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  • Ethiopian distance runner Feyisa Lilesa

    Ethiopian distance runner Feyisa Lilesa, a silver medal winner at the Rio Olympics, made headlines around the world when he crossed his wrists above his head, making a symbol that has become the rallying cry for protests in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.

    That political gesture put the runner at grave personal risk, and now some in the Ethiopian diaspora want to help him.

    Solomon Ungashe of California is one of the three people who co-sponsored a gofundme account for the runner. Gofundme is an online crowdsourcing platform used to raise money for charitable and personal campaigns.

    Ungashe told VOA the athlete didn't initiate it or ask people to help him, but supporters figured it was necessary and, through the account, they have been able to raise more than $100,000 so far. Separately, they have sent three people who paid out-of-pocket to fly to Rio and provide support.

    "Feyisa did what he did to raise the bigger issue, but again he left everything that he has. This man is a person who apparently lives a comfortable life at home in Ethiopia, and he left all that behind," Ungashe said.

    Ungashe added that the money may be used to pay for an immigration lawyer to help the runner get a visa, as well as to facilitate his move to a new country. Ungashe hopes the runner will choose to resettle in the U.S.

    What’s next

    The silver medalist is now thinking about what is next for him and his family. He said he didn't celebrate much after crossing the finish line because some of his friends are in prison and some are dead.

    Government spokesman Getachew Reda, however, downplayed his concerns, saying the country plans a "heroic welcome" for him and his safety was guaranteed. Reda told a state-affiliated news channel that Lilesa will not face any problems for his political stance.

    "After all, this is an athlete who secured a silver medal for his country," he said, speaking to Fana Broadcasting Corporation.

    Skeptical of safety

    Henok Gabisa, a visiting academic fellow at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, said there is reason to doubt the government. He noted that the state-owned TV station in Ethiopia took pains not to show Lilesa's gesture during its Olympic coverage.

    Gabisa does not believe the government statement assuring Lilesa's safety can be trusted. "People who were killed, more than 500 Oromos and Amhara people who were killed, and maimed and imprisoned for showing the same gesture are still being killed. What unique reason do we have that Feyisa is not going to face the same predicament?" he told VOA.

    Ungashe shares similar concerns. He noted that after the government spokesman made the statement, the Oromia regional administration branch of the government — the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO), a group that supports the national government — used its website to accuse Lilesa of being used by "terrorists, by enemies of peace and enemies of development."

    "So who do you believe?" Ungashe said.

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  • Genzebe Dibaba has won women's 3000m IAAF

    Ethiopian athlete Genzebe Dibaba has won women's 3000m IAAF Diamond League in Laussane, Switzerland.

    She finished the race 8:31.84. Kenyan Hellen Onsando Obiri took the second place, and othe Kenyan athlete Mercy Cherono took third place.

    Genzebe has 10 cumulative points in the league followed by Obiri who has 6 cumulative points.

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  • Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) fixtures of the 2016/17

     The fixtures of the 2016/17 Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) season were announced on Thursday at Capital Hotel and Spa.
    The announcement ceremony and the drawing of lots were conducted in the presence of federation officials, representatives and managers of participating clubs and former players. Ahead of the announcement, the representatives deliberated on issues ranging from referees’ decisions to player transfers. They approved a different system for the upcoming premier league season. In that regard, the number of clubs that will be promoted to the premier league was decreased to 3, with winners of the super and leagues advancing along with a winner of the playoffs between the second placed teams.
    Elsewhere, clubs’ representatives raised their concerns regarding registration fee for clubs taking part in the league. The federation accepted the concern and said that it will reconsider the decision. The league is scheduled to start play on October 30, 2016 with the dates for fixtures to be announced in the near future.
    In the opening week reigning EPL champions St. George FC will entertain Arba Minch FC, while second-placed Ethiopian Coffee will play against Dedebit FC. In another match, third-placed Adama City FC will face Dire Dawa City FC.
    In the 2015/16 EPL season, the Horsemen were crown champions for a record 13 times. The Horsemen ended the league with 55 points, Ethiopia Coffee followed with 45, while Adama City and Dedebit managed to collect 44 and 39 points, respectively.
    Dedebit forward Dawit Fekadu finished the season with 14 goals, one goal behind Taffese Tesfaye of Adama City. 
    Week one EPL fixtures
    Saint George vs. Arbaminch City (Addis Ababa)
    Sidama Coffee vs. Fasil City (Yirgalem)
    Ethiopia Coffee vs. Dedebit (Addis Ababa)
    Wolaita Dicha vs. Defense (Boditi)
    Hawassa City vs. Addis Ababa City (Hawassa)
    Jimma Aba Bunna vs. Electric (Jimma)
    Woldia City vs. Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (Woldia)
    Adama City vs. Dire Dawa City (Adama)
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  • skateboarding competition in Ethiopia organized by Malta

     The first skateboarding competition in Ethiopia organized by Malta Guinness in collaboration with Addis Skate Park was held at Bisrat Gabriel behind Laptho Mall last Saturday in Addis Ababa.
    Over 15 skaters participated and the first round of the event that began with a skateboarding training session. The event, which was dubbed “Skate with Malta”, was organized for young Ethiopians and Diageo donated 50,000 birr to Addis Skate Park, the venue where the event took place.
    The three winners of the competition were awarded a cash prize ranging from 3000 birr to 1500 birr and a branded skateboard. The event was free of charge and was open to the public.
    Malta Guinness brand manager handed the prize to the winners of the competition who finished first to third. During the event, Abel Anagaw, the Malt Guinness brand manager, said: “This event is a great opportunity to engage with young people and promote healthy living in Ethiopia. This donation will enable the young community and all skate park users an opportunity to own and take care of these grounds.”
    Addis Skate Park was built by Ethiopia Skate in cooperation with Make Life Skate Life, a non-profit organization that works with local skateboarding communities around the world to create free of charge community-built concrete skate parks.
    A professional skater, Natan Eyasu, said: “Our vision is that youths from different backgrounds can come together to have access to free skateboarding facilities and this community can ensure that all members have the means and lead a healthy life.”
    Ethiopia Skate was formed in 2013 at the Sarbet parking lot in Addis Ababa. They have been working to empower youth in Ethiopia by providing access to skateboard materials and by creating skate spots. The communities consist of over 150 skateboarders in Addis Ababa and other small towns across the country, with many more eager to join.
    In April 2016, they teamed up with Make Life Skate Life and a team of over 60 volunteer skate park builders and skateboarders from around the world to construct Ethiopia’s first and only free-of-charge public skate park, Addis Skate Park.
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  • ethiopian sport news hirut guangul makes powerful gesture in 4 peat

    Guanhul became the first QCM four-time champion, but the moment became larger than just her athletic achievement on Sunday morning.

    “I like this race,” said Guanhul. “Four-time champion. I’m very, very happy.”

    After the race, the 24-year-old said the “X” is a way of protesting the human rights abuses that are taking place in Ethiopia. Guanhul’s simple action is a brave and powerful one that bypasses any language barrier.

    Hundreds of peaceful Ethiopian protesters have been killed or arrested by the Ethiopian military this year. Protesters have demanded equality for the country’s Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group that has felt marginalized by the government as it pushes them off their land before selling it.

    Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa held up an “X” with his arms as he won silver in the marathon at the Rio Olympics. The gesture has been used as a symbol of strength and peaceful resistance.

    Lilesa says he likely will not be able to return home after making the gesture of solidarity. The Oromos also have used the “X” as a sign of their protest.

    “The Ethiopian government is killing my people, so I stand with all protests anywhere, as Oromo is my tribe,” Lilesa said at an Olympic press conference. “My relatives are in prison, and if they talk about democratic rights they are killed.”

    Guangul joined the brave movement as she won the women’s marathon with a time of 2:44.25.

    She won her first QC Marathon in 2012, when she set the women’s open course record of 2:35.07. Guangul’s 2016 win earned her $3,000 in prize money.

    Guangul says she enjoys the Quad Cities Marathon, and is happy to be back at the race.

    Kenyan Bizuwork Getahun Kasaye (2:56.01, $1,500) placed second and Ethiopia’s Meseret Ali Basa (3:03.09, $1,000) was third.

    Jenna Fiorillo (3:16.03, $750) of West Cester, Pa., placed fourth as the top American finisher.

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