′If I go home, they may kill me′ | Africa | DW | 22.08.2016
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'If I go home, they may kill me'

Ethiopian silver medalist, Feyisa Lilesa, crossed his wrists at the finish line of Sunday's Olympic marathon, the symbol for the anti-government protests in his country. He now fears for his life if he returns home.

Olympics silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa from Ethiopia

Ethiopia has been marred by violence in recent weeks as government security forces have killed dozens of people amid protests over the nation's decision to take over lands in the Oromia region. Protesters are calling for more freedom and an end to government brutality.

"If I go back to Ethiopia, maybe they will kill me," Lilesa said. At a news conference after the race, he added that as a member of the Oromo tribe who has relatives in prison, he could not stay quiet on the Olympic stage, no matter the consequences.

Political protests have a long history at the Olympics but are officially banned. Government spokesman Getachew Reda dismissed his concerns. 

"Though it is impossible to express a political stance at (the) Olympic Games, the athlete will be welcomed while returning home along with other members of the Ethiopian Olympic squad," he told state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation.

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