Human rights sources revealed that a large number of migrant workers who were deported from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia were subjected to arrest and torture, leading to the death of many, while the fate of dozens of them remains unknown following their transfer to unknown places.
With the outbreak of the Coronavirus in early 2020, the Saudi authorities arrested tens of thousands of Ethiopian workers and detained them in horrific and cruel conditions, on the pretext of combating the epidemic, but according to the detainees’ testimonies, they were held in mass graves, where pollution helped spread epidemics, and while being subjected to beatings, torture and starvation that caused the death of many of them.
A bilateral deportation agreement was concluded between Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia despite the existence of a civil war in the African country and the exposure of the people of Tigray Province to systematic persecution, racist practices, killing and arrest, in a province that includes thousands of migrant workers who were deported from Saudi Arabia and handed over to the authorities in their country.
The crackdown was followed by massive deportations of more than 30,000 Ethiopians between June 26 and July 9 alone.
Upon returning home last year, most of the Tigray workers were arrested and held in special detention centers in Addis Ababa, Oromia in the south, and the Afar region near Tigray.
The migrants identified an agricultural college complex in the town of Shoun in southwestern Ethiopia, about 264 kilometers from Addis Ababa, as a place that had been converted into a detention camp for people deported from Saudi Arabia.
According to some detainees, the conditions of detention in Saudi Arabia are still better than Ethiopian prisons, despite its harshness and inhumanity. Some of them say that beatings and torture become a daily routine and have become a normal practice against them by warders and security personnel.
Furthermore, many of them were subjected to enforced disappearance, and the authorities did not disclose whether they were still alive, especially since many of those who were detained were killed under torture.
Meanwhile, a large number of these workers were forced to work on state farms with no pay in exchange for little food, and those who object to these practices face arrest or death.
We hold the Saudi regime responsible for all the violations that these migrants are subjected to, as they have been deported and removed from the place where they were earning money to support their families, and we stress that handing them over to authorities that have a clear and open rivalry with their race is a crime.
We call on the European Parliament, which intervened to solve the migrant crisis inside Saudi Arabia, to intervene again to save them from the dark fate they face at the hands of the Ethiopian authorities and to open urgent investigations into all the violations and crimes they were subjected to in Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia.
We also call on the international community to take a moral stance and stop any cooperation with these countries that persecute innocent workers and use racist and oppressive practices against different ethnic minorities.