EthioPoint: Ethiopians Analysis | Research Articles

‘Lords of death’ and the plight of the poor Ethiopian souls in Saudi Arabia

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Yishrun Kassa
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Ethiopian migrants sleep out in the open near a transit centre where they wait to be repatriated in the western Yemeni town of Haradh, on the border with Saudi Arabia, March 29, 2012. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah) Read more:  (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::
Ethiopian migrants sleep out in the open near a transit centre where they wait to be repatriated in the western Yemeni town of Haradh, on the border with Saudi Arabia, March 29, 2012. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

[This article originated after I attended a paltalk room program (QALE discussion forum) a couple of days ago  as one of the admins explained to us  what he found out about the long human trafficking supply chain in Ethiopia over the years . I have taken some ideas from that presentation as a background in this article to help me reach a certain logical key conclusion in regards to the fate of the poor souls stranded in Saudi.]
The gruesome fate of the Ethiopian poor women in Saudi and those men who were butchered will remain in our minds. Now even before the dust has cleared, a cruel reality is emerging out of the fog.  Most of us know that for the last 2 decades under the current TPLF regime, a huge human trafficking operation was underway with licensed broker agencies who are run by people affiliated with the TPLF regime, a government labor related office and a number of brokers in the middle east. Many notable Ethiopians tried to voice their concern over the years but their calls went unheeded and were denied wider media outlet. The huge operation that has its roots in rural towns, bases in Addis, and various branches in the middle east , went  on for years under  the very knowledge and approval of the TPLF  regime because it was a source of huge remittance- in the order of  a billion. It was and is a big human trafficking supply chain that lures poor women with false hopes from rural towns but ultimately ending them up in hell on earth. Various heart breaking scenarios existed that brought them to the place where they are categorized now as ‘’ illegal’’ (i.e, without passport and/or expired permit though they entered first with proper documents and legal work contract).  There is no single explanation. However for some significant numbers, the factors range from cruel Arabian ladies and their families’ treatments, to human trafficking brokers that wage a psychological warfare and lure them a second round by approaching them shortly after they began their work in Saudi. Add to that the insensitive so called  Ethiopian embassy that just wants them to send money  by putting western union next to its  doors without following the way they live or  exist. But the embassy knew exactly what was happening as it knows the entire operation.
Most of these are poor women without basic education. They are sheep without shepherds, made vulnerable by state sponsored human trafficking ring or modern day slavery. The overwhelming majority of the Ethiopians  now stranded  in Saudi are women  who went there as maids, the men have entered to Saudi in various ways including travel by sea and then  via Yemen, Haj Umra trip  and other ways including formal ways. For our case here, consider a black box in regards to what happened to these poor maids in past years and the various scenarios   that left them in a situation of no travel documents and expired permits. I believe those who know it in detail will write a  Graham Hankook style book entitled ‘’Lords of Death’’ to expose  the whole mafia operation and scum our society has been re-engineered into  under  this regime in the past two decades. One day God will make sure all those who made riches over this mafia business would face justice. When thing begin to blow up, TPLF leaders as usual would sacrifice some scapegoats and attempt to flee accountability for the crimes they committed. But everyone knows the truth.
But now I come to the urgent case of saving the lives of these poor souls that number in tens of thousands.  Just before the current crisis, the Saudi government had opened a 5 month window of opportunity where ‘’illegal’’ workers can try to get their permits renewed for work. Various countries responded with the requirement either in helping to renew permit documents or taking out their citizens by issuing travel documents. But the regime in Ethiopia and its embassy in Saudi did nothing and the deadline expired. I suspect that they assumed or maybe realized that many of the cases may not have work permit renewal opportunities in Saudi and had to be returned to Ethiopia. But the regime amazingly did not want to issue travel documents and return them  home as some countries did to their citizens  before the deadline  expired (I will come to it later to explain why the regime does not want their return). But whatever the case, the deadline was over without any action from the so called Ethiopian embassy. As the savage Saudis began to round up and hoard, massacre and rape, the regime in Ethiopia disowned them labelling them as ’’ illegal’’, giving the impression that they entered Saudi in illegal ways in the first place. But this is false as these poor women were sent in a formal way as I said earlier. But even if some people might have entered Saudi in a non-formal ways, it has still a responsibility to defend   them and repatriate them to their homeland.
Months before this crisis, some voices were trying to analyze the developing situation in Saudi . Nobody gave attention. The TPLF regime in Ethiopian has blocked local alternative media so that alternative ideas cannot flow. The regime was just waiting for the inevitable to happen, in fact it was preparing a new wave of migrant maids to the middle east. Hence, the society back home was not aware of the impending danger in Saudi. We in the diaspora in the preceding months up to the  crisis, were into  ‘arti-burti’ politics of ‘ekele berere ekele rote’. Finally the day approached and all hell was loose in Saudi on Ethiopians and we rose one morning to a gruesome and hard reality. It is against this background that what we see is happening. Furthermore by closing its consulates last week in Saudi , the regime  in Ethiopia signed the ‘ death warrants’ of these tens of thousands of souls. Also by beating, dispersing and imprisoning the Ethiopians  that gathered around the Saudi embassy in Addis, the regime confirmed that it was into some kind of conspiracy with the Saudis against those poor souls.  But the situation is not contained to those without proper documents as the Saudis and the regime in Ethiopia want to portray. The massacre has engulfed other established residents with proper documents as well. Infact it is being heard that many are returning their documents and entering camp with the hope of getting back home because they do not want to live in hostile Saudi anymore. The massacre is expanding against all Ethiopians in Saudi. Now I come to my KEY take home message. Has any Ethiopian seriously asked why the regime does not want to handle the case of these poor women to take them back home by issuing travel documents? You see here lies the key issue in regards to the stranded women. One common reason  given could because most of them do not support the regime. That is always true, but in this case it is more than that. Why does not this regime just send planes and take these Ethiopian  citizens to home with a  laissez-passer  travel document? Ladies and Gentlemen for mainly one reason. Because if these tens of thousands of maids who have been referred as ‘’illegal’’ return to home, they bring back the sad ,shattered and terrible  stories of their life to tens of thousands of families, to tens of thousands of sisters, friends and neighbors and the billion dollar   lucrative human trafficking  that the TPLF regime has allowed to thrive  will suffer heavy loss….
You see so far the rural society only hears ‘’so and so took suicide ‘’ and just thinks ‘’that was her fate and other good Arabs are there’’. If some women who made it back home try to tell the sad stories, people would think ‘’you are trying to stop others from getting money’’. When dead corpses come home of course they cannot speak what happened. Hence life goes on and the mafia operation continues unhindered. These cases used to come scattered and at different times and a  wider media has been denied to expose the human trafficking ring the regime allowed to thrive. But If these tens of thousands of women return, they would bring back stories of years of hell on earth exposing the huge scum that targets poor vulnerable women psychologically. Even the regime does not want the return of those men who went there surviving ship wreck over the red sea, because they will tell their sad life stories and what happened to their drowned friends. That witness could prevent others from trying and that would hamper the exodus which the regime secretly wants to continue because the young who were supposed to take ground in Ethiopia and challenge the regime for their right are instead exiting the country by sea and desert. Furthermore those who survive the trip would somehow send money back home (adding to the remittance the regime gets).Both the human trafficking as well as the  exodus by sea and desert benefit the regime.
We need to stop the savage killings and gang rapes the Saudis are inflicting on our people and take these poor souls out with whatever means possible.  So far the immediate response of Ethiopians was to overwhelm embassies of Saudis though everyone knows in his heart that the TPLF regime in Ethiopia is collaborating with the massacre by keeping silent. The great priority now is to stop the savage butchery and rape with whatever way possible. The overwhelming angry Ethiopian protests against the crimes of the Saudis (they did not expect a response like this) would help to some degree. International groups should also be pushed like UNHCR to try to repatriate them to third countries. However I believe we need also to condemn and push the regime in Ethiopia  as well (  by the way have you noticed my use of the  phrase ‘the regime in Ethiopia’ instead of ‘Ethiopian regime’….). Even many of its supporters are angry like everyone else on this case. We cannot choose what is best for the poor souls except pushing for their speedy exit from Saudi safely. If UNHCR takes care of them it is good as they could begin new  life in another third country. If they come home it will  also has its  advantage as  it will deal the human traffic operation headlong  as they would be a living witness of a shattered and dehumanized life  in thousands of rural towns. If they make it to third countries and their stories come out, the stories may  not reach the rural masses as powerful as we want and the regime prefers that  than their return to their families. Those poor souls have been judged to perish by the TPLF regime in Ethiopia and by the Saudis. We need to do every possible way to take them out of the hell they are in. May God help these Ethiopians!