I learned on Tuesday, May 11, 2020, with shock and sadness, of the death of my fellow countryman, Afeworki Abraha, a freedom fighter and the first Eritrean Emissary to the UK from 1996-2001.
Sadly, Afeworki died after a month-long hospitalisation, in an attempt to defeat the coronavirus infection, at the age of 71 at a hospital in London. He has left behind two beautiful daughters and a gravely disabled wife whom he always considered as his comrade.
I met Afeworki Abraha for the first time in December 1991 when I travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on my way to Eritrea to visit my ailing mother before her death.
Although I should have travelled directly to Eritrea, for political reasons, I decided to travel via Addis in order to seek some advice from Afeworki Abraha, who was then Deputy Ambassador to Ethiopia.
I, therefore, went to the Eritrean Embassy in Addis Ababa and met Afeworki there. I asked him in a straightforward manner for his advice as to whether I should worry about any acts of reprisals by the dreadful EPLF security over my criticism of, and opposition to, the EPLF leadership during the period of the Eritrean armed struggle.
Afeworki told me that there was nothing I should be worrying about in going to Eritrea. After all, even the ELF group, who had been engaged in a bloody civil war against the EPLF, could now go in and out of Eritrea freely. So he asked why I, who had only criticised the EPLF leadership, be worried about going to Eritrea!
Consequently, he gave me encouraging advice, suggesting that I could travel to Eritrea at any time of my choosing, and without any hesitation, to see my mother. So did Ambassador Haile Merkorious who happened to enter the room while I was sitting with Afeworki Abraha.
I also met Afeworki twice in Cricklewood, London, after he ceased to serve the EPLF/PFDJ government, to talk about matters of mutual concern and I also met him and had some chat at some opposition meetings. He was a gentle and very low-profile person.
I, therefore, want to express my deeply felt sympathy and condolences to his wife and beloved children at this very difficult moment.
May his soul rest in peace!
Drs. Tsegezab Gebregergis