Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
The family of Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa have warned against him returning home. The image of him crossing his wrists above his head as he crossed the finish line in Rio has been widely seen.
The gesture is used by anti-government protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region. After the race, Lilesa said he was afraid to go home. On Tuesday, he was not among his fellow athletes who returned. The government has said they will not bar him from coming back.
But Lilesa’s mother isn’t so sure. (SOUNDBITE) (Oromo) FEYISA LELISA’S MOTHER, BIRITU FULASA, SAYING: “Do you really believe what the government is saying? [GIGGLING] 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. I wish him well.”
Oromiya has been crippled by months of unrest over land rights and allegations of human rights abuses. Lilesa’s wife says she’s not surprised he made the gesture. (SOUNDBITE) (Oromo) FEYISA LELISA WIFE, IFTU MULISA, SAYING: “I was very scared at the time but I wasn’t surprised because I know him. He was burning inside when he saw 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.” Lilesa won silver in the race in Rio. His daughter says she misses him, and wants to know where he is.
The words: Reuters’ transcript.