Testimony of Lij Haile Mariam Gazmu

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December 5, 2012 by neverforgetcampaign

Nationality: Ethiopian

Gender: male

Date of imprisonment: May 1937

Camps of imprisonment:

St. Tekle Haymanot Church, Ethiopia

Debre Birhan, Ethiopia

Source: Command of his Imperial Majesty (Ed.), 1950, Documents on Italian War Crimes submitted to the United Nations War Crimes Commission by the Imperial Ethiopian Government, Vol. 2: Affidavits and published documents, Addis Abeba: Ministry of Justice, p. 14-15: Extract from Affidavit No. 10

Note: The affidavits were collected after the war from many parts of Ethiopia and each was sworn before a judge or magistrate or public official. In cases where the witness was illiterate his deposition was written down in Amharic and then read over to him before the Judge or official appointed for the purpose. English translations were prepared for submission to the United Nations War Crimes Commission, and these have since been revised and checked with the originals for publication.

I, the undersigned, name: Lij Haile Mariam Gazmu, age 45 years, profession: Employee at the Ministry of Finance, address: Duke of Harar Road, Addis Ababa, do hereby take oath and say as follows : (…)

(4) On Ginbot the 11th, 1929 (May, 1937), a certain Italian called General Maletti, who was commander of the Italian forces in Shoa, came to visit Debra Libanos. As the province of Salale was under the administration of the commander of the Italian armed forces of Shoa, whose Headquarters were at Debra Brehan, General Maletti came with a big army and convoy and camped in Fiché.

At that time I was also in Fiché on my own private business. Then the next morning the General ordered the troops in Fiché to move towards Debra Libanos. As the 12th Ginbot is the annual celebration at the monastery we also went with Colonel Garelli. We thought that we were going to honour the feast. When we arrived there the clergy sounded the bell and assembled, wearing their festive church robes, and received the General as they used formerly to receive the King.

When the General saw how they welcomed him, he said: “As I was informed you used to be 700, but now, I see only 300 of you, now, as I want to punish those who did not come to welcome me you must stay in the church so that you may not be mixed with them.” Then he surrounded the church compound with his troops.

He had also previously made a bigger circle round the Mountain. General Maletti called Colonel Garelli apart and talked to him resentfully. When Colonel Garelli returned to us he said: “The General is in bad temper, so let us go.” Then we returned to a place called Chiagal.

Chiagal was a gate to Debra Libanos for the road which comes from the direction of Addis Ababa. When we reached this place Colonel Garelli said to us that the General had given him instructions to prevent anybody coming out. Then in the night time we heard shooting, and I thought they were killing monkeys; but later on I was told that all that shooting was the killing of monks and deacons who refused to go on the lorry. The majority of them were taken by lorries past us and we thought that they were being taken to Addis Ababa; but when they reached a place called Shinkurt they were unloaded from the lorries and the adolescent ones were selected from amongst them and the rest were executed.

The remainder were taken to Debra Berhan. There the youngest ones were selected from among the healthiest and adolescent and the latter were also executed. After this when General Maletti was returning to Debra Libanos with his armies, his soldiers plundered all the property and wealth of the church. Also as this church was the burial place of many nobles and dignitaries, the Italian soldiers broke open the tombs, hoping to find gold. Then Colonel Garelli returned to Fiché, and I also returned to Fiché.

Courtesy of www.campifascisti.it

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