Brutal attacks on Bahrain Asians slammed
Manama, March 22, 2011
Brutal attacks on Asian workers by anti-government protesters in Bahrain have been condemned by two human rights organisations.
The Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) and Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) described foreign workers as a key component of the national economy, but said many had been forced to leave their homes like 'refugees' to escape attacks.
They said more than 40 Asians had been attacked and injured by anti-government protesters last week, three of whom remain in a critical condition in hospital.
A police source said at least four Asian expats had died since anti-government protests started on February 14 - an Indian, a Pakistani and two Bangladeshis, although one is thought to have died after being hit by a stray bullet.
The situation was so bad that members of the Asian community took out an advert in our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) last Tuesday appealing for protection from 'brutal and savage attacks'.
'We are very upset with all the attacks on the poor Pakistanis and Bangladeshis,' MWPS chairwoman Mona Almoayyed told the GDN on behalf of both rights organisations.
'It is not fair that migrant workers who are not part of the conflict get attacked.
'I heard a group of people attacked cold stores and samboosa shops and said: 'Close the shop or we will beat you.'
'These people are voiceless, they are too scared to say anything so they close the shop.
'They can't work, they are too scared.'
Almoayyed said those targeted were mainly Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh, who were earning low salaries and living in labour camps based in poor villages.
She said it was thought that anti-government protesters attacked them because they mistook them for naturalised citizens working for the police force or Bahrain Defence Force.
'They aren't in the army and they aren't Bahrainis, just Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who come to work in Bahrain,' said Almoayyed.
'In Islam you shouldn't beat weak people, you should take care of the poor and needy.
'These are people earning BD50 and BD60 salaries, but they got all anger directed at them.'
Almoayyed said the BHRWS had helped find alternative accommodation for Pakistanis living in Hidd.
More than 200 Pakistanis staying in downtown Manama have been given temporary shelter at the Pakistan Club, in Manama, and the Pakistan School, in Isa Town.
'It is very painful to hear that most of these workers have left their accommodation in the villages and are staying in temporary shelters,' she said.
'But how long these people can live like refugees?'
Almoayyed said the BHRWS and MWPS were trying to support migrant workers by giving them food and assistance, but as non-governmental organisations their resources were limited.
She called on all members of the community to support and protect innocent workers who are being targeted by gangs.
'I'm asking people to be more compassionate to them,' she said.
'Usually Bahrainis are very kind and love and appreciate people who work with them.
'I think if nothing is done they will start leaving and, when labourers leave, it becomes a crisis for the economy.
'I know the government can't take care of everything and the police are already working to the limit, but if you have a neighbour at least give him some support.'
The two societies also condemned checkpoints being set up by civilians across Bahrain.
They said civilians manning those checkpoints had been asking people for their nationality and, based on the answer, were taking the law into their own hands.
'The society believes in non-violent and peaceful protests as clearly stated in the law and such acts of violence against citizens and setting up of checkpoints are against international standards,' said Almoayyed.
Those willing to help or donate to support Bahrain's migrant workers can call 17227766.-TradeArabia News Service