Celebrating International women day in London

Celebrating International women day in London date 20/03/2016 By Petros   Tesfagiorgis Women are fighting and emerging for centuries of being held down.  It has been a difficult battle which is still not complete. During the 30 years

Celebrating International women day in London date 20/03/2016

By Petros   Tesfagiorgis

Women are fighting and emerging for centuries of being held down.  It has been a difficult battle which is still not complete. During the 30 years of armed struggle the question of equality of women was taken very seriously.  It was believed and repeatedly campaigned that there will be no liberation of Eritrea without the participation of women.

1/3 of the EPLF combatants were women. (1)They have participated in many activities hitherto dominated by men. As mechanics they worked in garages, as machine tool operators in factories (2) and as drivers of Lorries and land cruiser crisscrossed the ragged terrain of the Sahel Mountain, popularly known as challenge roads.  (Mrs Nebiat standing on the left of the  veteran  leader Aboy Woldeab Woldemariam was in charge of driving guests to the EPLF  2nd and unity conference in 1987 the other six work in different activities).(3)

The participation of women in health care was significant. They worked as doctors and nurses in the chain of underground hospitals. The only expert on treating bullet ridden faces was a women Doctor named Lainesh, the wife of Dr Asefaw Tekeste – today the chairman of the opposition organisation in exile “Medrick”.  She used to mend broken jaws and bullet hit faces. Her amazing contribution is that she had trained many young women fighters that enabled them to fix bullet ridden faces of many fighters.  She was a graduated from a university in Eastern Europe, Bulgaria. The women health workers had easy access to the tents of the Nomad women to help in child birth and train the local midwives.  They were called bare foot doctors as they follow the movement of the nomads on foot with their heavy kit on their back.   After independence some fighters served as judges and governors etc but it was short lived.

The slogan widely used was “emancipation of women through participation”.  In UK the mass association has artistically designed poster of the slogan. The liberation of women campaign was reflected in paintings and in songs.   Many painting artists where evolved during the struggle e.g. the famous painter Michael Adonai – now living in exile.  One moving song was titled “Goodbye Kitchen life” ድሐን ኩኒ ክሽነ.  It exposed   the Eritrean patriarchal society that relegated women to the kitchen (domestic work) and raising the children.  This song was sang by one of EPLF famous female singer, Berikti “the Tank”. Member of EPLF cultural troupe.   Sad to say one of her singer colleague Senait Debesai together with 3 other fighters and mothers – Aster Yohannes, Aster Fitzehasion, Miriam Hagos are languishing in prison for more than 15 years.  There was another one Ruth Simon who came to my attention recently because of an appeal circulated for signature to the president to release her.

Ruth is fluent in French and in the liberated base area/ Sahel/  she was assigned in the production of short films including the famous film “Our revolution “Sawrana” working under the French revolutionary   Christian Sabatier (Hillal) who became an internationalist member of EPLF, in charge of EPLF film production.    Her sister, Hanna Simon- is the current Eritrean Ambassador in France. A typical example of the destruction of the fabric of Eritrean society. Hanna is living a good life in France  while her sister is  languishing in prison.

The women’s imprisonment and all prisoners of conscience for over 15 years now symbolize the inhumanity and recklessness of the Eritrean Government. Today there are more than 10,000 prisoners of conscience who were never charged. Among them is an Eritrean war-hero Captain Habtezion Hadgu, head of the Eritrean young air force.  With the invasion of Badme by Eritrean troops on August 8, 1998 the Ethio-Eritrean war started.  On August 13 the Ethiopian parliament declared war on Eritrea.  At that time Habtezion ordered all the fliers not to report to the base and stay at home and wait for any telephone call.  After a couple of days one Friday afternoon at 2.00 –in order to disable the Eritrean air power, 2 Ethiopian migs dropped bombs  in the foyer to coincide with the time when the members of the air force stay until  they go to different assignments. No one was killed except two cleaners.  Had they been there they would have been wiped out and with them the young Eritrean air force.  PFDJ made sure that the people of Eritrea did not capture his genius- that entitled him a distinguished Eritrean hero for saving the air-force (4)

The Challenges:

As part of the commemoration of International women’s day, the network of Eritrean women in the United Kingdom campaigned to end the gross human rights violations in Eritrea.  The focus of the campaign is to narrate the sea of misery the people of Eritrea are undergoing on the dangerous journey they take to freedom in order to escape repression.   They face torture, kidnapping by   traffickers – death in the Libyan Desert, the drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, and languishing in refugee camps in Sudan and Ethiopia, and the persecution in Israel as infiltrators and not refugges.

  • The Network of Eritrean women launched the International women’s day in London on March 20, 2016. Khedijah Ali Mohamed gave an account of the nature of the double oppression of women and summary of their activities and the way forward. She also highlighted their link with “WOMENS’S ITERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACEA @ FREEDOM (WILPF).    Elsa Chyrum explained that the Eritrean Government is  releasing  Djibouti’s  prisons from Eritrea but the issues of Eritreans soldiers imprisoned in Djibouti  is not mentioned.  She suggested to the audience to launch a campaign that they are handed over to UNHCR
  • In WOW supported event on 12/03/2016 at South Bank Centre – senior member of Network of Eritrean women in Europe, Dr Sara Ogbai   gave a lengthy talk.  The event was titled “WOMEN CROSSING BORDERS”. Dr Sarah explained the reason Eritrean women and girls are crossing the border out of Eritrea and the life threatening journey they take to countries that give them protection
  • On 11/03/2016 evening as part of the International Women day the “Women on the move award winners” The Eritrean SEADA FEADU was awarded “Young Woman of the Year” at the London Festival Hall.    The Hall was packed with mostly with women but also men from all walks of life – many of them local journalist – and as a result – Eritrea will be known more and more.   Seada became involved with Young Roots and soon started volunteering to help other accompanied asylum-seekers children

Eritrean women in many cities in the West in Dallas USA – Norway – Bergen Sweden etc. have celebrated international women day. In such occasions they pledge to rise up, stand up and fight for the right of women subjected to double oppression by the Eritrean Government.  They call the international community to condemn the Government and request the release of all the women and other prisoners of conscience.

Baroness Glynes Kinnock – of Holly – the persistent fighter- against the excess of human rights violation in Eritrea    appealed for the release of Aster Fitsehasion   and her colleagues in the commemoration of International women’s day- few years ago.   Baroness met Aster when she visited Eritrea in 1987 in her capacity of Chairman of the charity “War on Want”- Glynes has a big heart for the people of Eritrea and she still continues in the fight to end repression.  Together with Penny Cook MP she is the founder of APPA (All-Parliamentary Party Group) on Eritrea.


The End:

  1. The women combatants: as soon as they joined the EPLF they were trained in women only setting with experienced fighter mentoring them. The mentor was a woman. By training alone they gain self- confidence and develop solidarity among each other.
  2. Young girl operating – machine tool in camouflaged house.
  3. Nebiat was a driver: Driving Lorries was hard because most of the movements were during the night and there are times that they travel without light so the Ethiopian air-force on do not locater them and bomb them. The 5 women fathers work in different areas in OROTA-
  4. Habtezion Hadgu: We had a long conversation in a funeral of the father of his second wife in a cemetery used by the people of Arabate Asmara– A community north of Asmara where I was born. He told me during the bombing no air force personnel was in the base including me. I rushed to the base loaded the fighter plane with bombs – penetrated Ethiopian airspace and bombed the Mekele Air-force base. He then said the Ethiopians will try again tomorrow to disable the air force and ordered anti-aircraft guns to be deployed.  As he said about 10.00 am Ethiopian bombers came and were met with unexpected shootings one was shot down and the pilot parachuted to safety. He was captured. He was captain Bezabeh Petros – who knows the base inside out because he was there to help in the formation of the young Eritrean air-force as a technical aid and a teacher in Asmara. Habtzion said he must have masterminded the plan. After peace was signed exchange of prisoners was followed, there was no Bezabh Petros.
  5. Seadi Fecadu: She has become a role model for young refugees in the UK.


Review overview
  • new eritrea March 25, 2016

    Petros Tesfagiorgis,
    States…{“1/3 of the EPLF combatants were women. (1)They have participated in many activities hitherto dominated by men”}

    ክቡር ጴጥሮስ,

    እተን ፈትየን ዝኸዳስ ከም ድሌተን,እተን ካብ ሕጽኖት ንእደን ብሓይሊ ተጎቲተን ዝተወስዳ ጥቑዓትከ__ድሓር ድማ ደቀንስትዮ ኤርትራ መጻወቲ ሰብ ስልጣንን መጻወቲ በደዊንን ኮይነን ዘለዋ ዋላ ኣብ ወጻኢ ኮይነን ንኢሳያስ ዝቋጻጸያሉ ደቀንስትዮ ዘይሓነኻ እተን ንፍትሒ ጠጠው ኢልና ዝብላ ግን ድሃየን ኣይስማዕንዩ ዘሎ።.ይምመስለኒ ፈትዩ ዝተቓለሰ ውሑድ እዩ

    • AHMED SALEH !!! March 25, 2016

      Ambassador Hanna Simon serve the regime at her comfortable life in
      France while her sister Ruth Simon languishes to rot in prison .
      I wonder to figure out last time arguments in this forum to defend credibility of Hanna the sold out puppet of Issayas . In fact if she
      couldn’t feel the pain of her own sister I do not blame them since
      they belong to same betrayal tendencies . I care less for excuses
      from matured men who surrendered themselves to authority .
      Either we have some wanna be opponents who lack clear vision or double
      faced hypocrites to deal with ?

    • AHMED SALEH !!! March 25, 2016

      It was nice if you join us for positive feedback than your nonstop
      crying baby complainer attempts seeking for attention .

      • AHMED SALEH !!! March 25, 2016

        Sorry my respond is meant for commentator (new Eritrea) who try to
        divert attention of the subject .

    • Tsige March 26, 2016

      Bravo new Eritrea for stating the truth of the past kemakha/khi yibziHu to tell the truth as it was.

      Come every year, some people inside Eritrea (mostly coerced by the state) and abroad celebrate the March 8th
      International women day without bothering to ask whether women in Eritrea are better off now or fifty years ago!
      In Eritrea unfortunately, women and young girls have been victims of systematic rape and abuse for many years
      in the hands of the regime, which allegedly fought for the rights of the women.

      • new eritrea March 26, 2016

        Dearest Tsige,

        I wear my sad clothes on may 24 mostly because what is happenning to my young sisters and kids,those that want to defend their pathetic Egypt Arab sponsored banditry ,those Ex combatants of Jebha want to tell us that their gedli was holy ,if it were not for EPLf or Isaias..The socalled struggle for liberation of Eritrea ,which Eritrea had plenty of it was like a totally healthy person having a heart transplant ,to replace his healthy heart with a sick that belonge to old Arab person. I respect ex EPLF combatants atleast for not saying anything or work ,like Amanuel Iyasu for the people, while trhe e3x Jebhas are concentrated on overthrowing Isaias without an ounce of love for the people of Eritrea.

        Thank you Tsige

    • Tsehaye March 26, 2016

      Dear new eritrea,

      You have asked a question the cancerous ghedli romantics have been avoiding to answer for years: “እተን ፈትየን ዝኸዳስ ከም ድሌተን,እተን ካብ ሕጽኖት ንእደን ብሓይሊ ተጎቲተን ዝተወስዳ ጥቑዓትከ?” Very pertinent question. መን’ሞ ኣሎ ፍርሓት እዝጊ ዘለዎ ክምልሳ?

      It does not require a rocket scientist to figure out how many of the women that Petros and his peers brag about (the 1/3 of EPLF fighters) were victims of the barbaric EPLF which took thousands of peasant girls and women out of their homes by force in the 1980s. The great YG once said to the effect that as long as the pain had stayed at the bottom of the rank or at the peasant’s level, the urban elites continued the extermination of the poor highland Eritrean peasants’ children unabated.

      • New Eritrea March 27, 2016

        Dear Tsehaye,

        Unlike us ,old goats ,the new generation are changing for better and will establish a new Ertirea that is in peace with itself and it´s neighbours ,Gedli Romantics are becoming Dinasours of Egypt.


    • petros tesfagherghis March 27, 2016

      dear new Eritrea- what ever than means- ደቀንስትዮ ተጋደልቲ ንጦር ሰራዊት ዝማርኻሉ ጊዜ እኮ ነይሩ እዩ- ሐጺረ ስረ ገይረን – ብሰራዊት ኢትዮጵያ ተጠንቀቁለን ሐያላት እየን ኣይተባህላን ዲየን። ጠላም ጊዜ ኣርኪቡወን እምበር ዝነኣንሲ ኣብ ዓለም ተቃልሑ ነይሪ እዩ። ድሃብ ፋቲንጋ ኣብ ዓቢ ኣዳራሽ ለንደን ካብ መድረኽ ዘሊላ ኣብ በዓል ኣጋይሽና ከም Glynes Kinnock – ማራኺ ደርፊ ኩናማ – ከተስምዕ ኮላ፥ ኤሪትራዊ ብሐጎስ ኣየግሰዐን ዲዩ። ሕጂ እውን እምነት ኣለና ንክብረን ክቃለሳ፡ ይቃለሳ ከኣ ኣለዎ። ፍትሒ ይንገስ። ኣንጻር ምግሃስ ህዝቢ ኣኤርትራ ኣብ ቅድሚት ተሰሪዔን ዝቃለሳ ዘለዋ መን ዲየን። ኣይ ንሕና ደቂ ተባዕትዮ እንዲና ዲሒርና ዘለና።

  • AHMED SALEH !!! March 25, 2016

    I like to hear those who pretend innocents death in Mekele argue to
    defend Weyane initiated bombardment in Asmera . It was foolish plan
    of dirty war in populated place . It can get worse but they recognized
    the risk posed from public outrage on both sides including outsiders ?
    The sad part Issayas imprisoned the pilot as escape goat to calm down Weyane anger .
    How dare anyone can accuse captain Habtezion while captain Bezabih of
    Ethiopia go free for performing similar duty ?

  • wedinakfa March 26, 2016

    aye ayte Petros, we don’t do cronyism here brother, you luck in the knowledge of women issues, From your article I deduce that you are rotten to the core and easy to be bribed and bribe, thanks god you not there nor here, professor just earn your living for get Eritrea like mai chenna!!!

    • petros tesfagherghis March 27, 2016

      Wedinakfa: I wish you write in your real name. At the moment we the people of Eritrea are the most oppressed people. We have no alternative but to stand up, wake up and fight for justice. By doing so we are in the process of creating a democratise future- as we move towards learning what it may mean to be human men and women. I believe the people of Eritrea is undergoing a revolution and justice will prevail eventually.

      • AHMED SALEH !!! March 27, 2016

        Pen names doesn’t bother me but we Eritreans know the real deki Erey
        from the way they talk and the way they walk including our brothers
        in HGDF camp .
        To undermine our sisters heroism history sound the work of haters
        regardless where they belong either pro-ethiopia traitors or Tigrigna speaking across south border .
        Coming with names in disguise reminds me the word LIBI TUWUYWAY which
        is foreign in our culture .
        My hat off to confident brothers and sisters who are proud to share
        their real names . I care less if pro-con but openness matters most.

        • Tsehaye March 27, 2016


          ካብታ ዳዓሽ (Daesh/ISIS) ካራኻ ይሓልወና ፈጣሪ:: Who are the real Eritreans and not real Eritreans? People like you are waiting for an opportune time to wreck greater havoc in Eritrea than the current PFDJ mafia. You are very scary, man. Eritreans who do not adhere to your fanatical views are in real danger in tomorrow’s Eritrea.

          • AHMED SALEH !!! March 28, 2016

            Your kinds un-Eritrean rhetoric has not value to give consideration .
            If you can’t see the picture to understand the bond of Eritrean btwn
            Muslims and Christians , you are fooling yourself .
            Fanatical views exposed to bring havoc at your backyard because of
            your alike extremists corrupted mind set . It is true when said ;
            ” you reap what you sow ” but in contrary we firmly stand at
            ” HADNETNA SHET MEANTANA ” . Life experience taught us to open our
            eyes and be aware from suspicious elements honey coated words with
            sinister motives .
            By the way , a real Eritrean doesn’t feel offended when somebody brings
            the question of identity issues . Unless you belong to those who took
            advantage over original native people .

          • AHMED SALEH !!! March 29, 2016

            Seraki mobaE baelu yilefalef
            Who mentioned your name to feel offended with my remark on suspicious
            anti-Eritrea guests .

  • Asmara Eritrea March 26, 2016

    Women have always held half of the sky for Eritrea as Petros amply demonstrates above – something we should applaud with pride for generations to come.

    I often wondered how Isaias could sleep at night having impoverished his 40-year soul mates in prison and I never thought there could be anyone more evil than him until I read this story of Hanna Simon. This is a truly family tragedy and one can only assume Hanna is devoid of all humanity. How I ask can any human being hold such a high position whilst their own sibling is being tortured day in and day out? It feels like plunging a knife to your own gut. These people are utterly evil to the core.

    Eritrea forever, death to dictatorship.