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Monday, October 19, 2015

Trips to Ireland to further his passion for running led to Bedilu Gebreselassie, a member of a political group opposed to Ethiopia’s government, seeking political asylum 

Bedilu Gebreselassie shudders as he recalls the 15 days he spent in prison. “Oh my god, I can’t explain,” the 27-year-old from Ethiopia says, shaking his head as he attempts to describe the cramped conditions of prisoners piled on top of each other in an Addis Ababa jail. Inmates were given a piece of bread and a glass of water to make it through each day. Gebreselassie struggled to find room to sleep on the floor, leaning on his side to fit inside the confined sleeping quarters.

“I was crying, I lost weight, there was no food. After they let me out I had no transportation to get home.”
The sports enthusiast from the city of Hawassa in southern Ethiopia had travelled to the capital to participate in a race with his athletics club but ended up behind bars due to his affiliation with the Sidama Liberation Front political group.

Bedilu Gebreselassie: ‘People here can demonstrate in the streets, they have the freedom to speak. That’s real freedom.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Bedilu Gebreselassie: ‘People here can demonstrate in the streets, they have the freedom to speak. That’s real freedom.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

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