by Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory
This afternoon, I took out time to watch the video of Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom’s closing remarks of November 16, 2013 to the Third International Family Planning Conference held in Addis Abeba.
The foreign minister told the conference how much saddened and depressed he has been for the past ten days because of the violence, killings and other forms of injustices perpetrated against Ethiopian citizens by Saudi government forces.
Indeed the foreign minister must have felt so strongly about it that he chose to preface his official closing statement to the conference with an impromptu interjection about the pain he felt due to the sufferings of his compatriots in Saudi Arabia.
I have neither reason nor grounds to doubt his sincerity.
While recalling that Saudi Arabia has been expelling what it considers illegal immigrants, the foreign minister said he has no problem with that since Ethiopia would welcome home its citizens. “We are ready to receive our citizens”, he bellowed at the conference to which the participants reacted with huge applause.
However, Tedros regretted that Saudi Arabia should take such extreme measures in times of peace, when it could have asked those it did not want in its territory to leave the country within a given period and in an orderly fashion.
In the circumstances, he noted that thousands of Ethiopians are now in camps in Saudi Arabia. “We are trying to make it [their return] as smooth as possible … If Saudi Arabia says they are illegal, we don’t mind. They have a home to come! I would to assure you that we are ready to receive our citizens!” he added.
In relating an anecdote from this tragic situation in Saudi Arabia, the minister told the conference that he had received calls from Ethiopian women in distress. Since the voices of these women were a cry for help, he observed, “there was nothing more moving than that … I am so saddened and am really depressed.”
As I mentioned above, I have no reason to doubt Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom’s sincerity. Nonetheless, I am in a very serious quandary how to reconcile the deeply-felt anguish he expressed before the conference with the violent action a day before his speech his government took against Ethiopians who came out to protest from their city Saudi crimes against our people.
Those protesters in Addis Abeba were neither illegals in their country nor terrorists or individuals advocating a violent overthrow of the government. Rather they were – in the same state of mind and emotions as the foreign minister – profoundly hurt and distressed by the atrocities against their fellow citizens.
In the afternoon of November 15, 2013, it is reported that over a hundred protesters were taken to prison from in front of the Saudi embassy in Addis Abeba.
In this situation, frustration may dictate the assumption that a congratulatory message must have been received in Addis Abeba at the headquarters of the TPLF/EPRDF straight from the palace at the heart of the Saudi kingdom.
In all honesty, I could not and cannot comprehend why Ethiopian authorities chose in peacetime wartime measures, allowing the security forces to beat like rugs citizens with opinion, a certain outlook and in a state of anxiety. We heard that the security forces were throwing at them humiliating insults, dragging them in Addis Abeba streets, which was accompanied by profound hatred – as do the Saudis to our citizens.
We have also learnt that a good number of the protestors in Addis Abeba have been injured, as it were from the beatings. What then is the difference between Saudi Arabia’s action against our citizens and the RPLF/EPRDF’s violence against Ethiopians – should I add rightless citizens?
For all I know, according to Semayawi party’s webpage, the entire leadership of the Semayawi party – 18 people in total – have been languishing in jail since the afternoon of November 15.
The crux of my quandary is why this much animosity and violence, if both sides – Ethiopian citizens and their government –are angered by the same thing? We could have turned our anger and dismay at Saudi illegal actions, which Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom likened to wartime measures, into positive force and deployed our energies to making preparations to welcome our citizens back home and helping them to settle down and accept and transform a future that is unwelcoming.
The foreign minister must be aware that the concurrence of the city administration had been sought in writing to hold the rally on 15 May. While demonstration is the right of a citizen, by the Ethiopian constitution, the administration refused to accept notification, according to news reports. Therefore, the government is now using that to justify its beatings and imprisoning of Ethiopian citizens under the excuse of not having permit.
Could that justify state violence?
What the Saudis have done is to use the same tricks to justify the mistreatment, rape, dehumanization and killing of Ethiopian citizens. One only need to check the November 17 Saudi Gazette. It accuses Ethiopians of violence. It explained:
- “We have all seen the recent tragic events unfolding in the neighborhood of Manfuhah in Riyadh with illegal overstayers rioting and terrorizing people on the streets. They smashed cars and trashed public properties. The scenes of riots, blocking roads, trashing cars and terrorizing pedestrians and residents, are actions many Saudis and expatriates living here in the Kingdom have not been subjected to as they are a rare occurrence.
What triggered these riots that started in Riyadh and spread to Jeddah, in Al-Sharafiya district, and Makkah, in Al-Mansour street, is the police crackdown on neighborhoods that housed illegal expatriates in large numbers. This is the official statement given by authorities. Sadly, however, Ethiopian nationals are once again in the news as the main nationality behind these riots.”
In similar surreptitious tactic like that of the TPLF, the November 18 issue ofthe Gazette , under the title Ethiopian expats denounce rioters, assembled allegedly Ethiopians who could speak against the so-called Ethiopian rioters.
The paper then brings in a certain Abdo Shakeer, another sanitation worker, who criticized the Ethiopians who started trouble in Riyadh. “This is unacceptable, shame on them. The Ethiopian community in Jeddah lives in complete peace and its members have faced any problems here.”
Suffice to state that the Saudis would have been the first to invoke the law of self-defense, which is recognized both under national and international laws. Or is perversion even in this area or applicability of perverted logic, defining Ethiopians as good and peaceful people so long as they allow every stripe of rights violator to beat, rape and kill them.
It is the turn of a certain Muhammad Ibrahim, who reportedly expressed his anger at undocumented Ethiopian workers, vowing to report any illegal worker to police and even to help authorities in the crackdown campaign.
A Fatkeer Barno, one more sanitation worker, stressed the friendly relations existing between Ethiopians and Saudis. He too reportedly denounced the commotion caused by his compatriots in Riyadh, according to the paper. “Ethiopians are peaceful. Those rioters don’t represent us, and I demand the authorities deport them before the situation exacerbates.”
Fatkeer Barno stressed the friendly relations existing between Ethiopians and Saudis, but at the same time denounced the commotion caused by his compatriots in Riyadh. “Ethiopians are peaceful. Those rioters don’t represent us, and I demand the authorities deport them before the situation exacerbates,” he said.
With her first name withheld, the Gazette put Zainab in circulation as an Ethiopian housekeeper. She reportedly said that all Ethiopians living and working legally should be the first to speak against the riots, because they are the ones who are negatively affected by such irresponsible behavior.
“Yes, it’s true that there are rumors that Ethiopians are being tortured here on a daily basis. We’re trying to explain to our fellow citizens back home that these rumors don’t have a shred of truth in them,” she said, according to the newspaper.
All said and done, I am convinced that the violence the TPLF has unleashed on our people must embolden Saudi security forces and vigilante youth groups to commit more crimes against our citizens, as the video below shows. WATCH OUT! BY ANY MEASURE THIS VIDEO IS CRUEL, INHUMAN AND DISTURBING!
The question one has to answer is whether this picture signals any regard to laws and common humanity by Saudi authorities and their security forces, if they do so crime in broad daylight as the camera next to them keeps on rolling recording their inhumanity? Does it ever speak of Saudi crimes or the helplessness of the immigrants they abuse and yet keep on accusing them of “commotion”?
Note that this very same Saudi Arabia, a notorious violator of human rights, was elected on November 8, 2013 a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly at its 68th session to judge the state of human rights in other countries from its seat in the 47-member body – interestingly along with Ethiopia – which joined the Council last year!
Where is civilized humanity? Where is international cooperation that long ago through the Charter of the United Nations Article 1 (3) pledged:
“To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”?