March 21, 2019

Statement on the Mistreatment of Immigrants from Ethiopia in Saudi Arabia

We, members of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), strongly condemn all actions of brutality carried out against migrant workers from Ethiopia in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Leave alone our fellow Oromos, we do not wish such dehumanizing, barbaric, and vicious violence being inflicted on any human being whatsoever.  Although officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have every right to ask foreigners to leave their country, it should be done in a civilized fashion where people are not dehumanized and abused. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the UN charter, has an obligation to observe and protect human rights and treat immigrants in accordance to international law.The anti-migrant outburst currently being witnessed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia possibly serves as the symptom of the underlying explosive contradictions in the Kingdom’s political-cum-religious policies. The Kingdom that vests sovereignty in individual rulers prides itself as the protector and promoter of the purest form of Islam although only the Almighty Creator is Sovereign according to the tenets of Islam. The Kingdom interferes in the internal affairs of other countries in order to export its preferred version of Islam while invoking the doctrine of non-interference in internal affairs in its dealings with foreigners found on its home territory. Moreover, while pretending to pose as the bastion of worldwide brotherhood of the Umma, it allows its security personnel to brutalize and humiliate fellow Muslims from other countries without any compunction whatsoever. The country with one of the highest number of educated females in the Arab/Islamic world, does not even allow women Ph D holders to drive cars. These and other clearly contradictory practices constitute a highly explosive mixture, which the power holders are trying to contain by directing popular frustration against helpless foreign migrants.

Over the years we have seen graphic images of brutality inflicted on our women migrant workers in the other Arab countries as well. Beatings, longer hours of work, denial of pay, and sexual abuses are common practices.

While we are extremely saddened by the brutality suffered by our compatriots in foreign countries, we would like to point out the underlying reasons which have caused the massive migration of our people to other countries. The reasons are twofold: the first is gross human rights violations and political persecution in Ethiopia; and the second is abject poverty. These are the twin enemies our people are running away from, taking enormous risks along the journey and exposing themselves to dehumanizing conditions at their destinations.

Democratic governance, which protects the rights of its citizens, as well as a government which creates an opportunity for its own people to live a dignified life on their land, is the only solution to curb the flight of people from their own country. The humiliating experience we have been experiencing will come to an end only when we drain the swamp that has forced people to flee their country.

On this occasion, the ODF would like to call upon all the Ethiopian peoples, the government, and political groups to come together and tackle the structural deficiency of democratic governance and alleviate poverty to restore pride and prosperity to our peoples.


Freedom & Justice for All!

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