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Forty Four (45) years ago, Ethiopia murdered my husband Berhane Tesfamariam.

15/07/2023 00:15 AM

45 years ago
Ethiopia murdered my husband
Berhane Tesfamariam.
That day, innocence was killed!
July 15, 1978

by Kiki Tzeggai
JULY 15, 2023

Forty Four (45) years ago, Ethiopia murdered my husband Berhane Tesfamariam.
“Rest in courage Birhin, my miracle love.”

Forty-five (45) years ago, Ethiopia murdered my husband, Berhane Tesfamariam.
That day, innocence was killed!
July 15, 1978

If we think of the normalized notion of a soldier combatant in a war, such status is accorded to soldiers that satisfy certain criteria such as disguising themselves visibly at a distance by some conventional signs, carrying their weapons openly subordinating themselves to a hierarchy of command and obeying the laws of war, while facing an opponent as well armed as itself! Ethiopia failed to satisfy any such criteria the moment it invaded Eritrea. Ethiopia attacked unarmed and peaceful Eritreans! Ethiopia based the occupation of our country – Eritrea – on greed and covetousness.

All societies have a strong ethical prohibition against the taking of innocent lives. To this day, the moral perception is that each person would find heinous the killing of innocent and unarmed people. An erroneous acceptability base – of combined powers - trying to justify occupation and killing, cannot be seen as sufficient reasons to suddenly attack a nation who did not have the capacity to defend itself facing a well-armed militia on alert to attack anyone who dared to claim rights. Ethiopian soldiers were trained to kill Eritreans. Period!

An Ethiopian military platoon unit surrounding our area, storming our apartment, dragging out of his house an innocent man and torture him to death, is a monstrous act. That’s what Ethiopia did to my Berhane and to thousands of innocent Eritreans!

A neighboring country aiming to occupy our land, decided to ignore the rules of war dictating as illegal to oppress an entire unarmed nation. It might sound counterintuitive that war should follow rules. Nevertheless, there is no legal justification to end a person’s life just because of his pride to be Eritrean.

My husband’s life ended at the hands of Ethiopian soldiers; such reality makes my husband’s death a murder and a crime in which prior meditation targeting him were involved before performing the execution.

Cruel engagements by Ethiopia - during the occupation of Eritrea - culminated in a genocide from a calculated premeditation to assassinate Eritreans only because they believed in their birthrights! Ethiopian occupation of Eritrea was never accidental, thus making their action a criminal offense.

Berhane and I promised each other not to see events separately and never to place secrets between us. We were so young and yet we understood how precious our feelings were. We cherished our dedication to a free Eritrea. We knew that our life together was based on a time during a war brewing by the day. We decided to draw the borders of our life with each minute we were offered. The fear and the pain of occupation could never create a distance between us.

Berhane told me that he would burn the enemy to save me and our kids. All I asked him was to live for me.

We promised to be worthy of each other. The world and the planets know we are. There are still many questions I would like to ask my husband. The whys, the what if….said questions I have buried for so many years, they all flow out as love! The echo in each Eritrean valley Berhane made free, is the answers I need. My obsession for him to find peace and his name to be engraved at the right place in our history, is the mercy I ask from life.

Destiny was spinning dreams on the night we looked at each other, at the gates of Asmara University. In the fold of that precise instant, a pure love was born. The earth went silent and Asmara - under an imminent war fire - made us perplex. He and I knew with certainty that love was floating few feet between us. The flood of feelings made us question what kind of commitment we were facing. Spring came on a dark night because of Berhane!

From that night on, I learned that there was a difference between wanting to be with the man I love and being able to be with the man I love!

The soft wind was an abundant echo from our far away mountains. That night, invisible instruments played a magic no Ethiopia can break to this day. It just can’t! Tepid moonlight felt like slipping on the untrodden paths at the beginning of this love and the admiration I have for you, noble Eritrean man! Sometimes your voice still surreptitiously whispers, and I walk your journey as your shadow.

Eritrean women like me, gave up their lives to unconditional love. We woke up each day knowing that our nights had uncertain mornings!

Ethiopia can try but can never erase our Martyrs’ legacy. Days and nights are for ordinary people. Lions like Eritrean Martyrs have an epoch.

The world’s history cannot deny that Eritrean Martyrs are part of a particular era, one considered remarkable. In unity, they wrote instants in time that are arbitrarily selected as a point of reference for specification of celestial coordinates.

Our Martyrs, our Legends!

Today, Eritreans are living neither on earth nor in heaven; we are strangled in between! The narrow bridge we are walking on, while arguing with each other, entangles our lives. Waves of sorrow surround us on the days supposed to be the happiest. Our people are back home, feeling sorrow silently.

Holding to survival, Eritreans were forced to leave our beloved land but we never failed to lend hands to each other during this endless agony. How did we part ways these days? The Eritrean saga has become a story of constant merci and confusion. The positive nationalism we believed, seems to be taken over by wrong nationalism trying to divide Eritrea by regions.

If problems made of confusion and betrayal by many have befallen us, we will sail through it all together. Eritreans go through any painful time together. We have always fought, cried, and danced together! We will look at this present transition just like another adventure, together!! We know that we will bring back justice, order, and harmony. The legacy of our ancestors being one of perseverance, hope, and trust!

Berhane told me:” Once we succeed to free our land, we will deny the murderous edicts of Ethiopian occupation sink into oblivion! The deaths we are counting by the thousands, we will avenge by warning those that still wish to follow!”

Today, we should add to this statement Berhane left behind that if we fail rebuilding our unity, Eritrea ‘s killers will live forever.

Our young generations’ future laying on the hands that hold the pen to write our true history, in unity. I stand by your belief that in a truly free Eritrea, the air itself will be prosperous, my Berhane. Where there will be no fear of hunger, poverty, and division!

Past and present enemies of Eritrea should think long and hard before interpreting our love for country! Mountains trembled when we fought in unity and whoever tried to stand in your way hit the dust!

Rest in courage Birhin, my miracle love.
Your wife, Kiki
July 15, 2023

"Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope. With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream. If you have hope, you have everything."
" Peace is a wall we will all create by building it brick-by-brick together". (Trademark)

ckdu Voice of Eritrea -
Naz Yemane (Sunday July 12, 2015 show)
Martyr Berhane Tesfamariam (Wedi Balilla), member of EPLF underground activists in Asmara, Eritrea, who was killed in the notorious Derg-prison "Gibi" (Asmara) in 1978; his story is told by his wife (Kiki Tsegai), his colleagues፡ fedayn Hidray Fesseha and others. What a sacrifice!

See also recent Articles by Kiki Tzeggai:

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