An interview with fighter: Mihret Berhanu

Farajat: Awassa

At the margin of the ENCDC (Eritrean National Conference for Democratic Change) which was conducted in the city of Awassa (Ethiopia) between the 21st and the 31st of November 2011, Farajat conducted an interview with fighter Ms. Mihret Berhanu, member of EPDF (Eritrean People’s Democratic Front) – Canada branch. Following is the interview…



Farajat: At the beginning we thank you for accepting our invitation to conduct this fast interview, at the margin of the conference, although the timing is very tight.

Ms. Mihret: First, I thank you and greatly appreciate your invitation for giving me a chance to talk to you; moreover, I appreciate all your great efforts, exerted as a free and independent nationalist media outlet. Thus, it is my pleasure and honor to be your guest to be interviewed.

Q. – Please, would you introduce yourself to our readers?

A. – Sure…my name is Mihret Berhanu, an ex-ELF fighter (Eritrean Liberation Front). I joined the field in 1977 and after getting an consciousness and qualification course I was assigned a task in the agricultural sector and then joined the Radio broadcasting section. After the ELF entered the Sudan, I returned with a battalionof fighters (SAGEM) to the field and stayed there until I migrated to Germany in 1986 and in the year 1991 moved to Canada where I currently live.

Q. – We knew from your contributions and militant activities to remove the dictatorial PFDJ regime in Eritrea that you belong to an Eritrean opposition group. Would you please tell us to which organization or political party do you belong? What is your current position in the organization or party?

A. – I am member of EPDF, I do not hold any official position in the organization and what I care about is, to continue my struggle within the organization, until we reach the desired goal. Our major objective is to get rid of the dictatorial regime, in order for our proud people to be free and live a decent life with dignity and pride, for which sacrificed and paid dearly and preciously as a dowry to attain it.

Q. – After few hours will begin the election of the National Assembly, in your opinion, what is the importance of conducting the ENCDC at this time, and what is your overall evaluation of the Conference?

A. – The importance of the Congress lies in the presence of the regarded high number of people gathered in one place, at the same time, for the common destiny we have in common. The current situation came as a result of the preparation which lasted for more than one year. Thus, the presence of about 600 representatives which represent different organization’s bodies and thespectrum of the society with all its constituents, different age groups: from elders, the first generation of fighters  and youth in addition to women. The high number and effective presence of women reflect and it is an evidence that all the strata of our society, rejects the policies of the dictatorial regime, and this give me great confidence and optimist to the success of the Congress. It also gives the participants the hope that despotic regime will fall down soon…and then we will be able to built the “Eritrea” we dreamt about, a nation based on rule of law, freedom and justice.                   

 If we get from this Congress, a democratically elected National Assembly in a legal and transparent way, this will give us the credibility required in the Eritrean political arena, and we will attain the confidence of the people inside and outside Eritrea. Opportunities like the one we have, do not occur frequently; thus, we all (as political parties and organization and civic societies) have to make use of this opportunity and this compels me to say this Congress is not liable to fail.

Q. – Some people fear from repetition of the several past failed “unity experiences”, what is the guarantee that such experience will not be repeated?

A. – It is natural to entertain such feelings by some people and it is logical to exert all our effort to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, which led us to grievances and hurtful results. The only guarantee (to avoid failure) is each member of the Congress to bear full responsibility of his share and to contribute by exerting more efforts and bear the historical national responsibility for which we came to this congress…I believe, if we follow the path of national struggle and work to form a National Assembly to bear responsibility will all the powers granted without any blocking or hampering it, is one of the main factors that guarantees a bright future.

 Q. – How is that possible when there are national forces that did not participate in this conference?

A. – All have been invited to contribute and participate in this conference and several meetings and seminars were conducted in all places of the world where Eritrean communities are found (in all continents and parts of the world) and assisting committees were established in those countries. Also the NCDC (National Commission for Democratic Change) directed calls (as much as possible) and published the three application forms for membership to the Conference to: the Eritrean people, civic society organizations and political organizations through the different mass media outlets and different languages. The Commission prepared and published many reminder invitations for the sake of wider participation. Some responded positively and are here, and those who did not participate can join anytime, we are open to everyone and invite everyone to contribute. We should continue our call to invitation by all means and channels, because we are not the only ones authorized to decide on the fate of the Eritrean people.

Q. – This takes us to another subject… some are still fearful of the impact of the past differences between the opposition groups on the future work. Some go further and see the impossibility of partnership with the EDA (Eritrean democratic Alliance) and justify his apprehension to the ongoing conflicts within the opposition forces?

A. –  The conflict between the political organizations is not a secret is known to everyone, and the EDA is the umbrella for opposition political forces which may differ among themselves in terms of presentation their political vision, but are united by one common goal: to topple the dictatorial regime in Eritrea. Undoubtedly the divisions between the organizations undermined the role of the opposition and its effectiveness causing the majority of people to further themselves from participating with the Eritrean political opposition, but this does not justify the subjective offensive ruling on the EDA, or on any other opposition forces. Constructive criticism in itself is a healthy phenomenon, but not victimization of our struggles. For example we did not ask anyone to pay debts of the past twenty years or more, during which period didn’t fulfill his national duty, and those who are unable to work with EDA could struggle in other ways that suit them, without prejudice and belittling the role of others. It is not just and fair to underestimate the struggling role of the political organizations opposed to the dictatorial regime in Eritrea.


Q. – How is the relationship between the forces of the official opposition forces on the one hand and the civic society organizations and independent participants in the conference?

A. – Before the 2010 Conference (Forum) the distance that separates them was big. For example, in Canada, the masses opposed to be represented by any person with political affiliation, but after a full year of working together, the interests of the country and the cause of our people won over our attitudes and affiliations. Then we won the confidence of the masses, which elected the right people with competence and ability, regardless of their partisan affiliations. It is important now, as long as we got together to the conference, this means that those who were watching and observing the seriousness of our task reached a conclusion and became convinced of the importance of joint action and working together to achieve our common and one goal: to get rid our people and emancipate them from the joke of dictatorship.

Q. – What is your vision on the role of expected Eritrean the National Congress?

 A. – The Assembly should work to establish national unity and try to unite the efforts of political organizations and civic society organization and to lead and develop the popular resistance and expand its arena. It should establish a culture of self-reliance and provide the necessary atmosphere and give opportunity to women and youth to participate in all fields and activities. Also it has to commend the international community to bear its responsibility to support our people and work hard in order to redeem our people from the dictatorship through the resistance of the dictatorial regime by all legitimate means.

 Q. – What is your message to the people at home (inside Eritrea) and abroad?

A. –  My message to the Eritrean people in the Diaspora who enjoy freedom, democracy, justice and equality in accordance with the principles of human rights, to align along and stand at the side of our simple, peaceful and oppressed people at home advocate and support them by all means to win in their battle for freedom and democracy. They should never forget…and work to highlight their suffering and deliver it to the conscious people all over the world in order to lift the injustice inflicted upon our people and this is the responsibility of each honorable and honest Eritrean.

The young people fleeing from the oppression of the tyrant should bear more responsibility; they should show patriotism, loyalty, honesty and come forward to lead voluntarily to reveal the “truth” of what is going on in Eritrea of injustice and persecution. Some allege that the opposition is far from what is happening on the ground inside Eritrea so they should refute those allegations.

My last message to the people at home, despite the difficulties and challenges you face from the repressive security apparatus; you have to be steadfast and should not lose hope and confidence in your ability to triumph over the tyrant and his ilk.  For our people inside Eritrea must realize that their role in the downfall and toppling of the despotic regime is substantial and essential … From our side we will not let you down and we are with you and always will be, and we will continue in our resistance and struggle by all available means until we achieve our goals of a “free” Eritrean nation ruled by law

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Posted by on Jan 18 2012 Filed under Interviews, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “An interview with fighter: Mihret Berhanu”

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