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.

Ethiopian regime killing demonstrators again


This video says about itself:

Ethiopia: dozens of protesters killed by security forces, claims Human Rights Watch

19 December 2015

At least 75 people have been killed during weeks of protests in Ethiopia.

That’s according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which says soldiers and police have been firing on demonstrators.

From the BBC:

‘Several killed’ as Ethiopia police clash with protesters

7 August 2016

Several people are feared dead in clashes in north-western Ethiopia between police and anti-government protesters, amid a wave of unrest.

On Saturday police arrested dozens of demonstrators during massive rallies in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The government has been facing protests from the two largest ethnic communities over alleged human rights abuses and other issues.

Authorities have banned demonstrations and blocked social media.

Despite the ban, people took to the streets in several parts of the country for a third consecutive day on Sunday, Emmanuel Igunza reports from Addis Ababa.

The worst violence took place in the north-western city of Bahir Dar in the Amhara region – the homeland of the Amhara people.

Police used tear gas and fired in the air to disperse thousands of people who had blocked roads and chanted anti-government slogans.

Unconfirmed reports say several people were killed. One resident told the BBC he had seen a friend being shot in the head by security forces.

Overnight protests continued in the Oromia region, which surrounds Addis Ababa, with police arresting dozens of people.

The unrest was sparked last November by a plan to expand the capital into Oromia. This led to fears farmers from the Oromo ethnic group, the largest in Ethiopia, would be displaced.

The plan was later dropped but protests continued, highlighting issues such as marginalisation and human rights.

Oromo activists say police have killed hundreds and arrested thousands of people from their community in recent months.

From the BBC today:

Funerals are taking place after a weekend of violent protests in Ethiopia’s north-western city of Bahir Dar.

The authorities there told the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza that at least seven people were killed and dozens arrested during anti-government demonstrations.

On Sunday, police used tear gas and fired in the air to disperse thousands of people who had barricaded roads.

Activists say the number of those killed is much higher.

The BBC has learnt that two young men are being buried today. It is believed that they were both killed by security forces.

There have also been protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia region with local media reporting that dozens of people were shot dead in towns across the region, though the exact number is yet to be confirmed.

Hundreds of protesters in various towns and cities – including the capital, Addis Ababa – have been arrested for taking part in the demonstrations that have been banned by the government.

Briton in Ethiopian torture prison, British government fails


This video says about itself:

Atrocious Torture and Inhuman Treatment in Ethiopia…part 1

30 June 2013

It is a personal testimony of a person who was detained and tortured by the tyrannical regime in Ethiopia.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Foreign Office ‘fails to help Londoner jailed in Ethiopia

Thursday 23rd June 2016

ETHIOPIAN authorities have fooled Britain’s Foreign Office again and again in the case of opposition leader Andy Tsege, human rights charity Reprieve warned yesterday.

Newly released documents show that Ethiopian officials have done everything possible to frustrate attempts by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to rescue Londoner Andargachew “Andy” Tsege.

The father of three was taken forcibly to Ethiopia in the summer of 2014 and has been held on death row ever since.

Foreign Office documents from 2015 show Mr Hammond complaining about Ethiopia’s “repeated failure to deliver on our basic requests,” adding: “People were asking why we had a substantial bilateral relationship but were not able to resolve this.”

Other files show how the Ethiopian authorities refused to say where Mr Tsege was locked up, cancelled planned consular visits and ignored simple questions on the legal basis for his detention.

Reprieve, which has been campaigning for Mr Tsege’s release, said it feared for his mental and physical well-being as torture of political prisoners is not uncommon in Ethiopia.

The group’s death penalty team director Maya Foa said: “Throughout Andy’s two-year ordeal, Ethiopian officials have repeatedly run rings around the Foreign Office — making and breaking the most basic of assurances, and insisting, again and again, that Andy has no legal rights in Ethiopia.

“By relying on the latest empty promise of ‘legal access,’ Philip Hammond is only compounding the abuses Andy has suffered in illegal Ethiopian detention.

“Enough is enough — the Foreign Secretary must call for Andy’s release, so he can return to his family in the UK.”

Lion discovery in Ethiopia


This 1 February 2016 video is called Lions rediscovered in Ethiopia‘s Alatash game park.

From New Scientist:

1 February 2016

Hidden population of up to 200 lions found in remote Ethiopia

In the savannah of Alatash National Park, the lion sleeps tonight.

This remote part of north-west Ethiopia was considered a possible habitat for lions, but it is seldom visited by people.

Now an expedition by the University of Oxford’s Conservation Research Unit has discovered that lions are indeed alive and well in the park – a rare extension of their known range.

“During my professional career I have had to revise the lion distribution map many times,” says Hans Bauer, who led the expedition. “I have deleted one population after the other. This is the first and probably the last time that I’m putting a new one up there.”

To spot the lions, Bauer and his team set up camera traps on a dry river bed.

“While I was walking to find some trees to put the camera on, I already saw some footprints,” says Bauer. “That was the eureka moment when I was sure that there really are lions.”

Caught on camera

Then it was a case of catching them on film, and on the second night, the lions obliged.

Alatash is adjacent to a much larger national park in Sudan, Dinder National Park. Bauer believes it’s likely there are lions there as well, with perhaps 100 to 200 individuals in the two parks combined.

About 20,000 lions are left in the wild across Africa. Lion populations in west and central Africa are declining, and may halve in 20 years.

Bauer thinks the lions of Alatash face fewer threats than many populations.

“The situation is fairly positive,” he says. “I think the fact that the Ethiopian government recently made it a national park is a giant leap forward. Now we have to support them in improving park management, but I think they’re taking it very seriously.”

Read more: Last of the lions