Nearly $50 thousand is raised online to support Feyisa Lilesa’s pursuit to seek asylum. Abdi Fite, Lalisaa Hikka and Solomon Ungashe, all Ethiopians of Oromo speaking background living in the diaspora, took the initiative to coordinate the online funding campaign after an account is opened on “GoFundMe”.
Ethiopians in the diaspora including Oromo speaking Ethiopians donated about $50 thousand dollars in just less than 24 hours.
Feyisa Lilesa told foreign journalists that he is concerned for his life if he returns to Ethiopia after he expressed his protest to the ongoing killings of Ethiopians in different parts of Ethiopia by the ethnic minority regime, Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
On the other hand, the Associated Press cited spokes person of the regime in Ethiopia to report that Ethiopian government is ready to welcome Feyisa Lilessa as a “hero.”
Ironical and contradictory as it may seem state television -Ethiopian Broadcasting corporation- didn’t show footage of Athelte Feyisa Lilesa’s when he crossed the marathon finishing line showing anti-government protest signs.
No surprise that “Hero welcome” statement from the ruling party rather met with skepticism from Ethiopians.
Feyisa Lilesa is a husband with two kids in Ethiopia but he was very explicit that he intends not to return to Ethiopia for fear of government reprisal for his support of struggle against tyranny in Ethiopia.
Seemingly Feyisa Lilesa will start his asylum process from Brazil and the fund raised by Ethiopians of Oromo origin is meant to pay for all necessary expenses during the course of asylum seeking process.
So far no country came forward offering asylum for Feyisa Lilesa. Many western countries including the United States of America are clients to tyrannical government in Ethiopia.
Support to Feyisa Lilesa is coming in a different form as well. Washington based barrister, Shakespare Feyisa, offered to represent Feyisa Lilesa’s asylum claim case by travelling all the way to Brazil on his own.
Ethiopians are expressing cautious optimism that Feyisa Lilesa will be protected in light of international legal instruments governing claimant refugee status.
Regime in Ethiopia already kicked of diplomatic campaign to return Feyisa Lilesa to Ethiopia as was the case a few years ago in relation to Ethiopian co-pilot, Hailemedhin Abera, who locked out the pilot when he step out for a washroom break and diverted Rome bound flight to Switerland.
Ethiopians in social media remark that if Feyisa Lilesa’s political gesture is not tolerated so much so that Ethiopian state TV had to cut it out and air a Kenyan athlete in stead, it is unlikely that Feyisa Lilesa will have a chance to freely and safely pursue his career in Ethiopia.
With the exception of ethnic base of the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front, all Ethiopians, not jut Oromos, are experiencing unprecedented oppression. In the last nine months alone, close to one thousand people are killed in all parts of Ethiopia, thousands wounded and thousands detained.
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