Prominent Ethiopian actor, Znah-Bzu Tsegaye has said that he is seeking asylum in the United States, two months after leaving the east African country, BBC Live reports.
Tsegaye said Ethiopian security forces had carried out “atrocious actions” that led to him to decide not to return home until the regime had changed.
“It is sad to respond with bullets to people’s demand for their rights,” he added.
The actor left the country of his birth together with his wife and daughter, who is nine months old.
Tsegaye originated from the Amhara ethnic group which along with the Omoro people have been caught up in violent protests against the ruling government that they feel has been systematically oppressing as well as actively persecuting them.
The development came just a few weeks after Ethiopian Olympic marathon runner, Feyisa lelisa claimed that the Ethiopian government would have him killed for crossing his wrists in a ‘X’ above his head as he neared the finish line, in a show of solidarity with the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, who have protested for nearly a year about being treated like second-class citizens in their own country.
Lilesa said that his wife’s brother went missing in one of the Oromo’s protests, while his friend died in a suspicious fire at a prison where opposition figures were held.
“Even when I practised, personally my legs were running but my mind was also racing, preoccupied by the suffering all around me. All this has been on my mind for a very, very long time.”
“I knew this was being live broadcast around the world, and I wanted to show that the protests in Ethiopia were peaceful, just like my sign was,” he says.
Lelisa said that more athletes who got the opportunity to compete on the global stage needed to speak out against the persecution of the Oromo people in his country.
In what was considered as the country’s worst unrest in over a decade, the Oromo tribe started protesting in 2015 November against the government’s plan to reallocate farmland.