Seyoum Tsehaye, an exemplary Eritrean freedom fighter.
On 12th October 2006 Radio Meselna Delina broadcast a brief life history of tegadalai Seyoum Tsehaye. Before listening to the broadcast I was shocked by his picture and watched in silence for few minutes and I kissed his picture as an act of love and respect.
From his picture I could read his deep national feeling, courage, strong faith and self confidence. For an experienced person the photo expresses a full history of the person concerned. Seyoum’s photo signifies his strong love for his people and country, his challenging personality and a strong confidence.
Seyoum joined the Eritrean struggle and endured a very tough life of a fighter so that his people could one day be free, live in peace and follow a decent life. Seyoum and his compatriots joined the struggle at a very young age not for a dream of Eritrea ruled by a dictatorial clique but to create an Eritrea enjoying the rule of law and justice. Seyoum and the others never dreamt that they will be oppressed by people they considered friend, brothers and sisters.
During the armed struggle Seyoum was active at all levels. He fought in the front line smashing enemy trenches, engaged in planting and removing landmines, documented written the history of the struggle while fighting, and drew while leading and administering. All this he did because he had a dream that one day Eritrea will be a peaceful, stable and an exemplary country.
After independence when Seyoum realized that his dreams were not being realized he started to approach relevant authorities, including President Isayas, to offer his advice, views and criticisms. This exercise did not get a response and matters got worse when heavy price was paid militarily and politically during the war with Ethiopia. Divisions arose within the Eritrean government and Seyoum tried to campaign for peaceful resolution of internal conflicts employing his skillful writings.
Unfortunately the government did not appreciate his efforts because it was not in the business of getting advice. On the contrary, many citizens including Seyoum have disappeared for five years for standing for the rule of law and justice.
Though Voice of Meselna Delinda presented a brief account of Seyoum’s professional and courageous life history, I thanked them for their work.
I can really say that Seyoum is a book by himself for Eritreans. He is the one who produced the Eritrean film narrating the enemy bombardment of the port Massawa. He documented in photos numerous military engagements of the Peoples Army and that is why I stated that he is a book of our struggle.
Seyoum never entertained laziness, never took sides in arguments, was not corrupt and was just a strong, truthful and loyal to his country. He respected other people’s views and ideas, does not boast and was always ready to teach and learn from others.
This courageous photographer was able to document the history of his people and country during the last war with Ethiopia. He participated in many war fronts, including the Badme and Tsorona fronts, where by he documented the braver of the Warsay youngsters and the Yikalo both in text and photos. In addition he exposed the weaknesses of the leadership during that war.
Seyoum got married in 1999 and is a father of two. However, because he decided to give priority to his country and did not choose to keep silent when things where going wrong he came in conflict with the government. That is why he is in prison now. His family as a result is constantly harassed by the security forces.
Voice of Meselna Delina has noted that Seyoum likes children and this is true to my knowledge. He was a father and a teacher to children. He believed that honesty and love is found in children and for that he teaches them and encourages them. He is always ready to support and encourage the weak as long as they show high moral.
Seyoum works to satisfy his conscience. Whatever he achieves is reported by his friends and never by him because of his modesty. Some witnessed Seyoum capturing an armed enemy soldier when Seyoum was just carrying his video camera. This incident happened in the battle of Barentu.
Once I heard a fighter saying that the EPLF has brainwashed the fighter to talk about the leadership not about ourselves. He is right. It was taken for granted to talk about leaders you never met while your unit members carryout heroic act of war and you don’t talk about them much. Without knowing you give credit to few leaders what the people have accomplished and few people get names and promotion on the sweat and blood of the masses. Seyoum exposed this dangerous abuse of the innocence of soldiers by many leaders.
We know the leaders of PFDJ have accused Seyoum and other heroes of treason and other crimes, their true role and heroism is always in the heart peace and justice loving people. The enemy will nor be able to bury the truth about Seyoum and his co-fighters because what is documented will not die.