SEPTEMBER 7, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWSTIGRAY

The reports come from Eritrean and Tigrayan sources.

The first report came from the Eritrean opposition. It suggested that at least four Eritrean divisions had advanced from the strategic Ethiopian town of Humera, towards the Amharan town of Gondar.

The Eritrean divisions are said to include the 16th, 18th, 31st and 57th. Helicopters are reported to have been used in the deployment.

Ethiopia Map: Fighting in Tigray and Amhara regions

Humera is the gateway between Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, standing at the tripoint where the borders meet. It was the scene of heavy fighting and ethnic massacres at the start of the Tigray war in November 2020.

Tigrayan sources confirm that the Tigray Defence Forces are now confronting Eritrean troops near Dabat – which has seen much fighting in recent weeks.

Ethiopia Map: Fighting near Dabat

These reports need to be confirmed, but they suggest a major development in the Tigray war.

Context

When the war began on 4 November 2020 the Eritrean army advanced into Ethiopia taking large areas of northern Tigray. The Eritreans also took western Tigray, cutting access to Sudan. This left Tigray reliant on supply lines that run through Amhara or the Afar region. It gave Prime Minister Abiy a stranglehold over Tigray, since he controlled their access to food and other supplies.

When the Tigrayans fought back in June 2021, re-capturing their capital, Mekelle, the Eritreans army retreated northwards. Ethiopian forces and their Amhara allies retreated southwards.

As they did so the Ethiopians blew up bridges on the Tekeze river – bridges the Tigrayans have worked hard to repair. Some of these routes are now open and can be used by the UN to bring badly needed aid into Tigray.

But the level of aid reaching Tigray is nowhere near what the region requires to keep feeding its people.

The Ethiopian military and bureaucratic problems have meant that only a fraction of the aid that Tigray needs has reached the region.

As the United Nations OCHA warned on 3 September: “Food stocks ran out on 20 August. A minimum of 100 trucks of food, non-food items and fuel are required daily to sustain an adequate response. Since 12 July, only 335 trucks have entered Tigray – about 9% of the required 3,900 trucks.”

Facing the starvation of their people, the Tigrayans advanced southwards and eastwards, saying their aim is to try to force the Ethiopians into negotiations.

This is from a statement released by Tigrayans on 6 September:

“The TDF’s advance into the Afar and Amhara regions is not intended to annex territories or bring about regime change but to force the regime to sit down for negotiation by denying it the opportunity to regroup and invade Tigray again. It is this point that Meaza alluded to in the short time given to her when she said “the TDF is in the Amhara and Afar regions to find a political solution”. Not only does it make perfect sense, but it also couldn’t have been stated in a better way.”

If the Eritrean deployment from Humera to the front near Gondar is confirmed it would suggest that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is not confident that he can hold the TDF forces on his own and has had to turn to President Isaias Afwerki to bring in Eritrean reinforcements to protect the area around Gondar.

But if Tigray cannot force Prime Minister Abiy to open serious negotiations, or open a route to Sudan the fate of the people of Tigray could be grim indeed. Reports of starvation are already beginning to emerge: they are likely to increase in the coming weeks.

“Alarming new data has today confirmed the magnitude of the hunger emergency gripping Tigray,” David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the United Nations, said in a statement. 

Mark Lowcock, the former senior humanitarian emergency official at the United Nations, told a webcast meeting of aid officials and diplomats that the number of people affected by the famine was “higher than anywhere in the world” and was the worst in any country since a 2011 famine gripped neighboring Somalia.

SEPTEMBER 6, 2021  NEWSPOLITICAL PRISONERS

In the wake of the tragic failure of Eritrea’s 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, senior members of the Eritrean government began a campaign to bring about the democracy that the 30 year war of liberation had been fought for.

They formed the G-15: men and women who challenged President Isaias to give the Eritrean people the freedoms they had been promised. In dawn raids on 18 and 19 September 2001 the president’s notorious security forces rounded them up and jailed them. None have ever been taken before a court or convicted of any crime. They have rotted in prison ever since.

At the same time independent newspapers were closed and journalists arrested. The nightmare of repression which has hung over Eritrea ever since had begun.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of these terrible events, we recall those who have been in Eritrea’s jails ever since. Their families have been deprived of them; their friends have lost them. But they have never been forgotten. Nor has the flame of hope that they ignited – of a proud, free and democratic country.

We have profiles of these brave men and women – and will share them daily.


Fesseha Yoahnnes joined a clandestine cell of the EPLF in his youth carrying out special tasks in cities and towns around Eritrea. The cell was uncovered by Ethiopian security services and Fesseha was forced to flee and joined the EPLF formally in 1978. After receiving military and political training, Fesseha was assigned to various units, including Brigade number 31 and took part in the infamous 6th offensive battle against the Ethiopian troops  that lasted 4 months.

In mid 1980’s, the EPLF decided to form Cultural Groups to perform songs, drama and poetry to boost the fighter’s morale and popular support. Fesseha was attached to the 16th Brigade Cultural Group and later to the 61st Division where his artistic work was invaluable. He wrote poems and lyrics for stage dramas, serving as director.

In 1994, Fesseha formed a musical and drama group called, ”Shewit ” in collaboration with the popular and talented Eritrean artist, Isaias Tsegay. The main focus of the group was to train gifted youth in culture, music, drama and dance. They produced some of the best young artists, singers and actors such as Simret Aynom and Jemal Romodan.

In 1997, Fesseha joined Dawit Isaak and Aron Berhane and others to work for the then newly established Setit Newspaper. This was the first independent Tigrinya newspaper in Eritrea. It was initially published weekly and later twice-a week. It became a very popular newspaper and continued to publish until it was banned by the Eritrean government in September 2001.

When the group of G-15 ( Ministers, army generals, ambassadors, and other veteran ex fighters) started their campaign of reforms and opposition against the Eritrean President, they sent an open letter to the President. The G-15, were not allowed to use the government owned media and so they used the independent newspapers, like Setit to explain their views to the public.

Since September 2001, Fesseha has been detained in various prisons; first, in Asmara (Police Station Number 6) and later, after he and his fellow inmates conducted a hunger stike demanding their cases to be heard in court, he was transferred to Embatkla and finally to the infamous Ira-Iro prison.

So far, no official information has been provided by the Eritrean government about Feeseha’s whereabout, not even if he is alive or dead. There are rumours (some from ex-prison guards) that some of the prisoners have died due to maltreatement.

Debretsion Gebremichael lays out Tigray’s policies

Monday, 06 September 2021 14:48 Written by

SEPTEMBER 6, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWSTIGRAY

Memorandum On The war on Tigray: Setting the record straight

Source: Globenewsnet
By Debretsion Gebremichael(PHD), President of Tigray State, Mekelle

 Introduction

The much-celebrated election of Mr. Abiy Ahmed, by the EPRDF in 2018, to lead a political transition was from the start pregnant with seeds of failure. Rather than initiating a constitutional and an all-inclusive process, Dr. Abiy chose to 2 indulge in a personal power consolidation and started to reorganize the country’s political system and trajectory in a way that suits his political ambitions.

He abolished the party in power that elected him for a transitional period and replaced it by his own makeshift party. Furthermore, he imprisoned opposition party leaders and many prominent personalities who were considered a threat to his political ambitions, and some were mysteriously assassinated.

Dr. Abiy considered the TPLF, the most principled and organized member in the EPRDF coalition, as the major threat to his political project of establishing a one-man rule autocratic system. For this reason, the TPLF was the main target of blackmailing, attacks and isolation and was eventually forced to not join the new and hastily organized party i.e., the Prosperity Party. It is, therefore, part of a process of establishing a one-man rule on the part of Mr. Abiy that the TPLF and the Tigray people became the objects of attack and isolation.

Mr. Abiy cleansed all members of the Federal Government Cabinet representing Tigray and the majority of Tigrayans who served in the bureaucracy. He, unwarrantedly, charged Tigrayan political and military leaders and systematically criminalized them and other leaders of political opposition groups and government officials. Mr. Abiy and government affiliated media undertook extensive and systematic media campaign, not to mention the hate speeches, to vilify Tigray, Tigrayans and its political leaders, cut off the road connecting Tigray with the rest of the country through the Amhara region, started to conspire with Eritrea to encircle, isolate and eventually wage war on Tigray.

Mr. Abiy, under the pretext of the COVID 19 pandemic, postponed the constitutionally set timeline for the national election until such time when there was no serious challenge by imprisoning prominent opposition political leaders and their supporters and until the National Regional Sate of Tigray was weakened by his conspiratorial machinations.

Tigray opposed his unconstitutional decision and held its regional elections as per the provisions of the national and regional constitutions. The federal government penalized Tigray for holding regional elections by not only refusing to release Tigray’s annual budget but also by halting all forms of domestic and international humanitarian and developmental assistance. The government’s unorthodox response to Tigray’s decision to elect its leaders through a 3 democratic process culminated in the genocidal war declared by the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments in November 2020. It was a war meant to punish the Tigray people for voting but also to abort what otherwise could be a ‘bad’ precedent for the rest of Ethiopia.

The genocidal war

The war has been an act of treason on the part of Abiy’s government because it invited foreign governments to attack its own people and used mercenary foreign forces to suppress a legitimate domestic political and constitutional right. In this war, Eritrean forces have violated and still do Ethiopia’s territorial integrity at Mr. Abiy’s invitation, which renders the Ethiopian government’s argument about sovereignty irrelevant. Moreover, forces from the Amhara region are in control of Western Tigray violating the Ethiopian constitution.

The war is also genocidal. The Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara forces, as is widely reported and documented, are engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have collectively committed crimes at a scale rarely seen in recent history. Siege, starvation, sexual violence and looting of public and private property have been used as instrument of war since the war broke out. Mass displacement and large-scale civilian massacres have characterized this war. Moreover, intentional destruction and looting of heritage sites and museums as well as desecration of worshiping places have been widely perpetrated by these force as they strive to efface the identity and undermine the pride of the people of Tigray.

Cease-fire, inclusive dialogue and the way forward

The government of Tigray has from the start, long before the war on Tigray was declared, has called for the resolution of all political and constitutional impasses through dialogue. In this regard, it has also repeatedly appealed to and warned the international community on the likelihood that the political crisis could potentially degenerate into a threat to the country’s unity and peace and security of the Horn of Africa.

The government of Mr. Abiy, however, closed all avenues for political settlement on unwarranted grounds by arguing that the federal government and the Tigray government were not co-equals and that there was no moral equivalence between the two parties to sit at a negotiation table. For that reason, there was 4 no interest nor a meaningful attempt to resolve the crisis through dialogue on Mr. Abiy’s part.

After the war was launched, Mr. Abiy’s government trivialized the crisis by declaring that the genocidal war was a “law enforcement operation” to apprehend few criminals. This glib but intentional characterization of a deep and complex political crisis and equating it to a simple legal matter made any political dialogue impossible. Moreover, it made any negotiated political solution unthinkable when the Ethiopian parliament designated the TPLF as a ‘terrorist Organization’ exacerbating the already multifaceted political crisis.

On the part of the Tigray government, we have called for a negotiated ceasefire on more than one occasion by outlining meaningful and workable conditions that take the facts on the ground into consideration. The government of Tigray firmly believes that only a negotiated ceasefire can lead to a lasting solution to the multifaceted crisis even as its forces continue to advance to strategic positions in the Afar and Amhara regions. We are still calling on peace loving countries, institutions and the broader international community to pressure Mr. Abiy’s government to heed our call.

 “The unilateral ceasefire”

After suffering a heavy military defeat at the hands of the Tigray forces, Mr. Abiy’s forces retreated from Mekelle and declared a unilateral cease fire. This, however, did not emanate from the Ethiopian government’s readiness to reach a negotiated settlement nor was it driven by its concern for the wellbeing of Tigray farmers as claimed by Mr. Abiy. It was simply because it was decimated militarily and needed time to reorganize itself for future counter offensive and return to Tigray to perpetuate further atrocities. Accordingly, today and despite the so-called unilateral ceasefire, the entire Western Tigray remains under the control of Eritrean, Amhara and Ethiopian forces while Mr. Abiy has publicly called on all able civilian Ethiopians to mobilize and join the Ethiopian army and other regional forces. Recently, the federal government affiliated medias are busy agitating the people to go against the ‘enemy’ with any available killing material. Machetes are leisurely distributed in Amhara region, a reminiscent of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Thus, after declaring the “unilateral ceasefire”, what we have witnessed of the behavior of the Ethiopian government, does not indicate a desire to resolve the crisis peacefully. Instead, its actions reveal that the so-called unilateral ceasefire was simply a coverup for misleading the Ethiopian people and the international community into believing that it was not militarily defeated while also buying time to prepare for the reinvasion of Tigray. Furthermore, it aimed at triggering international pressure on Tigray to reciprocate the “unilateral ceasefire” it declared as it prepares for its counter offensive. It must, however, be emphasized that despite its much talked about declarations, at no time has the government stopped fighting. In the aftermath of its ouster from Tigray, it mobilized and deployed all its commands / North, South, East and North Easter commands/ along the Tigray border and was preparing to launch counter offensive.

The siege and humanitarian crisis

The government of Tigray requested, as a matter of confidence building measures and based on international humanitarian principles, for the lifting of the siege imposed on the Tigray people before any agreement on ceasefire and dialogue could take place.

The blockade is a complete and total siege encompassing humanitarian, financial, communication, transport and economic blockade. The government has made it impossible for the international community to provide much needed humanitarian assistance to those most in need. Most of the donor agencies and organizations have announced that their stock is completely depleted and the lives of the more than 6.8 million aid recipients is in danger.

There are currently up to 6.8 million people in need of emergency assistance in Tigray out of which 2.2 million are Internally displaced people; mainly victims of ethnic cleansing in western Tigray. The federal government from the start focused on obstructing delivery of humanitarian aid and has played almost no role in the provision of humanitarian aid. The largest donor, USAID, covers 66% and WFP provides 25% of the total amount of humanitarian aid and the remaining 9% is covered by other members of the humanitarian community.

The humanitarian community requires hundred trucks load of humanitarian aid daily to feed the 6.8 people in need. In the last two months three hundred 6 twenty trucks out of the required six thousand trucks are allowed into Tigray by the federal government. It amounts to 5% of the total amount humanitarian aid required. Since 20 August 2021, the government has further tightened the siege and no truck carrying humanitarian aid has been allowed into Tigray.

Currently, nearly a million people are on the verge of famine and the number is expected to quadruple in the coming weeks. The absence of telephone services has also made it impossible for aid workers and government to collect timely information on the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground. It has also made the job of local and international media unimaginably difficult to report the evolving humanitarian condition in Tigray.

The impact of the siege on emergency food aid and the activity of the humanitarian community is simply a tip of the humanitarian crisis engendered by the blockade. The siege coupled with the wanton destruction and robbery of public and private property of the eight months long genocidal war will have a long-term debilitating impact on Tigray’s future.

It is, therefore, in this context that the presence of our forces in the Afar and Amhara regions should be viewed. Our forces were left with no option but to break the suffocating siege before it strangled the people of Tigray to death. We believe that the federal government could have prevented the Ethiopian people from further bloodshed by simply lifting the blockade and then engaging in a dialogue. The Tigray government has also legitimate security concerns justifying the presence of its forces out of Tigray given the federal government’s declaration of a general mobilization and its unabated amassing of federal and regional troops as it prepares for another round of genocidal war on Tigray.

As our forces moved to the Afar and Amhara regions, utmost attention is given to the protection of civilians. It is in this spirit that all local civilian administrations are left intact and public services and institutions are protected by our forces. Moreover, consistent with our forces’ track record and in accordance with international law, including the Geneva convention, thousands of POWs are treated humanely. These POWs have been accessible to all who would like to visit and assess their current situation.

This being the case, the government of Dr. Abiy Ahmed is engaged in fabricating countless allegations and lies against our forces. The government of Tigray would like to reiterate its long-standing position that any allegations of human rights abuse should be investigated by an independent international body and those responsible should face the full force of domestic and international justice and be held accountable.

Ethiopia at crossroads

The government of Tigray is as always ready to play a positive and constructive role in any international effort to resolve the overwhelming crisis that is currently engulfing the country. In this regard, we call upon the international community to consider the following actions and put the required pressure on Mr. Abiy’s government to refrain from continuing its belligerent policy:

  • We call for the immediate and unconditional lifting of the siege on Tigray and demand for unfettered access for all humanitarian agencies to Tigray,
  • We call for an immediate, unconditional and verified withdrawal of Eritrean army and all forces from Amhara region including militia and vigilantes from Tigray to their prewar positions in order to return to status quo ante,
  • We call for an internationally sponsored and all-inclusive negotiation for cessation of hostility and ceasefire

Debretsion Gebremichael(PHD), President

September 3, 2021; Mekelle

SEPTEMBER 5, 2021  NEWSPOLITICAL PRISONERS

In the wake of the tragic failure of Eritrea’s 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, senior members of the Eritrean government began a campaign to bring about the democracy that the 30 year war of liberation had been fought for.

They formed the G-15: men and women who challenged President Isaias to give the Eritrean people the freedoms they had been promised. In dawn raids on 18 and 19 September 2001 the president’s notorious security forces rounded them up and jailed them. None have ever been taken before a court or convicted of any crime. They have rotted in prison ever since.

At the same time independent newspapers were closed and journalists arrested. The nightmare of repression which has hung over Eritrea ever since had begun.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of these terrible events, we recall those who have been in Eritrea’s jails ever since. Their families have been deprived of them; their friends have lost them. But they have never been forgotten. Nor has the flame of hope that they ignited – of a proud, free and democratic country.

We have profiles of these brave men and women – and will share them daily.


Aster Fesehatsion Solomon - political prisonerIn 1974, Aster joined the EPLF at a time when the number of EPLF female combatants was very small. After receiving military training and political indoctrination, she was assigned to the Department of Military Training and became a political instructor.

Around 1984, Aster and fellow freedom fighter Mahmoud Sehrifo were married and they had a son in 1986, Ibrahim (in memory of the late Ibrahim Affa, one of the founding members of the EPLF and a Politburo leader).

Later Aster was assigned to go abroad and served as a high representative of the EPLF and leader of the NUEWs Branches in the US.

After independence, Aster was given a number of civic administration positions in Asmara. In 1994, Aster served as a member of the ad hoc committee in charge of running the party congress. At the end of the congress, she was elected member of the Central Committee and served in various high-level posts in government, including in the Ministry of Labour and Department of Social Affairs.

In 1996 Aster was suspended from government for three years because she was seen to be too critical of the government. She was brought back to the government in 1999 and appointed Director-General of the Ministry of the Labour in the Anseba Zone. In 2000, Aster became a Central Committee member of the PFDJ and member of the National Assembly (Parliament).

In 2000 Aster joined the G-15 Group movement. The group wrote an open letter to the Eritrean President demanding a meeting of the National Assembly, which was their constitutional right to do. Aster was the only female member of the G-15. She was arrested along with others and has been incarcerated by the Eritrean regime in the infamous Ira-Iro jail, ever since. Various human rights organisations and governments have asked and petitioned the Eritrean government to give the prisoners the due process of the law, but the Eritrean government has repeatedly declined.

At the time Aster was detained her son Ibrahim was 15 years old. He now lives abroad as a refugee, separated from his mother and his father, Mahmoud Sherifo (a member of the G-15). He has grown up without the love, care, and attention of his heroic parents.

Ethiopia’s brittle diplomacy

Saturday, 04 September 2021 15:03 Written by

AFRICAEGYPTETHIOPIA

“It is not hard to see why he made this hurried trip: support from the rest of Africa has been eroding as the Tigray war gets bloodier,” said Martin Plaut, a senior research fellow at King’s College London.

Source: Al Ahram

Lamis Elsharqawy, Thursday 2 Sep 2021

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Uganda and Rwanda following regional calls for mediation in order to bring the warring parties in Tigray to the negotiating table. Seeking regional supporters, he had already visited Turkey, South Sudan and Eritrea.

“It is not hard to see why he made this hurried trip: support from the rest of Africa has been eroding as the Tigray war gets bloodier,” said Martin Plaut, a senior research fellow at King’s College London. “The Ethiopian leader’s shuttle diplomacy around the region is an indication of just how concerned the prime minister is about his increasing isolation inside Africa. He has previously alienated Egypt and Sudan over the use of the Nile’s waters. Now other African neighbours are fearful that the Tigray war will destabilise the Horn. Prime Minister Abiy is attempting to shore up his support. This is an indication of weakness, not strength.”

Ethiopia admitted in March that Eritrea was aiding its own troops in the war on Tigray. The foreign forces began withdrawal weeks after this announcement but there are reports indicating that the troops are returning to Tigray on the request by Addis Ababa. The US and the European Union warned of an escalation of fighting over the return of the Eritrean forces to Tigray, where Addis Ababa is fighting against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), an organisation it identifies as a terrorist group.

Both Uganda and Rwanda faced civil wars against militant groups and minorities, and those conflicts led to the killing of thousands of people in situations similar to what is happening now in Tigray, which has spread to the regions of Amhara and Afar as well.

The UN recently described the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia as “a catastrophe”, calling for an immediate ceasefire and the launch of national political dialogue. Tigray faces a humanitarian blockade and is cut off from electricity and communications, with more than two million people displaced and millions more are in immediate need of food, water, shelter and health care. The UN stated that at least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions.

With Abiy Ahmed increasingly at loggerheads with Western countries such as the US, UK and Germany, who have demanded to hold an immediate dialogue with the TPLF, Ethiopia seeks support from neighbouring countries. But Jan Abbink, a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre Leiden, said the African countries showed “indifference and divisions” in helping to get a solution for the crisis in Tigray. “They submit too much to the Western misconceived interpretations and actions of this conflict.”

Ethiopia isn’t only resorting to formation of strategic partnerships with African neighbours but also with countries like Turkey who already has huge interests in the country. According to official reports, Turkey, which invests heavily in the textile sector, is the second-largest investor in Ethiopia after China. There are some 200 Turkish companies in Ethiopia that have created job opportunities for over 20,000 Ethiopians. Turkey is claimed to have provided Ethiopia with combat drones to be used in the Tigray conflict.

Despite Abiy Ahmed’s meeting with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, it is likely that they will remain neutral in Ethiopia’s escalating civil war.

“Given the long history of party-to-party relations between the TPLF and other liberation movements in eastern and southern Africa which took power in the 1990s, including the NRM in Uganda, the RPF in Rwanda and the ANC in South Africa, I don’t think either Kagame or Museveni will be quick to take sides in Ethiopia’s escalating civil war,” said Jason Mosley, a research associate at the African Studies Centre, Oxford University. “The conflict in Ethiopia appears to be entrenching further, as the momentum of the TDF/TPLF’s offensive slows and meets resistance along the main routes via the northern part Amhara Region to the areas of Western Tigray Region occupied by Amhara militia, the Ethiopian national army and Eritrean forces.”

Ethiopia announced last week that it would embark on national dialogue in September to address all grievances, though no details are forthcoming as yet about the roadmap or agenda and the possibilities of including the Tigrayans as a part of the initiative.

“The Ethiopian government’s call for a national dialogue is a step in the right direction rhetorically, but it won’t be meaningful unless all political forces in the country can participate: as long as the TDF/TPLF and OLA are designated terrorist groups and prevented from inclusion, dialogue cannot succeed,” Mosley noted. Dialogue with TPLF was excluded as an option since Ethiopia’s announcement of the group as terrorist. It’s also becoming complicated after the TPLF criticised last week’s appointment by the African Union of the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as a mediator in the conflict. However, Mosley confirmed that the appointment was a “a positive development”.

Still there is an urgent need for “regional diplomatic engagement, and support for a genuine national dialogue process”.

SEPTEMBER 3, 2021  NEWSPOLITICAL PRISONERS

In the wake of the tragic failure of Eritrea’s 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, senior members of the Eritrean government began a campaign to bring about the democracy that the 30 year war of liberation had been fought for.

They formed the G-15: men and women who challenged President Isaias to give the Eritrean people the freedoms they had been promised. In dawn raids on 18 and 19 September 2001 the president’s notorious security forces rounded them up and jailed them. None have ever been taken before a court or convicted of any crime. They have rotted in prison ever since.

At the same time independent newspapers were closed and journalists arrested. The nightmare of repression which has hung over Eritrea ever since had begun.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of these terrible events, we recall those who have been in Eritrea’s jails ever since. Their families have been deprived of them; their friends have lost them. But they have never been forgotten. Nor has the flame of hope that they ignited – of a proud, free and democratic country.

We have profiles of these brave men and women – and will share them daily.


Haile Woldetinsae (aka Duru’e)

Haile Woldetinsae was active in Eritrean politics from a young age along with schoolmates: Musse Tesfamichael, Seyoum Oghbamichael (aka Harestay), Woldeyesus Amar and Isaias Afwerki (the current unelected President).  After Secondary School. Haile enrolled at the University of Addis Ababa to study Engineering.

In December 1966, Haile left Addis Ababa and joined the ELF along with Musse Tesfamichael (Musse and other “Menaka’e” supporters (the Bat) who were later executed by Isaias for demanding reforms from the EPLF leadership. The ELF leadership looked with suspicion on the new university recruits, which resulted in conflicts between them. In May-June of 1967, Haile and some of his comrades decided to leave the struggle and returned to Addis Ababa to continue their studies. In 1972, Haile graduated from Addis Ababa University. By this time, he had secretly re-established contact with his former schoolmates who had started a new front – the EPLF (they had split from the ELF in early 1970) and Haile joined the EPLF.

From 1972 until 1973, Haile served as a member of the “fighters’ group” that dealt with clandestine and political activities (cells) in Eritrean cities and towns largely around Asmara, Semenawi Bahri, Quazen and Beleza.  In mid-1973, Haile and his comrades were ambushed by Ethiopian soldiers and imprisoned until early 1975, when he was freed, along with thousands of other political prisoners, by the ELF.

In 1977, during the First congress of the EPLF, Haile was elected member of the Central Committee and Politburo of the EPLF and became Head of the Department of Political Awareness. In 1987 Haile was again elected to the Central Committee and Executive Committee and became Head of the Department of National Guidance. It was a role he held until independence in 1991.

After independence, Haile held various ministerial roles, including Foreign Minister and Finance Minister.   In 1998 the Ethio-Eritrean border war erupted and Haile played a major role in the negotiations to end hostilities. He was part of the delegation representing Eritrea in the Algiers Peace Agreement which officially ended the war in August 2001.  Haile was one of the main leaders of the G-15 that demanded accountability from the President when the border war ended.

On 18 of September, 2001, Haile, along with 11 of his G-15 comrades were detained by the Eritrean government and taken to the infamous Ira-Iro prison and they have not been seen or heard ever since.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWSTIGRAY

“The only way to avoid a humanitarian calamity is for the West to lean harder on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed… Abiy, refused even to meet with USAID chief Samantha Power when she visited Addis Ababa last month. Just in case Joe Biden missed this demonstration of defiance, Abiy also snubbed the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, who flew to the Ethiopian capital the following week.”

Source: Bloomberg

Ethiopia’s Civil War Is a Disaster That’s Only Getting Worse

The only way to avoid a humanitarian calamity is for the West to lean harder on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

1 September 2021, 05:00 BST
Long confined to Tigray, the conflict in Ethiopia has recently spread to neighboring regions Afar and Amhara.
Long confined to Tigray, the conflict in Ethiopia has recently spread to neighboring regions Afar and Amhara.Bobby Ghosh is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and Africa.

As the world is transfixed by the tragedy playing out in Afghanistan, another humanitarian catastrophe is getting little scrutiny.

In Ethiopia, a conflict with roots in a dispute between the central government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and authorities of the northern Tigray region has spilled into neighboring provinces and metastasized into a full-blown civil war — one fueled as much by ethnic enmities as by political grievances. It’s time for the West to pay attention and get tougher on the government in Addis Ababa.

International rights groups are seeing an all-too-familiar pattern repeat itself in Ethiopia: There’s the weaponization of rape and hunger, the use of child soldiers, reports of ethnic cleansing and warnings of genocide. The death toll from the fighting is thought to be in the tens of thousands, and millions have been displaced.

Worse is to come: Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians face famine, according to United Nations agencies. The fighting is preventing food aid from reaching people in the greatest need. Abiy, a Nobel Peace laureate, has ignored appeals from the international community to halt the fighting. With the Tigray People’s Liberation Front having inflicted a series of defeats on government forces, the prime minister has called on civilians to join the army and militias, stoking fears of a wider conflagration.

Inevitably, the crisis has resurrected memories of Ethiopia’s previous experience with famine. In the 1980s, an estimated 1 million people died from starvation and malnutrition. Comparisons are also being drawn to Africa’s other cataclysmic ethnic conflicts, including the Rwandan genocide.

Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populous nation and was, until the civil war broke out last fall, held up as a beacon for the rest of the continent: Its recent economic success was cited by investors and aid donors alike as an example for other developing countries.

That success is now imperiled as the conflict exacts a heavy toll on the economy. The risk premium on Ethiopia’s dollar debt has almost doubled this year. The ardor of investors has cooled with the government’s pleas for a debt restructuring. As Bloomberg News has pointed out, the premium demanded to hold Ethiopia’s 2024 Eurobonds instead of U.S. Treasuries has climbed to 987 basis points, the highest in Africa after Zambia, which is in default. The average spread for African dollar bonds is 541 basis points.

And yet neither economic nor humanitarian considerations carry much weight with Abiy. The prime minister seems to have taken an election triumph in June — his party won a large majority in parliament — as an endorsement of his no-compromise posture in the war against the Tigrayans.

But the conflict has grown more complicated since then. Insurgents from the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have formed an alliance with the Tigrayans against the government.

Who can stop Ethiopia from the coming catastrophe? The African Union is too beholden to the government, which provides its headquarters in Addis Ababa, to have much sway over Abiy, and it doesn’t inspire trust among the rebels. The UN’s pleas for a ceasefire have gone unheeded by both sides.

The Biden administration, on the other hand, has some leverage. Ethiopia is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest recipient of American foreign aid, amounting to about $1 billion last year. The European Union is another significant donor and trading partner. Some U.S. and EU assistance has been suspended or postponed, but this has not had any restraining effect on Abiy, who refused even to meet with USAID chief Samantha Power when she visited Addis Ababa last month.

Just in case Joe Biden missed this demonstration of defiance, Abiy also snubbed the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, who flew to the Ethiopian capital the following week.

With shuttle-diplomacy and mild financial restrictions having failed, Western governments will need to lean more heavily on the prime minister to pause the fighting and allow humanitarian supplies into the war zone. The Biden administration can lead the way by suspending all nonessential aid to Addis Ababa, as well as blocking assistance from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Washington should also follow through on its threat to cancel duty-free access for Ethiopian exports to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Having already announced some restrictions on visas for Ethiopian government and military officials involved in “perpetrating the conflict,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken should now impose harsher sanctions, including freezing any assets these officials hold in the U.S., and pressing the Europeans to do likewise.

Anticipating a ratcheting up of Western pressure, Abiy is seeking support elsewhere: He got some from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a visit to Ankara earlier this month. But the combined clout of the U.S. and Europe remains substantial, and it should now be deployed to save millions of Ethiopians from calamity.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2021  NEWSPOLITICAL PRISONERS

In the wake of the tragic failure of Eritrea’s 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, senior members of the Eritrean government began a campaign to bring about the democracy that the 30 year war of liberation had been fought for.

They formed the G-15: men and women who challenged President Isaias to give the Eritrean people the freedoms they had been promised. In dawn raids on 18 and 19 September 2001 the president’s notorious security forces rounded them up and jailed them. None have ever been taken before a court or convicted of any crime. They have rotted in prison ever since.

At the same time independent newspapers were closed and journalists arrested. The nightmare of repression which has hung over Eritrea ever since had begun.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of these terrible events, we recall those who have been in Eritrea’s jails ever since. Their families have been deprived of them; their friends have lost them. But they have never been forgotten. Nor has the flame of hope that they ignited – of a proud, free and democratic country.

We have profiles of these brave men and women – and will share them daily.


In 1976, Feron joined the EPLF. After receiving political and military training, he was assigned to the frontline where he was wounded and subsequently spent months in hospital. On recovery from his injuries, he was posted to work at the Research and Information Centre of Eritrea (RICE).

Feron was frank and spoke his mind. In 1978, he was imprisoned by the EPLF for “asking too many questions” about various malpractice committed in prisons and suppression of freedom of expression. He used to ask: “Until when are we supposed to keep our mouths shut?”. Feron “was always an open book,” says a friend who used to work with him at RICE. “If he finds something funny, he laughs from the heart,” says another friend. “He is always happy or tries to change anxiety into happiness. He speaks his mind openly”.

Feron found it hard to adopt to the social and political situation that prevailed after the independence of Eritrea and said: “The sacrifices of our heroes will be meaningless if the EPLF cannot change to a much more liberal system suitable for this nation”. He added: “if we cannot fix matters quickly, there is a high probability for the current joy and laughter to turn to tears and grief.” When disabled Eritrean veterans were shot and killed in Mai Habar for demanding better living conditions, Feron said “Unless the Eritrean people fight back and do something to change the system, they will soon be in a state of misery they cannot escape.”

When the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out in 1998, Feron hoped that President  Isaias Afeworki would be able to prevent escalation and avoid further damage, saying, “Now is the time for Isaias, as an individual and a country leader to sit down with his closest colleagues to solve this serious situation and be tested for their fitness and potential.  Isaias, who declared, ‘Let the Sun never shine!’ would allow the war to escalate and cause the death of thousands of young Eritreans and the destruction of the country.”

In 2001 and a few months after the end of the border war, Feron was imprisoned by members of the security services ‘for not keeping his mouth shut’ and criticising the government. He has not been seen or heard since.

Liberty Magazine Nr.70

Thursday, 02 September 2021 09:58 Written by

AUGUST 29, 2021  NEWSPOLITICAL PRISONERS

In the wake of the tragic failure of Eritrea’s 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, senior members of the Eritrean government began a campaign to bring about the democracy that the 30 year war of liberation had been fought for.

They formed the G-15: men and women who challenged President Isaias to give the Eritrean people the freedoms they had been promised. In dawn raids on 18 and 19 September 2001 the president’s notorious security forces rounded them up and jailed them. None have ever been taken before a court or convicted of any crime. They have rotted in prison ever since.

At the same time independent newspapers were closed and journalists arrested. The nightmare of repression which has hung over Eritrea ever since had begun.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of these terrible events, we recall those who have been in Eritrea’s jails ever since. Their families have been deprived of them; their friends have lost them. But they have never been forgotten. Nor has the flame of hope that they ignited – of a proud, free and democratic country.

We have profiles of these brave men and women – and will share them daily.


Germano Nati became a clandestine member of the ELF and was arrested by the Ethiopian security services and detained in Sembel Prison, Asmara. He was tortured; his finger and toe nails were pulled out with pincers, given electrical shocks to get him reveal ELF secrets. In 1975, he and some fellow inmates were freed from prison by a daring and heroic ELF operation.

Following his release from prison, Germano joined the EPLF and received military training and then assigned to the Department of Political Awareness – Research Branch, where he wrote articles in the Kunama language. Later he was assigned to the Department of Public Administration in Barka (now Gash Barka) and he worked hard to strengthen the participation of the Kunama people in the armed struggle, as well as helping to resolve conflicts between the Kunama and Nara ethnic groups on the one hand and the Kunama and Tigrinya on the other.

After independence in 1994, Germano was elected member of the PFDJ Central Committee and then a member of the Eritrean National Assembly. He was posted as Administrator of the Gash-Setit, Barka region. He, like most young people of his generation, had a vision that after Eritrea independence the country would be democratic, governed by a constitution and rule of law. They wanted to see the people freely and regularly elect their representatives, from local levels to the highest organs in government. He wanted them to enjoy press freedom, have the right to assembly, peaceful protest, organise and form political parties.

In September 2001, while working in Denkel province, he was arrested along with the G-15 for demanding change to create a democratic and constitutional administered Eritrea. They were taken to the infamous Ira-Iro prison and have not seen or heard since.

In an article published on Awate.com under the title ‘Release our fathers’, one of Germano’s children wrote ‘While many people chose to ignore the corruption and injustice they saw, you did not ignore it and spoke and opposed it openly. Wherever I go, I remember you, and you are always with me. I named my son after you.  I feel your spirit following me wherever I go. I know that you are human and will pass away as everyone will someday. You, and the other G-15 who signed the letter demanding President Isaias to convene a special meeting of the Eritrean National Assembly have been imprisoned and are wasting away in the solitary cells in the infamous Ira-Iro jail. I feel proud of you for I know that you will be proudly remembered forever. But I feel sorry for the loser, President Isaias Afwerki who ignored your just calls and demands. I know history will not remember nor forgive Isaias.’

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