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Unforgettable Events in the History of the Eritrean People

When a person achieves something, he or she will look back and think about the choices made, and then appreciate the choice and remember the sacrifices paid. If a person can think that much about his sacrifices, then how much will a nation think and remember the sacrifices made towards Independence? And especially when one realizes that the sacrifices made are beyond any parallel.  That is why the people of Eritrea look back and remember the heroes fallen for the liberation of the country with great honor. In view of the history of the country, every mile of land and every national paid a price for the independence of the country. The atrocities committed by the colonizers and the endless sacrifices paid allow us at present to remember the fallen heroes in every minute we spend in this liberated country.

On 12th of May 1978, at 8 o’clock in the morning, Sheib village was surrounded by 15 tanks.  The moment the inhabitants saw the tanks and soldiers surrounding the village, they begun to flee in every direction but the soldiers and the tanks surrounded the people and gathered them at one place claiming to have a meeting.   Every one is under the huge tree, then two tanks begun to move towards the gathered civilian inhabitants of Sheib, then they begun to run over them.

Those who by mere coincidence escaped from the tanks were shot by the soldiers in the ground. There was blood and dead bodies everywhere, around 400 people died in this incident without any reason or cause. The soldiers satisfied with their deeds begun to move to the houses of the inhabitants to loot and rob everything that they can lay hands on and then burned the Sheib village.

“I with my two kids and four other children stayed with the corpses for three days, we even covered ourselves with blood stained clothes, and we had nothing to drink or eat for three day. On the third day I fled to the west, there were seven of us,” said survivor of the Sheib massacre Amna Mohammed in an interview she has with Dimisti Hafash on May, 1988.

Enemy forces that were determined to finish what they started moved on to Dene and Demne Dene villages and burned 2000 houses, and looted the properties and livestock of the inhabitants of those villages. “The Ethiopian soldiers killed everyone; I know many of the people that died on that particular day, my mother, father, and my two siblings died on that day. I was shot twice on my back,” added Amna who was six-years-old when the Shieb massacre happened. 

Another victim that escaped the massacre while shots were being fired at him was Adem Mohammed. On his interview of 1988, he said that he was from Aflenda but was farming in Sheib and when the Ethiopian soldiers came to Sheib and started to run over the people by tanks: “I ran to save my life, shots were fired all around me but I survived, my wife, two children, mother in law, aunt and my sister in law died on that massacre,” said Adem remembering that day.

Sheib was not the only village that was the victim of the crimes of the Ethiopian rulers; starting from February 1, 1967 villages were burned in all over the country.  The operation continued for a weeks where 62 villages including the villages of Adi-I’brihim, Adi-Jemil, Adi-omer, Adi-Saidna hamed, Adi- Ekud, Adi-Habib, Gerbet, Adi-Fedel and Mogorayeb were burned to the ground and the inhabitants of those villages were killed brutally, and the few that escaped the killing fled the area, around 40 thousand people were displaced from their villages. The attacks continued to the eastern escarpment where the villages of Ayelet, Gemhot, Asus, Metkel Abyot, Fegret, Shebah, Gedged, Weqiro and Ma’esheyat were completely destroyed. Hundred of civilian inhabitants of  the area were killed, and around 600 families were migrated. In November the attacks moved to the former Senhit and Sahel provinces where Melebso, Hamelmalo,Felhit, Sheglo, Enshenaq, Shehashehay, Funa, Jemerat,Azreket, Afherum, Babjerengen, Teandelet, Wazentet, Basheri, Qamshewa, Kubkub and Habero were destroyed.

Although the atrocities committed by Ethiopian rulers were countless, the aim was the same to threaten the people of the country from participating and supporting then on-going struggle for independence. Nothing stopped the Eritrean people from pursuing their struggle because they knew that the independence of the country will only be begotten at a price.   And the endless price of the Eritrean people makes the liberations of the country and today we remember those fallen heroes with great honor.

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