Shibire Desalegn – A young heroine pays the ultimate sacrifice

Ethiopian Review
July 26, 2005

Shibire Desalegn

Her name is ShiBire Desalegn. She is the first person to be killed when Meles Zenawi unleashed his forces following a peaceful protest by Addis Ababa University (AAU) students on June 6. She was shot and killed by EPRDF troops as she and her friends tried to block the road in Kotebe that leads to the Sendafa torture camp. She helped escape several AAU students from torture by helping them jump from the trucks that were taking them to Sendafa. She didn’t have any weapon. But that didn’t stop the EPRDF troops from shooting her to death.

A high caliber bullet pierced through her neck.

Because of ShiBire’s actions, some AAU students escaped torture. But because of the action and inaction of others, thousands went through unspeakable brutality in the hands of the EPRDF security forces under the direct orders of Meles Zenawi. Thirty days later, Meles Zenawi was standing next to President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 meeting in Scotland, looking proud of his barbaric actions.

Ethiopian Review spoke with ShiBire’s mother, Wzr. Ayelech Birkneh. She is devastated by her daughter’s sudden death. As the bread winner of the family, the 21-year old ShiBire was supporting her mother and six teenage siblings. The father passed away, leaving only a 50 birr monthly pension.

ShiBire could not continue her education, because there was nobody else to support the family. Her income was not enough to support the whole family even though she worked hard. The only choice she had to generate enough income was to go to a foreign country looking for a job.

People in ShiBire’s neighborhood appreciate what she did and died for. They think she is a heroine and a role model. They talk about her with a great deal of pride. She stood up for the students who only demanded respect for the people’s vote. She paid the ultimate sacrifice trying to save others.