Short Life History of

Patriot-Martyr Seyoum Ogbamichael,

Chairman of the ELF-RC

(from Holland 30.12.2005)


The patriotic struggler/Tegadalay Seyoum Ogbamichael was born on 24 January 1946 in the village of Haserelbo in the district of 7-Deqi-Digna in Seraye Province. He was the elder brother of seven children of Sergeant Ogbamichael Raasu and Woizero Hiwet Bahta.


He attended elementary grades at a school run by the Cistercian Catholic missionaries in Asmara and pursued middle school in Italian at Principe School. He studied his high school grades in Prince Mekonnen Secondary School of Asmara (1961-65).


The Seyoum was intelligent and attentive from childhood. His sisters and brother tell that he loved reading books from the very time he mastered the alphabet. His  classmates recount that he was a very good student at school.  Seyoum acquired nationalist awareness from his early age and actively participated in nationalist politics as of his high school days. As such he was one of the few key leaders of the student movement in Asmara. Among those who were leading the student uprising in Asmara from the same school together with Seyoum included Woldedawit Temesghen, Haile Woldetinsae, Mussie Tesfamichael, Michael Ghaber, Woldesus Ammar, Isaias Afeworki, Abdurahman Hassen Mehri, Gherezgheher Tewolde, Abdalla Hassen and others.


Seyoum joined the ELF in the field in early 1965. In August of that year, he and his friend Woldedawit were sent from Kassala to Asmara to re-organize and strengthen  ELF cells. While on that mission, the two ELF envoys were arrested and kept in Ethiopian prisons for ten years.


Characteristically, Seyoum was not to be intimidated and crushed by the torture and extremely bad treatment in Ethiopian prisons. In the contrary, his determination to fight for national liberation was enhanced and he continued the fight from inside the prison. Seyoum was creating national awareness among prison mates. He was convinced that he will one day conquer the prison walls and join his comrades in the field.  To this end, his contacts with the liberation movement were maintained. And on 12 February 1975, his dreams came true through  an operation that he took part in. The operation succeeded to release all prisoners from the Adi Quala and Sembel (Asmara) prisons. He, Woldedawit Temesghen and Haile Woldetensae (Derue) were among those 1,000 prisoners freed on one day.


As noted, Seyoum used his prison years not only in recruiting fighters for the liberation movement but also in enriching his political and academic knowledge through diverse books that could be smuggled into the prison cells from time to time. It was also in prison that he taught himself Arabic, French and some Spanish on top of his already acquired command of Italian, English, Amharic and of course Tigrinia.


After the liberation from prison,  Seyoum did not think of taking time to rest and visit his family members. He immediately joined the front. After the second national congress of the ELF in 1975, he was appointed as political commissioner of ELF’s Administrative Unit 10 (Akele-Guzai). He later became Administrator of the Political Cadre School. Also in 1977, he was nominated to head  the  preparatory committee of the  as the Chairman of the General Union of Eritrean Peasants and was elected its chairman in its constituent congress held in 1978. Nicknamed ‘Seyoum Harestay’ (Seyoum the Farmer) because of his concern with the plight of the poor farmers, he was indeed an advocate of the rights of Eritrean peasants.


Seyoum never failed to defend the correct political line of his organization at all times of  crises and splits that were occasionally experienced within the ELF.  He played a significant role in building the ELF-RC into a dynamic democratic organization. His services in the Executive Committee as head of organizational affairs and head of the foreign relations office were notable. In particular, Seyoum effectively projected the national democratic ideals and programmes of the ELF-RC at the international level and in addition played a huge role in the exposure of human rights violations and the denial of political and civil rights in Eritrea under the current regime.


Between August 2002 till his martyrdom, Seyoum served the ELF-RC with success as its  chairman. Seyoum was a devoted, selfless  and ever optimist fighter.  His steadfast struggle for those long decades was first for national independence and then for peace, justice, democracy and respect of human rights in Eritrea. In his life-time fight for the Eritrean cause, Seyoum had manifestly demonstrated that steadfastness in one’s beliefs, having a clear vision for the identified objectives were his trademarks.


Our comrade-in-struggle Seyoum continually and successfully projected the objectives of the ELF-RC and the Eritrean opposition camp through repeated missions to the neighbouring countries as well as to USA, Canada, Australia and several key European countries. In particular, he had shown keen interest in building and maintaining relations with neighbouring countries on the basis of mutual respect with the firm ELF-RC belief that correct relations are the guarantee for peace and common prosperity of fraternal peoples. It was from the start of the Eritrean-Ethiopian border conflict that Seyoum and his organization insistently called for a peaceful and legal resolution of the problem for the sake of the best interest of the peoples of the region. It was Seyoum absolute conviction that war was not a solution to the border problem. Even though Seyoum and his organization had no doubt about the Eritreanness of Badume, he rejected the capture by use of force of that village from Ethiopia where it was left to be administered since long time. His position was that the Eritrean army must retreat from Badme, submitting the case of that area for resolution through legal channels. And when the Ethiopian army recaptured Badme and advanced areas within Eritrea, Seyoum loudly called through a declaration issued in Addis Ababa for Ethiopia’s immediate retreated from areas it occupied in Eritrea.



On 23 November 2005, the ELF-RC Chairman Seyoum went to Addis Ababa leading an organizational delegation for talks with the Ethiopian authorities. And it was while conducting his duties that he died of sudden heart failure on 17 December 2005 at Betazata hospital in Addis Ababa hospital..


The untimely martyrdom of Seyoum Ogbamichael  is a great loss to the ELF-RC, the Eritrean opposition  and in general the cause of the Eritrean people for change. It is understandable that it will be difficult to fill the huge gap left open by the loss of this iron-steeled fighter with long experience, high communicative skills and clear vision.


Dear Compatriots,

Seyoum belonged to us all as Eritreans. And now it  is all of us who lost him. There is no specific person or group to receive condolences from others. Instead, each one has to condole oneself.


This steadfast struggler for national cause for over 40 years, should have in a normal situation, seen his dreams realized after Eritrean gained its independence. Or he should at least have the opportunity of being buried under the Eritrean soil.


It was a big misfortune for Eritreans to lose a long-time fighter like Seyoum who still had the great potential to serve his people with devotion. Seyoum was an advocate for peace, justice and democracy, and as such the primary loser because of his untimely death is the camp of the opposition struggling for peace, justice and democracy.


Seyoum was head of a family and father of six children. His death is a bitter news to his family members in Eritrea and abroad who  loved him and were always proud of him not of what he did for them, because he could do little,  but what he was contributing the Eritrean people’s cause. Seyoum is not bequeathing any material inheritances but the love of the Eritrea. They will be known as the sons and daughters of a heroic patriot and be proud to carry the imprints of his name. Many generations of Eritreans shall also remember the heroic Seyoum for his selfless and devoted services to our long-stretched national cause.


Dear Martyr Seyoum,

You have gone before consummating the objectives for justice, democracy and the supremacy of  law for which you gave your entire life. But rest assured that your objectives shall be achieved by the redoubled struggle of those you have left behind who are armed with your vision and courage. 


Glory and Eternal Memory to our Martyrs!


ELF-RC leadership and members


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