Socialist Worker

Ethiopian migrants protest in London against brutal crackdown on workers in Saudi Arabia

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2380

Ethopian migrants protest in London

Ethopian migrants protest in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The government in Saudi Arabia has launched a brutal crackdown on migrant workers it sees as illegal. The Middle Eastern kingdom has a population of almost 30 million, with nine million migrants making up more than half of the workforce.

The government is scapegoating migrants without papers, saying they are to blame for the 12 percent unemployment rate among Saudis.

Some 23,000 undocumented Ethiopians have been taken into custody. In clashes in the capital, Riyadh at least five migrants have died.

Ethiopians have called protests all over the world. At least 500 gathered outside the Saudi embassy in London on Monday afternoon, blocking the road and chanting, “Shame on you!” and “We want justice!”

The protest in London

The protest in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Protester Michael Kassa told Socialist Worker, “It’s terrible. People are beaten and raped. I’ve seen how they are treated on social media. They are innocent people.”

Another protester, Fikr, said she was really angry, “Our sisters and brothers have been forced out. People are being held without food, water or toilets. I know it isn’t just people without papers.

“I know someone who has been settled in Riyadh for 25 years, but the authorities broke in to arrest them and raped their daughter in front of them. Our hearts are bleeding.”

Bekele Mamo, who works for Ethsat TV, “The workers are Ethiopians, Filipinos, Malaysian and Indonesian. Some of the other governments have really helped their people, but I think ours is too close to the Saudis so it won’t stop people being treated like slaves.”

More protests are planned.

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