Brief biography: Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopian Peacemaker and Patriot!!

Mekelle:  29 January 2024 (Tigray Herald)

Brief biography: Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopian Peacemaker and Patriot!!

Ex Foreign Minister Seyoum Was was born in January 1949 in Tigray, Ethiopia. He attended Agazi Secondary School, Adigrat and afterwards attended the Bahir Dar Polytechnic Institute from which he received a diploma in industrial chemistry in 1971. He later attended a post-graduate programme in international law at the University of Amsterdam and, in May 2010, was awarded a doctorate of letters degree from the Great Lakes University of Kisumu in Kenya.

Seyoum Mesfin, who was killed in Tigray this week at the age of 71, was Ethiopia’s longest-serving foreign minister. His untimely death robs Ethiopia of a man who exemplified the country’s tradition of enlightened and progressive patriotism. Under other circumstances we would expect a national day of mourning and a state funeral, including national and international recognition of Seyoum’s exceptional contribution to the norms, principles and practices of peace in Africa.

The circumstances of Seyoum’s killing aren’t clear. The Ethiopian government is not a reliable source of information. Eritrea which may well have carried out the assassinations is remaining silent. The official report that Seyoum and his colleagues ‘refused to surrender’ is opaque. The other two elderly Tigrayans killed in the same incident were Abay Tsehaye, who just had heart surgery, and Asmelash Woldeselassie, who is blind. Seyoum is survived by his wife and sons. His wife and son were imprisoned in Addis Ababa and were recently released on bail.

As a person, Seyoum was always warm and accessible, and ready to talk without regard for rank or protocol. He had a well-deserved reputation for treating all his staff with care and respect, for keeping his door open. Seyoum became less active in politics, planning to spend more time reflecting on the lessons learned from his unparalleled career, and building up the think tank, the Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation that he founded. His health also suffered: he had a serious back problem and had difficulty walking more than short distances.

The circumstances of the killing of Seyoum Mesfine, Abay Tsehaye and Asmelash W/Silassie warrant an immediate high-level international investigation. It is hard to see how these three very old men posed a military threat. Their killing is part of a pattern of systematic targeting of Tigrayans, which goes beyond removing their political influence in Ethiopia to the wholesale elimination of a political class representing an ethnic or national group. It is consistent with the politics of genocide practiced by Mengistu Haile Mariam and his generals and by Isseyas Afewerki inside Eritrea and in his ongoing military operations inside Tigray today.

Ex Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfine deserved to end his days in comfortable retirement with all the respect due to a statesman and patriot. His killing should be a red line. Rest In Peace!!

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