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Daughter of Ethiopian Olimpic Hero: “Baba I Miss You, Where Are You?”

As he finished in the silver medal position during the Men’s Marathon on Sunday, Feyisa Lilesa, crossed his arms in a symbolic protest against what he considers an oppressive Ethiopian government.

Then, he explained to reporters that he made the gesture because 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.”

Followingly, the silver medalist said that he feared for his life and did not want to go home.

“If I go to Ethiopia, they’ll kill me,” he said. “If not kill me, they charge (imprison him).”

His gesture surprised many including his family and his agent.

According to a New York Times article, his agent Fredrico Rosa said, “I don’t know when he decided to do this. He didn’t say anything to me about it. I was surprised.”

In the meantime, his family is worried but not shocked. Speaking to the Reuters news agency from their home in Addis Ababa, Lelisa’s wife, Iftu Mulisa said:

“I was very scared at the time, but I wasn’t surprised because I know him. He was burning inside when he sees on social media all these dead bodies… people being beaten and people being arrested. So I was not surprised because I know he had a lot of anger inside.”

The Ethiopian government was stunned as well. According to CNN, their Communications Minister, Getachew Reda described Lilesa as a hero and shouldn’t be worried about returning to the country.

“I can assure you nothing is going to happen to his family nothing is going to happen to him,” he said.

However, Lilesa’s mother, Biritu Fulasa is not buying it.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Do you really believe what the government is saying? I don’t believe so. He should stay there. I would have liked him to come but what can I do? I was crying too much the other day, but now I am feeling better. I want him to stay there,”[/perfectpullquote]

she said.

In the midst of this, Ethiopians and well-wishers around the world are raising money on a crowdsourcing website to help Lilesa and his family stay afloat as he seeks asylum. So far, the site has raised US$ 142,725.

Lilesa has shared with BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza that he is overwhelmed by the worldwide support he has received while his lawyer is working on an asylum request to the USA.

Meanwhile, back home in Ethiopia, Lilesa’s little daughter, Soko Feyisa has a brief message for her father:

“Baba I miss you, where are you?”


Photo Courtesy: Getty Images


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