A video showing a group of Saudi civilians binding and beating allegedly undocumented immigrants was circulated widely online, days after Saudi Arabia ramped up its crackdown on illegal immigration.
The footage shows a at least five non-Saudi men lying on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs, surrounded by a dozen men wearing the traditional thobe. One of the foreigners says he is innocent, to which one Saudi replies “If you had come legally, no one would have tied you up like this.”
Several men then start kicking one of the immigrants, despite pleas by several people, including the person filming the scene, to stop. A person wearing camouflage fatigues – presumably a member of Saudi security forces – appears towards the end of the video, seemingly trying to disperse the crowd assaulting the immigrant.
Immigrants have witnessed heightened scrutiny as Saudi Arabia began Monday a broad government attempt to locate undocumented immigrants and their employers.
The policy, detailed by a Wall Street Journal report, aims at some 250,000 small and medium businesses failing to employ at least one Saudi citizen. Offices were raided Monday, and document checkpoints were set up on main roads to identify foreigners without valid papers.
Saudi Arabia has justified the measures as an attempt to deal with high unemployment among Saudi nationals.
The crackdown has meant many foreign workers have forgone work, eerily revealing the oil-rich Gulf country’s dependence on cheap outside labor. Many schools and shops were shut down in Riyadh and Jeddah, and usually bustling offices were almost eerily empty, The Wall Street Journal’s correspondent revealed.
The Times of India reported Wednesday that at least 2,000 Indian citizens have sought emergency certificates to return home since Monday.
Filipino publication The Daily Inquirer also noted that at least 30 citizens of the Philippines had been arrested in the past two days over “unclear charges.”
Saudi Arabia’s treatment of migrant workers has been routinely condemned by human rights organizations. A 2008 report by Human Rights Watch called for Saudi Arabia to reform labor laws to protect domestic workers “from human rights abuses that in some cases amount to slavery.”