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Ethiopian Runner in Exile Re-Unites With Family

Famous for his protest at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa has been reunited with his family for the first time since going into exile.

The marathon silver medalist in a gesture – crossing his wrists – demonstrated against the treatment of Oromo people by the Ethiopian government.

Lilesa is from Oromia, the country’s largest ethnic group accounting for most of 35 million Oromo people, in Ethiopia. 

His action caused worry and fear for his life, prompting the long distance runner to reconsider returning back home,  in fear of his life.

Lilesa who is now in the US has spent almost six months away from his wife and two young children, a decision he made out of necessity.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Putting them potentially in harm’s way was a good lesson for a lot of people that you need to sacrifice in order for you to win some concessions and change your situation,”[/perfectpullquote]

he told the Associated Press.

“In that sense, it inspires people to fight for their rights and resist the government in Ethiopia.”

The Ethiopian athlete is currently on a special skills visa following his departure from Brazil in September and it is reported that his family arrived the US with visas as well.

But Ethiopian officials have denied purporting any threat or danger to Lilesa and his family and insisted that he would receive a hero’s welcome from Rio.

However, there were claims at the time by the Ethiopian runner of relatives sent to prison and faced possible death if they dare spoke of democratic rights.

In November 2015, a series of anti-government protests broke out in the region mainly against social and political marginalization.

The crossing of wrists above their heads became the symbolic sign during the protests which led to police crackdowns.

Prior to the political unrest, a six-month state of emergency was instated in October to contain the unprecedented anti-government protests.



 Featured photo: AP

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