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Massacre in the church of Medhanie Alem Gu’etelo, on the parish’s most important day of the year, the Festival of Jesus the Savior of Gu’etolo

Around 9 AM the Eritrean troops came to the church, asked the remaining congregants to stand in a file. They then shot them dead. They also went to the small residence of the church’s elderly teacher, Priest Kidanemariam Teferi. In the house were other three scholars of the church who were with him after the church service was discontinued. These were Priest Gebreyohannes Desta, Priest Desalegn Kahsay (Meri-Geta) and Priest Gebre Atsbeha. The Eritrean troops shot four of them dead in the small house.



In Tigray, parishes celebrate, once a year, one main religious festival in their church and their homes. The parish’s church is invariably named after a patron which can be a saint, an angel or God and the festival is a yearly celebration of the church’s patron. On the eve of the festival, the parishioners and guests from outlying areas come to the church and spend the night praying, chanting and partaking in the religious celebration. On the day of the festival (in the morning or afternoon, depending on whether it is a fasting season or not), the parishioners and guests move the celebration to each of the parishioner’s houses. Every parishioner’s house hosts guests from outside the parish and the guests can stay upto 4 days.

The parish of Medhanie Alem Gu’etelo in Gulomekeda (Eastern Tigray) celebrates its main yearly festival,  the Annual Festival of Jesus the Saviour,  on 05 January of the year.  On 05 January 2021, however, it was not a day of celebration, but rather a day of gruesome massacre. 

From the eve of the festival, parishioners and guests gathered in the Church of Medhanie Alem Gu’etelo – Gu’etelo Jesus the Saviour Church – to celebrate and partake in the annual Festival of Jesus the Saviour. Battles and gunshots had been heard, but nonetheless the people gathered in the church,  for this is the most important day of the year for the parish, but also to pray and seek refuge.  

From 5 AM to 9 Am, Eritrean troops fired artillery at the church and the congregation, and the surrounding areas.  More than thirteen artillery strikes hit the church and its compound alone, damaging and destroying the church, shattering its windows and roof, and killing its congregants. Many fled, but some remained in  the church’s compound.

Around 9 AM the Eritrean troops came to the church, asked the remaining congregants to stand in one line. They then shot them dead.  They also went to the small residence of the church’s elderly teacher,  Priest Kidanemariam Teferi. In the house were other three  scholars of the church who were with him after the church service was discontinued. These were Priest Gebreyohannes Desta, Priest Desalegn Kahsay (Meri-Geta) and Priest Gebre Atsbeha.  The Eritrean troops shot four of them dead in the small house.

A video of the church with shattered windows (they are covered) and signs marks of shrapnels.
Another video of the church


In the church and the church compound alone,   a total of 28 people were shot dead. 27 of the victims have been identified by name. We have also identified three others killed in the surrounding areas of the church.  The list is obtained from family members and eyewitnesses. 21 of the victims are males and the remaining 9 are females. The victim  in number 24, Bekuretsion Desta, had mental health problems. 

List of people massacred in the church and its compound. 

          Full NameGender
1.Priest Gebreyohannes DestaMaleChurch scholar 
2.Priest Nega Tesfay (Aba Majur)Male
3.Priest Kidanemariam Teferi (Meri-Geta)MaleThe church’s  main scholar
4.Priest Hadush Hailemariam MaleGebez (Church leader) 
5.Priest Gebre AtsbehaMaleChurch Scholar 
6.Hagos HailuMale
7.Kidane TeklehaimanotMale
8.Birhane Gebrearegawi cut his neckMale
9.Girmay Niguse (with his son, Mikias)Male
10.Mikias Girmay Niguse (with his father, Girmay)Male
11.Berhe Desta Weldegebriel (Deacon)Male
12.Tsigab Alem Fitwi (Deacon)Male
13.Desalegn Tesfu HagosMale
14.Atakilti Mesele GebreyohannesMale
15.Etay Zehafta (Nun)Female
16.Mihret GebreezgiFemale
17.Hadega LemmaFemale
18.Kahsa GebreFemale
19.Kidan WelduFemale
20.Kidan RedaFemale
21.Letay Gebremariam (with her daughter, Birhan)Female
22.Birhan Gebretsadik (with her mother, Letay)Female
23.Birhane Gebresilassie (Deacon)Male
24.Bekuretsion DestaMale
25.Destalem GirmayMale
26.Birhane Gebreyesus (near) Male
27.Priest Desalegn Kahsay (Meri-GetaMaleChurch scholar 

Some names of people killed in the surroundings of the church . 

28.Abrehet Oqubazgi Female
29.Tesfay Gebreselassie Male
30.Angesom Gebreselassie Tadesse (Wedi AgerayMale

The area is still under Eritrean control. Asked about their situation now, one resident said “no one is left here, only the old and sick that can not flee. We are not allowed to let our animals graze and we are dying of hunger. Our women are being abused. They asked my son where his parents were and when he said they went to church, they hit him hard. Please let the world know that we are perishing”. Another resident said “we need peace. We live now in terror”. A third, elderly father said “we have nothing this year. We did not collect our harvest and our animals have been slaughtered or looted. Without help, we won’t be able to make it”.  A priest added “not only do we have nothing left, but also to do anything or even move, you have to pay a huge bribe, or you are simply robbed.  We are in a time when a human eats a human”. 

Asked whether they have been visited or comforted by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church or any official from the Ethiopian government, a priest from the parish responded saying “none”.  Speaking about the church in particular,  the priest said “which church? There is no church, we know that. We know who the so-called church sides with”, referring to the  church’s history of  being Amhara politicians’ political tool.

There seems a trend of in the invading forces committing massacres on special religious holidays. The massacre in Mariam Dengelat was also committed during the annual celebration of the festival of Saint Mary of Tsion, which is the patron of the church and the parish. The Bora massacre was committed on the Christmas time, the destruction and looting in Gulle was committed on the day of Timqat, and the shelling of a church in Daero was committed on Sunday.     

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  1. Callaspadeaspadecampaign2

    May 7, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    Eritrean refugees are fake economic migrants. you may read the story at The world must act and must not let UNHCR play with the fake stories of eritrean refuges who claim to get tortured by the Isayas and supporting the regime and its war crimes in overseas. wanted for bank robbery in Norway caught Metkel bank robbery in Stavanger last month There is fresh pressure on the Norwegian authorities to halt illegal tax collection by the Eritrean government from members of the exile community Call a spade a spade campaign launched -!
    የማንኪያ ና ጭልፋ ከገበያና ከቤት መጥፋት አሳስቦናል፥፥በቅርቡ ከሀገር የወጡት ፖለቲከኛ ሽሮፕ የሚወስዱባት(ስቴሪላይዝድ ስፑን)ማንኪያ ከሻንጣቸው መጣፋቱ ደጋፊዎቻቸውን እንዳሳሰባቸው ተገለጸ፥ከውሃ እንኳ ወድቅ ቀይ ባሕርን ተሻግርሮ የኤርትራ ባሕርን አቋርጦ በአዲ ሀማሴን በኩል ብቅ ማለቱ አይቀርም ሲሉ ይተነብያሉ(አድለያቡ፦፦)

  2. Church of Tigray should stand with the people (donors and protectors)

    May 6, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    The Tigray Orthodox tewahedo Church leaders and leaders of other churches in Tigray who are sending millions from a war-torn Tigray should be held accountable and subjected to criminal investigation.This is a total denial of the population that helped them succeed in their dreams and become leaders of the church in alll the capacity and position they practice at the church of Tigray. It is compeletly unacceptable and inhumane act that is not customarily expected from church leaders.
    I cannot imagine to see a church leader giving out millions to hooligans who are killing their own christly children , massacring priests, burning churches and monasteries.

    Donot misunderstood this message. We want these churchmen to get fired from any kind of ecclesiastical postion they hold.Their large sum of money should be given to those who are affected by the war and chidren lost their family. If you think “Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.Mark 12:7 ” this biblical law should be applicable in this case, you may spent it on rebulding churches which were damaged and burnt during this ongoing war.
    I cannot believe this could happen in this time when people are doomed to die from hunger and innocent lives massacred mercilessly, a churchmen emptying a donation box(alms) to support a political party killing their own people.

    BTW, we have church leaders who publicly acknowledged for their spritiuality by setting a perfect example for all of us and do want nothing from the church’s treasure , but do generously sponsor attendants(disciples) of Traditional Schools of Orthodox Tewahedo Church ( ኦርቶዶክስ ተዎህዶ ቤተክርስቲያን ጥንታዊና ባህላዊ ትምህርት ቤት), build churches and help them poor.

    There should be a manner this kind of people to get questioned before the secular law officers other than leaving all grave matters to the spiritual cabinet(መንፈዊ ፍርድቤት). It is to refer to all matters that are not likely got solved by the socalled መንፈዊ ፍርድቤት !It is culturally strange to see A monk who publicly claim to have abandoned the worldly life and you find him or her leading a pretty mundane existence at time .It is again unacceptable for Godlymen making 15,000 -30,000 ETB is per month, while the donors cannot afford to enjoy a meal twice a day. Every poor man sells tomatos, firewoods, local drinks etc and able to sponsor churchmen and built a church .
    They must not ignore the favor that every poor men and women did for their survival and must avoid befriending and working with genociders. Again, donot misunderstood this message. You all are making huge mistake before and later the conflict, all must be judged before the law and no need to act violently and must tell them to stop this act of handing our properity to Ethiopia while our people are dying. Giving 9 million to ETHiopia at this time is unaccepatble!

    • Donot devalue the unfathomable sacrifices made so far by releasing war prisoners untimely and ostensibly for political gain

      May 6, 2021 at 1:56 pm

      Tigray defense force(TDF)officials are contributing hugely to the massacre of our People, destruction and total demolition of public and private properties of Tigray.

      Why and how ? TDF officials are releasing prisoners of war (POWs) reluctantly . Based on the videos posted by some Tigrean activists and youtubers , these officials are quite politically motivated and paying less attention not only to the life of unarmed Civilians , but also that of the armed Tigrean fighters who are member of TDF.

      NO one could accept you , if you shamelessly dare to tell us that Tigray defense force members are equipped with sniper-proof bullet proof glass and could avert a surprise guided-missile attack and no single TDF member has died in this conflict .The idea is We are sacrificing our heroes and loved ones in this war famed to have no rules .In the process of defeating and capturing enemies, We could easily assume that we lost and we are losing many youngesters – our fallen heroes who gave up their souls for their people and land.

      The saddest story is that our leaders are reducing all these pricesless sacrifice to nothing-sending war criminals to their homes and allowing them to make fun of the bloody sacrifce made by every unarmed Tigraway and TDF member!
      Those POWs from ENDF, Amhara militia and Fanos along with Eritrean defense forces are unfortunately getting the second , sometimes third chance, to reorganize themselves and re-enter Tigray and massacre our people and destroy our land.
      All those civilians got killed by these POWs were fed and received a medical service by the socalled International law abiding TDF members.

      According to international humanitraian law(IHL), POWs cannot be prosecuted for taking a direct part in hostilities.  Their detention is not a form of punishment, but only aims to prevent further participation in the conflict. They must be released and repatriated without delay after the end of hostilities.  The detaining power may prosecute them for possible war crimes, but not for acts of violence that are lawful under IHL.
       IHL also defines minimum conditions of detention covering such issues as accommodation, food, clothing, hygiene and medical care.   This kind of IHL donot take all circumstances into account like that of POWs in Tigray and the capacity of governing bodies that are considered as captors.

      Releasing POWS is recommended at the end of hostilities, hindering POWS not take part in th conflict again. There are stories from Tigray,some POWS are captured twice and thrice.This endangers the lives of our people and absolutely devalue the sacrifce made by TDF memebrs.
      The higher academic institution in Mekele was looted and destroyed by the captives (POWs) who were numbered over 10,000.
      The Second World War in Yugoslavia saw a brutal struggle between the armed forces of the Third Reich and the communist-led Partisans. Despite that, the two sides negotiated prisoner exchanges virtually from the beginning of the war. Most people know the fact that captors made POWs and after the hostilities come to an end, the captors do the exchange of POWs with their enemies. However, TDF officials are setting freely war prisoners , while enmies are killing unarmed civilians in home-to home search campaign, in the streets, places of worships, monasteries and nunnery, etc . Furthermore, Amhara dominated ruling, Prosperity party, is arresting civilians residing outside Tigray, apprehending former Ethiopian military figures, experts, troops etc and putting them behind bars , torturing and some were reportedly massacred for their ethnicity.It is exceedingly illogical and inadmissble to thin that Prosperity party will treat war prisoners from Tigray while killing our unarmed civilians and children.

      However, the genocide or the socalled war (with no rules) is too far beyond the end. BTW, I dont call it war , but a premeditated and long awaited genocide that involves foreign actors and taking place not in a warfront but in towns , villages and home-to-home search killings of civilians-mothers, children, elders and churchmen etc..

      There is a local saying « a drum looks pretty in the hands of another person , but it does cause extreme unease when you are invited to play with it. You all may dare to forward such old saying to this article, but the officials involved in this act are causing a huge damage to our land and priceless lives of our people which cannot be refuted and denied regadless of their authority and educational excellence.

      Stop releasing war criminals untimely & reluctantly and dont underestimate the lost lives of Tegarus and sacrifices made by TDF -every patriotic Tigraway!

      All those POWs captured and victories racked up does indeed took pricessless lives of loved ones and we lost public and private infrastructure set up by pouring our blood, sweat , and tears !!

      Sources for additional information

      PS: Dear TDF leaders, Donot devalue the unfathomable sacrifices made so far by releasing war prisoners untimely and ostensibly for political gain. Tigray and the whole Ethiopia is a crime scene as we speak need perpetrators to be brought to justice and their massive warcrime must be subjected to judicial review by judicial powers and we urgently need an appropriate and stern legal action against genociders-Prosperity party, ENDF , Amhara militia, Fanos, ESAT,and Eritrean army leaders with the inclusion of UAE !

    • Tigray Prevail

      May 7, 2021 at 11:03 am

      There are rumours circulating about prosperity cadres and intelligence officers(probably from Eritrean forces and fans of PP ) who work and intervene in the church of Tigray and putting the squeeze on our church leaders to give out a huge amount of money to Ethiopia. This is a trustworthy information and need to be studied before putting the blame on our fathers who might forcefully be twisted to do without their will.

  3. Help END the war on Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia

    May 5, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Help End the war on Tigray, Oromia and other regions where mass killings of nations and nationalities has been undertaking under the guidance and supervision of Eritrean and ethiopian ruling political elites whose killing machines are mercenary troops trained and brainwashed to kill fellow country men who lived in harmony for years!

    Bring perpetrators , cyber militants catalyzing mass killings , rape and starvation to justice!
    FYI, as a a habitual liar , he a habitual liar , He just warps himself in the flag and talks about “election”, “unity”, ethiopianism- which as an interchangaebly used term to designate Amharanism” , while thousands got massacred on a weekly and sometimes on a daily basis , and hundreds die from hunger at their home, saddly speaking !

    We cannot urge anyone at this time to remain in unison ( being ethiopian) while hundreds of thousands of our people(with the inclusion of all nations and nationalities -fellow huamnbeing) got massacred, religious scholars slaughetered massively and churches got looted and burned! historically speaking , Tegarus has been targeted by various leaders who stoned innocent religious men and starved the population to death over and over again.
    A peacful disunion(breakup) is the only solution at this time and work for realizing an independent Tigray! The peaceful disunion will hopefully bring the mass killing and starvation to an end !
    Help End the war on Tigray and let our people attain unhindered access to basic needs!

    PS:upon considering all these atrocities committed on a daily basis and the innocent people who are targeted , I am speechless and I donot know what to say ! As you all know, everybodies life is as priceless as other man or woman. Whereever they live, be it in a sovereign state , pepetrators should be brought to Justice, ICC or whatever, and face the consequence of their actions! We cannot let them live after slaughering our fathers ! As you all knew, church scholars are nurtured and assisted to do their ecclesiastcal studies under the auspices of the dioces where they undertake the study of sacred song(chanting-Zema, Aquwakam, Kidasae, Kine (Geez poetry) etc)and its local residents.
    Hence, These Church Servants are children and fathers of every Orthodox Tewahedo church member. simultaneously, for these men serving the Orthodox church in any kind of capacity accomplishing a prietsly, diaconal , choral(chanters-mezemiran), etc,whose head is Christ, the laity(adherents) of the Tigray Orthodox Tewahedo church are foster mothers and foster fathers who nurtured and supported them to eduacted themselves and reach at their desired educational level .Our enemies are aiming to destroy both our secular and spiritual infrastracture and the manpower accomplishing the task required for the survival and future exisitance, succession and transformation!

  4. kassahun melese

    May 5, 2021 at 10:32 am

    stop the genocide in Tigray

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