Tigrayans deported by Saudi Arabia held and abused in Ethiopia – HRW

  • Tigrayans kept in dire conditions before expulsion – report
  • Many detained again in Ethiopia and mistreated further
  • Abiy government denies discriminating against Tigrayans
  • Northern Tigray region in conflict since late 2020

ADDIS ABABA/NAIROBI, Jan 5 (Reuters) – Thousands of ethnic Tigrayans have been detained in Ethiopia after being deported from Saudi Arabia, suffering brutality from guards and atrocious conditions in both nations, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.

The Tigrayans appear to have been caught up in both a tough expulsion programme by Riyadh and a crackdown by Ethiopia’s government during conflict in their northern homeland region.

The New York-based rights group reported a litany of abuses against the Tigrayans in Ethiopia, including being beaten by rubber or wooden rods, deprived access to families, forced to pick coffee for free, and denied food and water.

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They were mainly rounded up for irregular immigration status in Saudi Arabia, where detainees also reported being beaten, forced to strip naked, and made to endure freezing temperatures and insufficient space to sleep, the report said.

“Ethiopian authorities are persecuting Tigrayans deported from Saudi Arabia by wrongfully detaining and forcibly disappearing them,” HRW researcher Nadia Hardman said. “Saudi Arabia should stop contributing to this abuse by ending the forced return of Tigrayans to Ethiopia and allowing them to seek asylum or resettlement in third countries.”

The Saudi government’s media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which has been battling the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) since late 2020, denies discriminating against Tigrayans.

“There are no ethnic-based prison facilities or places for deportees from other countries,” spokesperson Legesse Tulu told Reuters.

The report was inaccurate, unsupported by evidence and based on people…

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