Suleiman Adem Suleiman, a veteran of Eritrea’s independence
Suleiman to the left with Ibrahim Sultan in Cairo
Suleiman Adem Suleiman, was born in 1942 in Haikota where he completed his elementary education there. He continued his studies at Agordat Middle School, began secondary education in Asmara and completed it in Kassala. In 1959, he joined the Department of Justice of the federal government that was chaired by Omer Hassan and later worked in the court of Kero and later worked a secretary to the court in Tessenei that was chaired Ukud Ahmed Horoda, He was active in opposing the Ethiopian attempts to undermine the Federation Act.
He joined, The Eritrean Liberation Movement (Haraka) in January 1960, he was a member of a cell chaired Mohamed Adem Haj Idris. After a short while with ELM, he was approached by martyr Abdulrahman Shubak who was delegated by Hamid Idris Awate to enrol youth in the ELF and support the Eritrean armed struggle. He joined the ELF where he established a clandestine cell whose members were Mohamed Idris Sheneti, Abdella Shegrai, Feki Ali Ibrahim, Hamid Omer Mentai, Musa Mohamed Hasim and Omer Khelifa. The cell further expanded recruiting other cells that covered the towns in Gash. This was done in cooperation with Ahmed Adem Omer, who was then in Haikota, and with Hamid Adem Suleiman, Gimi Mahmoud Hazam and Mohamed Ali Omer. The cell in Tessenei was an important cell as it was close to the Sudanese borders.
The cell recruited other persons and that facilitated the links of other ELF cells in other parts of Eritrea and cells in Addis Ababa with the Revolutionary Council of the ELF that was based in Kassala.
Some of those who worked in facilitating contacts among the ELF cells were truck drivers and others that included Abubaker Mahmoud Derar, Mohamed Asker, Ibrahim Zeinu, Tahir Belal, Idris Haj Issa, Mohamed Aleg and others. Camels were also used for transport. Those were operated by Humed Hassab and Mohamed Assenai.
Suleiman recalls that he got a phone call from an ELF cell in Asmara some time in 1965 informing them that an important person will be sent to them from Asmara and they were told to take care of him and send him to the leadership in Kassala, and it appeared that person was Isayas Afwerki. Suleiman met him at the bus station in Tessenei. He was well received and after two days Suleiman wrote him a letter to the Revolutionary Council in Kassala and Isaias was sent to Kassala on a camel accompanied by Humed Hasseb and Mohamed Assenai.
Through those persons clandestine publications of the ELF, weapons and ammunition was transferred to the cells inside the Eritrean cities and to Addis Ababa. The cells among other things collected financial contributions from the members and the business men and those who run agricultural schemes.
The cells also assisted the Fedayeen in carrying their missions inside the towns.
On the 7th of March, 1967, Suleiman was notified by Major Abdulgadir of the Tessenei Police that the security in Asmara has found out about their cell and they will come from there to arrest them. They had no option but to go to Sudan.
Suleiman assumed various posts in the ELF:
- - Assistant to the Revolutionary command in Kassala, March 1967 – Augustus 1969
- - After the Adobha conference he was assigned as a Liaison between the Revolutionary Command and the Sudanese authorities.
- - After the ELF Congress in 1971, he was transferred to the ELF office in Cairo and he chaired the Office in 1974
- - ELF representative in Libya 1976 – 1980
After the split in the ELF, he remained with the ELF faction led by Abdella Idris
- - ELF representative in Baghdad 1983 – 1989
- - ELF representative in Cairo 1989
- - He was appointed as a member of the Central Committee of the ELF and a chair of the Arab and Islamic Affairs of the Foreign Relations Office of the ELF in 1989 and was based in Jeddah
- - Head of Cairo Office of the ELF United Organization 1989 – 1992
- - At the ELF congress in 2014 he asked to be relieved from his duties in the ELF to pave the way for the youth.
He passed away in Cairo in the early hours of today, the 8th of February 2017.
Suleiman was a veteran of the independence of Eritrea, a highly respected person among the Eritrean communities where he served. Despite his organizational links, he served all Eritreans irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious affiliations. He was an intellectual, well respected and well known national figure of great calibre. He will be deeply missed by all those who knew him.
This Biography is based on a note written by Ali Afa Idris and is based on an interview he conducted with the late Suleiman.