Olympic Marathoner Hasn't Returned to Ethiopia Since Anti-Government Protest
Aug 25 2016
Following Feyisa Lilesa fearless protest towards the Ethiopian government during the 2016 Rio Olympics, a GoFundMe has been launched dedicated to the marathon runner and his family.
Upon receiving his silver medal for the men's marathon, Lilesa brought acknowledged the ongoing political protests (the Oromo Protest and Freedom Movement) in his home country by putting his arms over his head, wrists crossed, to show his support for the Oromo tribe. "After that I don't move anywhere".
"I don't think that there is any way that he will (go back to Ethiopia)".
Lilesa was not on board the plane that landed on Monday night carrying Ethiopia's Olympics team. Oromo, the Ethiopian region in question, had witnessed a rather violent crackdown on protests and the runner made a decision to show solidarity with the victims and criticise the government's action during the finish of the marathon.
Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country at Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Aug. 6, 2016.
Ethiopia's state broadcaster, EBC, did not re-broadcast images of Lilesa's gesture.
The daring gesture that Lilesa made in Rio is the same one people have made for months in protests across the Oromia region, home to Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, the Oromo.
Unrest in Oromia began in response to government plans to expand Addis Ababa, which protesters said would result in farmers being forcibly evicted and their land seized.
It is meant to symbolize being handcuffed by security forces.
The Ethiopian government said on Monday that he would be greeted with a hero's welcome if he returns, but their statement is at odds with authorities' attempts to violently quell dissent in the country. The Ethiopian government has disputed the death toll.
"Though it is impossible to express a political stance at the Olympic Games, the athlete will be welcomed while returning home along with other members of the Ethiopian Olympic squad", he added.
"I can assure you nothing is going to happen to his family nothing is going to happen to him", the minister told CNN this week.