Eritrea’s Killing Fields

By Events Monitor - Sep 22, 2007

Killing at will has become the new sport of the gangs ruling Eritrea. The shoot-to-kill policy implemented at the borders; public executions of people accused of smuggling persons across the border to Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti or Yemen; executions, under various pretexts, of young men and women in the national service; torturing people to death, and other countless deaths in the regime’s dungeons from torture, medical neglect and other inhumane conditions, have all been making headlines.

Politically-motivated murders and other extra-judicial killings are not new to the reign of the Eritrean dictator. It has been happening all along: the killing of disabled fighters in Mai Habar in 1993; the summary executions of hundreds of Muslim citizens (150 in Kushet in June of 1997, and dozens others in the Dahlak Islands); the cold-blooded massacre of 48 innocent young men and women[1][1] at Adi-Abeito prison on 4 November 2004, and countless other fatal crimes in Weia, gelaalo, the Dahlaks, and all over the country. One just have to talk to any of those young Eritreans who have spent time in the trenches, and one will hear a myriad stories of barbaric executions ordered by vicious commanders of all ranks.

Recently, the murderous regime seems to have been out on a killing spree in broad daylight, and, in many cases, publicly. However, one should be concerned that many of these atrocities go unnoticed or, at best, reported on a very limited scale.

The following are instances of reports in the current year. (Most of these reports are from My experience with this website has been that their reports, especially those related to the exodus of Eritreans to Sudan and happenings in the Western parts of Eritrea, are quite credible.)

Two weeks ago, on 8 September 2007, reported the following:

On September 1, a young Eritrea man, Mateos [no last name given], was executed in a public square in Tessenei. His body was then handed over to his family which lives in the town. The family was given a stern warning by the authorities not to hold a public mourning.

There were similar reports in 2006 about executions of people accused of involvement in the smuggling of persons across the border to Sudan. In March 2006, for example, (another Eritrean website, which was the first to document - including by video – the influx of new refugees into Eastern Sudan) reported the following:

Two young Eritrean men were executed by the government in Tessenei town. They were accused of helping people escape to Sudan. In a move that seems to have been designed to instigate terror among the population, the execution was carried out in public in the presence of members of the general public.

Moreover, I personally heard, back in 2004 and 2005, first-hand accounts from Tessenei residents about young men killed reportedly as they tried to cross the border. One particular story I heard while on a visit to Tessenei in late 2005 relates to a young man whose dead body was brought by the military police to Tessenei and left in front of a church. The body lied in the church for days but no relatives of the man could be found. It was finally buried with the help of the church’s charity office.

More stories:

The PFDJ security recently executed in Forto (near Sawa, Gash-Barka) the young man, Osman Idris Saleh Koy, a resident of Aqurdat town. He was arrested at a teashop in the city, and taken to Forto. The execution took place in the presence of security officials in the region. It is to be recalled that another resident of the city, Kateen [no last name], was publicly executed in Aqurdat. ”

(, 24 august 2007)

On 16 May 2007 the government’s border security executed, near the Sudanese border, three young soldiers who were, allegedly, captured while trying to escape to Sudan. The three national service members are:

1. Dawoud Mansour

2. Isak Abraha

3. Mebrahtu Andai (, 31 May 2007)

The PFDJ thugs killed citizen Hamid Bilal, a resident of Mngula village south-east of Gulluj (Gash-Barka) and a father of several children. His family collected and buried his dead body which the killers had left in the open. The PFDJ authorities had accused the Mr. Bilal of evading national service and of planning to escape to Sudan. (, 8 May 2007)

The dead bodies of a middle-aged man and his two sons, aged around 13 to 15, were found near the border with Sudan, south of abu Gamul. The Tigrinya-speaking family, was murdered by PFDJ’s border security men while trying to cross the border to Sudan. (, 22 March 2007)

A couple of years back, in Asmara, a person I know told me about the harrowing death (sometime in 2004) of four detainees in an incident that shows utter disregard for human life. The victims who were among other detainees, mostly National Service corps, were being kept in a container in Mai Serwa, in the outskirts of Asmara. (Just behind the recreation park and restaurant on Mai Serwa Lake, there is a military camp used, among other things, as a transit detention place). One long weekend (I think it was a holiday), the person in charge of the containers took leave with the keys in his pocket. He came back three days later, but, by then, it was too late for some of the detainees. Deprived of fresh air, and having been exposed to extreme heat during the day and unbearable cold at night, four of the prisoners had perished and scores of others were found in serious condition.

It was just one of countless sad episodes that have become the hallmark of life in Eritrea.

[1][1] See Asmarino for all 48 names -


Last Updated ( Sep 22, 2007 )
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