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US president Obama and Ethiopian activist and journalist Abebe Gelaw in San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel
While Obama was wrapping up his speech last night at a glitzy Democratic National Committee reception in San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel, journalist and activist Abebe Gellaw interrupted the president and called support for freedom in Ethiopia. The event jointly hosted by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and and Y Combinator CEO Sam Altman was mainly attended by Silicon Valley business and political leaders.Journalist and activist Abebe Gellaw interrupted president Obama
Abebe began his message with a positive note. “Mr. Obama, we Ethiopians love you. We demand freedom for Ethiopia,” he said.
The President, who was talking about winning both Congress and the Senate from the Republicans in the next election, replied “I agree with you although why don’t I talk about it later because I am just about to finish. You and me will talk about it. I am going to be coming around.”
But Abebe continued his message and loudly called for help to free jailed bloggers and journalists. “Stand with the people of Ethiopia, don’t support tyranny,” he said to which the president answered again, “I agree with you.”
“We have tyranny in Ethiopia,” Abebe said and added, “We love you!”
“I love you back,” the present replied and noted that his speech was kind of screwed up.
“That is okay. And we got free speech in this country,” he said before wrapping up his speech.
In a letter Abebe handed to the President at the end of the event, he noted that he wanted to take the rare opportunity to raise the voices of the oppressed people Ethiopia.
“Mr. President, as an exiled journalist and freedom activist trying to raise the voices of the oppressed people of Ethiopia, I can tell you that Ethiopians have genuine respect for this great land of freedom and your inspirational leadership,” he wrote.
“But it pains and frustrates me and millions of Ethiopians to see that for over two decades the United States has overridden its core values and forged a questionable alliance with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a terrorist group that has continued to oppress, massacre, jail, torture and displace defenseless Ethiopians.”
According to Abebe, the rare opportunity was another unmissable chance to demand our freedom and expose the tyrants at such a high profile platform of the most powerful decision makers in the world. “I am glad I took the chance though security was extremely tight. At the end of the day,we should consistently demand the U.S to the review its questionable foreign policy towards Ethiopia. That was also the heart of my demand,” he said.