Imag­ine lock­ing your­self for 24 hours in a small space and the door is closed from out­side! This has been hap­pen­ing to our broth­ers and sis­ters like Miriam for 13×365×24 = 113880 hours! This is if you count from 2001 but there are many who are arrested long before 2001.

This is Miriam Hagos arrested on Octo­ber 6, 2001 and incom­mu­ni­cado since then. “In the End, we will remem­ber not the words of our ene­mies, but the silence of our friends.” Mar­tin Luther King, Jr.




THE STRUG­GLE OF MAN AGAINST POWER IS THE STRUG­GLE OF MEM­ORY AGAINST FORGETTING

The Book of Laugh­ter and For­get­ting by Mil­lan Kundera



Just think for a sec­ond! This Eritrean woman who strug­gled for the inde­pen­dence of Eritrea and lib­erty of the Eritrean peo­ple, could be you, could be me, could be your sis­ters, could be your mother, could be your bio­log­i­cal fam­ily. Is ask­ing about her where­abouts too much? Is it a crime to say “it is unac­cept­able to incar­cer­ate some­body, a woman in this case, a for­mer fighter, for more than 12 years with­out any due process of law, with­out any charges, with­out her giv­ing the chance to defend her­self. No visit from her daugh­ter, friends or fam­ily mem­bers.

If you ask me frankly, then I think not ask­ing about her where­abouts is a crime, a top crime, because silence is a con­spir­acy.

Sorry if I sound too preachy, but mind you, peo­ple react to petty mes­sages and pic­tures, while ignor­ing in deaf­en­ing silence the sto­ries and pic­tures of their own ex-​friends, ex-​comrades, ex-​choir mem­bers and above all ex-​fighters who suf­fered for their inde­pen­dence.

Meriam Hagos (Jailed incom­mu­ni­cado since Octo­ber 6, 2001): I remem­ber her with the words of The Egypt­ian fem­i­nist, social­ist, med­ical doc­tor and author of a clas­sic work on women & Islam; in “Mem­o­ries from the Women’s Prison” she states:

“At every stage of my life I have obeyed only that voice com­ing from my deep­est self.”

“It was late morn­ing or early after­noon some­times in the month of Octo­ber when two sim­ple look­ing men walked calmly into her office. Two sim­ple look­ing men, not wear­ing any kind of uni­form, sim­ply walked into her office and took her.

Who were they? Nobody knows! Where did they take her? – Nobody knows. Why did they take her? Nobody knows. Of course any­body could spec­u­late but nei­ther her own fam­ily nor any of her friends, co-​workers or any­body else knows for sure who the two men were or where they took her and why. “Elsa Chyrum in the fol­low­ing arti­cle.





The Tragedy of ex-​fighter Meriam Hagos

Dis­ap­peared in the “Eritrean Way”



“I can­not believe that my friend Miriam Hagos is still in “prison”. I say “prison” but the big ques­tion is do I really know where she actu­ally is. No, I really don’t know where she is. All I know is my laugh­ing, funny and lov­able friend is nowhere I could reach her, talk to her or see her. Is she in prison or is she dead? I do not know that either.

But the sad part of it is– It is not only me who don’t know. Her only daugh­ter doesn’t know and her own Mom died with­out ever know­ing where her daugh­ter was. Nei­ther her friends, nor any other mem­ber of her fam­ily knows where she is. My good friend Miriam sim­ply dis­ap­peared! If she is in prison why can’t any­body see her? Why can’t her own daugh­ter see her? Nobody has seen her for the last eight years since 2001 and “they” tell us she is still around.

I hear that her own daugh­ter had asked, was it once or maybe twice or more than thrice, to be allowed to see her Mom or write let­ters to her or talk to her on the phone and was repeat­edly told that her mom was alive and well-​cared for “Some­where” but “NO!” to see­ing or writ­ing or call­ing her. And long and painful eight years have just gone by! Just like that.

It was late morn­ing or early after­noon some­times in the month of Octo­ber when two sim­ple look­ing men walked calmly into her office. Two sim­ple look­ing men, not wear­ing any kind of uni­form, sim­ply walked into her office and took her.

Who were they? Nobody knows! Where did they take her? – Nobody knows. Why did they take her? Nobody knows. Of course any­body could spec­u­late but nei­ther her own fam­ily nor any of her friends, co-​workers or any­body else knows for sure who the two men were or where they took her and why.

After­wards, her two co-​workers who were at the office at the time told any­body that asked that two men came to the office and sim­ply took her and as she walked out of the office with them she had looked them both in the eye and said, “Just tell peo­ple that they came and took me.’ And my dear and lov­able friend Miriam was never ever seen again.

Eight years! Nobody asked who those two men were and nei­ther did any­body ask why they were tak­ing her. They them­selves did not say who they were or where they were tak­ing her. No expla­na­tion, no apol­ogy, no noth­ing. They just took her! And nobody has seen my lov­able friend Miriam ever since. Eight years!

You know, peo­ple write books on such sto­ries. Yes, they do! And believe me, Miriam’s and many oth­ers like hers would have made a nice and inter­est­ing read­ing. The writ­ers would have given it a very inter­est­ing title like “The Dis­ap­pear­ance of Ms So and So”…or “The Mys­tery of Ms….Last Day’ –some­thing like that and I, being a mys­tery lover, an Agatha Christie reader, would have loved to read it if it was some­body else’s story.

But this one, let alone to read it, I still don’t even want to talk about it because it really and truly hurts! Yes! It hurts so bad noth­ing else com­pares to it! They say, all pains go away as time passes. Yes, it is true even the pain of the death of a loved one passes away as time passes. But this pain of Miriam never goes away. Not only does it not go away, it gets worse and worse as time passes by.

Nev­er­the­less, whether it hurt or not, if it had hap­pened in Amer­ica or in any hun­dred other places in the world, peo­ple would have writ­ten about it and oth­ers would have read it. And mostly and most impor­tantly when some­thing so unjust like this occurred, peo­ple would have made a riot to show their dis­may and dis­gust and would have called and shouted for jus­tice. BUT NOT in ERITREA where it actu­ally happened.

Yes, my friend Miriam Hagos dis­ap­peared with­out a trace in Eritrea. Yes! Eritrea– a tiny, mini, myni mo of a coun­try, almost nobody knows about unless one men­tions Ethiopia and declares that it is close to Ethiopia and maybe add that at one time it was part of Ethiopia before it became an inde­pen­dent coun­try in 1991 and then, only then, you might find one in a thou­sand who would say, “Oh yea, Eritrea!”

Yes! It hap­pened in Eritrea, in that tiny coun­try whose peo­ple, at one time, not very long ago either, were fight­ing for free­dom and inde­pen­dence from the Ethiopi­ans because the Ethiopi­ans were not respect­ing Eritrean human rights and dignity.

Yes, it hap­pened in Eritrea but why am I not sur­prised! I am sad, bit­ter, hurt, angry, frus­trated but I am not at all sur­prised! Why? Because it hap­pened the Eritrean Way! And what, in God’s name, is the Eritrean Way one might ask! THAT! What hap­pened to my friend Miriam and many oth­ers is the Eritrean Way– that is the Eritrean Government’s Way, that is the “fight­ers’ way’.

Yes, the fighter’s way! The fight­ers who fought for inde­pen­dence from Ethiopia, the fight­ers who fought for jus­tice, for lib­erty, for human rights and human dig­nity, the fight­ers who later on became the Eritrean gov­ern­ment.

Yes! I am not sur­prised at all because every­thing has been the Fight­ers’ Way. Yes, things had always been like that, doing what­ever you feel like doing, not respect­ing any law or rule, not car­ing to fol­low any rule at all. I am not sur­prised because I got used to it from see­ing it all the time.

What is worse, after a while, it started look­ing that there was noth­ing wrong with it– that it was the right way of doing things. Not only me– but almost every­body in Eritrea thought what­ever the Gov­ern­ment of the fight­ers did was right. Even if you felt it was wrong, it was Right. It had always been like that.

Many things felt wrong but they were right! Putting a per­son in prison with­out a court order sounds and feels wrong, but when the Gov­ern­ment put Miriam and all the oth­ers in prison with­out them see­ing their day in court, it was right.

When the gov­ern­ment refused to dis­close their where­abouts, it felt wrong but it was right. When the gov­ern­ment refused fam­ily mem­bers to see the pris­on­ers, it felt wrong and it hurt a lot, but it was right! Because that is the Eritrean Way– On sec­ond thought maybe I should say “The Fight­ers’ way” and quit say­ing the Eritrean Way!

But this thing could only hap­pen in Eritrea– nowhere else. Even the Ethiopian Der­gue whom we had con­demned as being Fas­cist allowed fam­ily mem­bers to see their pris­on­ers. But in Eritrea, it is okay if you just take a per­son and put him in prison, not only for 48 hours but for days, weeks, months and even years.

It is still okay if you do not tell fam­ily mem­bers, chil­dren, hus­bands, wives, friends, the where­abouts of their loved ones. It is still okay if you do not dis­close the rea­son why they are wher­ever you have put them. Almost like the “magic wand”, you wave it and make peo­ple like my friend Miriam dis­ap­pear into thin air and nobody asks you about it and you don’t care explain­ing it.



That is the most fright­en­ing thing. Nobody says any­thing, nobody does any­thing about it! Every­body accepts it and life goes on as usual. Isn’t that strange? Nobody says any­thing, nobody writes about it, nobody talks about it even in private.

Isn’t that fright­en­ing! It is just as if the pris­on­ers were never there, never existed, never been born. Nobody asks about an unborn per­son. It is so very sad that my good friend Miriam has sim­ply dis­ap­peared and the silence sur­round­ing me in Eritrea is so great that I feel that I had dreamed her and that she was never born.

How do they do that?? How do they make us to feel like that– for­get our loved ones, for­get our val­ues of right and wrong, for­get to fight for our rights. What about all those years we fought because so many wrongs were done on us? Where did all that fight­ing spirit go?

What are they telling us that we have clogged our ears and closed our eyes and have refused to fight for their rights which indi­rectly are our own rights as peo­ple. We are so silent, it is deaf­en­ing. Eight years???

I won­der what I, as a sin­gle per­son, can do for my dear and lovely friend Miriam? What can I do for you my friend Miriam? Maybe always remem­ber you and never ever for­get you?, that I had done every­day, for the past eight years.

But it did not help any. Maybe write about you and make them know what they are doing to you is unfair, unjust and sim­ply not right? If writ­ing would help, I would write everyday.

But I know it doesn’t. Many before me, if not in Eritrea, out­side of Eritrea, had writ­ten about you and many oth­ers and it did not help at all! Yes, how can it ever help because we are deal­ing with peo­ple who, with­out any shame, say, “Oh! the fact that they are in prison hurts us more than any­body else– these peo­ple were our own com­rades. we really feel sad that this thing hap­pened to them. What about all those years we fought because so many wrongs were done on us? Where did all that fight­ing spirit go?

“Can you imag­ine? That’s the kind of peo­ple they are! But I guess I shouldn’t be sur­prised that they are what they are. Because I, yes, I with many thou­sands like me, let them be what they are now.

And the sad part of it is we also let our­selves be what we are now. The time to do some­thing was when we felt” Even if you felt it was wrong, it was right” — that was the time when we should have done some­thing. Yes, that was the time! Can some­body talk me down, please! ”

Writ­ten by a close friend of Miriam Hagos


Miriam in her office with her ex-​husband Zerai Haile who divorced her due to her firm stand on the cur­rent Eritrean affair


Back­ground: Miriam Hagos

Miriam was the type of per­son who speaks her mind. She would crit­i­cize openly and sug­gest changes. It was dif­fi­cult for her to inter­act or deal with a cul­ture that did not encour­age open­ness. Soon, she was put under sur­veil­lance and, like many oth­ers, suf­fered a great deal for har­bour­ing petty bour­geois ten­den­cies. Between the years 1979 and 1981, she was put in prison for two years.

She suf­fered kid­ney prob­lems and had dif­fi­cul­ties with her eye-​sight. Hav­ing served her sen­tence, she was asked (by one of the supe­ri­ors) how she found her rev­o­lu­tion­ary train­ing. She replied back by say­ing that she was in prison and not, as he intended her to feel, in train­ing. He said that she has not learned a les­son yet, and he returned her to prison for some more months.



When she was released and asked the same old ques­tion, she replied back by say­ing, “I was in training.”



There she met and mar­ried Zerai Haile, a fel­low fighter who also joined the move­ment from North Amer­ica. In 1985, she had a daugh­ter and called her Deb­o­rah. She raised her daugh­ter under dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. After the inde­pen­dence of Eritrea, she worked as the Head for cin­ema man­age­ment. On the 26th of Sep­tem­ber 2001, three Eritrean ex-​ambassadors who resigned from their posts by crit­i­ciz­ing their gov­ern­ment orga­nized a meet­ing in New York (the USA). They were: Haile Menko­rios, Hebret Berhe and Adhanom Ghe­bre­mariam. Zerai Haile, Miriam’s hus­band was liv­ing in the United States since 1996, and It is reported that he was one of those peo­ple who dis­rupted the meet­ing, and ver­bally abused the three ex-​ambassadors. He was in sup­port of the PFDJ. Not only that, but in 2001, Zerai Haile wanted to dis­as­so­ci­ate him­self from his wife and the mother of his child due to Miriam’s firm stand on the cur­rent Eritrean affairs, and he divorced her through his power of attorney.



When Miriam heard what had hap­pened and what her ex-​husband did at the meet­ing in New York, she expressed her dis­plea­sure and her dis­ap­point­ment over the phone. Those who know them say that Zerai was furi­ous and angry at Miriam and he was heard say­ing that “she would face the con­se­quences”. What was con­tained within their pri­vate lives came out in the open. Peo­ple who know say that Miriam was reported by her ex-​husband and was put in prison on 6th of Octo­ber 2001, because she showed (how­ever indi­rectly) her sup­port for those who asked for change.