With crossed arms on the forehead toward the finish line, Rio Marathon Silver Medalist Feyissa Lelisa demands freedom for Ethiopians from TPLF barbaric repression!

21 Aug

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Rio Marathon Silver Medalist Lelisa Feyisa showing popular Oromo Protest sign, after his victory

Rio Marathon Silver Medalist Feyisa Lelisa showing popular Oromo Protest sing, after his victory

Renowned Ethiopian athlete Feyisa Lelisa has won the silver medal in men’s Marathon in Rio Olympic Games at this very trying time of tears and blood in his country, clocking 2:09:54.

The equally renowned Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge won the game with diminished challenge in a time of 2:08:44, as Ethiopians are increasingly poorly performing in major competitions; they are winning fewer victories in some athletics fields for which they were earlier reputed, as the medal charts shed light on this story of a nation’s perceptible eclipse.

Ethiopia & Kenya performances in four olympiads

During the race, it is reported, in self-interest Kipchoge signaled to Lelisa to help him share the lead to exhaust the next competitor. However, besides running and winning the marathon, since Lelisa had a lot on his mind he did not take the offer.

No doubt, how cruel the Ethiopian political situation has increasingly become to citizens is better evidenced by the athlete, who crossed his arms on his forehead at the finish line, to declare to the world that he too is a prisoner of the repressive Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), hungry for freedom as are the rest of Ethiopians.

This sad state of affairs Lelisa has put expressively and poignantly in the original language of the ongoing #Oromoprotests, which has also become a symbol for all Ethiopians to demand their rights, peace, equality and freedom. Lelisa was sure that the entire international community on this Sunday would be glued to their television screens, among others,watching the grueling 42 kilometer marathon race. Selflessky, he must have decided the world should also be attuned to the barbaric killings in Ethiopia.

Lelisa’s records show that in May 2016 at the Dubai Marathon, he clocked better time of 2:04:52. He was also the two-time Boston Marathon champion, according to Sports Illustrated.

Sadly, in Ethiopia under the TPLF, sports is everything! We saw that Ethiopia joined the swimming competition, simply because a member of the TPLF was the head of the Ethiopian Swimming Association president and a father. His son had to be registered to participate as swimmer in an international competitio, for which he was no material. Days before the Rio trip, his non-Tigrean coach was tokd he was not needed.

This is an irony the country agonizes over under the ethnic minority TPLF regine on a daily basis and in every sector of the nation’s life!

Boston Marathon 2013 men’s winner Lelisa Desisa, right, of Ethiopia, presents his winning medal to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino after presenting it to the city as a tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings
(Photo: Michael Dwyer, AP)

On June 23, 2013, the USA Today reported, “The champion of the men’s 2013 Boston Marathon returned his winner’s medal to Mayor Thomas Menino on Sunday to honor the city and those killed and injured in the bombings near the finish line of one of the world’s top running events.” On the occasion, he is quoted saying:

“Sport holds the power to unify and connect people all over the world…Sport should never be used as a battleground.”


What lies ahead in the endangered future of this 26-year old promising athlete, who is hailing from a nation under the grips of the repressive and oppressive TPLF, is anyone’s guess!

To start with, he may be stripped off his well-deserved title. For those with good conscience, the execution of several scores of Ethiopians demanding in a peaceful rally just on a single weekend of August 6th and 7th, should weigh heavily on their conscience than the automacity of precedences. Lelisa’s actions show he is an hokorable person, imbued with love for his helpless people!

Surely, by this message to the world of his concerns, Feyisa Lelisa’s action has shown better morality and human decency and observance of the law than the courts in Ethiopia and the politics of Ethiopia’s big power allies that are bankrolling a criminal regime!

The sad part of the Rio Olympics, at least for Ethiopia, is how many of its children it should continue to lose either to TPLF’s cruelest massacres and endless imprisonments at home, or droves of our educated people being forced to abandon their nation. In both cases, they too lose their homes and families and their nation they love; they would be forced to start anew from down and under as refugees in foreign lands!

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