The ELF leaders' crimes against the Haraka fighters in 1965
compiled and researched by Resoum Kidane 31/08/2008
In this 47th year of commemoration of the beginning of the armed struggle for national liberation,it is worthwhile to tell the truth to the young generation when the Eritrean people's struggle started and by whom by looking briefly at the motivation behind the ELF Supreme Council's decision to liquidate the Harakat also ELM in 1965.
back to the history of the beginning of the armed struggle for national
liberation, the founder of the ELF Idris M.Adem and other groups of the
nobility seceded from the Moslem League (ML: The Moslem League was formed
in Keren by Ibrahim Sultan, he was a spokesman for the serfs who sought
freedom from the feudal Moslem landoweners in the western plains of the
Barca and Anseba valleys and in the eastern lowlands around Massawa. Spence
(1984:197) in the late 1940s, and eventually they joined the Unionist
(the pro-Ethiopian Unionist Party) instead of working togther with the
Ibrahim Sultan for Eritrean independence. This was when they realized
that the League was dominated by the serf emancipation movement.
According to Mengesteab (2005:40) "Idris took a group of Moslem lowlanders out of the Moslem League (ML) headed by Ibrahim Sultan Ali, because the League and its leader possessed progressive ideologies with which Idris disagreed. Having eliminated his group from the ML, Idris allied himself with the pro-Ethiopian Unionist Party. This opportunistic maneuvering enabled Idris to become president of the unionist dominante Eritrean parliament.
Idris M.Adem became president of Eritrean parliament after Sheik Ali Mohammad Mussa Radai from 1955 until he was forced by the chief executive to resign in 1957. In the spring of 1959, Idris Mohammed Adem went into exile with Ibrahim Sultan,even though he had split from ML in disagrrement with Ibrahim Sultan in 1949.
Although the ELF and EPLF leaders tried to persuade the public that the Eritrean struggle was started on 1st of September 1961 by the ELF, through commemoration of the armed struggle for national liberation every year on 1st September, the Eritrean people's struggle for independence goes back to the flourishing of the Eritrean political parties in the 1940s, and in the 1950s with the emergence of the following organizations:
1.Workers Syndicate of Eritrea( In late 1952, Ato Wolde-Ab Woldemariam helped found the Workers Synicate Of Eritrea the Syndacato, Workers' strikes and boycotts were used by the Syndacat helped to frustrate Ethiopia's ambition in Eritrea (Gebre-Medhin, 1989)
2.The Young Federalist Association also known in Asmara by their Italian name: Partito Giovanile Federalists Eritrei ( The Young Federalists held their first organizational meeting on Dec.26, 1953. They numbered about 60-80 members and their first leaders was Tesfai Redda from Dekemhare, who was repeatedly imprisoned and tortured. By 1958 the Yound Federalists were part of a widespreaded " Federslist-Independence movement" Their ideology had gone beyond the idea, of simply preserving Eritrean autonomy to seeing Federation as a " stepping stone" towards independence. (Killion 1997, p.50)
3.The Moslem Youth League ( Commonly called simply Shabab) was formed in 1953 along with the Young Federalists. Both organization , however, were composed primarily of young men, representing the new, and much more militantly anti-Ethiopian nationalist, generation of Eritreans who came of age after the demise of European colonial rule (Killion 51)
4. the Eritrean Youth Peace Council. According to Berketeab(2000:169) an organisation called the Eritrean Youth Peace Council emerged, which was am amalgamation of the Youth wing of the Moslem League and the Unionist Party. The Organisation was formed to ensure the implementation of the Federation, and to oppose its encroachment. The workers( dock and railroad workers) defended democratic rights such as strikes, demonstrations and associations enshrined in the Eritrean constitution.
5. Asmara Teachers' Association following the strike the Teachers' Association was banned, its Club closed and its leaders (such as Issayas Tesfai, A bebe Yasin & Tsegai Negash) were briefly arrested
6. Mah'ber Memheyash Hagarawi Limidi ( Association for the Development of National Culture M.M.H.L) was founded in 1957 when its 45 members staged several singing and drama productions in Mendefera and at the Cinema Impero in Asmara ( attended by 3,000. Amine Gebre-Kirstos a participant and worker at the Governmenr Printing Press, along with two other M.M.H.L members were imprisoned and tortured for 3 months following the Asmara show
All the above organisations took an active role in the
resistance against the violations of the Federal Constition which were
taking place between 1952-1958. For example between 1954 and 1956 sporadic
student strikes were common, especialli in Asmara. ;In 1958 a more than
two-week strike of workers, students, and self- employed paralyzed Eritrea
(Gebre-Medhin (1989: 171 ).
According to Gebre-Medhin, Mahber Shewate (Union of Seven) began to coordinate the various sectors of Eritrean struggle in the urban areas of Eritrea as well as Ethiopia. The Eritrean Liberation Movement (Harakat) played a great role in organizing, raising national consciousness through distributing leaflets, and its annua lstudent demonstrations in the main cities.
Alsayed (2009) also states that the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM) was a natural and subsequent political development in Eritreans’ struggle for their legitimate right to self-determination. The ELM (1958 – 1965) came about in the wake of Ethiopia’s unilateral violation of the Federation arrangement and the lowering of Eritrea’s legitimate flag.
Harakat(ELM) was initially formed on 2 November
1958 in Port Sudan by Mohammed Said Nawd, Idris Mohammed Hasen, Salih
Ahmed Iyay, Osman Mohammed Osman, Hussen El Haj Idris, Habib Gaias,Yasin
el-Gade and Mohammed El Hassen Osman.
|Saleh Eyay and Yasin el-Gade|
|According Markakis ( 1987:106) as a model for the organisation they chose the cell structure used by the Sudanese Communist Party. He adds that cells of seven members were formed, and each member was instructed to recruit six others to form a new sell. Thus movement spread amoeba-like in the towns of Eritrea. To avoid the sectarian divisions that had marked Eritrean political activities in the 1940s, the ELM activists set out to recruit within the urban Christian community, stressing, in the words of the preamble to the ELM status, that “ Muslims and Christians are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one “ (Markakis also added that Christian response was encouraging, and the movement became known among them as Mahaber Sowate (Association of Seven)|
The first clandestine cells of Mahber Shew'ate (Association of Seven) were established by Yasin el-Gade(a tailor from Asmara) after he returned to Asmara, Tuku'e Yihidego and Kahasai Balbi .
|Yasin el-Gade||Tiku Yihdego||Kahsai Bahlbi|
|Some members of the first clandestine cells of Mahber Shew'ate|
|Mahmmod Ismael Al-Haj||Saeid Moh.Saleh||Mussa Araho||Abdul Salam||Teklay Haraka|
|Welden kel. Abrha|
|Nour Abdul Hai||Ahmed Bin Abdulqader||Mohammed Burhan Nagash|
Idris Mohammed Adem who went into exile after removing from his post, was one of them, and he displayed exterme hostility towards the formation of the ELM. Bereketeab (2000:184) also adds that the leaders of the ELF, and Idris Mohammed Adem in particular, dislike the stretegy of the ELM to broaden its organisation through recuriting Christians because in their view, it was Christian that delivered Eritrea to Ethiopia in the first place. The above also support by Mengesteab(2005:40) also adds that , Idris launched a vitriolic campagin against ELM and its leaders.Threatened by the youthful and secular orientation of the ELM leadership and by Nawid's early affiliation with the Sudanese Communist Party, Idris Adem roused Eritrean nationalists against the ELM.
Idris was further aggravated by the fact that Woldeab
Woldemariam welcomed the formation of the ELM and offered his services
to further its cause.In addition to pushing for progressive politics,
Woldeab was a Christian highlander, which appalled idris.In the furtherance
of sectarian politics, Idris led the creation of a new organization, known
as the ELF in 1960.
The leaders of the ELF believed that mandate had been
bestowed upon them during the time of political struggle in the 1940s
and 1950s. They therefore believed that newly emerging political forces
had no legitimacy. Moreover, their view that the Eritrean areana could
not accommodate more than one organisation also constituted an irreconcilable
point of difference (Bereketeab, 2000:184).
Additionally (Bereketeab, 2000:184) also mentioned
it in his book that the ELM made a proposal to the leadership of the ELF
to merge the two organisations. However, this proposal however, failed
because of the ELF's rejection, and towards the mid-1960s the antagonism
between the two organisations reached its peak.
|Idris M.Adem||Osman.S.Sabbe||Woldeab Woldemariam||Ibrahim Sultan. Do you Remember?|
| Finally when Haraka had
a plan to wage military activity inside Eritrea against the Ethiopian army
in 1965, the leader of Haraka received a warning from the ELF spokesman,
Osman S. Sabbe, who pointed out that a liberation front already existed
and told Nawud that his organization should unite with it or face elimination.
Despite this warning the ELM leaders dispatched a force of 50 armed men to the Sahel to fight the Ethiopians in May 1965, and six the ELM armed forced were killed by an armed contingent from the ELF force at Ela Tsada, in 1965 (Mengisteab, 2005; Bereketeab, 2000; Patemem 1990, Paice 1994, Iyob 1995, Shinn 2004). This was happened due to the ELF Supreme Council decided to take military action against the movement.
following five members of the ELM (Harakat)who were among the
six killed by the ELF force at Ela Tsada in 1965
| Mahya-El Din Al
Ahmed Salih Ali
According to Ahmed Mohammed Nasir who replaced Idris Mohammed Adem as chairman in 1975 said that the chief reason for the ELF attacking the ELM was its belief that the Field could support only one organisation [ Bereketeab, 2000 :184).
Furthermore Mohammed Ibrahim Bahdurai who was among the first the ELF fighters with Idris Awate his attitude toward the eliminate of Harak is not diffirent from what Ahemed Nasser said. Mohammed Ibrahim Bahdurai in the interview with Nhrent in commemoration of the 43rd year of the commencement of Eritrea’s armed struggle for national liberation. He said that the ELF’s success against the armed bands of the ELM was welcomed by all nationalists because everyone knew that the presence of more than one organization in the country would invite divisions based not on political line but on the backward regional and confessional sentiments.
Many believe that the legacy of this military action set the precedent for the later civil wars between the Eritrean organisations
Despite , the Supreme Council decided to liquidate the ELM (Harakat) military wing,Woldeyesus Ammar (Chairman of the ELF-RC) in his publication (November 14, 2004:
) didn’t acknowledge the crime of the ELF leaders relating to the decision of the Supreme Council which caused for the death of 6 ELM fighters, but Ahmed confirmed the ELF military action against the military wing of Haraka.
|Why Woldeyesus Ammar (Chairman of the ELF-RC) didn't mention the liquidation of Haraka in his publication? He only wrote Saleh Eyay was a co-founding leader of the ELM but he had no problem of changing membership to ELF in 1965 when he was convinced that he would do good to the cause for national liberation than by insisting to revitalize ELM|
|The ELF Supreme Council who decided to take military action against the Eritrean liberation Movement in 1965|
Tuku'e Yehedego a soccer star. He was one of the leader of the student demonstration against the imposition of Amharic as the school's language instruction Tuku'e later helped organize the ELM in Asmara(Killion,1997 53). Iyob (1995, 101) adds that the Eritrean team, Adulis traveled to the Sudan for national matches, and three ELM members mobilized and recruited members for the new organisation. Team members, like Tuku'e played key roles in spreading the network among the youth in Asmara in 1959
To conclude: the Eritrean struggle for liberation was not started 47 years ago on 1st September 1961 but 50 years ago on 2nd November in 1958. The ELF was founded by Idris Mohammed Adem in 1960 after he went into exile with Ibrahim Sultan in 1959, it was in competition with the ELM ( Harakat) just as the EPLF which was founded by Osaman S. Sabbe and Issayas in power competition with the leaders of the ELF in the early 1970s.
Although the ELF leaders claimed that the ELF was the mother of the Eritrean revolution and the EPLF leaders also claimed that the EPLF was far more progressive than its mother organization, neither the ELF nor EPLF were founded by genuine leaders l The only genuine and progressive liberation movement was the Eritrean Liberation Movement ( Harakat) whose founders believed in the principle
“Muslims and Christians are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one"
This principle came from the 1940s legacy of the great political leaders ( Ibrahim Sultan, Woldeab and others ) who demonstrated their willingness to work together for the unity of the Eritrean people through sharing a chicken killed by a Moslem.
Here is an excerpt from what Ato Woldeab wrote when Ato Ibrahim died in 1987.
|Do you remember in 1944, when we met at the residence of Saleh Kekia and shared a chicken killed by a Moslem, put our hand on a copy of the Holy Quaran, and without any consideration to religious, regional, ethnic or élan differences undertook to struggle for the independence of a united Eritrea and formed the party, Eritrea for Eritreans Read more|
|Crimes comitted by the former revolutionary leaders after 1965|
| EHREA Eritrean Human Rights
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