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Does, Mr. Saleh AA Younis of Awate – Al Nahda", know Hamid Idris Awate, better than the Kunama people?  

In his recent article, titled „The Spark, The Fire And The Torch, Mr. Saleh AA Younis (SAAY), – “May 11, 2009”, stated that „it, (an Eritrean political organisation), considered Hamid Idris Awate (HIA), the founder of the revolution, an – ordinary shifta, - which was an echo of Ethiopia's propaganda”

We Kunama are addressing and reminding, Mr. Saleh AA Younis that the Kunama people, particularly the Kunama inhabitants of the Kunama Tika region, have long been proving and stating that Hamid Idris Awate had committed untold and atrocious crimes against them, for no reasons and indiscriminately killing Kunama men, women and children and therefore that he was a local villain and an “ordinary shifta”. We are therefore asking Mr. Saleh AA Younis, whether he means that those Kunama people had been telling lies and only rehearsing “an echo of Ethiopia's propaganda” or whether it was “Ethiopia” rehearsing “an echo” of Kunama people's “propaganda”. We are also asking him whether he knows Hamid Idris Awate better than those Kunama people and, for that matter, even the very beginning of, “Eritrea's launch of the armed struggle”, that he could, not only prove the Kunama people wrong, but also that Hamid Idris Awate was the true beginner of the Eritrean “armed struggle”. What are his true sources of information and of historical value on which he could claim to be based on, in order to come out with such peremptory a statement? If, as a young man; Mr. Saleh AA Younis too, had attended “Jebha-Al-Tahrir's” school and had somehow and simply been imbued with such false doctrine, just like many others, among whom even some Kunama elements, today, a person of his calibre, should be taking a more critical stand, a more careful approach, a more academic analysis and insight and a more objective view on the “ghedli” history and therefore recount such past events, based on more reliable and neutral sources. To our view, Mr. Saleh AA Younis, with his latest assertions, seems to have instead remained still at “1961's” times, assuming as precise even the date “1 September”, and the mount “Adal”, not as symbolic, but as real “year, day, month and place” of the beginning of “Eritrea's armed struggle”. It is our strong belief that, concerning those times, events and people who had really and genuinely launched the Eritrean Revolution, there are a lot of dark sides to put focus on and a lot of misgivings to be cleansed out, before jumping to such kinds of conclusions. Mr. Saleh AA Younis, should be able and capable of discerning the purely political, factional and propagandistic aims of the initial years of the Eritrean “armed struggle”, from the present times when we are trying to unveil whatever had been, used and served as “propaganda” material and the true elements which had really concurred to begin, conduct and conclude the Eritrean Liberation Movement. If however, as Mr. Saleh AA Younis himself admits, “the heroic story at Mt. Adal, the original – against all odds – story, repeated over and over, captured the imagination of the besieged people, who adopted the date and the man (HIA), as their own”, this may be true for him and for others, but surely not for the Kunama people, not for us. Hamid Idris Awate, for the Kunama people and, removed from his alleged connection with the beginning of the Eritrean armed struggle, was and remains a local villain, a murderer, “an ordinary shifta”, a cattle raider and a criminal element. (Do please, consult the Annals of the British Protectorate's times, regarding this).

Mr. Saleh AA Younis has all the right to “romanticise with ghedli”, with its founders and leaders, but, to our view, he should also consider that, as a member of “'s team”, dedicated to “Reconciliation” as its motto and aim, very controversial figures, like Hamid Idris Awate, no matter how heroic they may appear, are not to be neither glorified nor admired more than what they do really deserve. For the Kunama people, the person and the name itself of “Hamid Idris Awate” is an element of horror, about which no compromise, and therefore, no “Reconciliation” can ever be contemplated.

We, as VKP/KAM's team, do very highly regard and admire the honest and dedicated personalities, like Mr. Saleh Gadi Jehar, who are doing a great job for the Eritrean people, and therefore we could have never imagined that one “ team's member”, Mr. Saleh AA Younis, would so profoundly “romanticise with the ghedli”, that he would not be able to discern the controversial from the genuine, the truth from the false and the objective from the purely subjective matters, which had been and are still engulfing the “ghedli” times and people. We believe, it was not so much because of a simply antagonistic attitude that the EPLF/PFDJ has been having a low consideration of Hamid Idris Awate, as because of his controversial life, activities and background history, full of criminalities. Nevertheless, Mr. Saleh AA Younis reports that, “in time, the EPLF wised up and started celebrating it ( the date), and, eventually, built a statue of Hamid Idris Awate in his hometown”. According to our research-work, “a statue of Hamid Idris Awate has been built” in Haikota, a little Kunama town, in the Kunama Aimasa region. Is Mr. Saleh AA Younis therefore claiming Haikota to be “Hamid Idris Awate's home town?” He is dead wrong. According to some still living Kunama who, not only knew him, but also used to pasture their flocks together with him, in the “Anali”, area, in the Kunama Tika region, “Hamid Idris Awate, the son of father, the Beni-Amer Idris Awate and of Baria mother”, was born somewhere in the Kunama land (Alebu?), but grew up and took up and conducted his criminal activities, mainly in the Kunama Tika region. This means that no one knows Hamid Idris Awate better than the Kunama of the Tika region, particularly those still living and wondering how a local villain like him, could ever be elevated to the heroism, and that at the national level. Let us also remind Mr. Saleh AA Younis that, right at the very start of “Eritrea's armed struggle”, the Kunama people were extremely suspicious and contrary to the Jebha's activities in their land, as it had advanced the propaganda that “Hamid Idris Awate was the founder” of that armed force. How could have the Kunama welcomed, open handedly, the messengers of the same person who had been their “worse enemy?” Awkwardly enough, some members of the Jebha unit which had operated in the Kunama land, 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. It was therefore natural that some Kunama got fire arms and started to defend themselves and their people, against those Jebha forces activities, and this was interpreted by some, as Kunama “siding with the Ethiopian government”, oddly enough, not so convincingly by Jebha itself and by its units, as by the EPLF's leadership and forces which, at that time were not even known to the Kunama people. The EPLF and the EPLF's leadership had accused the Kunama of “siding with Ethiopia”, moved by ulterior motives, namely its projected invasion and possession of the Kunama land and therefore, it had to wage an “ethnic-cleansing” war against the Kunama race. The Jebha's leadership and leaders were well aware, not only of their own members' crimes, against the Kunama people, but also of their own founder, Hamid Idris Awate, but yet still kept glorifying his criminal deeds and persecuting the Kunama people.

In one of our previous articles on this subject, we had reported the witness account of a Kunama Jebha's member who affirmed that one of his fellow-combatants, a Beni-Amer young man, not realising that he was talking to a Kunama, confessed that he had “cold-bloodedly slaughtered, with his sharp knife, a Kunama mother, together with her child, in retaliation for the death of his father who had allegedly been killed by the Kunama people”. That Kunama young man said he could no longer continue in the struggle and therefore left for good. This an many other similar criminal activities, committed against the Kunama people, by the initial Jebha forces, had clearly demonstrated to the Kunama people, that they had, in fact, taken up, preserved and continued the criminal legacy of Hamid Idris Awate.

Let therefore, Mr. Saleh AA Younis keep in mind, such sad background history, following and preceding his “hero” HIA and not wonder if we Kunama respond and respond even strongly, as long as such lack of sensitivity to the sufferings the Kunama people had gone through, at the criminal hands of Hamid Idris Awate, are still been shown, particularly by those preaching “Reconciliation”.

Admitting that the Eritrean “ghedli” too, just like many other “Revolutions”, had had its own dark sides, Mr. Saleh AA Younis observes that, “all these are true and this is why there is that big word on the top left side of this website: Reconciliation, which is about reconciling ourselves to our history and not our present”, but, Sir, not by recalling controversial and criminal elements like Hamid Idris Awate, Isaias Afwerki and others, glorifying their deeds and elevating them to the altar of heroism. There had been, there were and there still are much more dedicated, genuine, known and unknown Eritreans: “tegadeltis”, ordinary citizens and silent voices whose true merits have been and are being buried in oblivion. They are the ones with whom and with whose heroism, a true Eritrean has to “romanticise” him/herself.

Let, Mr. Saleh AA Younis and others like him, still resurrecting the enigmatic person of Hamid Idris Awate and acclaiming his imaginary “patriotic deeds”, based only on “heard-say”, be reminded that no one else knows Hamid Idris Awate, better than the Kunama people of the Kunama Tika region.

The VKP/KAM: (May 18, 2009).