By Abebe Gellaw
In his book “Death Threats and Violence: New Research and Clinical Perspectives” (2008), violence expert Dr. Stephen J. Morewitz tries to unravel the relationships between death threats, violence and the extremists who employ violence to terrorize others. According to Morewitz, “There are many definitions of terrorism, but they all pretty much agree that it is a political tactic that involves the use of threats of violence, such as death threats or actual violence, often against civilians, to frighten members of the public or target group into accepting certain political demands.”
There is only one reason why we find the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the annals of the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is a project of the U.S. Homeland Security housed at the University of Maryland. It is only because TPLF is a violent terrorist organization, much like Ku Klux Klan (KKK), that became the core of the government misruling Ethiopia since 1991.
While most of the terrorist activities of the TPLF listed in the database include the pre-1991 phase of TPLF’s terrorism, TPLF’s crimes and terrorism after it has taken over power are the staple of the Ethiopian media and the daily concerns of ordinary citizens that are constantly subjected to killings, torture, physical and psychological abuse, beatings, death threats, as well as forced disappearance and exile.
Since May 18, 2012, a day I openly and defiantly condemned Meles Zenawi and shouted out the muffled cries of Ethiopians for freedom, I have received hundreds of death threats from TPLF agents and operatives. Some have even exploited the power of Facebook and Twitter to call for my head on a platter. “Kill him wherever you find him,” says one Facebook poster bearing my picture under cross hairs. It has been liked and tagged by hundreds of fanatic TPLF supporters making such a criminal incitement go around the world with impunity. Over 55 have endorsed the Facebook poster making a similar call and comment. The most disturbing part of this episode is that many of those who are plotting, conniving and calling for my death or violate my civil rights live in the United States and Europe under different guises.
Mulugeta Kahsay has lived in London, United Kingdom, for many years. A well-known TPLF operative in South London, Mulugeta appears to be so committed to the cause of the TPLF that he repeatedly vowed to kill me, my family and burn down my properties in Ethiopia, though I do not own any. Using anonymity as a cover, he left five voice messages for me between September 11, 2012 and January 11, 2012. The first one condemned me for exercising my First Amendment rights when I protested against the late dictator Meles Zenawi at the G8 food security gathering in Washington DC last May.
While all the messages came from cell phone (+44 7956567005), the last two death threats he made on January 11, 2013 are the most disturbing and chilling because they also target my family and loved ones that have nothing to do with my political views, activism or journalism. A thorough investigation and forensic analysis conducted to establish the caller led conclusively to none other than Mulugeta Kahsay, who drives cab part-time and spends most of his time in the service of the TPLF.
“This message is for Gellaw Abebe or Abebe Gellaw. This is just to let you know that we’re gonna suck your mother fucker blood. Again we have found out that you have a house in Addis. We’re gonna burn it down and we’re gonna kill you ; your family and yourself. We make sure that we finish you for what you did. You deserve dead (sic) penalty. So we’re not letting you go, (inaudible) believe me. Regardless how long it’s gonna take. You, your family, people that know you. We’re gonna to track them down one by one and we gonna to put their blood on the ground. We just find out that you got a couple of houses in Addis. They will be burnt soon,” the threatening message said.
Another message from Mulugeta Kahsay has a similar tone and again targets my family. “This message is for Abebe Gellaw. Abebe Gellaw this is the beginning. It’s not gonna be the end. We are following every step you do [do]. You and your family; we are going to crack you down. We are going to finish you one day. Regardless how long it’s gonna take to see your blood on the road. You or either your family, one of you has to go regardless how long it gonna take,” the threat says.
In a separate message left for me via ESAT radio listeners’ voicemail, Mulugeta repeats his outrage over my protest against the late tyrant. He used a racist expletive (donkey) frequently used by the TPLF to insult non-TPLF Ethiopians.
Under English law, like most jurisdictions, making death threats is a serious criminal offense. Let alone adults with their own families, a 10-year old boy captured headlines last year for being arrested for making death threats. The law is harsh against those who intend to cause fear and terror against innocent civilians. My wife and six year old boy hold British citizenship. Any threats against them also concern the British judicial system as citizens that are protected by law.
Terrorists terrorize others to impose their will and imagined power upon others, especially those who are openly hostile or opposed to the ideologies and activities of their groups. Terrorism takes different forms but it is main objective is making people feel vulnerable, insecure, terrified and terrorized. The impact of terrorists attacks, whatever their forms, cause physical and psychological harm.
Mulugeta has deliberately tried to cause fear and terror against me and my family that have no connection whatsoever with my journalism and activism. But Mulugeta and others who are wasting their time making similar plot and death threats must know that nothing will deter or distract me from struggling for the freedom of the people of Ethiopia. I am not against anyone, but against tyranny and injustice. Ethiopia will be free from criminal tyrants in power that have imposed Apartheid on the people of Ethiopia. Fighting for freedom is my calling. Nothing will stop me and Ethiopians from reclaiming our God-given liberties.
(For details about Mulugeta Kahsay’s terrorist ploy, please see the video released with this piece. )