Prisoners death records  







Mysterious death of Ibrahim Afa
Mysterious death of Abraham Tewelde

Liquidation in the ELF
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Brief Report on Ethiopia's Crimes Against Eritrean civilians 1961-1991




Lessons Never to be Forgotten

Part III: 1974 to 1991

Crimes committed by the Fascist military dictator of Ethiopia

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
  • Regarding this, Lemlem told Wilson of one Friday night in 1975 when she was visiting her mother in Asmera. ...The Ethiopian soldiers wene mad; they went from house to house searching, killing, disembowelling pregnant women. This was on for four days-the streets of Asmera was washed with blood[Wilson p71 1992]

  • • 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, and 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.

The Ethiopian government crimes against civilans in the 1970s was reported by Dines (1978:2 ) and Wolde Giorgis (1985:51).Ato Irgau Bahta was one of those victms of the Ethiopian government. He was gunned down inside his home in front of his 7 children and his youngwife in March 1976 when the army   shot dead 42 civilans in the capital Asmara. This was in retribution to the death of Colonel Bishu, who was assassinated by the EPLF fighters.

The murder of Ato Irgau Bahta

Ato Irgau Bahta

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.

It is believed the army unit was under the command of a Shaleka Asmelash. After ransacking the apartment and stealing various jewelry items one 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. His brother in law was taken outside in the street and shot at.

The bullets missed him and he was spared. Ato Irgau passed away at the age of 43,  in the arms of his young wife and his mother in-law, who  were not able to get any help until late the next morning. Ato Irgau Bahta was born in Adwa, Tigray, Ethiopia and moved to Asmara early in his childhood

He worked as an electrician with the Lo Russo company and was well liked and respected in the community. In the same night a young high school student, the only child of a mother that was employed as maid with an Italian family, was also killed by the same Ethiopian Army unit. He was shot and his body thrown from the third floor of the building where he used to reside. He lived above the premises where the Ethiopian colonel had been ambushed.

At least eight other individuals were executed by the Ethiopian army on the night of March 28, 1976 in the city center of Asmara. The next night, March 29, 1976 more civilians were rounded up and executed by the Ethiopian army. At least twelve bodies were dropped and laid around the block were Ato Irgau and his family lived. The funeral procession of Ato Irgau Bahta could not proceed until the bodies were removed later on the next day. It is believed that many of the victims of the second night were civilians whose names were found at Nebyat’s bar in a book where she kept the names of individuals that owed her money, a common practice of local businesses.
The Ethiopian army in 1976 was under the command of Colonel Menghistu Hailemariam who is currently living in exile under the protection of the Government of Zimbabwe in the outskirts of the capital, Harare.
  Source contributed by his son Isaias Irgau (10/01/2011) 

Dr. Petros Habtemikael

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 . Lemlem told Amrit Wilson. An Eritrean lecturer. Dr. Petros, saidbin his lecture Tigre was the oldest, then Tigrinya, then Amharic. The Ethiopian students were angry about this they wanted to be told that Amharic was the oldest. At that time the soldiers on their own initiative constitued into a murder squad: they would kill people by electrocutting them with a wire round the neck. Dr. Petros was the first victim but many other people were also killed[Wilson 71-72 page

Here is more information related to the killing of Dr. Petros Habtemikael from the book of Dabasu Ababa-Man yengar, zenabra p.125
Dr Father Augustino

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.

Excrept from EPLF History “Hold Me In Your Arms! …. I Am Going to Make It”. The family gathered as usual circling the plate dish for dinning, however a frightening interruption appeared before the parents and siblings took their first slice of bread. Then the nightmare of terror caught the family up for tragedy: the genocidal atrocity. The Ethiopian soldiers brutally stubbed and shot down Mr. Abraham, his spouse and three other children of theirs. Fortunately, the two youngest boys of the family Tesfay and Mussie managed to hide and observe the brutal scene that was taking place in their house; to their family: a house that few minutes earlier was founded in peace. Their four-year-old sister Ghenet was seen sobbing in front of the devastating scene of crime. Painted with blood, no mercy was in the aggressors heart for the forsaken child, so they stabbed her with the knife that left her intestine to drag out of its place. Both Tesfay and Mussie left their hidden place after they made sure the soldiers had left. Then sobbing sound came out from their baby sister Ghenet.” Tesfay, Tesfay please hold me in your arms! Mussie, Mussie hold me, I am going to make it!” she added with her dying voice. A fouryear- old victim struggling to keep her intestine from falling dawn to the ground. The 13-year-old Tesfay had a responsible and dedicated family that strives day and night to establish a better life. However, that tragic and unfortunate evening destroyed Abraham Woldu’s family dreams and hopes. This history of Abraha’s family is the history of every Eritrean family. In that horrific day 23 innocent Eritreans were brutally massacred at Gejeret by the criminal gangs of the Derg regime. Between February- March 1975, more than 500 innocent civilians were massacred on the streets of Asmara. Read more

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.”

Ethiopian repression in Eritrea
Source The Eritrean case, published by RICE in 1982



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:)

ዝኽሪ ስዉእ ብርሃነ ተስፋማሪያም (ወዲ ባሊላ)
ኣብ 1978 ኣብ ኣዝዩ ኣሰቃቒ መርመራ ናይ ስርዓት ደርግ (ኣብ ግቢ ኣስመራ) ናይ ዝተሰውአ ጅግና ውሽጣዊ ኣባል ህግሓኤ፡ ብርሃነ ተስፋማሪያም (ጸጋማይ ስእሊ) ታሪኹን ዝኽሪን ብበዓልቲ ቤቱ (ኪኪ ጸጋይ) ከምኡ’ውን ብ’መሳርሕቱ ፈዳይን ዝነበሩን (ከም ሕድራይ ፍስሃን- ካልኦትን…/ckdu_Voice_of_Eritrea_Naz_Yemane_pr…


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


ብምክንያት 25 ዓመት ብሩራዊ እዮቤል ናጽነት ኤርትራ ቀንዲ እንዝክሮ እንተሎ ነቶም በጃ ዝሐለፉ እዩ. ሐደ ካብቶም ጀጋኑና አብ ህምብርቲ ጸላኢ ኮይኑ ዝቃለስ ዝነበረ ቴድሮስ ተመልሶ ነይሩ .ብቀረባ ንቀራረብ ስለ ዝነበርና ምስክርነተይ ክህብ --
ምስ ቴዲ ፍልጠትና አብ ባር ሰላማዊት እዩ ነሩ ብዘይ ምቁራጽ ክአ ምዓልቲ ምዓልቲ አብ ባርሰላማዊት ንራከብ ኔርና ምስ ቴዲ. ዋላ ብዕድመ ካባይ ይእበ እምበር ቴዲ ከም አነ ንእሽተይ ሐው ከም ዓርኩ ይርእየኒ ነይሩ ምሳይ ምእላል ቪልያርዶ ምሳይ ምጽዋት ይፈትው ነይሩ ከምኡውን ስርሑ ሰራሕተኛታት ናይ እንዳ ማርይይንግ (ፋብሪካ እንዳ ጠራሙዝ አብ ቤት ገርጊሽ ዝነበረ ማለት እዩ) ብአውቶቡሱ ገይሩ ካብ ገዛውቶም ናብ ስርሖም ምብጻሕ ስለ ዝነበረ መታን ከእልሎ ሐደ ሐደ ጊዝየ ንዓናይ ምሳይ ይብለኒ እሞ ተሐጉሰ ምስኡ ብአውቶቡሱ ጌረ እንዳ እለልና ኮለል ይብል ነይረ. ቴዲ ብጣዕሚ ለዋህ ስሐቅ ጸወታ ዝፈትው ብዓል ግርማ elegante ፍሉጥ ወዲ አስመራ ነይሩ እንተሐሪቁ ግን ዋላ ሐደ ዝምልስሉ ሰብ ከምዘይነበረ አብ ባር ሰላማዊት ይርእዬ ነይረ ምዓንጣ ትበተክ እያ ነይራ.ሕማቅ አጋጣሚ ኮይኑ ግን ቴዲ አብ ውሽጢ አስመራ ስሩዕ ስለ ዝነበረ ሀገራዊ ግቡኡ እንዳ ገበረ እዩ ብጸላኢ ዝትሐዝ .እቶም ንፈልጦ ክአ ከቢድ ስምባዳ ይሐድረና ባር ሰላማዊት ክአ ህልምልም ትብል። ብዝኮነ ክአ ቴዲ ይእስር ኣብ ቤት ማእሰርቲ ከሎ ክአ ጥእና ይስእን ስለ ዝነበረ አብ ሆስፒታል እትየ ገመነን ክአ የእትውዎ . እዚ ምስ ሰማእና ክአ አነን ቴድሮስ ሃይለ(ዓሽራ)ቀንዲ ዓርከይ ዝነበረ እዩ ንሱውን አብ 1986 ዝቀተልዎ ብቅንኢ እዩ ብሐንሳብ ኩል ጊዝየ አብ ሆስፒታል ከሎ ንበጽሆ ኔርና.ካብቲ ዝዝክሮውን ምስኡ ሐደ ተስፋልደት ዝተባህለ ቀይሕ ለማሽ ጨጉሩ ብጣዕሚ ጽቡቅ ወዲ ዝተማረከ ተጋደላይ ሀሚሙ ምስኡ አብ ሐደ ክፍሊ አብ ሆስፒታል ኔሮም ከእልለና ከሎ ክአ ተስፋልደት በዚኤን ተማሪከ መስዋእትነት ክትከውን ነይርዋ ናተይ ምምራክ እንዳበለ ንዓና ሞራል ይህበና ነይሩ ዓቢ ሞራል ክአ ነይርዎ ንባዕሉ .ቴዲ ክአ ሕጉስ ነይሩ ምስ ተስፋልደት መቃልስቱ ብሐደ አብ ሆስፒታል ምኳኖም .ናብ ቴዲ ክመልሰኩም ዘገርም እዩ ቴዱ አብ ሆስፒታል ከሎ ምስቲ ዝሕልዎ ዝነበረ ወትሀደር ተሳማሚዑ ናብ ባርሰላማዊት ይመጻና ነይሩ ነቲ ወትሀደር ንስዋ መስተይኡ ሰልዲ ይህቦ ንሱ ናብ አባሻውሉ ይከይድ ቴዲ ክአ ምሳና ቩልያርዶ ተጻውይቱ ድሐር እቲ ወትሀደር ተመሊሱ ሒዝዎ ናብ ሆስፒታል ይከይድ ነይሩ። ከምዚ እንዳኮነ ክአ ሻለቃ ዳዊት ወልደገርጊስ ናይ ኤርትራ ናይ ኢሰፓ ሐላፊ ዝነበረ አብ ኤርትራ ምምህያሽ ገይሩ ነይሩ ብዘይ ምስክር ምእሳር ካልእን አማህሽዎ ነይሩ ንአዲስ አበባ ምስ ተቀየረ ግን ንቴዲ አይጥዐመትን ንጽባህይቱ እዬም ዝረሽንዎ አነ አጋጣሚ ካብ ትምህርትና ቅሀዝ ሞሊቀ ወጽየ እንዳከድኩ ሐንቲ ናይ ቀረባ ምሐዛይ ሕጂ አብ ኖርወይ አላ ቴዲ ረሺኖሞ ስድርኡ ተረዲኦም ትብለኒ ብስንባደ ክአ ናብ ገዝኦም ገዛ ማንዳ እንዳጎየኩ ይከይድ አብኡ ብርቱው አውያት ብክያትን ይጸንሐኒ ዓቅለይ ጸቢቡኒ ናብ ባር ሰላማዊት ከይደ ነታ ኩላ ጀምዓ ቴዲ ተረሺኑ ኢለ ይነግራ ኩላ ክአ ትስምብድን ብሐዘን ትውሐጥ. ንቴዲ ኩልጊዝየ እየ ዝዝክሮ ካብቲ ብፉልይ ዝዝክሮ ክአ ንበይነይ ከም ዝዛረብ ዝገብረኒ ሐደ ሐደ ጊዝየ ክአ እዚ ኩሉ እሱር ከሎ ናብ ባር ሰላማዊት እንዳመጸ ንምንታይ ዘይሃደመ እዩ. ባዕለይ ክምልስ ከለኩ ንህቶይ ክአ ከምቲ ዝገልጽክዎ አቀዲመ ቴዲ ለዋህ ደንጋጺ እዩ ነይሩ ምናልባት እቲ ወትሀደር አሚኑ እንዳውጽአኒ አነ ተሀዲመ ሽግር ክረክብዩ ኢሉ ሐሲቡ ደኮን ይክውን ኢለ ክሳብ ሕጂ መልሲ ንሕቶይ ክረክበሉ ከምዘይክእል እንዳፈለጥኩ ንበይነይ የስተንትን .እዚ ምስክርነተይ ክጽሕፍ ከለኩ ሕንቅንቅ እንዳበለኒ ኩልና አብ ባር ሰላማዊት ምስ ቴዲ ነዕልል ዝነበርና እንዳተራእየኒ አብ መንጎ ነዚ ጽሑፈይ እንዳቋረጽክዎ ነይረ ቴዲ እንዳተርአየኒ ንብዓተይ ክደርዝ።
ቴዲ ሐድጊ ገዲፉ እዩ አርባእተ ጽቡቃት ደቂ ክአ እለውዎ አስማቶም ክአ ካብ ክቱር ሃገራዊ ፍቅሪ አብ ህምብርቲ ጸላኢ ኮይኑ ከምዚ ኢሉ ሽም አውጽኢሎም--
2. ባሕሪ
4.ማዕሪግ እዬም
ክብሪን ሞጎስን ንስውአትናን ስንኩላትናን ንሐርበኛታትናን.
ህድሪ ስውአት ከነክበር ንፋቀር ንሳነይ ንሳማማዕ እዚ ምስ ንገብር ክአ ስድራ ስውአትን ደቂስውአትን ክድበሱ እዬም። source solo grande


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.

May 12th) Remembering She'eb Victims

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.
  • Atrocities were also reported between April and May in several parts of the provinces of Hamasien, Senhit, Akele Guzai and Serai. 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.

  • After Rebels' Gains, Ethiopia Vents Its Wrath on Civilians By JOHN KIFNER, Special to the New York Times Published: August 30, 1988

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)

Eritrean Martyrs’ Day

List of massacres committed during the Eritrean War of Independence

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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