Many have written about this dreadful
incident that took place just two days before Martyrs Day 1997. About 150
Eritrean prisoners were executed in the night of 18-19 June that year. TV
Zete in Sweden and Awate.Com's
Investigative Report of 13 March 2003 were among those that tried to
shed some light on the incident.
For my part, I've met people who have
credible knowledge of the circumstances of the night of 18 June 1997. The
following brief narration is a synthesis (amalgam) of accounts, deliberately
presented in this way to protect the identity of those who reported them.
In the afternoon hours of June 18, the
prisoners (who were in Cಣere, Asmara)
to get ready for an outing. Some of them were asking "do we need to take
our blankets and little belongings with us?" The prison guards told them
there was no need for that. The whole afternoon and up to the early evening
hours each prisoner was photographed from various angles (front shot, profile
etc.). They were subsequently taken, in batches, to the outskirts of Asmara. A large pit
had been dug in an area near Kushet village
west of Asmara
where a military squad was waiting.
All the prisoners were gunned down and
buried in the pit.
This is one of many sad events in Eritrea's
recent past. It is unfortunate that there is no system of justice in Eritrea at
present, and, therefore, many witnesses are unable to testify openly. The
onus is on all human rights, particularly Eritrean, organizations to research
and document the countless human rights abuses and crimes perpetuated against
Eritrean citizens. The day will come when these will be of vital importance
be it in the court of law or in the context of a "truth and
reconciliation" process, whichever Eritrea's future political
developments may institute.