The marathon runner made a symbolic protest against the government crackdown in Ethiopia

August 22nd, 2016 Print Print Email Email

NAIROBI, Kenya—In a rare act of defiance, an Ethiopian distance runner who finished second in Sunday’s Olympic marathon made a symbolic protest against his government’s crackdown on Oromos, the country’s largest tribe.

As Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line along Rio’s Sambadrome stadium, he crossed his arms above his head to make an X sign, a gesture that has become symbolic of the struggle of the millions of Oromos. Community leaders from the Oromos—who are estimated to number more than a quarter of Ethiopia’s 95 million population—say the Addis Ababa government has trampled on their fundamental rights and launched crackdowns on protests that have left some 1,000 people dead. Ethiopia’s government has said it was targeting “anti-peace” elements that were looking to destabilize the country.

In a news conference following his silver medal performance, Mr. Lilesa told reporters that if he returned to Ethiopia, he feared for his life, hinting that he may seek asylum as the Rio Olympics draw to a close.

“The Ethiopian government is killing my people so I stand with all protests anywhere…I raised my hands to support with the Oromo protest,” said Mr. Lilesa, adding that he has family at home, including a wife and two children, and relatives in prison. “If not kill me, they will put me in prison,” he said of what the government might do to him if he returns to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s government made no public statement on Mr. Lilesa’s protest and didn’t immediately respond to calls for comment.

The symbolic protest comes at a critical time for community relations in Africa’s second most populous nation, which is a key U.S. ally in the war against terror.

Rights groups say that Oromos have long been financially disadvantaged, but this year tensions with Addis Ababa exploded over plans to use tribal land from the Oromia region for the expansion of the sprawling capital. Months of mass protests led by Oromos were met with deadly crackdowns from Ethiopian security forces. In an effort to muzzle the protests, the government has arrested thousands of protesters and blocked politically sensitive websites, including social media platforms.

The violent clashes contrast with Ethiopia’s reputation as one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, which has boasted double-digit growth rates for years.

The landlocked nation close to Africa’s Horn has closely followed China’s economic and political model, while maintaining strategic alliances with the West on security, particularly in Somalia where it is a major contributor of troops fighting al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab.

But the country’s poor human-rights record has made it an awkward ally for the West. Ethiopia held 10 journalists in jail in 2015 according to press freedom campaigners Reporters Without Borders and was ranked 142nd of 180 in the group’s Press Freedom Index.

“I believe Ethiopia will not fully unleash the potential of its people if journalists are restricted or legitimate opposition groups can’t participate in the campaign process,” U.S. President Barack Obama told a packed plenary at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa during a visit there in July last year.

  1. AMAN@AWATE.COM
    | #1

    Dear Awatista ABUGIDA
    NOW that your free website has taken the step to censure
    ideas by changing its policy of standing for a free speech
    by introducing new requirements of e-mails and passwords……
    Why are you keeping sending me Religious and Ethnic Nationalist
    agent fanatics to me everyday to brainwash and stereotype me into
    their world or underworld just because I said or showed reverence
    to all faiths and respect to individual identities of people or
    persons in line with democratic principles of thinking. Just because
    I showed loyality to moderation and democratic ideals should mean that
    I have to be stereotyped or brainwashed by fanatic elements and agents
    representatives or messengers!
    Sometimes they even go overboard against moderation and democratic ideals
    intimidating peaceful people as if they and their ideals are ruling the
    world community.
    They try to pre-empt innocents and peacefull citizens with accusations
    and pre-conceived stereotypes in order to debase and dislocate their faith in peace and democracy.
    NOW You should know and understand that why I have left commenting on
    your website and being a member of it in the normal sense. I do not
    have to go looking for a pen name or e-mail to comment on your virtual
    website. After all, those pen names and/ or e-mails may or can be as
    phony as the 3 dollar bill or whatever real.
    Thus, in the end I see that your stand is against what you had been
    preaching and standing before. A 180 degrees U-Turn or Reversal and
    if anything unfortunate happens to you in the future, you and only you
    will be responsible for it.
    NOW THAT THE MEDIA CONTRACT IS TORN DOWN AND THROWN
    AWAY………I FEEL FREE TO GO MY OWN WAY AND THANKYOU
    AND GOOD LUCK IN RELIEVING ME FROM MY OFTEN UNCOMFORTABLE
    AND TIME AND ENERGY CONSUMING DUTIES !!!!!

  2. AMAN@AWATE.COM
    | #2

    PLEASE READ AS
    ………….SHOULD NOT MEAN………..
    =====

  3. negasshi
    | #3

    in the attached video you will see the types of people tigre people liberation front has been hatching in the last 25 years. these people are truly genociders. the genocide of the amhara (2.7 million of them unaccounted for), the gambella genocide, the ogaden genocide all becomes easier to understand when you listen to this devil possessed person.

    http://www.mereja.com/amharic/510291

  4. Makda
    | #4

    Ethiopian diplomats , Ethiopian airlines pilots , Ethiopian athletes , Ethiopian international students and so on had been seeking asylum whenever they go out of Ethiopia for 20+ years.For the last 2 decades Each year More than 200,000 Ethiopian People go to worst places like Yemen to become refugees countless die during the journey. The only difference between these countless individuals and this athlete is he was on the spotlight . Ethiopian refugees go to huge extents to save their lives. Not too long ago A co-pilot on an Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Rome hijacked the airliner early Monday morning and flew it to Geneva, Switzerland, looking for asylum.
    The man, an Ethiopian in his early 30s, was arrested when the plane landed at Geneva International Airport, police said. The 202 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 767-300 were not harmed. Ethiopian Airline pilot gets 19 years for hijacking plane.

    An Ethiopian Airlines pilot has been convicted in absentia of hijacking his own plane and flying it to Geneva, 13 months after he surrendered to police there and sought asylum.

    The high court in Addis Ababa issued its ruling on Monday and said it would sentence Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn on Friday. If he ever returns to his home country he could face up to 20 years in jail.

    Hailemedhin, second-in-command on the Feb. 17, 2014 flight to Rome, took control of the aircraft when the main pilot left the cockpit for a toilet break, Swiss police said.

    He then sent a coded signal announcing he had hijacked his own plane.

    With the jet on the tarmac, an unarmed Hailemedhin scrambled down an emergency rope and surrendered to police without harming the 193 passengers on board the Boeing aircraft, 139 of them Italians, 11 Americans and four French.

    Swiss police have said Hailemedhin asked for asylum because he did not feel safe in Ethiopia.

    Opposition politicians and rights campaigners often accuse the government of stifling dissent, a charge dismissed by the government.

    Authorities say there have been growing numbers of people from north and east Africa traveling to Europe to flee poverty and conflicts — though Hailemedhin left behind a well-paid job on the flagship airline in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

    Ethiopian officials said at the time Addis Ababa may ask for his extradition.

    While all this is going on 8/13/16 Tigray Regional State Health Bureau Awarded IOM a Recognition for its Partnership

    On an Annual Health Festival which was held at the Tigray Regional State capital, Mekelle, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was awarded with a recognition certificate for its outstanding partnership in strengthening the Health System of the Region.The Executive Committee of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), in its regular session held from August 16-21, 2016, has evaluated its past fifteen years performance.The committee passed decisions to strengthened the best practices and assuage problems challenging the democratic system and economic transformation of the country.According to the press release it sent to WIC, the Executive Committee confirmed that the Agricultural Development led Industrialization Policy enabled the country to register double digit economic growth in the past thirteen consecutive years.The Executive Committee also emphasized the significance of protecting the affirmative changes gained so far from any kinds poisoning elements. According to the press release, detailed guidelines to guard the democratic system and fight against chauvinist and narrow activities that have been challenging the country’s economic transformation have already set out.EPRDF Executive Committee has urged the public to strengthen and consolidated its efforts against those anti-peace and anti-development groups who have been attempting to destabilize the country and jeopardize its development, the press release emphasized.

    The Annual Health Festival mainly encompasses two major conferences – the evaluation the last 10 years Regional Health Strategic Plan and commencement of the next 5 Year Regional Health Strategic Plan.

    The Award was issued for IOM on the opening day of the festival on 29th of July 2016. The Tigray Regional State Health Bureau stated that the Awarded was issued to IOM to accredit the various bilateral partnerships that the Organization has particularly uphold on health capacity building programs benefiting members of the host community in the Region.

    In their opening remarks, Mr. Abaye Weldu, Tigray Regional State President, and Mr. Hagos Godefay, Regional Health Bureau Head, highlighted the partnership and contribution of various humanitarian agencies on the regional health programs over the past 10 years is highly admirable. This recognition award for IOM’s outstanding partnership with the Regional Government is to applaud IOM’s capacity building activities, materialized direct implementation on TB Outreach and other Programs undergone in Shire Town and beyond as well as the various health equipment, such as Gen-Expert machine, computer and other, donated for Shire town Hospital. IOM’s Refugee Programs mingling for the benefits of host community living in North Western Zone of the region.

    The Award was received by IOM’s Shire Office Senior Operations Assistant Mr. Ashenafi Tefera at Mekelle Tigray Regional State.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-hijacking-idUSKBN0MD15P20150317

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/17/world/europe/ethiopian-airlines-hijacking/

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/ethiopian-airline-pilot-gets-19-years-hijacking-plane-201046089.html?ref=gs

    https://www.iom.int/search/ethiopia

    https://www.iom.int/search/ethiopia?page=1

    https://www.iom.int/search/ethiopia?page=2

  5. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #5

    This young man a courageous one. These days long distance runners who attained success in winning competition are in much better financial position than their predecessors such as Obbo Abebe and Mamo Wolde. They have now foreign agents and are paid generous sums to compete in international meets. He is potentially sacrificing all that purse to tell us all what is really happening over the old country. He should be commended for that and we must do everything to help him out. Let’s send whatever we can to the fund raising account just set up for this purpose. Let’s do this!!!

  6. ደርቤ ቀጀላ
    | #6

    ጅግናዉ ፈይሳ ለሊሳ
    ኤጆሌ ሸዋ ኣምቦ !
    በጣም ነዉ የምንወድህ:: በአንተ ኮርተናል:: ረጅም እድሜና ጤና ይስጥህ::
    ረቢ ስሃክ ኬኙ
    ምንም ጊዚ ከጎንህ ነን::
    ደርቤ ቀጀላ

    ጆሌ ወበራ ሐረርጌ

  7. Freedom
    | #7

    Ato Feyisa Lelisa is an Ethiopian hero. The action he took is not only very courageous and patriotic but also spot on timely. It is happening at a time when the vast majority of Ethiopians are demanding the looting terrorist TPLF thugs to get out of power effective immediately. When a true Ethiopian history is written after a complete annihilation of TPLF poops ato Lelisa will be forever remembered as a brave warrior who stood against tyranny in favor of freedom and democracy. All patriotic Ethiopians ought to be willing to help him financially and with his other needs as he transitions to a new life in a democratic country such as USA.

  8. U2
    | #8

    Dear Ethiomedia
    ENTAY eKUM FALSE news data Endahabkum mis
    Selamawuyan sebat tebaesuna. this is like the
    work of your woyane boss !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It is not like Addis or Ethiopian.
    I traced the source back to your site and
    all the responsibility will be on you !!!!
    coming soon
    Thnak you !!
    Sorry if I been a little harsh.

  9. Fellashum
    | #9

    PLEASE HELP,

    Should I feel sorry or OK for the misfortune
    befallen on the regime in Ethiopia recently ?
    Also,

    the same thing with the blind followers of that
    regime…….should I feel sorry or OK ?
    The situation was telling from the start……
    and the current scenario didn’t just pop up from
    the blue…..!

  10. Le Bien
    | #10

    DEAR@AWATES
    YOUR AMAN

    AMAN ! AMAN !

    SO WHAT IF I DID THAT ?
    I ONLY DID IT FOR YOU !
    I ONLY WANTED THAT WE ALL MOVE AS ONE NATION TOGETHER !
    DIVIDED WE FALL ! UNITED WE MOVE !

    AFTERALL,IT WAS TO YOUR BENEFIT BY BAILING YOU OUT
    OF THE SITUATION YOU WERE IN AND SAVE YOUR FREEDOM
    AND HUMANITY WHICH YOU ALREADY PUT IT IN COMPROMISE
    AND WERE READY TO GIVE ALL WHAT YOU HAD LEFT FOR AN
    EXCHANGE OF RELEASE. THE OPPRESIVE REGIME WAS STANDING
    RIGHT ON YOUR NECK FORCING YOU INTO TOTAL SUBMISSION
    TO MAKE ALL UNFAIR CONCESSIONS AND LOOSE IT ALL IN
    EXCHANGE FOR YOUR PERSONAL RELEASE OR FREEDOM FROM ITS
    GRIPS. SO, HOW IRONIC FOR YOU BE UNGRATEFULL AND EVEN
    HOSTILE AND IN DENIAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FACT !
    YOU EVEN DARE AND GET THE NERVE TO TELL ME BACK WHAT I
    MYSELF TAUGHT YOU. YOU EVEN BECOME SO BELLIGERANT AND
    CONFRONTATIONAL TO THOSE WHO DID YOU GOOD OR SHOWED YOU
    THE WAY. ISN’T THAT COWARDICE ?!
    WHAT AN IRONY !

  11. ለምለም ፀጋው
    | #11

    በጣም አከበርሁት:

    መለከት ተነፍቶ ቅን ፍርድ ሲታአወጅ
    ምንድነው ነገሩ
    የሆነው በዱሩ፤
    አዋጅ የታወጀው ምንድነው ሽብሩ
    እነማን ነበሩ ያንጊዜ በአገሩ?
    እስኪ ረጋ በሉ አዋጁን እንስማ፣
    ድሮስ ይዘፈን የል ሊላው እንኳን ቢቀር
    በዚያ በዋልድማ፤
    እስኪ ረጋ በሉ አዋጁን እንስማ።
    ማን ምንን ገደለ
    እንዲህ ያስቸገረ
    አዋጅ እስኪመታ
    ቅን ፍርድ ታይቶ የማያውቅ፤
    ክመንግሥቱ አንስቶ
    እስከ ወያኔ ድረስ
    ዛሪ ምን ሆነና አዋጅ የተመታ
    ለሚያውቅም፣ ለማያውቅ?
    እልልታውም ደምቋል
    በቋራ፣ በሻንጉል፣ በአርሲውም መንደር፤
    መለከት ተነፍቷል ግድያ አቁሞ ሰላም እንዲሰፍር።
    ማን ጣልቃ ገባና
    ጎሰኝነት ቀርቶ ነፃነት ታወጀ፣
    ድርጊት ተጎልጉሎ
    እውነት ግልጽ ሆኖ
    አዋጁ ታወጀ ነጋሪት ተመታ፣
    ኢትዮጵያ እንድትነግሥ፤
    ፍርደ ገምድል ዳኝነትም እንዲፈርሥ።
    ጎሰኝነት ቀርቶ ጥላቻም ተሟጦ፤
    አዋጁ ታወጀ፣ ነጋሪት ተመታ፣
    ጉቦ ሁሉ ቀርቶ ቅን
    ፍርድ እንዲሰፍን በዚያ በእንጦጦ።
    እልል! እልል! በሉ አፍሪቃ በሙሉ
    ኢትዮጵያ አርማዋን በጊዜ ካነሳች፣
    ለሷ ብቻ ሳይሆነ ደግሞ እንደ ድሮው፤
    በመላ አፍሪቃ ለአሕጉሩ ሁሉ ነው።

    © ለምለም ፀጋው August 25, 2016

  12. ለምለም ፀጋው
    | #12

    ወይ-ያኔ! ወይ- ያኔ!
    ወራቱ እያጠረ፣ ጊዜው እየመሸ፣
    መካሪ ጠፋ እንዴ፤
    ተው አንቀላለድ በጦር በጎራዴ።
    ወይ-ያኔ! ወይ- ያኔ!
    የነፃ አውጩ ጓዴን ምኑ ሰለበብኝ፤
    የቀብሩን ማንቆሮ
    ባአንገቱ ጠምጥሞ አየሁኝ።
    ወያኔን ምከሩ በክረምት አይመካ፤
    ተው ጭጭ አትበሉ፣ መሰንጠቁ አይቀርም
    ጸሐይ የውጣ ለት፣ የዋልድባ ዋልካ።
    ምነው ዝም አላችሁ የህዋት ምስለኔ፤
    ክረምት ያለፈ ለት፣ እናንተን አያርገኝ
    ወይ-ያኔ! ወይ- ያኔ!
    እነማን ነበሩ ሊቀ ሊቅውንቱ፤
    ያኔ በውጭ አማካሮች የተባሉት አንቱ።
    እስኪ ተናገሩ፣ እነማን ነበሩ፣
    ህዋት ሲመሰረት፤
    በሽምቅ ሲማማል፣ ኢትዮጵያን ለማጥፋት!
    አረ ጉድ ዘንድሮም ያነ አዲስ አበቤ ለንብረቱ ፈርቶ፤
    ጭጭ አለ በአድባባይ፣ አንገቱንም ደፍቶ።
    ሽማግሌን ጠፋ ከአድዋ እስከ ሐረር፤
    እንዲት ያገሪ ልጅ በካድሪወች ጥይት፣
    እንደ ውንጮ ቆሉ፣ በመታመስ ይረር?
    እሪ ያገር ያለህ፣
    እሪ የህግ ያለህ፣
    በክረምቱ ወራት ቤቷን አፈራርሶ፣
    ጋቢ እንኳን ሳይሰጣት፣
    በዚያ አዲስ አበባ፣ ህዋት በገዛበት፤
    ልጇን ብቻ ሳይሆን፣ እናትን ጅብ በላት።
    ምነው ዝም አላችሁ
    የህዋት ምስለኔ፤
    ክረምት ያለፈ ለት
    እናንተን አያርገኝ
    ወይ-ያኔ፣ ወይ- ያኔ!
    የነፃ አውጭወች ጓዶች፣
    ያነ ቅዱስ መጽሐፍ እንደ ተናገረው፣
    “… አባቴ በአለንጋ ገርፎአችኋል፥
    እኔ ግን በጊንጥ እገርፋችኋለሁ፤” (1 ነግሥት 12:11)
    እንዳለው አትሁኑ፣
    ተው ተመክሩ ጊዜ ሳለላችሁ።
    ወራቱ እያጠረ፣ ጸሐዩ እየገባ፣
    በዚያ በጉራንባ ፣
    መካሪ ጠፋ እንዴ፤
    ተው አንቀላለድ በጦር በጎራዴ።

    © ለምለም ፀጋው፣ August 21 2016
    የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ ድምጽ ለማፈን በጠመንጃም ሆነ በዱላ እየደበደቡ፣ ለሥርና ቤተሰቦቻቸውን ሁሉ
    ለርሃብ ለሚዳርጉ ሁሉ ተው አቁሙ፣ ተመከሩ፣ እግዚአብሔርንም ፍሩ ጊዜ ሳለላችሁ ለማለት ተጻፈ።

  13. ANAM
    | #13

    sorry Awates

    I thought I was helping. If you do not like it,

    I am and will be all right !

    Actually, it sounds COOL to me and feel free

    to enjoy my time outdoors in the beautiful sun.

    I am sorry to leave you in this situation you are

    now, but hey I have also to respect your choice !

    Hope you do not miss all the FUN and Partying outdoors ! lol .

    Bye, hope I don’t owe ( you ) anything !!!
    AMAN@YAHOO.COM/AWATE

  14. Anonymous
    | #14

    Dear
    EPRDF OPPOSITION PARTIES
    That is why I have constantly been warning you or I had
    been saying there is no any better opportunity and/or
    alternative than the one you already had and already
    missed one. EPRDF had been against its own self dropped
    the ball on the ground for quite a long period with no
    one to pick it up;;;

  15. እንዲወድቁ አይፈልጉም!?
    | #15

    የባሱ እንዳይመጡ ስጋት ስላለባቸው ብቻ ነዋ! ምክኒያቱም ዛሬ አባባሎችን የሚያፍኑና የሚያሳፍኑ ነገ የሰው ልጆችን ለማፈን ምን ይሳናቸዋልናነው?

    ኢትዮጵያ ሆይ, የተሻለ ቀን ያምጣልሽ!

  16. Lee
    | #16

    In USA San Francisco 49ers Football team player backup quarterback named Colin Kaepernick on Sunday 08/28/2016 defended his decision not to stand for the national anthem at a game two days earlier, saying he is protesting on behalf of people oppressed because of their race in USA. Something similar to what Oromo people are going through in Ethiopia.

    “This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all — and it’s not happening for all right now,” Kaepernick said.

    Kaepernick did not stand as the national anthem played before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. The move sparked criticism, and some fans posted videos of themselves burning Kaepernick jerseys and other apparel.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/49ers-quarterback-colin-kaepernick-defends-national-anthem-protest-n639116

  17. DAN
    | #17

    I do not understand why they bark at us those we freed them from
    the WOYANE enslavement system ( those illiterate Tigrians ) on one
    hand ; and those we freed them from the PFDJ’s oppressive system
    ( those illiterate Eritreans ) on the other hand. Both of these
    camps were destined to everlasting life of ignorance and servitude
    mislead by their own partisan leaders in a direct service to the
    tplf and the pfdj and their twisting and/or corrupting agendas.
    They were marked right on their head for death before we the enlightened,
    free, Liberated & courageous ETHIOPIANS ( from all the states ) came to
    their rescue and saved them.
    Proud to serve my country and my people !
    Awet/Dil Le Sefiw / Hafash Hizb !
    Yours,
    Daniel@telecom.net.et

  18. Amhatsion Amdetsion
    | #18

    DEHAI T.
    News leaking from the Mayor’s office of the city of Gondar
    and Tigray region information bureo are indicating that the
    sources of the current disturbances are some extremist groups
    from Bahirdar & Mekelle towns and the extremist ideology they
    bring it to the moderate Gondar.
    The report further indicates that some urban dwellers of the two
    towns ( Bahir Dar & Mekelle ) are badly infected with this deadly
    virus of ethnic nationalism of the past administration of Ethiopia.
    And they carry it everywhere they go…especially where they think
    the can find audience to such preaching due to their moderate nature”
    further added the report.
    The central government was well aware of such extremist idologues and
    their trans border interstate actions from the beginning but chooses to
    leave the issue to the respective Killils or regions to deal with it as
    their internal issues or affairs.
    Some elements in both Tigrai and Amhara have long fallen into the realm
    of extremism in the past 25 years as a result of the then tplf/eprdf rule.

  19. TSIGEREDA KEBEDE
    | #19

    IF LELISA PICKS ME I WILL MAKE SURE HE GETS EVERYTHING HE EVER WISHED FROM A WIFE . MONEY IS NOT AN ISSUE WITH ME . I WILL HIRE THE BEST LAWYER MONEY CAN BUY SO HE STAYS SAFE.

    I AM LISTED AT http://www.ethiopianpersonals.com , http://www.ethiopiandating.com and http://www.freeethiopiandating.com

  20. እንዲወድቁ አይፈልጉም!?
    | #20

    “the Raya are Raya, and not Tigre”,

    አለውሃ ይመስክርና, my root የሚለውን ጮቤ እየረገጡ ወደ ማደጋስካር የኋሊትም ሆነ የፊትለፊት ሩጫ ማከናወን ይቻላል! በሩጫው ክንውን ስዓታት ላይ የግዴታ እጆችን ማንጠልጠል አያስፈልግም! HA,HA!

  21. dije
    | #21

    One thing for sure that brutal apartheid even is gone for ever
    apartheid had outside supporters.
    The Ethiopian regime with out any support out and in and public enemy number one .
    can not stay for long that’s the truth of the nature you can run but you can not hide!

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