Since 2014, the Oromos of Ethopia have been staging protests and rallies against the Ethiopian government. Despite their protests being peaceful, violence instigated by the Ethiopian Security Forces have plagued the people.
The reason for the Oromos protests “…was a development plan that sought to expand the territorial limits of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, into neighbouring Oromo villages and towns.” As protesters rallied through the streets, their sign of solidarity and gesture of rebellion was the crossing of their arms in the shape of an ‘X’. Taking note of this, the Ethiopian government’s punishment for such action included arrests, daily detention beatings, and killings.
This is why Feyissa Liles (pictured above) is crossing his arms, and this is why Liles’ life is in danger.
As Liles crossed the finish line of the Mens Marathon, he placed the ‘X’ above his head to show solidarity to his fellow country men. Liles went on to say during a recent interview, “ If I go back to Ethiopia maybe they will kill me. If not kill me, they will put me in prison. I have not decided yet, but maybe I will move to another country.”
With Liles recent protest during the Olympic games, he has landed himself amongst a select group of individuals who have showed their courage and bravery to protest their country’s ugly side on an international stage. Liles may not have have won as many medals as Allyson Felix or Michael Phelps, but he did obtain the greatest medal of all, Bravery.