Italo Vassalo is one of the most beloved Ethiopians of this century, on a par with Tilahun Gessesse, Abebe Bikila and others. From Emperor HaileSelassie on down, every Ethiopian loved him and his elder brother Lucciano, the captain of Ethiopia’s National Team in 1960s. Italo helped win Ethiopia’s first African Cup in 1962 by scoring against then powerful Egyptian team.
In 1991, the anti-Ethiopia tribal junta led by Meles Zenawi came to power. A few years later, using its war with Eritrea as an excuse, the junta stripped off Italo Vassalo’s citizenship and kicked him out of Ethiopia, along with tens of thousands of other Ethiopians of Eritrean origin.
In the interview below, Italo expresses his affection for the people of Ethiopia and Emperor HaileSelassie, while indicting Meles Zenawi’s regime for committing a campaign of ethnic cleansing, which is a crime against humanity, against Eritrean-Ethiopians.