April 23, 2016
Meison sided with the ruling military Derg against the EPRP, and its members were among those leftists who trained the military cadre of the Derg in Marxist-Leninist concepts. Meison seems to have integrated itself into the security apparatus of the state, and at least according to the EPRP and its survivors, the initial phase of the “red terror” was directed by Meison instigators working inside that apparatus, and correspondingly, EPRP urban military operations were often directed against specific Meison members who assisted the forces of repression. This polemic dates from the period after Meison and the Derg fell out, when Meison was added to the list of targets of government “red terror.” The conflict between EPRP and Meison, rooted in political differences first nurtured in the student movement abroad that evolved into lethal sectarianism after 1974, was the central tragedy at the heart of the early years of the revolution. Yet, it must be said that the true nature of the Derg is best revealed by its evolving relationship with the civilian left. Shortly after this period, the Derg turned against all remaining civilian left groups, leaving Colonel Mengistu’s party Seded to transform itself into a state socialist party. Meison leader Haile Fida, mentioned in this text, was eventually executed by the Derg. Despite the optimistic tone at the end of this article, by this time the majority of the EPRP leadership in urban Ethiopia had already been brutally eliminated.
- Meisone undertook a wide campaign against the formation of a provisional peoples government and struggled for the maintenance of the military regime. It labelled this popular demand for the formation of the provisional peoples government as a “reactionary petty-bourgeois demand.”
- Meisone not only pushed for the banning of the Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Unions, the Ethiopian Teachers’ Association, the Ethiopian Women Coordinating Committee, etc but it zealously worked to form a pro-Derg, Derg-controlled trade union, women’s union, etc.
- Meisone spearheaded the ferocious villification campaign against the EPRP and labelled the EPRP as an “enemy organisation that must be destroyed by force imeediately”.
- Kebede Mengesha, Chairman of the .Addis Abeba POMOA and central Committee chairman of Meisone was the first to propose the carrying out of house to house searches in Addis Ababa. His proposal presented to the Derg in a written form were later applied causing the loss of so many lives amidst the people.
- Long before the Derg declared total war against the EPRP (September 1976), the central committee of Meisone gathered to vote death sentence on a list of EPRP members and sympathisers. The list was forwarded to the Derg and served as the first base for the massive man-hunt carried in Addis Ababa and other places.
- The members of Meisone organised within the POMOA and within the Kebeles carried out direct repression on the masses. The examples are many but suffice it to mention that the central committee member of Meisone, Negede Gobezie, led the assault on assembled university students and personally killed scores of students. Abdullahi Yususf, a leading Meisone member, brutally tortured and killed scores of workers and students in Harar, Dire Dawa, etc.
- On the eve of May Day 1977, using an anti-Derg demonstration as a pretext, Meisone armed groups roamed according to a predetermined plan killing more than 1000 people, majority of whom were young anti-Derg militants.
- The Meisone leaders evolved the Peasant March project on Eritrea and the EPRA areas in Tigrai in 1976. This project, code named Raza Project was defended by Meisone leader Negede Gobezie (in a talk to Ethiopian Ambassadors in Bonn) as a revolutionary action against “reactionary separatists”.
- When the Derg members restructured the Derg and reduced the dictatorial powers of Mengistu and tried to curb the killing spree undertaken by Meisone, Haile Fida and his clique schemed and plotted with Mengistu and stage a coup d’état in the palace and executed Major Moges, Teferi Benti and others.