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16 November 2013 Written by 

Police crackdown

 By Neamin Ashenafi

Opposing the recent incidents in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an estimated 100-150 residents of Addis Ababa were forcefully dispersed by police on Friday morning while demonstrating in front of the Saudi Embassy, located in Wello Sefer, off Ethio-China Friendship Avenue.

Members of the Federal Police used force to dispel hundreds of people protesting against targeted attacks on Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia.

Police units blocked roads to prevent the protest at the embassy from growing. It was reported by the Associated Press that some two dozen people were detained. The Reporter, however, could not verify this.

A few days ago three Ethiopian migrant workers died and many more were injured, leading to Ethiopians living in and out of the country expressing their sadness and disappointment in various forms.

Protests were held in different cities in Europe and the US, while many took the matter to Twitter under the hashtag #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia.

The demonstration lasted for some 20 to 25 minutes before the police intervened.

Meanwhile, different Ethiopian opposition political parties condemned the  incidents in Saudi Arabia, criticizing the government for not responding fast enough.

The government said protesters did not have a permit to demonstrate and confirmed that arrests had been made, but did not say how many.

"It was an illegal demonstration, they had not got a permit from the appropriate office," Shimeles Kemal, Deputy Head of the Government Communications Affairs (GCAO), told the AFP news agency, adding charges could be brought against the organisers.

"They were fomenting anti-Arab sentiments here among Ethiopians ... the demonstration itself was illicit, so the police took measures and apprehended some," he said.

The Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) sent a press release to The Reporter stating that it believes the measures taken by the government are too late.
The party also condemns the measures taken by the Saudi security forces, and requests the government of Saudi Arabia to solve the problem amicably, and to respect the rights of Ethiopian returnees.

Baleraey Wetatoch Mahiber (of the Visionary Youth Association) also condemned the incident, and requested that the government of Ethiopia take a tangible decision to stop the violence against Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

The party also stated that the incident, which lasted for days, not only targeted Ethiopian migrant workers but also violates the sovereignty of Ethiopia, and therefore the government should take tangible and urgent decisions to stop these violations.

Ethiopia Raey Party (ERP) also denounced the actions, stating that they were in violation of international treaties and agreements.

However, the government said that they are working to repatriate the migrant workers. Tedros Adhanom (Ph.D.), minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote on his Twitter, “Our government allocated 50 million birr start up budget for returnees’ evacuation and rehabilitation from Saudi. More funds will be allocated as needed.”

He added that both regional and governmental ministers will meet on Monday to discuss and coordinate the matter.

Dina Mufti, spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Reporter that so far 23,000 undocumented migrant workers have registered to return.

Dina revealed that 434 migrant citizens have returned home and some 348 were expected to arrive on Friday night.

Regarding the total number of undocumented migrants, Dina told The Reporter that since they are undocumented it is very difficult to know the exact number.