Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.
We might excuse Feyisa Lilesa for failing to take comfort in his government’s assurances that he won’t be harmed or jailed if he returns home.
A member of the Oromo tribe of Ethiopia, Lilesa made headlines on the final day of the Rio Olympics when he raised his crossed arms in a gesture of solidarity with the Oromo people as he reached the finish line of the men’s marathon. He repeated the pose later during an Olympic ceremony. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 people have been killed and tens of thousands arrested since Nov. 2015, when the Ethiopian government began to forcibly displace Oromo and other people during an effort to develop land around the capital, Addis Ababa.
Amnesty International reported that at least 5,000 Oromos were arrested because of peaceful protests or otherwise opposing the government between 2011 and 2014. Ethiopia disputes the charge. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told The Guardian earlier this year: “We have clearly identified why this protest has come about: unemployment and lack of good governance. Building democratic culture will take some time. But we are on the
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