Olympic marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa ‘could be killed’ after protest against Ethiopian government


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An Olympic marathon runner marked winning his silver medal by staging a dramatic protest against the Ethiopian government – risking his own life in the process.

Feyisa Lilesa crossed his arms above his head as he crossed the finish line in second place following the gruelling 26.2 mile race yesterday.

The gesture is a sign of solidarity with the Oromo people, who are protesting against being moved from their farmland by the country’s government.

The runner, who was defeated by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, claimed he may have to flee his home nation after making the sign.

At a press conference following the race, Lilesa repeated the sign and said if the Ethiopian government “did not kill him” they would “put him in prison”.

He said: “The Ethiopian government is killing my people so I stand with all protests anywhere as Oromo is my tribe.

“My relatives are in prison and if they talk about democratic rights they are killed. I raised my hands to support with the Oromo protest.

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Second place: Feyisa Lilesa with his silver medal after running a grueling 26.2 miles in Rio (Getty Images)

“If not kill me, they will put me in prison.

“I have not decided yet, but maybe I will move to another country.”

Numerous protests have struck Ethiopia this year, including rows over government attempts to reallocate land in the Oromo and Amhara regions.

Protesters in the Amhara region – from the Welkait community – took to the streets of the city of Gondar in July over the reallocation plans.

The Oromos, who make up around a third of the population, believe that they have been excluded from the country’s political process and economic development.

According to the BBC, New York-based Human Rights Watch says that more than 400 people were killed in clashes with the security forces in Oromia, although the government disputes this figure.

READ MORE : Olympic marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa ‘could be killed’ after protest against Ethiopian government

 

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