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November 2013: Reflections on Ethiopian Migrant workers’ ordeal that caused by TPLF/EPDRF’s repression and related fail policies

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By Ewnetu Sime
November 06, 2015
On November 2013, several social media posted referencing the extreme killings, imprisoned, expelled and horror of all types by Saudi Arabia police and street thugs on Ethiopian migrant workers residing and working in Saudi Arabia. As these savage attack news surfaced, many young concerned Ethiopians came out in mass in front of the Saudi Arabia mission in New York City (NYC) urging to stop the brutality committed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States on Ethiopian migrant workers. On the same month a series of demonstrations took place in different cities of US in front of Gulf States Embassies. Similar demonstration was attempted in Addis Ababa, but the riot police disperse the protesters by brutal force. To date, Ethiopian people still don’t have freedom of speech or the right to demonstrate and to vote.
The rally in NYC was a spontaneous response and had quite large turnout. Subsequent to rally, they spearheaded fundraising effort to help migrants through Non-Government Organizations such as International Organization for migration. In many other US cities a well-coordinated fundraising was also made and the outcome was a success. It provided temporary help to some migrants in Gulf State countries.  Most of the protesters were emotional when the event took place. The protesters are passionate who believe in human values. Also, in same month several sentimental songs are made by Ethiopians artists describing migrant’s horrifying conditions. The songs went viral.
Migrant Italy
Two years later, what has changed? In 2015 the problem continues. The TPLF/EPDRF regime has failed again and again to address these burning issues, but remains firmly control of the country.  As recently as the last month (October 2015) we watched on several free media a video clip displaying long line of young Ethiopian girls as they arrived in Beirut International airport. The clip shows snap shot of a single day migrant’s arrival to work as domestic workers. It is evident that the domestic workers have no rights. They have been exploited, abused and work long hours at whim of the employers. This exploitation and involuntary servitude is an eye opener for two root causes of the mass exodus of Ethiopians migrant workers. The first is the lack of good governance.  The second is the existence of a wide spread poverty in Ethiopia. Despite the regime boasts for double digit economic growth, but the fact on ground shows poverty is on rise. Ethiopia’s regime still appeals for food aid to international communities. By contrast, the ruling party and cronies benefited from the so called double digit economic growth and political policies while the majority struggle. They are enjoying lavish life style as the gap between them and the poor continues to widen.
We witnessed that the migrants are barely treated as human in those foreign countries.  The TPLF/EPDRF regime is solely responsible for their plight.  Ethiopia became one of the highest illiterate migrant workers producing countries due to political repression and economic hardship. The crisis of poverty and related problems in the country is staggering.  Unemployment and lack of good governance has created deep seated resentment against the regime. Unless a step is taken to correct a political reform anarchy will emerge that could lead to category of failed state. The TPLF/EPDRF regime continues propaganda lies, fraud and a trick by their rotten bureaucracy. Cover-ups and deception are the nature of the regime. The lack of good governance resulted in numerous arrests or killed the member of opposition parties, journalist, religious leaders and also other dissidents who stand up to their beliefs are either in hiding or overseas in exile.
The peaceful and legal opposition to reform the current Ethiopian regime become almost impossible. We had witnessed bloody suppression on 2005 election that claimed 200 lives with most graphic images. In May 2014 Ambo University students were killed by deploying ruthless regime’s police. In many other places the TPLF/EPDRF regime responded with full force that did not spare kids, old, and innocent bystanders from being hurt.  No one was held responsible for these atrocities. The regime actions are a high degree of rallying point for the young generation and students to be organized in national based rather ethnic based (regional) to fight for social justice and good governance for Ethiopia.
After all, 1960s Ethiopian Students history telling us the youth of the Ethiopia high school and University Students were the landmark of 1974 Ethiopian Revolution. The November 2013 young protestors angrily denouncing suffering of migrant workers around the globe should broadened into organized force to voice the concern with the current regime as done in 1960s. Understandably, it is a huge task with lot of complexity. The youth is keen to express and articulate their political discontent in much more eloquent fashion on world stage and at home. Ethiopians are hearing and watching all type of horrified stories on migrants, and leaving its imprint on our mind or remembering the year what happen won’t bring a solution. We shall demand democracy for our country and support the human rights defenders across the globe.  Our sense of solidarity on migrant issues shall not be evaporated as quickly.
It is a duty of active citizen’s to keep the rally and outcry in steady committed manner until resolved. We call for people to press on asking for accountability of the TPLF/EPDRF regime. The hopes and aspiration of the 1960s Ethiopian Student Movements commitment struggle to the social change shall be carry on by new/young generation.
The 2013 Ethiopians migrant worker’s tragedies will not be forgotten. November month shall be designated as “Remembrance month” for Ethiopian Migrant workers that savagely killed in Gulf States and thereafter in Libya and South Africa.