Massive campaign underway to stop abuse of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia
Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00
In recent days, a trending topic of discussion among Ethiopian social media users has been a well-documented and widespread abuse of Ethiopian migrants in the Arab state of Saudi Arabia. The discussion is growing by the hour. The exchange of information includes graphic photos and videos of Ethiopians being tortured at the hands of the Saudi police and vigilantes in the streets of Riyadh and other Saudi states.
Disturbing images of Ethiopian bodies covered in blood lying on the ground have also been posted on social media sites sparking outrage, anger and unprecedented campaign to try and raise awareness about the atrocities being committed.
The victims themselves have documented some of the violent incidents on their mobile phones and talked about how Ethiopian citizens in Saudi Arabia are subjected to robbery, torture, rape and murder.
The extrajudicial killings and gross violations of human rights of Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia followed the expiry of a seven-month amnesty period requiring migrant workers to gain legal status.
Earlier in the year, the BBC’s Newsnight program aired a documentary on Ethiopian migrants facing torture and rape in Yemen as they attempt to cross the border to Saudi Arabia seeking work.
According to the documentary, in the previous 5 months alone, 40,000 Ethiopians made the dangerous journey from Ethiopia to Yemen in what the BBC called “one of the biggest economic migrations in the world.”
Watch the BBc's documentary below.
Ethiopians have been migrating to Saudi Arabia for decades to do hard and difficult jobs that Saudi nationals couldn’t do. The migration of Ethiopians to Saudi Arabia provided the country with a quality and dedicated workforce contributing to the growth of the Saudi economy and providing stability in particular industries of the employment sector.
There have long been reports of Ethiopian female domestic workers in Saudi Arabia suffering from solitary-confinement, food deprivation, and sever sexual, psychological and physical abuse.
There have also been reports of Ethiopian male workers living in conditions most people in most parts of the world would find unsuitable for animals.
But never before have we seen such cruelty employed by the Saudis to get rid of Ethiopians from their country.
Watch this video of Saudi men in civilian outfits beating and arresting Ethiopians in Riyadh.
The reaction of Ethiopians in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the Diaspora has been simply magnificent. The messages Ethiopians have been posting on social media websites in solidarity of their fellow Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia and in utter outrage of the mistreatment of Ethiopians there have been nothing short of heartbreaking.
It is easy to detect severe anger in these messages and a desperate sense of trying to do something to prevent further attacks inflicted upon their fellow compatriots.
Petitions are being organised, Facebook pages setup and campaign messages distributed asking people to force the Saudi Government to do the right thing and respect the basic human rights of Ethiopian nationals in their country.
Here is the commendable website that is serving as the epicentre of the online campaign: http://www.someonetellsaudiarabia.com/
One only needs to look up the has tag #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia on Twitter, to get a grasp of the magnitude of concern about this significant issue of identity, human rights and dignity for Ethiopians.
But the real question is: where is the Ethiopian government and what are they doing about this? The simple answer is: nothing.
The Ethiopian Government is showing a staggering lack of care for Ethiopians as is consistent with what they have done over the last 22 years.
The people of Ethiopia are the country’s best assets and the government doesn’t seem to understand that at all.
How could 40,000 Ethiopians leave their beloved Ethiopia for Saudi Arabia in just 5 months desperate for work in the first place? How desperate do they have to be?
In October 1995, the late leader of the EPRDF Meles Zenawi was asked, during a meeting with members of the Ethiopian community in Washington DC, what his vision was for Ethiopians in ten years’ time.
He simile and said: “in 10 years’ time all Ethiopians would be able to have meals three times a day.”
It was an appalling vision to have as a leader of a country, a leader who ruled with an iron fist until the day he died.
Meles Zenawi died receiving care from one of the best private hospitals in the Belgian capital Brussels after he was flown there covertly.
And 22 years after his rule and 1 year after his death, not only Ethiopians couldn’t eat 3 times a day, but more than 80,000 of them are leaving Ethiopia a year simply because the party of Meles Zenawi has turned Ethiopia from a country of civilization and greatness to a country of shame and misery.
What we are seeing unfold among Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia and Yemen is the legacy of Meles Zenawi and his self-serving regime.
Never before have we witnessed such indifference to the suffering of Ethiopians by an Ethiopian government.
So the task of putting an end to the sad situation among Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia is left for Ethiopian individuals living in many parts of the world.
The government sat on its hands and offered deafening silence until it was left embarrassed by the growing social media campaign this week and it has now started repatriating those who are desperate to get out of Saudi Arabia and return to Ethiopia.
The campaign may have started online in the virtual space, but it is now turning into a physical campaign with a series of protests being organized by Ethiopians across the world to be held outside Saudi embassies in African, North American, Australian and European cities in the next few days.
As part of the growing spontaneous response by various Ethiopians to the atrocities being committed in Saudi Arabia, young Ethiopian musician Jacky Gosee has also released a new single, dedicating it to the victims and to those Ethiopians living far from home, deprived of their freedom and their human dignity.
Here is the song:
Befekir Kebede | Thursday, 15 November 2013