Ethiopia: “Never, Ever Again” Memorial Held to Commemorate Red Terror Era


By Seble Teweldebirhan


Red Terror EthiopiaAddis Ababa, May 4, 2011 ( – The Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum organized a 5-Day Event during April 26-30 named “Never, Ever Again” to commemorate victims of the Red Terror (Key Shiber).


The museum started the memorial celebration by dedicating the first day, Tuesday, for children. Children were given a tour in the museum with an explanation of the Red Terror and what happend at the time. The second day was titled “No Women No Cry”. Women from different walks of life shared their experiences and survival stories during and after the red terror.


Thursday was a symposium titled “Then and now: similarities and differences in grassroots revolution”. Different speakers who had been through revolutions in the past shared their experiences, and the stories of Red Terror were told by those who had experienced it first hand.


What went wrong at the time and what was the lesson from that experience were the issues the symposium tried to address.  On Friday and Saturday the Museum had a musical tribute to the martyrs, honoring family and friends. “Tezta” an all day contemporary fine art exhibition and films that memorize Red Terror were also parts of the five-day event.


The Museum was established in March 2010 by the ‘Red Terror Martyrs’ Families and Friends Association. It permanently exhibits pictures, materials, documents and the remains of the victims that tell a story that is probably still in the memory of the present generation. The display begins from the time when students revolt against the Hailesellasie rule and shows how this revolution was stolen from the students by the military.


Red Terror victims ethiopiaPictures at the musim demonstrate the 17 years of brutal rule of the Derg and its leader Mengistu Hailemeriam. From the time the Emperor was detained by the military administration up to the time the regime ordered the killing of the 60 high officials and families of the Emperor is displayed and supported by photos and documents signed by Mengistu Hailemariam himself and his closest officials.


Some of the pictures of the victims of the red terror and the remaining of their bodies are on display permanently at the museum.


Red Terror (Key Shiber) (1978-79) is remembered as a brutal period in Ethiopian history with torture and mass murder of Ethiopians by the then military regime Derg led by Mengistu Hailemariam.


Though the terror still has its controversies and disagreements when it comes to the question of responsibility, it is undeniable that thousands of men, women, and youth were murdered, tortured and multilated in the most inhuman way under the guise of building a better Ethiopia.


According to the report by Amnesty International, around half a million people, most of them young students, were killed at the time.


Mengistu Hailemariam, who lives in Zimbabwe as a fugitive, repeatedly denied any responsibility for the terror. He blames the opponents of his regime who started the killing of Derg officials by calling their action “White Terror”. The response from the military regime for the ‘White Terror’ was handing out guns to ordinary people who were considered to be “Abyot Tibeka” or ‘Guards of the Revolution’.


Mengistu was found guilty of genocide in absentia in January 2007 and sentenced to life in prison.


Seble Teweldebirhan



Seble Teweldebirhan is Addis Ababa based Reporter for She can be reached by sending email through this form.


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