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Hamed Idris Awate And The Launch Of The Armed Struggle For Liberation

Hamid Idris Awate was one of the Eritrean nationals who left their hometown to settle in the bushes to fight against the bandits backed by the British and Ethiopian colonizers. The bandits harassing the Nara and Beni-Amir people and were also robbing their livestock. Within a short period of time, he became renowned among the people for his fights against the bandits and protecting the people. Hamid Idris was a recruited solider in the Italian army and underwent military training in Italy, an experience that gave him good knowledge of the military maneuvers.

After the defeat of the Italians in the country, there were continuous interferences from the ‘Hadendewa’ tribe of Sudan. As a result the ‘Hadendewa’ had numerous clashes with the inhabitants of the eastern lowlands of the country and the British didn’t do anything to solve the situation. The group lead by Hamid Idris had fought and won many battles against the ‘Hadendewa’ and the bandits of the country. While Hamid Idris and his group were fighting the bandits in the western lowlands, bandits backed by the Ethiopian rulers were harassing the people and looting their property in the other regions of the country. The bandits were also threatening the people to support the Ethiopian rulers. The British colonizers didn’t lift a finger to solve this problem, as a result of which every tribe and clan in the country began sending its young to the bushes for vengeance, resulting in mass killings and looting.

While those youngsters were fighting for their people, the British colonizers were working hard to destroy the group of strugglers; in one of the British military missions launched in a place called Dura (O’bel) to destroy them, the group lead by Hamid Idris Awate killed almost all the soldiers. His group was defending itself from the colonizers in addition to protecting their environs from the looting of the bandits. And he became famous among the Nara, Beni-Amir and Maria people, for defeating the bandits and returning stolen properties of the people.

Later around 1951, the interventions from the “Hadendewa” and the movement of the bandits abated and Hamid was allowed to return to his hometown.  But he accepted the pardon under two conditions: that he will not be held responsible for what happened in the past, and that his group would get four weapons for protection, the British agreed to the conditions and he returned to his hometown from the bushes.

After the Emperor of Ethiopia became the emperor of Eritrea through the federation, the looting and harassing by the bandits continued in an even more aggressive manner.  Both the emperor and the so-called Eritrean Administration didn’t stop the bandits. Hamid Idris, who couldn’t tolerate the silence of the officials, suggested a proposal for the formation of an armed group that would fight against the bandits and protect the people. He also volunteered to be member of this special unit but the officials who were only interested on destroying the opposition movements didn’t accept his proposal.

Later in the year1960-61 the Emperor Haileselassie was planning to abolish federation and command full control of Eritrea. It was also the year when the opposition movement in the country (Hareka) expanded and the Eritrean Liberation Front was established and declared an armed struggle. Threatened by those two events, Ethiopian officials called Hamid under the pretext of discussing his proposal. Knowing the ploys of the officials Hamid met with the messenger, administrator of Agordat, at the outskirts of the city and explained that both the British and Ethiopia were not willing to stop the bandits’ movement and made an appointment to meet the officials on September 15, 1961.

Knowing and understanding the ploys of the Ethiopian rulers from their previous actions, he had already decided to return to the bushes and had accepted the offer from the Eritrean Liberation Front, to start an armed struggle for liberation of the country and the people. He returned to the bushes with few members of his clans and family which also begun the armed struggle for liberation on September 1, 1961.


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