Teklai Hagos says he watched in horror as Saudi Arabian police beat Ethiopian migrants protesting against the alleged kidnapping and rapes of Ethiopian women by young Saudi men.
“When we said stop, then the police started hitting us,” the 30-year-old former pipe-factory worker in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, recalled in an interview in Addis Ababa.
Teklai is among more than 100,000 Ethiopians repatriated from Saudi Arabia since the kingdom began deporting illegal migrants in November. It’s a crackdown Teklai and New York-based Human Rights Watch say involved beatings by Saudi police and rape and murder by vigilantes. Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki denied the claims.
The Arab world’s biggest economy has taken action against illegal workers as it pushes to create more jobs for Saudi citizens and stave off the unrest that has toppled leaders across the Middle East since 2011.
At least 115,465 Ethiopians have been repatriated, according to the International Organization for Migration, or IOM. Hundreds of thousands of Asian migrants are also being deported from the oil-producing nation, which was home to about 9 million foreign workers in a population of 29.9 million, according to Saudi government statistics.
Ethiopia’s government said three nationals were killed in clashes with police in Riyadh that started Nov. 9. Ejected workers say rioting occurred after Ethiopians were angered by the rape of Ethiopian women at apartments in the Manfouha district.
Ethiopians said Saudi citizens armed with sticks, machetes and firearms attacked foreigners in Manfouha on Nov. 9, according to Human Rights Watch.
One 30-year-old witness saw the bodies of two Ethiopians who’d been beaten to death and one who’d been shot, it said. Another had a video that “appeared” to show a Saudi man raping an Ethiopian woman, the advocacy group said Dec. 1 in an e-mailed statement.
Mohammed Shime was near the area’s Al Rajhi Bank after a Saudi man was killed in clashes. The 22-year-old says he saw six Ethiopians stabbed to death when they fought back against Saudi youth — shabaab in Arabic — who arrived in cars.
Written by William Davison/Read more at Bloomberg