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.

French prime minister Valls, stop dictating on women’s clothes


Moroccan golfer Maha Haddioui

Today, the tournament for women starts at the Olympic golf links in Rio de Janeiro in Brasil.

Among the golfers is Ms Maha Haddioui from Morocco. As the photo at the top of this blog post shows, Maha Haddioui plays sometimes while wearing shorts. Like a Moroccan woman Olympic boxer did today as well. Though some people in Israel and in other countries would like to ban shorts.

Ms Haddoui plays today in Rio in a miniskirt.

Some people in Morocco (and in other countries) don’t like miniskirts. However, recently a court in Morocco decided that women wearing miniskirts are not criminals.

That verdict in Morocco should be a signal for people, especially politicians, everywhere, to let women wear whatever they feel comfortable in.

However, Blairite prime minister Valls of France thinks differently about the right of women to choose their own clothes. He said today that the supports the bans in France of so called ‘burkini’ bathing gear.

Supposedly, full-body swimsuits are connected to terrorist violence.

That is moronic. Columnist Aleid Truijens writes today in Dutch daily De Volkskrant (print edition) that she personally hates ‘burkini’ swimwear; but that banning it is ridiculous: associating it with terrorism is as irrational as banning falafel food for some supposed association with terrorism. She also points out that less than a century ago, French and other European women used to be punished for ‘indecency’ for not wearing ‘burkini’-like clothes on beaches.

Let us compare with Israel, where there are more violent attacks than in France. The Israeli government takes lots of ‘anti-terrorism’ measures. Many of them correctly criticized as spurious and/or oppressive. However, they don’t include a ‘burkini’ ban. Swimming at beaches of Tel Aviv or elsewhere in full-body swimwear is legal. Women in Israel may wear ‘burkinis’ for being ultra-orthodox Islamic, ultra-orthodox Jewish, or other reasons, and nobody tries to stop them.

As for real reasons, Dutch NOS TV points out that there is an authoritarian tradition in France of dictating to women what they should wear. A tradition going back at least to the nineteenth century, when Algeria became a French colony. Thomas-Robert Bugeaud, marquis de la Piconnerie, duc d’Isly, general of the French occupation army in Algeria, complained in 1840 about Algerian women wearing too many clothes, which the French occupiers should change.

Let us go to the Rio Olympics again.

Two days ago, Dutch Ms Sharon van Rouwendaal won the gold medal in 10 kilometer swimming in Copacabana bay there.

What did she wear? What did the other Olympic swimmers there wear as well?

Sharon van Rouwendaal, photo © epa

Ms Van Rouwendaal’s swimsuit, like a ‘burkini’, covers her legs completely. Her swim cap usually covers her hair. The only difference with some versions of the ‘burkini’ is that her arms are not covered (in other versions of the ‘burkini’, arms are not covered, Dutch daily De Volkskrant, paper edition, writes today on page 3). That difference may be too subtle for bureaucratic right-wing policemen, like the ones who recently arrested ‘burkini’-wearing women on the beach of Cannes. Sharon van Rouwendaal was born in the Netherlands, but trains in France. She should be careful that some stupid bureaucratic right-wing French policeman will not arrest her.

Egyptian women beach volleyball players at the Rio Olympics, playing against Italy, AFP photo

Still, the Rio games. The Egyptian women beach volleyball team wore ‘burkinis’ there. If the weather in Rio became cold, then other beach volleyball players also covered up more than when the weather was warm. Are these Olympic sports people ‘terrorists’, Mr Valls!? They are just as unconnected to terrorism as Moroccan golf player Maha Haddioui and other women wearing miniskirts are.

‘Burkini conflict’ in Corsica, pretext for burkini ban, was not about ‘burkinis’, but about beach space: here.

Brazilian coup president Temer scared of Olympics spectators


This video says about itself:

23 May 2016

Anti-impeachment protests highlight Temer’s failures in Brazil

Filed by Kimberley Brown for New Internationalist

On Sunday, massive anti-impeachment protests were organized in Sao Paulo, Brazil, by the MTST, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto or Homeless Workers’ Movement. Various other social movements participated, including women’s rights organizations, unions, workers’ collectives and student movements.

The protests were aimed against the new interim President Michel Temer and his changes to government ministries making their composition all white, male and staffed with representatives from un-elected parties.

The changes do not represent the diverse people of Brazil, said protesters at the event.

Many were opposed to the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff because of their anger with Temer. Some made clear that they were against Temer because they were pro-democracy and he was not elected. However this did not easily translate into tacit support for the outgoing administration.

‘We don’t necessarily support Dilma’s government, but we do support democracy. Because we elected a government and all we got was this confusion,’ said Samara Gardenia from Intersindical.

A local journalist (working with Brasil da Fato) speculated that there were some 30,000 people participating in Sunday’s event. The journalist has been following the anti-impeachment protests around the city and this was one of the smaller ones he’s seen. One reason for this difference was that Sunday’s event was organized mainly by one group, the MTST, rather than several, he said.

The march started at roughly 3pm local time, with about 45 minutes of speeches, rallying and a long march to Temer’s house. The plan for some was to storm his home, but protesters were stopped by officials.

SOUNDBITE 1: (Portuguese) Samara Gardenia from Intersindical

‘We don’t necessarily support Dilma’s government, but we do support democracy. Because we elected a government and all we got was this confusion.’

SOUNDBITE 2: (Portuguese) Luis from the MTST

‘Good afternoon, I’m Luis from Vila Nova Palestina. This is not the first time that we’re here fighting this long battle against regression. Temer’s state, which is doing many things here, this interim government that took power is taking positions that it shouldn’t and cutting things that the incumbent president implemented, which is Dilma.’

SOUNDBITE 3: (Spanish) Marli from the Marcha Mundial das Mujeres

‘In talking about this interim government, we as women don’t believe, well, they don’t represent us.’

SOUNDBITE 4: (Spanish) Marli, soy de la Marcha Mundial de las Mulheres

This coup that is there, it’s better not to call it the government, has no legitimacy. It wasn’t elected, and nobody in the ministries represent the people. They didn’t get one vote from the people. So, they have a long-term project, but we don’t want that project. We don’t want it. That’s why we’re fighting. That’s why we’re in the street.’

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer will not be present at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games next Sunday.

At the opening ceremony, he was massively booed by the audience. The music was then quickly made louder to drown out this painful sound.

Demonstrations

Earlier that day, there had already been close to the stadium demonstrations against the unpopular interim president who replace the suspended president Dilma Roussseff.

To avoid another public humiliation Temer choose now for not appearing at the closing ceremony.

Capybara, burrowing owl at Brazil Olympics


This video from the USA says about itself:

28 February 2015

Just a few select minutes with the fascinating and incredibly cute Burrowing Owls of Cape Coral, Florida. These diminutive owls are only about nine inches tall. They make their homes in underground burrows formerly used by the Gopher Tortoise, or dug themselves. There are more nesting pairs of owls in Cape Coral than anywhere else in Florida. They are not particularly shy and their burrows are often near roads. The first 1:35 of the video (and audio) was filmed in slow motion, at 60 fps.

For more information on Florida’s Burrowing Owls, how to attract them to your yard, building a starter burrow or to help protect them, please visit Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, here.

At the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, today the first Olympic golf tournament since over a century started. The TV report showed also animals lat the golf course: burrowing owls.

And capybaras.

This video is about capybaras.