Tamiru Demissie added his name to lists of courageous Ethiopian athletes by showing political protest sign as he finished second in Men’s 1500 meters Rio paralympics event.
Tamiru made it to the final stages to compete for visually impaired runners.
This is a second time in just a matter of a month or so of time when an Ethiopian athlete shows political protest sign in major international sporting event.
For many, one of the most memorable moments of Rio 2016, something perhaps that will go down as bravest moves in Olympic history, is Feyisa Lilesa‘ s show of political protest, as he crossed Marathon finishing line, as an expression of advocacy against minority tyrannical regime in Ethiopia that is killing Ethiopians brutally left and right. He raised his hands and crossed them over his heads to denote the level of repression in Ethiopia against Ethiopians but ethnic base of the regime in power.
For Ethiopia, Rio Olympic event turned out to be primarily opposition political event and “PR disaster” as some publishers noted. For example, Ethiopia’s first Olympic athlete in swimming, Robel Kiros, whose father is president of Ethiopian swimming federation, made headlines internationally in a satirical way but only until his story is revealed to show the depth of political and governance problem in Ethiopia. Ethiopians have now coined the term “Robelism” to denote chronic corruption and incompetence.
Few weeks after Feyisa Lilesa’s protest which captured international attention, another marathoner –Ebisa Ejigu– who was competing in Quebec, Canada, repeated same protest sign. There seem to be a confusion in the way the protest sign is understood. The protest sign is not just to show support for ethnic Oromos only. Amhara, the second biggest population in Ethiopia, is under similar circumstances of repression with number of arbitrary killings rising in the region after government mobilized and deployed the armed force in the region.
There are serious concerns that Tamiru Demissie could face death threat if he is going back to Ethiopia. Campaign to protect his life, however, is not yet kicked off.
Well over a hundred thousand US dollars was raised when crowed fund was launched to help support Feyisa Lilesa’s asylum seeking process. The campaign was successful ; Feyisa Lilesa has got US visa and he is reportedly in the US.
Video of Tamiru Demissie at the Paralympic event