The death of one man

In a war the death of one person sometimes comes to symbolise an incident. The death of Asmelash Weldeselassie seems to be one such event.
Asmelash Woldeselassie
This is what the Ethiopian media had to say about his death.

“The Ethiopian Defense Force on Wednesday confirmed that former Minister for Foreign Affairs Seyoum Mesfin was killed after he resisted to surrender.

News updates from the defence force said that they were killed during a joint operation with the Federal police but did not specify when that happened. Seyoum Mesfin was killed in a cave area along the Tekeze river bank (the river is 608 kilometers long).

Some Ethiopian activists on social media speculate that it has been several weeks since he was killed and that the government is releasing the information now to divert attention away from the massacre in the Benishangul region of Ethiopia.

Two other top Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) officials, namely Abay Tsehaye and Asmelash Woldeselassie were also killed during the operation.

Much of the attention has concentrated on the death of Seyoum Mesfin, who was well-known to the international community. There’s been little said about Asmelash Weldeselassie.

Asmelash was – according to those who knew him – intelligent, affable and humorous. He was also completely blind.
Just how he would “resist surrender” during a military operation is hard to grasp. Perhaps the report should be filed alongside reports of  shot “trying to escape” or “assaulting an officer”.
The Border War and after
Asmelash lost his sight during the war against the Derg of 1974-1991. He later lost his left arm during the bombing of Mekelle during the 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea.
It is a tragic incident, today little recalled by the outside world.
This is what the Boundary Commission established by the Algiers Peace Agreement of 2000 said about the event.
“On June 5, 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea exchanged air strikes, Ethiopia attacking the Asmara airport and Eritrea attacking the Mekele airport. Each accuses the other of striking first, but that is a question the Commission need not address, because both airports housed military aircraft and were unquestionably legitimate military objectives under international humanitarian law. Ethiopia’s claim in the present case is based not upon deaths, wounds and damage at the Mekele airport, but upon the fact that Eritrean aircraft also dropped cluster bombs that killed and wounded civilians and damaged property in the vicinity of the Ayder School and the surrounding neighborhood in Mekele town. Ethiopia states that those bombs killed fifty-three civilians, including twelve school children, and wounded 185 civilians, including forty-two school children.”
Among those who were injured was Asmelash, who was already blind in both eyes. He lost his left arm during the attack, helping lead a group of citizens who were rescuing children.
When he finally recovered he was badly disabled – but he was determined not to be limited by this affliction.
He went to study law at Addis Ababa University, following this up with a Masters at the University of Amsterdam. Asmelash was working on his PhD when he was killed in this week’s operation.
Those who knew him well describe Asmelash as warm and engaging. He was someone who was always active, always engaged with his community.
Now he is mourned by those who knew him.


  1. This is a terrible stain and probably the worst in the history of Ethiopia. Even aristocrats like Menilik and Hailesselassie used to respect the lives of their enemies and in most cases they forgave and forgot. A psychologist I talked with a few days ago told me, he is convinced that Isaias is a Sadist, he enjoys inflict pain on others. Is Abiy of the same kind? Are the Amhara activists and some in the diaspora sadists? I am not much aware of their past history, but reading what they say and how they enjoy the torture of their Tigrian brothers gives me some feeling their is an embodied culture of sadism.

    1. I completely agree with you. There is a grain of sadism and a culture of revenge in ethiopians heart and mind. What makes the Abiy Ahmed Ali sadism special is that he is a wolf in a sheepskin, who was seen as sheep to win the Nobel peace prize in 2019.
      But as the saying goes “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are” . The best friend he have is Eritreas president Esayas. That says everything about Abiy Ahmed.

    2. You don’t need to be psychiatrist to know Isayas is sadist. The worst is that he is hardworking and smart how to carry out his sadism and to protect himself. This makes him dangerous sadist for societies around him for a long period. He has inflicted huge damage to the people of Eritrean and Tigrai but also to the rest of the region.

      Abiy is dangerous to be a leader, I don’t know what a psychiatrist will say about him.

      For the individuals of Ethiopia and Eritrea who support the two criminals it is because they are brainwashed to believe that the TPLF is the reason for all their problems, and they don’t care what happens to Tigrains. They are unfortunately in revenge mode to satisfy their inhuman mind.

      1. Estere Vuorinen and Alem
        you both took the words right out of my mouth, well written comment. They are unquestionably sadist . I donot have to be the family memebr of this hero or a decsnt of Tigrian to share the pain and mourn for the death of his excellency Asmelash. What Abiy and Isayas are doing an ethnic cleansing . Those of you who deem that PP is bringing TPLF to justice, you are definitly brainwashed and maintain the tendency to accept all what is committed by your own people from the same tribe.

    3. Its unbelievable, those who are leading the massacre in Tigray were prisoners of war, the TPLF took the war prisoners retrained them and they became generals. Those Generals then expelled all Tigreans from the army. They betrayed their fellow comneades and are committing heinous crimesagainst Tigrai and its elites. Almost all hospitals are looted and destroyed in Tigray, all factories were either destroyed or dismantled and taken to Eritrea. No electricity, no running water, no internet. People can not witgdraw money from their accounts.

      Currently mothers are giving birth in their houses or our in the bushes, there is no hospital service in many towns and villages. The hospirals and anbulances,were either looted or destroyed.

      The government of Abiy and Isaias are committing genocide against tigreans.

    4. Most of the outside audience of this conflict view Abiy Ahmed as a cruel dictator, but it was not the case if you get time to study the whole picture starting from the year of 2018. After the TPLF leaders escape Addis and hide in Mekelle all they were doing was defaming the name of Abiy and his government with very rude words and insults and they were preparing for war all the three years when Abiy just let them live freely. Asmelash was one of the those who was insulting Abiy Ahmed with his sharp mouth. Abiy wouldnt have done anything on them if they themselves didnt start the war by ambushing and attacking the northern command of the millitary. Please dont hasten to judge without analyzing the whole story and by just obseving only the tip of the iceberg.

        1. Perhaps you can respond to his remarks rather than fishing for affirmation from those that already agree with you. I dislike Abiy, but it seems that you (and many supporters of the previous despotic goverment) neglect the nearly 3 decades of tyranny and demonization of certain ethnic groups and of course perpetrating great violence on the innocent people of Ethiopia. Those in the TPLF (at various levels of government) have facilitated, aided and abetted in the brutality that has been the hallmark of the Meles regime. Despite this, Abiy extended an olive branch (to criminals no less), and we all know the “preemptive strike” they took on the northern comand and the devastating after math. We, as a nation, must come together. Identity politics will be the death of us all, enemies of the country loom over us like vultures — we must rise above this. Lead our country to new Era where unity amongst all groups is championed. We all want to work for a better tomorrow and for children to have better opportunities, realize that it is within our reach. Ethiopia forever.

    5. You seem to be very ignorant of the whole situation of the conflict and forward such a biased comment quite darefully. The irony is you attempt to exchange the roles between the perpetrator and the victim. ….what is law enforcement in your understanding ?! ….TPLF shot the first bullet against the Federal army and confirmed under the sun by one of the TPLF official – Seiko Touree . …And that was the real sadistic crime act ! Period ! And the government of Ethiopia is obliged to enforce the law with a clear mandet. Please just refrain from commenting on this matter as you lack the obvious information under the sun ! …of course, unless you have a hidden agenda of fueling instability in the Ethiopian affair !

    6. What goes around comes around. Let us please not forget the atrocities that were unleashed on Eritrea(ns) by the TPLF regime from 1998 up until 2020.

  2. Thank you Mr. Plaut for your tireless effort for of telling the trolls in this age of confusing times. You are exceptional in the eye of Eritreans, Tegarians and peace loving people. When is Esyas afwerki going to be held responsible for any his crimes? We have seen Omar Albeshir of the Sudan indicted and even though he is not captured or handed over to third parties he did eventually get to be in prison. But with Esyas I’m afraid he may not be held responsible for his crimes at all. This is the time for all of us to ask for the indictment of Esyas afwerki by ICC or some other international legal body. This is the least we can do as fellow humans.
    If there are people of law who know the steps for this please share them with Eritreans and Tigrians. If the ICC is not accepting the accusations we should know why too. I always belived someone too powerful is always protecting Esyas afwerki at the expense of regions people.But even that power may get less motivated to associate with an indicted criminal.


  3. He lost his one arm the day ayder school was bombed by Eritrea he was trying to save injured children form the first round attack, and on the second one hit him and many more others.

  4. Yes it seems very sad and unfortunate. But why then in his top TPLF leadership position faild to preach about peacful reconsilation than war knowing the bad side of war better than anybody ealse? Then why he conspired and allowed that Tigray speciall force initate the attack against own defence force (ENDF NC) and killed more than 10,000. What were TPLFs expecting as a return, a banch of flower? Any way it seems sensless attempt with zero game ( negative) result.

    1. The war was not started not by TPLF but by Isayas and Abey. Having election is not equal to starting war! But I don’t expect rationality from you people anymore!

    2. Please stop talking about the North command, It was already after the war ignited by faild Abiy special forces failed operation in Mekelle. and mobilising of Eritrean forces towards Tigray. Nothing will hold if your arguments start in believing that the war was started in Nov, 4.
      due respect

    3. TPLF attacking ENDF is a brain wash Abiy fed you. The most important question is who attacked first and that was Abiy. He made numerous shameless attempts of sending commandos to Mekelle to arrest the lawful Tigray leaders. TPLF controlling the Northern command was the minimum they could do for the safety of Tigray , to protect Tigray from the 2 evil Tyrant actors: Isaias and Abiy.

  5. I am devastated by the news these heroes of mine were murdered. Theses people have given their lives long time ago when they were in their late teens and early twentieth. They transform Ethiopia from a backward starving state to a country that imitated hope to the developing world.
    They will be remembered as heroes for generations to come.
    My only regret is that they were killed by unworthy people like Isayas of Eritrea and Abey of Ethiopia. These two are individuals not better than animals and will pay for their crimes. They tried to destroy Tigray but ended up destroying Ethiopia.

  6. The media here made a field-day out of this broadcasting repeatdly through out the day as if the war has been done with. How dormant of #abiy! Does’t he even understanding excuting THE BLIND is not some thing to feel great about but a war crime? Death of few is normal thing in war. #tigre has millions of seyom,s and the fact to reckon with is the up-coming revenges as this war goes on.

  7. It can not describe the whole picture of Sadism to Abiy or Isayas. In fact, Isayas play it safe and he knows when to be sadist. Eritreans have been totally damaged by his ego, and at the end of this war, the worst damage is going to be in Eritrea. Take my word on it. Abiy is the most foolish idiotic childish sadist and in fact more dangerous to inflict pain the most in a very short time. Not even three years in office, Abiy Ahmed has inflicted a lot of damage in life starting from Somalia, Oromia, Benshngul, Amhara, now up north in Tigray. The worst of all nations and nationalities in Ethiopia, while they are dying, are very happy to inflict pain in association with Abiy Ahmed are also Amhara who are always very happy to eradicate Tigrians from the face of the earth. Does that make them sadist? Absolutely. Tigrians are more humane society, if we wanted too, we could have finished all the DERGs while we can, but didn’t. Amharas are inhumane, they can even kill in cold murdered Mr. Asmelash G/Sellasie who lost his eye sight, a total blind man, during DERG era, and lost his left arm also during the bombardment of Ayder Children school by Isayas, but determined to be somebody, doing his PhD in Amesterdam University. Now, he was killed in this week invading his home in Mekelle, by Amharu. That is why, I say SADISM does not describe their deeds.

  8. It is very astonishing when you try to make the Killers and Murderers , for the past 30 years in ethiopia, as intelligent and affiable, personalities.
    The crimes committed by TPLF , Genocide, Murdering, Torture, etc… IT IS COUNTLESS.

    The ppl. OF ADDIS, ADAMA, BISHOTU, WOLKAIT, RAYA, etc are living witnesses. mr.plaut.
    What would you say if a group like TPLF is governing your country ? Mr.Plaut.

    1. The sad reality is that they have rose tinted glasses and fail to understand that within those decades, unspeakable violence took place. It is interesting how Amharas are always to blame, despite the TPLF being in a position of power and having committed great atrocities against them, the Oromos, or anyone that would dare dissent. No one hate the people of Tigray, the TPLF on the other hand is a completely different matter. People and party should not be conflated.

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