By Graham Peebles
Racism and hate running through the streets
In the last 10 days persecution of Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia has escalated. Men and women are forced from their homes by mobs of civilians and dragged through the streets of Riyadh and Jeddah.
Distressing videos of Ethiopian men being mercilessly beaten, kicked and punched have circulated the Internet and triggered worldwide protests by members of the Ethiopian diaspora as well as outraged civilians in Ethiopia. Women report being raped, many repeatedly, by vigilantes and Saudi police. Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) has received reports of fifty deaths and states that thousands living with or without visas have been detained awaiting repatriation. Imprisoned, many relay experiences of torture and violent beatings.
Earlier this year the Saudi authorities announced plans to purge the kingdom of illegal migrants. In July, King Abdullah extended the deadline for them to “regularize their residency and employment status” [from 3 rd July] to November 4th [HRW[i]]. Obtain the correct visa documentation, or risk arrest, imprisonment and/or repatriation. On 6th November, Inter Press Service[ii] (IPS) reports, Saudi police, “rounded up more than 4,000 illegal foreign workers at the start of a nationwide crackdown,“ undertaken in an attempt (the authorities say), to reduce the 12% unemployment rate “creating more jobs for locals”.