EPLF's History of Mysterious Deaths


Awate - Belly Of The Beast


By Lt. Kidane - Mar 15, 2009   

Gedab News recently reported on the mysterious death of an EPLF veteran, and Jaliya headmaster, Mohammed Dawood Raka.  There is nothing new about this, it is part of the history of the EPLF.

EPLF cadres used to harangue the masses about ELF’s liquidation policies.  Me, I believe there was liquidation in both fronts: the ELF was just a little bit crude and unsystematic with its campaigns. Both had their Halewa Sewra (Revolutionary Guard) where all revolutionaries and innocent patriots who questioned the veracity of this or that issue or the correctness of a theory not to mention ideology were brutally liquidated after they already became a cadaver. Whereas one stayed endlessly in the Halewa Sewra of Bileqat or Hishkib of EPLF for eternity before he was liquidated, he stays for lesser time in the Halewa Sewra of ELF and may have more chance of survival. Even if there are people who are more informed than me, from the scant information, I heard there is no difference of scale or magnitude.  One of EPLF’s liquidation tactics was “suicide,” which were never announced officially—but passed through “Bado Seleste” (Zero Three), the radio frequency for the party’s rumour mill.  Today, I shall mention some of the more well-known suicides and mysterious deaths.


The EPLF is notorious for the mysterious death of its innocent fighters. Ardent fighters against the despotism of the EPLF would be called “martyrs” without specifying the cause of their martyrdom. For those that died a natural death or in a battle, a death certificate bearing a picture of the martyred included place and cause of death.  For example: “He joined the front in 1973, was martyred due to malaria in Orota, or at the battle of Areza etc.”  For those who were liquidated, there was no certificate.  And for those who “committed suicide”, there was only mention of the place and date.



Dr Biement, husband of Askalu Menqerious, was a respected medical doctor.  I did not know him personally but from people who know him intimately I heard that he was working as a doctor in Semenawi Bahri (Filfil Selemuna). All of a sudden, one day, news circulated that he committed suicide. In fact the news of his death was disclosed after people began to talk in a hushed manner about his whereabouts.


Mehari Gheberemichael: A relatively young fellow and not a veteran by comparison. He joined the front in 1974.  He discovered that there was a secret party within the EPLF when he stumbled upon a document in a martyr’s pack (bishiklit). He was dumbfounded by the material and asked a friend who co-incidentally happened to be a party member. The party member told him everything and advised him not to talk to anyone about the issue and endanger his life.  The poor fellow could not safeguard the entire secret. He could have, like the story in the Greek legend, buried th never thought of digging a hole on the ground and buried the secret.  He didn’t: the burden was too much, and he committed suicide. This was the explanation I got from a friend who was in Filfil Selemuna at that time.


Arefaine Tesfahgabr: A youngster of the first Fitewrari generation, he served in Fah, the then capital of Isaias Afwerki, for about three years after which he was transferred as a radio communication officer in Filfil Selemuna under Asmerom Gherezghiher (Hawi Bichir), who is now a Major General. This guy was a sort of a mathematician that he could have even solved the enigma code used by the Nazis in World War II. As an operator he decoded all standard messages and was very smart in decoding enemy messages. By the time he was serving with Asmerom he had already known that there was a secret party and Asmerom was the regional chief. He received a coded message from Asmerom to be sent to Isayas. The message when decoded read: “It is good that we put the tin into the barrel.” The reply from Isayas was, “The tin takes a lot of water, and therefore we should wait until we talk about it.”  Arefaine was smart and solved it in no time: it concerned the entry of Estifanos Bruno to the secret party. Isaias was saying: Bruno drinks a lot and it is not advisable that he join the party now. In the long run, Arefaine could no longer hold the secret and confided to a friend the existence of the secret party. His friend was much worse and started hallucinating during his sleep and became sort of a lunatic. Finally he started blurting out the secrets told to him by Arefaine. After a few days Arefaine committed suicide; the guy who was hallucinating was later transferred to Sahel and no one ever heard about him.


Wedi Lbey: a veteran fighter and undercover agent in Asmara since the early days of Thisha. After he joined the front, he became a member of the Enda Seban Klten (Brigade Seventy Two.) I had the chance to work with him for a brief period in 1977.  He was a short and sturdy guy who chain smoked. He was always serious and talked to the point. I was not lucky and did not stay with him for a long time. An acquaintance told me that he committed suicide. I could never swallow the news I heard and I nagged my friend where he heard the story. My comrade was scared to death and requested me profusely to cool down for if I raised the matter with other people I could be a target myself. It was not puzzle anymore, at least for me.


Ash’Al: A hugely built veteran fighter of the seventies. I only met him once. He served under Haile Jebha in the Halewa Sewra for many years and he witnessed the death of the revolutionaries of 1973 that were later liquidated after they were branded as counter revolutionaries by Isaias and his stooges. I am not sure about the exact date but the people who told me claimed that he died after his boss Haile Jebha was liquidated as Yemin or rightist with his colleagues. In fact Ash’Al is a person of the highest profile in the annals of EPLF history of suicide.


Doctor Mekonnen Haile: Another medical doctor who joined the front in 1976. He was assigned in the department of health and served diligently until his mysterious disappearance. There was an ongoing internal struggle within the department between Isaias elements and those who opposed him. I never knew what Dr. Mekonnen’s stand was. But one thing I know for sure. Being an old time friend of John and Mussie Tesfamichael, he could never be a pawn of Isaias. The cause of his death was disseminated, of course through 03, as suicide. It was a colleague who came from the East, (Mibraq) meaning Foro who informed me. According to his version, “Dr. Mekonnen was a charismatic comrade and we loved him very much. Suddenly, we did not see him for more than two weeks and we began to ask. We could not say he went to Sahel because we did not see him in the Sambuq (boat). When questions about his whereabouts became rampant, the hafash was told by the party apparatchiks (informally of course) that he committed suicide. The person I know he is, I never accept the story of his suicide.


These are the ones I precisely know about.  There are many others that I did not know who committed suicide in the Mahberawi Ghudayat in Jelhanti, and in the branch of transport. The usual story is so and so died by committing suicide. It became routine. I am not taking into account the many young ladies who when coerced to marry a cadre they never loved committed suicide by burning themselves, or the ones who were told they could not marry the guy they loved. They became disillusioned and died while trying to cross to the Sudan.


Ibrahim Afa: It was just after the Bahre Neghash offensive. The enemy had already been defeated in the third front of Halhal and, as a result, changed tactic and tried to penetrate EPLF lines through the Northern Sahel front which it knew were devoid of EPLF troops. In fact, many people claim that, at the time, Ibrahim Afa was a lame duck in Aragh, posted as head of the military training department, instead of directing the war. Some people also claim he also opposed on how the war was being conducted.  

Hehad a very close friendship with Mesfun Hagos and the late Weldenkiel Haile. Ibrahim Afa is then said to have died when enemy troops ambushed him and Shambel Mebrahtom while they were sleeping in their bunker. Many unanswered questions arise here:

  • Why did Ibrahim go to that mountain top in the first place?
  • Ibrahim and Shambel knew that the enemy was near them: how come they did not assign a guard?
  • How it was the enemy killed specifically Shambel and Ibrahim and not all the members which were said to be five or six?
  • If it was targeted assassination, why didn’t the enemy not know who they killed? Why didn’t they take their documents?
  • How and when and where were they killed?
  • It is claimed that the people that survived were taken to Orota and were safe but were unheard of later on. Where did they go?

Anyhow, the EPLF kept Ibrahim’s death a secret for almost two years and announced it in the second congress.

It is very strange that so many people could die without a trace in a series of suicides. Then one asks what could be the explanation. There are more secrets of the EPLF than there are about the CIA or the KGB. The organization was never keen on transparency business because it never trusted the masses but only wanted to use them to meet its ends. Therefore, knowing the smallest secret of the EPLF was tantamount to the highest degree of betrayal. This being the case, any person who by ruse or innocence knows about the secret party wa told not to talk about it or the consequence would be his immediate death. This was what Isaias Finansa was told by Haile Durue after he became aware of the existence of the secret party.

We come to the conclusion then that most of the people that committed suicide were either liquidated after they talked with someone or killed themselves because they could not bear the consequence of their forbidden knowledge.

There is a typical example of a person I knew whose wife was a party member while he was not. She was ordered to recruit him. But when she started to tell him about the existence of the party, he became furious and rejected the membership. Alas! He was not a strong person and he became mentally depressed, was divorced by his wife and finally became an alcoholic. He is still an alcoholic and a depressed person. He begs money for drink from anyone he remotely knows.


Dear readers, without exaggeration this is the tip of the iceberg and it is the obligation of every citizen to add something by searching his memory. Our martyrs who (committed suicide) deserve more than this and we can at least placate ourselves by doing so. 

Last Updated ( Mar 15, 2009 )