Press Release, 10 July 2013 – The International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICCHRP) assailed the Aquino government for remaining silent on the Saudi government’s crackdown on undocumented OFWs. The ICCHRP is a global network of non-government organizations, community and advocate groups and individuals outside the Philippines who are all concerned with the human rights situation in the Philippines and support campaigns to end rights violations in the Philippines.
The ICCHRP also condemned the violent dispersal of about 100 stranded undocumented Filipino workers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last July 2 that led to the arrest and torture of at least three leaders of the protesting OFWs who were picked up by the Saudi police, during the violent dispersal.
According to initial reports reaching the ICCHRP, the violent dispersal was a joint action by the Saudi police and Philippine embassy officials. The arrested OFW leaders were also allegedly electrocuted at the Saudi police station.
The OFWs have been demanding their immediate repatriation to the Philippines, but the Aquino government has been “noynoying” (doing nothing) on their urgent plea, according to Migrante International.
The stranded undocumented OFWs had been camping out infront the Philippine embassy in Riyadh after they were forcibly terminated and asked to leave by their employers when the Saudi government began a crackdown on undocumented migrant workers in the kingdom months before.
The OFWs decided to camp out infront of the Philippine embassy in Riyadh because they have nowhere else to go after the Saudi government announced it would crackdown on undocumented migrant workers, according to Migrante International. Several of the stranded undocumented OFWs are women and nursing mothers, including a mother with a four-month old baby.
Reports from Migrante International’s Middle East leaders state that in Jeddah, there are actually 1,400 stranded undocumented OFWs camped out outside the consulate there, while about 2,000 are in Riyadh and about 5,000 are in Jeddah.
Hundreds have camped out in front the Philippine embassy compound after embassy officials decided to padlock and close the gates of the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, leaving the stranded OFWs without any assistance and provisions such as food, water, mats and sleeping sheets, and shelter from the searing Saudi heat.
Last July 2, about a hundred stranded undocumented OFWs started a protest infront the Philippine embassy after their request for a dialogue was ignored by Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago.
The ICCHRP demands an immediate investigation into the arrest and torture of the OFWs, immediate repatriation for the stranded OFWs, and the recall, investigation and expulsion from the foreign service of Ambassador Tago and other embassy officials in Saudi Arabia.
This brutal incident comes on the heels of the scandal involving Philippine embassy officials in the Middle East who reportedly demanded sex from stranded OFWs in exchange for air tickets and immediate repatriation to the Philippines.
The miserable plight of the OFWs abroad is one of the concerns that will be tackled in the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines on July 19-21. The conference, jointly organized by the ICCHRP, Karapatan, EcuVoice, Peace for Life and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, will be attended by more than 200 human rights defenders and peace advocates from all over the globe. ###
Ref: Dr. Angie Gonzales, ICCHRP Coordinator
Cristina Guevarra, media liaison, +63949-1772928 / +63917-5230396
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