by an individual or individuals who wish to remain anonymous,
the following article was submitted by Elsa Chyrum, an
Eritrean human rights activist. The orginal article,
in Tigrigna, is already published at Awate.com. Below is an English
translation of the article.
am one of those deported from Malta to Eritrea in 2002. I went
through tormenting abuse and sufferings, but with the power of
God, I escaped from the grip of the monstrous soldiers; I am
now in exile. When we returned from Malta, the torture that we
faced cannot be recounted in full. These [testimonies] of Adi
Abeito and Dahlak were published and I do not see a reason for
repeating it. What I intend to write today is about a person
who died because of abuse and torture; his name is Alazar
Gebreendrias. We grew up together and he was a friend that I
father?s name is Gebreendrias Berhane. His mother is Weizero
Tsegweyni Qeshi Enquay. His birth place is Adi Kefelet in
Hamassen and he was born in 1972. He went to school in his
birthplace until grade 6 and then he left for Asmara and
became a trader and was helping his family. However, because
the nation that made everybody restless also caught him, in
1995, he was called for national service, 2nd
round, and went to Sawa. He finished his obligation and
returned to Asmara in 1996. Similar to what he did before, he
returned to his trading and buying/selling to help his
1998 when the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted,
he, like all his Eritrean brethren, was called for duty
and he voluntarily reported. Until the 3rd round
was finished and the war settled, he defended [his country]
with valour and finished what was expected of him. Since,
during that time, everyone found the sufferings and misdeeds
that were being committed on the army unbearable, all the
youth were taking steps that they deemed necessary for
themselves. Some were forced to seek refuge in Sudan and
others in Ethiopia. Therefore, Alazar was one of those who
left for the Sudan en masse.
staying in the Sudan for a limited period, he, like all his
Eritrean brethren who were in the Sudan, went to Libya. When
Libya is mentioned, it seems as if it is a nation of human
beings. But when it comes to foreign people like Eritreans who
ended up there due to hardships, it is not an exaggeration if
we consider Libya a desert hell (Sioul). Since Alazar didn?t
have relatives in the Diaspora who could help him, he went
through a lot of hardships; and with a lot of difficulty, he
headed for Italy in 2002. However, as the saying goes, ?when
an unlucky person started to sell candles, God changed night
into day?: the ship that carried Alazar faced waves that
took it to the shores of a country named Malta. After two
months of imprisonment in Malta, those Eritreans whose fate
was destroyed were forcefully returned to Eritrea. Alazar was
one of those who faced this fate. He fell in the hands of
cruel and unsympathetic government of Eritrea.
stayed in Adi Abeyto prison and, at the end of 2002, he was
taken to Dahlak. The hardships of Alazar didn?t finish here.
In April 2004, he was taken to Gelaalo prison where abuse and
cruelty were abundant. In Gelaalo, in the dry forests, with
empty stomachs and dry throats, [the prisoners]were digging
mountains, collecting and carrying boulders, and were forced
to build roads and houses. In time, their bodies were
weakened. Alazar was weakened because of hunger and thirst. He
was getting sicker and sicker. But the cruel administrators of
the prison and the soldiers didn?t have a conscience that
sympathizes. Due to this, Alazar?s health deteriorated.
his health deteriorated, Alazar didn?t find a right that would
enable him to get medical attention. He died due to extreme
cruelty and abuse. Alazar died asking for something to eat. He
didn?t find anyone to sympathise. This kind of abuse is a
misfortune that has befallen all prisoners. Alazar died around
May 2004. No one knows where he was buried. His parents were
not formally informed of their son?s death until now.
a person, Alazar was a kind, industrious, humorous, patient
and generous person who thought of others before himself.
Though that was his character, he didn?t get lucky in escaping
speaking about Alazar, I am giving my testimony. When the dark
night in our country is stricken by dawn, there will be
many who will be held responsible. I hope this testimony will
be presented as a proof.
God accepts my beloved friend Alazar in paradise and wish
strength for his family.
In the previous testimony of the Gelaalo prison, the name
Alazar Gebrenegus should read Alazar Gebreendrias.