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.


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.

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.


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.

Syrian refugee wins Olympic swimming heat

This video says about itself:

Yusra Mardini: A Refugee at the Olympics

6 August 2016

First she had to swim to Greece to save her life, now she is swimming for the gold at the Olympics: meet Yusra Mardini of Syria, competing for the Refugee Olympic Team.

Rio Olympic games 2016: Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, who saved 20 lives crossing the Mediterranean, wins 100m butterfly heat.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Perhaps the happiest tale of the day was that of swimmer Yusra Mardini who is representing the Refugee team under the Olympic flag and won her 100m butterfly heat to huge cheers in the pool at the Aquatics Stadium in Rio.

Her time wasn’t enough to win her a place in the semi-finals but it won the hearts of the spectators and is the latest chapter in an incredible story. Mardini, 18, and her sister fled war-torn Syria a year ago and travelled through Lebanon and Turkey before trying to reach Greece by a boat fit for six but carrying 20 people.

The motor failed and Mardini jumped in and swam for three and a half hours, pulling the boat and stopping it from capsizing before reaching land on the island of Lesbos where she could barely stand. She was given asylum in Berlin where her swimming talents were spotted and that led to Rio and Saturday’s sterling effort. She goes again on Wednesday in the freestyle heats.

MEET TEAM REFUGEES “Team Refugees, the Olympic Games’ first ever team of refugee athletes, received a standing ovation on Friday night when they entered the stadium during the games’ opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ” [HuffPost]

Yet the opening days of the Summer Olympic Games indicated that the authorities have zero tolerance for even minimal forms of protest (people holding signs protesting current “interim president” Michel Temer have been expelled from stadiums) and have brought back memories for many of the methods employed during the 21 years of dictatorship (1964-1985), when democratic rights were under constant attack and bloody police repression was an everyday affair. Democratic rights, in Brazil and elsewhere, are fast becoming “a dead letter”: here.

Sleepless Nigerian Olympic footballers still win

Nigeria's first goal

This photo shows Nigeria (in green shirts)’s first goal in the Olympic football match against Japan in Brazil.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Today, 09:53

The soap opera surrounding the Olympic football team of Nigeria ultimately did not break the team. Although the plane with the Nigerians landed only six hours before kickoff in Manaus they won the first Olympic match there, 5 goals against 4.

This means maybe only four hours or less sleep or other rest for the Nigerian footballers.

Japan was the opponent in the hot and humid city in the Amazon.

Last week, there was a threat that the Nigerian selection would not reach Brazil in time. First there were problems with the payment of the plane tickets, then the flight was canceled because the plane was supposedly too small, then the team for a few days was unable to proceed beyond the airport in Atlanta in the USA.


After eight hours of flying, the team finally arrived in host city Manaus, where Japan was the first opponent of the 1996 Olympic champions (in Atlanta!). The game had an exciting first fifteen minutes with four goals: 2-2. Shortly before the break, Nigeria thanks to Oghenekaro Etebo for the third time went ahead.

The 20-year-old midfielder from Portuguese club Feirense, who had scored 2-1 as well, scored two more goals after the break. Japan came back to 4-5, but the tying goal was too late (five minutes into extra time) in order to make for a serious hunt for a draw.

See also here.

One should hope the Nigerian footballers will now get some well deserved good nights’ sleep. To be able to show what they are capable of, not only in bad circumstances, but in good circumstances as well.

Yusra Mardini: Olympic Syrian refugee who swam for three hours in sea to push sinking boat carrying 20 to safety: here.