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United in Protest

December 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Community, Events


Las Vegas’ Ethiopian community speaks out against injustice


Members of Las Vegas’ Ethiopian community protest in front of the downtown federal building.

About 100 members of Las Vegas’ proud Ethiopian community gathered recently to demonstrate in front of the downtown federal building. The cause that brought the protesters together was encapsulated on a sign that many were holding aloft: “Stop the Violence Against Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia.”

As one of the more vocal protesters, Hana Mehari, explained: “Many of us from the Las Vegas Ethiopian community decided to … protest against the violence Ethiopian people are enduring in Saudi Arabia. We are devastated about how our people, who go east to Saudi Arabia in order to find work to provide for their families, are experiencing barbaric abuses. We have a strong community of Ethiopians here in Las Vegas, and we work hard. But we cannot live in peace knowing that our Ethiopian brothers and sisters who go to Saudi Arabia for domestic work are being abused by their employers. Women are being raped; men, who are also working as maids and in construction, are being beaten and hung in the streets. We want people to know what is going on, and hopefully the message gets back to Washington — and the United States will help to stop these abuses against humanity.”

Hana Mehari was one of the more vocal protesters at the rally, which took place in front of the federal building in downtown Las Vegas.

With an estimated population of 86 million people — 78 percent of whom struggle to live on less than $2 a day, “Many Ethiopians travel to Saudi Arabia to be able to send money back to Ethiopia to their families,” said Mehari. “The Saudi Arabian government has not done anything against the abusers, and many of my Ethiopian sisters and brothers have their passports taken away, so they can’t go back to their homeland. Ethiopians just want to make a decent wage to provide for their families in a dignified and respectable manner, and we want them to know that we won’t stop protesting and fighting for them here in Vegas — in hopes that the United States does something to stop it.”

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