Ethiopia: Olympian says "more than a thousand" killed for protesting against allocation of their land to investors

Author: Feyisa Lilesa, in The Washington Post, Published on: 14 September 2016

"Olympian Feyisa Lilesa: From Rio to America, I will keep fighting Ethiopia’s oppression"

On Aug. 21, when I reached the finish line of the men’s marathon at the Olympics in Rio, I crossed my fists above my head. This is sign of peaceful protest used by my people, the Oromo, for the past 10 months. I did it to raise awareness; hundreds of my fellow Ethiopians have been killed by security forces only because they peacefully protested against injustice...I want to tell the world what is happening in Ethi­o­pia — in Oromia, Amhara, Ogaden, Gambella and elsewhere...

As I was preparing for Olympic competition, my thoughts were always preoccupied with the suffering of my people. The Oromo are Ethiopia’s single largest ethnic group. The Ethiopian coffee that Americans drink comes mostly from my region. We are also well known for our long-distance runners. Peaceful protests against the government started in November when the government was forcing Oromo farmers off their land and selling it to foreign investors. Since then, human rights reports say more than 500 people have been gunned down by the security forces, but I believe at least twice as many have been killed. This includes at least 12 people that I know from my home district of Jaldu in Oromia.


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