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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Red Terror 'hard to forgive'
By Damian Zane
BBC Africa Live, Addis Ababa

Fikre Kahsai is still haunted by his memories of Ethiopia's military regime under Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Mengistu shows no signs of repentence
A military committee, known as the Derg, overthrew Emperor Haile Sellassie in September 1974.

After a power struggle, Mengistu became head of state and began what became know as the Red Terror.

Thus the socialist revolution was hijacked as Mengistu attempted to wipe out his political opponents.

Thousands were killed, and thousands more, like Fikre, went into exile.

Memories

"Every time I see a person with a military uniform," he told BBC Africa Live!, "I feel shocked. Always a memory comes."

Fikre remembers that soldiers killed people on the streets all in the name of the regime.

There is no act beyond forgiveness.
Philemon Fawoh, Cameroon

Just over 20-years ago, Fikre feared for his own life, while a teacher in the eastern city of Harar.

He managed to escape, first on foot to Somaliland and then by plane to Australia.

He has since returned and now lives in Addis Ababa and runs several businesses.

Despite the memories, he is happy to be back.

"I love Ethiopia," he says, "I love my country."

Bilateral

The Derg was overthrown in 1991, and Mengistu himself went into exile.

He now lives in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, and refuses to return.

There is a trial going on in his absence, but Fikre wishes that Mengistu would come back to face the accusations.

"It would be excellent if justice could be done."

Fikre, however, says he is not ready to forgive Mengistu.

"Forgiveness is bilateral. If I could see a sincere regret on his side, maybe I'll forgive him. But after what he did to thousands of Ethiopians, it's so hard to forgive."




SEE ALSO:
Kenyan MP seeks forgiveness
30 Jul 03  |  Africa
A time to forgive?
25 Jul 03  |  Africa
Mengistu defends 'Red Terror'
28 Dec 99  |  Africa



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