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Speak Or Hold Your Peace Forever

If you didn’t speak then, please forever hold your peace.

A priest officiating a wedding asks those gathered if there is any just cause why the marrying couple may not be joined together; and exhorts them to speak or forever hold their peace. If no one speaks, the priest then declares the couple husband and wife. Marriage in Christianity is a holy sacrament while in Islam it is a legal contract. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:16) Any of the attendees who have “a just cause” but fails to speak up at the most appropriate time immediately forfeits his/her right to subsequently speak and has to forever hold his/her peace. There is no grace period or statute of limitations. It is a onetime right: use it or lose it.

In 1993, the then Provisional Government of Eritrea announced the names of Eritrean martyrs who died during the 30 years liberation struggle. The long list of 65,000 martyrs rightfully included all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in both the EPLF and ELF, but also in other smaller splinter groups. There were, of course, the missing names of those who were allegedly liquidated by the EPLF. Some of these liquidated Tegadelti are known by their group names as Menkae and Yemin. The families of these victims were never officially told about the death of their loved ones; and most of their parents have sadly died without known why their children were killed or why they never returned home.

As cruel and unjust as the decision to not inform their families was; the silence of their former comrades who were in a position to speak up was even worse. Most of the high-ranking Eritrean government officials were once classmates, schoolmates and childhood friends to the victims and knew their immediate and extended families. In fact, some of these high-ranking government officials joined the EPLF due to the efforts of these famous victims. Most of the war-hardened and long-experienced EPLF veterans knew about the liquidation of their former comrades; and based on anecdotal evidence, one could reasonably infer most of them were not happy their families were not given the closure they deserve and desperately needed; but none of them spoke up. They squandered a perfect opportunity to do what was right, fair and just.

Talking about fairness, one could argue that the case of the Menkae, unlike that of Yemin, was officially addressed in the 1977 EPLF’s organizational congress, and, perhaps, people in their collective wisdom might have decided there was no need to reopen old wounds. When national reconstruction and state building were the pressing priorities of the newly independent nation, any kind of readdress of historical injustices could potentially be destructive—leading to unnecessary distractions and inevitably derailing the whole process of national development. The fear of negative ramifications seemed real; but telling their families about their death has nothing to do with readdressing historical injustices. Whether these tegadelti were on the right or wrong side of history, they were there to serve the cause of the liberation. Regardless of what precipitated their killing, their families have the right to know.

Governments and liberation organizations can impose the death penalty on those found guilty on treason, sedition and subversive activities and the EPLF is no exception. Of course, a due process of law leading to a guilty verdict has to pass the “beyond reasonable doubt” legal doctrine. This is the fundamental legal assumption and a basic tenet of justice. The killing of Menkae, Yemin and others are shrouded in secrecy and no due process of law seemed to have been followed.  No wonder, many of the top EPLF leaders shamelessly and irresponsibly feign ignorance on the subject. But, ignorance does not exonerate anyone from due punishment. A willful negligence of responsibility is equally bad.

My goal in this article is not to revisit a subject that has become an unhealthy obsession for some people, but to point out how this obsession is derailing our struggle for justice and regime change. Those who were old and knowledgeable enough in 1993 and did not speak up against the injustices which befell the families of the alleged EPLF’s victims, have forfeited their right to speak on the subject and they should forever hold their peace or, at least, till a time when we can set up independent inquiry commissions. In plain and simple language, I say these people have lost the moral authority to speak on behalf of Menkae, Yemin and others. They are not enhancing our moral awareness through their crocodile tears. But, far worse, they are sowing the seeds of division where unity should be our only concern. However, misused and abused, there is a place for the “hade hzbi: hade libi” mantra in our national life and struggle. We cannot realize the dream of an independent, free, just, peaceful and prosperous Eritrea without a concerted effort. We need to set our priorities right and focus on what brings us together and not on what separates and divides us.

Beneath the veneer of their shallow moral outrage, one can easily see they are foolishly motivated by some antiquated and atavistic sentiments. But the Eritrea of yesterday is not the Eritrea of today and one cannot lead a movement by remaining stuck on the first rung of the evolutionary ladder. Sewra Ertra is by far the most important collective experience we have proudly undertaken as people and it is the most important foundation of our national being. Like all human experiences, it has some dark spots in its otherwise glorious history of heroism, sacrifice and love of country; but these wrong detours should only serve as a cautionary tales for better understanding; and not to undermine and destroy the very foundation where we are building our house—Eritrea. Sewra Ertra is the rock Eritrea’s house is built on. “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it has its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:25)

Most Eritreans care about correcting the wrongs our Sewra has committed in its 30 years of existence. This interest is not due to some primordial instincts of vengeance; but, because it is a great tribute to our love of justice and fairness and it speaks beautifully about who we are as a nation and people. By remedying past injustices, we are assuring a just future for ourselves and our descendants. By unraveling the past in the present, we get a better perspective to create a better future. This is where we need to responsibly exercise our right of intellectual freedom and expression to dissect, analyze and understand our history without lowering the established standards of scholarship and academia. Some fools are, however, in the name of intellectual freedom, rushing in where angels fear to tread. They have no sense of honor, loyalty and service to people and country. But, the last thing we need to do is promote one value at the expense of the other; the need for a right balance of rights and responsibilities is of paramount importance, particularly at this juncture of our national development. We don’t have well-established institutions that can temper our excesses. We should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We can have order without freedom but we cannot have freedom without order.

Talking about the Menkae and Yemin and so forth at this point is a disservice to our national cause and a road that is to nowhere. The victims deserve a better platform that we cannot afford to provide them at this point in time. To deal with them now is to politicize them; and to politicize them is to deny them the justice they desperately need and deserve.

The issues of Menkae and Yemin don’t belong to politics. They are the primary concerns of justice and as such they deserve to be handled by independent inquiry commissions. The last thing we need is a few individuals who are poorly armed with the basic tools of recording and researching history to act as both judge and jury and spew their divisive verdicts and willful ignorance. Telling lies with some sprinkles of truth does nobody good.

As people demanding justice, dignity and rights, we need to hold ourselves to higher standards of ethics and morality. Leading by example is the best way to win the hearts and minds of people. Our goal, as the Quran says is to substitute less with better (Surah 16:101) and we can start being better now.

About Semere T Habtemariam

Semere T Habtemariam is an author and a columnist at Awate. He holds a BA in Government and Politics and a MA in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas. He lives in Dallas, Texas. His two books are: Reflections-History-Abyssinian-Orthodox-Tewahdo and Hearts-Like-Birds.

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  • seyoum Tesfaye

    Let me start by saying Semere could have chosen a better title for his article beyond that the quality and essence of his article cannot be refuted or diminished by hipping vitriolic accusations that do not carry an ounce of remedial message or are devoid of merit based argument that can render his article valueless.

    The style is his and no one can take that away from him. The content of his message belongs to the a public domain as such it can be refuted, his facts challenged, his perspective criticized and most importantly corrected in the spirit of nurturing and advancing a more democratic discussion. That is healthy and necessary.

    The most immature and unhealthy thing to do is if you do not like someone’s article to deploy PFDJ’s play book and categorize the writer as a friend of the ruling party or push him out of the camp of the opposition. This kind of amateurish “logic” will neither advance our collective struggle nor intimidate someone like Semere if that is the intent of some of the comments lodge as a “response” to his article. The central enemy is in Asmara not in Dallas. Differences within those who are doing their best to bring change must be managed and bridged with in a rational approach.

    As form me the core message of Semere are imbued in these two paragraphs:

    “Governments and liberation organizations can impose the death penalty on those found guilty on treason, sedition and subversive activities and the EPLF is no exception. Of course, a due process of law leading to a guilty verdict has to pass the “beyond reasonable doubt” legal doctrine. This is the fundamental legal assumption and a basic tenet of justice. The killing of Menkae, Yemin and others are shrouded in secrecy and no due process of law seemed to have been followed. No wonder, many of the top EPLF leaders shamelessly and irresponsibly feign ignorance on the subject. But, ignorance does not exonerate anyone from due punishment. A willful negligence of responsibility is equally bad.”

    “The issues of Menkae and Yemin don’t belong to politics. They are the primary concerns of justice and as such they deserve to be handled by independent inquiry commissions.”

    What is not clear about these two paragraphs? Where is the flow in his logic?

    What is the relation between, history, politics and justice? In the process of trying to come to grip with horrific injustice committed under the condition of struggle for independence the demand to know the details is understandable and even more importantly unavoidable. Yet while we try to collect the fragmented recollections and try to fill the gaps in the huge puzzle board the political “judgments” we render are still political “verdicts” that cannot be equated with a decisions of a lawfully organized court or a legitimately constituted inquiry commission with a subpoena power.

    The essence of Semere’s article, to my understanding, resides in this delicate and nuanced point- do not confuse justice and politics. No matter how much we discuss the issue of Menka and Yemin in the final analysis we have to first remove the lawless regime and establish a legitimate and independent inquiry commission to unearth the details of these and other gruesome crimes and render legal decision on those who perpetrated the crimes.

    Democracy cannot flourish without a robust and at times rambunctious conversation. If the intensity of the conversation, somehow unintentionally, dilutes the primary agenda of focusing all stakeholders heart and mind to remove the illegitimate regime and establish a country governed by rule of law the conversation might have some therapeutic value without getting us closer to justice and the duly constituted inquiry commission with a subpoena power.

    Let us speak with purpose and always with clarity on the order of things.

  • yemane

    Semere Habtemaiam…..Have you ever placed your self on the position of the victims?…How do you feel when you are told almost 75% of the victims are from one region?.this is not Anecdotal evidence, this is the fact with tangible witnesses…
    On this case, those who are allergic to untold stories are either infected with regional viruses or are yet loyal to the mafia Asmarino….Remember, my eldest brother is killed with those so called “Menkae” and my mom was told not to raise this question ever unless she wants to follow her son…She was told by the late Naizghi Kiflu and Ali-Seid Abdella.Now, no body is i a position to take a revenge but at least to know the fact..Simple example is : Neither Mesfin Hagos nor Adhanom is challenging Tesfay Temnewo on the main issues( Menkae,Yemin and Civil war).They are just rotating on the timing only..

  • Berhe

    Dear Semere,

    Quiet often you have used verses from the Bible and the Quran in your articles, in order to defend certain individuals that are not sitting well with the Eritreans in the Diaspora or to defame some individuals that are considered a measure threat to the PFDJ. I woild like to remind you to think about the following two verses, before you start quating verses from the Bible and Quran again.

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” Exodus 20:7
    “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32

    I respectifuly ask any of you out there to add verse from the Quran with simillar message. My appologies, I do not have any knowldge of the Quran.

  • rezen

    20 June 2013
    To: Mr. Semere T. Habtemariam
    Since you invoked the Bible/Koran, may Allah/God bless you with the wisdom to agonize with the victims of atrocity? – Spiritually, that it. You may wish to read the following humble book (2011):
    “AND STILL PEACE DID NOT COME” by Agnes Fallah Kamara-Umunna.
    May the last name prick your curiosity to heed my recommendation! Have a wonderful Life with your family and friends in your adopted country – a land of opportunity, blessed with prosperity, freedom, liberty, justice without limitation of time, and the pursuit of happiness by every person according to one’s inclination and capability. And it is so wonderful to be under such an umbrella and be able to express feelings and opinions — in search for the Truth, whatever that may be — without fear of intimidation, and far more worse consequences, that was mercifully left behind: for some an arduous and dangerous journey; and for the lucky ones with connection just a breeze >>> but alas so easy to forget, so soon! Ah! Human Nature!!!

  • Aman

    Dear Semere,

    When I read your review article of Dr. Habtu’s book ‘Massacre at Wekidiba’, I really appreciated it. You were then right when you said was ‘better late than never’. Now though your premise seems to contradict that assessment. The story of the MenkaE and the Yemin still awaits research and genuine narration. Until then their story should be told and re-told although not for ‘ulterior motives’. The story of these victims and others should still be used as a rallying cry for freedom. It should fill all our conversations and discussions. It should create a heart ache for the cruel oppressive system in Eritrea. In fact, it is high time we document it and write books and articles about these and other victims. How can you say because it was not raised in 1993, it shouldn’t be raised now? Otherwise, by the same analysis, you would say the G-15 are served justice for they raised an issue they should have raised in 1977, or 1987 or 1994 or 1997? There is no right time for calling for justice. We have to call for justice for anyone all the time. It is absurd you mentioned Matthew 19:16 and the marriage analogy here, as there is no time that a call for justice is anathema. In fact remembering it every June 20 is very appropriate.

    Yet, I stand with you regarding the responsible and well researched documentation of the truth.


  • Ad-Habab

    Dear Author,
    You must be so ignorant to put marriage is a legal contract in Islam, please don’t write something that you can’t erase. If you don’t know, then ask. FYI, marriage in Islam, is half of someone’s faith, and that makes him a complete person in faith. It.
    BTW, I lost interest in reading your article beyond the introduction. Honestly


    Respected Semere ,
    You have answered your whole article’s summary by quoting the scriptures I quote ““The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it has its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:25)
    The Gedli as run by EPLF was that,…a house built on sand yet a rock of lies.
    The EPLF Tegadeltis were ..”an organized group of people with guns”..they did not give their opinions …unlike the Jebha Tegadelti that almost poked the eyes of their leadership ,no matter what happens. As much as Jebha was less organized & a victim of international sabotage had Eritrean agenda.
    ሰማይ ዝ ሃገርኩም ኣብ ኣስላም ሓረድቲ እዮም ፣እናበለ ንሃገራውያን ኣሕዋትና ቶርዓ ብኸድዓት እናቕተለ ፣ተመሊሱ ድማ ነቶም ኣንጻር ቶርዓ ወድና ኢሎም ዝሓብሓብዎ ወረዳ ፧፧ግልብጥ ኢሉ መንካዕዶ ሳውዝ ኣፍሪካንስ (ኣፓራታይድ)፣እናበለ ተመሊሱ ዝ ሃድን ውድብ___ደስ ክብሎም ንጀብሃ ናይ ሰራየ ይገብርዋ__ጸኒሖም ናይ ድምበዛን ይሰምይዋ__ኣሕዋትና ብድሙ ድሙ እናሰመሙ __ነሓትና መዝሓል ስምዒቶም ጌሮም__ክፍሊ መፍረ ዘጠጥዑ__ ካብዚኦም እንታይ ክንጽበ ፧
    By the way ,the baby died long time ago (1981)..what is left is dirty bath water.

    As always brilliant __CYBER CURE

  • Berhe

    Dear Semere,

    Weather you write using your real name or your pen names such as Admas, Haile and Araya you are not telling us any thing different. Your objective is to defame those heros who are making a real dent on the dictator and trying to elevating those who work for the dictator. Someone who calls Tesfay Temnewo a “hadami” and Mesfin Hagos a hero can only be a PFDJ thug wearing the opposition uniform. I remember not long ago the dictator in one of his interviews, after he was asked where the G15 are he replied that he doesn’t know and continued by saying that “I don’t want to be bothered by the G15 issue, that is history and let’s forget it”. Your article is in a way is simillar, it is designed to buy time for the dictator and his criminal gangs, such as Mesfin Hagos. PFDJ thinks that if they are allowed to buy some time, they will be able to survive the opposition momentum that has been gaining international support.
    Dear readers, please check the articles written by Semere and by his pen name Admas as well as the comments given below by the name Haile. They all carry the same message, tone and objective. Semere is working overtime to misinform and confuse the opposition in order to benefit the PFDJ.

    • berhan gedem

      Semere we have a problem with those PFDJ thags some of them changed their name everyday with different title.At this time is not really problem PFDJ those thags like XXX TV ZETE OF SWEDEN and xxx, xxx, xxx, traiters trush of History people spent time to listen the trush of history.who are they those people?some of them criminals and some of them bandits.we don’t need to listen news from them we need to listen like tesfay temmenowo jigna hero of eritrea his voiece advocate for the really issue of eritrean revolution.tsfay temenowo hero living legend.I XXX in tv zete he blame tesfay temenow by inviting kedai xxx xxx.who are you Antonio you are one of the trush of history of eritrea kindaka zeyakla baaka ywaala don’t compair your self like tesday temmeno.

      [Moderator: you insulted five people in one comment. This is not an insulting forum, but a debating one. If this is the kind of comment you bring here, stay away. But if you are able to clean your act, you are welcome]

  • The heading, ‘speak or hold your peace forever’ as for me, it breaks-down into looking ahead; acknowledging to mend; evoking to remind the righteousness in us all; hence preparedness to lessen the unpleasant predicament ahead.


    The tone of the theme in this brilliantly addressed piece of work suggests or shouts-out for all concerned citizens to focus; focus on timely issues; focus on what unite us; furthermore, focusing and preparing the road to a successful transitional government must be the urgent dream. Intellect in the details, the espousal proposition to us all is to abide these trying times thus stay wed. well, I could be thinking with my heart, but my thought processing mind agrees with the aforementioned outlook. Simply put, from a progressive standpoint your urge or necessitating whistle of the hour rings a soundly UNIFYING tone to my ears. Fittingly-so.

    while I’m at it, allow me wave aside the state of paranoia in da house. If we were paying attention that is; last week’s brilliantly executed communication between the two of you(Admas and Semere) illustrated a breathtakingly picturesque definition of mannerism. The beauty of it all the instigator’s wishes or intentions if you will, has been refuted frozen on its tracks. Oh, the nature of things and its balancing functionality; that ‘raw mutuality’ that was being invited by the instigator, ended up finding likes thus benefiting the commonalities:-)

  • T..T.

    Some who failed to take notice of the fact that the regime was/is in the hands of a militaristic and not revolutionary clique, would consider Isayas’s ubiquitous security apparatus as Halewa Sewra. Really, it wasn’t and isn’t. It was/is there to secure and maintain Isayas’s grip on power.

    Some more celebrate this militaristic clique for good or bad and humane or non-humane, even if in the process the victims have gone to oblivion, like in the cases of Menq’A and Yemin. Still some more consider Isayas’s cruelty as justified in the name of order, stability, border issues and ensuring sovereignty, even if as a result many innocent individuals have fallen victims to his mafia-style operations of strangulating freedom of views, opinions, accountabilities, etc.

    It is, therefore, hoped that only and only when Isayas is brought to his senses and accountability the mass graves will be open to forensic reports and forensic analysts supported by witness to tell the stories of the fallen victims. It is also hoped that forensic tools will be able to identify the victims. Moreover, it is only and only when Isayas’s power grip loosens, talks and reconciliation can be possible to give life to the imposed bygones but not forgotten issues of fallen innocent victims.

  • haile

    Semere H

    I think your position seems to sync with the order of the day. Let by gone be by gone. In reality, we don’t have a real capacity to do otherwise, but it is also undeniable the fact that people would always have a story to tell.

    In connection of the topic at hand, I hear the mechanism of peace and reconciliation apparatus quite often. I doubt there would be a favorable scenario in our case to ever go in that route. One reason being that “Individual Roles” are held to account under such set up, and the narratives are well beyond means to meaningfully bridge. Many years back, I was talking to an Ex-ELF friend of mine during the arrest of G-15, I have no means to ascertain its veracity, but as I expressed concern about the arrests, I remember that he snapped at me bitterly and recalled to me how he personally witnessed some of them “killing” individuals that he was calling out by name and places.

    This is a tough call, again, let by gone be by gone and forever hold our peace. We simply can’t be held back by a difficult past that has exacted more than a fair share from everyone. Think of the children…

  • Teweldino

    Selamat Sem:

    I kind of like “Hade Hizbi Hade Libi.” Except that you have it backwards. It’s “Hade Libi Hade Hizbi.” Boy, I can see you don’t recite it often 🙂

    “Hade Libi Hade Hizbi” has been a useful rallying cry for the Eritrean people in testing times. Weyane hates it, but that is its problem. Weyane hates it because it is working 24-7 at dividing the Eritean people along sectarian and religious lines in its attempt to create fissures that it can exploit.

    I say thank God for “Hade Libi Hade Hizbi” because to date, it has not had any success! The more Weyane tries to divide the Eritrean people, the more they stick together. Funny how that works!

    If Weyane stepped back and let demarcation happen, who know what kind of demands the Eritrean people would make.

    Until then, yes to Hade Libi Hade Hizibi!

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      And Ethiopia! was a nightmare for eplf and tplf too. It is so funny now eplf is vowing one Eritrea while tplf one Ethiopia! It could have been a Nice moto if it were not for the sake of the governing party or junta.

      Otherwise ‘Speak Or Hold Your Peace Forever’ is a good methaphore for the afar People who were not invited on the separation ceremony.

    • L.T

      Yes it is true We Have “one heart to one nation”But Weyane the evil wolf have “Quattro libi”and this game has changed.

  • Bystander

    Bitsay Semere,

    May I call you bitsay? Thank you for your common sense article. Honoring Eritrea’s fallen heroes should be an automatic. There should be no politics around this issue.

    Yes, Sewra Ertra is central to the Eritrean experience and crucial to understanding what it means to be an Eriteran.

    Moreover, every military organization has its warts. Sewra Ertrea is generally not known for being abusive. Sewra Ertrea is known for being egalitarian and fraternal. That was at the heart of its success. Leaders and commanders shared the same meal and lived in the same barracks as the men and women they led. Everyone called each other “bitsay.”

    As far as what happened to Menkae folks? Well, things happen in military organizations and revolutions. It is not a clean business. That is for sure. But Sewra Ertra is cleaner than most other revolutions. And that’s a fact!

    Even in the militaries of industrialized societies, unsavory things happen. Even in Western armies, there are soldiers who are killed by racists within the army or from friendly fires and stuff. But their families are not told the truth. Often times, their families are told their son committed suicide. If you don’t believe me, research this issue yourself.

    So let’s cut the heroic tegadeltis that sacrificed the prime of their lives to bring us independence some slack shall we? If there were abuses and purges, they were not many.

    Eternal Glory to our Martrys!

    • semere andom

      This is article will go down in the history of its author as the worst one. It is saddens me that my friend Semere and with whom I share many views has descended to this simplistic analogy of marriage in his futile attempt to make his case. The reason we can talk a about Mekae is because there is no statute of limitation, we can raise the issue for ever, that is why there is no statute of limitation in murdered cases in the USA, human life is important
      But your comments manifest your clueless understanding about ghedli and EPLF. You compare the unsavory stuff that happens in the developed countries to the mafia that run our ghedli.
      There have been nothing documented or undocumented cases where EPLF solved conflicts peacefully. EPLF killed thousands of innocent tegadelit.
      You call our sewar cleaner than most, I wonder with whom you comparing it? But let me compare it with TPLF,TPLF was cleaner than EPLF in leaps and bounds, there are at least 3 cases historically that conflicts were solved peacefully, and they had peaceful leadership transition atleast onse in the field when the Melles guys took over from Aboy Sebhat. There were Eritreans in the leadership like Ghiday Zerzion who was purged politically and was not murdered. The issues that Menkae raised are still alive and those who raise the issue of accountability are still murdered. So Sir in deference to the families and loved ones please refrain from trivializing the murder of the gallant menkae who were murdered under the order of Isaias and other current leaders of PFDJ
      People like you trivialize the menkae issue by saying well stuff happened just let us make it cold and live our lives. Haba haba, tewedeb
      The issue is justice to these people; we need to know who ordered it, who actually did it, who shot the bullets and where they are buried. Finally bring their bones home and bury them ceremoniously becoming of a hero. This is called Truth and Reconciliation (T&R). It is not about revenge, in case you are somehow implicated by the T&R
      This month PFDJ will celebrate the Martyrs Day (June 20), shedding crocodile tears and making mockery in their poems, but those Eritreans with some conscious will mourn the dead as death and martyrdom should be mourned and not celebrated.

      Semere A or accourding to my friend say STM 

  • simon

    Dear Semere
    I have mostly appreciated your contribution but when critical issues are discussed you have always problems. Your problem is you want to satisfy as many as possible and this often results to dilution of the message

  • zeykeseen

    Dear Semere,
    When people share the ‘black spots’ of our history that they have witnessed while in meda, it might be just a mere exercise of intelletual freedom and expression for you. For the families of the numberless victims of the sinster liquidation of ELF and EPLF, ‘closure’ does not even express it. There is no such a thing closure when one just only learns that their loved one, who ventured to save their people and nation, has been purged by some click who knew only imposing their way. May be when these criminals are apprehended and justice is done, it would be time for closure for the families of the victims. What is sad is that, as time passed some of the ugly deeds of Abdela & co. and Isayas & co. are being forgotten. In some cases those few people who knew the crimes are dying one by one, the nasty secrets along with them. That is why my friend every person, intellectual or not, with historical knowledge or not, must record what they know. We need to know the ‘black spot’ of our history inorder to clear our future. People are not just passive consumers of whatever is fed to them. We have the minimum intelligence and reason, if not like your, to analyze, evaluate, weigh, the truth from the lie,and the seemingly possible from fabrication. What is sad is that the old-school criminals hide behind such reasoning like yours and keep a whole nation hostage. Because they think the public will never know about their ugly actions back in Meda, they keep on doing it right now as well. There will never be right time. The present is the right time to expose all the heinous crimes of meda. As to those who failed to speak up before, it is better late than never. We dehanka.

  • Salyounis

    Kubur Tegadalai Semere:

    I have been reading you since 1996 and I would not put this article in your top 10. Or top 20. Or top 100:) Even verses from the Bible, Quran can’t save this one:)

    ** The disappearance of a family member is so painful, so agonizing that no certificate, no organizational announcement will fill the black hole. There is no such thing as “closure”–it is just one of those words psychiatrists invented. Families want to get as much information as they can from authoritative voices about them.

    ** You mean the “speak now or forever hold your peace” isn’t just a line in romantic comedy movies? In nations with fully blossomed civil liberties, where more than half of marriages end in divorces, there is ample opportunity for anybody to speak often and never hold their peace. Remember, for celebrity magazines and social welfare offices, there is no profit in holding their peace. The line is a quaint thing from a long bygone era when The Man was the Justice of any household, regardless of how abusive he was.

    ** I can’t think of a right time/place for “Hade hzbi Hade lbi” and, if there is one, this time that we are going through–fighting the injustice of Isaias Afwerki–surely is not it.

    ** I know there are all sorts of conspiracy theories as to why there is now a proliferation of confessional literature/broadcast.(And in Eritrea, all the conspiracy theory roads lead either to Addis Abeba or Langley:) I think there is a more innocent explanation: I think it is a combination of things: the availability of cheap audio technology (skype, paltalk) combined people’s awareness of their mortality. A great Eritrean, Aida Kidane, has been documenting the abuses of the Eritrean revolution since the early 2000s. If skype, paltalk, youtube and the other audio technology were cheaply available to her then, or in the 1990s, I am sure a lot of the confessionals we have now would have been shared then.

    We have all written our share of stinkers.. You are one of the few who will get this reference so I will say it: “izias ente tishifaAlka…” :) another line from a bygone era… 🙂


    • Lemlem

      Dear Sal,

      There is an easier way to find out what happened to those Menkae and Yemin groups.

      All you have to do is ask your brother, Ali Abdu. I am sure he knows!

      But will he tell you? Probably not.

    • Haqi

      Why can’t I read the writers name on my iPhone sal?

      • Salyounis


        It appears that when we optimized the website for smart phones, we forgot to program the “by” field. Until we do that, we will have an easy fix: we will have the authors name in the footer. The one you are replying to was authored by our friend Semere T Habtemariam, who should not be confused with serial troublemaker Semere Andom.


        • semere andom

          Is Serial troublemaker my new lable? 🙂
          then few more touble I will be “tsegam” then you know what happens in Eritrean politic 🙂

          Semere A

          • Salyounis

            Almunadel Semere Andom:

            I hear you, Ghezae Hagos and friends in Canada have formed a travel agency. It’s slogan: “we reunite higdefites with their family in Eritrea!”


  • Serray

    This article would have made rudimentary sense if the killers were not in power today doing exactly the same thing. The UN report on human rights made it clear that the extrajudicial killings and disappearances common in medda are stilling going on in eritrea, only worse. The mentality that we sweep the old injustices so we can stop the new ones is as silly as the mentality the pfdj use to shut up the likes of Elsa Chyrum… we can’t speak about justice while the woyanes are holding a piece of our land.

    The last thing you should do to stop injustice is to put arbitrary and completely unrelated wedding rules to put down the relatives of the victims or those who speak on their behalf. This is not the third grade, you can not tell people to shut up because they didn’t raise their hands when they had a chance to.

    This article shows the limits (and the contradictory nature) of patriotic justice.

  • Semere Andom

    Semere H
    This is music to the ears of the PFDJ. Let us hold hands everything is good and dandy, forget the past, let move on, present is bad, past is also bad,except when we talj about our accomplishments, it is about the future
    But here is the issue with many of us, who have very HEALTHY obsession with this issue. We were not part of it, we did not know these people who perished at the hands PFDJ for actually saying what the G15 said 30 years later. Justice is politics, and in our case the issue if extra judicial killing was planted there.
    One thing that you are missing is that people were not looking for revenge when they talk about Menkae, it is about Truth and Reconcilation. May 24 is our Arbi sQlet, where were hanged when the pagan PFDJ and took over, so we wait our “Fasika” to really celebrate and May 24, 1991 was on a Friday.

    You cannot separate, the Menkae issue from G-15 and the current extra judicial massacre by the thugs, the only difference is they happened over 30 years apart. The criminal is the same, albeit a senile and a seasoned serial killer,the issues are the same.
    Talking about fairness, one could argue that the case of the Menkae, unlike that of Yemin, was officially addressed in the 1977 EPLF’s ”
    This is wrong as EPLF never address thigs officially, the killing of some memebers was addressed and the so called menkae movement were not just handful, the killing continued till the early 1980s. This can be debated,but the thesis of your article to put up or shut up copled with your canonization of Naizghi and your new found love affair with Nhan Elamanan is a travesty.
    Your soliloquy of let us wait till the institutions are established tales the travesty to a different dimension, what we have now is people who were there are alive and they are writing and talking about in testimony. We will not hang Isaias based on these testimonies, we are documenting it and we cannot possibly do that without talking, interviewing eye witness.
    The beating, torture, rape and killing and shoot to kill orders are now documented and people are actually talking about these issue, but since the issues are fundamentally the same the menkae and yemin and other are ought to be mentions.
    Listen up Awatista Moksi has introduced a brilliant new concept of “The Separation of Justice and Politics from government 🙂
    Semere A

    • Dear Semere Andom,

      Who can say it better than you. You nailed it and thank you for that. As you have alluded the killing is continuing as we speak. The issue is not the past only, it is also in the present and in the future who are waiting in the PFDJ Guillotine. If we let it to happen as it is continuing, history will be against us as accomplice of the culprit. Is this hard to comprehend by the writer?Hummmmm!!

  • Elihude

    The writer seems to be naive in thinking that in today’s Eritrea or diaspora communities such truth seeking or even reconciliation will bear fruit all. The writer himself pointed a fact that the main actors in the liquidation of these groups and others, now hold high positions in and outside of Eritrea. To begin with these actors liquidated these said groups to get to where they are now. The question is why would these actors come out now, confess, seek justice and reconciliation? It just makes little sense!!!

    • yegermal

      Honestly,the writer is neither naive nor unique. He is your typical brain-washed Eritrean who is perennially conflicted between his loyalty to the PFDJ and the little voice (conscience) that whispers to him that something is terribly wrong in his “beloved” Eritrea. He calls the PFDJ regime a brutal regime one day, the next day he reverts to the main talking point of the PFDJ: “shut up in the name of our sovereignty and nation building”. Classic “meenti mogogo tehelf anchiwa”. Semere H. and his types should know that if they really care about the “mogogo” they must confront the “anchiwa” by any means at their disposal, including their free speech. Otherwise, they are no better than their peers who officially support the rogue regime.

      It is exhausting to continually respond to this group of Eritreans and is utterly frustrating that they are provided a fertile ground where their wobbly minds proliferate!

  • Lemlem


    I just thought of my aunt who passed away three years ago. You mentioned the need for closure. Closure is super important to the families of martyred kids.

    My aunt had a son who went to the field in the mid 70s. He stayed alive for many years as a tegadalay so she used to be able to find out his whereabouts on the field through her contacts in the countryside or through the parents of the neighborhood kids who went to the field with him. From time to time, she would sneak out of Asmara and go to the field and visit with him for a couple of days. He wasn’t particularly nice to her. He would always ask why she came. Often times, he was rude to her. She still liked visiting with him and his fellow tegadeltis though. She would always come back and tell us stories about how tegadeltis speak or live and how nice they were to her. Much nicer to her than her son was.

    Many tegadeltis were not nice to family members who came to visit them in the field. Not because they didn’t like their families, but because they knew they could die at any moment so it was pointless to them to try to reconnect with their families and give false hope to their families that they will someday return to them. Most tegadeltis preferred to have no contact with their families. Their families were their fellow tegadeltis as far as they were concerned.

    So all of a sudden in the early 80s she stopped receiving any news of his whereabouts. Nobody would tell her where he had last been seen. Most people would just tell her they have no information on him. But some people would knowingly give her false information and she would go look for him based on the wrong information she got and come back empty after days of searching. It drove her crazy for many years. He was her only son. She had three other daughters. So she never gave up looking for him. In the back of her mind, she knew something had happened to him. Call it maternal instincts. But she was hoping he was wounded and lying somewhere in one of the EPLF hospitals in Sahel. She refused to believe he might be dead. Not being able to find any information on him drove her crazy.

    After independence, she was notified by the government (or the Provisional Government of Eritrea as you put it) that he had died in 1981. She received a Martyrdom Certificate with his name, place of birth, where he died and on what date and what not. That brought closure to her. After that, she would only say, “Kem Sebu. Kab Sebu do belitsu.” She framed the Martrydom Certificate and put it in her living room. She would wake up every morning and kiss the certificate with his picture on it before she goes to church. It brought closure to her.

    So I understand what you mean, Semere. I would wish that closure for every family of Eritrea’s martyrs, including those who died in suspicious circumstances.

    • Elihude

      Ask PFDJ and see where that will get you, era’ero may be!

    • Yebio

      How touching! Well related story of a family member whose only solace was to use the nihilistic saying “kem Sebu..” What a tragedy!!

  • Haqi

    Well said sal nebsi.