Ask­ing “Where is My Brother?” is not a crime, I guess, we were told by our reli­gious lead­ers..


The Book of Laugh­ter and For­get­ting by Mil­lan Kun­dera (one of my favorites)

Pas­tor Haile Naizghi detained 10 years ago. Crime: he refused to aban­don his faith in Jesus Christ.

Lest We For­get Them! Our par­ents used to say “Niacha intere­siE Amlach Yire­siAni” (May God for­get me if I for­get you).

“The first step in liq­ui­dat­ing a peo­ple is to erase its mem­ory. Destroy its books, its cul­ture, its his­tory, Then have some­body write new books, man­u­fac­ture a new cul­ture, invent a new his­tory. Before long the nation will begin to for­get what it is and what it was. The world around it will for­get even faster……The strug­gle of man against power is the strug­gle of mem­ory against forgetting.”

Pas­tor Haile Naizghi (jailed since 2004 prob­a­bly in the old Ital­ian prison Carcere, Asmara): Haile Naizghi is mar­ried and father of three chil­dren. After his arrest life for the fam­ily became extremely harsh and they fled Eritrea in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. They are still on the run. Haile was one of the com­mit­ted lead­ers of the Full Gospel Church in Eritrea.

Haile Naizghi means a lot of things for me. He was a young boy when I left Eritrea as a teenager. Haile is the third son of Aboy Naizghi and Adey Tsigeweyni, a God-​fearing fam­ily in Idaga Arbi. His older broth­ers, Isaac and Amanuel were mar­tyred in the Eritrean lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. They were much older than myself and I observed them with respect. Amanuel is the age of my older brother and we used to call him Ima. Isaco (Isaac) was the eldest. Isaac used to go to Faith Mis­sion Church before he joined the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. He would have been very happy to hear that his youngest brother have become a rev­erend. But he would have been sur­prised and embar­resd to hear that his youngest brother has been arrested by his com­rades, the cur­rent rulers of Eritrea. Aboy (father) Naizghi passed away long time ago. But Adey (mother) Tsegeweyni died after Haile was detained.

His mother, Adey Tzigeweyni was sick and she wanted to see him. She went to Carcere and she asked if she could see her son. That was impos­si­ble. Se was told:“kidi ati sebeyti”. Mama Tzigeweyni went back think­ing about the two other pre­cious sons, Isaac and Amanuel who mar­ty­ered them­selves for Eritrea. The rulers who arrived in Eritrea on the shoul­ders of the mar­ty­ered arrest and tor­ture the broth­ers and sis­ters of the same mar­tyrs.

Adey, mama, Tzige­hoyni didn’t stay longer. She (RIP) died with­out Haile. Haile loved his mother but he couldn’t be present to pay his last respect to one of the beau­ti­ful and lovely moth­ers of Idaga Arbi.

What sur­prises me time and again is that (MOST) peo­ple (Eritre­ans) who knew Med­hanie, who knew the pris­on­ers of con­cience I have been writ­ing the last two weeks, don’t dare to talk about them. They don’t even say: “Oh, what tragic”, or “I am really sorry for the fam­ily”, or “May God break his/​her chains” or “what can we do to help?” No, I am time and again aston­ished by the total silence of the Eritrea peo­ple. To stay in the metaphore of Kun­dera, they have chose to go dement instead of chal­leng­ing total­i­tar­ian regime, chal­leng­ing their mem­ory against for­get­full­ness. For­get­full­ness! That is what the Isa­ias Afew­erki (PFDJ) regime is upto: he took them away from us and he is telling us “if you remem­ber them, you will face the same fate”. I under­sand the silence of those inside Eritrea, but what about those of us who enjoy the full-​fledge free­dom in the west.