Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa could be killed when he returns home after staging a daring protest against his country’s government at the Rio Olympics.
Lilesa, who took silver in the gruelling run, crossed his arms above his head to unite with the 40 million Oromo people as they are locked in a brutal battle with the Ethiopian government.
“Oromo is my tribe,” he said. “My relatives are in prison, and if they talk about democratic rights they are killed.”
Their region has seen massive anti-government protests since November 2015 that activists say have left more than 400 dead.
The protests were ignited by the government’s decision to annex some Oromia land into the capital, Addis Ababa. The plan has been abandoned, but demonstrations calling for wider freedoms have continued.
Ethiopia’s government, a close security ally of the West, is often accused of silencing dissent, even blocking internet access at times. Earlier this month, video obtained by The Associated Press showed Ethiopian security forces beating, kicking and dragging several protesters during a rare demonstration in the capital.
Feyisa Lilesa Speaks Out About Killings of Oromo Protesters in Ethiopia