Did Samson Yemane die accidentally or was he murdered?



Drs. Tsegezab Gebregergis, London, July 28, 2015


It has often been the case that heroes don’t live long enough to see the products of their labour, but they do leave behind their footprints on the sands of history. Samson Yemane Woldegebriel is one of those heroic Eritreans who left behind a big footprint on the sands of the history of the Eritrean war of liberation. The article which I am presenting in three parts here was written by his close comrades and is a genuine story about the martyred Samson Yemane, the Eritrean liberation hero. The martyred Samson Yemane Woldegebriel (wedi-Yemane) was a dedicated Eritrean freedom fighter attached to the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF). He joined in 1975 at a very young age: he was only 16. During the 16 years he was engaged as a liberation fighter with the EPLF he served his country loyally and heroically in various assignments and successfully led dangerous military operations behind enemy lines. Indeed, Samson was a superb military General with a progressive world outlook and a sound knowledge of Eritrean history and politics.

The story about Samson Yemane was originally written in Tigrinya by Senai Abera and was later revised and improved by Samuel Gebrihiwot and translated into English by Colonel Khaled N. Aberra. It was published in Eritrea Profile electronics, Volume 3, Issues 41/42/43/ December 21, 1996.

Some two decades ago, while I was browsing on the Internet, I accidentally came across the sensational story of Samson Yemane. I read it, again and again, with great interest. Henceforth, I developed a deep personal affection and interest in the life of Samson Yemane as a liberation fighter. Indeed, in order to express my real love and admiration in concrete terms to Samson Yemane, the Eritrean liberation hero, I decided in the year 2000 to baptise my beloved firstborn child as Samson.

The Truth Surrounding the Death of Samson Yemane

There is no doubt that Samson’s comrades-in-arms have done a great job in writing and documenting his authentic and sensational story – a story that portrays the heroism of an Eritrean freedom fighter. Unfortunately, however, in the concluding part of the story, the authors claimed and asserted without any further elaboration that he was killed in an accident in Addis Ababa after having survived 16 bloody years of a fierce struggle. This is unfortunate because, as far as the information I have gathered from reliable former EPLF fighters is concerned, Samson Yemane was not killed in an accident. He was actually murdered. Let me thus now explain in some detail the truth surrounding Samson Yemane’s death in Addis Ababa.

He was one of the heroic, popular, and revolutionary nationalist Eritrean battalion military commanders who entered Addis Ababa triumphantly in May 1991 with the Tigrian People’s Liberation Army, which cleared Addis Ababa of remnants of the Derg Army. The overall commander of the specialised military unit stationed in Ethiopia was, however, Andebrahan Berhe – according to those who knew him closely, he was a man without any military training. It is said that Samson Yemane had serious problems and differences with wedi-Berhe on matters related to the handling of sensitive military operations, and other political matters. Thus sadly, as the battalion commander, Samson Yemane was operating under the command of his nemesis, wedi-Berhe – the most trusted lieutenant of Issayas Afeworki.

Having entered Addis Ababa as part of the TPLF forces, Samson was ordered to remain there with the forces under his command to assist the new TPLF rulers of Ethiopia until the political situation stabilised in the whole country. In the meantime, however, life for Samson and the other Eritrean freedom fighters in Addis Ababa became unbearable under the overall command of wedi-Berhe. As a matter of principle, Samson Yemane and his fellow Eritrean fighters were not happy to remain much longer in Ethiopia after they had accomplished their mission. Samson thus started lodging complaints to his superiors that he and his fellow Eritrean fighters wanted to return to Eritrea to see their parents and their newly liberated country. For since they had joined the liberation army in their youthful years, to fight for the liberation of Eritrea, they had not seen their families nor liberated Eritrea. But their request to return to Eritrea was flatly refused. It is thus said that, as a result of the defamatory reports, which were periodically sent by wedi-Berhe to the main political boss in Eritrea, an order from the EPLF political high priest in Asmara was sent to physically liquidate Samson Yemane. Once this order was given, an assassin known by his nickname Aba-Tor entered Samson’s room in the barracks and shot him several times with a silencer and left, leaving behind a pistol on his waist to give the impression that he had committed suicide. As a result of this cold-blooded murder, Samson’s heroic life was interrupted at such a very young age in the latter part of 1992. The whereabouts of the thug who murdered him is not known. However, Andebrahan Berhe, the man who played a major role in the elimination of Samsone Yemane, is alive and well, still serving the PFDJ boss, Issayas Afeworki.

To date, the repeated requests from his family to receive the corpse of their slain son to give him a proper burial ceremony in Eritrea have been refused. As is often the case, like many Eritrean liberation heroes before him, Samson Yemane remains buried in a shallow and unmarked grave somewhere in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. What a sad ending and the unpardonable criminal act committed against an Eritrean liberation hero!

However, after all, is said and done, once the tyrannical PFDJ-led government in Eritrea is committed to the dustbin of history and a new democratic Eritrea is erected on its ruins, there can be no doubt whatsoever that a new heroes monument in memory of all the Eritrean freedom fighters, like Samson Yemane, martyred in the service of their country, will be built. Their names will be inscribed on its walls to shine forever and the perpetrators of these dastardly criminal acts will be brought to justice.