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Why I run: I will continue to protest until the Oromo people in Ethiopia gain their freedom. May 20, 2017

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Why I run 


I will continue to protest until the Oromo people in Ethiopia gain their freedom.


 ALJAZEERA ENGLISH, 19 May 2017
Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crosses his wrists in solidarity with the Oromo people after crossing the finish line at the 2016 Rio Olympics [Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha]
Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crosses his wrists in solidarity with the Oromo people after crossing the finish line at the 2016 Rio Olympics [Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha]

by 

Feyisa Lilesa is a long-distance runner from Ethiopia and a member of the Oromo people.

My name is Feyisa Lilesa. I am an exiled marathon runner from Ethiopia.

I have not been back to my country since winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games last August. In Rio, as I approached the finish line, I crossed my wrists above my head in solidarity with the men, women and children who have died fighting for their rights and those who are still suffering under the brutal regime in Ethiopia.

It was a sign of nonviolent resistance used by protesters in my native Oromia region, the largest of Ethiopia’s nine ethnic-based states.

Much has changed since my Olympic protest in Rio. I now live and train in exile in the United States. Last February, I was reunited with my wife and two children.

Meanwhile, despite the global spotlight my protest attracted, the killings, imprisonment and harassment of my people by Ethiopian security forces have only worsened.

This is why I continue to protest, after every race and at every media event.

In a few days, the World Health Organization (WHO) member states will elect a new director general at the 70th World Health Assembly. One of the top three candidates is Tedros Adhanom, current special adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister and Ethiopia’s former foreign and health minister. Adhanom is travelling the world discussing human rights (while comically admitting Ethiopia’s record is “not perfect“) as part of his campaign to lead WHO.

Adhanom is one of the chief architects of Ethiopia’s repressive regime. He has been a cabinet minister for more than a decade. In 2015 and 2016, according to human rights organisations security forces killed hundreds of peaceful protesters; the number in my opinion might be more than 1000. Adhanom, then the country’s foreign minister, downplayed the extent of the problem and denounced even the scant international scrutiny of Ethiopia’s human rights record.

In an op-ed last October, Adhanom targeted Human Rights Watch – blaming the New York-based nonprofit and the Ethiopian diaspora for whipping up anti-government protests. Having systematically decimated domestic opposition, the civil society and independent press, this was part of his regime’s attempt to intimidate and silence critics abroad. Like the government he served, which spends millions of dollars on lobbying to shore up international support, Adhanom has turned to PR agencies to whitewash his image.

Adhanom is now travelling around the world hypocritically talking about health as a human right. But when he was health minister, his office refused to acknowledge large cholera outbreaks, which cost many lives. Today Ethiopia is also covering up yet another cholera outbreak, using the euphemism of acute watery diarrhoea.

Adhanom has also been touting his success with Ethiopia’s national Health Extension Program. I have friends who worked as extension workers and know communities that were supposed to benefit from this much-hyped initiative. Particularly in Oromo areas, the services never reached the people who needed them the most.

OPINION: The Oromo protests have changed Ethiopia

In some towns, poorly supplied health centres were built and extension workers with 10th grade education – who had only a year of medical training – were assigned to staff the facilities.

However, the poor training, distance the workers had to travel to get to the satellite offices and the lack of medical equipment and supplies meant the majority still don’t have access to quality health services. Moreover, admission into the programme requires party membership and mandatory political indoctrination.

In other words, Adhanom’s health ministry used the donor-funded health extension programme as a coercive political recruitment tool for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In some cases, people were denied access or were asked to join EPRDF in order to access even the measly services provided by extension workers.

That is not all. Ethiopia has gained international praise for reaching the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. However, in Oromia today, babies often still die in great numbers from preventable diseases like diarrhoea. The true child mortality rate is never recorded since the statistics are falsified with the aim of meeting global development goals and keeping foreign aid coming. This practice has so far escaped international scrutiny given the lack of independent press, organised opposition and robust civil society in Ethiopia.

After years of authoritarian backsliding, Ethiopia is now effectively a military state, ruled by a Command Post that was setup to oversee the country’s now 8-month-long state of emergency, declared in October.

Despite these crimes, there is still an opportunity for Adhanom and the Ethiopian regime to do the right thing.

First, the martial law must be immediately lifted and protesters, journalists, opposition leaders and civil society members must be released from jail. Specifically, Oromo opposition leaders Bekele Gerba, Merera Gudina and their colleagues, must be released without further delay. Authorities must also allow independent investigation, including by UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and assembly, into human rights violations and the killings of protesters.

Second, instead of blaming the diaspora and neighbouring countries for the deepening political crisis, authorities must meet the protesters demands for a free and fair Ethiopia. That entails opening up the political environment and allowing the country’s 100 million citizens to elect their leaders – ending the hegemony of Adhanom’s Tigrayan ethnic group.

Finally, Adhanom – still a special adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister – must withdraw from the election for director general of the WHO and issue a formal apology to the Ethiopian people, the African Union and human rights groups for trying to divert attention from the crimes he and his government have committed over the last two decades and a half.

International civil society groups, the media and WHO member states face a unique opportunity to send a clear message that human rights matter. And perpetrators and enablers of atrocious crimes cannot be rewarded for their complacence in the face of egregious right abuses. Member states must reject Adhanom’s candidacy and demand that Ethiopia stops covering up water-borne diseases and be transparent about its record of child mortality and other key indicators.

I look forward to one day returning home to run across the blood red soil of my homeland. However, until the Oromo people gain their freedom, I will continue to protest in solidarity.  

Feyisa Lilesa is a long-distance runner from Ethiopia and a member of the Oromo people.


 

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ESPN The Magazine: Why Olympic Silver Medalist Feyisa Lilesa Didn’t Go Home May 1, 2017

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‘…He isn’t just an athlete anymore but a symbol and a voice.’


A Runner In Exile

After his dramatic protest at the Rio Olympics, Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa didn’t feel safe returning home. But even in his new life in America, he can’t be sure what waits for him around the corner.
by Kurt Streeter, EPSN The Magazine, 1st May 2017.

After months of interviews, conference calls across three time zones and multiple trips to Arizona, ESPN’s big feature on Feyisa Lilesa is out. It is the most comprehensive piece on Feyisa Lilesa the athlete, his protest and ongoing efforts to shed light on the Oromo people’s suffering in Ethiopia.Kurt Streeter is an excellent reporter, writer and journalist. He dug deep and asked questions no one did. The result is a story that humanizes Feyisa and the Oromo story itself. Thank you, Kurt!

https://www.facebook.com/naftanan.gadullo.5/posts/412623422452437

Fayyisaa Leellisaa goota Oromoo April 30, 2017

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Fayyisaa Leellisaa goota Oromoo

Dorgommiin Marathon Raawwate ilaalchisee

Dorgommiin London Marathon jedhamuun beekamu magaalaa London Keessatti geggeeffame. Dorgommii Ebla 23, 2017 geggeeffame kana irratti akkuma hubatamu atileetota beekamoo Marathon dabalatee namoota hedduutu qooda fudhate. London Marathon irratti dorgomtoonni Oromo qaamota adda addaa bakka bu’uun qooda fudhatan.

Dorgommiin Marathon ummata Oromoo biratti haarawaa miti. Oromootni hedduun kana akka Abbabaa Biqiilaa, Maammoo Waldee fi kkf fiigicha Marathon mohachuun Itoophiyaan akka beekamtu yommuu godhan mirga Oromoof jecha kallattiin qooda isaan qabaachaa turan garuu waan ifatti mul’ate hin turre. Kunis haala yeroo sanaa fi dammaqiinsa tureen ka masakamu yommuu ta’u Fayyisaa Lalisaa ka adda godhu garuu Marathonii fi qabsoo ummatni Oromoo mirga isaatiif godhaa jiru walitti fiduun addunyaan akka beektu gochuu danda’uu isaati. Ummata Oromoo mirgi isaa sarbamaa jiruuf sagalee ta’uun addunyaa hubachisee.

Gootichi Oromoo Fayyisaa Lalisaa bakka bu’aa biyya kamuu otoo hinta’in Oromoo fi Oromummaa qofa bakka bu’uun nama qooda fudhate yommuu ta’u Oromootni hawaasota Oromoo bakka garaagaraa London keessatti daandii adda addaa qarqara gurmuun dhaabbachuun ‘’Fayyisaa Leellisaa goota Oromoo’’ jechuun sagalee olkaasuun jajjabeessaa turan.

Fayyisaan yeroo dhihoo kana Ameerikaa keessatti yeroo lama dorgommii Marathon geggeeffamee ture irratti fiiguun yommuu 1ffaa fi 2ffaa bahu miidhama luka isaa irra gahe irraa otoo hindandamatin akkasumas boqonnaa gahaa ta’e otoo hin argatin dorgommii isa kana irratti nama qooda fudhate dha.

Fayyisaan gooticha keenya, kutataa fi hadha qabeessi Oromoo, ka madaalamu London Marathon mohachuun ykn mohatamuun akkasumas Rio-Olympics 2016 irrattis mohachuu isaa qofaan otoo hintaane, fiigicha yommuu xumuru harka isaa lamaan olkaasee wal qaxxaamursuun mallattoo ummatni Oromoo karaa nagaan mirga bilisummaa isaaf qabsoo ittiin geggeeffataa jiru addunyaatti waan agarisiisuu danda’eef dha.

Bifa kanaan Fayyisaan kanneen rakkoo Oromoo beekuun hafee, Oromoon ummata akkamii akka ta’ee fi essatti akka argamu illee dhagahee ka hinbeekne akka beeku nama godhe dha.

Fayyisaan nama of danda’ee jireenya gaarii jiraataa ture yommuu ta’u mana gaariin, konkolaataa gaariin walumaagala bu’aan ykn dantaan otoo isa hindagachiisin nama rakkoo ummata isaa hubatuun addunyaa illee hubachiisuu danda’e akkasumas dantaa offif jecha rakkoo ummata offii namoota dagataniif illee nama fakkeenya gaarii ta’uu danda’u dha.

Atileeti Fayyisaa Leellisaa akkuma yeroo biraa dorgommii London Marathon yommuu xumuree fi BBC waliin yommuu gaaffii fi deebii geggeessee ture harka isaa lamaan olkaasee wal qaxxaamursuun mallattoo ummatni isaa karaa nagaan qabsoo isaa geggeeffataa jiru irra deebiin agarsiise.

Fayyisaan seenaa Oromoon mirga isaaf falmataa jiru keessatti qooda olaanaa yommuu qabaatu ummatni Oromoo Diasporaa goota kana cina dhaabbachuu fi jajjabeessuun akka irraa egamu dirqama lammummaa ofirraa qaba.

Oromootni UK waamicha lammummaa koreen hojii geggeessituu hawaasa Oromoo UK dabarsee ture kabajuun bakka barbaachisaa ta’etti argamtanii goota Oromoo Fayyisaa Leellisaa jajjabeessuu fi hamilee kennuufii keessaniif hedduu galatoomaa.  Lammiiwwan keenya, Oromoota UK yoomiyyuu taanaan isin gaachana hawaasa Oromoo UK waan taataniif isiniin boonna. Irra deebiin hedduu galatoomaa jenna.

KHG HO-UK


Oromo Community in UK honoured Olympian Fayyisaa Leellisaa, Oromo national hero (Goota Oromoo)

 


Itti dabalata barreeffama kanaa kan ta’u as tuqaa dubbisaa: 

Oromia: Athletic Nation Report: Feyisa Lilesa fulfills his promise to protest fascist Ethiopia’s regime at the London Marathon 2017. Kenyan and Oromo athletes dominated both the London and Hamburg Marathon 2017 races.

Oromia: Athletic Nation Report: Feyisa Lilesa fulfills his promise to protest fascist Ethiopia’s regime at the London Marathon 2017. Kenyan and Oromo athletes dominated both the London and Hamburg Marathon 2017 races. April 24, 2017

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Click here to read more on London Marathon 2017 Results: Men and Women’s Top Finishers

Click here to read more on Hamburg Marathon 2017 Results: Men’s and Women’s Top Finishers

London Marathon favourite Feyisa Lilesa amazing protest. #OromoProtests April 21, 2017

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 Feyisa Lilesa: I just didn’t have the words to explain to my wife why I’d put her and our children in danger

  • He made a powerful political statement as he crossed the finishing line in Rio
  • The 27-year-old Ethiopian publicised the persecution of the Oromo people 
  • Lilesa is one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon


It looked innocuous and many did not even know what it meant. After 26 miles of gruelling competition, Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa approached the Sambadrome, Rio’s carnival venue and the Olympic marathon finishing line, in second place.

Then he raised his arms and crossed them. And then again, repeating the gesture all the way over the last 100 metres to the finish line. With an Olympic silver medal secured, celebration might have been expected. But as they watched 6,000 miles away back home, his wife and family were fearing the consequences of that simple act.

Unknown to them, Lilesa, 27, one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon, had been running with a goal which surpassed the individual glory of winning an Olympic medal. He had told nobody of his plan, not even his wife and family.

Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa made a political statement as he crossed the finishing line in Rio

Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa made a political statement as he crossed the finishing line in Rio

The crossed arms were a signal of protest about the persecution of his people, the Oromo, in Ethiopia, a country riven by political violence and dispute, where Amnesty International reports at least 800 protesters have been killed. Amnesty has urged the Ethiopian government to end mass arrests and beatings, as well as the unlawful detention of journalists and politicians making the Oromo cause.

‘You can’t even think in your head without feeling suspicious that someone is listening to your thoughts, let alone speaking or telling someone,’ says Lilesa. ‘So I made a decision that I had to keep it to myself. Because if I was to tell someone — even my family — and the word gets out, I would not even be able to go to Rio. So I went there having not told a single person.’

That made his first phone call to his wife, Iftu Mulisa, and children, daughter Soko, five, and son Sora, three, a traumatic affair. While many Oromo people were jubilant their cause was being publicised, his wife was aghast. There was no question in his mind of returning to Ethiopia. However, his family were stuck there.

‘When I first called her I just didn’t have the words to tell her and I didn’t have the words to say to her,’ he says. ‘It was a challenge initially just talking to her and explaining my decision and why I didn’t consult with them.

Lilesa with his wife, daughter Soko, five, and son Sora in their apartment in Arizona

Lilesa with his wife, daughter Soko, five, and son Sora in their apartment in Arizona

‘But she understood the importance of this. The problem in the country has reached every household. They understand the importance and what it means. Their two main differences were that I did not consult with them when I was planning this and not having a concrete plan for them or the future and what might happen to them.

‘This gesture was started by university students and people knew about it. A lot of people were arrested essentially for showing that gesture. Coincidentally, that same day, the government stopped a rally in Addis Ababa. People went home because the city was engulfed by military forces and they happened to be watching TV.

‘The race was being broadcast on state television when it happened, the first time I showed the gesture. But since I kept repeating it, they quickly cut the live transmission and went back to the studio. People understood why the transmission was cut abruptly.

‘Of course my family was scared and they were shocked because they didn’t know what would happen to me. I had fears for my family. But a lot of people were getting killed. I knew it was just a matter of time before it reached my family. It has touched almost every household.

Lilesa's wife was aghast that he had publicised the persecution of the Oromo people

Lilesa’s wife was aghast that he had publicised the persecution of the Oromo people

‘In fact, my brother-in-law was one of the people arrested and taken away from university and he remains in jail to this day. Young people were being killed, elderly were being killed. My friends were in jail and I had other friends who were being killed. So my family also feared the same fate. I feared they would be affected one day and that they had not was just that it was not their turn.

‘But generally at the time, I didn’t really care much about my life and the consequences this would bring to my family, because I knew the fate other people were going through in that country.’

Lilesa knew he needed a medal for his plan to succeed. ‘If I didn’t win a medal no one would have noticed me. No one would have seen my protest. It would not have had the impact. No one would have actually believed my story and I could have potentially returned to Ethiopia and bad things might have happened to me. So winning the medal was part of my plan.’

He was briefly in no man’s land in Rio de Janiero. Though he says many team-mates and officials supported his protest, he was persona non grata. ‘They don’t even want to see my face, so I don’t expect them to allow me to run for the country,’ he says.

The Ethiopian government have encouraged him to return home, saying he would be welcome. He does not believe them. ‘I didn’t have fears about my life but I did have fears that I might not be able to compete,’ he says. ‘I thought this was the end of my career as an athlete.’

The 27-year-old is one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon

The 27-year-old is one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon

Fears for his family and career have now been addressed. Ethiopian exiles arranged a flight from Brazil to the US and he is now based in Flagstaff, Arizona, a magnet for top-class distance runners, where he can train properly.

Last month he won the New York Half Marathon in preparation for the London Marathon. More significantly, in February his family were finally permitted to join him in the US.

The reunion was understandably an emotional affair, Soko sprinting into her father’s arms when she finally saw him at the airport. ‘This was very, very important,’ he says. ‘And at least my mind is in one place in the sense that this is one weight lifted off my back. Now that at least I don’t have to worry about the safety of my children.

‘Also, I was living alone and I didn’t have much help. Now that my wife is here she can at least help me with some things I need. But the problem that put me in this position — the problem of my people — remains. My worries and concerns about that remain.’

His protests will continue. He is critical of those icons of Ethiopian athletics, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, the latter of whom he will face in London, who he says have benefited from keeping quiet and not criticising the government.

‘I admire Haile as a runner, as champion and as someone who broke a world record,’ says Lilesa. ‘But on the other hand rich people are generally benevolent and they give back to their people and they help the poor. In Ethiopia, the rich people we have are selfish and greedy and they live a parasitic life where they attach themselves to the government.’

A representative of Gebrselassie and Bekele responded by saying that such criticisms did not take account of the complicated and volatile political situation in Ethiopia, where they both still live.

LILESA wants people, especially the British, to know more about the plight of the Oromo in Ethiopia. ‘Our people are being imprisoned, hundreds remain in jail. Others are being killed. Over the past year, people have been dropping like leaves. Others are running away to save their lives — to South Africa — and have died along the way.

‘The Oromo people are the majority in my country. They have a lot resources in terms of the economy. Despite that, we don’t have the political power. They have lost all their freedoms and rights.

‘I want people in England to put pressure on their government because they do provide the biggest amount of aid to the Ethiopian government, to use that leverage not to cosy up to the Ethiopian rulers but to change their behaviour and to allow our people to have their freedom and rights.

‘We don’t hate the people of Ethiopia. Our fight and issues are with the system. What I expressed is based on my experience. I’m speaking about the injustices I saw all my life. The world may not have known… until now.’


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-4415224/London-Marathon-favourite-Feyisa-Lilesa-amazing-protest.html#ixzz4ePMWijwV
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Related:

BBC:  Africa Highlights: Feyisa to protest killings at London Marathon


thiopia elite runner Feyisa Lilesa poses during a photocall for the men"s marathon elite athletes outside Tower Bridge in central London on April 20, 2017 ahead of the upcoming London Marathon

AFP

The athlete says he could be killed if he goes back home

Exiled Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa has vowed to protest against the government at Sunday’s London Marathon, saying “blood is flowing” in his home country.

Feyisa caught the world’s attention when made a protest gesture in solidarity with the Oromo people while crossing the line in the marathon race at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In an interview with the BBC’s Sport Today, the silver medalist said he did not regret making the gesture.

How can I regret [it]? I come from the people. My people are dying, still. The blood is flowing.”

He added that would not return to Ethiopia while the current government was in power as he would be “automatically” killed, jailed or barred from leaving the country.

Feyisa refused to go back to Ethiopia after the Olympics, despite the government saying he would be welcomed as a hero.

He is currently living in the US with his wife and children on a temporary visa.

In Rio, Feyisa became the first Ethiopian to finish in the top two of a men’s Olympic marathon since 2000, claiming silver behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge.

As he crossed the line, he lifted his arms to form an X above his head, the same gesture used in protests by the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group, which has suffered a crackdown at the hands of the Ethiopian government.

Feyisa Lilesa

Getty Images

The ‘X’ sign is used as a symbol of protest in Ethiopia

The state-backed Ethiopia Human Rights Commission  said earlier this week that 669 people were killed in protests since November 2015.

The government has blamed the violence on “terrorists”.

A state of emergency has ben in force since last October to curb the unrest.

Read: Endurance test for Feyisa

Oromia: Athletic Nation Report: The global icon of #OromoProtests Olympian Feyisa Lilesa (Fayyisaa Leellisa) wins the New York City 2017 Half Marathon. Mare Dibaba Wins the Lisbon City. March 19, 2017

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Feyisa Lilesa wins the  2017 United Airlines New York City Half Marathon while American Molly Huddle defended her women’s title.   

Feyisa Lilesa makes Oromo protests symbol after winning New York City half marathon.

      Running Magazine: Feyisa Lilesa                  continues to protest home government,    this time at NYC Half

 Feyisa Lilesa, who is now living in the United States following his performance at the Rio Olympics, won the United Airlines NYC Half on Sunday. Again, the Olympic marathon silver medallist, who is Ethiopian, crossed his wrists above his head, forming an “X,” in solidarity with the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. It’s not the first, or second, time that Lilesa has performed such a gesture.

RELATED: FULL recap: United Airlines NYC Half (including Canadian results).

 

 Excluding Sunday’s performance, Lilesa has on two previous notable occasions performed what is part of the Oromo protests since the Olympics including at the Honolulu Marathon and the Houston Half-Marathon. The 27-year-old did not return to Ethiopia after the Olympics fearing for his life because of the finish line act. The long-distance specialist is currently residing in Flagstaff, Ariz. with his family recently relocating to the United States on Valentine’s Day.

According to CNN, there have been protests across Ethiopia “since April of 2014 against systematic marginalization and persecution of ethnic Oromos.” The protests can be sourced to the territorial limits of the capital city Addis Ababa extending into neighboring Oromo villages displacing residents. In 2016, Ethiopian security forces “killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions,” according to Human Rights Watch. The government told Lilesa that it would be safe to return home.

As seen a recent feature in the New York Times, Lilesa has received a green card as a permanent resident in the United States “for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and sports.” Lilesa’s finish line protests have led other runners, including several in Canada, to cross their wrists above their head at the finish line of races.

Video

On Sunday, Lilesa and Scotland’s Callum Hawkins were side-by-side entering the finishing stretch towards Wall Street. Lilesa won by four seconds in 1:00:04, his first victory since the 2016 Tokyo Marathon. In the women’s race, there was also a tight finish as American Molly Huddle completed the NYC Half three-peat bettering Emily Sisson in 1:08:19 to 1:08:21. The two are training partners and reside in Providence, R.I. (Huddle is married to former Canadian middle-distance specialist Kurt Benninger.)

““I never would have thought I could come back here and win three times,” Huddle said in a New York Road Runners (NYRR) release. “I remember the first win was such a surprise for me, and last year we ran so fast. I just feel really lucky to have won a third time. Every time is really difficult with an international field. New York Road Runners brings in some of the best of the best. Some people are in marathon buildups but some people were really gearing up for this race. I feel like it was a really cool win, and just contributes to my enthusiasm for New York.”

Rachel Cliff (1:12:07) for eighth and Eric Gillis (1:03:49) in 16th were the top Canadians in the race that featured more than 20,000 runners.


 

The NY Times: OLYMPICS: Feyisa Lilesa, Marathoner in Exile, Finds Refuge in Arizona February 25, 2017

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Feyisa Lelisa  Rio Olympian and world icon of #OromoProtests

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The young boy was getting reacquainted with his father after an absence of six months and climbed on him as if he were a tree. The boy kissed his father and hugged him and clambered onto his shoulders. Then, when a protest video streamed on television, the boy grabbed a stick, and the lid of a pot to serve as a shield, and began to mimic a dance of dissent in the living room.

There is much joy and relief, but also continued political complication, in the modest apartment of Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathon runner who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics and gained international attention when he crossed his arms above his head at the finish line in a defiant gesture against the East African nation’s repressive government.

Afraid to return home, fearing he would be jailed, killed or no longer allowed to travel, Lilesa, 27, remained in Brazil after the Summer Games, then came to the United States in early September. He has received a green card as a permanent resident in a category for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and sports.

On Valentine’s Day, his wife, Iftu Mulisa, 26; daughter, Soko, 5; and son, Sora, 3, were reunited with him, first in Miami and then in Flagstaff, where Lilesa is training at altitude for the London Marathon in April. Their immigrant visas are valid until July, but they also hope to receive green cards.

Continue reading the main story

“I’m relieved and very happy that my family is with me,” Lilesa said, speaking through an interpreter. “But I chose to be in exile. Since I left the situation has gotten much, much worse. My people are living in hell, dying every day. It gives me no rest.”

Lilesa’s Olympic protest was against Ethiopia’s treatment of his ethnic group, the Oromo people, who compose about a third of the country’s population of 102 million but are dominated politically by the Tigray ethnic group.

Last month, Human Rights Watch reported that, in 2016, Ethiopian security forces “killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands” in the Oromia and Amhara regions; progressively curtailed basic rights during a state of emergency; and continued a “bloody crackdown against largely peaceful protesters” in disputes that have flared since November 2015 over land displacement, constitutional rights and political reform.

Photo

Feyisa Lilesa’s gesture as he finished second in the Olympic marathon was made to protest Ethiopia’s treatment of his ethnic group, the Oromo people. CreditOlivier Morin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Ethiopian government has said that Lilesa could return home safely and would be considered a hero, but he does not believe this. He lists reasons for his suspicions, and they are personal: His brother-in-law, Tokkuma Mulisa, who is in his early 20s, has been imprisoned for about a year and reportedly tortured, and his health remains uncertain. His younger brother, Aduna, also a runner, was beaten and detained by the Ethiopian military in October.

Aduna Lilesa, 22, said he was training in Burayu, outside the capital, Addis Ababa, on Oct. 16 when soldiers approached him. They hit him in the head with the butt of a rifle, kicked him and threatened to shoot him, he said, while demanding information about Feyisa.

Fearing for his life, a gun pointed at him, Aduna said he lied and told the soldiers what he thought they wanted to hear about his brother: “He is a terrorist; he is no good.”

Since the Olympics, Aduna said, his wife has been suspended from her job with Ethiopian government radio. He is living with Feyisa in Flagstaff until mid-March, when he will return home to his wife and young son. “It is not safe, but my family is there,” Aduna Lilesa said. “If I live here, they will be confused.”

Unease extends, too, to the Ethiopian running community.

When Feyisa Lilesa runs the London Marathon, one of his primary challengers figures to be Kenenisa Bekele, a three-time Olympic champion on the track and a fellow Oromo who is considered by many the greatest distance runner of all time. The two runners were never close and tension between them increased last September in Berlin, where Bekele ran the second-fastest marathon time ever.

Before that race, Bekele said in an interview with Canadian Running Magazine, speaking in English, which is not his first language, that “anyone have right to protest anything” but “you need to maybe choose how to protest and solve things.”

Asked specifically about Lilesa’s Olympic protest, Bekele said it was better to get an answer from him. Asked about other Ethiopian runners who have made similar crossed-arm gestures, Bekele said that sport should be separate from politics, that everyone had a right to protest in Ethiopia and that the government was trying to “solve things in a democratic way.”

Bekele has received some criticism for not being more forceful in his remarks, and on social media in Ethiopia there is a split between supporters of the two runners. “Many people are being killed,” Lilesa said of Bekele. “How can you say that’s democratic? I’m very angry when he says that.”

Continue reading the main story

Photo

Lilesa playing with his son, Sora, at the family’s new apartment in Flagstaff, where Lilesa is training for the London Marathon in April. CreditMatthew Staver for The New York Times

His own social awareness, Lilesa said, began when he was a schoolboy, living on a farm in the Jaldu district, sometimes spelled Jeldu, west of Addis Ababa. Security forces used harsh tactics to break up student protests, he said, and sometimes his classmates simply disappeared. He belongs to a younger Oromo generation emboldened to resist what it considers to be marginalization by Ethiopia’s ruling party.

“Before, people would run away; they feared the government, the soldiers,” Lilesa said. “Today, fear has been defeated. People are standing their ground. They are fed up and feel they have nothing more to lose.”

When he was named to Ethiopia’s Olympic team last May, three months before the Summer Games, Lilesa felt it was urgent to make some kind of protest gesture in Rio de Janeiro. But he did not tell anyone of his plans. If he told his family, they might talk him out of it. If the government found out, he might be kicked off the Olympic team or worse.

He continued to visit Oromo people detained in jail and to give money to Oromo students who had been dismissed from school and left homeless. He was wealthy for an Ethiopian, independent, and he sensed that the government monitored some of his movements.

He worried that he could be injured or killed in a staged auto accident. Or that someone might ambush him when he was training in the forests around Addis Ababa. When the doorbell rang at his home, he went to the second floor and peered outside before answering.

“I was really fearful,” Lilesa said. “Being an Oromo makes one suspect.”

On the final day of the Olympics, his moment came. As he reached the finish of the marathon, in second place behind Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya and ahead of Galen Rupp of the United States, Lilesa crossed his arms. It was a familiar Oromo gesture of protest and one that carried great risk, both to his career representing Ethiopia and to his family.

“Giving up running for Ethiopia was the least I could do, because other people were giving up their lives,” Lilesa said.

Iftu Mulisa, his wife, was watching at home in Addis Ababa with 15 or 20 relatives and friends. There was loud cheering and celebrating, and then Lilesa crossed his arms. The cheering was replaced by silence and confusion and fear.

Photo

After the Olympics, Lilesa was not certain he would see his family again. But on Valentine’s Day, they flew to Miami to join him. CreditWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

“Everyone was asking: ‘Does he come home? Does he stay? What happens next?’” Mulisa said. “It was so shocking. He hadn’t told anyone.”

For two or three days, Lilesa said, he did not answer the phone when his wife called.

“I had put them in this position and I just didn’t know what to say to her,” he said.

Still, he felt he had made the right decision.

“I needed to do this,” Lilesa said. “I thought of it this way: When a soldier enlists, you know the risks, but because you swore to defend the country or the law, you don’t think about the consequences.”

When he finally spoke to his wife, Lilesa said, he tried to calm her and tell her everything would be O.K. But the uncertainty was difficult.

“He had never been gone more than a week or two,” Mulisa said. “Having young kids made it more difficult. They missed him and asked questions I couldn’t answer. But I was hopeful we would be reunited one day.”

In a diplomatic whirlwind, Lilesa secured an immigrant visa to the United States and eventually moved to Flagstaff, a training hub at nearly 7,000 feet where athletes often go to enhance their oxygen-carrying capacity. He was invited there by a runner from Eritrea, which neighbors Ethiopia.

Even in the best of situations, distance running can be an isolating life of training twice a day and sleeping. Lilesa kept in touch with his family through video chats, but they were disrupted for a period when the Ethiopian government restricted internet access.

In Ethiopia it is the traditional role of the wife or maid to prepare the food, to do the domestic chores. Without his family, Lilesa said, he sometimes ate only once or twice a day, too tired to cook dinner, hardly recommended for marathoners who routinely train more than 100 miles per week.

Continue reading the main story

Photo

Lilesa with his wife, Iftu Mulisa, and their children, Sora, 3, and Soko, 5. “I’m relieved and very happy that my family is with me,” he said. CreditMatthew Staver for The New York Times

“I had to fend for myself in a way I’ve never done in my life,” he said.

Perhaps the most difficult moment, Lilesa said, came when he was still in Rio de Janeiro after the Games and learned of the death of a close friend, Kebede Fayissa. He had been arrested in August, Lilesa said, and was among more than 20 inmates to die in a fire in September under suspicious circumstances at Kilinto prison on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Opposition figures have said that the bodies of some prisoners had bullet wounds.

“I didn’t even know he had been arrested and there I was in Brazil, finding about his death on Facebook,” Lilesa said of Fayissa. “He had helped me so much at different times of my life.”

Eventually, Mulisa and their two children received immigrant visas to enter the United States and left Addis Ababa in mid-February for Frankfurt, Germany, then Miami, where Lilesa greeted them at the airport. The scariest time, Mulisa said, came when she walked down the Jetway to the plane, afraid the Ethiopian government would prevent her from leaving at the last minute.

Most likely, Lilesa said, his family was permitted to leave because to do otherwise would have generated negative publicity. In Miami, there was more emotion than words, Mulisa said, as the children hugged their father and she told him, “I didn’t think I would see you so soon.”

While he will surely not be chosen to compete for Ethiopia at the Olympics and world track and field championships while in exile, Lilesa can still make hundreds of thousands of dollars as an independent, elite marathon runner. Since the Olympics, he has run a marathon in Honolulu and a half marathon in Houston. A GoFundMe campaign for him and his family, started by supporters, raised more than $160,000. The London Marathon is two months away.

He now has a voice as strong as his legs. Lilesa has met with United States senators, addressed members of the European Parliament in Brussels, written an op-ed essay in The Washington Post and spoken with numerous reporters, trying to spread the story of the Oromo people.

If the political situation changes in Ethiopia, he said, he and his family will move home. He does not expect that to happen soon. In the meantime, he hopes that his wife and children will be permitted to make yearly trips there to visit relatives. For himself, he said he had no regrets.

“This has given me more confidence, more reasons to try harder, more reasons to compete so that I can use this platform to raise awareness,” Lilesa said. “I’m constantly thinking, what else can I do?”


Ethiopian runner who protested in Rio reunites with family. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution February 15, 2017

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`Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

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Ethiopian runner who protested in Rio reunites with family

NY Daily News, February 14, 2017

 

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, rear, of Ethiopia, hugs his wife Iftu Mulia, his daughter Soko, right, 5, and son Sora, left, 3, while picking up his family at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, rear, of Ethiopia, hugs his wife Iftu Mulia, his daughter Soko, right, 5, and son Sora, left, 3, while picking up his family at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

(WILFREDO LEE/AP)

The Ethiopian marathoner hid behind a column at the Miami airport as he carried a bouquet of red roses.Feyisa Lilesa’s daughter spotted him first and ran in for a hug. Then, his young son and lastly his wife.On Valentine’s Day, the Olympic silver medalist who became an international figure when he crossed his wrists in protest at the finish line in Rio de Janeiro finally reunited with his family. He was a little late (traffic), but what’s a few extra minutes when he’s already waited six long months to see them.As he made his way out of the airport, his daughter rode on the luggage and his son perched on his shoulders, carrying the flowers he brought as a gift.Ethiopia’s Lilesa afraid to return home after Olympic display“The biggest gift is us seeing each other again — and me seeing them again,” Lilesa said through a translator in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s all been very tough.”

The 27-year-old eventually settled in Flagstaff, Arizona, after making an anti-government gesture during the Olympic marathon that drew global attention to the deadly protests in his home region of Oromia. He never returned home after Brazil out of fear of what might happen to him. He’s constantly been worrying about the family he left behind in Ethiopia. His nearly 6-year-old daughter, Soko, and 3 ½-year-old son, Sora, always asked when they will see him again.

Finally, he was able to answer.

Lilesa remains in the U.S. on a special skills visa. His family arrived on visas as well, secured through his attorney.

UC Davis researcher killed by protesters in Ethiopia

The plan now is this: A few days of beach time and then it’s off to Flagstaff where the family will settle into everyday life in their rental house.

One weight off his mind.

Still, he can’t forget what his country is going through, with the Oromia region experiencing anti-government protests over recent months. Violent anti-government protests spread to other parts of Ethiopia and led to a state of emergency that was declared in October.

Since his gesture, many have described Lilesa as a national hero.

Planned Parenthood fans, pro-life protesters rally across U.S.

“My mind is pretty much occupied by what is happening back home,” Lilesa said. “Whether I’m running or I’m sleeping or I’m laying back, my family and what is happening in Ethiopia — and what is happening to my people — that’s constantly on my mind.”

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, of Ethiopia, carries his son Sora, 3, and pulls along his daughter Soko, 5, after picking up his family at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, of Ethiopia, carries his son Sora, 3, and pulls along his daughter Soko, 5, after picking up his family at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

(WILFREDO LEE/AP)

Most days since his arrival in America have been spent training. It was his best cure for loneliness.

“I come from a very big family, and I’ve never lived alone,” Lilesa said. “I’ve always been surrounded by people I know. This has been the complete opposite. Here, I’m removed from all of that.”

Still, he would protest all over again.

Dozens gather to mark two-year anniversary of weekly BLM protests

“I think me taking the risk and putting family in that position and putting them potentially in harm’s way, it was a good lesson for a lot of people that you need to sacrifice in order for you to win some concessions and change your situation,” Lilesa said. “In that sense, it inspires people to fight for their rights and resist the government in Ethiopia. It also led to greater awareness about the situation in Ethiopia.

“Now, you see more coverage of the human rights violations. I speak with people wherever I go. Even outside the media limelight, people are interested in knowing. They heard the story because of my protest.”

Someday, he would like to go back to Ethiopia.

“But as long as this current government is in power, I don’t have hope of going back to Ethiopia,” he explained. “I do know change is inevitable.”

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He also wants to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Whether that’s wearing the colors of Ethiopia, he doesn’t know.

“I’m not too hopeful the system will be changed in the next three years and I will be in a position to run for Ethiopia. We will have to wait and see,” said Lilesa, who plans to run in the London Marathon in two months.

For now, Lilesa’s priority is getting his family settled.

“I knew that we would meet somehow, but I didn’t expect it would happen under these circumstances over here,” Lilesa said. “When I think about my family, it takes me back to why I did this and why I’m here. I missed my family, but this was a big bother to me — the plight of my people.”


Related:

SB Nation: Olympian Feyisa Lilesa is reuniting with his Ethiopian family in U.S., despite fear of President Trump

 

Star Tribune: Ethiopian runner who protested in Rio reunites with family

WP: Ethiopian marathoner who protested at Rio Olympics reunites with his family

AP: Ethiopian runner who protested in Rio reunites with family

 

BBC: World-famous Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa has reunited with his family for the first time since going into exile in the US after protesting against the government at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, the New York Daily News reports.   

runner who protested in reunites with family in US. http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/ethiopian-runner-protested-rio-reunites-family-article-1.2972659 

Photo published for Ethiopian runner who protested in Rio reunites with family

Ethiopian runner who protested in Rio reunites with family

The Olympic silver medalist who became an international figure by crossing his wrists in protest finally reunited with his family.

Report

His wife, daughter and son flew into Miami, where the 27-year-old athlete met them after a separation of about six months.

Feyisa told the newspaper through a translator:

The biggest gift is us seeing each other again, and me seeing them again. It’s all been very tough.”

Back in August, Feyisa became the first Ethiopian to finish in the top two of a men’s Olympics marathon since 2000, claiming silver behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge.

As he crossed the line, he lifted his arms in an X-shape above his head in solidarity with the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group, who have suffered a crackdown at the hands of the Ethiopian government.

The country’s officials said the runner would be welcomed home from Rio as a hero, but Feyisa said he might be killed if he returned.

Oromo Olympic marathon athlete Fayyisaa Lalisaa on the Guardian. #OrompProtests global icon p1Fayyisaa lalisaa Oromo national hero, at Rio 2016 Olympicmarathon in the podium, finishing line in #OromoProtests as winning theOlympic medal, 21 August 2016

 

The “x” sign is used as a symbol of protest in Ethiopia

https://www.facebook.com/VOAOromo/videos/1266626250039354/

Oromia: Athletic Nation Report: The hero, the legend and the thinker: Oromo Athlete Feyisa Lilesa’s spectacular finish at Aramco Houston Half Marathon January 16, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

 

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Feyisa Lilesa’s post race interview in Houston: “I won’t stop protesting until freedom comes”

 Amajjii/January 16, 2017 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com


Olympic marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa finished second at the Houston Half-Marathon on January 15, 2017, with a time of 61:14 – only a fraction of a second behind the front runner Leonard Korir. The thrilling battle between Lilesa and Korir at the finish line is captured below.

Feyisa Lilesa had, once again, shown the #OromoProtests symbol of “X” (crossing the hands over the head) as he crossed the finish line in Houston. This symbol of the #OromoProtests has been officially deemed illegal by the Ethiopian government since the declaration of the six-month State of Emergency on October 9, 2016 – a week after the Bishoftu Massacre, where hundreds of Oromos were murdered by the Ethiopian army during the UNESCO-recognized Irreecha Oromo cultural and religious festival.

After the race, during a reception thrown by the local community in Houston to honor him, Feyisa Lilesa spoke with Seife-Nebelbal, an online Oromo radio broadcast in Amharic, about his continued use of the symbol of the #OromoProtests at the finish line; Lilesa said he would continue to protest until freedom and democracy dawn in Ethiopia. Below are the interview and some photos from the reception (courtesy of journalist Ebba Abbamurti from the Lone Star State).

Click here for interview with Seife-Nebelbal Radio (in Amharic):

 

Click here for interview with journalist Ebba Abbamurti (in Afan Oromo)

Photos from the reception thrown in Houston in honor of athlete Feyisa Lilesa:

The thrilling finish-line battle between Lilesa and Korir:

Feyisa Lelisa runs in exile after his protest in Rio

His Olympic ‘X’leads to exilefrom Ethiopia

Photo: Marie D. De Jesus, Staff

Olympics medalist marathoner Feyisa Lilesa lowers his head after being asked about his home country Ethiopia after the Chevron Houston Marathon press conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Houston. ( Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle )

He’s the loneliest of long-distance runners, a man far removed from his country and his family. These days, Feyisa Lilesa runs not for personal glory but for emotional therapy and for a purpose he believes to be far bigger than himself.


BBC: Oromia: No regrets for Ethiopia’s Olympic protester. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution January 4, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Feyisa Lelisa  Rio Olympian and world icon of #OromoProtestsHero Hero, double hero in Olympic Marathon, Rio 2016 and Oromummaa. Oromo athlete. Fayyisaa Lelisaa.

BBC: No regrets for Ethiopia’s Olympic protester

Feyisa Lilesa caught the world’s attention when he raised his arms in solidarity with the Oromo people as he crossed the finishing line at the Rio Olympic games. He tells Julian Keane what the gesture has cost him.

Africa News: Oromia’s Olympic athlete, Feyisa Lilesa, has been named among the 2016 top 100 global thinkers by the Foreign Policy (FP) magazine. December 13, 2016

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FP  Global Thinkers  2016: The challengers, FEYISA LILESA

 

Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Feyisa Lelisa Rio Olympian and world icon of #OromoProtestsoromorevolution-thefinalmarchforfreedom

Olympic athlete, Feyisa Lilesa, has been named among the 2016 top 100 global thinkers by the US based Foreign Policy (FP) magazine.

Hero Hero, double hero in Olympic Marathon, Rio 2016 and Oromummaa. Oromo athlete. Fayyisaa Lelisa. p1

Ethiopia’s Olympic athlete, Feyisa Lilesa, has been named among the 2016 top 100 global thinkers by the US based Foreign Policy (FP) magazine. Feyisa was classed in the group of thinkers called ‘‘the challengers.’‘

The long distance athlete became famous during the just ended Rio Olympic games after he made an anti-government gesture at the end of his track event. He crossed his arms above his head as he finished the event as a protest against the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on political dissent.

He won the silver medal in the men’s marathon after finishing the 42 kilometer race. He later claimed that his life was in danger. He sought for asylum in the United States and has been living there since leaving Rio.

Given the fact that the Olympic Charter bans political propaganda, demonstrations are a rarity at the games. Nevertheless, Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa snubbed the rulebook in order to call attention to the brutal actions of his country’s security forces.

Under the title, ‘‘For breaking the rules of the games,’‘ FP wrote about Feyisa: ‘‘Given the fact that the Olympic Charter bans political propaganda, demonstrations are a rarity at the games. Nevertheless, Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa snubbed the rulebook in order to call attention to the brutal actions of his country’s security forces.

‘‘As the marathoner approached the finish line in second place, he crossed his arms over his head—an attention-grabbing gesture to show solidarity with his Oromo tribe. In the weeks before the race, the Ethiopian government had cracked down on protests by the embattled indigenous group and killed dozens.

They went on to quote him in an interview with AP news agency as saying, “If I would’ve taken my medal and went back to Ethiopia, that would’ve been the biggest regret of my life.” Adding further that “I wanted to be a voice for a story that wasn’t getting any coverage.”

Feyisa like the twelve others listed in his category were recognized for challenging the status quo in order to put their views across. ‘‘These individuals showed that agitation takes myriad forms,’‘ the FP said.

Aside Feyisa, another African was listed in the same category. Pastor Evan Mawarire of Zimbabwe who championed the #ThisFlag protests through the use of social media platform, Twitter. The FP listed him ‘‘For initiating a democratic movement.’‘

Athletic Nation Report: Honolulu Marathon:Rio Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa (Fayyisaa Leellisaa) finished fourth in his first debut after Rio Olympic protest December 12, 2016

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Oromo Olympic marathon athlete Fayyisaa Lalisaa in the social and international media. #OrompProtests global icon. p7


Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa (Fayyisaa Leellisaa) finished fourth in his first debut after Rio Olympic protest. He clocked 2:15:57 in  Honolulu  men’s marathon, December 11, 2016. Feyisa walked the last 100 meters with his famous hands in ‘X’ in silent protest.  His compatriot Oromo athlete  Deribe Roba finished third clocking 2:13:43.

feyisa-lilesa-finished-fourth-in-2016-honolulu-marathon-he-walked-the-last-100-metres-while-making-the-famous-x-gesture-with-his-arms-in-silent-protest

 

 

 

Lawrence Cherono set a course record of 2:09:39 to win ahead of fellow Kenyan Wilson Chebet (2:10:48), who was also under the previous course record.
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei won the women’s race in 2:31:11 ahead of American Lindsey Scherf (2:34:05) and pre-race favourite Oromo athlete Buzunesh Deba from Ethiopia (2:35:34).
The official result:

Men
1. Lawrence Cherono – 2:09:39 – RECORD
2. Wilson Chebet – 2:10:50 – RECORD
3. Deribe Roba – 2:13:43
4. Feyisa Lelisa – 2:15:57
5. Tatsuya Itagaki – 2:19:24

Women
1. Brigid Kosgei – 2:31:11
2. Lindsey Scherf – 2:34:05
3. Buzunesh Deba – 2:35:34
4. Yingying Zhang – 2:38:40

Wheelchair race
1. Masazumi Soejima – 1:35:35
2. Kazuhiko Shimada – 1:45:11
3. Wakako Tsuchida – 1:50:42


 

Star Tribune: Oromo Olympian draws big crowd at his Minneapolis appearance September 19, 2016

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 Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Oromo Olympic marathon athlete Fayyisaa Lalisaa on the Guardian. #OrompProtests global icon p1

oromo-olympian-fayyisaa-leellisaa-feyisa-llilesa-draws-big-crowd-at-his-minneapolis-appearance-18-september-2016
Fayyisaa’s welcoming moment at Minneapolis Convention center.


Kun Simannaa Fayyisaa Leellisaaf hawaasti Oromoo Minisootaatiin, Fulbaana 18, 2016.
oromo-olympian-fayyisaa-leellisaa-feyisa-llilesa-draws-big-crowd-at-his-minneapolis-appearance-18-september-2016-p2

Star Tribune: Oromo Olympian draws big crowd at his Minneapolis appearance

Marathon silver medalist seen as a hero for his running as well as his political statement.
oromo-olympian-fayyisaa-leellisaa-feyisa-lilesa-draws-big-crowd-at-his-minneapolis-appearance-18-september-2016

TOM WALLACE, STAR TRIBUNE: Oromo (Ethiopian) Olympian Feyisa Lilesa entered the Minneapolis Convention Center Sunday, Sept 18, 2016 to a crowd of about 1000 well wishers. He won the silver medal in the 2016 Games in Rio and crossed the finish line with his arms crossed in an X, symbolizing the plight of the Oromo in Ethiopia.


Lilesa, 26, became a hero to his people and brought global attention to the plight of the Oromo in Ethiopia when he crossed his arms to form the letter X above his head as he crossed the finish line at the Rio Games.

He did the same as he entered the auditorium Sunday and the crowd erupted in cheers.

The Oromo Community of Minnesota said more than 100 Oromo people were killed in Ethiopia in August alone while peacefully protesting the government’s persecution of the ethnic group.

Lilesa, who faces jail if he returns home, has been granted a special skills visa to the United States so he can train and compete. His wife, 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter remain in Ethiopia.

His visit to Minneapolis was sponsored by the Oromo Community of Minnesota, headquartered in St. Paul. The group estimates that up to 40,000 Oromo people are living in Minnesota, but the state demographer’s office puts that number closer to 8,500.


Related:-

 

The African Sports Federation (ASF): Feyisa Lilesa Heroic Race: ASF honoured the Olympic hero and named its 5k race ‘the Feyisa Lilesa Heroic Run’ August 28, 2016

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Africa Sports Federation

Fayyisaa lalisaa Oromo national hero, at  Rio 2016 Olympicmarathon in the podium, finishing line in #OromoProtests as winning theOlympic  medal, 21 August 2016Oromo Olympic marathon athlete Fayyisaa Lalisaa on the Guardian. #OrompProtests global icon p1


East Africa has produced many great mid and long distance runners that have dominated for decades. Feyisa Lilesa became the first athlete to speak up against his oppressive government to show the world the injustice imprisonment and killings of the innocent Oromo people in Ethiopia.

The African Sports Federation (ASF) is honoring the determination, courage and the act of bravery by Feyisa Lilesa which took place in the Rio Olympics 2016. As he was crossing the finish line of the Men’s Marathon, winning his silver medal he raised his arms over his head, wrists crossed in gesture of solidarity with protestors against the killings of the Oromo people in his home country of Ethiopia. Beyond that he explained he was protesting for people everywhere who have no freedom. That defining moment at the finish line will forever live on as a gesture that defended human dignity on one of the biggest stages in the world.

ASF second annual 5k race will be named after Feyisa Lilesa, the Feyisa Lilesa Heroic Run. Not only do we want to display our gratitude to Lilesa but we also want to encourage other athletes to stand up for what they believe in.

The Feyisa Lilesa Heroic Race will take place during the championship game of the 2016 Seattle African Cup presented by African Sports Federation. The ASF would like to extend our invitation to all people out there to celebrate this heroic act.

August 28th, 2016.
Sunday 5pm Foster High School
4242 S 144thSt
Tukwila WA 98168

www.facebook.com/FeyisaLilesaHeroicRace