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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=On the elimination of racial discrimination. Sorry for the trouble.

On the elimination of racial discrimination

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Here's something interesting that was in the GDN a few days ago. Apparently, the now-dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights will be sending a shadow report (to accompany the government's official submission) to be considered during the session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in Geneva next month.

Below are some of the points made in the shadow report, as reported in the GDN on Jan 26:

"In reality, the authorities have not taken effective legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures to give full effect to provisions of the convention [on the elimination of racial discrimination]," says the shadow report.

"No legislation has been adopted to meet the requirements of articles two, three and four of the convention.

"The national legislation does not contain explicit provisions prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic and national origin.

"The convention is not yet invoked before the courts.

"There are no special mechanisms to monitor the application of guarantees of non-discrimination laid down in the law."

Those behind the shadow report say no progress has been made in establishing a National Human Rights Committee to monitor the fulfilment of Bahrain's obligations under the convention.

They also criticised the process of obtaining Bahraini citizenship because of distinctions between Arab and non-Arab applicants; the fact that a Bahraini woman cannot pass on her nationality to her child if she marries a foreigner; and alleged discrepancies in awarding passports to foreigners depending on their gender.

"In connection with the implementation of article seven of the convention, there have been no serious efforts to intensify human rights education and training of law enforcement officers, teachers, social workers and public servants," continues the shadow report.

It also criticises the treatment of foreign workers, whose lives may differ considerably depending on where they come from.

This is especially true for domestic workers, such as housemaids, who are not even covered by the Labour Law, it says.

"The law guarantees equal status to all workers," says the shadow report.

"In practice, migrant workers coming from developed countries enjoy higher wages and better privileges than [Bahraini] citizens of the same job and qualifications.

"On the other hand, migrants coming from developing and poor countries receive lower privileges.

"Moreover, there are around 45,000 so-called free-visa workers who are considered outlaws and live at the mercy of their sponsors, who sell them black-market work visas and charge them a monthly ransom to stay in the country."

I commend the BCHR on this report. Judging from these excerpts, the shadow report seems to be quite a comprehensive account of the various forms of racial discrimination that exist in Bahrain, and more worryingly, that the government has not yet taken enough serious steps to change the situation. I'm going to try to get my hands on a copy of the full report... if any of you have it, please drop me an email. I hope the government (and our as-of-yet useless parliament) begins to think seriously on all of the points listed in the report, rather than deny them as being untrue or exaggerations.

On that note, whatever happened to the draft law demanding an end to sectarian discrimination in the ministries of defence and interior? On June 9, 2004 it was reported that the parliament approved of the draft law, only to be withdrawn in October. I was hoping that it had just been deferred for rewording, but I haven't heard any news of it since. Does anyone know if the law ever made it back in any shape or form?

And here's a perfect example of the deeply ingrained racial discrimination that exists here. Some Bahraini workers held a demonstration at the Ministry of Labour last week complaining about being underpaid. One of the workers, Saeed Al Eskafi was quoted in the GDN as saying:

"The company only gives BD100 as basic salary and BD100 for accommodation, as if we were expatriates."

It is these types of irresponsible and unchecked statements that I feel are the most dangerous. Obviously, the government alone can not solve all of Bahrain's racial problems. Families and community leaders also have to recognize the problem and step up.

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7 Responses to 'On the elimination of racial discrimination'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Firstly, welcome back..

Yeah I totally support BCHR on this one too.

I can't really see what is wrong with the comment:

"The company only gives BD100 as basic salary and BD100 for accommodation, as if we were expatriates."

The fact is expatriates are treated differently to Bahrainis here in terms of package and pay - allowance for food, kids education, transport, housing etc. I think the guy was just referring to the fact that the company divides the salary up into basic salary and accomodation which they would normally do for expats who are employed and there is no need for that if you're Bahraini. But hell, 100BD basic salary is definitely something to protest about. 

Posted by Bahrania    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

I'd be interested to read a full account too - what's the chances the Centre says anything about Al Wefaq's Murtader Bader's call for racial segregation in Manama?

Ever since apartheid collapsed in South Africa I've not heard of another politician anywhere in the world coming up with this idea - a real landmark statement by the fundies. Even SA white supremicist Eugene Terreblanche hasn't had the balls to say what Bader's been proposing regarding people of darker skin colours. Incidentally with his beard, puffy face and his fat and perspiring waddle, Terreblanche looks exactly like the sort of wheezing dead eyed crazy you'd see leading an Asalah or Al Wefaq rally.

I'd also be interested to read what the Centre's got to say about race riots in Manama in March 2004 when Islamists went on the rampage against Indians in the centre of town. My guess is given its track record of turning a blind eye whenever human rights abuses are carried out by extremists - not a lot.

So please post the full report and prove me wrong.  

Posted by Scorpio    

Anonymous Anonymous says:


It isn't that simple.

The "houses" attacked in Manama were used as prostitution, gambling and drinking dens !
And all this was happening in neighbourhoods inhabited by families. This is the "official" story, straight from the mule's mouth.

I am so open-minded, it is sometimes scary the level of things I could accept or turn a blind eye to - but what's happened to Manama (the old neighbourhoods) breaks my heart.

I know we were at fault. Consumerism meant that we left to more "classy" places, where people could flex their muscles, show their wealth and park their cars in garages as big as some of the houses they lived in - in Manama.

But to say that the Manama riots (if that is the term for them) were based on discrimination only is baseless and rubbing it in a bit.


Let's try and see the full picture without any prejudices from our side.

We may not agree with Al Asala or Al Wefaq, but if they raise their concerns about such widespread lack of law and order in neighbourhoods...can we still call them fanatics, extremists and terrorists? 

Posted by Silly Girl    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
2/03/2005 11:35:00 am

Sorry about the double posting... help... remove one of them ! 

Posted by Silly Girl    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
2/03/2005 01:43:00 pm

the report forgot to mention about the homosexual Asians ....
or they dont consider them to be humans ....if bchr aim is to end all forms of discrimination than it should take theses guys into consideration.....

Posted by Bugs    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
2/04/2005 08:53:00 pm

V. true Bugs - organisations which claim the mantle of human rights should be judged on how the protect the rights of society's most vulnerable.

While the rioters may justify their rampage last year by saying they were targetting illegal drinking dens or brothels, there was a strong racial element to the attacks: many of those beaten by the thugs had nothing to do with any illicit activity but were merely people in the wrong place, at the wrong time and of the wrong skin colour.

And Al Wefaq's Murtadher Bader's been at it again - the guy's addicted to the politics of race hate: a couple of weeks back he was writing to the government to back demands by a group of would be arsonists to evict Asian expats from the centre of Manama - if not he'd be "powerless to intervene" to stop them being burnt out of their homes. No one at any point's alleged that the Asians have done anything wrong - its just that again they're the wrong skin colour.

Bader's engaging in classic Brownshirt tactics: the "respectable" politician who mediates between the mob and the authorities to move out those who are in some way different in order to "preserve order". Yuck. The only good thing about this incident is that he and Charles Manson lookalike followers have been told to go do one by the authorities.

I don't know if anyone saw this debate in today's Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1405605,00.html) about the use of the term "Islamofascism" to describe extremists, but Murtadher Bader is the personification of this term.


Posted by Scorpio    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
2/05/2005 03:49:00 pm

Bahrania: On the face of it doesn't sound that bad, but these types of statements reek of discrimination. By making the distinction between themselves and expat workers they are acknowledging that it's okay to pay an expat BD100... but Bahrainis are too good for that. I feel quite strongly about this because I have personally felt it in the workplace, in school, in the marketplace... On more than one occasion I've heard Bahrainis say "I'm worth more than that Hindi", and some of them really have a problem with brown-skinned expats who are better paid. Imagine if a bunch of Sunnis held a protest for being denied jobs in the Interior Ministry and they said "The ministry is refusing to hire us, as if we were Shias"... I'm sure that would raise a storm.

Scorpio, Bugs: Yes, the BCHR have not been vocal enough in denouncing when someone suggests cleansing manama of expat workers, or setting fire to labour camps in Sitra. Nor have I yet heard them say anything about discrimination against homosexuals. However that should not stop me from supporting this report which raises some very important points nonetheless. 

Posted by Chan'ad    

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