Abebe Gellaw interrupted Obama, shouting, “Freedom for Ethiopia!”

San Jose, California– (VIDEO) U.S. President Barack Obama has agreed with journalist Abebe Gellaw’s demand to support freedom in Ethiopia and help free bloggers, journalists and political prisoners jailed by the tyrannical regime.

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.

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.


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Full text of letter

President Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,                                                                                                                                                               

Washington, DC 20500

May 8, 2014

Dear Mr. President,

It is a great honor and privilege for me to attend this unique reception organized in your honor at  the Fairmont Hotel, San Jose.

There is probably no greater place in the United States than the Silicon Valley that truly exemplifies the transformative power of freedom. Transformative Silicon Valley companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Oracle and HP, are more veritable expressions of America’s power and dynamism than its military might.

Mr. President, can you imagine Silicon Valley if all the visionary innovators and dreamers that have made it possible are unjustly locked up in harsh jails to break their spirit and silence them? Mr. President, the answer is simple and obvious. Fortunately, the  United States is not ruled by mindless and ruthless criminals like 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. 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.

So many Ethiopians were glad that you sent Secretary of State John Kerry to Ethiopia last week on a mission of promoting “democracy and human rights,” among other things. They were also pleased that Secretary Kerry demanded the tyrannical government to release Zone 9 bloggers including Nathnael Feleke, a young blogger he had a chance to meet and inspire last year in Addis Ababa. Nathnael, Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu and  so many journalists, activists and dissidents locked up in rat infested prisons have committed no crimes except for dreaming about freedom, justice and equality for their country. Still worse, a few days after Mr. Kerry returned home, over fifty defenceless civilians have been gunned down and countless others have been detained and tortured for opposing land grab and displacement of the poor in Oromia region and Gondar.

The young men and women condemned confinement in dark jails are dreamers and visionaries that want to see the transformative  power of freedom, dignity and justice. Like Martin Luther King Jr., they too  have a dream that one day children of oppressors and the oppressed will sit together as citizens of a nation to decide the destiny and fate of their country. They do not dream of revenge and retribution but forgiveness and peace. As Secretary Kerry correctly said during his recent trip to Ethiopia, “Africans have an opportunity to bend the arc of history towards reform, not retribution; towards peace and prosperity, not revenge and resentment.” That is exactly what we aspire to see in Ethiopia, a country wallowing in the quagmires of poverty, tyranny and backwardness.

Mr. President, it is, therefore, with utmost hope that I urge you,  to do your level best not to compromise our freedom and dignity in exchange for short-term security concerns. While the security concerns of the United States in the Horn of Africa is understandable, forging alliance with a terrorist regime will have far more destabilizing impact in the long term. If this tyranny and terrorism continues unabated, Ethiopia will be another Rwanda or Somalia. We Ethiopians do not wish that to happen, a specter that is becoming more and more imminent with each passing day under the terrorist TPLF regime oppressing our people with impunity.

Mr. President, we remember your speech and promise to Africa that you made standing in Accra: “No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.”  Mr. President, we Ethiopians need to end the corrupt tyranny that has made our lives meaningless. Help us to end Apartheid and state-sponsored terrorism in Ethiopia at least by desisting from propping up those who are oppressing and tormenting our people.

Mr. President I loudly and clearly appeal to you to help Ethiopia move in the right direction. Yes, you can!

– Mr. President, Ethiopia needs freedom and justice.

– Help us free our bloggers and journalists.

– Help us free Eskinder Nega and all political prisoners.

– Help us free Zone 9 bloggers.

– We need freedom, more than food aid.

– Mr. President, help us free all political prisoners.

– Help us stop the massacres and terrorism against Ethiopians.

– Unites States, don’t support dictators in Ethiopia.

– TPLF is a terrorist group. Don’t support it.

– President Obama, please stand with the people of Ethiopia.

– President Obama help us to end Apartheid.

– Mr. President thank you for inspiring us to tell the truth.

I sincerely apologize for the interruption and inconvenience. I do hope that you understand and stand with the oppressed people of Ethiopia.

Most respectfully,

Abebe Gellaw

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Posted by on May 9, 2014. Filed under FEATURED,NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

23 Responses to Abebe Gellaw interrupted Obama, shouting, “Freedom for Ethiopia!”

  1. sanja

    May 9, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    Excellent. This is what we expect from our freedom fighter. I hope that millions of others will follow

  2. Getachew

    May 9, 2014 at 8:37 AM


    Those bloggers were caught red handed inciting ethnic hatred, there will be punished according to the law of the land.
    Regardless of who shouting !

    • Anti-woyane

      May 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      Mr Getachew, be remineded that ‘Rewanda ethinic cleansing is declared and institutionalized by Woyane Ethinic federalism not by innocent bloggers, your government has intentionally annexed the territory of one tribe into the other and incite Holocaust amongst each other yet again you are trying blame others for your inexcusable crime committed against the peaceful people of Ethiopia.

  3. total

    May 9, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Abe,Thank you again for becoming a voice for the oppressed and voiceless Ethiopians!May God bless you and be with you!

  4. Kasahun

    May 9, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Seems, desperado Mr.Abebe will be throwing his shoes or his dirty underware at President OBAMA next. The white security better watch out to this guy, he is losing it more and more time goes by. He is emotional and dangerous to be around.

  5. Matt P-F

    May 9, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    I do not not share the enthusiasm expressed in this article for the performance by Abebe Gellaw. I do appreciate Abebe’s enthusiasm for freedom in Ethiopia and his untiring efforts towards that cause. However, as exciting as it was for Abebe to get the spotlight again in a manner similar to his justified shout at Meles Zenawi, I suspect that this episode will do little more than give catharsis to those of us in the Diaspora who are frustrated over the EPRDF’s disregard for fundamental human rights. The United States will not stop funding for Ethiopia unless it needs an excuse to cut their federal budget again. Ethiopia is far to important to America’s national security interests. Whether freedom or autocracy reigns in Ethoipia, the US will try very hard to maintain a working relationship with the government there. The United States would much rather work with a free democracy than a Chinese style single party autocracy, but we can only take what Ethiopia itself will have in place as their government. Perhaps you can ask the US government to investigate the flow of funds to and from the Ethiopia, freeze the assets of economic and poltical leaders, start a campaign against tourism and coffee. Make the fight an economic priority, not a political one. Politics will follow, because money is power. It is just that American government is not going to be stopped.

  6. Kibrom

    May 9, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    What a man ever strong and nationalist sacrificing all he has so far. Abebe Gelew is still in the lead shocking every power to his best walking to Freedom!

  7. Kebede

    May 9, 2014 at 4:59 PM


    I remember similar incident another Islamist extremist throwing his shoes at the president Bush. Nothing will come out of such hollow drama.

  8. aregawi

    May 9, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    We love you,Abe. You did good job. You are making TPLF supporter to get more angry. Don’t listen them. We are all with you.

  9. Shaleka Demese

    May 9, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Wake up! Change does not come by shouting like chimp, but logic and rational reasoning.

  10. sam

    May 9, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Are hecklers do heckling to raise an issue they are concerned about? Mostly not. we are talking about probably an American culture which has no equivalent elsewhere. Mostly hecklers use interruption of a speech to denounce politician they would love to hate, calling him/her name. Some hecklers voice an issue, using a catch-phrase, they believed a politician has ignored. An issue important to them. But to raise the political issue of Ethiopia using heckling as a means, I assume, is degrading the the political issue the heckler seems to have been concerned. The Ethiopian political issue does not depend on hecklers to be addressed. Rather it needs visionary politicians. I think the Ethiopian diaspora has the opportunity to learn vastly from the West how democracy functions. Our learning curve smoothly grows if we differentiate political persuasion from slogan throwing. Obama might respond, if he could, positively for the former, but not fort the latter.

  11. TERUBE

    May 10, 2014 at 3:32 AM


  12. TERUBE

    May 10, 2014 at 3:35 AM


  13. TERUBE

    May 10, 2014 at 3:37 AM


  14. Thomas

    May 10, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    Hecklers may had been rejected by the democratic process, but they are attempting to grasp attention and power through undemocratic means (heckling).

  15. Gregory H Stanton

    May 10, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Abebe Gellaw has been speaking truth to power for many years. After he interrupted a speech by Meles Zenawi in Washington, DC a few years ago, Zenawi’s thugs sent an assassination team to kill Abebe, and they were caught red-handed by the FBI. Abebe had to leave his position as director of Ethiopian Satellite TV, which has courageously criticized the Ethiopian dictatorship for years, and turn it over to people he had trained. Abebe had to move his family to the West Coast with FBI protection.
    Some would condemn Abebe’s protests as “heckling”, but polite conversations with President Obama, who has continued America’s massive aid to the Ethiopian tyranny, have no effect. Abebe’s approach worked. He got the President’s attention without irritating him. Bravo, Abebe! Keep up your public protests of American support for the Ethiopian dictatorship.

  16. Hailu Belay

    May 10, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    I like this guy.he’s really genuine & commited person.if all ethiopians stand firme like him,we can make the difference.
    Abe,i can tell you that you are the real **ye Ethiopia Lij**.I’m proud of you.

  17. sherif,

    May 11, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    I think the applause should go to the president , He handled the heckler with smart way and responded fully by praising the American freedom of speech , apart from that I don’t think it contributes any to the idea except being on the news , that is all . The heckler and most Ethiopian media’s reports the president agrees on the hecklers motion , be mature what do you expect from the president ? yes i agree with you ,not contradistinction ,the president knows how to handle hecklers very well , the praise must go to the president .

  18. Getahun

    May 11, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    President Obama handled well this uncivilized rude heckler.

    Good Job Obama !

  19. Aba_chegwara

    May 11, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    I saw the sad event which was made by someone who lacks te civility to present his issues in a politie manner. I think the heckler is doing more harm than good. Today even the oppistion parties can not deny that Ethiopia is doing well in breaking the chains of poverty. I think th eheckler needs to understand that Ethiopia is for ethiopians and tigrayans are ethiopians.

  20. Southerner

    May 13, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    I 100% agree with Mr. Getachew’s openion, that correcting and fixing Amhara’s mess ain’t easy task.

    I do not blame no body for all the mess Ethioipa is been for the last 100 years, I blame the tribalist and discriminative racist governments of the AMHARA DOMINATED GOVERNEMNTS who ruled Ethiopia for the last 100+ years by oppressing and mass genociding Oromo,Tigreans and Eritreans and other non Amhara Ethiopians.

  21. Demeke

    May 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    LOL! Sheepish foolish Mr.Abebe daydreamer thinks that screaming and shouting like a mad dog may get him political power and attention, he is thinking like 1814 not 2014