Thousands of Ethiopians from the warring northern region of Tigray were unlawfully imprisoned and abused on their return to Ethiopia after being deported from Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released Wednesday (January 5).
These Tigrayans were among tens of thousands of job-seeking Ethiopian immigrants expelled from Saudi Arabia for a year.
This ethnic profiling among its expelled migrants and this ill-treatment took place while Tigray has been the scene since November 2020 of an armed conflict between the Ethiopian federal government and the rebels from the former regional authorities.
HRW interviewed Tigrayans deported from Saudi Arabia between December 2020 and September 2021, during which time tens of thousands of migrants were returned to Ethiopia as part of an agreement between the two countries.
On their arrival, Tigrayans were isolated and detained, says the human rights organization, others were prevented from returning to Tigray after being identified during road checks or at airports, then transferred to security structures. detention.
“The Ethiopian authorities are persecuting the Tigrayans expelled from Saudi Arabia by illegally detaining them and carrying out enforced disappearances”says Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at HRW.
Some of these Tigrayans who were detained said they had suffered violence and others were accused of colluding with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a party that ruled Tigray before the war and is now considered a group. terrorist.
Two of them told HRW that they had been taken by police, along with other men, to coffee plantations, where they had to work in terrible conditions, without pay and little food.
International laws violated
Many were barred from contacting their families and feared their relatives would still believe them in Saudi Arabia. “The detention by the Ethiopian authorities of thousands of Tigrayans deported by Saudi Arabia without their families being informed of their arrest or their location amounts to enforced disappearance, which also violates international laws”, pointe Human Rights Watch.
At the end of 2021, the United States and its allies called on Ethiopia to end arbitrary detentions of its citizens on the basis of ethnic considerations. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), an independent public body, has itself reported large-scale arrests of Tigrayans.
The conflict in Tigray has left several thousand dead, more than two million displaced and plunged hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians into conditions bordering on famine, according to the UN.
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Ethiopia: Tigrayans expelled from Saudi Arabia imprisoned and assaulted