Source: Gebremeskel Gebremariam
Today, I reveal a story that I have kept private to myself for several months about what were the events that finally led to the murder of Maria, Yohannes, & Tedros.
I interviewed my friend who escaped the murder & here I share the story as told to me by him [medical doctor] whose name & whereabouts I will never share publicly but only privately to those who have a sincere desire to hear directly from him.
Today marks the 6th month of the murder of María Hernandez, emergency coordinator; Yohannes Halefom, assistant coordinator; & Tedros Gebremariam, driver.
My friend told me that Abiyi Adi Hospital had been occupied by the joint Ethiopian & Eritrean troops for several months. No civilian patients nor health professionals could enter the hospital.
The hospital was completely vandalised & changed into a trench. When my friend & other MSF staff arrived at Abi Adi, they were denied access to the hospital. So, they had to start serving the people at a health centre across one corner of the town.
Finally, they went to the hospital after the invading forces left and found it empty — no medicines & medical equipment inside — expensive medical equipment was found to be irreversibly damaged.
On behalf of the people of #Tigray, my sincere gratitude goes to @MSF for making Abi Adi Hospital give medical service by rebuilding & fixing everything starting from zero. Everyone of the staff was equally a hero, & of course, the selfless Maria was at the core.
My friend [MD] had the chance of knowing all 3 of the victims very well. He can’t find enough words to describe each one of them. Maria was very selfless & always at the forefront; Johannes was very determined to serve his people no matter what; Tedros was always there day & night to help every one of the @MSF staff.
So, who dared to steal these beautiful souls? Why were they savagely murdered? Here I start revealing the mysterious ordeal …
My friend is a passionate medical doctor who never hesitated to go to one of the darkest places on earth in March 2021 to serve people who’re languishing to death due to the absence of medical service thanks to the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops who destroyed Abi Adi Hospital.
When my friend was heading from Mekelle to Abi Adi in early March 2021, he was stopped by a group of Ethiopian soldiers at a checkpoint on the highway that connects Mekelle-AbiAdi. After they thoroughly searched his bag, they interrogated him arrogantly but let him pass.
He joined the team of MSF staff who had been serving there in a small health centre due to the destruction & occupation of Abi Adi Hospital by the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops on multiple periods of time. The MSF team was being led by an Indian expert at that time.
Then, Maria Hernandez arrived & replaced the Indian coordinator. She & her team managed to rehabilitate & fix everything starting from zero after the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops left the hospital in an absolute mess, having looted & vandalised it beyond repair.
However, things were not always smooth with the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops roaming throughout the town & its vicinity every now & then. The MSF team had their own camp where they get rest & food. But, their camp was not safe either.
On one night, my friend, having spent a very stressful day treating so many mothers, headed to the camp. During the night, he got an emergency call from his assistant at the hospital.
One of the cars of MSF was sent to pick & bring him to treat a mother who was on the verge of death due to complications of her pregnancy. It was past midnight.
As the car was rushing to the hospital, a dozen of men in Ethiopian military uniforms appeared on the road from nowhere pointing their Kalashnikovs at the car which had an @MSF logo & flag.
They approached the car & ordered both the driver & my friend to get off the car. They did as they were told to do so. A dozen Ethiopian soldiers encircled my friend & his driver & started fiercely interrogating both of them, especially my friend.
The interrogation lasted for 45 minutes. For the whole period, a Kalashnikov was planted on the neck of my friend and he could feel the tip of the Kalashnikov putting pressure on his neck.
They asked him who he is? He answered that he is a medical doctor & a staff of @MSF . Mind you, the car had the flag & logo of @MSF and the driver & my friend had dressed in @MSF jackets & had badges on them.
They ordered him to show his ID. He took out an @MSF ID on which it was clearly written that he is a medical doctor & staff of @MSF . Then, the soldiers started mocking & demonising him, accusing @MSF of being a TPLF agent.
He tried to explain to them that he & @MSF have no political affiliation except helping & providing health services to the helpless civilians in the area and that the organisation is neutral to the ongoing war and does not take sides.
Unfortunately, all they could respond was that @MSF is “a TPLF spy, a TPLF supporter, a TPLF mercenary, a TPLF sympathizer, a TPLF agent, a pro-TPLF, and anti-Ethiopia.” As time went by, he lost hope & felt death was imminent.
With every minute, his heart was beating faster. But, he calmed himself down, controlled his emotions, and kept speaking softly to the gun-pointing soldiers in the middle of absolute darkness, in the streets of Abi Adi town.
Their entire focus was on the medical doctor not on the driver. The amount of demonisation that was coming out of their mouth was beyond count & their level of hate to @MSF was immense. That was why they were not satisfied with the logo, flag, badge, jacket, ID of @MSF
The doctor was between two deaths. On one hand, he was thinking of the mother who was already on the verge of death & badly needed his service at the hospital. On the other hand, he himself was at imminent death.
With all this much burden on his shoulder, he had to control & rectify his emotions and try to speak with much discipline & humility which he did. After the soldiers told him that being a staff of @MSF would not be able to save him from the imminent execution, he begged them for his life and he pleaded with them to go with him to the hospital and see the mother who was dying if they could not believe him anymore.
They told him they would not care about the dying woman & that his relation to @MSF was a sufficient reason for them to kill him.
Luckily he’d documents with him that proved he had worked at multiple hospitals across other regions in Ethiopia & that he had been serving not only #Tigrayans but also people across other parts of Ethiopia. And begged them that he knows nothing other than serving people.
After a horrific ordeal that lasted for over 45 minutes, some of the soldiers started showing some degree of sympathy for him, not b/se he was a staff of @MSF but b/se of the documents that proved his service across other parts of Ethiopia.
Source: The Guardian – 25 June 2021
Three aid workers found dead in Tigray, says Médecins Sans Frontières
MSF said it had lost contact with the workers while they were travelling on Thursday afternoon. Their bodies were found near their empty car this morning.
The workers were Maria Hernández, an emergency coordinator from Spain, and Yohannes Halefom Reda, an assistant coordinator, and Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, an MSF driver, both Ethiopian.
“No words can truly convey all our sadness, shock and outrage against this horrific attack,” the MSF said. “Nor can words soothe the loss and suffering of their families and loved ones, to whom we relay our deepest sympathy and condolences.
“We condemn this attack on our colleagues in the strongest possible terms and will be relentless in understanding what happened. Maria, Yohannes and Tedros were in Tigray providing assistance to people and it is unthinkable that they paid for this work with their lives,” MSF said in a statement.
MSF has been active in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the focus of a government offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since last year. In March the organisation said that in the aftermath of an ambush on the army, its workers had witnessed soldiers carrying out extrajudicial killings, while their own driver was beaten with the butt of a gun and also threatened with death.
Earlier this month the Ethiopian aid worker Negasi Kidane was killed by a stray bullet, according to his employer, the Italian charity International Committee for the Development of Peoples. In May, another Ethiopian working with USAid was also killed.
“Every day humanitarian workers risk their own lives to help those in dire need because of man-made conflicts and natural disasters,” USAid’s chief, Samantha Power, said in a statement.
“We hope that his courage and sacrifice, and that of other humanitarian workers intimidated, threatened, harmed, or killed in the Tigray region will not be in vain, as we work with the people of Ethiopia toward a peaceful resolution and a brighter future.”
At least 11 aid workers have been killed in Tigray since November 2020.