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Supporters launch GoFundMe page after Ethiopian's Olympic protest

26 August 2016, 07:30

Addis Ababa - Following Ethiopian marathon runner, Feyisa Lelisa's courageous protest during the 2016 Rio Olympics, a GoFundMe initiative has been launched by supporters dedicated to the Olympian and his family, CrowdFund Insider reports.

The initiative, within a matter of days raised nearly $130 000 from over 2 200 supporters after Lelisa protested against the Ethiopian government during the Olympic games.

At the medal ceremony and as he crossed the finish line as a runner-up, the marathon runner showed his solidarity with the Oromo tribe in Ethiopia by raising his arms above his head and crossing them at the wrist, a symbol used by the Oromo people during protests.

In what is considered as the country's worst unrest in over a decade, the Oromo tribe started protesting in November against the government's plan to reallocate farmland.

"Oromo is my tribe … Oromo people now protest what is right, for peace, for a place. Maybe I move to another country … you get the freedom if you support only the government. You cannot work without that," Lelisa said about his protest.

News24 reported that Lelisa feared for his life which forced him to not return to his homeland as scores of people were recently killed for political dissent.

"I have relatives in prison back home," if you talk about democracy they kill you. If I go back to Ethiopia maybe they will kill me, or put me in prison.

"It is very dangerous in my country. Maybe I have to go to another country. I was protesting for people everywhere who have no freedom," he added after Sunday's marathon in Rio.

Ethiopia's government meanwhile vowed that the silver medallist had nothing to fear upon returning home with government spokesperson Getachew Reda confirming that Lelisa wouldn't face any problem due to his political stance.

Lelisa's actions brought the world's attention to the little-known continued persecution of the Oromo nation which holds a majority of the population in Ethiopia, The Guardian reports.

The ruling government were seen by observers to be trying to force the Oromo tribe out of the capital city under the ruse that it sought to develop its business district.

No prior discussion or consultation was had with the Oromo people who are the ancestral owners of the land.

The protests arose from the grander scheme of Ethiopia's ethnic-coded wealth inequality with 58% of the population living in destitution as not all have benefited from the country's economic growth.

According to Oxford University's Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), Ethiopia is the second poorest country in the world with 90% of Oromo living in extreme poverty.

- News 24


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