Sport is a major unifier among all nations and the plight of Eritrean athletes should be enough to force the international community, particularly states that now host many Eritreans, to exert pressure on President Isaias Afwerki to implement reforms, 26 years after taking power.
Not many people outside sporting circles were familiar with Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa or the plight of the Oromo people in Ethiopia before the 2016 Rio Olympic games in Brazil.
As Feyisa crossed the finish line in the men's marathon on the final day of the Olympics, winning a silver medal, and fully aware of the glare of the international community and media, he lifted his hands over his head and crossed his wrists in a symbolic anti-government protest. He repeated the gesture as he received his silver medal - the gesticulation is a trademark sign of protest, often used by the Oromo from where Feyisa hails, against the violent repression of the government.
At the time Feyisa made this gesture the Oromo territories, home to more than a third of the population of Ethiopia, was under siege from the Ethiopian military. More than 400 Oromos had been killed and thousands arrested during protests by...