Many people came to
her burial at the Petrose Paulos cemetery in Addis Abeba, and I remember
hearing she was buried wearing a wedding dress as it was said to be
customary with Protestants for an unmarried girl.
A song was written in her memory to
celebrate her and encourage others to follow her lead. It was always sung
beyond the earshot of the Ethiopian authorities and the lyrics go like
Yohannes Fekadu was buried in Asmera and schools were closed for two days seeming half the city buried him at the Italian cemetery as he was a Catholic. It was tense for the authorities fearing some kind of revolt.
Only one of the hijackers survived
and still alive today; Tadelech, the second female hijacker was wounded
and jailed for two years. There is no trace of information on the
remaining two: Tesfay Berga and Getachew Habte.
more hits from: http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19721208-0 - 5 KB
Other Group attacked Airports & Airlines target (Dec. 8, 1972, Ethiopia)
Incident Date: Dec. 8, 1972
Description: ETHIOPIA. Seven Ethiopian
students attempted unsuccessfully to hijack an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft
shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa. One of the hijackers exploded a
hand grenade which tore a twelve to fifteen inch hole in the floor,
damaging electrical wires and some control cables. Eleven were wounded.
Six of the hijackers died and one of the women was seriously wounded when
she was arrested.
* * * * *
Since 1947, 60% of hijackings have been refugee escapes. In 1968-69 there was a massive rise in the number of hijacking. In 1968 there were 27 hijackings and attempted hijackings to Cuba. In 1969 there were 82 recorded hijack attempts worldwide, more than twice the total attempts for the whole period 1947-67. Most were Palestinians using hijacks as a political weapon to publicise their cause and to force the Israeli government to releasing Palestinian prisoners from jail.
* * * * *
security guards, on December 8th, killed seven hijackers who attempted to
seize an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing which had just taken off for
Paris. Five men and two women
made up the pirate party.
Four passengers and two security men aboard the plane were slightly
injured when the pirates threw a hand-grenade. The Boeing was seriously damaged,
but was able to turn back and land safely.
source said the would-be pirates were students or ex-students of Addis
Ababa University and that their leader was apparently a woman. But
Ethiopian Airlines would not confirm either the number or the identity of
had 94 passengers on board and was on a regular flight to Paris. The air pirates had booked seats
as far as Asmara, capital of the Eritrea, the plane's first stop, about
one hour after leaving Addis Ababa.
Despite the regular close search of all passengers leaving
Ethiopia, the pirates apparently managed to hide their pistols. One of the
two women was carrying the grenade. (EH 9/12)
Ababa reported on December 12th that investigations by the authorities had
established that the abortive attempt to hijack an Ethiopian Airlines
aircraft had been the work of the "so-called Eritrean Liberation Front
(ELF), a bandit group under the influence of foreign propaganda." (R.
Addis Ababa 12/12)
[The Ethiopian authorities announced on December 13th that one of the hijackers, a woman named Kidane Mariam, had in fact survived. This had not been announced earlier "for security reasons".]
POPULAR LIBERATION FORCES
IN FIELD BY THE E.P.L.F.
(Sketch of a fighter holding weapon on one arm and the UN flag on the other, pinning a mouse/person under, and written – HAILE THE VAMPIRE
A New Chapter In Revolutionary Struggle
A heroic attempt to hijack an Ethiopian 720 Fan Jet bound for Paris was made by seven revolutionaries (two of whom were women) on December 8th. 1972. While six of them determinedly sacrificed their lives the remaining one ( Tadeletch Kidane Mariam) suffered bullet wounds while trying to execute her goal to the end and is now in enemy hands. The revolutionary heroes who took part in this internationalistic deed were:
During the time when he was a student in the University in-Addis
Abeba he took his place in the ranks of the student union, by fighting in
an internationalist spirit against oppression with many anti-enemy acts to
his credit. In addition, with
three of his heroic comrades, he hijacked a plane from Bahr Dar to
Benghazi (Libya) in January 1971; He was a conscious and mature fighter of
the People’s Forces, who later on, took part in the many sacrifices of his comrades in his
Wallelign Mekonnen was twice imprisoned by the enemy (1969 and
1970). His first spell in
prison ended by his being released due to his student comrades’ support;
his second, due to the consequences of his comrades’ strength of purpose
and the fear it caused in the progressive Ethiopian Students’ Movement; he
was a hero who, in the spirit of internationalism, worked to acquaint with
and instill faith in the just cause of Eritrea among his comrades and
3. Marta Mebrahtu was a seventh year Medical student in the University in Addis Abeba, who in popular assemblies won wide acclaim as a conscious and mature and determined revolutionary. Marta’s greatest desire was to serve the people and fighters in the sphere of medicine
Getachew Habte. A
fighter of long standing and one of the founders of the Ethiopian
Students’ Movement, he was working with undimmed revolutionary ardour
after cutting short his studies in the university, to set up and
consolidate a revolutionary force.
5.Yohannes Fekadu, a fourth year University student and persevering Eritrean was, previously, while still very young , condemned to live away from his family and his country in exile.
Mariam was an employee of an advertising agency, and a determined
progressive who, in collaboration with her comrades, worked for the
overthrow of the Feudal-Imperialist Ethiopian Government, and
Berega. Formerly a
teacher in the Medhane Alem School, he was unjustly expelled from his job
because he expressed his hatred for the rotten Haile Selassie regime to
the youth of his country, taught in a private school, and worked in the
spirit of self-sacrifice to realise his aims to the end.
Yohannes, Marta and Yohannes Fekadu were Eritreans while Wallelign,
Tadeletch, Getachew and Tesfaye were Ethiopians. This deed which was done by the
sons and daughters of the two neighbouring countries explifies the
struggle of Eritreans against foreign, colonial rule and for our
independence, and the struggle of Ethiopians to destroy Feudalism, in
essence, it was done in an internationalist spirit to oppose world
imperialism: an unforgettable day and an indelible page in history. These martyrs’ performance of
their national duties for the salvation of the people, for the benefit of
oppressed people, rejecting, linguistic, cultural and religious
differences. (and some
apparent revolutionaries’ sentiment of chauvinism) was a pioneering act
for us. Its basis lies in a
revolutionary duty linked by mutual benefit and standing upon an alliance
sealed with blood. They stood for a great aim; the price to be paid, had
by necessity to be great and dear.
The liberation of oppressed people is the sacred desire of genuine
revolutionaries, and the price to be for it is one’s life, that highest
and most valuable sacrifice a human being can offer.
It is for
this reason that we do not regard the deaths of these beloved comrades as
a sad fate but as an inspiring example because many people have learned by
their blood that was spilt; and those (especially women) who have pondered
over the circumstances are not few.
We should regard the performance of Yohannes Fekadus' funeral
ceremony in Asmara a as an example.
There is absolutely no greater testimony of victory. It was with this as the basis that
Ammanuel’s daily motto was: “either I shall dismantle Haile Selassie’s
regime or I shall die on the way”.
onto the stage of struggle with a high degree of political consciousness
to oppose the fascists’ atrocities Marta and Tadeletch have earned the
right of not only being in the vanguard of the women of the two countries,
Eritrea and Ethiopia, and their rightful place in the ranks of
revolutionaries, but also that of instilling courage in people and making
them determined as well.
attempt and the sacrifice of lives has raised the standard of the form of
struggle one step higher and has become ample witness to the fact that our
struggle does not discriminate upon the basis of sex, age, nationality or
religious belief and has a lofty internationalist line, work and duty as
deed performed is not one isolated blow upon the enemies of the people of
the world (American Imperialism and Ethiopian Feudalism); it is one link
in the long chain of our struggle and revolutionary development. The word of the sacrificed six
comrades and Tadeletch Kidane Mariam who is suffering enchained by the
enemy is a great herald of the salvation and solidarity of the progressive
peoples of the world (especially the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia) in
their struggle for an assured people’s and revolutionary victory.
There is no
room for reactionaries, opportunists and oppressors (under the cover of
citizens). A progressive Eritrean is he who struggles and renders
assistance to the oppressed peoples of the world and the progressive
Ethiopian is he who believes in the independent existence of Eritrea, and
in our struggle and who has internationalist duties.
they are pure revolutionaries who know that they are mortals and yet work
like immortals, their lives ate short are due to love of the people and
hatred of oppression.
reward lies in the fruit of their work and in their immortality.
Victory for the Eritrean
the Ethiopian Revolution.
glory for the Martyrs
a circle seal with initials E.P.L.F.C)
THE TIMES SATURDAY DECEMBER 9, 1972 page 1
Seven hijackers killed
in gun battle on jet
Addis Ababa, Dec. 8 – Seven hijackers, two of them women, died today in a furious mid-air gun battle with the security guards as a crippled Ethiopian airliner plummeted towards the ground with a hole torn in its side by a hijacker’s grenade.
Six of the hijackers were killed in the battle—one of them a woman riddled with bullets as she flung herself across a wounded male accomplice, apparently to shield him from the security guards’ guns.
The seventh hijacker, mortally wounded in the fighting, died later in hospital. An Ethiopian Airline statement said that it had not been established where the seven hijackers had come from, but they were understood to be Ethiopians from the northern province of Eritrea.
Nine other people—five passengers, two security guards, and two stewardesses—were treated in hospital for injuries.
A grenade explosion, which
critically injured Dr. Roderick Hilsinger, aged 40, an American professor,
ripped a hole on the jet’s side and it dropped rapidly.
The Ethiopian pilot, locked in his control cabin, with one engine dead and rudder control temporarily lost, got the Boeing 720 B under control and landed it safely at Addis Ababa 25 minutes after it had taken off for Paris with 94 passengers.
Among the injured were two of a party of 14 Britons returning from a bird-watching holiday in Ethiopia.
Thirteen minutes after
take-off a man appeared at the division between the economy and
first-class compartments with a gun and grenade. “This is a hijack”, he
Dr Richard Wylie, of Temple
University, Philadelphia said “For the next few minutes it was like a
nightmare. Bullets were flying everywhere. The plane was full of smoke
from the explosion. Blood was all over the place.” Reuter and UPI
At Heathrow airport British passengers told of the dramatic struggle. Mrs. John Lodge, of Fareham, Hampshire, whose white trouser suit was stained with a security guard’s blood and who had been cut by flying shrapnel, said “I thought my number was up. A security guard fell across me, bleeding profusely and loading his gun at the same time. When the grenade exploded I really thought that it was the end.
Mr. George Hart, a
businessman of Cottingham, Yorkshire, saw a gun-carrying hijacker brought
down in a rugby tackle by a guard whereupon a British couple sat on his
legs. Meanwhile, a guard at the back had shot three other hijackers who
jumped into the gangway.
More passenger stories,
SATURDAY DECEMBER 9, 1972
Passengers describe bloody battle on hijacked Ethiopian airliner
a couple: beneath is written:-
MacIntosh and his wife, British passengers who helped to overcome
hijackers on an Ethiopian aircraft, arrive in Rome)
8,-Passengers from the Ethiopian airliner on which seven hijackers died
said here tonight that between 30 and 40 shots were fired in the
A British couple- Mr. Duncan MacIntosh, aged 70, of Oaksey, Wiltshire, and his wife-put their feet on one hijacker until security guard shot him dead. “I did a lot of nothing”, Mr MacIntosh said. "One did what one could to help ".
reporters, Mr MacIntosh, who was with a party of 14 British birdwatchers,
admitted that he had " helped a bit.
I think we put our feet on him. We were rather anxious that he
shouldn't wave his revolver about too much ".
MacIntosh, aged 67, suffered an injury to her right shoulder but said that
she did not even notice it until after it was all over. She said that a hijacker stood up
next to them waving a gun and a security man knocked him down. "He went down in front of us, then
we held him down while they shot him".
time later she noticed blood over her blouse and realized that she had
been hit in the shoulder by grenade sharpnel which had gone straight
five male hijackers and two girls.
Passengers agreed that six of the hijackers were killed on the
aircraft. One girl, who died later, had her leg blown off when a grenade
exploded at the bulkhead separating the first class from the tourist class
An American university professor, Dr. Roderick Hilsinger, injured after he wrestled with the girl to keep her from throwing the grenade into the forward compartment.
Mr. Laurence Holloway, of Bognor Regis, organizer of the birdwatchers’ tour called “Ornitholoday” said that the grenade “blew a hole right in the floor”.
“One hijacker was sitting right next to me” said Mr. Frank Gembala of Chicago. “He was very nervous, read newspaper. He took off his shoes—he evidently had a gun in his shoe—and came up with a pistol. All I know then is that a security man started shooting. He fell dead right there in front of me”.
Mr. Gembala, who said that he had been visiting his family in Ethiopia where they work for the airline, said that the hijackers made a dash for the cabin. “But the security agents were situated around the plane and opened fire from all sides. They did a wonderful job”.
He added that water began to pour into the cabin after the grenade exploded. “I said to myself this is it”.
Mr. Walter Hellman, an Ethiopian Airlines official in Addis Ababa who was travelling on the flight, said that the jet was at 33.000ft when the grenade went off. The jet suffered from decompression and lost one engine and control of the nose gear.
Mr. Gembala, a 62-year-old retired lorry driver, said that the hijacker who sat next to him got up from his seat and waved his newspaper, probably as a signal to the other hijackers.
After a grenade exploded in
one girl hijacker’s hands, Mr Gembala turned and saw the second girl
crawling down the aisle of the plane with a pistol in her hand. “A
security guard was right behind her,” he said. “He pumped her head so full of
lead she couldn’t pick it up any more.”
Although the reports were confusing, it seems that the grenade explosion came when a male hijacker pulled the pin but was shot by a security guard. The grenade rolled towards the first class compartment, but after some confusion a girl hijacker ran to pick it up and throw it towards the cockpit. Then it exploded, blowing off one of her legs and injuring several passengers.
Mr. John Lodge, of
Southampton, another passenger, said he believed some of the hijackers’
weapons were hidden in the high-heeled shoes of the girls. – UPI
THURSDAY DECEMBER 14, 1972
Students’ story of the
sources think that the group’s objective was a ransom demand which would
provide funds for arming insurrection on the university campus and could
promote more widespread guerrilla activity’
Government controlled media gave Ethiopians a bald account of the attempt
hijacking last week of an Ethiopian airliner. Readers were told that the
attempt was foiled by Ethiopian security, that six hijackers were killed
in an air battle, that a seventh died later in hospital and that an
investigation was pending. An
Ethiopian Airlines statement said that the hijackers were understood to be
from the northern province of Eritrea.
Information reaching London from Ethiopian students challenges this account and takes the story much further. The students say that the attempt was not directly connected with the Eritrean problem, but was protest against repression in Haile Selassie I University at Addis Ababa which has been the scene of unrest for years. Six former students were involved, two girls and four boys. The attempt was led by a girl from Axum and the other girl was from Eritrea, but the four boys were from the south.
Five students were killed in the air, but the sixth, Telafesh, the Eritrean girl, was taken to the police hospital at Addis Ababa, and was seen alive by sympathizers the day after she was reported dead. Passengers spoke of three security guards on the plane, but students say four guards are customary, so the seventh person killed may have been a security guard or an Ethiopian passenger with no connection with the student group. Ethiopian passengers were detained for questioning after the plane landed, but since release have been in touch with student friends of the would-be hijackers.
Telafesh, who may have survived the attempt, is said by friends to be a quiet girl and an unlikely person to be involved in such a venture. She left the University without completing her course at a time when many of the students were expelled. Until about a month ago she was working in an advertising agency in Addis Ababa, and had, uncharacteristically spoken approvingly of the shootings by Japanese at Lod airport in Israel.
Martha, who died in the air battle, is said to have been the leader of the group and a very different character. She is the daughter of a senior Ethiopian military man, and is described as a good orator, attractive and extremely intelligent. She was a medical student who completed her course in 1971, but had remained in contact with the underground student movement.
The group worked clandestinely and their precise objectives are not known to other students, though it was known that a hijack attempt was under discussion.
The friends of the hijackers say two of the group were positioned at the back of the aircraft to keep cabin staff out of the way and four were at the front of the economy section hoping to break through to the pilot to give their demands. The student sources think that the group’s objective was a ransom demand which would provide funds for arming insurrection on the university campus, and could promote more widespread guerrilla activity. The students explain that the hijacking was intended to draw attention to their plight in the face of increasingly strict security control. They claim to have intercepted instructions to the police to shoot on campus in a situation that might lead to riots in Addis Ababa.
University students have reacted strongly to hijacking in which they say security guards were the first to open fire, though the group had smuggled arms abroad in their boots. A secret meeting was held on the campus last Saturday and the students were planning to boycott classes and to stage a demonstration of sympathy. Ethiopian security officials are aware of the plan and they will possibly have been prevented. Security checks, already in force on the campus, were stepped up immediately after the hijacking attempt, and in any case large meetings are forbidden. The students still have some leaders and talk in the past few days has indicated that protest will continue and could bring more bloodshed.
siege of Asmara
FEBRUARY 15, 1972. Page
Ethiopia, Feb 14
Asmara, the small Italianate
capital of the Eritrean province is being held by Ethiopia in state of
siege, part military and part bureaucratic. Movement by local people and
foreigners into and out of the capital, from neighbouring ports and
trading centres, is strictly controlled, and roads are guarded by police
Movement of goods is even more closely watched, for fear that supplies should fall into the hands of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). The result is an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion, though the ELF are officially regarded as merely a handful of " bandits making propaganda from foreign sanctuaries ".
description was given to me here by Lieutenant-General Debebe Haile
Mariam, the Military Governor General appointed by Emperor Haile
assessment of the Eritrean situation is coloured by the official Ethiopian
policy of pretending in public that the problem scarcely exists and of
keeping all mention of it from the national news media under total
It is clear that 20 years
after a United Nations decision to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia, and 10
years after an Eritrean Parliamentary vote for full integration, a
miniature war goes on, but its dimensions cannot be determined.
Informed observers say that the fighters are more and more sectarian Muslims opposing Christian influence and that within the Islamic grouping there is serious factionalism. It is not a territorial war, but the ELF rely on a lightning strike and the dramatic gesture to symbolize their opposition-the victims in Samara talk of "terrorism" and the backers in Damascus talk of “nationalism”.
The ELF have in the past
come into Asmara or other towns to " execute " high Ethiopian officials,
including a former military Commander, or Eritreans who actively support
the central Government.
The latest move, made early
in January and attested to by numerous responsible informants, was to raid
a customs warehouse in the heart of town, close to the Governor General's
own residence, for a substantial quantity of arms. Customs sources indicate that the
haul included one or two machineguns, as well as rifles held for the
preventive customs forces.
this matter with General Debebe, his considered reply was: ' No raid of
the kind has been committed in the customs office. Certain members of the finance
police have got away with obsolete weapons and old uniforms." He said that
there were no cases where " bandits " have entered the town.
other hand, the state of emergency has brought controls that to and
outsider seem to make sense only if the authorities fear that there is
wide potential support, even in Asmara, for the ELF. General Debebe asserted that the
controls to "maintain law and order" would last only as long as was
Last week I took the
ordinary bus along the 70-mile road to Eritrea's port on the Red Sea at
Massawa. The bus, crowded
With peasants and workers, was stopped every half hour or so by police or
military, and there were five complete identity checks of all male
passengers-women are apparently immune-and searches for arms of varying
degrees of thoroughness.
The road, a
main commercial route, was under intense surveillance. The Ethiopian Army
garrison has troop transport, machine guns, armoured cars and wireless
cars; and is earlier in the week the Emperor had been in Massawa for navy
celebrations, the military hardware was fully in evidence.
It is possible to avoid the roadblocks on the Massawa road by flying between the port and the
However, airline passengers are even more rigorously searched for weapons
and explosive, because of past ELF attacks on Ethiopian Airlines
Debebe told me blandly that the situation in
some resentment from the Tigrinya-speaking people of Eritrea that the
administration passes more and more firmly into the hands of
Amharic-speaking people from the centre of the country. The Amhara administrators are
mostly Christian, whereas large parts of Eritrea follow Islam.
and police, which are nationally recruited, can even unintentionally make
difficulties for the Eritrean people, though General Debebe said that the
policy was to keep the security forces out of the ordinary life of the
people and to use them for the protection of life and property and "to
root out bandits."
Saturday, November 19, 2005