What will you do if faced with two tricky choices of choosing sides between a rebel group and your father? Alemtsehay Kasa made a choice not many people would when she joined a rebel group to fight against her father.
Now, a high ranking police commander, Alemtsehay Kasa has shared her story of what happened in the 1970s. She joined a rebel group as a teenager to fight against the Marxist regime.
In the late 1970s, rebel groups were picking up arms against the Marxist military rulers in Ethiopia. Despite having full knowledge that her father had sided with the Marxist government, Alemtsehay joined a rebel group – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
She knew full well that this would mean fighting against her father on the battlefield, but she chose her country over her father.
“Our father, Kasa Hailu, fought against all his five children, politically speaking. But he and I fought in a specific battle called Adi Emiru, where he finally retreated with his wounded comrades,” Alemtsehay Kasa said.
She claimed her mother was also an ardent supporter of the TPLF rebels and tried to convince her husband, a soldier, to change his allegiance, but he refused.
She wrote him a letter pleading for him not to fight their 14-year-old – but he refused and wrote back urging her to “bring back our daughter from the bush”.
Ms. Alemtsehay then wrote to him, saying:
“The regime that you are fighting for is killing your relatives, and it is undemocratic. Even if you are devoted to the cause, a father should not fight his daughter.”
Again he refused to desert the government, which became known for its “Red Terror” purges. They killed thousands of people who opposed the regime.
Alemtsehay Kasa had no choice but to fight against her father.
Mr. Kasa was later wounded in the fighting at the battle of Feres My and taken captive by the rebels. He eventually died in captivity in 1982.
Ms. Almetshay said when she heard about her father’s death from her fellow fighters, she was deeply affected.
“I could not see my father again – I was very sad to hear the news. Above all, I was very upset that my father had died supporting a dictatorial and murderous system,” she says.
It took 17 years for a coalition of rebels to overthrow military ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam, who went into exile in 1991.