Crime committed against civilians by the EPLF and ELF in the 1970s
  During the liberation struggle Eritrean people not only became the victims of the Ethiopian government but were also killed by the ELF and EPLF. To mention a few examples::

In the 1960s fifty Christian peasants were executed at the behest of the ELF leadership ( Megesteab 2005: 43) . Another version of this story between 15 and 25 civilians were killed by the ELF in Shimbare, they were killed by vigilante off duty tegadelti of ELF, who were thought to be avenging after their village was burned by Ethiopian soldiers. (Araya 2005). However, the ELF leadership should be blamed for the death of civilians who were killed by the ELF fighters (tegadelti).

In 1971, 52 civilian villagers were burned to death in their huts in a village name Debre Sila by the ELF for non-payment of the ELF demands (Human Rights Watch1991:48). There was also another story on March7, 1971, the ELF plundered the village of Halib Menal, stealing many cattle, after the villagers had killed two ELF fighters while resisting an ELF attempt to occupy the village two day before. Individuals who failed to protect ELF property entrusted to them were also summarily executed. (Human Rights Watch 1991:48).

In addition, according toVKP/KAM (May 18, 2009) some members of the Jebha or ELF unit which had operated in the Kunama land, in the early sixties (1960s) and late seventies (1970s), started to conduct retaliatory activities against the Kunama people, burning Kunama villages, even with their inhabitants inside their huts. The people of the Red Sea area were also among the first groups to be victims of ELF; although the people waited patiently [read more]

There was a similar story about the atrocity against Ato Haile by the ELF at Wutuh in Summer (kiremti) 1971.
According to the eye witness, Ato Haile (Chieka Adi - Village Maaya), was shot down, in front of elders forcibly gathered, at a neighboring village Wutuh (where he was hiding as he could not meet their excessive request for money and other immoral demands). They ignored the elders appeal to set him free, by pledging them he would come up with their demands should he is given more time. At the time, they terrorized the gathered elders saying "Deki halima, kab Tub adetatom tementilom teharidom, nisikhum dima kemzi kegatimekum iyu

In 1975 there was also a story about 12 youths from Adi-Kehei area who had a plan to join the Front were wrongly killed as a spies by the ELF. Among those youths who were killed by the ELF:
1.Indemyze Mohammed
2 Hagos Ibrahim was known as wdi Ibrahim Nur, the owner of a shop in Adikehi.

Furthermore, in 1976 there was a report of the execution of civilians by the ELF at Adi Aret village. According to the eyewitness, more than 10 civilians were wrongly killed as spies by the ELF in one day. He describes the way of their execution as followings. The victims were ordered to dig their own graves, thereafter they were blindfolded and stood on the edge of the graves before they were executed. After they were executed by firing squad their bodies were buried by the villagers from orders they received from ELF fighters. This was done deliberately to terrorise the villagers. There were many stories of atrocities against civilians by the ELF like these mentioned in the 1970s. Both the atrocities of 1975 and 1976 which were mentioned above took place in administrative Unit 10 (Akele-Guzai) where Seyoum Harasta (former ELF.RC chairman) was in charge.

In 1975 Seyoum was appointed as political commissioner of ELF’s administrative Unit 10 (Akele-Guzai)

There was a story that the ELF had also killed people in Maymine Seray in the 1970s
As a consequence of the ELF crimes committed against civilians as alleged by the EPLF in the 1960s and 1970s, many people joined the EPLF in the middle of the 1970s. This was because most of them thought that the EPLF was innocent of crimes. However, the EPLF was not innocent. All crimes committed by the EPLF were kept secret and not known to all like of the ELF. The only people who had authority to know about the EPLF crimes were those members of the security unit like Teklay Aden and other high-ranking leaders from other departments. Regarding the EPLF crimes against civilians, Teklay Aden revealed that the fascist crimes of the EPLF were not limited to the rank and file. Other victims included innocent individuals who opposed the fascist practices of the organization and boldly exposed it to the masses.

Yosief Ghebrehiwet in his article "Eritrean Independence: Is It Worth All the Sacrifice?" wrote“In the 1980s, the EPLF had taken many underage kids including girls by force. Many of the kids returned home, some ran to the cities, many went to Tigray and others crossed the border to the Sudan. When parents were not able to bring their kids back and hand them to the EPLF, their crops were confiscated. This was during the worst famine of the 1980s. Although the yield of the crops was too little due to the lack of rain, the aim of this inhumane act was to kill the whole family unit by hunger. Many families had no choice but to migrate to Tigray in search of food but Tigray was equally a famine-stricken region during that time.” And this kind of atrocity was not confined to the EPLF, as the following quotation from the same person testifies: “…

As a child growing up in the vicinity of Areza, Seraye (during Jebha time) I had seen enough of the cruelty of this organization. When it had won the war against Kohain, it had confiscated thousands of their livelihoods cattle and brought many of them to our village. The shepherds of the village, including myself, had to take turns in looking after them until they were all slaughtered one by one. When it won the war against Dembelas, it did the same thing. I had seen the Raya Azebo POWs who were captured by Jebha in the seventies perish of disease, hunger and the few lucky ones who had survived were killed in cold blood during the 1978 retreat. I had seen many innocent Eritrean merchants (negado) been arrested and tortured. I had seen people being hanged in Areza … accused of spying for the Ethiopian regime without any proof …”

According to the interview Teclai Aden gave in Addis Ababa on December 23,1980, the EPLF killed sixisteen pensioners from Keren in 1978. Their only 'crimes' were that they went to Asmara to draw their pension money. The famous folklore singer, Echet Hina of Keren, was also killed in e brutal manner when he refused to sing in praise of the EPLF. Hundreds of peasants were also killed under the frame-up crimes of entering 'enemy' occupied towns.(Andu, 2004)

Additionally, some civilians who were killed by the EPLF in 1977 listed by Alem Tesfay in 2003.

Source Tesfay 2005

Background information about those prisoners who were taken from Keren by the EPLF in 1978.

Tewolde Beyn (Beyene Asfedai) was taken for « a short questioning » by the security apparatus of the EPLF in Keren, Eritrea, in August 1978. Later he was taken to Sahel, northern Eritrea with the following police pensioners in addition to Idris Mohamed Abdala, alias « Echet Hina » (a Tigre ballad singer known for his pro-ELF songs) were taken to Sahel as prisoners: Embaye Ghebru, Ghebresadiq Ghilu'u, Melake Beraki, Ogbamichael, Fitwi Tesfazghi, Woldemariam Kelati, Berhane Hadgu, Ghebrehiwet Kinfe, Mohamed Omar, Negash Sibhat, Omar Bekhit, Hadgu Mana, Tenente Zaid.
Read more

  Brief background information about Tewolde Beyne Asfedai    

Leteab Tewolde Beyn wrote:

Tewolde Beyn was reputed among the early ELM/mahber-shewate members for having saved many lives from imminent
death or life imprisonment way back in 1959-60 (living witnesses include long-time fighters like Omar Mohamed Yahya, and Omar Haj Idris). It was also reported that a number of ELA fighters were released from prison
cells in Keren by misleading their interrogators with pieces of advicegiven them by my father. (E.g. two fighters in 1964 dared to take the bus from Ghinda to Keren where they were suspected and detained.

They were advised to say that they were water porters in Om Hager and that the callosity shown on their shoulders was not caused by Abu Asheras of jebha but by the heavy water containers they carried at their workplace. My father was so much liked by the fighters that the ELF in 1970 asked the people to give theirvotes for Ethiopian parliamentary elections not to those pro-Ethiopian candidates but to Tewolde Beyn. Among latter-day events mentioned in the
said article was the fact that my father took active part in the resignation of all 23 Eritreans in the Ethiopian parliament after the massacre of many Eritreans at Om Hager in July 1974. That resignation was widely reported in the international press and helped to give not only a much wanted attention to the struggle, but also encouraged many Eritreans to join their revolution.

PS : I would wish that you and other human rights conscious Eritreans encourage Eritrean jurists to help establish a fact finding commission to investigage, at least for the recod, all human rights abuses not only of
the Ethiopians against Eritreans but also of Eritrean organizations against their own people during the past four to five decades. That may help discourage at the present and in the future of any gross violations of human rights by Eritrean political actors, whether they are «legitmate » authorities or « illegal » opposition forces.

Leteab Tewolde Beyn

Source [DEHAI] EPLF's ? short questioning ? Petition for the Release of Reported Prisoners in Eritrea
From: Freweini Ghebresadick (view other messages by this author)* Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 17:04:55

To conclude, during the liberation struggle thousands of civilians not only became victims of the
Ethiopian government but also victims of the ELF and EPLF. There are many stories about crimes committed against the civilians by both fronts (ELF and EPLF). Unfortunately many stories are not recorded apart from a few reported by Human Rights Watch 1991; Megesteab 2005; Yonas Aray 2005; Teklay Aden 1980; Freweini Ghebresadick 1999; Alem Tesfay 2004.

In this paper there not more than four stories reported by eyewitnesses and others. Despite many atrocities committed by the ELF and EPLF during the liberation struggle, the opposition leaders and their supporters only point out the crimes committed against the Eritrean people by the PFDJ, like those that the Liberation Fronts and the Eritrean people used to allege against the Ethiopian government. Regarding this Wolde Giorgis (1989:99) has written in his book that the people (the Eritrean people) did not want to discuss the atrocities of the rebels.

The author also appeals to all former members of the ELF and EPLF who survived the war to tell the public the truth about the ELF and EPLF leadership’s crimes against civilians.

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