Migrants’ rights bodies worried at Kuwaiti police action

Source: The Daily Star

Migrants’ rights bodies in Europe yesterday expressed grave concern over police atrocities on Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait, their arrest and subsequent deportation from the Gulf state.
They condemned the Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait for its ‘passive’ role in addressing the grievances of workers who went on strikes demanding promised salaries and other benefits.
Meantime, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) representative in Kuwait, Thabet Al-Haroun, condemned those who censored Asian workers for taking to the streets to air their grievances and urged the Kuwaiti government to work on improving the conditions of expatriate workers, Arab Times yesterday reported.
Terming the actions taken by Kuwait unacceptable and inhuman, the migrants’ rights bodies demanded that Kuwaiti authorities conduct an enquiry into the allegations of non-payment and underpayment of workers by Kuwaiti employers and mete out punishment to the people responsible, said a joint statement.
Bangladesh Support Group (Basug), a platform of 38 migrants’ organisations in the Netherlands, Diaspora Forum for Development (DFD) and other Europe-based rights groups deplored the role of the Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait, saying the embassy was passive when it came to resolving the sufferings of the Bangladeshi workers.
Urging the Bangladesh government to take up the workers’ issues with Kuwait to find out an immediate solution, the statement said the way the embassy treated the migrant workers, who play a key role in their country’s economy, is deplorable.
The attitude of Bangladesh Embassy officials in different countries need to change as one of their major tasks is to look after the welfare of the migrants, it added.
It called for Bangladesh to ratify the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.
The statement said though the caretaker government had promised to sign protocols with 16 countries in order to protect the rights of Bangladeshi workers abroad, it has not yet taken any step in this regard in the last 16 months.
The statement was signed by Bikash Chowdhury Barua, president of Basug and vice president of DFD, secretary Sudhier Nannan, DFD president Santo Lewis Deng, secretary Doris Alfafara, Habagat Foundation, Netherlands chairman Grace Cabactulan, chairman of Darfur Women Organisation (Sudan) Dr Mekka H Abdelgabar, Basug advisory board members Dr Ahmed Ziauddin and Dr Nahid Hasan, UK-Bangladesh Forum convener Ansar Ahmed Ullah, German Bangladesh Group president Sharaf Ahmed, ICDB, the Netherlands secretary MMR Monwar, Forum for Secular Bangladesh, Sweden president Shabbir Rahman Khan and project director of London School of Economics and Political Science Social Vision Zakir Khan.
Meantime, Al-Haroun, the ILO representative, said the ILO has repeatedly notified the GCC countries of human rights violations against expatriates in their countries.
He said human traffickers and visa traders are mostly to blame for the plight of the expatriate workers.
Gonosanghati Andolon, a Dhaka-based organisation, also condemned the arrest, torture and deportation of Bangladeshi.
It said in a press release that the government is not taking appropriate steps to address the problems of the workers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia where many are subject to repression and negligence.
A foreign ministry press release, meanwhile, said Foreign Affairs Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury yesterday addressed a letter to Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, requesting his personal initiative to resolve the outstanding issues with regard to Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait.
The adviser thanked the Kuwaiti minister for the measures so far taken to address the issue and invited him to visit Bangladesh.

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