Germany and the U.S. may have trained mass-murdering border guards in Saudi Arabia. The Bundeswehr was also involved in some measures. The government lies about details of trainings.
Under a 2009 “security agreement” between the German government and Riyadh, the German Federal Police trained thousands of officers from security agencies in Saudi Arabia. As such, it may have played a larger role in human rights abuses than previously known. This is according to new research by the ARD magazine “Monitor“.
Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) had confirmed in a study that Saudi officials had shot dead hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers since last year as they tried to cross the Yemeni-Saudi border. Artillery weapons had also been used in the process.
A spokeswoman for the German Federal Ministry of the Interior subsequently told the German press conference that the main aim of the Federal Police’s involvement in Saudi Arabia was to “strengthen and promote the rule of law and human rights-compliant actions of the respective security forces”. Training courses of the Federal Police in Saudi Arabia are “specifically designed for female employees”. However, there are no measures “specifically for the Saudi Arabian border police, she said.
According to the “Monitor” research, however, these statements are misleading and in part also false. The magazine quotes Federal Police officers who were or are on duty in the country. In confidential conversations, they reported that their training sessions were directed “without exception at Saudi border guards” and that all participants were “officers of the border guards. The German measures were coordinated with “EADS technology” used at border installations.
In 2009, the EADS Group, which has since been merged into Airbus, received an order from Riyadh for surveillance technology worth €2 billion. This included “Luna” drones, which until then had been sold exclusively to the Bundeswehr. The German Army took over the training to control and operate these drones in Saudi Arabia.
At the time, the stationing of Federal Police advisors cost several million euros each year. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of the Interior covered the costs. Thousands of border guard and police personnel benefited from the measures, the German government explained in an answer to a parliamentary question.
“Instead of withdrawing from responsibility, the German government must immediately end the training measures and all cooperation with Saudi Arabian police officers,” Left Party member of the Bundestag Clara Bünger told “nd.” Otherwise, she takes “the murder of people at the Yemeni border approvingly,” said the refugee policy spokeswoman of the parliamentary group.
Saudi Arabia rejects the accusations raised by HRW and also by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions as unfounded. An eyewitness from Ethiopia, on the other hand, is said to have confirmed the human rights violations to “Monitor”. According to the report, people attempting to cross the border are being shot at indiscriminately “without warning.”
On Wednesday, the British “Guardian” reported that the U.S. military has also conducted training and education for armed forces and border troops in Saudi Arabia since 2008. The program, which expired a month ago, had stipulated that the content learned could only be used by Saudi officials to protect themselves and their locations from attack.
Published in German in „nd“.