Ethiopian Marathon Athlete Feyisa Lelisa Supporters Launch GoFundMe Initiative After Political Protest During 2016 Summer Olympics

Following Feyisa Lilesa brave protest towards the Ethiopian government during the 2016 Rio Olympics, a GoFundMe has been launched dedicated to the marathon runner and his family. Within a matter of days, the initiative has received nearly $130,000 from more than 2,200 supporters. 

Feyisa LilesaUpon receiving his silver medal for the men’s marathon, Lilesa brought acknowledged the ongoing political protests (the Oromo Protest and Freedom Movement) in his home country by putting his arms over his head, wrists crossed, to show his support for the Oromo tribe. The government has been battling protests due to their plans to reallocate farmland. The situation has been going on since November and is considered the country’s worst unrest in over a decade.

Speaking about his protest, Lilesa reportedly stated:

“Oromo is my tribe … Oromo people now protest what is right, for peace, for a place. Maybe I move to another country … you get the freedom if you support only the government. You cannot work without that.”

Despite his protest, the Ethiopian government reportedly stated that he would be greeted with a hero’s welcome, but that hasn’t stopped Lilesa from seeking refuge from Ethiopia. The campaign reads:

“We are calling on all Ethiopians and human rights advocates to make contributions to funds needed to support Marathon athlete Feyisa Lelisa who exhibited extra-ordinary heroism by becoming an international symbol for #OromoProtests and Ethiopian Freedom Movement after winning a medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic games. Feyisa Lelisa faces persecution if he goes back to Ethiopia and he has decided to to seek [asylum].” 

The campaign organizers assured that all funds would go towards Lilesa and his family. The initiative’s funding goal is $150,000. 

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