Twenty years on – imprisoned without trial, but never forgotten: General Biteweded Abraha

General Biteweded Abraha - Eritrean political prisonerBefore Biteweded Abraha joined the EPLF, he was a clandestine member of the EPLF working in cities and towns around Eritrea. He had been captured and imprisoned by the Ethiopian security services. He stopped his clandestine work and joined the EPLF in 1973, receiving training and assigned to a combat unit in the highlands southern zone, where he served his country with distinction. In 1977, He was elected as a reserve member of the EPLF Central Committee.

In 1983, Bitweded became deputy head of the Revolution School and at the 2nd Congress of the EPLF, in 1987, he was assigned to the Economy Department before moving on to combat Division 90. Later, in the final stages of the battle for the liberation of Eritrean, he served as head of the Commando Unit 525.

He took part, as a commander, in the battle for the liberation of Assab. After the liberation of the city, he was assigned (in addition to his military tasks) to the role of assistant administrator, working to the governor of the port city of Assab. During his time in Assab, Bitweded had clashed with Isaias (the then Chairman of the EPLF). Bitweded was detained and he subsequently wrote many times to Isaias pleading for his case to be heard in court but received no reply.

Bitweded was briefly released in December 1997 by Isaias to see if he would remain silent. Contrary to the expectations, Bitweded made a public speech regarding his unjust arrest and the attitude of the dictatorial Eritrean regime. He was rearrested in March 1998 and has not been seen or of heard since.

In one of his speeches, Biweded said: “We should not be afraid of anyone person but should be aware or afraid of breaking the law of the land and the laws of God, the creator. If we want to make social justice a reality, we need to have bravery and dedication. The Eritrean people need to shout out openly and ask that these prisoners receive the due process of the law and be brought before a judge. Do not be afraid! I will fight until justice is realised.”

 

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