Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2012) – the Ethiopian community in Washington D.C. will hold its 3rd public protest to demand Saudi Arabia to release 35 Ethiopian Christians illegally arrested for praying at a private home on December 15, 2011. The protest will be held on Monday June 25th, at 10 a.m. in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy located at 601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20037.
More than 6 months since their arrest the prisoners have not yet been formally charged with any crime. The Saudi officials have referred to the Christians as „non-believers‟ and „animals‟ during interrogations. The prisoners complain that officers continue to sexually harass and abuse the women prisoners.
“The Saudis put us in the same cells with convicted murderers. We are scared that the convicted murders could hurt us at any moment and we are concerned about our safety. Please continue pressuring the Saudis to release us,” one of the prisoners pleaded with ICC.”
Saudi Arabian officials have been making conflicting statements as to why they arrested the group of Ethiopian Christians and their baseless excuses to keep the innocent Ethiopians in jail indefinitely.
In July 2006, the Saudi government promised that it would stop interfering with private worship by non-Muslims. In a “Confirmation of Policies,” a written document the Saudi government sent to the US government, Saudi Arabia said it would “guarantee and protect the right to private worship for all, including non-Muslims who gather in homes for religious practice,” and “ensure that members of the [religious police] do not detain or conduct investigations of suspects, implement punishment, [or] violate the sanctity of private homes.” In this document, the government also said it would investigate any infringements of these policies. Public worship of any religion other than Islam remains prohibited in the kingdom.
“While King Abdullah sets up an international interfaith dialogue center, his police are trampling on the rights of believers of others faiths. The Saudi government needs to change its own intolerant ways before it can promote religious dialogue abroad” Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch
“Saudi authorities have broken their promises to respect other faiths,” Wilcke said. “Men and women of other faiths have nowhere to worship in Saudi Arabia if even their private homes are no longer safe.”
The bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the Ethiopians’ release. “Unless and until the Saudi government demonstrates some valid legal basis for imprisoning these individuals, they should immediately be set free and Saudi authorities should investigate allegations of physical abuse and degrading treatment by prison officials,” USCIRF Chairman Leonard Leo said in a Feb. 2 written statement.
Please join us at the protest on Monday June 25th 2012 at 10AM.
Call the Saudi Arabian Embassy in your country and ask them to release the prisoners.
United States: (+1) 202 342 3800
Canada: (+1) 613 237 4100
United Kingdom: (+44) 207 9173-000
Australia: (+61) 2 6250 7000
Germany: (+49) 30 88 92 50
France: (+33) 1 56 79 4000
For further information, contact