night they beat me all night from 5.30 p.m. to 4 o'clock the next morning. They wanted the names of my friends before they could flee from their homes as soon as the curfew was lifted at 6 in the morning. ……the second day at 8.30 in the morning they called me again…they beat me from 8.30 till 12 o'clock. One hour of number 8 and then 9. In number 9 my big toes were tied together and while I am lying on my belly they stood at the sides of my back.

Your hands are tied, they hit your feet with a stick made of leather. As they beat you their hands turn red and sometimes start bleeding. So you can imagine if it hurts them that much, how much it hurts the person that is being tortured.”

Voice of Delina June 23, 2011 - Remembering Mariam Gmbi (Video by Aida Kidane) Watch video

Maryam Ghimbi Asmara’s most notorious political prison, used by the Derg from 1978-1991 for the torture and excution of Eritrean civilians accused of collaborating with liberation fronts. source Dabasu 1999:17
Some of Prisoners who were executed by the Derg in late 1970s and early 1980s

Source kab riqe -hefeneti Tekie Beyne (2009:)

Crimes committed by the Fascist military dictator of Ethiopia

in the 1980s



In  late 1979, during the strategic retreat of the Eritrean forces,  the Ethiopian troops in the highlands of Eritrea killed 348 people, imprisoned 1,474 , raped, destroyed 102, 746 houses and killed 956 domestic animals. ( Eritran Relief Association 1979: 3) During the 1980's the civilian population were  also subjected to aerial and artillery bombardment  in the less accessible liberated and semi liberated areas of Eritrea.  For  example , in the second half of 1985 alone at least 1000 civilians suffered war injuries, several hundred were disabled and at least 200 died. A statement by Major Bezabih Petros, a prisoner of war pilot captured by the Ethiopians in April 1984 highlights the barbarity of the Ethiopian regime,
          "We definitely know civilians will get hurt but, knowing that the people sympathize with the  rebels, the order is to bomb everything that moves..

• Fifteen Eritrean prisoners were executed on 10 January 1986 after they had been held for several years.(Dines, 1988:151)
• The massacre of 39 Nara youth at Mogoraib on 19 October 1985.
In May 1988 400 people, mostly women and children, were crushed to death by tanks in the village of She'eb.
• Atrocities were also reported between April and May in several parts of the provinces of Hamasien, Senhit, Akele Guzai and Serai.


Excrept from In Defence of My Kunama People part 2 Saturday, 13 October 2012 06:21

The following innocent citizen were killed by killed by the Derg's fedain and Cadre in Gash Setit in the 1980s

1.Faraa from Asabaina  brick store owner, 1980 killed for his money and property.

2.     Ghebre Luul (Shambako) gardener 1980, killed for his money.

3.     Tesfai, flour mill owner of Bimbilna, 1980 killed for his money.

4.    Tonino Alangai retired teacher, Dase, 1980 he was accused of being Jebha’s sympathizer and
was killed in cold blood while begging: Kona Kebini dedame, these were his last words.

5.     Abel Musa (Cadre) killed in Bimbilna for his different opinion, in Dergue regime.

6.     Mahamed Bedani and his son killed for his money, 1978.

7.  Manga Ali from Fode who was a war prisioner  was killed  in 1979 in Kolluku.

8. Mehari Tesfasghi, head of Nuro Idget, accussed of ELF sympathizer was killed in 1977 in Barentu.Sale felice has used a “Sanja” to kill him. A Kunama Catholic priest, padre Attillio Alibo was almost faint as he saw this victim and said “Why are people so cruel to each other”? This father was unable to take food for two days and finally,

9.     His dog was gunned down with Kalashnikov infront of his wife, children and neighbors to show off his “brevity” and cruelty.  You now live in Europe.Had it been in North America, you could have counted your years behind the bars. These killings and killing of your own dog shows your cruelty, personality, and decency, and what kind of person you were and are a madman, lunatic and mentally disturbed. You are cancer for kunama’s struggle, freedom and emancipation. Read more


In May 1988 400 people, mostly women and children, were crushed to death by tanks in the village of She'eb.

There are still fresh in the memory of every  Eritrean the events of May, 1988 when the Ethiopian forces crushed to death  400 people, mostly women and children when their tanks rolled into the village of She'eb. Despite this atrocity was committed by the Mengistu government, from late 1986 until about 1989 the ELF leader Abdella Idris was involved in negotiating with the Mengistu government (De, Waal 1991:252) As the progress of this could be the Mengistu regime in late 1988 met with five former ELF members (who claimed to represent 750,000 Eritreans) to accept their proposal for the creation of an autonomous Eritrean region in the predominantly Muslim lowlands.

The Derg's Ras Gez Project and the Response of some Former ELF Fighter/

One of the most damaging effects of the ELF's ejection from Eritrea was the positive response extended by a handful of former ELF fighters to the Derg's divisive and dangerous Ras Gez project proposed for the lowland areas of Eritrea inhabited predominantly by Eritrean Muslims and the place of origin and long-standing base area of the ejected ELF.. This handful former Muslim ELF fighters went to the extent of betraying the war of independence and openly cooperated with the Derg not only to defeat the EPLF but also to kill the whole idea of Eritrean independence.. Inorder to achieve these goal, they embraced the Derg's divisive policy of Ras Gez, whose sole aim was to break down the unity of Eritrea and the Eritrean people along reigious and regional lines by separating the Eritrea lowland Muslim area and the Christian highland areas.

The political movement known as Ras Gez was initiated by the Derg in 1980s by mobilizing mainly disillusioned Muslim ex-fighters from the western lowlands of Eritrea.. When the Derg's eight major military offensives failed, it sought to disarm the Eritrean revolution by other means, stating :"We again convey our peace call to them ( the cessionst bandits) so that by accepting the determined stand of the Ethiopian people they would work not for differences and weakness but for prosperty, not to sow the seeds of discord by encouraging a narrow minded outlook but to strive for equality and progress.In response to the sham call for peace by the Derg, a few disgruntled individuals who purported to represent the inhabitants of the lowland areas of Eritrea responded to the Derg's call by presenting a petition to Mengistu Haile Mariam ostensibily on behalf of the inhabitants of the said areas. These were according to the Ministry of Information,and artist

They submitted the petition to Mengistu physically in an occasion surrounded by massive fanfar. They stated inter alia

We have here as representative of the people of lowland Eritrea both at home and abroad in response to the statement of the Sixth Regular Plenum of the Ethiopian Workers' Party and the National Shengo in order

... to build our Motherland alongside the rest of the Ethiopian people... With the firm belief that we are Ethiopians we are steadfastly committed to the unity of the Motherland we have been obliged to seek for a correct solution....How happy and gratified we would be if we could only be able to open our hearts and demonstrate our pride in being Ethiopians and devotedly patriotic at that.[Petetion submitted by the represenatative of the inhabitants of the loeland areas of the Eritrean Autonomous Region, December30, 1988. The petition was presented by individuals claiming to represent these areas to Mengistu Hailemariam of Ethiopia at a time when Eritrea was waging a life and death against Megistu's regime

The group further stated. "we want to make our stand very clear, that those bandits who trade in the name of the people in no way represent the people of Eritrea. In an interview with Ethiopian journalists in Addis Ababa, one of the petitioners, Mahmoud Ahmed Lubinet gave an assurance saying "if our petition is postively responded to, we are sure that the people of our area will all return to the Motherland. They are also determined to free the area from the bandits along with the support they obtain from the Revolutionary [Ethiopia] Army. We are confident of getting the support of the 47 million Ethiopians.

Ironically, the vocabulary used by the petioners and insult directed against the nationalist -fighters were identical with the vocabularies and insults directed against the Eritrean nationalists, including the founding fathers of moder Eritrean nationalism, Sheikh Ibrahim Sultan and Ato Wolde-Ab Woldemariam by the leaders of Mahber Andnet( Unionist Party) of the second half of the 1940s.

The proponents of the Ras Gez project were born-again unionists. The main differences were first thought there were some prominent Muslims, the large majority of those who called for unity with Ethiopia in the 1940s were Christian highlanders while the petitioners of the late 1980s were exclusively Muslims who falsely claimed that they represented the inhabitants of the lowland area ERitrea. Second in the 1940s, modern Eritrean nationalism was at its infancy while the petition of the so-called representatives of lowland areas of Eritrea was presented to Ethiopia's dictatior, on the eve of Eritrea's independence. Third, the members of the Unionist Party rejected the Bevin-Sforza proposal of partition of Eritrea along ethic, religious and regional lines, while dismemberment of Eritrea and Eritrean society aling religious, ethic and geographical lines constituted the ceterpiece of the Ras Gez project. However, both the proponents of the Unionist Party and Ras Gez shared the indignity of speaking on behalf of the Eritrean people without having the mandate to do so.[Gaim 2008 pp359-364] Critical reflections on the Eritrean War of independence.

Ato Idris Said Hamid who was a member of the Supreme Military Command of the ELF, Ato Oumer Ibrahim Siraj, external relations officer of the branch office of the organization of bandits in Cairo, Khartoum and Bagdad, Ato Ibrahim Yassin Joubel, member of the Supreme Military Command and explosive expert of Military Engineering Corps of the same organization, Shum Salah Yocob Mohammed, coordinator of ethnic groups in the Red Sea area around Massawa, and Ato Mahmoud Ahmed Lubinet who has served as a journalist writer

In esacaping from these atrocities  the number of internally  displaced Eritreans  rose to 100, 000 in 1988 - 1989, with approximately 40, 000 fleeing to Sudan from the coastal regions.

If the ELF leaders had a good willingness to encourage and harmonies the Eritrea Liberation Army to work in cooperative rather dividing, the Ethiopia army would have not had to committee all the atrocity. Alsayed (2009) also states that 30 years later we can clearly see the strategic error committed by the founders of ELF in the cost not only to our lives and properties, but also to our social fabric and cultural values, including the refugee exodus (mainly from the Muslim/Lowland areas)

By the end of the war in 1991, there were 500,000-600, 000 Eritrean refugees in Sudan, between 80,000-100,000 in oil-producing Arab states, 30,000 the United States and Canada and 18,000 in Germany alone (Pool 1993: 394)


To conclude Tedla Bairu who was leader of the Unionist joined the independence movement as the Vice-president to the Supreme Council in 1967 while Idris Mahammed was chairman of the ELF. Both these revolutionary leaders were in favor of the union in the 1940s when 65%-75% of the Eritreans were in favour of independence (Yohannes 1993:4).Haile Selassie would immediately betray the UNIONIST PARTY; the Orthodox Church, and some semi-feudal Christian and Muslim population, who were in favor of the union (Cbaac, 2008). If those two revolutionary leaders and other political leaders were in favour of independence in the late 1940s, the Eritrean people wouldn't have become the victims of the Ethiopian rule.

Crimes committed During the border conflict

Lessons Never to be Forgotten

"If we say leave, because we do not like the colour of your eyes they have to leave the country..."July 9, 1998, Prime Minster Meles Zenawi

Peter Worthington states that Ethiopia began arresting people of Eritrean heritage at night, confiscating their property and imprisoning and deporting them to Eritrea. Prime Minister Zenawi defended the right to expel any foreign national: "If we say 'Go' because we do not like the colour of your eyes, they have to leave." Find more information on Eritrean Deported on the ground of her threat to the security of Ethiopia.

In March 1999 the Alliance of Eritrean National Force formed with the representatives of ten Eritrean opposition under the leadership of Abdella Idris . He repeated similar history of betraying the Eritrea people for the sake his power when the Ethiopian rulers committed crimes against the Eritrean people during the borader conflict 1998-2000. Abdella Idris who was involved in negotiating with the Mengistu government, when the Ethiopian forces crushed to death  400 people, mostly women and children when their tanks rolled into the village of She'eb

Crime committed against civilians by the ELF and EPLF during the armed struggle
During the liberation struggle Eritrean people not only became the victims of the Ethiopian government but were also killed by the ELF and EPLF. The crimes against the Kunama people which is committed by the PFDJ is not new but has history go back before Idris Awate started the armed struggle.

In the 1960s the Kunamas people became the first victim of the ELF leaders. According to Yosef 2009, many houses with their inhabitants inside; men, women and children indiscriminately killed; entire fertile areas abandoned (later to be settled mainly by the Tigrignas), their cattle plundered and sold in Kessela; etc. Here is how the VK/ KAM team of the website puts it “To a very considerable number of Kunama, who had not only known Hamid Idris Awate personally, but they had also had to abandon their land and villages set ablaze by him and their entire cattle raided and sold in the market places of Kassala (Sudan), the news of this same Hamid Idris Awate, been chosen as the leader of a national liberation movement was not only very surprising but profoundly shocking. As a continuation of this atrocity, in the early sixties (1960s) and late seventies (1970s), started to conduct retaliatory activities against the Kunama people, burning Kunama villages, even with their inhabitants inside their huts. VKP/KAM (May 18, 2009)

Was Awate a shifta? If yes, was Awate involved in criminal activities during his banditry life? Excrept from the Eritrean Revolution: Born of a Shifta father, produced a  Shifta system – part 2 and final.

Merhawi Kunfu in his article the Eritrean Revolution: Born of a Shifta father, produced a  Shifta system – part 2 and fina wrote

"As we can see from the public notice presented in part one, the answer is absolute yes that Awate was a shifta. Nobody can refute the fact that Awate was a shifta because the documents presented contain hard facts and evidence that prove so. I challenge anybody who denies this reality. It is well documented and well known that awate was a notorious shifta leader in the 1940s- 1950s. Even his family members and his is own community do not deny this. Among the Kunama, the whole kunama population know Awate as a shifta and criminal who killed and looted them. Anyone who wishes to know the truth about Awate can get the real information by interviewing the Kunama elders who witnessed Awate’s crimes with their own eyes. Awate was not only a shifta but he was a great a shifta leader. This means there were many armed men under his command who follow his commands and his instructions. Regarding the question of Awate’s involvement in crimes, the document provides us the answer in unequivocal manner that Awate had committed crimes -  no doubt about that. The document I have presented in part one however, does not provide us details of the nature of crimes Awate had committed because according to the public notice, Awate’s crimes were ‘already notified’ in prior notices to this notice. The public notice states that the crimes had been committed against the Eritrean people emphasizing that ‘the normal life of the people of Eritrea is continually being disrupted and {???} by the activities of the shifta bands. Merhawi concluded his article..."Actually, we can conclude that the Eritrean revolution was launched or planted by a shifta criminal and produced a shifta criminal system. This means we are harvesting what we planted. Read More

Ghirmay Yeibi in his article " Half a century of misery and with no end in sight which was posted to on 31 May 2012 also wrote, in response to that half a century ago Eritrea started an armed struggle led by Hamid Idris Awate, who was a local outlaw “shifta, engaged in cattle raiding and rustling.  Awate was a criminal and is well remembered by his victims the Kunamas (indigenous people living in south Western Eritrea) for committing atrocious crimes against them and the indiscriminate killing of women and children including infants and burning and razing of Kunama villages.  He was pardoned by the British Administration in Eritrea and given complete amnesty for his past crimes and allowed to return to his hometown, until upon request from the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front) he turned his band of outlaws into the armed wing of the ELF. [Read more]

Furthermore Ghirmay Yeibio in his article Awate was a trigger happy ordinary outlaw (shifta): A hero of Fascist Benito Mussolini !!! Monday, 15 October 2012 wrote "Who was Hamid Idris Awate?  What was his history? Hamid Idris Awate was a simple outlaw (shifta).  An ordinary soldier entrusted with accomplishing a political goal charted out for him by ELF leadership in the Sudan.  He never interfered nor tried to influence the political decision of the front, nor did he have the analyzing capacity of what he was doing. He was politically ignorant and was glad to do what he was trained to do his whole life and which he knew best how to do i.e. killing and causing mayhem.

He was a trigger happy fascist loyalist who worked against the interests of the Eritrean people in particular and colonized Africans in General, who continued to fight the British forces, alongside Amedeo Guillet, to bring back fascist Italian rule to Eritrea even after Mussolini’s army had surrendered in East Africa to the allied forces.

He was a fascist loyalist who conducted a guerrilla war for 5 whole years for “a king, country and a people whom he never saw or knew”.  He was loyal Carabinieri who diligently worked to keep Eritreans under the yoke of Italian colonialism.  As a right hand man of the Italian administration he approved and enforced the racist and oppressive policy of Italy which confiscated around half of the land of Eritrea under the principles of state land “Terreno Demaniale”, particularly around western lowlands of Eritrea during his tenure as administrator.  He wanted to reinstate the Italian Fascist rule that dehumanized Eritreans using apartheid and segregation and continued to fight to bring back that system to East Africa for five whole years, until the end of the Second World War. read more

Tekeste Negash in his book Eritrea and Ethiopia The Federal Experience also briefly mentioned that there were three type of shifta ."The most notorious among these shifta was Hamid Idris Awate of Beni Amer origin. Idris Awate began his career in early 1942 and by 1948 his army may have numbered about 50. His main activity was to raid the Kunama and Baria people. In the middle of 1950, he participated in the clan feud between the Beni Amer and the adjoining districts of Hamassien, namely Liben and Anseba. Idris Awate was one of the three shifta leaders about whom the British were most concerned. In 1949 the BMA offered a considerable [Read more page 62]


መግለጺ ባሕቲ ሓደ መስከረም 2012ዝደልዩ ደቂ ዓዋተ ዘይደልዩ ከA ደቂ ትሽዓተ ብሄራት [ቤት ጽሕፈት ዜናን ሓበሬታን ዲምሓኩኤ መስከረም 01 2012]

.."ናይ Eድሪስ ዓዋተ ሃገራውነት (nationalism) ግን ኹሉ ኤርትራዊ ዝስማማዓሉ ዛEባ ኣይኮነን፡፡ ሽፍታ ስለ ዝነበረ ሃገራዊ ክብሃል ኣይግብAን ማለት ከA ቅኑE ኣይኮነን፡፡ ምኽንያቱ ሽፍታ ወይ ከA ጭውዝበለ Eሉልን ጸረ ህዝቢ ጸኒሑ ተቀይሩ ንሃገር ዝጠቅም ስራሕ Eንተፈጺሙ ንቅበሎ ጸጋ ስለ
ዝኾነ፡፡ ንሓደ ሃገራዊ Eንተ ብፍላጥ ወይ ከA ንሕነ ህዝቢታት ሃገር ንዝጨፍጨፈ ገበነኛ ከም ሃገራዊ ምቅባልን ምስ መዓልቲ ናጽነት ብምትEስሳር ነቶም ግዳያት ክስEስU ምግባር ግንናይ ገበን ገበን Eዩ፡፡ ሓምድ Eድሪስ ዓዋተ ኣብ ልEሊ ብሄር ኩናማ ዘብጽሖ ህልቂት ከቢድIዩ፡፡ ሓቂ ዶ ሓሶት ንምርግጋጹ’ውን መጽናEትን ግዜን ክወሃብ ድኣሉ ዝግባE Eምበር
ንሓደ ሸነኽ ንምኽሳብ ኣብዚ ናይ ገበን ታሪኽ ብምንጥልጣል ሓባራዊ ሃገራዊ ምርድዳE ኣብዘይበጸሕናዮ ጉዳይ ከም ናይ ኩሉ ኤርትራዊ ውራይ ጌርካ ምውሳድ Aብ ልEሊ መሰልዜጋታት ምEንዳር Iዩ።ዲሞክራሲያዊ ምንቅስቓስ ሓርነት ኩናማ ኤርትራ (ዲምሓኩኤ) ሓምድ Eድሪስ ዓዋተ AብልEሊ ብሄር ኩናማ ዘብጽሖ ህልቂት ካብ ዘይምፍላጥ ወይ ዓቕሚ ብምስኣን Aይኮነን ክሳብሕጂ ትም መሪጹ ዝጸንሐን፡ ሎሚ ከቃልሖ ዝመረጸውን ካብ ወትሩ ፉሉይ ዓቕሚ ስለዝረኸበን ስለዘዋህለለን ኣይኮነን፡፡ Eንታይ ድኣ ንቅሓት ሕብረተሰብ ኩናማን ሰዓብቱንAባላቱን Aብ ግምት ብምEታውን Aብ ሕሉፍ ታሪኽ ተንጠልጢሉ ነዚ ጉዳይ ቀዳማይAጀንዳ ቃልሲ ክገብር ስለዘይመረጸ ጥራይ Eዩ፡፡ ሓቂ ተቐቢሩ ስለዘይተርፍን ቅኑE ታሪኽመሰረት ቅኑE ሃገርን ህዝብን ምዃኑ ብምEማን ኣብ ጉዳይ ሃገራዊ ጅግንነታዊ ታሪኽ ሓምድ
Eድሪስ ዓዋተ ብስርዓት ህግደፍ ዝተጠጅA ተንኮልን ብዓቢ ድምጺ ክቃላሕ ዝጸንሐድራማታትን ቃልE ንምውጻE ሕልናዊ ግዴታና ምዃኑ ኣሕዋት ኤርትራውያን ክርድUናበዓል ሙሉE ተስፋ Iና
።" Read more

Crime committed Against civilians by the ELF in the 1960s and 1970s
The late Barambars Sila Abel Fagi 1974+
The first Kunama SDO (Senior District Officer) of Barentu.
A man of courage and total dedication to and commitment for the welfare and well-being of his Kunama people
on whose behalf had to sacrifice his own life by falling victim of that ruthless Jebha command in the Kunama land. source
LT. Venanzio (Naite) Araia +1981. The late LT. Venanzio (Naite) Araia: One of the Kunama heroes, fallen victim, struggling against the recial hatred and discrimination against the Kunama people, perpetrated by the Jebha-Al-Teharir´s unit, operating in the Kunama land, from the early 1967 1982. source baden-kunama.comi

Alexander Naty in his reaech paper " potential conflict in the former Gash-Setit regine" states that the killing of two Kunama brothers by a Tigrinnya policeman in Shambakko in 1995 was a symbolic reminder of the historical animosity between the Kunams people and the Eritrea Liberation Front. During the early 1960s the ELF killed a Kunama man from the village of Taikanaba .[Read more]

The people of the Red Sea area were also among the first groups to be victims of ELF; although the people waited patiently [read more] In the 1960s the Red Sea Afar people also became victims of the ELF leaders, ccording to Afar Forum, many civilians mostly innocent children, the elderly and women were mass murdered and buried in a barbaric manner at a place called Nabro. That was the response the people got from the so called “liberators”. Afar Forum adds that. Some of the blind measures taken by the so called political groups are:-The Ramlo (Ar’anu) forced genocide in 1968 by ELF; The 1974 direct and indirect mass killings by ELF and The 1968 genocide by the EPLF in 1968 in a place called Bori Asela.Source Destructive strategies of the EPLF regime

In the 1960s there was a report of the ELF leadership crimes on highlanders. Megesteab (2005: 43) states that fifty Christian peasants were also executed at the behest of the ELF leadership . Another version of this story between 15 and 25 civilians were killed by the ELF in Shimbare, they were killed by vigilante off duty tegadelti of ELF, who were thought to be avenging after their village was burned by Ethiopian soldiers. (Araya 2005). However, the ELF leadership should be blamed for the death of civilians who were killed by the ELF fighters (tegadelti).


Merhawi Kunfu in his article the Eritrean Revolution: Born of a Shifta father, produced a  Shifta system – part 2 and fina also wrote

"The ELF committed genocide crimes against the innocent Christian Tigrigna right from the beginning of the armed struggle. Many villages and properties in Akeleguzay and Seraye such as Qohain were destroyed and looted. Many Christian peasants and traders were murdered in mass only for being Christians. I myself have lost a relative in the mass murder of 49 innocent peasants committed by the ELF in July 1967 in Shimbare, near Tokobya"

Furthermore, according to Human Rights Watch 1991:48, in 1971, 52 civilian villagers were burned to death in their huts in a village name Debre Sila by the ELF for non-payment of the ELF demands (Human Rights Watch1991:48). There was also another story on March7, 1971, the ELF plundered the village of Halib Menal, stealing many cattle, after the villagers had killed two ELF fighters while resisting an ELF attempt to occupy the village two day before. Individuals who failed to protect ELF property entrusted to them were also summarily executed.

There was a similar story about the atrocity against Ato Haile by the ELF at Wutuh in Summer (kiremti) 1971.
According to the eye witness, Ato Haile (Chieka Adi - Village Maaya), was shot down, in front of elders forcibly gathered, at a neighboring village Wutuh (where he was hiding as he could not meet their excessive request for money and other immoral demands). They ignored the elders appeal to set him free, by pledging them he would come up with their demands should he is given more time. At the time, they terrorized the gathered elders saying "Deki halima, kab Tub adetatom tementilom teharidom, nisikhum dima kemzi kegatimekum iyu

In 1975 there was also a story about 12 youths from Adi-Kehei area who had a plan to join the Front were wrongly killed as a spies by the ELF. Among those youths who were killed by the ELF:
1.Indemyze Mohammed
2 Hagos Ibrahim was known as wdi Ibrahim Nur, the owner of a shop in Adikehi.

Furthermore, in 1976 there was a report of the execution of civilians by the ELF at Adi Aret village. According to the eyewitness, more than 10 civilians were wrongly killed as spies by the ELF in one day. He describes the way of their execution as followings. The victims were ordered to dig their own graves, thereafter they were blindfolded and stood on the edge of the graves before they were executed. After they were executed by firing squad their bodies were buried by the villagers from orders they received from ELF fighters. This was done deliberately to terrorise the villagers. There were many stories of atrocities against civilians by the ELF like these mentioned in the 1970s. Both the atrocities of 1975 and 1976 which were mentioned above took place in administrative Unit 10 (Akele-Guzai) where Seyoum Harasta (former ELF.RC chairman) was in charge.There was a story that the ELF had also killed people in Maymine Seray in the 1970

In 1975 Seyoum was appointed as political commissioner of ELF’s administrative Unit 10 (Akele-Guzai)

Furthermore Aida Kidane in her article Ibrahim Gedem, a respected friend wrote on Thursday, 16 December 2010 listed some victims of the ELF who were assasinated by the ELF in late 1960 and in 1970s.

Assassinations below have partly influenced the fall of ELF and should be remembered. These are just a few of the many.

Bey Abe, chief of Bet Tawke former Eritrean parliament member in 1952, born 1889.

Kegnazmach Osman Abdulrahman, chief of Almada tribe.

Shum Ibrahim Shum Hamed Arey, chief of Maria Tselim tribe.

Dejazmach Hamed Ferej Hamed, former president of the Eritrean parliament. Assassinated in Akordet 1974-5.

Sayedna Fitwerari  Mohammed Tahar El Hababi, revered Sheikh in Upper Barka. Assassinated in Akordet 1978.

800 Ethiopian POWs massacred at the cliff of Jemiel Mountain near Keru, Akordet of lower Barka in 1978


Excrept from Responses to He And His Objectives February 13, 2012 by []

  • Tesfa says:

    Hello Awate team!

    Yes, I consider still the awate website as the best among the Eritrean website. But this article is extremely biased and very fsr from the reali8ty we all exercised during our childhood!!!! How can you write “… Nehnan Elamanan came with allegations of grisly murders committed by what it called the “Jihadist” ELF against Christians; and after more than forty years, the allegations still circulate as truth among Isaias’ supporters. With time, the unsubstantiated allegation became urban legend, elevated to a myth, and further deepened the mistrust among Eritreans and to this day continues to divide Eritreans. …” The truth is: ELF was even worse than the jihadist. I myself had an explainable fear from ELF. They have slaughtered mostly christiens from the highland; the sistr of my grand mother was burned wiht her full assets. I participated as a teenager the funeral day of the beloved aunt of my father. The most interesting thing is, she was a famer who could neither write and read – just a very simple woman! This is only the pick of the berg/mountain.

    I write this fact even if I hate existing regime in Eritrea. Facts remain facts!!!

    You could have reasoned it out only as a starting and difficult initial phase of our struggle like every START made ELF many failure . Otherwise you go the risc to degradate the reputation you have earned.

EPLF (Shaebia )

As a consequence of the ELF crimes committed against civilians as alleged by the EPLF in the 1960s and 1970s, many people joined the EPLF in the middle of the 1970s. This was because most of them thought that the EPLF was innocent of crimes However, the EPLF was not innocent. All crimes committed by the EPLF were kept secret and not known to all like of the ELF. The only people who had authority to know about the EPLF crimes were those members of the security unit like Teklay Aden and other high-ranking leaders from other departments. Regarding the EPLF crimes against civilians, Teklay Aden revealed that the fascist crimes of the EPLF were not limited to the rank and file. Other victims included innocent individuals who opposed the fascist practices of the organization and boldly exposed it to the masses.

Yosief Ghebrehiwet in his article "Eritrean Independence: Is It Worth All the Sacrifice?" wrote“In the 1980s, the EPLF had taken many underage kids including girls by force. Many of the kids returned home, some ran to the cities, many went to Tigray and others crossed the border to the Sudan. When parents were not able to bring their kids back and hand them to the EPLF, their crops were confiscated. This was during the worst famine of the 1980s. Although the yield of the crops was too little due to the lack of rain, the aim of this inhumane act was to kill the whole family unit by hunger. Many families had no choice but to migrate to Tigray in search of food but Tigray was equally a famine-stricken region during that time.” And this kind of atrocity was not confined to the EPLF, as the following quotation from the same person testifies: “…

As a child growing up in the vicinity of Areza, Seraye (during Jebha time) I had seen enough of the cruelty of this organization. When it had won the war against Kohain, it had confiscated thousands of their livelihoods cattle and brought many of them to our village. The shepherds of the village, including myself, had to take turns in looking after them until they were all slaughtered one by one. When it won the war against Dembelas, it did the same thing. I had seen the Raya Azebo POWs who were captured by Jebha in the seventies perish of disease, hunger and the few lucky ones who had survived were killed in cold blood during the 1978 retreat. I had seen many innocent Eritrean merchants (negado) been arrested and tortured. I had seen people being hanged in Areza … accused of spying for the Ethiopian regime without any proof …”

During the liberation struggle many unarmed civilian also became the victims of the ELF and EPLF. Although all those crimes committed by the members of the National Guard (Halewa Sewra) were kept secretly, Teclai Aden in his interview on December 23,1980 revealed that the EPLF killed hundreds of peasants. He adds that many peasants were taken by the members of National Guard and were executed.

Ato Fitwi Tesfazghi & Ogbamicahel Asgodom

Alem Tesfay (2003) listed name of 16  pensioners from Keren who were executed in late 1978 after taking them to Sahel as prisoners. Among of these prisoners were Ato Fitwi Tesfazghi & Ogbamicahel Asgodom

  • Tewelde Beyne: he was taken for « a short questioning » by the security apparatus of the EPLF in Keren, Eritrea, in August 1978.
  • Fitwi Tesfazghi
  • Woldemariam Kelati
  • Hagos Mana
  • Embāye Ghebru
  • Gebrekal Ghilu'u
  • Tenente ZaidHagos
  • Melake Beraki
  • Ogbamichael
  • Berhane Hadgu
  • Ghebrehiwet Kinfe
  • Mohamed Omar
  • Negash Sibhat
  • Omar Bekhit
Source Tesfay 2005

Background information about those prisoners who were taken from Keren by the EPLF in 1978.

Tewolde Beyn (Beyene Asfedai) was taken for « a short questioning » by the security apparatus of the EPLF in Keren, Eritrea, in August 1978. Later he was taken to Sahel, northern Eritrea with the following police pensioners in addition to Idris Mohamed Abdala, alias « Echet Hina » (a Tigre ballad singer known for his pro-ELF songs) were taken to Sahel as prisoners: Embaye Ghebru, Ghebresadiq Ghilu'u, Melake Beraki, Ogbamichael, Fitwi Tesfazghi, Woldemariam Kelati, Berhane Hadgu, Ghebrehiwet Kinfe, Mohamed Omar, Negash Sibhat, Omar Bekhit, Hadgu Mana, Tenente Zaid.
Read more

Brief background information about Tewolde Beyne Asfedai

Leteab Tewolde Beyn wrote:

Tewolde Beyn was reputed among the early ELM/mahber-shewate members for having saved many lives from imminent
death or life imprisonment way back in 1959-60 (living witnesses include long-time fighters like Omar Mohamed Yahya, and Omar Haj Idris). It was also reported that a number of ELA fighters were released from prison
cells in Keren by misleading their interrogators with pieces of advicegiven them by my father. (E.g. two fighters in 1964 dared to take the bus from Ghinda to Keren where they were suspected and detained.

They were advised to say that they were water porters in Om Hager and that the callosity shown on their shoulders was not caused by Abu Asheras of jebha but by the heavy water containers they carried at their workplace. My father was so much liked by the fighters that the ELF in 1970 asked the people to give theirvotes for Ethiopian parliamentary elections not to those pro-Ethiopian candidates but to Tewolde Beyn. Among latter-day events mentioned in the
said article was the fact that my father took active part in the resignation of all 23 Eritreans in the Ethiopian parliament after the massacre of many Eritreans at Om Hager in July 1974. That resignation was widely reported in the international press and helped to give not only a much wanted attention to the struggle, but also encouraged many Eritreans to join their revolution.

PS : I would wish that you and other human rights conscious Eritreans encourage Eritrean jurists to help establish a fact finding commission to investigage, at least for the recod, all human rights abuses not only of
the Ethiopians against Eritreans but also of Eritrean organizations against their own people during the past four to five decades. That may help discourage at the present and in the future of any gross violations of human rights by Eritrean political actors, whether they are «legitmate » authorities or « illegal » opposition forces.

Leteab Tewolde Beyn

Source [DEHAI] EPLF's ? short questioning ? Petition for the Release of Reported Prisoners in Eritrea
From: Freweini Ghebresadick (view other messages by this author)* Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 17:04:55

  • Mr. Berhane Ezekiel 1985 killed by EPLF The second Kunama SDO (Senior District Officer) of Barentu.
    A man of courage and total dedication to and commitment for  the welfare and well-being of his Kunama people
    on whose behalf had to sacrifice his own life by falling victim of that ruthless Shabia command in the Kunama land
    . baden-kunama.comi

Dr. Yassin Aberra

ዶክቶር ያሲን ኣበራ ተቐቲሎም
ስለምንታይ ከ ተቐቲሎም?
መወዳእታ ጥሪ (January) 1991 ኣብ ኣፍደገ ናጽነት ኤርትራ ዝተበጽሔ እዋን እዮም ንገዝኦም እናኸዱ ተቐቲሎም፡፡ ቀተልቶም ከኣ ሃገር ዝቐበጹ ዓሳክር ደርግ ዘይኮኑ ዓሳክር እቶም ብጉልባብ ናጽነት ኤርትራዊ
መንነት ከጽንቱ ዝዓጠቑ እክብካብ ሸፋቱ ሎሚ ብህግደፍ ዝፍለጡ እዮም፡ እቲ መቕተልቲ! ብጉልባብ ጃሱስነት (ሓሳዊ) ናይ ስርዓት ደርግ ክጉልብብዎ ስለ ዝደለዩ ጠቐርቲ ሸፋቱ ኾይኖም እምበር
ዶክቶር ያሲን ሕቡን ኤርትራዊ ብኤርትራዊ እምነቶም ነቕ ዘይብሉ ኣብ መሰረት ኤርትራ ንኤርትራውያን ዝተጨረሓሉ ዘገስገሰሉ ዘበገሰሉ ስድራቤትን ገዛን ተወሊዶም ዝዓበዩ መን ምኻኖም እቶም ዘርከብናሎምን
ዝፈለጥናዮምን ዓውን ግትርን ኢልና እንምስክረሎም እዮም፡፡ “ኣለና እወ ናይ ብሓቂ ኣለና”
ኣብ ዘመነ ብረታዊ ቃልሲ!
ኣብ ኤርትራ ኣሽንኳይዶ ምሁር ኣብ ዝለዓለ ጸፍሕታት ትካላት መንግስቲ ዝሰርሕ እሞ ንቃልሲ ኤርትራ ዓንቃፊ ክበሃል፡ ዓርኪ ዓስከር ኢትዮጵያ ኢኻ ተባሂሎም ዕለታዊ ተዛሕዚሖም እዮም እሞ ዶክቶር ያሲን
ዕስኩር ስርዓት ኢትዮጵያ ነይሮም እንተዝኾኑ እንታይ ንሰላሳ ዓመት ዝኸውን እዋን ንምቕታሎም ኣጸበየ?Read more
እታ መፍትሕ ኣብ ኢድና እያ ዘላንጠቐመላ ከይመረተት እንከላ [Source]

In conclusion there are many stories about crimes committed against the civilians by both fronts (Jebha and Shaebia). Unfortunately many stories are not recorded apart from a few reported by Human Rights Watch 1991; Megesteab 2005; Yonas Aray 2005; Teklay Aden 1980; Freweini Ghebresadick 1999; Alem Tesfay 2004.  In the 1970s  many civilians from rural areas also  became the victims of the EPLF security department which was led first by Solomon W/Mariam then by Ali Said ; and by the ELF security department which was led by Melake Tekle. Generally during the liberation struggle thousands of civilians not only became victims of the Ethiopian government but also victims of the Jebha and Shaebia .

Yemane Barya song Adeye youtube

Yemane Barya song Natsinet Youtube

Crimes committed by the Eritrean government from 1991 to 2011

Tesfamichael, Sarah, Yihdego

Mohammed Kheir in his article "State Vs. Regime Security" mentioned that immediately after liberation the security services assassinated about 10 Eritreans in Addis Ababa including Tesfamichael Georgio and Yihdego Woldeghiorghis Read more 1.Yihdego Woldeghiorghis( brother of Andebrhan Woldeghiorghis) was a third year university student who joined the EPLF in 1975. In the late 1970s or early 1980s he defected to Ethiopia and was assasinated by the EPLF security force in Harare Province in 1992/1993 because he knew of all the conspiracies of the EPLF leaders. 2. Sarah Mekonen former member of the ELF who had defected to Ethiopia in 1976/77 exposed the ELF leaders’ corruption and conspiracies on  Asmara radio. In the early 1990s Sarah was also killed by the EPLF security force in Addis Ababa. 3 Tesfamichael Giorgio, former member of the ELF-RC, who was said to have been involved in the early contacts between Isayas Afewerki and the CIA authorities inside the American base in Asmara in the early 70's was also killed by the EPLF security force. Redi Mehar (Alena) might have known about Sara Mekonen and other assassinations which were mentioned by Dr Mohammed Kheir in his article.  I  hope that Redi Mehar (Alena) will tell the public of the crimes committed by the EPLF’s security forces in Addis  Ababa  after  1991.

ህይወት ህዝቢ ኤርትራ፡ ብስእሊ 1ይ ክፋል october 1993 youtube

Protest of Tegadelti (Eritrean freedom figthers [video]

[read more]

..................እቶም ካብ ድሮ ምእዋጅ ወግዓዊ ናጽነት ኤርትራ 20 ግንቦት 1993 ዓ/ም ረሽራሽ ዙ 23 ሚ.ሜ ዝዓጠቓ ኦራላት በቢወገኑ ዝነበረ ተጋዳላይ ቁጠባዊ ጸገማቱ መፍትሒ ንኽረክብ ኣብ ማእከል ጎደናታት ኣስመራ ወጺኡ ንጹር መልእኽቱ ብዓውታ ከምዘቃልሕ ዝገበሩን ኣብ ሓጺር ግዜ ናይ ምትእኽኻብ መንፈስ ዝፈጠሩን ናይ ገዛእ ርእሶም ተበግሶ ዝወሰዱ ማእከለዎትን ታሕተዎትን ሓለፍቲ ተጋደልቲ እዮም፡፡ በቲ ኩነታት ፍጹም ዝሰንበደን ዝረዓደን ከይሲ ኢሳይያስ ካብ መጻወድያ ኣድማ ተጋደልቲ ንስክላ ምስ ኣምለጠ ኣዝዮም ከበድቲ ግዜ ዘይህቡ ዕዮ ገዛታት ከምዘለውዎ ኣይሰሓቶን፡፡ ኣይደቀሰን ውን፡፡ ብቀዳምነት ሞራል ነባራትን ሓደስትን ተጋደልቲ ንምድቋስን ንምንብርካኽን ብላዕለዎት ኣዘዝቲ ሰራዊት ዝተመርሐ ሰፋሕቲ ኣኼባታትን ሰሚነራትን ተኻይዱ፡፡ እግሪ እግሩ ፍጹም መጽናዕቲን ምድላዋትን ዘይተግብረሉ ብስም ምጥያስ ተጋዳላይ ቁሩብ ቁራቦ መዓሸዊ ገንዘብ እንዳተውሃቦ ከምዝርፈት ተገይሩ፡፡ ብቁጠባዊ መንጽር ኩነታት ሃገር ልዕሊ 30,000 ወታሃደር ኣየድልን ተባሂሉ፡፡ ነቲ ከም ቋሚ ወታሃደር ዝተረፈ ኣስታት 30,000 ተጋዳላይ ሜላ ኣገባብ ምሕደርኡ ከመቅጽበት ንክቕየር መምርሒ ተዋሂቡ፡፡ የግዳስ እቲ ንነዊሕ ዓመታት ከም ባህሉን ልምዱን ገይሩ ዝሓዞን ዘስረጾን ተጋዳላይ፡ ነቲ ሓዱሽ ኣገባብ ሜላ ምሕደራ እዝን ቁጽጽርን ብእንኮሻዕ ከም ትልሚ ሃንደስቱ ክርዕሞን ከተግብሮን ኣይተኸኣለን፡፡ ተደጋጋሚ ክትዓትን ክርክራትን ውን ብሰንኪ እቲ ሓዱሽ ሜላ ምሕደራ ተኻይዶም፡፡ ድሕሪ ምጭባጥ ኮራት ናብ ክፍላተ ሰራዊት ናብ ናይ ፍጹም ምልኪ ዘምረሐ መሪሕነት ህ.ግ.ደ.ፍ. ነቲ ሓዱሽ ሜላ እዝን ቁጽጽርን ኣብ ሓይልታት ምክልኻል ኤርትራ ብጽኑዕ ከተኣታትዎ፡ ሰራዊት ብግበርን ኣይትገበርን ዝብሉ ሓለኽቲ መምርሒታት ከምዝቕየድ ንምግባሩ ደቂሶም ዝሓድርሉ ለይቲ ኣይነበረን፡፡ ቀዳማይ ዙርያ ሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎት ምስ ተጋደልቲ ከይተሓናፈጹ ንበይኖም ኣብ ክፍለ ሰራዊት 2001 (ኮር 2001) ንኽጸንሑ ዝደረኸ ቀንዲ ምኽንያት ውን እዚ እዩ፡፡
ካብ መፋርቕ 1995 ዓ/ም እቲ ኣብ ሰራዊት ብቐዋሚነት ንኽገልግል ካብ ምጥያስ ዝተረፈ ኣስታት 30,000 ተጋዳላይ ብክልሰ-ሓሳብ ዝተሰነየ ዘመናዊ ወታሃደራዊ ስልጠናን ትምህርትን ን3ተ ኣዋርሕ ብሓዱሽ ኣገባብ ከምዝመሃር ተገይሩ፡፡ ኣብ ሞንጎ ታሕተዎትን ላዕለዎትን ሓለፍቲ ብዓቢኡ ድማ ኣብ ሞንጎ ተራ ወታሃደራትን ኣዘዝትን ተሃኒጹ ዝነበረ ሕድሕዳዊ ምርድዳእን ዝምድናን ብጻያዊ ሓልዮትን ምትእምማንን ኣብ ሓደጋ ወዲቑ፡፡ ኣብ መንጎ ላዕለዎትን ታሕተዎትን ዝነበረ ርክብ ናብ ጎይቶትን ኣገልገልቲ ጎይቶትን ተቐይሩ፡፡ እቲ ንመስገደላት ገድሊ ኤርትራ ዘሳገረን ዘዐወትን ኣነ ክሓልፍ ንስኻ ሰዓብ ዝሕመረቱ ዘይምእኩል እዝን ቁጽጽርን እናተረፈ ከይዱ፡፡
2ይ ክፋል ሚስጢር ምብራዕ ኩናት ባድመ - ብ ሚኪኤል እምባየ (ኣራንቺ) Readmore.

ብዴሕሪ ኣዴማ ተጋዯሌቲ 1993 ኣሸበሸብ ተጋዯሌቲ ንምጽናት ኣብ ዜተገብረ ሰባብ ውጥን ‚ምጥያስ‛ ሽደሽተ ሽሕ ናይ ምንባር ጸገም ምስ ዜነበሮም ስንኩሊን ዯቂ ተባዕትዮን ዯቀንስትዮን ሌዕሉ 55,000 ገዲይም ተጋዯሌቲ ከም ዜጓሓፉ ተገብረ። ዓጀብ! ስንኩል ተጋዳላይ ጥዑም ተወልደ ኣብ ግራት እንጣጢዕ (ሊስትሮ!) የማነ ገብረኣብ ብጻማ ስዉኣትን ስንኩላንን ኣብ ለሰ (ሕዛእቲ ሃገረ- ኤርትራ!)2 ጥዩሳትን ስንኩሊንን ተጋዯሌቲ ናይ ኣስመራ ፎርማ ከየበሊሽዉ ብምባሌ ብመኾስተር ህግዯፍ ምስ ተጸርጉ ከኣ ከም ዯቂ ዚግራ ናብ መሊእ ኤርትራ ተበታተኑ። እዙ’ውን ንኢሳይያስ ዴቃስ ዜህብ ኣይነበረን፣ ነቶም ዜተረፉ ዯቂ ህዜባዊ ግንባር ናብ እጉዴ መጋርያ ንምህንኳት ኲናት ባዴመ ብምስጢር ወሌዏ። ኲናት ቅዴሚ ምጅማሩ ኣብ ዜነበራ ጽምዱ መዒሌታት፣ ሓሊፊ ፖሇቲካዊ ጉዲያት ህግዯፍ የማነ ገብረኣብ ናብ ከተማ ከረን ወሪደ ነቶም ካብ ቁራዕ ሳሕሌ ከም ካብ ብሱሌ ጥረ ኮይኖም ዜኣተዉ ጥዩሳትን ስንኩሊንን ተጋዯሌቲ ኣኼባ ገበረልም። ብዘሕ በዲሂ ሕቶታት ቀሪቡለ ነይሩ’ዩ። ‚…ሕጂ ሃገር ናይ ምክሌኻሌ ተበግሶ ስሇዜኾነ ናብ ቅዴመ-ግንባራት ንኸይዴ ኣልና። እንተተሰዋእና ማዒ ሳሊማ! እንተተመሇስና ግን ጽባሕ ንግሆ ናባኹም ናብ ሓሇፍቲ ህግዯፍ እነቕርቦ ሕቶታት ኣልና‛ ብዜብሌ መዯረ ኢዩ እቲ ሆጭ ዜበሇ ኣኼባ ዜተዯምዯመ።Read more Sourceዋዛማ፡ ዗መነ-ቅብጸት ኢሳይያስ ዒስራይ ክፋሌ ኣሇና

Slave labor at national service. This is excerpted from article Eritrea: Mining Companies and Slave Labor by Yosief Ghebrehiwet which was published on Saturday, 09 July 2011. Source url
It is important for outsiders to know the extent (the number of slave laborers) and the years involved in this totalitarian experimentation of epic proportion. Right now, there are about 300, 000 slave laborers in active “military service”, with hundreds of thousands more in reserve. All of those in reserve have already gone through the grueling years of service and are frequently called back to fill in gaps left by ever-deserting recruits. If we take only those in active service, all of which have been slave laborers for all the years they have been serving in the military, they would make up about 6% of the entire 5 million population. Think now of the US having 6% of its population in active military service doubling as slave laborers: about 18 million of them! And this doesn’t tell the whole story, for every adult person has to pass through that grueling experimentation before he or she is sent back to civilian life or escapes to one of the neighboring nations. This has been going on for about 15 years straight. There are tens of thousands that have wasted their entire adult lives on these slave camps hauling stones, and still remain trapped there. No wonder that Eritrea, despite its small population, has been identified as a nation that has generated the highest number of refugees seeking asylum in the world last year. Find more information on Forced labour in Eritrea from the PFDJ Crimes against youth and education webpage
Under the EPLF and ELF there were disappearances, conspiracies of killing and executing of innocent fighters and civilians throughout the liberation struggle. The killing and disappearing of innocent citizens have not stopped after the liberation by the EPLF/PFDJ. In the 1990s there have also been many reports of arrest and disappearance of the ELF members and of other citizens. Since 1991  there are more than 30, 000 prisoners and  many prisons than were before the independence. The result is a high influx of refugees to Sudan. The number of Eritrean refugees registered in July 2004 alone exceeded 50,000. This number is on top of that, there are 148,000 Eritrean refugees living in protracted camps of Sita wo’ishrin, Wedisherifey and Shegerab, since pre-independence period. No one seems sure exactly how many of its people have left to start new lives elsewhere. Somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 of them came to Britain, fleeing first the long war of independence from Ethiopia, then the 1998-2000 border war. Evidence of the PFDJ fascistic crimes committed against the Eritrean people between 1991 and 2010 is also documented at

The PFDJ fascistic crimes 1993-2010

During the last two decades many young people  became the victims of executions while the opposition leaders spent years in accusation and counter- accusations in narrow power struggle instead of focusing on bringing an end to the PFDJ fascistic regime. Gaim (2009) in his article  “Forced labour in Eritrea” wrote that Aman, a deserter who lives in Nottingham said that several conscripts had been executed. In his division alone (ca. 6,000 men and women), thirteen people were executed after Ethiopia’s third offensive (May 2000). He said : ‘You don’t see these things happen. They are subsequently announced by commanders who state, ‘‘measures were taken against one–two, etc. cowards’’. ’ However, in his view, ‘ it was mainly the brave who were executed. They were the ones who challenged the commanders or exposed the failure of their leadership in meetings that took place subsequent to battles. ’ Read more

Prison camps in Gash Setite.
Underground Prison (Bunker)

List of names of prisioners who died at Adolay´s prison camps
  • Adago Au
  • Yakob Ashora
  • Adam Osman
  • Husen Yusuf
  • Nuri Tukka
  • Hajji Fufa;
  • Illarino Hamid;
  • Tomonai Lama
  • Armadan Badi;
  • Tesemma Mehretab.
  • Iyab Shilikko Fode
  • Anni Ammoda Fode

Adago Au/Husen Yusuf/Adago Auka

Find more

Even though the Eritrean people won a war in 1991, the imprisonments, executions and exodus of refugees have not stopped since independence. In fact it has got much worse ove the past 20 years under the PFDJ totalitarian regime Regarding this  W. Ali, appeals in an article (July 12, 2011)  to the PFDJ’s conscience ( conscience/) "The Eritrean officials, therefore, refuse considering the evidence against the regime because they are very afraid that they will find it is true". However the writer does not question the role of the leaders of the opposition and their supporters in prolonging the suffering of the Eritrean people since 1991. No one denies that the main causes of their misery since 1991 has been the PFDJ, but the opposition leaders have also contributed by prioritizing  which faction should seize power rather than the task of unity to end the suffering of the Eritrean people through removing this autocratic regime without any delay.

ካብ ገዝኣ ብጨወይቲ ካብ ትዕፈን ንልዕሊ ሰለስተ ወርሒ ደሃያ ዝጠፍአ ጓለንስተይቲ

YouTube - Powerful speech Eritrean Orthodox Church Abune Marikos

Eritrea 1991 - 2011[video]

An overview on the narrow power struggle of the oppostion leaders ( EDA, ELF-RC/EPDP, others) from 1991 to present.

A comprehensive timeline of the opposition leaders’ history of power struggle from 1991-2011 is listed in the table below. As can be seen clearly from this table, since 1991 the opposition leaders have been engaged in power struggles while many horrible crimes were committed against the Eritrean people by the PFDJ between 1991-2011.
Timeline of the opposition leaders' contribution in prolonging the suffering of the Eritrean people for the last 20 years
Examples on the contribution of the opposition leaders in prolonging the life of Issayas in power for 20 years
Consequence of the opposition leaders' narrow power struggle
ELF- RC (EPDP)/ELF(ESF) 1991- ELF- RC boycotted the meetings of the four organizations [the ELF, ELF the National Council , ELF the United Organization, the Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement] Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 1991-2001
ELF-RC(EPDP) 2001. the 5th ELF-RC meeting was affected by split Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2001
ELF- RC( EPDP)/ECP 2002-Seyoum Ogbamichael withdrawn from the meeting in.objecting to Herui T. Bairou'snomination for the leadership of the Alliance of Eritrean National Forces (AENF) Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2002
ELF- RC (EPDP) In 2003 the ELF-RC leaders blamed the meseretatfor been misguided, sub-nationalists, followers of Ahmed[read more RC & Its Spinning Bottle] Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2003
2004 Adhanom left EPLF-DP because of argument he had with Mesfin Hagos Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2004
EPM 2005 the EPM was split because of the rift between Adhanom Gebremariam and Abdella Adem Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2005
Eritrean Co-operative Party 2006-Herui left the EDA in 2006. Since then he started to critise the EDA more after 2007 until he became member of the commission in 2010. Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2006
ELF- RC (EPDP)/ELF(ESF) 2007-Battle for EDA leadership between Hussen Kelifay leader of the ELF and Woldeyesus leader of the ELF-RC which caused for splitting the EDA. Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2007
EDA Crisis Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA): A Partner or a Foe? [article] Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2008
ELF-RC (EPDP)-EDA 2009-After the Brussels Conference 2009 Tewelde Gebreslassie chairman of EDA become the main rival of the ELF-RC leaders Woldeyesus Ammar Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2009
EDA-EPDP confrontation 2010-The EPDP led by Woldeyesus boycotted from the July 2010 conference. Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2010
EDA-EPDP confrontation 2011The EPDP withdrew from EDA. Find more information about EDA-EPDP Confrontation Crimes committed by the PFDJ : 2011

The current EDA-EPDP confrontation has not come about suddenly  but is the legacy of a 30-years(1981-2011) power struggle of Eritrean political leaders. The evidence of this can be seen from research conducted by the Awate Team, in 2007, on the proliferation of  Eritrean political organizations. This shows how the ELF fragmented into several groups, between 1961 to 2007. [Find more]

The narrow power struggle of the EDA and ELF-RC/EPDP leaders since 2007
During the formation of coalitions During the Brussels Conference 2009 Since the boycotting of the EPDP from the July conference

Since the split in the EDA into two blocs in 2007, the leaders of the EDA and ELF-RC/EDEP have become the Main rival leaders within the oppostion. Their power struggles became more severe in 2009 during the formation of the coalition, the Brussels Conference and the boycott of the EPDP from the July conference. The EDA and EPDP leaders still engage in battles for leadership and mutual recriminations instead of uniting in a struggle against the PFDJ fascistic regime and working together for the benefit of the Eritrea people.

The Eritrean people have a long history of being victim of the machinations of the ELF and EPLF political leaders. They have no wish to be victims now of the EPDP and EDA leaders’ rivalry the likely consequence of which can be seen in Palestine between Hamas and the Al Fatah leaders.   It is very sad to see that these opposition leaders' haven't yet learned the lesson from their roles in set back the victory of the liberation struggle in 1978. Regarding this Wolde Giorgis(1989: 93) wrote that the ELF and EPLF had the power to take Asmara, but at the last minute their mutual hatred proved stronger than their hatred of the Ethiopian army. He adds that, they lost their opportunity because they could not come to an agreement.

Regarding the role of the current opposition leaders in prolonging the life of Issayas in power for 20 years, Adhanom Fitwi, n his article of August 1, 2011: " Why Is The Eritrean Regime Still Surviving?" wrote that one of the main factors for the survival of the regime is the weakness of the opposition.

 a) Lack of unity:

 Opposition parties and organizations do not have a clear vision on how to topple the regime. Even some of them are in a dilemma whether to topple the regime or not. They are not united. One can say that some of them are fighting for their parties or organizations rather than for the people. Their leaders think and talk beyond the change of the regime not how to change the regime. They waste their time in bickering against each other rather than supporting each other on how to topple the brutal regime. I think the method of struggle should be changed: a party or organization must follow the opinion of the people in general rather than its party. A party by itself is not the ultimate goal. It is an instrument to reach a goal. The goal is the desire of the people. An organization or a party should listen to the opinion of the people. The people want to get rid of the brutal regime and then they know how to establish a participatory democratic system. Our society has been destroyed and the country has been depleted of its young generation.

b) Lack of leadership

 One can see clearly that there is a leadership crisis in the Eritrea opposition camp. The opposition organizations and parties are suffering from lack of credible leadership. Dedicated and competent leaders with credible personal records are more demanded now than ever. Read more [ [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ Facts and evidences: Eritrean Political leaders for decades in leadership ]]]

Furthermore according to Meskerem "Commission forced to reverse decision; conference postponed to end of next month. ENSF left out to dry"

           Meskerem 10-06-2011 Crippling crisis within the Addis opposition was temporarily averted after the commission succumbed to pressure from seven EDA member parties and organizations and called an emergency meeting of its members on Octobers 6, 2011.

            Six members of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance , namely

2. Federal Movement
3. Islamic Islah Organization
4. Al-khalas
5. Eritrean Peoples Democratic Front ( Led by Tewelde Gebreselassie)
6. Eritrean Peoples Democratic Party , (Zete)( Led by Adhanom Geberemariam)

threatened to boycott the congress unless the congress is postponed. According to strategyadi a press release posted in meskerem, the EDA leadership had written a letter to the commission requesting the postponement of the congress which was scheduled for October 22, 2011.

The commission was forced to call an emergency meeting of its member to discuss therequest and the threat made by the EDA member organizations. After heated discussion of the 53 member commission, the commission decided to postpone the congress to November 22, 2011.  ENSF and Hiruy, who supported the commission and criticized those who called for postponement of the congress,  were left out to dry.

 Many observers believe that the rift between the commission and the EDA has to do more than their difference as to when the congress should be held. The EDA organizations, especially those religious organizations, feel that the Ethiopian government is slowly discarding them to replace them with the youth, the ethnic organizations and Tigrinya intellectuals. Whether some of the EDA organizations will actually participate in the congress is a heated topic of discussion in the cyber opposition

ሃገራዊ ጉባኤ ንዲሞክራስያዊ ለውጢ ብሰንኪ ጸቕጥን ምጕብዕባዕን 6 ኣባላት ኪዳን ዝኾና ውድባት ንሓደ ወርሒ ከምዝተሰጋገረ ተፈሊጡ።

Six members of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance , namely

2. Federal Movement
3. Islamic Islah Organization
4. Al-khalas
5. Eritrean Peoples Democratic Front ( Led by Tewelde Gebreselassie)
6. Eritrean Peoples Democratic Party , (Zete)( Led by Adhanom Geberemariam)

እቲ ኣብዚ ሒዝናዮ ዘለና ወርሒ ጥቅምቲ ካብ ዕለት 22 ኣትሒዙ ኣብ ኣዲስ ኣበባ ክካየድ ተመዲቡ ዝነበረ ሃገራዊ ጉባኤ ንዲሞክራስያዊ ለውጢ ብሰንኪ ጸቕጥን ምጕብዕባዕን 6 ኣባላት ኪዳን ዝኾና ውድባት ንሓደ ወርሒ ከምዝተሰጋገረ ኣባል ኮምሽን ሃገራዊ ጉባኤ ንዲሞክራስያዊ ለውጢ መንእሰይ በረኸት ካሕሳይ ሎሚ ምስ ኣሰና ኣብ ዝገበሮ ቃለመጠየቕ ሓቢሩ።

ንሱ ኣብ መግለጺኡ፡ በቶም ፖለቲካዊ ውድባት ንምስግጋር ጉባኤ ዝቐረበ ምኽንያት ብቑዕ ‘ኳ እንተዘይኮነ፡ ኮምሽን ምእንቲ ፖለቲካዊ ገስጋስን ረብሓን ዲሞክራስያዊ ለውጢ ክብል ክተዓጻጸፍ ከምዝተገደደ ኣገንዚቡ።

መንእሰይ በረኸት ብተወሳኺ፡ እቶም ተቓወምቲ ውድባት፡ ህዝባዊ ተሳተፍነት ኣብ ጉባኤ፡ ውጻኢት ናይቲ ምሁራትን ሞያውያንን ኣብ ኣዲስ ኣበባ ዘካየዱዎ ኣኼባ ናይ ስልጣን ስግኣት ስለዘምጽኣሎም፡ ሰፊሕ ህዝባዊ ተሳታፍነት ንምዕንቃፍ ዝወሰዱዎ ስጉምቲ እምበር፡ ኣብ ውሽጢ ዚ ሓደ ወርሒ ‘ዚ ኣድማዒ ፖለቲካዊ ስራሕ ክሰርሑ ‘ዮም ዝብል ግምት ከምዘይብሉ ኣሚቱ።

ኣብ መወዳእታ ኣባል ኮምሽን ሃገራዊ ጉባኤ ንዲሞክራስያዊ ለውጢ ፡ መንእሰይ በረኸት ካሕሳይ፡ እዚ ሃንደበታዊ ምስግጋር ነቶም ኣብ ጉባኤ ክሳተፉ ናይ ስራሕ ዕረፍቲ ዝወሰዱ፡ ቲኬት ዘቝረጹ ጉዱሳት ኤርትራውያን ርኡይ ዕንቅፋት ኳ እንተኾነ፡ እቶም ግዱሳት ኤርትራውያን ተበግሶኦም ዓቂቦም ብዝለዓለ ድሌት ኣብቲ ኣብ ዝመጽእ ወርሒ ሕዳር ዝካየድ ሃገራዊ ጉባኤ ክሳተፉ ተላብዩ።

Source assena

Some responses to Interview with Dr. Yosuf Berhanu, Executive Chairman of the Eritrean Democratic Assembly – Part 2

መዋእል ጀብሃን ሻዕብያን ኣብቂዑ ስለ ዝኾነ፡ ኩላቶም ብናይ ትማሊ ዝሓስቡ፡ ነይረ ጥራይ ዝብሉ ሰባት ኣብ ክንዲ ናብ ስልጣን ምምጥጣር፡ ስልጣን ነቲ ብዛዕባ መጻኢ ዕድል ሃገርን ህዝብን ዝሓስብ መንእሰይ ኣረኪቦም ከም ኣቦታት ወይ ዓበይቲ ዓዲ መጠን ኣማኸርቲ ክኾኑ ጥራይ’ዩ ዘለዎም። ሓድሽ እንጌራ ከሎ ዝዓሰወ እንጌራ ደጊም ዘድሊ ኣይመስለንን። Read more

A Response To Hailemariam Tesfay:

Almaz says:

I thank Dr Yosuf Berhanu and Michael Abraha, one of the best journalists. I am one of the people who support any collective resistance to the self-appointed wild beast-HIGI-GIDEF. I expect a lot and different role from Dr Yosuf.
One bitter true that Dr Yosuf and all other traditional opposition organizations need to understand is that so far they have not able to convinced the people. If people don’t see a better alternative, they prefer their known devil. HIGI-GIDEF is Arch-DEVIL but they are lucky they have never challenged enough by oppositions groups.
Dr. Yosuf’s first assignment should be not to ask for recognition from US, EU, IGAD, but to prepare more inclusive congress that opens a new door to those groups pushed by plan to be out of the game.
The good doctor needs to be wise. Congress is something, reality is another. What is needed now is building credibility in the eyes of the whole Eritrean people (forget the ethnic, religious, provincial lines…these words are meaningless on the dictionary of the new generations. Now is time of the new generation).
The fact of the matter is change will be coming from inside, those of us living outside will have a part before- during- and- after the change, however, not because of the past or coming congresses or names of political organizations it will be based on credibility in the eyes of the whole Eritrean people.

Almaz read more comments


PART II: RE-BRANDING OF THE OPPOSITION: Civil Society Vs Youth and women by Bereket Kahasay

Esyas is not the only criminal we have had however there are many hidden criminals who slept on Eritrean blood. Some have committed mistakes without knowing or forced to do by their superiors, some have joined the struggle for personal interest and as servants of the foreigners, some were deeply mislead by their bigoted commanders who were motivated by regional and religious points of view.Excrept from Responses to He And His Objectives February 13, 2012 by Awate Team

How can the Eritrean people trust these oppostion leaders of EDA, EPDP and ENCDC [Tewelde Gebresslasie , Beshir Ishtaq, Heruy T. Bairou's , Hussein Kelifay, Yemane (Hanjema), Woldeyesus Ammar, Mesfin Hagos, Hamed Drar, Abdella Adem, etc ]who have still refused to acknowledge the crimes committed against the innocent fighters and civilian by the former revolutionary leaders like Abdella Idris, Mesfin Hagos and others ?

Any political group whose members belonged to the era of the liberation struggle would most likely turn dictatorial

Don’t call this murderer Harbegna. Would you call Isaias Harbegna?(Read more)

The Dark Face of Gedli :The ELF and EPLF leaders' crimes 1961-1991
መን ካብ መን ይሕይሽ አብ ልዕሊ መን ክውርዚ
ዕንቅርቢት ን ተመን ኩሉኻትኩም ሕንዚ
የማነ ባሪ

During the liberation struggle many innocent liberation fighters and civilians became victims of the former revolutionary leaders who are currently serving in the Eritrean government or in the Opposition. The opposition leaders of the EDA and EPDP are not innocent of crime. They like the PFDJ leaders whom they are accusing of committing crimes against the Eritrean people since 1991 are also guilty

[ ገበነኛ መስፍን ሓጎስ Youtube]

Read more

Meharena Hadgu states that Mesfin Hagos was from the leadership and the present situation makes him fear of retribution. The charging committee was under the top leadership like Mesfin, Isayas and Romadan. Mesfin is afraid he will be asked of the injustice he participated in(Read more



By and large the Eritrean people have been victms of the Eritrean Political leaders for the last 50 years (1961-2011)

Excrepts from ህሉዉ ኩነታት ኤርትራ መንእሰያትን ደንበ ተቃዉሞ ዉድባት ኤርትራን
ደንበ ተቃዉሞ ዉድባት ኤርትራ ን10ታት  ዓመታት ሐደ  ዓይነት መዝሙር እዳዘመረ   ጸኒሑ አሎ። ሰለዝኾነ ሕቶ ህዚቢ ኤርትራ ቀዳምነት ዘይሰርዐ፡ ብስም ሕቶ ህዝቢ ወልቃዊ ሸዉሃቱ ዘርዊ፡ ንብረትን ሃብትን ህዝቢ ዘባድም፡ ብዉሕዱ  ነዚ ሓሲምዎ ዘሎ ህዝቢ ጽላል ዘይከዉን፡ ንለዉጢ ተበጊሱ ለዉጢ ዘይጽበ፡ድልዉነት’ዉን ዘየርኢ  ደምበ አብ ትሕቲ ዝኾነ ይኹን ኩነታት ካብ ተሓታትነት ከምልጥ አቨይኽእልን፡  ደንበ ተቃወምቲ ኤርትራ ኩሉ ክኸዶ ዝጸንሐ ገዑዞ ብዅሉ ዓቅሙ ገምጊሙ፡ ነቲ ንጽርን ዜይማትእን ዝቖመሉ ዕላማ ተግባራዊ ምስዝገብሮ ጥራይ  ኢዩ ካብዚ ተሓታትነት እዚ ና ጻ ክኸዉን ዝኽእል። እዚ እንተዘ ይኮኑ ግን ተሓታቲ ካብ ስርዓት ህግደፍ ንላዕሊ እዩRead more
At the start of Eritrean National Congress  in October 2011 , the leaders of the EDA, EPDP[Tewelde Gebresslasie , Beshir Ishtaq, Heruy T. Bairou's, Yemane (Hanjema), Abdella Adem, Woldeyesus Ammar, Mesfin Hagos, Hamed Drar, Hussein Kelifay,etc ] shouldn't be elected to any posts. The Eritrean people should learn from their past naivety in trusting former revolutionary leaders and their collaborators who are currently the leaders of the EDA and EPDP. These leaders of the oppostion have contributed considerable to prolonging the suffering of the Eritrean people for the last 20 years as a consequence of their narrow power struggle. [Read more]. The narrow power struggle and disunity of the oppostion leaders has created significant opportunities for this autocratic regime to repress brutally the Eritrean people for decades.

[ዝኸበርኩም  ኣብላት ጨነፍራት ሽማግለ ንሃገራዊ ጉባኤ ሃገራዊ ጉባኤ ምእንቲ ክዕወት እዚ ዝካየድ ምርጫ ንተሳተፍቲ ሃገራዊ ጉባኤዝምረጹ ናጻ ካብ ውድባትኮይኖምኢሙናትንቡሰላትንዓቅሚደሎዎምን ካብ ህዝቢ ክኾኑ ኣሎዎም ኣብ በይ ኤርያ [Read more].

By and large Eritrea has lost many young people during past 50 years not only because of the war and the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian occupation forces but also due to all crimes committed against the innocent fighters and civilians by the former ELF and EPLF revolutionary leaders (like ike Issays, Abdella Idris, Mesfin Hagos, Ali Said Abdella and others) which left a legacy after the liberation. During the 30 years of struggle for independence the Ethiopian government was not alone in violating the principles of education. The EPLF did much worse than the Ethiopian government in committing crimes against the educated classes. Teklay Aden, an EPLF security chief who defected to the Ethiopian regime in 1981, revealed that three thousand fighters were physically liquidated by the Front between 1973 and the time of his defection in 1980

The ELF was not  innocent in this respect.  If we look back to the 1960s  there  was the story of crimes against fighters (Siriya Addis) who joined the ELF from inside Ethiopia. Then in the early 1970s there were the mysterious deaths of Dr. Fetsum, who was a member of ELF, and of others. Furthermore in 1977 some of the newly recruited fighters (Falul ) were also became victms the ELF leaders. Yoesef states that the the Falul group is part of that naïve student naïve student generation [youtube] that, with all optimism and good will, flocked to mieda in a futile search for that elusive “unity”, that common thread that would weave “Eritrean identity”, only to be wiped out by two regressive identities – the sectarian identity of Jebha and the alien identity of Shaebia. Through the 1970s, many educated fighters who joined the ELF and EPLF became victims of imprisonment, torture and execution

As a continuation of the above crimes, the university of Asmera, many educators and the younger people  have  become the  most  victims  of the  PFDJ fascist regimes. As a consequence many young people flee from persecution, indefinite conscription  etc   seeking refugee  in any country that they can get to. According to  International Commission on Eritrean Refugees  on 10 August 2011 that there is an estimated 2,000 Eritreans per month leave clandestinely to Ethiopia and Sudan. In July 2011 Kisut Gebre Egziabhe also states that there are more than 48, 000 Eritrean refugees in Ethopia mostly young, educated, single men. Between 800 and 1,000 arrive each monthth.Furthermore,  a member of ICER, Ms. Sigal Rozen reported that in June 2011, the number of refugees who entered Israel passing through Sudanese and Egyptian territories was 1,214.  Other report indicates that more than 55 percent of these Eritreans are between 18 and 30 years old.(The ARRA statistics.) Generally during the past 50 years the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian occupation forces and Afewerki’s ruthless regime have forced thousands of young people to flee Eritrea.  As a result of this Eritrea has become a major refugee producing country. This has been reported by writers such as Gaim (2009)

Eritrea refugees in the world[find more]
[Yemane Barya song -Youtube]

Yemane Barya song-Zemen youtube
ዘመን ተቐይርካኒ ስደተኛ ኮይነ

ብስክፍታ ዝነብር ክሳደይ አድኒነ

ሓሳብ ልቡ ዘይፍጽም ሰንፍ መስተማሰሊ

እናተጎድአ ዝንእብር አሰኪምካኒ ቁስሊ

In conclusion  Eritrea has lost many young people in past 50 years  not only because of the war and the atrocity committed by the Ethiopian occupation forces but also due to all crimes committed by the former ELF & EPLF leaders and PFDJ leaders.[Youtube]

Song Meteabitey youtube

Ermias Home

The Eritrean people never wish to see again anyone who has a history of totalitarian or megalomaniac crimes (like the EDA, EPDP &PFDJ leaders) seizing power in future Democratic Eritrea or forming an interim government

Constitution of Eritrea should include

Anyone with a history of  crimes during the armed struggle or after the liberation should not be eligible to stand for any office post.  This should apply to opposition leaders

All those committed violations of human rights should encouraged to acknowledge these as part of national reconcilation process

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