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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=The discrimination report. Sorry for the trouble.

The discrimination report

Friday, February 25, 2005

A few weeks ago I had a post about the shadow report being sent to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. At the time I only had a GDN article to rely on, but I did eventually manage to get a copy of the full report (I asked nicely). I've been asked not to publish the report in its entirety as they want it to be officially unveiled at the Committee session in Geneva next month. But I thought I'd give you my reaction to it.

Although the introduction gives an overview of many types of discriminatory practices in Bahrain (including discrimination against women and expats), the bulk of the report is concerned with the specific issue of discrimination against the Shia by the government and the royal family. Among the points discussed in the report are:

  • the discrimination against the Shia in high-ranking public offices (in which there is an over-representation of Al Khalifa members), and in certain ministries altogether
  • the extrajudicial naturalization of foreign tribal Sunnis
  • the denial of permits for Shia places of worship
  • that Shia beliefs are not included in government school Islam classes
  • that Shias are denied housing permits for Riffa
  • that the the UN Convention on the Elimination Racial Discriminationant (that Bahrain has ratified) can not be invoked in the courts
  • that the government has not started any public information campaigns about ending racial discrimination, as required by the Convention

As I said in my earlier post, I strongly agree that these government practices must be brought to an end now, and there is a need to speak in an honest and open manner about it. Unlike most other forms of discrimination here, the government's discrimination against the Shia is institutionalized. For generations, it has been government policy to deny jobs to Shias in the ministries of defence and interior, but somehow it's no biggy.

I am disappointed however that the report does not discuss at length the discrimination against migrant workers here. This is obviously a very serious problem for large section of the resident population. It is extremely worrying that there have been calls from the public to get rid of all migrant workers from Manama, or threats to burn down a labour camp in Sitra. The report should have taken note of this distressing recent trend among the public, and the need for measures to counter it.

Regarding the presentation of the report, I have two suggestions on how it could be improved. First, I think it needs more footnotes than there are in the current version. There are many assertions made in the report that you or I, living in Bahrain, know about first hand, but that a UN representative in Geneva would need detailed evidence about.

Also most of the research carried out by the BCHR for this report was of a statistical nature: i.e. 'The Ministry of Interior contains X% Sunni employees and X% Shia employees.' In my opinion, the arguments could have been greatly strengthened by provding some case studies of specifical individuals, places, and events that are testament to racial discrimination here. It could have included some quotes by some Bahrainis about their lives, or they could have written about the ridiculous disparity between certain Shia and Sunni areas (maybe even including some photos). In general, I felt the report does not contain enough names, places and dates.

But I should let you know that I received the report over two weeks ago, so they have probably made changes to it since. In any case, I commend the BCHR for raising these important, but rarely discussed issues. And I hope the government takes the report seriously when it is presented.

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7 Responses to 'The discrimination report'

Blogger El Savior says:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

Blogger BD says:

Chan'ad, as someone who has visited Bahrain a couple of times for few months total, the things you mentioned in this post are readily apparent. If the discrimination is that obvious to me as an outsider I can only imagine what's it's like for someone who lives among it.

Bahrain is a good place with some problems, but it can be so much more. If the anti-Shia and anti-foreigner policies can be changed, I would love to see how the country moves into the future.

While I'm at it, I might as well ask a question I've been wondering about. How do the Shia fit into all the Bahrainization talk I saw in the newspapers? I'm guessing they don't but that wasn't apparent from reading the GDN or Tribune, of course.    

Blogger SillyBahrainiGirl says:

Shia .. Sunna...
Black.. white
Rich... poor
Yes.. there is discrimination and there will continue to be for as long as people are so shallow and cannot look beyond their bloody nose tips.
Discrimination is rife in Bahrain because it was suitable to maintain a status quo.
Oppressed and oppressor enjoyed the situation.
Then, there was a rude awakening.
The poor paupers said: More. We want more. We want human rights and equality.
And they got more. They got human rights and equality.
Reality sucks.
Laws and human rights conventions continue to be broken everyday.
And life will continue.
Have to rush for lunch.    

Blogger Bahrania says:
2/25/2005 01:20:00 pm

Discrimination is the cancer thats eating away at Bahraini society and only serves to increase the rift between the ruling family and its citizens. The government would do well to heed this fact and take some practical measures.

I agree with the points you made Chan'ad. I've read the report but could you put some of the statistics up please? Sometimes numbers speak louder than words and in this case the numbers say it all. This topic was mentioned several times across the ma'atams in muharram.    

Blogger Scorpio says:
2/25/2005 04:26:00 pm

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

Blogger Scorpio says:
2/25/2005 04:57:00 pm

Let me get this straight: the BCHR's written a report on racial discrimination that is silent on racial discrimination (because that'd mean highlighting Islamist calls for the introduction of racial segregation in Manama - don't want to do that at all costs!!!)

So unlucky Asians, even a report on racial discrimination discriminates against you precisely because you're the wrong skin colour and don't fit in with their worldview.

Chan'ad, presumably Khawaja and co. read this and other blogs, and they must be aware of the criticism they've received over their silence on Al Wefaq's race policies, so do you have any idea why they persist?    

Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) says:
2/25/2005 08:21:00 pm

does anyone have the link to this full report? I'd like to download a copy for my class on gender & race studies. - thanks.    

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