Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is It Worthy to Be an Ethiopian?

RIP Alem Dechassa (1979-2012)
I've been thinking to write about this subject for sometime but for some unknown reasons my hands refused; it could be due to many saddening/humiliating/degrading  incidents happening like a series movie over the past few months. My heart still bleeds with sorrow, helplessness and anger every time I think of this young Ethiopian woman called Alem Dechassa who was dragged by her hair, beaten and forced in to a car by Lebanese thugs in front "her" unhelpful Consulate in Beirut, Lebanon. To add more insult to the sad news, "our" Consulate general announced that the defenseless mother of two sons, committed "suicide" using her bed sheet a few days after being forcibly checked into a mental hospital. Even though her suspicious death calls for more investigations;
neither the hospital nor the police provided Alem's autopsy report. Who would believe this moaning and already incapacitated woman who was fighting for her life on broad-day light, had the energy to hang herself from a ceiling? Her abuser was released from the jail just immediately after Alem's death that clearly showed in whose favor the justice system works in that country. This isn't an isolated incident; the abuse against domestic workers especially Ethiopians becomes a norm in the middle-eastern countries; fortunately this one was captured on video phone and transmitted live on Lebanese Television. At least one domestic worker dies every week in Lebanon and this could be why "our" embassy turned into a "morgue". Deaths of the nameless, faceless domestic workers in the middle-eastern countries are always reported as suicides most of the time without any further investigation. Kafala, a very hideous institutionalized modern day slavery system created by the Saudis and replicated in other Arab countries, ties  up every rights including legal and visa status of domestic workers like Alem Dechassa with their respective employers who've unlimited control over the lives and bodies of their workers. A survey of the Human Rights Watch's 2010 Report; revealed that domestic workers interviewed reported 7-10% sexual abuses, 14-33% physical abuses by their employers and vast majority of them said their passports were confiscated by their employers. This survey shows the tip of the iceberg; there're many unreported deaths, disappearances, rape, torture and other inhumane treatments of domestic workers by their employers, sponsors and Lebanese police officers.  

The 33 years old beautiful mom, wife, and daughter of somebody lost her life in vain because of our silence and negligence to her suffering. Against all these odds, many young Ethiopian women are still flocking in thousands to their death traps to middle-eastern nations because of high unemployment rate, lack of prospect and education and lured by recruitment agents' lies of better life/salary. As if enough damages have not been done to our sisters and daughters; our "developmental" government made agreement with its Saudi partners to send 45 thousand Ethiopians every month. How come a government which boasts about 2 digits growth, sends thousands of its young, energetic and productive citizens to modern slavery, is mind-boggling. Paradoxically, the same people made the infamous deportation agreement with Norwegian government to receive over 450 rejected Ethiopian political asylum seekers  and "integrate" into the society. This is just laughable to say the least. Ethiopians everywhere from Lebanon to Norway, from Sinai desert to Yemen; are disposable commodities treated below sub-human beings; because we have a regime which values hard currency over its "citizens". Had Alem Dechassa been a citizen of some other country; things would have been much more different.   

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