In Memory of Prisoners Executed by the EPLF in the 1970s & 1980s (revised and expanded version)
By Resoum Kidane
Teklay Aden on Halewa Sewra
Teklay Aden, member of the central committee and an EPLF security chief who defected to the Ethiopian regime in 1981, described Halewa Sewra in the following: The most criminal and notorious organ within the EPLF is known as 'Halewa Sewra or the security department. This is the Gestapo section in the EPLF assigned with the task of arresting, torturing and killing elements who oppose the leadership clique. It is a brigade of terror and death led by two members of the central committee. ('I was one', according to the March issue 81). The department which has no clear-cut guidelines, save for the carte blanch to kill, is divided into three sections:
A.The Surveillance Section: This body is responsible for covering the whole EPLF with a network of agents reporting on each other. EPLF is an organization in which every member takes the other for an agent and therefore has to keep his mouth shut. I can only say that the situation inside the group defies any description in words. The majority of the security agents are somehow attached to the leadership clique.
B.The Interrogation Section of 'Halewa Sewra' is a place where all types of untold brutalities are committed against suspects. Any person opposing the leadership or the EPLF in general is scaled with boiling oil, refused food or water for a long period and forced to sleep over his/her refuse.
The fascistic crimes perpetrated against the innocent victims do really drive one mad. The majority of the suspects die while undergoing 'questioning'.
C. The Prison Section:This is the section which physically liquidates 'enemies' of the EPLF or demoralizes the victims. The prison inmates are not only refused basic food and medical needs, but are daily subjected to terrorization and self-defacement. Practically none of the survivors of the continued mental and physical torture in the prison can be described as 'survivors'. The firing squads are also stationed in the prison; their assignment is to kill by firing bullets.
Ali Said was the Head of security department (Halewa Sewra”) 1977-1987. According to Teklay Aden, the security department killed no less than 3,000 persons from 1973 to 1980.
On Kidane Kiflu and “Sriya Addis”
In the mid 1960s clandestine group of Eritrean students at the University of Addis Ababa were formed probably by Kidane Kiflu. Since its formation there were a growing number of Eritrean university students from Ethiopia joined in the ELF, this was possibly after they were recruited by Kidane Kiflu. These students who joined the ELF in the 1960s were not welcomed by the Kiada Al Ama, and hundred of them who were at the time referred to as " Sriya Addis" were executed on mere suspicion of being Ethiopian agents. According to various sources these fighters were made to endure unbearable torture at the hands of ELF interrogators; a large number of them were also summarily executed (Paice 1994: 34; Human Rights Wartch 1991: 47; Mengesteab 2005: 43). Issayas and Abedella Idrias were among the members of Kiada al Ama leadership who are responsible for the massacre of those students.
Ibrahim Berhan (2001) states that Kidane is one of those gallant and brilliant fighters, TeGaDeLTi, who was assassinated in Kassala, Sudan in the late 60s.He was not only a heroic fighter who relentlessly opposed the sectarian and backward political outlooks of the then Jebha, he was a decent person with exceedingly pleasant personality. Those who were incarcerated with him in Sudan's jail in the late 60s attest to those facts. Once he was released the butchers of the then Jebha killed him and put his body in a trunk of a taxi. So was the barbaric acts of QiYaDa ALaMa that left no options for the true and patriotic fighters that they have to embark upon seeking a different path of pursuing the nationalist agendas.
Like the 11 former government ministers and EPLF leaders (G15) who were arrested in September 18, 2001, the first Menkae groups were arrested on 1st February 1974, the exact date when the Derg rose against Haile Selassie. Was it a coincidence or not (Welde Mariam, 2004). Welde Mariam added that at 5:30 pm at Arag Musie Tesfamichael and Mebrahtu Weldu were imprisoned. The Menkae ringleaders were executed in Bliquat in 1975, and a head guard stationed in the execution is still alive.(Source Welde Mariam on Menkae). Furthermore Teklay Aden also stated that, the leading democrats were arrested; fighters who demanded for their release met the same fate. The leaders of the movement were then physically liquidated in a very brutal manner. Regarding Menkae's execution in the interview Adhanom Fitwi had with Aida Kidane in 2004 he said that a military court with those like Mesfin Hagos sentenced them. Apart from the Menkae, countless others were made to disappear, also counting those who bombed themselves. Those who made suicide are told to put down their arms and follow. Meaning they will be horribly imprisoned, and instead they decide to blow themselves up. The disappeared ones were countless.
On Yemanawyan Menkisikas
From Yemanawyan Menkiskas who were arrested in 1978 and later killed included : 1) Dr Eyob Ghebre-leul, educated in the USSR; 2) Mehari Ghirma-Tsion, educated in the USSR; 3) Ghebre-Michael Meharizghi; Addis Abeba university graduate; 4) Hibret Tesfa-Ghaber; 5) Kidane Abeito; 6) Fissehaye Kidane (Germen); 7) Haile Jebha, former EPLF interrogation section chief; 8) Araya Semere; 9) Ammanuel Filansa; 10) Solomon Wolde-Mariam, key EPLF leader between 1970-1977, and, others. Mogos Fassil, Addis Ababa law graduate, narrowly escaped death by fleeing from gun-point. Source EPLF an inside story
On civilian victims
During the liberation struggle many unarmed civilian also became the victims of the ELF and EPLF. Although all those crimes committed by the members of the National Guard (Halewa Sewra) were kept secretly, Teclay Aden in his interview on December 23,1980 revealed that the EPLF killed hundreds of peasants. He adds that many peasants were taken by the members of National Guard and were executed. Alem Tesfay (2003) listed name of 16 pensioners from Keren who were executed in late 1978 after taking them to Sahel as prisoners.
- Tewelde Beyne: he was taken for « a short questioning » by the security apparatus of the EPLF in Keren, Eritrea, in August 1978.
- Fitwi Tesfazghi
- Woldemariam Kelati
- Hagos Mana
- Embāye Ghebru
- Gebrekal Ghilu'u
- Tenente ZaidHagos
- Melake Beraki
- Berhane Hadgu
- Ghebrehiwet Kinfe
- Mohamed Omar
- Negash Sibhat
- Omar Bekhit
Zekre Lebona on Selfi-Nasnet
Zekre Lebona who joined Selfi Nasnet in 1972 recounted that, the daily routine was attending endless criticism and self-criticism sessions and indoctrination lectures. the victims of these incessant sessions were summarily executed. Some were driven into madness and the rest were politically silenced. Torture and executions were rampant. I remember a group in Tegih, Sahel who were spared death but were savagely treated. Scalded by hot water and bruised by firewood, their skin showed festering wounds and they suffered ulcers. So much so that they could not wear rough military uniform, and were often strolling wearing loose outfits jalabiya Among this group were Berhane Afro and Tekle Rashaida. Like a leper colony, one often observed them sitting under the shade of acacia and Aday trees. read more
For a full report on the atrocities committed by ELF and EPLF, please click on this link: http://www.ehrea.org/whoaret.php