Red Terror Martyrs' Memorial Museum – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Atlas Obscura
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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Red Terror Martyrs' Memorial Museum

A powerful tribute to the victims who suffered under Ethiopia's most devastating regime. 

The “Red Terror” Martyr’s Memorial Museum in Addis Ababa was unveiled in 2010 to honor the victims of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Derg Regime. Anywhere between 500,000 and 750,000 people were tortured and killed during the brutality.

The museum is a memorial to the martyrs who fought against the dictator’s violent military campaign. Although the museum is modern, clean, and well presented, it doesn’t pull its punches. It’s full of coffins, bloodied clothes, and images that tell the story of this devastating period in the country’s history.

One particular room contains a number of glass-fronted partitions displaying the remains and personal effects of people killed by the regime. The remains had been exhumed and placed in the museum as they had been found. Some of them even included the rope used to strangle the person. Each partition also includes a photo of the victim.

Ethiopia’s “Red Terror” reached its height between 1977 and 1978. Men, women, and children from various ethnic groups were tortured and killed under the dictator’s plan to rid the country of those who allegedly opposed his party. Citizens were captured and tortured before their dead bodies were dumped in the streets.

Some of the museum guides themselves are victims of the terror, pointing out that they too suffered the various methods of torture displayed in graphic detail by mannequins.

The museum is free but does rely on donations. After witnessing the exhibits in this building it would be hard not to leave a generous sum.