Inform, Inspire, Embolden. Reconcile!

Gebremedhin Zegergis: Eyewitness To Eritrean History

Editor’s Note: [the name of the author has been wrongly typed as Zerizghi, it is Zegergis. We appologize for the error] This eye-witness account by Gebremedhin Zegergis, veteran combatant with the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), was originally written in Tigrinya and published by the  ELF-RC of which Gebremedhin was a member. About seven years ago, Gebremedhin kindly sent us the Tigrinya copy for publication. Unfortunately, for lack of time and resources, we didn’t have it converted to an electronic file. However, we did translate it into English and shelved it with other pending files. Today we are glad to present it to our readers hoping they benefit from it as a source of information.

The detailed testimonies contained in Gebremedhin’s report serve as a background to the article (He And His Objectives) that we published on February 13, 2012, and to the upcoming article entitled ‘Srryet Addis: Blatant Lie?’ We believe that all three documents will shed more light on the most crucial grey part in the history of the Eritrean struggle of the late sixties.

Whenever possible, the translation of Gebremedhin’s eyewitness account was verbatim so that the tone and spirit of the original Tigrinya content is not altered. While we have remained true to the content, we have occasionally and slightly reconstructed the Tigrinya sentences and the writers writing style in order to make it comprehensible to the English reader: (If a reader does not have a cultural understanding of Tigrinya, some sentences may certainly sound strange.)  We have translated proper nouns of people and places phonetically.

___________________________
AN EYE WITNESS
In The History of The Eritrean Revolution
By Gebremedhin Zegergis
Member of ELF-RC
May 1997

Introduction

I am an individual who has been, and still is, struggling [as a member] of the ELF organization in different aspects, since 1969. This written material is a true history [and] based on experiences that I was part of and I have witnessed.

This book, though it should have been issued earlier, due to different reasons, is being issued belatedly. But its issuance at this moment is positively identified.

Since I became blinded when I was [in combat] in the Eritrean field, I recorded this note on [an audio] cassette; and it was [made] possible to write and distribute it with the cooperation of my struggle-colleagues; and I feel proud.

In the Eritrean field, I was a common combatant and not someone who was a cadre. The history that I have presented in this book is not what I heared of or [what I] read in magazines, radios of television: they are truths that I have accumulated on my daily movements in the Eritrean field. I don’t have the conviction that all Eritreans would believe or accept the history that I am presenting; but, since there is no lack of [those] who replace truth with lies, and who speak and write lies presented as truth, I have no doubt that this will help the people to compare in trying to find the truth [on their own] about their true history.

I pass my heartfelt appreciation to my comrade Tesfay Teklezhgi who whole-heartedly accepted my request to have this [notes] published in a book format.

Your brother, Gebremedhin Zegergis

Foreword

What compelled me to write my experiences as well as the situation of the Eritrean revolution is not an intention to pick on past wounds of the Eritrean revolution—and this, I would like to bring to the attention of the reader. Moreover, it is also not because I forgot the current objective of our people  to unseat the dictatorial system and to replace it with a democratic system endowed with harmony. I believe in the truth and that revisiting our past history and investigating it would soften the grounds [to achieve] our current objectives.

It is known that, regardless of their reasons or the targets they want to hit, there are individuals and groups who say, “the history of the Eritrean people’s liberation struggle should not be mentioned negatively or positively.” When we observe closely, [we find out] that some innocently believe that there is no benefit in talking about history; but it should be remembered that some do that purposely to protect and cover up their individual and group interests.

The history of the Eritrean liberation struggle, in whatever manner, can never be changed or beautified or [its] black [spots] to be changed to white and its white [spots] to be changed to black. Who knows, even if it was contemplated that by removing the black [spots] and painting it white would [actually] make it white; but painting white over the black [spots], [will result only] in shades of grey. It is impossible to forget history and create a future history that can be identified as positive.  In other words, it is only based on the past and present that one can build the history of the future.

Regarding the view that [divulging] “history that doesn’t consider timing would not deliver its [intended] message”; from the organizational perspective, I fully agree with that. But, when irresponsible individuals and groups trash and twist our past, to keep silent by claiming that, “it is not the right time yet”, be it directly or indirectly, I say, it has no meaning other than protecting the tyrannical government of PFDJ which is sitting on the saddle of authority, and is dreaming and struggling to erase our history. Because, saying “let [the PFDJ] write [what they want], but since you are [more] responsible [than them] don’t respond”, on top of it being outright opportunistic, reminds one of the saying of our ancestors: “Asha temesilka drarom wed’alom.” (Pretend to be foolish and take advantage of them).

I don’t believe there is an Eritrean who doesn’t follow how those criminals (specially and primarily Isaias Afwerki’s group), in order to cover up the wrongdoings they committed against our people and our organization (ELF), are spreading and writing, a mocking and twisted history of our organization. As the saying goes, “Adkha kzmet do Atynkha Y’emet”, hearing and watching quietly while history is being disfigured before it is told, is nothing but escaping from bearing responsibility and turning your back to the struggle—my conscience forces me to expose and uncover their lies with the history of which I am an eyewitness. It is also of great necessity that our people know this truth. It’s driven by this [conviction] that I was pushed to write about the past and the real experience of the Eritrean revolution that either I participated in person or witnessed. Since I believe very well that the experiences and history of the 30 year armed struggle for the liberation of Eritrea cannot be written in one book or in a few hours; I wouldn’t like to pass without mentioning to my readers that I will focus on the important issues… questions and historical events that took place in the period in which I was present.

The Origin Of My National Consciousness

It is undeniable that our environment has a huge impact and influence on our lives. And since the source of the national consciousness of every citizen, in different times, ages and situations, etc, is dynamic and is different, it doesn’t mean that everybody has a similar point of departure.

As for me, I was 14 years old in the beginning of the sixties and I lived in the towns of Mai Habar, Nefasit and Ghindae. Chat was being cultivated in the farms of these towns and I was moving around trading in Chat. Conversely, since there was a large Tor Serawit [Ethiopian Army] military camp in Mai Habar, I was frequently going there to sell Chat. The Army in that town enjoyed better living conditions than their colleagues [in other towns]. This is because, on the one hand, since they had fought victoriously in an African country named Congo, Emperor Haile Sellasie had given them a 1000 Birr bonus; and on the other hand, they had uncountable property which they looted and stole from the Congolese people; they were swarming around me like bees to buy Chat. And because [I frequented the camp] I used to see many wives of the Tor Serawit dressed in black crying and mourning. And I was hearing some people say that “[the soldiers] died while fighting Wedi Awate [Hamid Idris Awate] who is a Shifta [bandit] in the lowlands”. One time, I accidentally witnessed in the camp the Tezkar [wake] of Colonel Kebede, the commander of the camp who was killed in battle. The wake was extravagant and big. Though I was about 14 years old, I was aware of the fact that Hamid Idris Awate was struggling for the liberation of Eritrea in the Lowlands, and that there was an organization known as Jebha [Front].

With the passing of time, when I went to the area around the mountains of Bizen for farming, Jebha had started to penetrate the Eastern Lowlands [of Eritrea coming] from the Western Lowlands. Because of this, I was able to witness what I used to hear about. Around 1966, the Tor Serawit from the [camps] of the towns of Ghindae and Embatkala were killing and slaughtering people; burning houses and farms, and plundering properties and cattle. Flourishing villages like Ailet and Gemhot, and villages located on the foot of the Bizen Mountain had their inhabitants slaughtered or scattered by Tor Serawit. Even the inhabitants of those villages who were able to escape were not able to carry anything except their canes and the cloth on their backs; they were exposed to disease and hunger and lack of shelter. This suffering of the people and the brutal deeds of the Tor Serawit that I witnessed first hand was imprinted in my mind and it played a big role in increasing my national consciousness. When the situation became worse, even though we were lucky and escaped death, we understood that one day [death] is going to befall us; therefore, I and a few others decided to go to Ghindae.

In Ghindae, there was difficulty in finding a job. But after sometime, I was employed as an assistant in a truck that transported firewood. And by coincidence, since the truck was moving in different areas, I always had the opportunity of meeting Jebha [combatants]. To mention a few examples, by going to the direction and surroundings of Shebbah, Gedged, Selemuna, Zager, Ad Shuma (Semhar Metaat) and on the other direction, to the surroundings of Feter, Tego, Een, meeting combatants became my daily affairs. I was also recruited by the ELF and started to fulfill my obligations [Ed: This usually means financial contribution, information gathering and running errands secretly for the combatants]. It had been a long time since I thought of enlisting in the ELF to fulfill my obligation. But after postponing my plans for sometime due to different reasons, I joined the Eritrean Liberation Forces in May (Gnbot) 1969.

Thus, based on what I saw and heard when I was young, and driven by my national consciousness (positive and negative influences that were created by my surroundings) I joined the Eritrean field.

My participation In The Eritrean Field; The Prevailing Situations; And The  Tripartite Unity Of May 1969.

In May 1969, when I fully decided to join the ELF, I headed towards the mountains, ravines and valleys where I grew up and which I knew. When I reached Debre Bizen, I found the ELF group that was led by Martyr Weldemariam Solomon and I told him that I came to join: he accepted me. Including me, we were eight youth who came to join in that place. But the mother of Weldekidan, the eighth person, came and pleaded, “without him we don’t have anyone to take care of our cattle and farm; give me back my son.” He was returned.

The remaining new recruits, seven of us, were first taken to Deeot Mountain and later to Zager Valley (Eastern Eritrea). There, we found out that the integration of Tripartite Unity (Wehda Sulasiya) forces was being carried out. We were amazed by the big number of the forces. The next day, they took us to a place to meet Abraha Tewelde, the commander of the fifth zone and member of the transitional leadership of the Tripartite Unity.

Abraha Tewelde asked us “how are you brothers?” and received us, but then he yelled at Solomon Weldemariam with strong reprimanding words and said to him, “why do you accept new recruits?” Solomon responded, “I cannot tell such strong youth to return to their homes, and you do whatever you want with them.” Abraha Tewelde tried to convince us to return to our homes. We refused and he transferred us to martyr Mohammed Ibrahim, the secretary of the transitional leadership of the Tripartite Unity. Mohamed Ibrahim registered our names and took us to a small training camp. After forty days of training we were assigned to the forces. I and another person were [further] assigned to a clinic that was located in Gergera.

Though we accepted it later on, we were not happy for being assigned to a clinic. We had a thought in our minds: carrying arms and fighting the foreign forces of Ethiopia; we didn’t consider working at a clinic a real struggle. The people who were at the clinic convinced us that the struggle [can be carried out] in any place.  At the clinic we tended to the sick, helped, served food, water and tea to the sick and since we were given limited training on giving shots, we contributed with our humble skills.

A.   The Situation Of Spies (Jewasis) In Jebha

There was no stone unturned and no tactic not tried by the occupational Ethiopian system in order to at least hinder, and if it can, to abort the Eritrean revolution with the help of spies. In what follows I will explain enemy attempts of spying during the period that I was present. I would like to note here that though I will explain regarding “Srreyet Addis” in detail [later], and why the leadership of the Tripartite Unity had decided to stop accepting new recruits; the subject [spies] that we have raised has some connections with it.

In 1969, the Government of Haile Sellasie organized an Expo in Asmara for the first time. All Eritrean ethnic groups were given instructions to prepare a cultural exhibit.  Based on that, twenty youth from Ghindae aged between 20 and 25 were selected to play [in the Expo] representing the Tigre group. Mainly popular youth from Ghindae, like Wedi Kerai, Wedi Hajji, had participated at the Expo. The Government of Ethiopia, through its collaborators like Asrate Kassa and Tesfayohannes Berhe, had tried many plans to abort the Eritrean revolution. After secretly recruiting the youth, they deployed them to [secretly] join Jebha in places around Ghindae in order to spy. They lured them by promises of cash and employment positions when they return if they cause the failure of Jebha or if they brought along important secrets. Deceived by these promises, the youth traveled from Asmara to Ghindae and from Ghindae to the Tripartite Unity [forces]. Among the youth was a certain Messoud who had previously joined Jebha but later surrendered to the enemy.  When Messoud surrendered to the enemy, he had exposed and caused many [clandestine] Jebha members to be shot. Messoud also abused the people and Jebha was trying hard to kill him. There were two attempts on his life. In the first attempt by Jebha Fedayeen in Ghindae, he escaped with minor injuries; but on the second attempt, the attack that targeting him resulted in collateral casualty on some bar workers, and he escaped [unharmed]. The reason I am mentioning the history of this individual [Messoud] is because he thought he was still unexposed and came to join the Jebha again. I want to make it clear here that, he was already sentenced without any doubt [and there was no need for another] judgment. Jebha had the identities of those youth from its clandestine cells and from Abdu Cavelieri Omer, the administrator (District Officer) of Ghindae. And Abdu Cavelieri Omer had other information that he got from Asrate Kassa. Therefore, after finding the detailed list of the names of those who were deployed in the Eritrean field, they were picked from their units and taken to the interrogation department. After they admitted committing the crimes [of spying], the Tripartite Unity leadership imposed on them a death penalty.

The reason why the leadership of the Tripartite Unity had stopped recruiting new people was because many such activities of spying were being discovered. And this was the reason why Abraha Tewelde angrily yelled at Solomon Weldemariam for recruiting us as I mentioned above.

On a different side, there was a spying incident of a new recruit who was on training: someone who claimed to be an Egyptian and who asked to be recruited by promising, “I am ready to pay to the Eritrean Revolution even with my life”. The leadership of the Tripartite Unity considered him a genuine person who came to help and accepted him. On May 1969, after observing Jebha for some months and discovering that he was not able to do anything, he left Gerger heading towards Massawa [to surrender]. But daylight caught him on the way before he could make it to Massawa. When the leadership of the Tripartite Unity heard of his escape, it deployed combatants and civilians to search and apprehend him. At 4 PM, when he went out from his hiding due to thirst and descended to the river to drink, he was caught by civilians and was delivered to the leadership of the Tripartite Unity. After interrogation, he admitted that he was a spy. In addition, a watch on which he recorded secrets was found with him. Information that was found later confirmed that he was not an Egyptian but an Israeli. This individual was a dangerous individual who worked in the Congo as a spy. Later on, we heard that Jebha delivered him to the Syrian government in case Syria and Israel exchanged prisoners: Syria could have use of him.

B.   Internal Political Situation

Generally speaking, the internal situations of the Eritrean revolution in the field was clouded with conflicting wishes; efforts to splinter and trends of uniting. It can be said with confidence that it was divided between a camp that supported the unity of the five regions and a camp that opposed it. In time, it became clearer as these divisions led to the [formation] of forces along trends that either supported or opposed the convening of the Adobha military congress.

At the clinic where I was assigned, I observed that the leaders of the department were all from Hergigo and Massawa. To mention [a few], Alamin Mohammed Said, (currently in the PFDJ leadership) Abdulkadir, Idris Lobinet, Ahmed Hayoti, Ahmed Mantay [who were from Massawa] were on one side, and on the other side, at the clinic that was located around Gedem, its leaders were from Hergigo. During that time, we were witnessing many small cliquish meetings [held] behind the boulders and trees. Especially when it started to get dark, the holding of continuous meetings became a customary schedule. The goals of these meetings were never explained to us, be it in positive [light] or negatively. Though we had the understanding that since we were new we were not supposed to be privy of all that went on, we didn’t miss [the fact] that the excessive whispering was the seed of splintering. Later in 1970, these whispers were followed by the splintering and the formation of the Eritrean Popular Liberation Forces at Seduho Ella [Dankalia].

As for the second trend, the positive trend of uniting and integrating [the forces] of the waves of democracy, it pushed foreword and directed its focus only towards the [convening of the] Adobha Congress. The following can prove that:

1-    The need for the contact delegation that was formed on 11/25/69 by the Tripartite Unity to communicate with the first and second regions was found to be important and it was accepted by all regions.

2-    The decision [taken] on 4/2/69 by the First Zone in its congress to form a committee to contact the Second Zone and the Tripartite Unity, and the beginning of implementing the decision.

3-    The decision of the Second Zone’s congress on 4/13/69, to form a committee to contact the First Zone and the Tripartite Unity, and the beginning of implementing the decision.

Because of these efforts, the Adobha Congress was convened between 10-25 August, 1969. Some of the decision of the Adobha Congress are as follows:

1-    It elected a leadership composed of 38 members to lead the liberation forces.

2-    It decided to suspend the [authority of the] Supreme Council until the convening of the first congress. It also [decided] to strip the authority of regional commanders and their deputies.

3-    It decided to hold a general national congress after a period of one year; a preparatory committee was formed for this purpose.

4-    It elected an 18-member committee to investigate wrongdoings committed against the people.

5-    It clarified that no one and no group has the right to issue official statements on behalf of the organization without the permission and authorization of the General Command.

6-    It formed a committee to collect the properties of the organization.

Therefore, without going into deep political analysis regarding the decisions of the Adobha Congress, for the forces of change—those who were interested in the people, the revolution, unity and democratic process—it was a good herald that the struggle has achieved its goals. But to the reactionaries, tribalism, sectarians and the power hungry, it made them eat their heart out and go into the muddy path of splintering and seclusion.

After the Adobha Congress was adjourned successfully on 25/8/1969, the General Command (AlQiada AlAama) summoned the liberation forces from all parts and started to integrate them. And after the integration process was carried out in Tahra and Orota, we and others were summoned and we left to convene in Saber where all members of the General Command were present in the Saber Valley. We were [in Saber] because the family of martyr Jaafer Jabir were having a memorial for their son in the surrounding of Halhal and they had invited all the members of the General Command—Isaias Afwerki was also present there. The hosts slaughtered five or six oxen because of the many guests: members of the General Command and their escorts as well as many other invited guests. We stayed in that place for two days.

After moving from [Saber] to a place called Beyan in Jengeren, the General Command held a meeting that lasted for 24 hours to draw different plans and later, many of the leaders headed towards Halhal.

C- The Seed Of Selfi Natsnet (and Srryet Addis)

As I stated earlier, there was a disagreement between Martyr Abraha Tewelde and Solomon Weldemariam regarding our recruitment and that of other new recruits. This issue should not to be considered as a disagreement between two persons only, I feel that it should be seen from a legal context and as a matter of principle. In other words, this issue was related to the splintering that followed later on.

After delivering us to the Tripartite Unity (meaning to Abraha Tewelde), Solomon Weldemariam continued to move around Ala, May Habar and Nefasit and accepting new recruits. He was specially accepting those who came from Addis Ababa and who later were to be known as Srryet Addis, and was assembling them in Seled. Solomon was doing this with the collaboration of a SATEO bus driver who was then working on the Addis Ababa [route] and who currently lives in Sweden.

Solomon was a steadfast, dedicated, genuine and resolute combatant. That is why when he was in the Third Zone, Jebha sent him to Addis Ababa to educate and organize the people; he found a special opportunity of organizing Eritrean students in the [Addis Ababa] university. But as much as he was known as a resolute combatant, Solomon was also known [to be] sly. In short, he was among those who were considered overwhelmed by a cunning [behavior]. In regards to his relations with Isaias, he was an outright puppy. This was because they had plans to split and they were considering the force [gathered in Seled] as their force and [were] trying to introduce it to a sectarian leaning.

Excessively deceitful, Solomon Weldemarian went to the extent of betraying his colleagues to the enemy; my conscience forces me to expose some of his ugly deeds. Solomon Weldemariam was in charge of collecting financial contributions through the Fedaeyeen squad that was around Asmera and its surroundings; and Martyr Arefaine who was in charge of military operations was jointly working with him. While Solomon was collecting money from wealthy Eritreans by dispatching combatants, Arefaine was taking steps of killing Ethiopian spy elements. Since in that time there was a disagreement between Solomon and Arefaine regarding the split, he caused Arefaine and eight of his colleagues to be killed by the enemy. When he was in the area around Derfo, a Commandis force approached their location, Solomon saw them first and he fled towards Gul’ee to save his life without informing his colleagues or opening fire [to warn them]. [Arefaine’s group were cordoned by the Commandis and ordered to surrender. But the combatants bravely fought, but they were all martyred after hitting some [of the Commandis]. Later on, Solomon was asked to explain the [circumstances] of how [his colleagues] were martyred. Shamelessly he reported that, “While Arefaine was trying to [hide] and avoid the Commandis, a Beles Picker [fruit vendor] saw them and snitched on them; shooting stared and all were martyred there.”

After the Adobha Congress was adjourned and all combatants were integrated, news about the new combatants who were assembled at Seled reached the General Command who sent three successive letters to Solomon Weldemarian. The content of the letters was based on the resolution of Adobha Congress and General Command’s call for the integration of the remaining forces. Regardless, Solomon chose silence and didn’t reply. After that, the General Command sent combatants and brought [Solomon] as a prisoner. As for Srreyet Addis [those who were assembled in Seled], it made temporary plans and dispatched them to the surroundings of Keren, Halhal, Asmat and Marya Tselam. It assigned Sereqe Bahta as the leader of the force and also assigned to them experienced military trainers. Sereqe Bahta was a trustworthy nationalist who is still struggling under his organization until now. After completing their military training, similar to all other forces who were integrated, the General Command called [Srreyet Addis] to be integrated [with other forces] in a place called Mai Shewa, in the surroundings of Hagaz and Aderde.

At 8 o’clock, all members of the General Command arrived at Mai Shewa where Srreyet Addis displayed its training. After the show, the General Command said, “we witnessed a good training result that is truly very successful. Today the reason we have come here is to inform you of your assignment and that is, [every] six combatants will be assigned to a brigade and [every] two combatants to a platoon”. But the trainees considered this [a plan] to disperse them and totally rejected [the decision]. [The members of Srreyet Addis] insistently refused and said, “we had a good training, give us arms and assign us as [one] force wherever you want”. The discussion about this issue continued from 8 am until 6pm. It was clear that all the excuses and smartness was not initiated by the [new] combatants; they were not its source. Isaias Afwerki was in Mai Shewa; and all the meetings was known to the members of the General Command. In addition to that, Tewelde Eyob, Maasho Kibrom, Asmerom Gerezgher and Zemichael were sitting and watching as if [they were] innocent. Some of the Srreyet Addis [members] would say they were going out to relieve themselves and would return after meeting with these people. All day whispering was at its highest. At last, the General Command became suspicious. Later on, after Srreyet Addis and their instigators assessed that the General Command had become suspicious, they decided, “All right, we will be assigned” and they were assigned to all parts of Eritrea.

Within one-month, the Eritrean field was flooded with crisscrossing letters. Members of Srreyet Addis started to communicate and correspond through letters. When there was an attempt to read letters that were intercepted, it was impossible [to read them]. Some were in secret codes, some were in numbers, some were [written] in alphabets that seemed like Russian. But after a long follow up, some [letters] containing messages [were intercepted]. Written in Tigrigna, they just read, “Hold on [Ajokhum], be brave, let’s do as we talked.”

When the General Command intercepted these letters, it recalled the spying network that was exposed [earlier] in the Tripartite Unity. Emanating from that thought and to prevent the revolution from entering into risk and pitch darkness, it passed a decision to gather all members of Srreyet Addis from wherever they were. In the beginning, the task of collecting about 17 members of Srreyet Addis who were around Barka was accomplished. Until their remaining colleagues were collected from the different places to which they were assigned, they were accompanied by a guard squad of 12 people and ascended Debir Sala. Since they had agitating thoughts in their minds, they outlined a plan to take steps against the squad that was guarding them. Their plan was to forcibly take the arms from their guards, kill whomever needed to be killed and by night head to the town of Agordat and surrender to the enemy. They agreed that one of them would go closer to a guard with the excuse of telling him he was going to go to relieve himself and then snatch his gun; and a second one was [supposed] to kill the leader of the squad while he was sleeping by crushing his head [with a stone]; and another two were to attack the two guys who handled the machine gun (Bren gun). The squad leader was then crushed [with a stone] and was martyred. One of the machine gunners was sleeping while securely rolled around his gun, and the member of Srreyet Addis who was supposed to snatch it from him was not successful. He was killed there. The remaining 15 fled and entered Agordat. When this [incident] happened, the news of the betrayal of Srreyet Addis spread all over the field. While the majority of the remaining members of Srreyet Addis who were assigned in other places fled and surrendered to the enemy, the rest joined Selfi Natsnet [Isaias’ splinter group].

I would like to point out that after the Adobha Congress, and after the integration of the forces was concluded, with the pretext, and under the cover of organizational tasks, Isaias was moving around Re’si Adi, Ad Shuma and the Red Sea Coast accompanied by some of his colleagues

Therefore, what ever is said, whatever defamation is spread, whatever is exaggerated, the truth is what I had witnessed with my own eyes, which is what I have mentioned above: the plans to split resulted in the conspiracies, whispering and betrayal. Since it is very troublesome for some individuals and groups to swallow the truth, the fact that they have always diligently tried to twist and bend the history of the Eritrean revolution, is a fact that the experience of the Eritrean revolution bears witness to. Criminals like Solomon Weldemariam and Isaias Afwerki try to cover up the crimes they committed or to direct [the accusation] to others, and they blubber saying, “Jebha [is] reactionary, sectarian, slaughterer, etc.”  Whose eyes do they want to blind!

Therefore, the party that bears responsibility on the issue of Srreyet Addis is neither Jebha nor the members of Srreyet Addis; it is the conspiring leaders of the then Selfi Natsnet, and present PFDJ who purposely pushed them in order to serve their splintering designs. The cause [for the problem] were the EPLF leaders who couched the innocent members of Srreyet Addis by telling them, ‘if they say such and such tell them such and such,’ etc. They pushed them over to risks and caused their dispersing. This is a truth to which history bears testimony.

A General Picture On the Eve After the 1970 Splintering Period

A-   The Adobha Congress passed two resolutions: the stepping down of the regional commanders from their positions until the first national congress and the stripping of their deputies of their authority. These were two incidents of historical importance and they aimed at the future developments. While Mohammed Ali Omaro, the commander of the fourth zone, rejected the decision and started to gloat, “there is no individual or entity that can make me step down from my position”, the commander of the fifth zone, Martyr Abraha Tewelde, supported the resolution of the Adobha Congress and said, “since this is honest and protects the well being and safety of the people and the organization, there is no reason why I shouldn’t step down, therefore I accept it.” Each [commander] clarified his stand. The substance that we can extract from these truth is as follows:

1-    Mohammed Ali Omaro was either determined to splinter sometime in the future or he was [thinking to], or, he advanced his personal interest to the unity of the people and the organization. The fact that Mohammed Ali Omaro was establishing special relations with Osman Saleh Sabbe, and others who hail from Semhar, is a truth known to all.

2-    Martyr Abraha not only didn’t wish to splinter, [his stand] explains that he was against what was to happen later: the splintering ideas and deeds of Isaias, Solomon Weldemariam, and their colleagues. In addition, this shows that Abraha Tewelde had a wish for unity, and that he was a combatant who doesn’t put his [personal interest and love of] authority above the interest of the people.

After the Adobha Congress, Omaro started to meet with Sabbe and began to prepare to split and to form a new organization. Abraha Tewelde requested a vacation and, accompanied by a combatant named Tekhle, went to Aala—the environs where he was born. In no time, he was killed by the Isaias and Solomon group. The reason [for killing him] was [fear] that is he is alive, their splintering designs would not be successful; they knew he was accepted by the people and the combatants.

B-   Since on the eve of the conclusion of the Adobha Congress some members of the General Command started splitting movements on top of internal and international meetings, the General Command arrested six of its members who were carrying out such movements (they were all from Semhar, Red Sea). Later on, in 1971, they were freed by the leaders of the Obelyeen.

C-   Osman Saleh Sabbe and some remnants of the Supreme Council, some members of what was known as the Revolutionary Leadership that was leading out of Kassala, and some ex-members of Mahber Shewate held a meeting in Amman, Jordan and formed a leadership called “AlAmana AlAma” which issued statements condemning the resolutions of the Adobha Congress.

D-   They were running actively to weaken the combatants who were entering the Sudan for vocation for medication or other organizational missions by [offering] them money (assistance to them or their families), and by spreading lies claiming that the General Command went astray from the resolutions of the Adobha Congress. And in order to appear as defenders of the congress that was supported by the forces, they started defaming the General Command for acts it didn’t commit. In short, all became a feathered rooster and campaigned to defame the General Command.

E-    Some individuals started to weaken the rank and file of the combatants by sending them to the Sudan, and from there taking them across to Yemen and [from there again by sea to] Denkalia.

F-    Weldai Gide and Kidane Kiflu, who were collaborators of the revolutionary leadership in Kassala, establishing connections with Osman Saleh Sabbe and were working actively as part of the conspirators to splinter and form a new organization as mentioned above. They were killed in Kassala. The splinters exploited this [incident] and repeated words: “Jebha [is] slaughterer and liquidator,” something that became their catch phrase.

G-   The [splinters] convened a congress in June, 1970, in a place called Seduho Ella, Dankalia, and formed a leadership owned by Osman Saleh Sabbe. Omaro, Mesfin Hagos, Alamin Mohammed Saed, etc…were members and they called themselves, the “Popular Liberation Forces (PLF)”.

H-   In June, 1970, four members of the General Command who were from the Beni Amer tribe (Adem Saleh, Mohammed Ahmed Idris, Osman Ajeeb, Ahmed Omer) and some of their followers held a meeting in Obel Valley, Barka where they took a stand supportive of the Popular Forces for the Liberation of Eritrea and freed the six prisoners of the General Command as a gesture to Sabbe. They called themselves the “Eritrean Liberation Forces”.

I-     And Isaias Afwerki, after staying in the surroundings of Ad Shuma, Merara, under the pretext and deceit of carrying out Jebha mission without openly declaring his splinter, he started connections with the PLF when they reached Seduho Eela on the Red Sea and began to acquire help in [the form of] combatants, arms and logistics from them. Later on, he exposed his splinter through his Christian oriented “Nehnan Elamanan” manifesto.

The Salvation Struggle: 1971-1972

As I have mentioned above, the general picture indicated that the Eritrean revolution had reached a turbulent situation. The reason is the splinter of three groups, ‘tribes of the PLF’, on one hand and the inability of the General Command to lead the Eritrean Revolution, on the other. In such a risky situation, defending the resolutions of the Adobha Congress and its legitimacy, and [the task of] strengthening the role of the democratic forces and elements, and integrating them to carry out a resilient struggle, was necessary. Without going to great length, the only choices were: either to emulate the stands taken by the three ‘faces of the Shaabya’—to take sectarian, tribal and religious stand, and to go the ravines, forests, plains, bars, churches, and mosques in one’s birthplace and be secluded [there] or, to struggle for the salvation of the revolution.

At any rate, in the periods mentioned above, the role of the General Command as a leadership was becoming weak and its capabilities were decreasing. Understanding this played a big role in ensuring the success of the Awate Conference and the support for the first national congress. First, there was an attempt to hold the Awate Conference at Kur, but since the Ethiopian government knew of the place through its spies and airplanes swarmed the place and disturbed the area, shifting it to the Awate camp became a must.

Even now, the leaders of the “Eritrean Liberation Forces” or, Obelites, devised a secret military plan to kill whoever they can and to arrest the majority of the Awate Congress delegates in order to have full control of Jebha. To further clarify this point, with the exception of Isaias Afwerki and Memher Aberra Mekonnen, all the other members of the General Command, battalion, platoon, regional commanders, and all their deputies, battalion medics, as well as individuals who came from abroad (for instance Herui Tella, Ibrahim Idris Mohammed Adem), were present. However, in spite of the fact that carrying out the conspiracy was underway, one of the combatants who was assigned to attack the congress told Osman Abu Sheneb: “I like you and I don’t want you to die, I am telling you that tomorrow morning, this congress will be attacked by the Obelites.” As we all know, the straightforward and honest Osman Abu Sheneb, he was a patriotic combatant who would not betray Jebha. He couldn’t sleep that night, and in the morning he came to the place of the congress in his customary humorous manner. Mixing seriousness and jokes, he told (Abdella Degoul, chairman, Ibrahim Idris Toteel, Arabic secretary, and Memher Ogbamichel Mesmer, Tigrinya secretary) the three persons in charge of the congress: “today is not our day, the congress will be attacked.” After that, Saleh Jemjam, a member of the General Command and in charge of the security of the  congress, held a loudspeaker and announced to the delegates: “today there will not be a meeting.” The Obelite mercenary combatants who were assigned to attack the congress, were seen coming down from thier locations; but other Beni Amer like Sharoukh, Hariray, etc, who thought, “[they] can be successful,” escaped and disappeared after discovering that they were exposed. Thus the planned military attack was aborted, thanks to Osman Abu Sheneb.

At that time, information was relayed to the delegates that, at Ad Shuma, Isaias and his colleagues liquidated a six-member ELF fedayeen squad that was moving around Ghindae—some the liquidated [members of the squad whom I remember were], Ahmed Gasha, Omereddin Mahmoud, and Osman Ibrahim. But on the contrary, the criminals harp and repeat that, “the ELF started the civil war in the first place; ELF is slaughterer and liquidator.” Isn’t it amazing to those who know the true history of the Eritrean revolution! Baalom Tehanti, Baalom Ka’a lenqeTti.

Upon evaluation–considering its spirit, its patience and the cool headedness that prevailed, the responsible stands it took, and the practical resolutions it passed–the Awate Congress (though it came as a result of the resolution of the Adobha Congress), it is not less [important] than the Adobha Congress.

The 600 delegates of the Awate Military Congress deliberated from February 26, 1971 to March 13, 1971 and passed the following main resolutions:

1-    Called for a national congress after four months.

2-    Based on the resolution of the Awate Military Congress, it increased the members of the preparatory committee by five to reach 30 members.

3-    Since the success of the national congress would depend on the success of the tasks of the preparatory committee, it was given full responsibility in managing [its] finances. In addition, it was given the responsibility of carrying out studies, present documents at the congress, conduct democratic election of delegates to the congress from all departments of the organization, and decide the number of delegates to the congress.

4-    [It decided to] let the General Command continue to maintain its authority until the national congress is convened.

5-    It formed a contact committee to dialogue with the splinter groups.

As the provocative activities by the three splinter groups against the ELF had reached its highest level, the ELF took a responsible position and refrained from any provocative counter reaction and spread its hands for peace and dispatched a nine-member contact committee that exerted weeks worth of efforts roaming around the Red Sea and trying to meet with the [splinters]. But on the side of the counter revolutionaries, they considered not showing up for appointments and rejecting the sacred goal, as their task. The [claim] of “we are in a narrow place between two blades…,etc.”, wrapped under Christian cover, the “Selfi Natsnet” decided to keep silent and not to respond while liquidating Jebha Fedayeen and postponing the appointments of the contact committee. On one hand the Obelites did whatever they can [by creating] hindrances to stop the convention of the national congress; on the other, they issued an official statement condemning “the congress that is being planned is sectarian.” After much fruitless roaming, the contact committee returned to its station and presented its report to the General Command. But with all of that, it is worth remembering that the preparatory committee of the national congress had sent invitations to all of them to participate in the congress.

Though the issue of splinters was one that needed resolution and clarification, it doesn’t mean there were no other problems in the ELF that needed solutions; and to solve those problems, the ELF directed its attention to the convening and the success of the congress. The following are some of the problems that needed solutions:

1-    Identifying our international, zonal and regional enemies and allies.

2-    Setting up public organizations to increase the consciousness of the people in order to strengthen the relations [between them and the organization], and to identify the rights and obligation of the people.

3-    Finding a solution to the issue of Eritreans who were collaborating with the enemy and to find ways for them to cooperate with their revolution.  This concerned the Police, Commandis, and Nech Lebash forces and others.

4-    Clarifying the ideology that would be followed to lead to the future Eritrea and the type of society and system that would be built, etc.

In short, there was a need for drafting a national democratic program that the Eritrean Revolution would follow.

The first national congress was attended by about 820 democratically elected representatives of the people and the forces; it was convened at Arr between October 14, 1971 and November 12, 1971 and concluded successfully. The national congress was the highest authority of the ELF; a 32-member leadership (12-member revolutionary council and 19-member executive committee) that would lead the organization was democratically elected from among the people and the forces. With that, one chapter was closed and a new chapter was opened. With that, the general chaotic period of the Eritrean revolution, and particularly of ELF was crossed; and by holding an image and content that [firmly] rooted our struggle, we started to advance foreword. Since the splinter forces understood that the democratic trend will be established, and that its will overwhelm them with its influences, as if dialogue and unity doesn’t concern them, they hastened to consolidate their forces to confront the Jebha.

At any rate, though the first national congress was convinced of the dangerous deeds of the wing led by the Obelites within the Popular Forces, it resolved approach to them through a contact committee to ask them to return to their organization [ELF]; and if they refused, [it decided] to take steps against them.

Regarding the Popular Forces of Seduho Ella, which was led by Osman Saleh Sabbe, the ELF opened the door of contacts and dialogue [with them]; and if they reject that, the congress mandated the leadership to study their case and take necessary steps.

After a lengthy and responsible deliberations regarding Isaias and his colleagues, the congress considered the propaganda that they were spreading [which claimed] “Kebessa [combatants] do not have rights in the ELF” on one hand, and on the other the propaganda that was being spread by the Ethiopian government which was not any different from that of the Selfi Natsnet. [Therefore] it concluded that “necessary contacts would be made with Selfi Natsnet.”

This clarifies to what extent the resolution was timely and responsible; to what extent the ELF was minutely following the situation of the Eritrean society; and its interest in solving it. But regarding the fact that the congress didn’t specify what happens if [Isaias and Colleagues] rejects [the calls], it is clear that the congress had a big shortcoming.

1972, The Period of Taking Steps

After the first national congress of the ELF was successfully concluded, all the resources of the organization was spread nationally and intentionally to implement the program and resolution of the congress. And for a period of six months, all the wings of the Popular Forces were [approached] through letters and contact committees that tried to meet with them. However, true to their habit, they turned a deaf ear to all the efforts.  Finally, starting from their spirit and stand, they were showing [signs] of mobilization claiming “Amma [ELF] will take action therefore let’s be ahead of it before it [does]”; and Jebha was ahead of them in starting to take steps. But this step [attack] was taken against the Popular Forces of Seduho Ella and Obelites and not against Selfi Natsnet.

In the [darkness of] the night, the ELF circled the forces of the Obelites including four of its leaders in the surrounding of Tekreret in Sheglet. Adem Saleh ordered his forces to open fire, but he was faced with the objection [from his forces who said] “we will not open fire”. And because later, Ahmed Adem ordered, “do not open fire”, no fire was opened. All of them surrendered to the ELF. However, there were other platoons that were not in the area but in Obel. An attack on which I personally participated was carried out [on them] around Herkok and Mensura. Their leader was AbSelab. Because when Jebha surrounded them we hit some of their prominent fighters, the rest fled and escaped. The third attack was carried out on Barka Laal on the platoons led by Ibrahim Gulay, Dubshik, Ibrahim Kukuy (from Ad Kukuy), but without returning fire, they fled to the mountains. After two weeks of suffering from thirst and hunger, they sent a letter: “we are coming to surrender our arms.” They came and surrendered their arms. Jebha, didn’t charge them with anything but told them, “you are free and you can continue your struggle with Jebha.” And since they said they were tired and needed vacation, they were allowed to go. After a few days, they retrieved arms they had hid in caves, they surrendered to the enemy at Agordat. Later, they committed a lot of attacks on Jebha by leading Ethiopian Forces [to where Jebha was]. But the platoons led by Al-Hassen Abubeker that were around Maria Tselam recognized that there was no benefit in a civil war and surrendered to Jebha without bloodshed.

An extensive dialogue was carried out through different committees and delegates of the forces with the section of Popular Forces that was led by Osman Saleh Sabbe; but they neglected that and continued on actions that pushed towards battle.

And a nine-member dialogue committee led by Ibrahim Mohammed Ali and martyr Fitsum Gebreselasse, members of the leadership, was sent to the section that was led by Isaias Afwerki. The dialogue committee included Tesfai Tekhlezgi, martyr Tesfai Bahlebi, Gebru Hagos, Martyr Melake Tekhle, Osman Abdulkadir, Gebru and Amanuel. They handed them a letter informing them that the dialogue committee was there to dialogue with them based on the resolution of the national congress. The Dialogue Committee waited for their answer for many weeks in Mrara and Filfil. Then it sent them another letter asking for another appointment. After delaying for many weeks without giving a reply, they replied, “we will decide a date of appointment on our own and we will let you know.” After staying around Geleb (Mensa’e) for some weeks, and after understanding that all its efforts to dialogue with Selfi Natsnet had failed, the dialogue committee went to Barka and presented its report to the leadership of the organization. At the end, what we finally deduce from this is that [the committee] had full conviction that Selfis Natsnet was not ready for dialogue; but looking at it from the legal perspective, the dialogue committee waited for the reply from Selfi Natsnet to respect and implement the resolution of the national congress.

The battle against Sabbe’s PLF started in Semhar and moved to Sahel towards Sheib, Hayet, Tombobit and Gerger. But the group of Selfi Natsnet under Isaias, which had said it will inform [the ELF] of an appointment for the dialogue, and which the congress decided it should not be attacked, descended from the surroundings of Re’esi Adi, Merara and Ad Shuma on its own will and decision, and sided with the PLF and was found fighting against the ELF.

In this manner, the civil war and bloodshed spread and exploded in all parts of Eritrea. It continued non-stop for two years.

This is the true Eritrean history that led to the splintering and to civil war. The responsibility for the [lives] of the patriots that were martyred in all corners of Eritrea, lies primarily on the shoulders of the leaders of the counter revolutionaries.

Conclusion

Those who bear responsibility for the splintering and civil war are Isaias Afwerki, Solomon Weldemariam, Osman Saleh Sabbe, Mohammed Ali Omero, Adem Saleh, Mohammed Ahmed Idris, Osman Ajeeb, Ahmed Omer and their puppies. In brief, since they are the individuals who took the Eritrean revolution into sectarian, tribal and regional differences and immersed it into bloodshed, they have an unforgettable history that left a negative bruise. It is because of the civil war that they ignited that our revolution was elongated for thirty years.

Since I witnessed many combatants and followers of the [EPLF], including some who claim to be researchers of history, wishfully twisting, exploiting, and partitioning the history of the liberation struggle of the Eritrean people; and since as the saying goes, “Zewaale yngerka,” [better to listen from an eyewitness] I understand that it is my national and public obligation to tell of what I know to [anyone] with ears that is willing to hear the true history. [That is why] I chose to present this true history. Those entities that are mentioned [above] and their leaders are writing and saying [unsubstantiated lies], based on the hallow spirit and belief that they have eliminated the ELF in the eighties and that there is no one to question them. But now, the ELF, with a new spirit and new approach, has managed to safeguard its sacrifices and its history by consolidating its members inside and outside [Eritrea]. Therefore, as the saying goes, “May keymetse megedi may tsreg”, [build canals before rainfall] they have to think and work for harmony, reconciliation and unity, because twisting history cannot save them.

All splinter groups, specially the EPLF, who splintered from the ELF in 1970, were explaining the causes [for their splintering] by saying that Jebha doesn’t protect the rights of Kebessa people; Jebha is slaughterer and killer; Jebha is sectarian, etc. So many a faint-heart were deceived and followed them. But that the truth of their splintering was not to protect the rights of the Kebessa people, and that they are not interested in anything but their positions, the people and their forces have now understood and identified them. As for us, since we know them from the time they started to sprout, we knew that their sickness was only [selfish yearning] for power.

Leaving everything aside, let’s see how the rights of the Kebessa people was at that time. The number of leaders who hail from Kebessa is not few. As an eyewitness I can just mention: Abraha Tewelde, Solomon Weldemariam, Isaias Afwerki, Asmerom Gerezgher, Bashay Gerezgher, Gebrehiwet Himberti, Kidane Jenubi, Kidane Gobez, etc. As for those who were on other parts and regions, they were uncountable. Continuing on the topic at hand: is the fact that emanating from the thought of developing themselves to develop their revolution forgotten? Is the fact that the ELF in the sixties sent Isaias Afwerki, Issak Jebha, etc. to China for education forgotten? Or is it that the [ELF] didn’t know they were from Kebessa and sent them to China by mistake? Therefore, the accusation of Isaias is considered like a pirate’s accusation and is ‘temeliska zbelaakalu tsahli msbar e’yu’ [thankless].

As for their accusation of “killers, slaughterers”, in which cave do they want to hide the fact that they exposed martyr Arefaine and his eight colleagues, martyr Abraha Tewelde, and the members of Srreyet Addis whom they pushed into dangers and  liquidations for the sake of power? And after their splintering, in the outset, didn’t they liquidate those who asked for their rights peacefully, and by branding them  “Menka’e, Chega’e”? Didn’t they liquidate combatants in the hundreds? Or those who were liquidated were not Christians?

After the liberation of Eritrea, the cause of the death of the liquidated disabled war veterans, the disappeared combatants was explained as suicide [in an attempt to up the real cause, and] ordinary citizens and combatants are kept in prison without justice, etc. But since you are watching it on your own, you [the reader] don’t need explanation from me.

As for the accusation that was thrown at the ELF, that it was sectarian and tribalist, it was not the ELF that gave instruction for [some] to go to the ravines and villages of their birthplace and unearth backward sentiments and to exploit it all day. They all jumped: those who hail from Semhar, went to the Gedem mountain; those who hail from Kebessa went to Mrrara and Aala; and  the Beni Amer went to Obel. And weren’t those who tried to agitate the people, each [by touching] its raw nerves? The negative and dirty history that those criminal teachers of deceit and ugliness left behind will never be forgotten.

At any rate, the main reason that pushed them to splinter was to create an organization that they will direct, and in order to live sitting in the saddle of power, [it was] not to protect rights and to defend the wronged—it was  not to realize the unity of the people.  It was not so then; and it is not so now. And now this is realized by our people, Christians and Muslims alike. I conclude by calling on the people and the army to put their hands together and to struggle strongly with consciousness and steadfastness in order to uproot and expose the ugly system and its history that is soaked in lies.

 

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  • Habtegiorgis Abraha

    Dear g.Medhin Zegergish,

    I appreciate your contribution, shedding some light into the dark side of our past. Moreover I felt that your article gives a reflection of your biases against the Srreyet Addis, and politically motivated as well. you might have been faced with challanges of presenting historical events and political stand. Hopping to read more of your contribution… !

    And still hopping that my eagle eyed position would be helpful to you to come up with clearer facts, I would like to bring into your attention about the then military structure of the ELF while you talk of ‘brigades’ and ‘platoons’ in 1969. You wrote: “… After the show, the General Command said, “we witnessed a good training result that is truly very successful. … to inform you of your assignment and that is, [every] six combatants will be assigned to a brigade and [every] two combatants to a platoon”.”

    And here is my Q. : How many of them were at the ‘training centre’? And not even one of them was convinced to remain as a ELF member!!

    Cheers

  • Habtegiorgis Abraha

    Dear g.Medhin Zegergish,

    I appreciate your contribution, shedding some light into the dark side of our past. Moreover I felt that your article gives a reflection of your biases against the Srreyet Addis, and politically motivated as well. you might have been faced with challanges of presenting historical events and political stand. Hopping to read more of your contribution… !

    In your article I read that about 17 members of Srreyet Addis were collected around Barka; there was also a guard squad of 12 people to ‘keep them safe’!. In your article you said: “the squad leader was then crushed [with a stone] and was martyred. One of the machine gunners was sleeping while securely rolled around his gun, and the member of Srreyet Addis who was supposed to snatch it from him was not successful. He was killed there. The remaining 15 fled and entered Agordat.”

    I would be interested to know, if you are willing, to know the names of the ‘martyre’ and the ‘killed’. And my comprehension as I read your article is that only one was ‘killed’ from the members of Srreyet Addis. How does this bring your calculation into 15; because you wrote “… the remaining 15 fled and entered Agordat”.

    Cheers!

  • http://awate.com/the-wisdom-to-know-the-difference/ ali

    Thanks a lot dear brother ZEGERGIS for your expensive sacrifies which you paid your sight for our beloved country & thanks also now for your goldenly time you paid to illustrates us all this history which is very imporatnt than any history we had ever read about our beloved country cuz of selfishness of it’s writers. i in this ocassion as ertrean young generation who always suffers with lack of true eritrean history we just negotiate in one question which i ask you now.were jabha the muslem fighters hundered percent;or just muslem majority fighter which includes christians fighters as a minority & had they the objective of spreading sharia in eritrea?please any one who reply with all honestness & cuz we need the trueth;from interested eritrean youth.thanks

  • Soira

    INTERVIEW: ISSAYAS AFEWORKE
    Issayas Afeworke is Vice-Secretary General of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. The following interview was held inside the liberated area of Eritrea in August 1986.

    Question: You joined the Eritrean liberation struggle in 1966 after leaving your studies at University in Addis Ababa. Could you describe the nature of the liberation movement at that time?
    Issayas: The Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) was the only front until 1970; it was horrible, just a mess, it wasn’t a national organisation at all. In the towns things were more cosmopolitan. No one cared about tribalism or religion but when you came to the front you find people divided along these lines. There was no leadership, only regional commands and every regional commander was an emperor in his domain: nobody could enter that region without his permission, some of the section leaders would levy taxes, they could do whatever they liked. Within these regions you find the people divided on ethnic grounds or even narrower clan divisions. When I joined there were four divisions and a fifth was in the process of formation. Within the front there was a formula: “You come from a certain place, therefore…” In the towns no one cared about these questions of identity and we felt that upon joining the front our first task was to fight this sentiment and overcome the struggle within the ELF between these divisions. All the time people were asking for unity; why have five or six divisions with different leadership?
    Question: How were these divisions overcome?
    Issayas: People had to fight. The Ethiopians organized mopping-up operations to crush one sector after another. The target was not these armed groups but rather Ethiopia’s scorched earth policy was directed at the civilian population. Thousands were killed and about 70,000 had fled to Sudan. So people began asking these armed groups: “What about our security? If the section command is crushed, the troops flee then the Ethiopians come and kill us. Why not defend us?” Spontaneously people began to realize that the problem was with the type of organisation and leadership. They saw that if the front was united the piecemeal.
    Ethiopian policy of looting, burning and killing might not have succeeded. The leadership of the front at that time was outside Eritrea – in Syria, in Cairo and a so-called Revolutionary Command in Kassala, beyond the border. People were asking for one leadership within the country rather than all these tribal chiefs who were causing more problems.
    Also, students and town-dwellers were flowing to the country and they were a boost to the mass movement.
    The demands of the people were supporter by a majority of the fighters but the outcome was division. Some of the division commanders refused to accept the demands of the people, they resorted to eliminating elements within their ranks who rejected their leadership and hundreds were imprisoned. Some of the leaders were growing rich, levying taxes and investing their money in Sudan, improving their own living conditions at the expense of the people. They never accepted the demands of the population and there was fierce fighting, many people were killed, especially the more enlightened ones who had come from the towns. Power was in the hands of a few and they tried to crush everyone who opposed them so once again many people had to flee to Sudan to escape the policies of the front at that time. So one was compelled to decide whether to fight within such divided groups or try to create a new situation. In 1970 the EPLF began to be organized among those who had fled to Sudan and these people then began going back into Eritrea to do political work among the population, to tell them about other means of fighting .

    [From moderator: Please do not copy/paste entire articles. Excerpt the relevant section, and provide links or source for the rest of the content. (In this case: the source in the original piece was "Contributed to asenai.com by AIDA KIDANE." )We have retained the excerpts relevant to the thread and edited out the rest of the pages.]

    • Soira

      moderator
      thank you.

  • kib

    Thanks Mr Hameed
    You know what I mean. It is good to talk about history but the main thing is people are dying, I’m living in Eritrea Asmara. I work in a goverment office, I mean PFDJ office. what I know at this time is that more than 300,000 people are living as well as dying in Eritrean prisons. It is not only my brother or yours or the PFDJ followers who living in the democratic Western world, USA or Europ, working at parking garages, gas stations or A dish-washers in resturants, I mean Ignorant PFDJ followers (Isayas chewawa) lethal dogs they are all Eritreans Dying inside and outside Eritrea. so lets start to fight from both sides: inside and outside Eritrea.
    Death to PFDJ peace to all Eritreans. Thank you

  • hadan

    Thank you Mr. Ghebremedhin for you article, i really apprciate your input in our history. I am eager to read more and more from you concerning our country history. Thank you again.

  • Donsar Beniraza

    selam everyone and Awate Staff,

    I think a minor correction shoudl be made to the date of number one below, 25/11/69, which should come before the date of “the Adobha Congress was convened between 10-25 August, 1969″. That is all, a minor observation, and thank you. Peace and love to you and to all.

    In Peace Profound,

    Dosar Solomon Beniraza
    ===/=/===

    {{{As for the second trend… it pushed foreword and directed its focus only towards the [convening of the] Adobha Congress. The following can prove that:

    1- … contact delegation that was formed on 25/11/69 by the Tripartite Unity to communicate with the first and second regions … accepted by all regions.

    2- The decision [taken] on 2/4/69 by the First Zone in its congress to form a committee to contact the Second Zone and the Tripartite Unity…

    3- The decision of the Second Zone’s congress on 13/4/69, to form a committee to contact the First Zone and the Tripartite Unity…

    Because of these efforts, the Adobha Congress was convened between 10-25 August, 1969…}}}

  • gerima

    Even Isaias said on Ethio reporter (prior to the war), out civil war was worse than former Yugoslavia or Ruwanda. Nothing new now.

  • yien

    Gebremedhin,
    Thank you sir. for this marvellous educative piece. In fact for me it was a déjá vu to old memorys! That last piece of your story, about the groep of AbSelaab, brought me in to some 40 years ago memorys back, when i was just about 10 year old. The renegad Abselaab he is from Hirkok and he was hiding with his groep in the sorrounding mountains. He was known bay the nick name KER-QUANUN in that area. To may absolut horror i have witnessed with may eyes the last hunt to this groep bay Jebha. At that time i did’t knew nor understud wat the differece is between both, for me where all good folks fighting for Eritrea.The place where the hunt start colled [Finge kle Alafit] it is a valley between two mountains not far from Hirkok. The groep of AbSelaab they where 7 men ,they were moving from one area to another. Me i was visiting our farm and in search to bring back our missing camel from the farm after long fruitless search just not far from the farm on may way i walk in to the groep. I dont know from witch direction they come, and witch direction they where going, but i am very certain they where on the move, becous earlier i pas the place were they where sitting and i have not seen them there. how ever i was there with them hanging for a while, just curious litle boy and i start farther to walk to the farm. It didn’t took long, i was a few miters away from them , suddenly start shooting, i get scared and run towards the farm.

    The shooting start to intensify, after a while it went a total silence but some sporadic shootings continued in a far distance from the area. The groep of AbSelaab run to all direction to save there ass, but AbSelaab have being shoot and injured and he save bay hiding in a cave in the mountain of Kebr Zemmat . It didn’t take long, the next day some body have tiped the Ethiopian soldiers were his about hiding, and they come to the area surrounded him in his cave and ask him to surrender. He refuse to surrender and after a few exchange of shooting he was killed in the cave. Ethiopian soldiers they drag his body out of the cave, they take it to Hirkok, and surprisingly enough they give him a heroic state funeral.

    Thank you sir.

  • Sick of the past

    With out Shabia, Jebha etc name them how you want Eritrea is a better place. We were not happy may be during Hailselasse and deg era but now we don’t know at all what happiness means. We condemned the Ethiopians for colonized us but now we ran to them for protection. We had no freedom of speech like man Ethiopians but now we have no a right to live as human in our free country. I wanted freedom when I was small boy because my parent promised me that we will live in peace and harmony in a free Eritrea. My parent gave me empty hope and when I tell now how I grow up in the old Eritrea to my children they tell me daddy you were lucky….Is that what you guys fought your entire life? To bring us slavery, humiliation, disgrace. You left us with a man who can not even hesitate to kill small children. Where were you when all this wrong doing happened? How you can not stop one or some mad men to from coming to the top of the leadership? You were men enough to jump on enemy tanks but not good enough to stop the killing machine Isayas and some individuals call them G15, G13.why do you cry for them as if they are innocent…did Isayas kill all these people with out the knowledge of G15? Did the G15 say something for the whole crime committed during their time? Are they not the one who now paying the highest price with the system they created? Where were those G15 when Isayas killed the war veteran, invalids or those people who never see the free Eritrea pfdj style who still in prison for20-30 long years I’m sick reading about the past when our future is in a big ? Don’t get me wrong when I say derg and Hailsilasse no love lost but I just compared them with the now Tigrina speaker colonizer.

  • Amin

    Thanks to the author and thanks to awate team… Indeed this is a very important truth of the Eritrean history.

  • Debrsala

    KoKob Selam please donot push me to the evil HIGDEF. As for Jebha they were not saints both fronts commited crimes Jebha is out 30 years ago the devil is killing us. i know you going to label me. You should see things out of the Wudubat box. When i see rhiefs and criminals they are both thiefs blood stained hands.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Debresala,

      you said “KoKob Selam please donot push me to the evil HIGDEF.”

      please don’t do that to me. pardon me if I have disappointed you. If I will be found guilty in pushing people to Evil HIGDEF, it is like putting people to heal, I rather kill my self than to be such criminal. say what ever you want but don’t ever accuse me of pushing you to HIGDEF.
      in reality I could have even pull all supporters and PIA from that camp if possible the problem is their weight is tones and tones due to the blood they have drunken and I can’t but I will push honest people like you to PFDJ, no, no, NO.

  • Zhaile

    The last time this issue came up in my conversation was about 2 years ago. We were sitting in a restaurant and some one said Jebha killed (Harida) so many Christians!!!. My response was can you tell me anyone that you know. The quick answer was, 200 tegadelti so called Siriyet Addis he responded. Can you tell me any name? I asked. A Silence followed. After almost half a minute of silence in a conversation that was fast passed I asked the guy.
    Who killed ( haridu) more Christians, Jebha or Issayas? I was expecting a body count from my friend. To my surprise he did not continue. Misconceptions die hard.

  • zhaile

    When I read for the first time (some 30 years ago) the 200 tegadelti “Siriyet Addis” liquidate. I asked for some names. Can you tell me the names of some of these guys? I used to ask. There were two individuals killed in Kassala. We have their first and last names. And here there is a statement saying 200 dead. Yet no name!!!. No wonder. EPLF/PFDJ was built on lies and with lies will die.
    This statement is written in a political indoctrination manual. Yet even after independence PFDJ did not come with names of at least some of the 200 individuals. What a shame.

  • kib

    hello guys all of you taolking about the past I think it is not intersting at this momen the main thing our people are daing try to solve the persent problem just swept out the kiler PFDJ thankyou

    • Hameed

      kib,

      We are talking about the past to take a lesson that qualify us to guard the present and the future from opportunists, hypocrites and criminals.

  • http://Eri Lameak

    Jebha killed people since 1967 upto 1982 and it is not new news for this are here and it was the time to go split fm Jebha Abay bealti dirb Tebay.Without EPLF we are not here today.Sha bia wrote the truth of history for all Eritreans and nowday Ertra.
    Forget to Bealati DorHon Eggn.

    • Hameed

      Brother Lameak,

      Either be it Jebha or Shabia, the people of Eritrea seeks for the truth so as to take the criminals either from Jebha or Shabia to courts. Are you against taking the criminals to justice? If yes why? And if no? Please, encourage witnesses to come out and say their witness.

      All the crimes beginning from the forties of the last centuries upto the present should be prosecuted under an independent Eritrean courts.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Lameak,

      you have said one truth, with out your intention you said “Without EPLF we are not here today.” I agree with you if EPLF was not there we will not see this fake national freedom and all the problems which are in front of you and me.

      But we don’t have to go deep to the old history because at last we will only know a lot of men and women were cheated and there were anti revolution few people around those fronts and that will not be important at this moment since we are curing the wounds of everybody. and for your information there will be a time when a legal government in Eritrea will bring to justice all those dirty men who play on our national struggle. if you think things just will be forgotten you are just cheating yourself. if Sedam has ended that way what is that coward group call PFDJ? but we are not going to do it the way others do it. we will do it and end all those games forever and never to come back in any generation in the future.

      What is important to ask is what about now? This is a golden opportunity for every PFDJ supporter.Think about it. You will appreciate me in the future if your are really serous of your fate.

      • haile

        Kokhob Selam:

        It is not clear when you say “fake national freedom”. Do you mean there is “freedom” in Eritrea but it is “fake” or you mean Natsnet (as in independence) by saying “national freedom”? Both of them seem to be erroneous conjectures at the very least. In regards to the first interpretation, there is neither real nor fake freedom. This has been declared officially to be in effect for the next 40-50 years. In regards to the second interpretation, there is nothing fake about Eritrean independence that would single it out from any other national independence. The land Eritrea is not fake. Its people are not fake. Its natural endowment is not fake. Its mountains, rivers, woodlands, islands, coastlines, historic sites are not fake. Its legal independence is not fake. If you believe that the lack of democratic and constitutional governance renders a nation’s independence fake, then that is not sincere judgment. PFDJ has chosen to live by fake ways, and that would solely by their choice. Eritrea on the other hand hasn’t and will never be fake.

        • Kokhob Selam

          you are right I have different understanding on this issue. yet that will not make me the opposite side as I am within the line. for example you said “Its mountains, rivers, woodlands, islands, coastlines, historic sites are not fake.” but you see in that case all were not fake also during federation. but federation was fake. it was the same land,mountain,river etc. all the time. the difference is the system. I am calling it fake because the word free nation has no meaning in reality. if you go out of all the beliefs you accumulate and stand free, and see it you will understand Eritrean freedom is just a word and it not materialized. No one will cut the land we describe Eritrea and take it to the other planet it will remain there for ever. it is only the administration we are talking about. if we start to be honest with ourselves and ask what for was that national question raised we will find an answer “to have your own system that keeps the dignity of people” otherwise a nation will remain like a dead body without soul.
          in here as Kokhob I can see it is an artificial imagination created due to social development but is not a religious belief and can be changed at any time depending with new developments and needs.
          one day we Africans may have one united nation if found to be important. today’s Eritrea under PFDJ is not different from Hailselase Eritrea for me as both are not fulfilling our needs. National freedom was only to keep your own system to lead you:-means only a chosen way to leave in peace and if you don’t get that target, you have created a fake nation which will make it a failed state.

          I will not argue much if you have other understandings on that but at last this is Eritrea and is requesting as to free from PFDJ the same as yesterday that was asking us to pay in freeing from Derg.

  • Hameed

    First of all I would like to thank Gebremedhin Zerizghi for his witness. As we observe the witness joined the revolution while it is in turmoil, therefore he faced rejection of joining the Ghedli.

    If we take this witness to court the attorney general will certainly depend on his investigation on the following events concerning Serreit Addis: 1- On what condition did Serreit Addis joined the Ghedli 2- Who recruited them and where is he now. 3- Why did Serreit Addis refused distribution inside the Front. 4- After distribution what kind of letters were they exchanging among them? 5- Why did they write their letters in codes? 6- After arresting some of the members of Serreit Addis, did they really killed some of their guards?

    Concerning the Obel, Sedoh Ela, and Self Natsnet the attorney general will depend on: Did the Adobha or the first congress group send committees to meet the new groups. Did Obel tried to attack the congress? Did Isaias killed Abraham Tewelde and some of the tegadelti? The attorney general will depend on this main events.

    How the turmoil began inside Jebha is another issue and requires another witnesses who were practically actors in that period , but our witness tegadalai Gebremedhin has done a great job and we want from Isaias, Obel and Sedoh Ela also to give their witness honestly.

    I seize this opportunity to call the members of Obel and Sedho Ela outside the regime to give us their witness even if they don’t have the ability to write they can ask assistance.

    Some of the actors of that history are still in a leadership position, but they don’t want to open that banadora box the same as Isaias. All Eritreans in the opposition should press them to present their witness or we will be considered as assisting them in hiding the truth.

    The opposition websites and other media outlets are responsible of digging deep into the issue of that period and coming out to the people of Eritrea with truth.

  • Debrsala

    Who are we going to blieve those who worship their respective wudub lebha or Shabia as religion they only promote ther culty org not the truth

    • Kokhob Selam

      Debresala,

      Just believe yourself. by asking questions you can also see the truth. but What about now, aren’t you watching the reflection of the past? If PIA is not responsible of all the crimes why is he afraid to face a democratic solution for all problems? if you are clean of everything why you should be hidden in the bottom of national freedom,national building slogans? do you ever see PFDJ allowing to accept or listen any objection ? why are they killing and kidnapping and arresting? this itself is the proof that shows you PIA was criminal and he is swimming in the blood. Now, I see also most of Supporters have some history of crime and they found PFDJ to be the safe heaven. but that will not help. it is better to listen the mass instead of adding more mistakes.

  • Kokhob Selam

    in 70’s I never thought one day Eritrean people will know the truth and I was feeling hopeless of the future. but in 2010 and 2011 I had high moral that Eritrea will be a democratic country yet I never thought the truth of Gedli story will be exposed. Thanks God, I will come to you happy for the years I spend in this world. (mot kem Adam).

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

    Gde Hassot,

    Again, you’re dodging my question. Why is the sadist leader in Eritrea never opened up about the genesis, formative years and narratives of Gedli? As they say, I might have been born at mid-night but it sure wasn’t last night. You could as well be a hired spin doctor but you can’t possibly fool anyone. Gebremedhin has done a superb job in walking us through the truth nothing but the truth about the dark saga of Gedli where Isaias and his cliques are determined to distort it as they unleash people like you who make a living on lies.

    I wasn’t even born when the Adobha conference took place. I had been duped into believing the propaganda machinery protracted by the regime in Eritrea as it blackmailed anybody who stands in its way. In the last decade or so however, thanks to the unravelling of events, I have come to learn the true nature of the regime where people like Gebremedhin as well augment true-narratives so that we would know the truth nothing but the truth.

    • gde Haqi

      beAl wuqato,

      There was nothing to dodge! You on the other hand pleaded “I was not even born then” in order not to answer my questions and to avoid an intelligent discussion. Neither was I born then.

      There is only one reason why Awate.com has been sitting on this “eyewitness to history” account- it was uneasy with the descriptions of “the steps [attacks]“. I have never read any account written about these attacks from any ELF members claiming the attacks were initiated by the ELF itself. It has always been shrouded by “EPLF attacked us first then we had no choice but to act”. But according to Ghebremedhin Zerizghi it was a calculated move by ELF to go after the groups one by one. The “attempts” to talk to “selfi Natsenet” only were attempts to locate, isolate and liquidate it. It has now decided is open season for further revision of history.

      The real history is that EPLF – shaebia – hizbawi hailitat – not only survived these but went on to expel ELF from ‘meda’, after which the fight against Ethiopia became more focused bringing all parts of Eritrean society together which led to the demise of the dergue and Ethiopian occupation forces culminating in Eritrean independence and international recognition.

      • Timnit

        You forgot to mention that EPLF expelled ELF from med a with the help of TPLF, current DIA’s mortal enemy. Now the tables have been turned, Eritrean opposition organization who are using ‘s help to unseat the Eritrean mad dictator, have been accused of national treason. Eritrean history has not been told yet. But when and if it will be told, I suspect there will be tales of treasons and CIA involvement and pseudo Eritreans who became agents for super powers simply because they were not comfortable in their own skin…..and so they re-engineered a new faceless Eritrea of “hade libi, hade hizbi” , one void of its proud diverse identities, and in which those who paid dearly for its existence are jailed indefinitely or disappeared, or are condemned to a second class citizenry that forces them to cater to the capricious needs of new comers who discovered Eritrea recently or opportunists who treat Eritrea as a touristic attraction instead of the land of their ancestors. In the meanwhile , we shall keep reading and hearing about the horrendous manipulation that rendered the noble Eritrean liberation effort to nothing but elevating a deranged man.

        • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

          Timnit,

          Well put. Gde Hassot is obviously one of the latter day born again Eritreans where you have aptly put it when you said people or opportunists who recently discovered Eritrea and roam around like rabid dogs to disseminate lies and deceit as they bend backwards to appease the sadist leader in Eritrea. Again, well said haftey.

      • Hameed

        Brother gde haqi,

        Without knowing it you have convicted yourself and your regime. You said “expel ELF from ‘meda”, this means Shabeia has taken decision to fight Eritreans. I wished you to have more courage and go further to tell us with whom did Shabeia allied to kill Eritreans. The issue of the allies you will not escape it, they are foreigners and they will witness with how many armed men participated. This alone is enough to condemn the leaders of Shabeia and call them national traitors. For the first time in the history of our struggle you imported mercenaries to kill Eritreans. This is enough to incriminate you without going deep to the other issues.

        I hope awate.com to contact yesterday allies of Shabeia and bring to its readers full details of TPLF participation with Shabeia to expel Eritreans from ‘meda’. This will be a great job that will benefit the people of Eritrea a lot. I hope the Ethiopian government and TPLF to cooperate.

        Why are you against exposing the criminals whether they are from Jebha or Shabeia. The people of Eritrea wants the criminals and any Eritrean who has information should come out and witness. If you are a witness come with it or you don’t want the banadora box to be opened. Your refusal to the witness makes us suspect you to be one of the criminals either in the old days or at the present time. I think you hide many crimes behind you. Anyhow ‘qeltebteb kitibil ita haqi abariqa kabakha’ and this is one of the weak side of criminals.

  • gde Haqi

    Why was Abraha (Abraham) Tewelde, against accepting new recruits? The author relates this reluctance with the problem of spies “jewasis”. But was that really the reason? The ELF was ready to turn away hundreds of recruits that could swell its ranks to avoid a few bad apples? Or was there another reason? Is it possible Abraham was trying to spare new recruits from the turmoil, disappointment and possible killing?. Look at the fate of “siryet Addis”.

    The author seemed to have very positive feelings of Tegadaly Abraham, but still doesn’t go into detail into his going on “vacation” and ending up in Ala, except to blame his death on Issayas. Of course, that is not a first hand account either.

  • gde Haqi

    The author promised an “eye witness account” at the start of the article but no sooner had he started his narration as the new recruit to a clinic than he begins to be an expert as to who was the nationalist tegadalay and who was out for power and self-interest. What he wrote about Solomon Woldemariam (woldemariam Solomon:)and “seryet Addis” has the hallmark of second or third hand account bordering on hearsay.

    His narration basically sets up the justification for the scenario that culminate in the paragraphs of that is titled “1972, The Period of Taking Steps”. “The steps” were of course military strikes to “liquidate” the “splinters”. As if it some how makes a difference or justifies anything he declares, “but this step [attack] was taken against the Popular Forces of Seduho Ella and Obelites and not against Selfi Natsnet.” I guess in his narration the Obelites had earned it by plotting to attack a meeting of the “general command” – they have been tried and convicted. He also getting ready to argue that “Selfi Natsnet” had nothing to fear and no justification to set up an appointment date to meet, what he ironically calls, “the dialogue committee.” After writing that ELF just went on a brutal offensive against two groups, he then sounds dismayed that “selfi natsenet”, led by Issayas, refused to meet for a hug fest! nAy n’anchiwa abloqota!

    After the first national congress of the ELF was successfully concluded, all the resources of the organization was spread nationally and intentionally to implement the program and resolution of the congress. And for a period of six months, all the wings of the Popular Forces were [approached] through letters and contact committees that tried to meet with them. However, true to their habit, they turned a deaf ear to all the efforts. Finally, starting from their spirit and stand, they were showing [signs] of mobilization claiming “Amma [ELF] will take action therefore let’s be ahead of it before it [does]”; and Jebha was ahead of them in starting to take steps. But this step [attack] was taken against the Popular Forces of Seduho Ella and Obelites and not against Selfi Natsnet. The following are the paragraphs that I consider the meat of this account of an “eyewitness to history” and they are an indictment of the bloody hands of those in control of the ELF in the period the writer covers.

    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

      Gde Haqi,

      Have you ever wondered why your sadist and mafia boss never opened up about Gedli as if it is white-washed from the annals of history. And here you are a foot soldier with a brazen temerity trying to spin the truth nothing but the truth with worn out distortions armed with semantics on par with deceit and lies. Give it up.

      • gde Haqi

        bAl wuqato,

        This “eyewitness account” is not the confessions of tortured soul, the writer, who admits to taking part in at least one of the liquidation attacks or “the steps” , who may be ready to air his misgivings on turning his gun against another Eritrean, another Tegadalay, but is another attempt to pass the blame to those who are not here to defend themselves. He declares the man who accepted his and his friends’ request to join ELF “cunning” who was out to weaken the ELF, recruiting an army for the soon to splinter groups. There is no personal account narration that the author provided that would enable him reach that conclusion except may be repeating what he heard. He is still loyal to those leading the defunct organization(s). He is not trying to express any kind of regret for those who perished in the fratricidal war. He is still locked in the “justified” and what ELF leaders of that time thought were going to be the baby “steps” to “meda Eritrea kab hade wudub nlaEli kSewir aykil’eyu” solution.

        Those were “steps”, alright. The first steps ELF took towards its own demise of its own making. I thank the narrator for exposing this bloody episode, albeit inadvertently.

        • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

          Gde Haqi,

          Here are your inconsistencies: In your first comments you went on to find “faulty lines” when you said that, he (Gebremedhin) couldn’t have had a hands-on experience of the gushed out details for he was a mere clinic attendee. Later on in your second comments, you acknowledged that he was indeed involved in one of the war-engagments even though you used the acknowledgments on your part to suit your distorted reasonings.

          If you read the lines carefully bereft of emotionally charged ‘rebuttal’, you could clearly see that, the leadership in the E.L.F many at times tried to engage Isaias and the others into a dialogue where Isaias went on back stabbing by buying time for himself as he was conspiring to engage them in a fratricidal war where it left a lasting scar in the Eritrean collective psych as he finished writing his “magnum opus” N’hanan Elamanan where the theme is intended to hyperbole sectarian and religious divisions.

          All in all again, you’re not answering the question I posed to you. Again, why is the mafia clique in Asmara never opened up about the genesis, formative years or narratives of Gedli?

          • gde Haqi

            “An attack on which I personally participated was carried out [on them] around Herkok and Mensura. Their leader was AbSelab. ” Does this sound like a first hand account to you, beAl wuqaTo?

            By 1970 Hizbawi Hailitat Harnet Eritrea had already formed between the three elements of the splinter. So, what kind of engagement or dialogue was ELF leadership expecting when it clearly attacked at least two of the splinter group? Why is the author keen on making a distinction between “the steps”, murderous rampage, taken against the Sudhe Ella group and the Sabbe group, as he puts it, and the “peaceful” overtures towards Selfi Natsenet? Was the ELF leadership just fond of Issayas to spare his group while doing their utmost to liquidate the other parts of his new alliance? Did they consider him a much more dangerous threat to them than the other groups that they needed to be much more careful with his group thereby cajoling him until they are sure they can get to him personally and not just parts of his group? Or may be they recognized his leadership qualities that they really needed him back into their fold? I think they knew once he was out of their reach, it was the beginning of the end for them – nebsom negirwom!

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

    Gebremedhin Zerizghi,

    Many thanks for giving us a detailed account of the early years of Gedli for we’ve been given a sort of a bird’s eye view thus far. And Awate team– many thanks for your tireless effort in translating materials of huge historical significance into English where those who were born and brought up in foreign countries could benefit from it as they are indoctrinated with lies and distortions as PFDJ’s propaganda machinery remains unabated.

    • ahmed saleh

      Gebremedhin, as courageous person with dignity and wisdom as I far as I remember him is trying to share his Gedli experience with us. To avoid misanderstanding I like to inform readers he was respectful principled tegadalay who showed positive example to the young-ones back then until he lost his sight. He was one of those dedicated fighters sacrificing for the national question. I wish more experienced tegadelti follow his steps and share their knowledge.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Yes, I got the proof that what you said is true. Thank you.

        • ahmed saleh

          It is irony when you remember the saying ” AYTIBKE INDYU ZEBKIYEni ZELO” means your “don’t cry” makes me cry.
          Going back to our history can somebody explain to me what was it all about? Most of the tegadelti either from ELF or EPLF especially have the right to know the truth because somebody has to be accountable.
          a) At the time of crucial moment in 1977-1978 when we resisted the enemy why were they waging civil war behind us.
          b) My own ganta after more than two months of straight war reduced in numbers because of the loss, why were they attacked in TAERESHI- DENBEZAN to lose five more, Kebrom, Ibrahim, Habtemariam and others.
          c)The backup forces from GASH-SETIT who came to KEBESSA, most of them highlander youth, why were they attacked in 1978 in SHMANUGUS LAELAY prior to that hectic circumstances.
          My point is not to police it but to find an answer. As far as I am concerned all of us are losers on this. Anyone who sees it as ELF and EPLF things is you. Not me because fact is fact and I care less about politics.

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