A town in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia
. In 1988 its market was the target of an aerial bombing raid by the air force during the Derg regime. The atrocity left some 2500 innocent civilians dead.
What made it worse was that it was market day, so the little town was filled with additional people from as far away as Eritrea or Gondar. The air force started its attack at around midday and carried on until dusk. MiG-23 fighter jets dropped cluster bombs, napalm and phosphorous bombs and helicopter gunship strafed those trying to run away. It is regularly regarded the most brutal act committed during the dark Derg years.
There is said to be a monument at the site that commemorates the tragedy of that dark day … but I have to find out more when I prepare for a trip to Ethiopia, possibly for the end of 2019 …
UPDATE: on my trip to Ethiopia
at the end of 2019 I was unable to make it to Hawzen (everything was fully booked by the time I got some replies to my enquiries) and then there was no time for a quick stop-over either. I’ve done more searches on the Internet, though, and found a couple of photos of an improvised monument consisting of two stelae and an original phosphorus bomb used in the attack. There were also some ruins from the attack visible in the vicinity. However, these photos were a few years old, and I cannot say whether these ruins and the monument are still there. The guide book I used also mentions a “commemorative park” at the site of the old marked, some 200m south of the current market area. But I haven’t yet found any other references to this and cannot locate it on Google Maps.
Anyway, visiting Hawzen would as such be a bit of a pilgrimage and I regret not having made it there. Hawzen is also a good base for exploring the Gheralta mountains and its famous rock churches, so with good planning ahead visits should be possible.
Moreover, the main lodge for foreign tourists in Hawzen is Italian-run and they offer special battlefield tours relating to Italy
’s military forays into Ethiopia, so there is yet another dark-tourism-worthy added value to be had.
I doubt I’ll make it back to Ethiopia
any time soon, So I will have to leave it at this. If any of my readers have been to Hawzen, seen the monument or even been on the Italian battlefield tour and are willing to share their experience for DT please contact