Assefa Chabo’s last days. Possible foul play?

Final days of Ato Assefa Chabo. Possible foul play?

By Dimetros Birku
April 27,2017

Assefa Chabo
The late Ato Assefa with his Australian friend.
Picture taken on March 27 ,2017
Courtesy of Gregory Mackenzie

We had been friends on facebook with Ato Assefa Chabo. Like many Ethiopians, I relished his commentaries and insightful thoughts on Ethiopian politics on a regular basis.

From the reactions on the news of his death on social media, it seems the case that no one expected it.

I was more shocked because it was not even a month since I communicated with him on facebook.

I have communicated with him before but the matter that caused my communication with him a month or so ago happened to be something that would reveal his final days rather.

On March 18, 2017 an Australian by the name Gregory Mackenzie sent an e-mail to borkena editor requesting Ato Assefa’s e-mail. When I read, “We are both becoming old men and this may be the last chance I will have to catch up with him. I am not on Facebook ” it made me think that it is not probably a spam or something. Full content of the email is in the screenshot below.

GM letter

I sent an inbox message to Ato Assefa mentioning that I received an e-mail from an Australian who knows him from prison times. In a reply to the inbox message, Ato Assefa described him as one of the best prisoners he met. The following day, he sent me another inbox message that he spoke to Gregory Mackenzie and that he is flying to Dallas for the sole purpose of visiting him, apparently during his visit to the US.
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When I hear about Ato Assefa Chabo’s death, the first thing that came to my mind was whether they met as planned. I sent an e-mail to Gregory informing him of Ato Assefa’s death and wondering if he visited him in Dallas.

Gregory affirmed that he visited him and spent about three hours on March 27, 2017 in downtown Dallas with Ato Assefa Chabo and had dinner in an Italian restauratnt.

A PDF format of the e-mail is here

In the e-mail, he included his e-mail exchanges with Ato Assefa after they met. Ato Assefa’s e-mail seem to suggest that he fell ill the same evening they met and went to hospital the following day. Part of the e-mail he sent to Gregory where he mentioned about his sickness reads “…They did not figure out as yet .Tentatively they said food-poising and infection…”

Here is the e-mail :

Assefa Chabo's e-mail - to gregory

Someone fairly familiar with Ethiopian politics would obviously wonder if foul play was involved. I contacted Mr. Gregory to see if he remembers the Italian restaurant where they had dinner and whether there was an Ethiopian looking person in the restaurant. Mr. Gregory wrote “….Before possibly inciting others to think foul play may have been involved in Ato Assefa Chabo’s death – please contact the doctors who treated him in the last month of his life to find out what caused his death…”

This morning, I managed to speak on the phone to Ethiopian Community chairman in Dallas,Ato Birhanu. Ato Assefa’s son seem to be unable to speak and told Ato Birhanu that he would contact me. Their take? The doctor ruled that it is stage 4 liver cancer.

What Ato Assefa mentioned in his e-mail , “Tentatively they said food-poising and infection…”, seem to be changed.

Ato Assefa Chabo’s profile picture on facebook, which he seem to have changed on April 3, – a blind women with a cane for some reason makes me ponder!

While it is alirght to take the doctors’ word, it does not harm to get autopsy done as well.

Clearly, this post is not asserting that Ato Assefa is poisoned nor implicating anyone. However, knowing what he was intending to undertake in terms of writing – something that would meaningfully deconstruct ethno radicals narrative,those currently governing or otherwise, and given the nature of Ethiopian political intrigues and plots, it is not wise to comfortably overlook matters as if there is no possibility for foul play.

One clear information I got from Dallas is that Ato Assefa led a secluded live and avoided mingling with the Ethiopian community. I wonder if people put that into context as well.

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