Issayas Tesfamariam, Feb 3, 2004



Issayas Tesfamariam


Issayas: What was the importance of Kidane Kiflu in the Eritrean struggle. In other words, what did Kidane Kiflu symbolize?

 Professor Berhe: Kidane landed in the midst of the turbulence that characterized the first decade of the Eritrean armed struggle. In the second half of the 1960s the armed struggle for Eritrean independence was undergoing severe growth pangs. Kidaneís writings (correspondences) show his concern about the problems faced by the movement and the need for positive reform and development. The leadership of the Front at that time did not welcome such views. Eventually he was murdered in cold blood. Alamin Mohamed Said in his book ìThe Ups and Downs of the Eritrean Revolutionî (1994), specifically states, ìThe Eritrean Liberation Front Ö executed 250 individuals based on religion and regional affiliation. Kidane Kiflu and Weldai Ghidey were two of them.î (p.26).

 Issayas: What was your feeling when you heard that Kidane Kiflu was killed?

 Minister Naizghi: I had just finished my studies in Russia and was getting ready to go to the United States for a Ph.D. From Russia I went to Rome and it was in Rome that I heard that Kidane Kiflu was martyred from Tsegai Kahsai. I was saddened. On the other hand, I decided to quit my studies and join to fight.

 Issayas: What is the significance of the death of Kidane Kiflu?

 Professor Berhe: Recent interview by Brig. General Ghirmay Mehari, serialized in Haddas Eritrea, confirms the previous word of mouth account of how the two (Kidane Kiflu and Woldai Ghidey) were murdered in cold blood in Kassala. They were lured to a certain Woldai Fikhakhís house for lunch. There they were literally butchered by ìfedayeenî, hiding under a bed. Later, the killers put the corpses in sacks, put them in a taxi and were on their way to Mt. Mikram to dump them away when one of the bodies fell off the car. (Hadas Eritrea, October 1, 2003). Kidane Kiflu was a learned man, a man of ideas and idealism. I have no doubt that his ideas contributed in shaping the future direction of Eritrean revolution. Kidane died an untimely death, in his twenties. His death should torture the conscience of his assassins, and the pusillanimous leaders who ordered his murder, that is those who are still alive, and assuming they have the conscience of a penitent murderer in his deathbed. But that is expecting too much.

 Issayas: While I was working on this article/interview, coincidentally you were interviewed on Haddas Eritrea. Even though you have mentioned in detail your experience as a fighter in the newspaper, if you donít mind I would like to ask you a few questions.

 Brig. General Ghirmay: There is no problem. I will be glad to.

 Issayas: Did you know Kidane Kiflu?

 Brig. General Ghirmay: No, I did not know him very well. But I have met him a couple of times.

 Issayas: When was he killed?

 Brig. General Ghirmay: He was killed along with Woldai Ghidey. I have pictures of both of them. If you need the pictures for your article I will let you use them. They were killed after the end of the Adobha Conference. The main aim of the conference was to unite the various divisions. Kidane and Woldai were working hard and believed that the struggle or the revolution should be united. Both of them were invited for lunch at Woldai Fekhakís home. Once there, they were butchered by the ìfedeyeenî who were hiding under a bed.

 Issayas: A lot of people say that the killing of Kidane Kiflu and Woldai Ghidey was the breaking point for the later EPLF to split from the ELF. What do you think of the statement?

Find more information from Mr Berhan Belata interview with Eritrean Tv. Demtsi Hezbi 9 February 2013

Kidane Kiflu


Woldai Ghidey








Minister Naizghi: The split from the ELF had already started before the martyrdom of Kidane. Basically, Kidane was in Kassala with the understanding reached between him and Isaias Afwerki and Abraham Tewolde. Isaias and Abraham had already split with their respective comrades. Kidane Kiflu was in Kassala to coordinate the activities outside of the field. From Kassala he used to correspond with me, Aboi Woldeab Woldemariam, Hiruy Tedla and others about the conditions and situations of the field.

Issayas: Thank you for the pictures. In the Haddas Eritrea interview you mentioned that you and Wolderufael Sebhatu were sent to retrieve the documents of Kidane and Woldai Gheday after they were killed. What was the importance of those documents and where are they now?

 Brig. General Ghirmay: They were very important documents. Wolderufael Sebhatu (who was martyred in Nakfa) and I were sent to get the documents from the house that was used as their office. Wolderufael knew the whereabouts and the importance of the documents because he used to work with them. You know, Wolderufael was supposed to have been killed with them but he was away at the time. Once we got to Kassala we got some of the documents but not all.

 Issayas: In the interview with Haddas Eritrea, Brig. General Ghirmay Mehari stated that he and Wolderufael Sebhatu were sent to Kassala to collect the documents of Kidane Kiflu. What was the importance of these documents? Where are they now?

 Minister Woldenkiel Gebremariam: The documents were very important. Kidane Kiflu was in Kassala and Kassala was the coordinating point with the field. He used to follow up the situations in the field and record them. They were very important historical documents. Some of the documents (letters) were sent to the field. With the situation that we went through in the field, it is hard to say where they are. Some documents were taken by Tekue Yhidego and etc. to Aden from Kassala. We used to have them with our Hafash Wudubat (Mass Organizations). After we went to the field we did not know the situation of the documents.

 Minister Naizghi: The documents were very important. They used to describe the situations in the field. Who did what? Who got killed by whom ...etc. are the sort of things that were in the documents. We left some of the documents with our Hafash Wudubat (Mass Organizations) in Aden, Yemen. Later, we heard that the documents were stolen.

 NEXT: FINAL PART (EIGHT). ìThe Battle of Halhalî (1968) with Mr. Jack Kramer, Professor Berhe Habte-giorgis and Dr. Tom Killion. Also, a sketched map and an audio clip of Mohammed Ali Idris from the ìKramer Papers 1968-1969.î

© Copyright 2001-2009 [ Kidane Kiflu and the Jack Kramer Papers: Addendum Tuesday, 21 September 2010 08:11 Written by EritreaCompass

Find more information from Reflections on the Eritreanhe struggle for independence 1958-1991, The ELF & EPLF leaders'crimes and Kab Mezgeb Tarich by Alem Tesfay

Further information

Source Source kab riqe -hefeneti Tekie Beyne (2009: p.123)

The death of Kidane caused much disillusionment  among the ELF fighters.   For example Tuku Yehdego who was one of the founders ofMahber Mahber Shew'ate (Union of Seven) in Asmara in 1959 became disillusioned. Tuku hated the Kiada al Ama leadership from the beginning and decided to work with the Sabbe group rather than to join Selfi Nsenat which was led by Issayas who was member of Kiada al Ama until he defected to theAla groups on 27 April 1970.

After Tuku left the ELF, he sent a letter to the Eritrean students and other former members of Haraka in the Diaspora to inform them about the unstable political situation in the ELF and the Kiada Al Ama conspiracy to kill Kidane Kiflue and other fighters. His letter might have contributed for the split among the Eritrean students in the diaspora at the meeting of General Union of Eritrean Students (GUES) in Munich in the summer of 1970.  One group was, which had Dr Fitsum Ghebreselassie, Aregai Habtu, Habte Tesfamariam etc condemned the Kiada al Ama action and the other group, which had, Herui Tedla Bairu who didn't condemn the killing of Kidane Kiflue and Wlday Giday. Read more

source Kab_Mezgeb_Tarich_2004.pdf Alem Tesfay (2003) listed some names of victim of the 1970s and 1980s     

Find more information from Mr Berhan Belata interview with Eritrean Tv. Demtsi Hezbi 9 February 2013

(c)   Naizghi Kiflu [ex-Internal Security chief who died in London on the 6th of February, 2012)] confirms:

“The split from the ELF had already started before the martyrdom of Kidane. Basically, Kidane was in Kassala with the understanding reached between him and Isaias Afwerki and Abraha Tewolde. Isaias and Abraha had already split with their respective comrades. Kidane Kiflu was in Kassala to coordinate the activities outside of the field. From Kassala he used to correspond with me [Niazghi], Aboi Woldeab Woldemariam, Hiruy Tedla and others about the conditions and situations of the field.”

(d)   Mesfin Hagos, in a recent interview (translated to English here) also mentions the two:

“…at the Adobha Congress…a transitional leadership, what known as Qyada AlAma,  was established. There, two committees were formed 1) a preparatory committee for a congress and 2) a committee that would investigate [the cases] of those who say they were wronged by the ELF and the mistakes that were claimed to have been committed by [the ELF], a committee  to investigate and scrutinize was formed. I worked as a member of the investigative committee. After the congress I went straight to Sudan—it was to supposed to [investigate] if there were [people] who claim to have been wronged by the ELF. It didn’t work out as wished. Those who were in the field and even their section who entered into the  Sudan, maybe some who remained in the field might have worked, but those of us who came to the Sudan couldn’t do anything. That is because the leadership of the time didn’t want us to work, it didn’t want us to meet with the people, it didn’t want us to ask the people, and they didn’t want the people to give us their views or tell us the wrongdoing that befell on them.  Therefore, we were immediately pulled back and entered the field.  This happened in the end of the seventies; similarly when we entered the field in the end of 1969, we were scattered everywhere, I was told that I was appointed to the engineering department, but shortly…I went to the Sudan. There were some books in Sudan that I brought along with me from China, and that would  help us in my appointed position {engineering ….when I entered [Sudan] there was disharmony among the leadership, when chaos ensued and we entered Sudan, those who were in Sudan, specially those who were closely cooperating with us, Welday Ghidey and Kidane Kiflu were killed by the ELF, and since there were [in Sudan] many who came from the field—those who came from Eritrean towns, also those who came from Sudan, there was no one to organize them, it was those two [Welday Ghidey and Kidane Kiflu ] who were organizing them. There was also imprisonment and there was, and there were many escapee combatants [in Sudan]. [x] source[Srryet Addis: Blatant Lie?]

Responses to He And His Objectives

He And His Objectives February 13, 2012 by []

Ermias Home

The Eritrean people never wish to see again anyone who has a history of totalitarian or megalomaniac crimes (like the EDA, EPDP &PFDJ leaders) seizing power in future Democratic Eritrea or forming an interim government

Constitution of Eritrea should include

Anyone with a history of  crimes during the armed struggle or after the liberation should not be eligible to stand for any office post.  This should apply to opposition leaders

All those committed violations of human rights should encouraged to acknowledge these as part of national reconcilation process

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