Speak Out or Die: Feyisa Lilesa can’t quit fighting Ethiopian Government

Feyisa Lilesa (photo credit: http://meltnews.com)
Feyisa Lilesa (photo credit: http://meltnews.com)

By Sarah Barker

Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa knows he can’t quit, and there’s a sort of desperation to that. The silver medalist sealed his fate by crossing his wrists over his head as he neared the finish line in the Rio Olympic marathon, a gesture he soon explained to worldwide media was meant to protest the Ethiopian government‘s oppression and violence toward his people, the Oromo, Ethiopia‘s largest ethnic group. As of that moment, Lilesa said he became a marked man, enemy No. 1 of the minority Tigran government that is, according to Human Rights Watch, responsible for killing more than 400 peaceful protesters since November 2015, and imprisoning thousands more.

Not only did Lilesa realize he would be killed, imprisoned or detained if he returned to Ethiopia, but he knows his ongoing safety, and that of his wife and children who remain in Ethiopia, depends on his continuing to speak out and stay in the public eye. It’s exhausting — a marathon of a more nefarious nature.

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