Ethiopian marathoner makes political protest at finish line By Kevin Kaduk

 Kevin Kaduk, Yahoo Sports, Aug 21, 2016, 7:01 PM
(Getty Images)

With the eyes of the world upon him, Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa used the stage of Sunday’s Olympic marathon to daringly protest his own government back home.

As he neared the finish line and a silver medal, Lilesa raised his arms to form an “X.” The gesture is a peaceful protest made by the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and one that is facing a brutal response to widespread protests that began late last year

Human Rights Watch estimated in June that 400 people have been killed and thousands more injured as the government attempted to stop the estimated 500 protests that the Oromo people staged to draw attention to systemic persecution by the government.

Lilesa is from Oromia, which is home to a large majority of the country’s 35 million Oromo. He didn’t back down from the protest after the race either, flashing the sign for cameras at a press conference and pledging to do it again during Sunday night’s closing ceremony.

Rule 50 of the Olympic charter bans political displays or protests, and the American duo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos was famously suspended by the USOC after the pair flashed the black power salute on the medal stand at the 1968 Summer Games.

Lilesa, however, has bigger things to worry about than the IOC response as such dissent puts his life in real danger if he returns to Ethiopia. He told reporters afterward that he would seek a visa to stay in Brazil or possibly come to the United States. He also said that his wife and two children are still back in Ethiopia.

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Posted by on August 21, 2016. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to Ethiopian marathoner makes political protest at finish line By Kevin Kaduk

  1. Gamada Gonfa

    August 21, 2016 at 2:26 PM

    It was clear that Lilssa was making a big politcal statement when he raised his hands crossed reminiscent of the Oromo uprising back home. The hand crossing is not the only thing he did. He has also made a “V” sign suggesting victory though it appears “U” for unity. And there is more. The right hand forward gesture as if changing gear. May be he has said ” ኡዱኬ ” with the gesture. Just guessing.

    For most who knew the politcal statement Lilssa made, the question was what next? Returning or staying? Thank God he has made up his mind.

    Good luck!

  2. Seifu Mekuria

    August 21, 2016 at 4:58 PM

    What is this IOC ban on the right of expression?
    The fact that no Olympian is allowed to express or show a gesture of solidarity by itself is a political decision of the IOC. In an event where national flags are depicted, and national anthems are sang how could the IOC ban free expression of solidarity? Is the IOC siding with world governments every four years by allowing brutal governments have their way through out this event?
    Everyone is entitled to express his opinion, and the brief seconds of gesture of solidarity is not costing anyone anything. The IOC should reconsider this infringement of rights and, hopefully stop punishing Olympians.

  3. as

    August 22, 2016 at 3:41 AM

    Good on him for standing for the struggle of Oromo people.

  4. Tesfa Tesfa

    August 23, 2016 at 2:43 AM

    Feyisa Lliesa!! The oppressed , marginalized , detained , tortured and killed people of Ethiopia will always remember your brave act! you brought our case to the world. Thank you, thank you!