American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick protests police killings


This 29 August 2016 video from the USA is called Colin Kaepernick On Why He Sat During The National Anthem

By Alan Gilman:

Professional football quarterback Colin Kaepernick protests US police killings

30 August 2016

Prior to last Friday’s preseason National Football League (NFL) game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans in the United States.

Kaepernick is a 28-year-old biracial man who was raised by the white parents who adopted him. His action was particularly courageous because the former Super Bowl starting quarterback is fighting to maintain his football career after losing his starting job last season. Drafted in 2011, he had been one of the most promising players in the NFL during his time under former coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick went on to add, “This is not something that I am going to run by anybody, I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

After Sunday’s practice Kaepernick addressed the media reaffirming his position and that he will continue to sit during the playing of the national anthem before games until “there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country—is representing the way that it’s supposed to.”

When asked if the pending presidential election had anything to do with the timing of his actions, Kaepernick responded, “I mean, you have Hillary [Clinton] who’s called black teens or black kids super-predators. You have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. I mean, we have a presidential candidate who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?”

… the athlete has … been subjected to rabid denunciations aimed at silencing any political dissent.

The media has regularly shown fans burning his jersey and highlighted the statements of more politically backward football players. TJ Yates, an injured quarterback of the Houston Texans, tweeted, “It blows my mind how many people hate the country they live in.” Matt Hasselbeck, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst, tweeted, “Easy way to make sure you’re NOT the starting QB on opening day. #Sept. 11.”

These are not the sentiments of broad layers of the public who are angered by police killings and indifferent to or disturbed by the endless promotion of patriotism and militarism at professional sporting events.

Several players defended Kaepernick’s right to express his opposition. Russell Okung, an offensive guard with the Denver Broncos, stated, “Kaepernick is well within his rights to do what he did. I’m not saying I agree, but I do understand why he felt morally obligated in his acts.”

Kaepernick, who addressed his team on Sunday, has won the respect of his teammates, even from those that disagree with his position. Center Daniel Kilgore said, “When it came out, honestly, I took offense to it,” Kilgore said. “But after Kap stated his case and seeing where he comes from, I stand with Kap.”

While Kilgore said he disagreed with Kaepernick’s decision to sit, he said, “I stand with Kap when he says enough is enough against crime, violence, discrimination and racism.”

The National Football League has not, at least until now, taken any action against Kaepernick. The 49ers released a statement praising what the anthem represents but recognizing that Kaepernick’s boycott matched up with “such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression.” Kaepernick’s coach, Chip Kelly, said he had no right to tell any player how to honor, or not honor, his country. The NFL responded by indicating that players are encouraged but not required to stand for the anthem.

Over the last number of years there have been increasing protests by athletes over police killings. In December 2014, St. Louis Rams pass receivers Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Jared Cook, Kenny Britt and Stedman Bailey entered the Edward Jones football field using the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture popularized by protests over the police murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The players said they wanted to express their solidarity with the people of Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb that had been put under siege by police and National Guard troops.

Athletes have also spoken out against militarism and war. In May 2011, the day after Obama’s announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden, Rashard Mendenhall, the 23-year-old star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, tweeted: “What kind of man celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”

Mendenhall’s comments—which were bound up with his religious convictions and skepticism in the government’s version of the 9/11 events—were immediately seized upon for a rabid campaign accusing the football player of being disloyal and contemptuous of the 3,000 Americans killed by the terrorist attacks. The fraternity of cable television sportscasters—who, with few exceptions, generally appeal only to the base instincts of sports fans—demanded that the NFL block athletes from having access to Twitter and social networking sites.

Shortly afterwards, sports apparel maker Champion fired Mendenhall, who had recently signed a four-year contract and had been a sponsor with the company since his NFL career started in 2008.

In 2004, Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Carlos Delgado [a Puerto Rican playing for a Canadian, not US team] refused to take the field during the playing of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch. The song became a tradition after the events of 9/11, but had since been ended at several MLB stadiums with some teams only playing it on weekends and holidays. Delgado, who was strongly against war, including the ones that were currently being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, felt the playing of the song was a political stand in itself that went against his beliefs. No action was ever taken against Delgado.

During this year’s Major League All-Star game, the Canadian-based vocal quartet The Tenors sang the Canadian anthem (there is one Canadian team in the Major leagues) at San Diego’s Petco Park. During a solo, Remigio Pereira changed the words of O Canada from, “With glowing hearts we see the rise, the True North strong and free,” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.”

Pereira also brandished a sign with the words “All Lives Matter,” inviting scorn from a plethora of prominent Canadians. The Tenors labeled him a “lone wolf” and kicked him out of the group. He later apologized.

Possibly the most well-known political demonstration during the performance of a national anthem at a sporting event occurred during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, when two Black American athletes each raised a black-gloved fist during the Star-Spangled Banner at a medals ceremony.

John Carlos, the bronze medalist in the men’s 200-metre race, and Tommie Smith, the gold medalist, performed the Black Power salute while on the podium to shine a spotlight on racial inequality in the US.

They were booed and forced out of the games by the president of the International Olympic Committee at the time, Avery Brundage, and suspended from the national team. The third man on the podium, a white Australian named Peter Norman, was vilified by his home nation for wearing his Olympic Project For Human Rights (OPHR) badge in solidarity. The OPHR was an organization formed to protest racial segregation.

The ritual of playing the national anthem before major sporting events dates back to the 1918 World Series. The US had entered the war 17 months earlier, and in that time some 100,000 American soldiers had died. The war had strained the economy and the workforce, including baseball’s. The government began drafting major leaguers for military service that summer and ordered baseball to end the regular season by Labor Day. As a result, the 1918 Series was the lone October Classic played entirely in September.

Hence a tribute that began to “honoring” the victims of the slaughter of World War I has developed into today’s militaristic ritual of opening sporting events by playing the national anthem accompanied by military honor guards, enormous flags, and often climaxing with fighter jets performing flyovers as fireworks go off.

Professional sports teams were paid tens of millions of dollars between 2012 and 2015 by the Department of Defense for patriotic tributes at professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer games, according to a November 2015 report published by Republican Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.

Kaepernick’s protest was an act of personal courage. His actions, like those who have engaged in similar acts in the past, must be defended against the right-wing promoters of nationalism, militarism and state repression of political dissent.

Starling nestboxes around football grounds


This July 2016 video is about hanging nest boxes for starlings around the office of the Dutch football association.

Translated from BirdLife in the Netherlands:

23 August 2016 – Dutch football association KNVB calls on its members to hang up nest boxes for starlings around the soccer grounds. Starlings eat larvae that damage the fields. The association gave a good example and put a number of nest boxes around their head office in Zeist. BirdLife in the Netherlands supports this call because things go badly for starlings.

Marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa protests, Ethiopian government kills


This video says about itself:

Rio 2016: SHOCKING! Feyisa Lilesa can be jailed or evenkilled when returning to his country

22 August 2016

FEARLESS: RIO OLYMPICS 2016: ETHIOPIAN RUNNER FEYISA LILESA COULD BE KILLED WHEN HE RETURNS HOME AFTER STAGING DARING PROTEST AGAINST COUNTRY’S GOVERNMENT

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 35 million Oromo people as they are locked in a brutal battle with the Ethiopian government.

Ethiopian security forces are needlessly slaughtering hundreds of people as they crack down on anti-government protests and are reallocating the farmland of Oromo people.

The crossed arms above the head is a gesture made by the Oromo people as a sign of solidarity.

Lilesa, who then protested again when receiving his medal, admits he could be killed if he returns home.

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

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

“I have relatives in prison back home.

“If you talk about democracy they kill you. It is very dangerous in my country.

“Oromo is my tribe, Oromo people now protest what is right, for peace, for a place.

“I was protesting for people everywhere who have no freedom.”

The government have plans to build property on the farmland surrounding the country’s capital leading to huge demonstrations.

It is believed that over 400 people have been murdered in recent weeks for protesting.

Lilesa could be stripped of his medal as Olympic rules claim that an athlete is not allowed to use the Games as a political display or protest.

By Joe Williams:

Ethiopian government kills 100 civilians as protests sweep country

26 August 2016

International attention was focused on repression of the Oromo people in Ethiopia by the US-backed government in Addis Ababa, after Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line August 21 with his arms crossed above his head, a gesture to condemn the government’s violent attacks on protesters in the Oromia region, where he was born.

Lilesa repeated the action during the award ceremony following the race, where he received the silver medal for finishing second. The 26-year-old refused to board the plane bearing Ethiopian athletes back to their home country from Rio de Janeiro, and indicated he might seek political asylum in the United States. He has a wife and children in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian officials refused to discuss his status or his medal-winning performance.

Earlier this month, Ethiopian security forces killed 100 people while putting down protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Deadly clashes took place in 10 Oromo towns, including Ambo, Dembi Dolo and Nekempt, while the violence in Amhara was focused on the city of Bahir Dar. Residents believe about 60 people were killed there.

The Oromia protests have been ongoing since November 2015, when the government resumed efforts to implement the Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan. Popularly known simply as “the Master Plan,” it involves seizing land from its Oromo owners for little or no compensation so that it can be sold to international developers. Amnesty International estimates that 400 Oromo have been killed in the nine months since protests began, with tens of thousands more detained, and likely tortured.

The fact that the protests have spread to the Amhara region is a significant development that doubtlessly alarmed the government, and may have contributed to its decision to dramatically escalate the violence of its response. The Amhara and Oromo are historical enemies, and the government has exploited their enmity to keep the two influential ethnic groups fighting each other.

The government overplayed its hand, however, by attempting to arrest activists in the Amharic city of Gondar in July. They were opposing land grabs in the Wolkayt district similar to the ones being imposed on the Oromo, and the attempt at arresting them provoked two days of deadly clashes between civilians and security forces, and triggered mass consciousness of the fact that both ethnic groups are being manipulated against each other for the interests of the government. Two weeks later, tens of thousands of Amhara protesters took to the streets to declare solidarity with the Oromo.

Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, compared the protests to the most intense uprisings of the Palestinians against Zionist occupying forces, saying, “These protests are at the level of an intifada—people in their own ways are resisting the government pressure and demanding their rights. … I don’t think it’s going to die down.”

The protests come several weeks after the government shut down social media web sites for three days, possibly as a test run in anticipation of the uprising. The government’s claim that it did so to prevent students from being distracted during exams has now been exposed as a lie, as it took the exact same measures in response to the protests now sweeping the country. The botched arrest of activists that triggered the protests in Amhara took place during the supposedly exam-related Internet shutdown.

The government has been trying to control the flow of information since last year, when the country suffered a drought that has cut economic growth in half. The worst drought in over a decade, it caused a social and political crisis. The number of people receiving emergency food assistance more than doubled to 10.2 million, schools and hospitals have been shut down, and hundreds of thousands of children are experiencing malnutrition. A similar drought in 2011 killed 200,000 people in neighboring Somalia.

As the government came under fire domestically and internationally for its failure to respond to the crisis, it tried to intimidate journalists from covering it. According to Allafrica.com, “NGOs are being warned not to use the words ‘famine, starvation or death’ in their food appeals. Neither are they to say that ‘children are dying on a daily basis,’ or refer to ‘widespread famine’ or say that ‘the policies of the government in Ethiopia are partially to blame.’ Neither are they allowed to ‘compare the current crisis to the famine of the eighties.’ Instead, the latest drought in Ethiopia is to be described as ‘food insecurity caused by a drought related to El Nino.’” The last two Ethiopian regimes were overthrown during droughts that devastated the economy and caused food shortages.

The US embassy in Addis Ababa released a statement that tacitly supported the government’s actions. While claiming to be “deeply concerned” and expressing “deep condolences” to the dead and injured, the statement seeks to place the blame on the victims, noting that “the demonstrations took place without authorization,” along with the standard implorations to “all parties” to remain peaceful.

In 2015, [United States] Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman described Ethiopia as “a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair, credible, open and inclusive. … Every time there is an election, it gets better and better.” In fact, that election proved to be a farce. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) received 100 percent of the vote, and the mass incarceration of political activists, including most of the leaders of the Oromo Federalist Congress, followed shortly thereafter.

The EPRDF government has provided basing for US drone operations and is propping up the US-backed regime in Somalia. Addis Ababa is currently hosting an emergency meeting of US allies in eastern Africa to form a Force Intervention Brigade to stabilize South Sudan. Unlike the UN peacekeeping mission currently deployed there, the Force Intervention Brigade will be authorized to carry out offensive missions.

Ethiopia, Olympics medalist Lilesa and oppression


This 21 August 2016 video is called Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa’s Protest at Rio 2016.

By Chauncey K Robinson:

Medallist highlights plight of his people

Thursday 25th August 2016

Marathon silver medal winner Feyisa Lilesa gestured his protest at Ethiopia’s government treatment of the Oromo.

The Olympic Games of 2016 held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil may have come to a close as of August 21, but many of the triumphs and controversies will continue to be talked about long after the closing ceremony. One such incident was that of Olympic marathon runner and silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa’s protest on Sunday against the government of his country of Ethiopia.

Lilesa defied the Olympics’ prohibition on political statements to shine a light for the world on what is happening in his home country. In doing so he may have also risked his life.

As he crossed the finish line of the marathon last Sunday, he raised his arms and crossed them above his head in an X — a gesture of protest against his country’s government. He did so again at the awards ceremony after accepting his silver medal.

In a press conference held after the ceremony, Lilesa explained that his protest came from his sense of duty to his family and to his people.

The Ethiopian government are killing the Oromo people and taking their land and resources so the Oromo people are protesting, and I support the protest as I am Oromo,” he explained.

“I was protesting for my people,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported him saying. “It was for all my relatives in prison. I am worried to ask my relatives to talk in prison — if you talk you get killed.”

Lilesa’s bold statement comes in the midst of the growing political unrest in Ethiopia, a nation once regarded as Africa’s most stable nation of the last decade.

Although the country has seen an economic boom in the last 10 years, in recent months anti-government protests have filled the streets. These demonstrations have been met with state violence — video clips have been shared around the world of police officers beating unarmed demonstrators. They show security officers whipping protesters with sticks as they are forced to perform handstands against a wall. The UN is now calling for a thorough investigation of these incidents.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch the government of Ethiopia has used “excessive and lethal force against largely peaceful protests” in Oromia, the country’s largest region, since November 2015. According to HRW “over 400 people are estimated to have been killed, thousands injured, tens of thousands arrested and hundreds, likely more, have been victims of enforced disappearances.”

“The Ethiopian government is killing my people, so I stand with all protests anywhere, as Oromo is my tribe,” Lilesa was quoted in The Washington Post.

The Oromo people — Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group — have a history of speaking out against their marginalisation by the government. They, along with the Amhara people, feel Ethiopia is unfairly dominated by members of the Tigrayan ethnic group, which makes up only 6 per cent of the population yet dominate the military, the intelligence services, commerce and politics.

In what was considered a controversial national election the governing party — Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front — won all 547 parliamentary seats last May thus taking full control of parliament.

The Oromo people have also been fighting against an urban plan — referred to as the master plan — that would link infrastructure development in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with that of surrounding towns in Oromia, including Burayu. Activists say the plan threatens the sovereignty of Oromo communities.

Despite reports that Lilesa’s protest was not broadcast in Ethiopia it still quickly attracted supporters on social media as Twitter users chimed in on how the political gesture brought attention to the struggle of the Oromo people. Freelance journalist Mohammed Ademo twitted, “#FeyisaLelisa’s career with the Ethiopian Athletics Federation ended tonight. But his courageous act of protest is one for the history books.”

The silver medallist also said: “It is a very bad government [Ethiopian]. Now America, England, France support this government. When they give this support it buys machine guns, then they kill the people.”

The government has played down the unrest of recent months, claiming that “the attempted demonstrations were orchestrated by foreign enemies from near and far in partnership with local forces.” Lilesa’s bold public gesture is in direct defiance of that claim as the world now has a face for the resistance in Ethiopia.

“If I go back to Ethiopia maybe they will kill me. If not kill me, they will put me in prison. I have not decided yet, but maybe I will move to another country,” the Olympic runner said at a press conference.

Whatever happens, the world is now watching as Lilesa risked his life and his career for a cause that he considers much bigger than himself or an Olympic medal.

Will Ethiopian dictatorship kill silver medal athlete?


Feyisa Lilesa, AFP photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Gesture may get Ethiopian marathon runner into big trouble

21 August 2016

With his arms crossed over his head Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa arrived at the Olympics finish line. Second runner, so he won silver. But the political gesture he made could have major implications for him.

Being Oromo, 26-year-old Lilesa belongs to the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. Oromo are 40 percent of the population, but feel left behind politically. That has lead to tensions in the African country.

Earlier this month possibly hundreds of people died when police ended a protest by Oromos who refused to give up farmland for the expansion of the capital Addis Ababa. In previous clashes also hundreds of people died.

Not popular

The crossed arms, with hands in fists, is the symbol of the Oromo struggle. Crossing the finish line this way, Lilesa made a strong statement, which was broadcast live on Ethiopian television. That will not have made him popular to the Ethiopian rulers.

Lilesa realized that afterwards too. To journalists he said he may be killed if he would return to his country, or may end up in jail. “Maybe I should go to another country,” he concluded. He is considering to stay in Brazil or, failing that, to go to the US.

The United States government, like the British government, considering the Ethiopian government an ally in the war in Somalia, I am not sure how welcome Lilesa would be in the USA.

However, Lilesa in Ethiopia has a wife and two children. How he sees their future was not clear in his conversation with the press. Maybe they will be arrested, he said.

Charter

His political statement can also have other consequences for Lilesa. According to the Olympic Charter expressing political messages is forbidden. But whether Lilesa can keep his silver medal will not be his main concern.

Refugee Olympic athletes honoured with mural


This video from Brazil says about itself:

Rio 2016: Refugee athletes honoured with mural

17 August 2016

Refugees competing at the Olympic Games have been honoured with a gigantic mural on Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Boulevard.

Two street artists painted the 10 athletes in the refugee team. This is the first time a refugee team has been represented at the Games.

This video from Brazil says about itself:

Refugees living in Brazil cheer fellow refugees in Olympics

14 August 2016

Several members of the Congolese refugee community in Rio gathered to watch their compatriots compete in the Olympics as part of the first ever refugee team to take part in the games. The fans watched Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika in jubilation as they competed in judo. The refugees community broke into song and dance as their compatriots took to the stage.