Political Violence During the Därg Regime: Red Terror in Däbrä Marqos Town, 1977-1978

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Addis Ababa University


Reconstructing the history of Red Terror in Däbrä Marqos Town (1977-1978) is the focus of this thesis. This study covers the period from February 1977 to August 1978, during which the people of the town, like the other urban population of Gojjam, experienced the violence of the Red Terror. The thesis deals, among other things, with the introduction of civilian political parties into Däbrä Marqos, their political squabble and its transition to political violence. On the other hand, tremendous efforts have been made to assess the feature of Red Terror in Däbrä Marqos. Revolutionary turmoil, clashing interpretations among the political parties and the Därg Regime, on how to realize socialism led to violence. The majority of those murders took place during the 1977-1978 ‘Red Terror’, which was a campaign of urban counter-insurgency waged by the Därg in Däbrä Marqos during which excessive violence was used to terrify the population and eliminate dissent. Moreover, the thesis treats the structural organization of the Red Terror in Däbrä Marqos. The torture and killing in Däbrä Marqos from 1977 to 1978 were organized and executed by institutions set up by the Därg. Institutions central to this were the abeyot tebäqa, the Qäbälè Associations, the police force, the Revolutionary Campaign Coordinating Committee, and the Därg Interrogation Division. In fact the role of local actors was not that much strong. Thus, unlike the other urban parts of the country, näša èrmeja was not implemented by local qäbälè officials. Therefore, Red Terror’s violence, especially killings, in Däbrä Marqos was taken by forces of the central security apparatus. In sum, it is one of the gloomiest episodes in the history of Däbrä Marqos Town, from 1977 to 1978. Therefore, this study attempts to fill some gaps by showing the actual event in the study of Red Terror in Däbrä Marqos.