TC 10:00:00Ethiopian prisoners of war
Fresh from the trenches these Ethiopian prisoners are the fortunate survivors of the Battle of Badme. There, thousands of soldiers on both sides were slaughtered.
TC 10:00:12Corpses of soldiers
A short distance from Korem, where fifteen years ago, the Great Famine claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, people are dying again. Victims in a war fought between two of the world’s poorest nations over two thousand square kilometres of scrubland.
TC 10:00:28Eritrean soldiers
In Eritrea, hard-won independence from Ethiopia has bred a fierce patriotism. Today these two nations are engaged in trench warfare with modern weapons.
TC 10:00:39Major Berhane pointing out Ethiopian positions
Eritrean Major Berhane points to the Ethiopian positions. He knows his enemy; the commander on the other side.
TC 10:00:51ASTON: Major Tesfaye BerhaneEritrean Defence ForcesTranslation (from Tigrinya):TC 10:00:48 (O/V) “We know them before the independence when they came for training” TC 10:00:51 (I/V) “Yes, we were eating together, we were fighting together. We were digging trenches together. As they came to get military training, we ate in the same place and we slept all together in the same place.”
TC 10:01:05Major Tesfaye Berhane entering the bunker
Major Berhane, a veteran of the Eritrean liberation struggle, fought alongside the Ethiopian Revolutionary Forces for most of the 1980s, ultimately overthrowing Stalinist dictator Mengistu. Colonel Hawaz who now faces him across the front-lines was a fellow soldier and a friend of Major Berhane.
TC 10:01:26Major Tesfaye BerhaneTranslation (from Tigrinya):“Before we were fighting together to destroy our common enemy. At that time we had a common aim and we had no problem with them. But now they came to our land to invade the country which we struggled for. I don’t have any feeling at all. Whatever friendship I had with him will not matter at all in the face of issues concerning my country. My country is more important than the friendship I had with him.”
TC 10:01:48Eritrean TV footage of trench warfare
Recent Eritrean TV shows what purports to be human waves of Ethiopian soldiers approaching the Eritrean trenches. In this battle Eritrea claims to have killed ten thousand Ethiopian soldiers in three days. On the Eritrean side, according to some battle field analysts, the dead could be as high as three thousand, a massive figure for a small nation of only three million.
TC 10:02:14Exterior of building, then GV’s & CU’s of prisoners of war inside
It seems the safest thing to be in this conflict is a prisoner of war. At this POW camp eighty kilometres behind the front-lines we found about five hundred Ethiopian soldiers, many of them claim to be forcibly conscripted and then thrown into the front-line.
TC 10:02:40Fekadu Tashome collecting his food
One of them is sixteen year-old Fekadu a former car park attendant.
TC 10:02:45ASTON: Fekadu TashomePrisoner of WarTranslation (from Amharic):“What frightened me most was the mortar. But God saved me. At that moment it is Our Lady Mary who saved me. We were side by side expecting an attack. Just after I told my friend to move apart, a shell fell between us. It desintegrated the man behind me. It made him look as if he had never been there. When I turned to look for my friend he had fallen to the ground. I just jumped into the trench and surrendered. So at that moment it was St Michael who saved me. I could have died. Later on I say to myself ‘what a miracle to come out of this alive’.”
TC 10:03:20GV’s of Asmara Girmai walking down street then in a bank
Asmara. Eritrea’s Italianate capital. Here it’s only a hundred kilometres from the front-line. This city has opened its arms to some of the 52,000 people of Eritrean origin, summarily deported from Ethiopia since last May. Girmai had to leave his Ethiopian wife and his children behind. We put him in touch with his family for the first time since his expulsion.
TC 10:03:47Girmai Gebreigzeaber (Speaking on phone)Translation (from Tigrinya):“Nahom, Are you crying? Are you crying? Are you still crying?”
TC 10:03:56Girmai working on sewing machine
Now Girmai, a tailor, is trying to put his life together. But the trauma of separation from his family, means its difficult for him to begin.
TC 10:04:06ASTON: Girmai GebreigzeaberTailor from Addis AbabaTranslation (from Tigrinya):(O/V) “They came at 3.40 (in the morning) with five Kalashnikovs. They took me out of my house. I couldn’t even say goodbye to my family. I was frightened. I thought they were going to kill me.”(I/V) “We managed to escape alive, but it is like a living death. Having worked for 40 years, having brought up and educated my children, having lived in a country I considered my own... such things ... in no part of the world, in no continent ...”
TC 10:04:43Family grieving
At least Girmai is still alive and knows where his family is. This family is mourning a young mother of three, killed in an Ethiopian bombing raid.
TC 10:04:57Victory celebrations on the streets of Asmara
Out on the streets their compatriots celebrate a battle-field victory in which thousands have died. Despite the massive military strength of its neighbour, Eritrea and its army endures.
TC 10:05:13Dissolves to footage of trench warfare
As the Organisation of African Unity struggles towards a cease-fire many thousands of others are destined to die.Martin Adler, Channel Four News, Eritrea
TC 10:05:25 ENDS