Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hair Craft and Ethiopian Coffee

A few friends and I recently stumbled into an Ethiopian hair salon in the Karm el-Zeytoun neighborhoods where we curiously explored this intimate setting. Hair is very much a craft for the ladies and getting it done is a full day’s affair accentuated with plenty of coffee, arguileh and gossip. They graciously welcomed our group in and allowed us to observe their Saturday afternoon ritual more closely with our cameras.

Link

Contre la discrimination sur les plages libanaises, le ministère du Tourisme passe à l’action

Thanks to L'Orient and its article, we finally have a copy of the famous circular.

Check it out.



Saturday, May 26, 2012

URGENT: Call for Donations for Prisons

Please share and spread widely.
In early 2012, we at the Anti-Racism Movement decided to make a team of volunteers dedicated to improving the living conditions of the prisoners in Ebbe prison. In this women's prison, which is located in Tripoli, there are over 130 women, most of whom are migrant workers. Since they are migrant workers, most of them do not have anyone outside the prison to follow up on their case, visit them, or bring them supplies. Most of them have very unresponsive embassies, and many have no embassies at all, and therefore no access to any sort of assistance or representation.

Therefore, we created a team of volunteers to collect the items needed by the women and deliver them to the prison on a regular basis. At first, only small personal donations were collected from the volunteers themselves, and taken to the women. But seeing as this is long-term effort to respond to long-term needs, we have decided to cast a wider net and begin collecting items (or funds for us to purchase these items) from anyone who is willing to support this cause!

Below is a list of items needed by the women. There is also a separate list of items needed by Rondaline, a prisoner who gave birth to a baby in the prison. The baby girl is now 9 months old, and is being raised in the prison. Although she is provided with basic nutritional and hygienic supplies, there are other items she needs. Below these lists, you will find all the information you need in order to donate.

Items needed by the women on a regular basis: Shampoo/ Sanitary products
Towels
T-shirts and Underwear
Rice/ Pasta
Unrefrigerated cheese (picon, smeds)
Coffee/ Tea
Candy for children (and other things that can be taken with them once they leave prison and go straight to their home countries - going home empty-handed is sometimes extremely difficult and painful for many of the women)
Small “carry-on” bags, which they can fill with their possessions and papers once they travel back to their home countries (the women usually leave the prisons with their belongings in garbage bags, as they do not have any luggage bags with them)
Magazines, games...
Anything a woman in prison might need

Items needed by the nine-month-old baby: Stroller/ Diapers
Vitamin D tablets for babies (sun replacement)
Fluoride drops
Milk for an nine-month-old
Wet wipes
Any other essential baby hygiene product

How to donate:
If you would like to donate any of the above items, there are several ways to do it - choose the one that is best for you!

- call Farah on 70 066880
- email antiracismlb@gmail.com
- pass by Nasawiya space in Mar Mikhayel to drop off your donations anytime between 11 am and 9 pm, weekdays. Call for weekends on 01 565442.
- pass by the Migrant Community Center in Nabaa to drop your donations anytime between 11 am and 9 pm on weekends. Call Priya beforehand on 76740871

We collect the donations and deliver them to the prison every 2 weeks.

Please circulate this widely! We need all the help we can get.

** This is not a one-time call for donations, but a continuous and on-going effort!**

There are so many women staying in this prison for a long time, and they will be needing these items on a regular basis!

Thank you,

The Anti-Racism Movement

For more information about the Anti-Racism Movement:
Blog: http://antiracismmovement.blogspot.com/
Facebook page: Anti-Racism Movement
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us at: antiracismlb@gmail.com

IMPORTANT: A Message to Everyone Who Watched, Heard of, Loved, or Hated the Controversial Video Released by the ARM

A message to everyone who watched, heard of, loved, or hated the controversial video released by the Anti-Racism Movement last week:

On March 15th, we released a youtube video depicting a widespread discriminatory practice at Lebanese private beaches. The video was meant to address the common policy of not allowing migrant domestic workers in swimming pools, and to generally highlight the absurdity of treating people differently based on their skin colour (or any other irrelevant characteristic). Unfortunately, the video itself was subjected to more attention and scrutiny than its message. Though we are glad it created a heated debate, we deeply regret that it offended many people, some of whom are victims of the sort of discrimination we are fighting against. This was the opposite of what we intended to do, and in order not to offend any more people, we promptly removed the video from public access.For those who have not seen it, the video goes like this: a young, attractive, Lebanese female is tanning at the pool while a lifeguard is eyeing her and smiling. Time passes, and the Lebanese girl emerges with much darker skin. The lifeguard spots the girl trying to get into the pool, and assuming she is a migrant worker, starts blowing his whistle at her. Text appears on the screen that says, in Arabic, ‘it is forbidden’. We then see that the lifeguard has forced the woman to wear a “maid’s” uniform. Text reappears saying ‘to remain racist,’ a continuation of the previous text.

Responses to the video varied greatly. They ranged from praise to indifference to offense, to accusations that the Anti-Racism Movement was ‘using racism to fight racism’, and silencing migrant domestic workers by using a white person to represent them.

A recurring comment was that we used “Blackface” by painting the Lebanese girl to make her look dark. We would like to clarify that, having grown up in a Lebanese context, those of us who worked on the video had never heard of this concept. (“Blackface” is the infamous 19th and early 20th century American practice of white people painting themselves black in order to ridicule and exoticize black people for their audience’s entertainment.) The association with that history in our video was deeply offensive to many people, and we would like to apologize for this and to clarify that the “paint” on the girl was meant to depict her as a very tanned person, not as a black person. Nonetheless, we have learned that putting dark paint on a white person’s skin is very offensive, but unfortunately we were not aware of this negative mental association. We should have been more culturally aware and sensitive, and even though the video was targeting a Lebanese audience, we realize that we do not operate in a bubble, and that our work can quickly spread across the globe.

We were also accused of robbing migrant domestic workers of a voice, by using a Lebanese actress to portray them. It cannot be stressed enough: there was no migrant worker in the story line, and if there had been, there is absolutely no reason why we would not have had a migrant act the part. Those who know the Anti-Racism Movement know that we work very closely with migrant communities and, more importantly, that we are strong believers in migrants representing themselves. It is the character of the lifeguard who mistook the dark girl for a migrant domestic worker. The Lebanese person was a Lebanese person throughout, and this is a marked difference from Blackface and the way that is traditionally understood.

Nor did we mean to say that “black people” are “very tanned people”, and we know that this is very offensive as well. The lifeguard’s sexism and racism was unfortunately attributed to the video itself, and its makers, despite the fact that it was made by people actively fighting these forms of discrimination. Nor did we mean to commit any racial profiling by suggesting that all migrant workers subjected to racism can be represented by one dark woman.

We regret having offended anyone, and admit that there were many other ways we could have gone about dealing with the barring of maids from pools. We are all victims of faulty thinking, and all we can do is grow and learn from our mistakes. We try hard to mitigate the mistakes by including migrant community leaders and migrant workers in our decision-making process.

Thank you all for your comments, critiques, and understanding.

***

For more info, please write to antiracismlb@gmail.com

Friday, May 25, 2012

Black is Not Thought Beautiful

The multilingual, fashion-conscious residents of Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, fancy their city to be cosmopolitan. But not everyone is welcome. Black people and foreigners from Asia and elsewhere in the third world who make up the bulk of migrant workers are often turned away from the city’s smarter venues. Conscious of the bad blood this can cause, Lebanon’s government has warned beach clubs against barring entry on the basis of race, nationality or disability.

But racism is unlikely to be erased overnight, either in Lebanon or in many other Middle Eastern countries where blacks are routinely looked down on. Racist taunts are often heard on Egypt’s streets, and in Yemen, darker-skinned people, known as al-akhdam (“the servants”), who make up perhaps 5% of the population, are confined to menial jobs and tend to dwell in slums. In Libya rebel militias often targeted darker-skinned people from nearby countries such as Chad and Mali and from countries further south, accusing them of being mercenaries of Muammar Qaddafi.

Filipinos, Sri Lankans and Chinese-Americans, among others, whisper of racist slurs both at work and on Lebanon’s streets. “When black or Asian friends visit,” says a young Lebanese professional, “I’m at the airport the moment they land to make sure immigration officers don’t ask inappropriate questions. It’s a disgrace.”

Some people blame the legacy of the slave trade, which brought sub-Saharan Africans, as well as others, to the region from the 7th century onwards. But Nadim Houry of Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby group says that racism persists in the region because governments have been lax about tackling it. “There are racists everywhere in the world, but in many countries it is now taboo to make comments, partly because there are laws against it,” he says. “Here, even when there is legislation, it is never applied.”

Snobbery makes things worse. Millions of foreigners in the Middle East do cleaning and building jobs which locals consider beneath them. Sponsorship schemes often deny such workers basic rights. “People just see us as cheap labour,” says a Filipino university graduate who makes $200 a month in a Beirut beauty parlour. Some beach clubs have already said they will ignore the new regulation. Their customers, they say, would not tolerate having to rub shoulders with the dark-skinned servant class.

MTV’s Xenophobic Crusades


Having already trained its disapproving crosshairs on minority groups such as Palestinians and migrant domestic workers, Lebanese channel MTV (Murr Television) has found another axe to grind away at this month.
As part of a growing list of social subsets to whose existence the channel apparently objects, MTV has served up a fearless “exposé” on homosexuals.

More.

Racism in Lebanon: Apartheid at the Beach

As many visitors to Lebanon can attest, some Lebanese have the rather charming habit of asking them, “Do you love Lebanon?” One assumes they actually mean to inquire if the visitor likes Lebanon and is enjoying their visit. No doubt most do, given this country’s kaleidoscope of attractive and hospitable features, that to name just a few include idyllic spring weather, wonderful topography, delicious food, a nearly unmatched collection of archeological remains from half a dozen civilizations, and not least, a friendly people who make visitors feel at home.

But with the arrival of the vernal equinox and the rebirth of flora and fauna, accompanied by rising water temperatures of the Mediterranean an uglier facet of this gifted country surfaces.

Racism.

Racism.

On "White Privilege"

In order to address that oppression, we try to get people to talk frankly about race – never an easy task in a cultural paradigm that has been described as ‘colorblind racism,’ ‘race-evasive,’ and ‘racism without racists.’ Talking frankly about race doesn’t just mean pointing out hostile attitudes and narrow stereotypes based on race, though; it also means being honest about our own experiences as raced beings. It means talking about how we are embedded in racial systems, not disembodied and dispassionate viewers of them. It also means talking about how being against racism doesn’t mean that we don’t say and do racist things.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

IMPORTANT: A Message to Everyone Who Watched, Heard of, Loved, or Hated the Controversial Video Released by the ARM

A message to everyone who watched, heard of, loved, or hated the controversial video released by the Anti-Racism Movement last week:

On March 15th, we released a youtube video depicting a widespread discriminatory practice at Lebanese private beaches. The video was meant to address the common policy of not allowing migrant domestic workers in swimming pools, and to generally highlight the absurdity of treating people differently based on their skin colour (or any other irrelevant characteristic). Unfortunately, the video itself was subjected to more attention and scrutiny than its message. Though we are glad it created a heated debate, we deeply regret that it offended many people, some of whom are victims of the sort of discrimination we are fighting against. This was the opposite of what we intended to do, and in order not to offend any more people, we promptly removed the video from public access.For those who have not seen it, the video goes like this: a young, attractive, Lebanese female is tanning at the pool while a lifeguard is eyeing her and smiling. Time passes, and the Lebanese girl emerges with much darker skin. The lifeguard spots the girl trying to get into the pool, and assuming she is a migrant worker, starts blowing his whistle at her. Text appears on the screen that says, in Arabic, ‘it is forbidden’. We then see that the lifeguard has forced the woman to wear a “maid’s” uniform. Text reappears saying ‘to remain racist,’ a continuation of the previous text.

Responses to the video varied greatly. They ranged from praise to indifference to offense, to accusations that the Anti-Racism Movement was ‘using racism to fight racism’, and silencing migrant domestic workers by using a white person to represent them.

A recurring comment was that we used “Blackface” by painting the Lebanese girl to make her look dark. We would like to clarify that, having grown up in a Lebanese context, those of us who worked on the video had never heard of this concept. (“Blackface” is the infamous 19th and early 20th century American practice of white people painting themselves black in order to ridicule and exoticize black people for their audience’s entertainment.) The association with that history in our video was deeply offensive to many people, and we would like to apologize for this and to clarify that the “paint” on the girl was meant to depict her as a very tanned person, not as a black person. Nonetheless, we have learned that putting dark paint on a white person’s skin is very offensive, but unfortunately we were not aware of this negative mental association. We should have been more culturally aware and sensitive, and even though the video was targeting a Lebanese audience, we realize that we do not operate in a bubble, and that our work can quickly spread across the globe.

We were also accused of robbing migrant domestic workers of a voice, by using a Lebanese actress to portray them. It cannot be stressed enough: there was no migrant worker in the story line, and if there had been, there is absolutely no reason why we would not have had a migrant act the part. Those who know the Anti-Racism Movement know that we work very closely with migrant communities and, more importantly, that we are strong believers in migrants representing themselves. It is the character of the lifeguard who mistook the dark girl for a migrant domestic worker. The Lebanese person was a Lebanese person throughout, and this is a marked difference from Blackface and the way that is traditionally understood.

Nor did we mean to say that “black people” are “very tanned people”, and we know that this is very offensive as well. The lifeguard’s sexism and racism was unfortunately attributed to the video itself, and its makers, despite the fact that it was made by people actively fighting these forms of discrimination. Nor did we mean to commit any racial profiling by suggesting that all migrant workers subjected to racism can be represented by one dark woman.

We regret having offended anyone, and admit that there were many other ways we could have gone about dealing with the barring of maids from pools. We are all victims of faulty thinking, and all we can do is grow and learn from our mistakes. We try hard to mitigate the mistakes by including migrant community leaders and migrant workers in our decision-making process.

Thank you all for your comments, critiques, and understanding.

***



For more info, please write to antiracismlb@gmail.com

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wasn’t Working Fast Enough

“Madam told mister to stand on my little finger and crush it because I wasn’t working fast enough” - Harriet, a domestic maid who ran away from her employer because she was physically and emotionally abused. She was forced to work from 6am-3am seven days a week. When she asked for her salary, she was told ” you don’t deserve it”, after eight months of work.  
Week 20 2012
“Madam told mister to stand on my little finger and crush it because I wasn’t working fast enough” - Harriet, a domestic maid who ran away from her employer because she was physically and emotionally abused. She was forced to work from 6am-3am seven days a week. When she asked for her salary, she was told ” you don’t deserve it”, after eight months of work.

Link

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tourism Ministry bans discrimination at beaches

At Beirut’s Sporting Club, which has long been accused of racist policies, public relations manager Walid Abu Nasser told The Daily Star he was aware of the circular, but considered it “totally wrong. I asked them [the ministry] to please specify, in a complete list, all people I should let into private clubs. They should first of all decide what the rules are for private clubs, and what the rules are for public beaches.”

According to Abu Nasser, Sporting Club’s policy “has always been that any kind of worker, bodyguard, security, escort, maid – any help except for those medically required – are not allowed on the premises.” He added that he considered this to be “social,” rather than racial selection.

Abu Nasser said Sporting Club does screen non-members at the door.

“We screen the clients as to whether they have come introduced by someone at the club,” he said. “They also have to fit a certain profile that we require to maintain a homogeneous atmosphere regardless of whether [potential entrants] are Lebanese, workers or foreigners – it doesn’t matter.”

He continued that the club’s policy was not related to “racial issues,” and that the club reserves the right to turn away anyone at its door, including families with many children, or unaccompanied men.

“It has nothing to do with anything except for what we deem is reasonable for the club’s members to feel comfortable in the environment that they are used to. The same thing happens at any nightclub,” Abu Nasser said, adding that the club has foreign members including employees of the United Nations and embassies.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Only in Lebanon


"مشكل طويل عريض" افتعلته سيدة لبنانية على متن الطائرة. لماذا؟

على متن احدى الطائرات المتوجهة من مطار بيروت الى احدى الدول، تفاجأ طاقم العمل بامرأة لبنانية ترفض الجلوس في مقعدها لاقلاع الطائرة. حاولت مضيفات الطيران الاستفسار عن سبب رفض تلك السيدة الجلوس في المكان الذي سبق ان حجزته، ليتبيّن انها "ترفض الجلوس الى المقعد بجوار عاملة اثيوبية" حسب ما قالت بالفم الملآن. ولأن السيدة بقيت مصرّة على موقفها رغم تدخل كابتن الطائرة منعاً لحصول اي تأخير بالرحلة، كان هناك بعض الاماكن الشاغرة في الطائرة وبالتالي رضخ طاقم الطائرة لارادة السيدة الرافضة ان تجلس بجوار الاثيوبية وأوجدوا لها مقعداً آخراً بديلاً.

Monday, May 14, 2012

خطوة قضائية اولى لادانة ممارسة "الادعاءات الكاذبة ضد خادمات البيوت"

وقائع القضية كلاسيكية: خادمة أجنبية تغادر منزل مخدومتها فتبادر هذه الاخيرة الى تقديم شكوى ضدها بالسرقة. وقد زعمت ان "ثمة اتصالات وردت الى الخادمة (من التابعية النيبالية) عبر هاتف المنزل والى جهاز المدعية الخليوي تعلمها ان زوجها في النيبال مريض ويطلب منها الحضور فورا، وانه تجاه الوضع الانساني المذكور حجزت المدعية لها تذكرة سفر على ان تغادر في 23-10-2010 وتعود في 23-11-2010 واضافت المدعية انه في اليوم الثاني على سفر المدعى عليها، ايقنت ان هذه الاخيرة اخذت لها (عن طريق السرقة) خمس ساعات قيمة وجهاز خليوي مستعمل ومبلغ الف د.أ وقدرت قيمة المسروقات بعشرين الف د.أ...". 

واللافت في الدعوى، انه خلافا للنيابة العامة، التي سارعت الى تبني الشكوى وتحويلها الى ادعاء ضد الخادمة (التي غادرت لبنان) من دون اي تحقيق مسبق معها ورغم ضعف الادلة المقدمة بل غيابها، سعى القاضي المنفرد الجزائي في البترون الناظر في الدعوى منير سليمان الى استكشاف مدى صحتها من خلال استجواب المدعية ومطالبتها بابراز مستندات كبطاقة السفر مثلا (وهي بطاقة عجزت عن المدعية عن ابرازها). وقد تثبت القاضي من خلال ذلك من التناقض في اقوال المدعية التي ادلت بان "السرقة اكتشفت في اليوم التالي على سفر المدعى عليها الموافق وفقا لاقولها في 23-10-2010 في حين ان المدعية تقدمت بالشكوى هذه بتاريخ 29-9-2010 السرقة بعد يوم من مغاردة الخادمة". 

وهكذا، "وازاء هذا التناقض الواضح والفادح والفاضح" (التعابير وردت حرفيا في الحكم)، لم يكتف القاضي باعلان براءة المدعى عليها لانتفاء الدليل، بل ذهب ابعد من ذلك، وبما يشكل خطوة اولى في التصدي لهذه الممارسة البشعة بالادعاء زورا ضد الخادمة التي تترك عملها، في اتجاه تغريمها بمبلغ خمسمائة الف ليرة لبنانية، وهو الحد الاقصى للغرامة الممكن الحكم بها قانونا في حال التعسف في استعمال حق التقاضي. 

خطوة اولى، خطوة خجولة قد لا تكفي لردع اصحاب العمل عن هذه الممارسة، لكنها تعبر مؤكدا عن توجه قاض في اتجاه ادانتها قدر المستطاع. يبقى ان نأسف ان يكون غياب الخادمة (التي غادرت لبنان) عن الدعوى قد حال دون تقديم دعوى افتراء في وجه هؤلاء.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ethiopian Dinner Night at Nasawiya


Join us for a delicious dinner of Ethiopian food on Saturday night at the Nasawiya Space. Cooking by the talented Rahel Abebe.

**** Please click Attending ONLY if you're coming so we know how much food to make. *****

Menu:
Mesir Wat (vegetarian) • Minchet Abish (beef) • Doro Wat (chicken) • Ayb (cheese) • Atakilt Wat (salad)

A plate of generous portions for 15,000 LL and drinks available on demand.

All proceeds (and compliments) go to the cook!

Fb event

Do promises to end the sponsorship system hold any merit?


From Migrant Rights

In recent years, rights organizations and advocates have gradually singled-out the sponsorship (kafala) system for engendering imbalanced employer-employee relationships that trespass onto migrant labor rights, and that put migrants at risk for exploitation. The international community has particularly criticized the unfair advantages sponsors hold over migrant workers, including their ability to prevent migrants from seeking other employment or from leaving the country without their permission. The intensifying scrutiny on sponsorship has prompted several nations to officially reconsider the system’s merits, but is there any indication that these efforts are slated to procure genuine reform?
Since 2009, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, have each announced intentions to replace the employer-centric kafala system with variable schemes regulated by government bodies. While government regulation does exist at some level in the sponsorship system, these new bodies would be empowered with much more oversight capabilities in order to ensure the rights of both employers and migrants. However, little progress has been made in transforming these intentions into reality; instead, promises of reform remain largely in the treaties, conventions, and informal negotiations created to quell diplomatic relations with migrant-sending countries at a particular moment time. As with other facets of migrant labor reform, these commitments spend years in legislative limbo and are rarely fully implemented or enforced.
In 2009, Bahrain’s widely publicized “abolishment” of the system quickly proved a gesture in name only; small, technical features of the system were altered while leaving sponsorship’s legacy in tact: Sponsors became agencies rather than individual employers, while Migrants still maintain minimal occupation mobility because their legal residency remains dependent upon individual employer contracts. These cosmetic reforms were presented as an overhaul of a system that essentially still exists today.
Following Bahrain’s example, Qatar and Kuwait indicated intentions to abolish the sponsorship system as well. Both countries capitalized on the good press that followed these announcements, but neither implemented visible measures to secure permanent reform.
Recently, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon also announced schemes to replace the sponsorship system with more labor-friendly mechanisms. Neither offered a particularly concrete scope or timeline of their proposals, and both conditioned reform on approval from specific government bodies. Neither nation has historically fulfilled major commitments to migrant reform, which dampens hopes that these new programs will entail substantive change.
The functional difficulty in legislating such large-scale reform can only partly explain failures to replace the system. The absence of an authentic commitment to reform – and an ulterior motive behind reform – provides a more complete explanation; The negative attention cast on the Gulf over recent years has affected their relationship with migrant-sending nations, including their supply of preferred migrant workers. The Philippines, Indonesia, and Nepal have all implemented bans to various countries in the region. The effects of sponsorship are almost always directly or indirectly inculpated in the labor and rights abuses that these nations and NGOs cite. The image formed by the sponsorship system is consequently the primary concern of these nations – not the sponsorship system itself, nor the exploitation of migrant workers. Staes do not necessarily need to maintain safe and fair images to attract migrants, who are often willing to endure horrific conditions in order to provide remittances to their families, but rather to quell sending-countries that threaten to impede migrant supply. Image is also critical for tourism (and other international financial relationships), which rights-organizations particularly influence.
Qatar is the latest country to consider abolishment, three years after initial plans to replace the system. But recent statements by the undersecretary of the Ministry of Labor demonstrate that the government’s primary interest lies in reforming its reputation rather than in establishing equitable labor rights. In an interview with Gulf Times, he explains that the mere word  “sponsor” invokes criticism of international organization:
“Consequently, we should eradicate this term and substitute it with a contract between the two parties guaranteed by the Ministry of Labour. They (international organizations) say  the word sponsor conveys a picture of enslaving the worker more than anything else,” he said. 
The term “sponsor” is troubling because it indicates the bond by which migrants are forcefully tied and subjugated to their employers. But substitution of the term “employer contract” for “sponsorship” implies that actual change to the current dynamic is not Qatar’s central goal. The minister’s explanation of these “reforms” is even more revealing: Under the proposed plan, migrants must still return home after resigning from a job in order to obtain a more preferable job, until the new employer creates a new contract.  That is, their legal residency and means of income is still dependent on the employer, and their occupational mobility remains constrained by conditions external to their qualifications and desires. While concern for public image is not exclusive of real reform, such strong emphasis on terminology coupled with Qatar’s previous broken promises indicate that nation is set to follow Bahrain’s hollow example.
In previous articles, we’ve expressed cautious hope that these efforts to abolish the sponsorship system would eventually, albeit slowly, manifest into tangible, positive, change for migrants. But if the system’s recently accumulated infamy is the main (or even only) motivation behind these efforts, how can genuine reform be achieved? While the apparent receptiveness of Gulf States to the opinions of NGOs and migrant-sending nations is a positive sign, it’s unfortunate they choose to dedicate time and resources to crafting an illusionary public image rather than to establishing an authentic framework to protect the rights of migrant workers.  

1967- 2012

*sigh*

"I wheel my two-year-old daughter in a shopping cart through a supermarket ... and a little white girl riding past in her mother's cart calls out excitedly, 'Oh look, Mommy, a baby maid.'"
- Audre Lorde

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’


A bit too american-centered but a beautiful read with so much to reflect on and compare with here..

**

There's been a lot of talk these last couple of weeks about "hipster racism" or "ironic racism"—or, as I like to call it, racism. It's, you know, introducing your black friend as "my black friend"—as a joke!!!—to show everybody how totally not preoccupied you are with your black friend's blackness. It's the gentler, more clueless, and more insidious cousin of a hick in a hood; the domain of educated, middle-class white people (like me—to be clear, I am one of those) who believe that not wanting to be racist makes it okay for them to be totally racist. "But I went to college — I can't be racist!" Turns out, you can.
People benefit from racism—hell, I benefit from it every day—and things that benefit powerful people don't just suddenly get "fixed" and disappear because Halle Berry won an Oscar or whatever. Modern racism lives in entrenched de facto inequalities, in coded language about "work ethic" and "states' rights," in silent negative spaces like absence and invisibility, and in Newt Gingrich's hair. And in irony.
When people are trying to be sensitive about race but they don't know what to say, they usually go with, "Well, race is a complicated issue." Except, no, it's not. Race is one of the least complicated issues that there is, because it's made up. It's arbitrary. It's as complicated as goddamn Santa Claus. Oh, that guy's mom was half-black, which makes his skin slightly more pigmented than mine, which therefore means that he's inherently 12.5% lazier than me? Science! Um, no. What's actually complicated is our country's relationship with race, and our utter ineptitude at talking about it. We suck. I mean, I work on it every day, and I'm still a total fuck-up. But this new scheme someone came up with—where we prove we're not racist by acting as casually racist as possible? Not our best, white people. Not our best.
Racism is like a wily little bacterium. It doesn't just roll over and die once we swallow our antibiotics—it mutates and evolves and hides itself in plain sight, and then all of a sudden, fuck, my arm fell off. Dickhead bacteria. (Sidenote: arm for sale!)
A long time ago (not really!), it was socially acceptable to own people. Then it wasn't, but it was socially acceptable to murder people if they looked at your wife. Then it wasn't! Yay! But it was still okay to say that people whose skin color you didn't like weren't allowed to be around you. And so on. Eventually we arrived at the point (now) where it's socially unacceptable in mainstream culture for white people to say denigrating things about people of other races. But just because the behavior has been suppressed, that doesn't mean people's prejudices have simply disappeared. And white people haaaaaate being told what to do in our own country (fun fact: not actually "ours")!
So racism went underground. Sure, you can't say racist things anymore, but you can pretend to say them! Which, it turns out, is pretty much the exact same thing. There are a couple of strains of "ironic racism" making the rounds right now, and a couple of typical defenses.
1. "Tee-Hee, Aren't I Adorable?"
2. "Recreational Slumming."
3. "Ummm, I'm a Writer and I'm Trying to Write in Here!"
4. "God, Don't White People Suck?"
5. "No, don't you see? I'm just showing how I'm so down with [minority group] that it's totally cool for me to make jokes at their expense. Because we are just that kind of tight bros now."
6. "But it's a JOOOOOKE."
7. "So I'm not allowed to have a genuine interest in another culture?!!?!??!"
8. "Yeah, but we have a black president! Isn't racism over?"

Black youth in Lebanon face discrimination, racism

Discrimination has its own complexities. One summer, Assefa’s now 6-year-old daughter warned her older son to stay out of the sun. She was concerned his skin would darken and people would call him Sudanese.
“So it is there, inside their minds,” Assefa says. “They think about it.”
“Sudan is a country that is both Arab and African ... we don’t know where life will take us right now,” says Jomaa, whose application as an asylum seeker was turned down by the United Nations. “Even if we go back to Sudan at some point, I would like my daughter to remember that she lived in Lebanon for a while and she had Lebanese friends there, rather than look back on it as a terrible experience.”

Lebanon’s migrant domestic workers demand equal rights

WagingNonViolence

There are over 200,000 migrant domestic workers living in Lebanon today — a large number when you considered that Lebanon’s population is only a little over 4 million. Most migrant workers live with their Lebanese employers, cleaning their houses, washing their clothes, cooking their food and looking after their children. Yet these workers are not included under Lebanon’s labor laws — they are not entitled to basic rights such as minimum wages, maximum working hours, and holiday or sick pay. Many never get a day off. Those that do are often not even allowed to leave their employers’ houses.

The suicide last month of Ethiopian domestic worker and mother of two Alem Dechasa, who was publicly beaten in front of the Ethiopian embassy she had been trying to escape to for help, caused a wave of outrage around the globe after a film of the beating was circulated. But hers is by no means an isolated case.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch migrant domestic workers in Lebanon are dying at a rate of more than one person a week. The report revealed that many of these deaths are suicides; most of the rest are accidental deaths caused by workers falling from high buildings while attempting to flee abusive employers.

Last Sunday over 1,000 people gathered in Beirut in a march organized by the human rights watchdog Anti-Racism Movement, along with the migrant workers’ communities and several non-governmental organizations, among them the Danish Refugee Council, the Insan Association, the Nisawiya women’s rights group, and Pastoral Care of Afro-Asian Migrants.

The event was intended to raise awareness of migrant workers’ unfair treatment and demand improvements to their situation, in particular that migrant domestic workers be included under Lebanese labor laws and the abolition of the kafala, or sponsorship system which ties workers to a single employer. The event, also intended as a celebration of Labor Day, was held two days before the national holiday since most migrant workers get only Sundays off — if they get time off at all.
The march was followed by a cultural celebration in which migrant communities from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cameroon, India, Madagascar, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Congo and the Philippines performed dances and served traditional food. Domestic workers from Nigeria, Sudan and several other African and Asian countries were also in attendance, along with Lebanese and international activists and supporters.

The sponsorship system in Lebanon means that migrant workers’ immigrant status in the country is dependent on them working for a single employer who is legally responsible for them. As a result the majority of domestic workers live as well as work in their employers’ homes “for their own protection,” leaving them subject to human rights abuses. These commonly include confiscation of their passports and other papers, restriction of movement — the majority of employers do not allow workers to leave the house or even make phone calls — late payment or even non-payment of wages, no restriction of working hours, as well as physical, sexual and verbal abuse.

The system makes it extremely difficult for migrant workers to seek legal aid. They are not allowed to leave the country or change employers without consent from their sponsors, who often demand enormous sums of money to return their documents. If they leave their employer, even under abusive conditions, they automatically lose their immigration status in the country because the kafala system legally binds them to their sponsor.

Workers from a large number of communities came together to promote their common cause in Sunday’s march, carrying signs which read “Stop human trafficking of migrant workers in Lebanon,” “When will we start criminalizing racism?” and “Workers not slaves.”
“The migrant workers make an important contribution to society and to the individual households,” said Pendaline Pinero, a Filipina community leader. “Their work should be recognized by the government. They should be part of the labor law.”
The atmosphere in Sunday was festive, as crowds gathered to watch traditional dances, eat, drink and celebrate the attendance at the peaceful protest.
In spite of the difficulties they face, however, the domestic workers attending Sunday’s event were the lucky ones — those who have time off and are allowed to spend it outside their employers’ houses.
A 2011 report on human trafficking in Lebanon by non-governmental organization and women’s rights group KAFA, quoted excerpts of telephone interviews with domestic workers unable to leave the house, many of whom are still working in Lebanon, but unable to attend events such as Sunday’s march.

“I cannot leave my employer’s house and I cannot even call my family,” one Filipina worker told KAFA, while an Ethiopian worker said: “I was beaten by my first sponsor and sexually harassed by the next one. I worked long hours and did not get proper food.”
Another Ethiopian worker reported: “I have been working for one year for my employer, but he has paid me only $500 so far. When I asked for my salary once my sponsor hit me. I want to change my employer. But I don’t know how. I don’t know how to get help.”

While Sunday’s event was a step in the right direction there is still a long way to go. NGOs such as the Insan Association and KAFA hold peaceful demonstrations in Beirut on a regular basis, aiming to raise awareness and increase pressure on the Lebanese government to make some much needed changes to the current situation.
Rola Abi Mourched, program coordinator at KAFA, said Thursday that the government has yet to respond to Sunday’s protest. “We’ve been having meetings with different stakeholders and ministers,” she said. “The next step is to continue putting pressure on the government and raising awareness to encourage the public to support these changes… We plan to continue putting pressure on the Lebanese government by conducting individual meetings with decision makers to advocate for alternatives to the sponsorship system.”

In February KAFA held a public discussion with the former Minister of Labor, Dr. Charbel Nahhas, who announced that he had submitted a number of suggested amendments to the labor law to the government before his resignation earlier that month. These include changes which would require domestic workers’ salaries be paid into a bank account subject to scrutiny to ensure wages are paid in full, that a translator be present when workers sign a contract at the Ministry of Labor, and allow workers to terminate their contracts through a notification system.

Prior to his resignation Charbel had announced that he would look at abolishing the sponsorship system, stating that migrant household and agricultural workers should be included under the labor law. “Any law that takes into account the nationality of workers,” the former minister wrote on Twitter, “is tantamount to racial discrimination.”

Charbel’s replacement as labor minister, Salim Jreissati, has yet to announce any plans to put an end to discrimination against migrant workers.
A leaflet published by the Insan Association and its partner AIDA states: “Much more needs to be done. Migrant domestic workers need to be able to socially integrate into Lebanese society and enjoy their rights as full citizens in this country.”

بالألوان والموسيقى.. "لا للعنصرية"


في مسيرة يوم الأحد، أبهرن الجميع من متظاهرين ومارة.. وقبلها أبهرن أنفسهن. للمرة الأولى، كان الشارع ملكهن. بالغناء والهتاف والرقص أكدن أنهن من اليوم فصاعداً سيأخذن حقوقهن بأيديهن، ولن ينتظرن أحداً. منطلقات كن في هذا اليوم للاحتفال بعيد العمال، وكأنهن بكل خطوة يخطونها يثبتن حقهن في الوجود. أعلام بلادهن كانت ترفرف في شارع أرمينيا ومونو، ما أعطاهن قوةً ودفعاً جعل إحداهن تتجرأ مقتربةً من نافذة إحدى السيارات تدعو مثيلتها للانضمام إلى المسيرة.
وفي حين اختصرت المسيرة السنة الماضية على بعض النشطاء الذين كانوا يهتفون بـ"لا للعنصرية"، تصدرن في هذه المسيرة الصفوف الأمامية وكنا نتبع خطواتهن الواثقة، ندعم قضيتهن ولا ندّعي حمايتها. فتركن الشعارات والمواثيق الدولية والكلام الجاف المضجر، وبالآلات الموسيقية والأطباق الخشبية والملاعق وزجاجات المياه لحنّ نشيد الحياة، في بلد لم يعتبرهن بعد لا في القوانين ولا في الواقع أكثر من عبيد.
امتزج صوت الدربكة بالدف والطبل، والزلغوطة اللبنانية بالغناء الإفريقي. ترى لبنانية وسينيغالي يحملان معاً نفس اليافطة التي كتب عليها "نظام الكفالة يقتل عاملة منزلية كل أسبوع". واختلطت اللغات والأنغام بعضها ببعض لتخلق اتحادا بين المستضعفين في لبنان. اتحاد ينبض طاقةً وألواناً ليجسد بالصوت والجسد حلم نبذ العنصرية.
أما على الرصيف المقابل، فطغت الدهشة على عيون المارة. منهم من ابتسم وقام بالتحية، والآخر طغت على وجهه تعابير الامتعاض، ربما من هذه  "الصورة" المختلفة التي تجاوزت حواجز الخوف والخجل. فتلحظ ايماءات سخرية من الدركي، الذي يفترض ان يحمي المظاهرة، يهمس زميله وهو يحدق بإثيوبية ترقص بجرأة وسط الحشد. وتسمع "مادامتين" في الأشرفية يعبرّن عن سخطهن من هذا المشهد»   « c’est inacceptable!(غير مقبول). طبعاً، تغيير صورة عاملات المنازل النمطية ليس سهلاً على "الأسياد" قبوله... إلا إن فرض عليهم بقوة الضغط الجماعي.
يبقى أن المشهد ليس وردياً كما قد يبدو. في المسيرة نفسها، كانت العديد من العاملات من شرفات المنازل في يوم عطلة تنظرن إلى أبناء بلدهن، اللواتي يدعونهن بإصرار للانضمام، بصمت يخبئ وراءه الكثير من الحزن والحسرة. 

Liban : Une parade pour les droits des travailleurs migrants



"Nous ne sommes pas des esclaves, nous sommes tous des humains, c'est la pauvreté qui nous a emmenés ici".

Cette année, comme chaque année, la majorité des travailleurs libanais auront droit à un jour férié le 1er mai. Cette année, comme chaque année, la majorité des travailleurs migrants travailleront le 1er mai.

C’est pour protester contre cette inégalité de traitement, et toutes les autres, qu’une grande parade a été organisée par plusieurs ONG de la société civile libanaise (ARM/ Nasawiya, Insan, PCAAM, KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation), dimanche 29 avril, entre Dora et Beyrouth. Une parade à laquelle ont participé des centaines de migrants venus d’Ethiopie, de Madagascar, du RDCongo, du Népal, des Philippines, du Sri Lanka … ainsi que des activistes des droits de l’Homme et quelques simples citoyens libanais.

Au bout de deux heures de marche, la joyeuse troupe s’est retrouvée sur le parking de l’Université Saint Joseph, rue Monot, où les participants ont pu découvrir différents plats africains et asiatiques et assister à des danses traditionnelles. Sur le deuxième parking de l’université se déroulait une partie de cricket improvisée.

Entre deux déhanchés malgaches et tours de mains indiens, les organisateurs ont rappelé la longue liste des problèmes et injustices auxquels sont confrontés les travailleurs migrants au Liban.


Pas ou peu protégés par le Code du Travail libanais, ces travailleurs sont notamment soumis au système de parrainage, une procédure qui les place sous la responsabilité d’un garant libanais et donc dans une relation de travail totalement déséquilibrée et propice aux abus.

Cette parade intervenait en outre quelques semaines après le suicide d’Alem Dechasa, une Ethiopienne venue travailler au Liban comme domestique. Une tragédie qui avait provoqué un scandale et démontré "l'absence de dispositif de protection" des travailleurs, selon les termes de Human Rights Watch. L’organisation avait rappelé, à cette occasion, qu’une travailleuse domestique étrangère décédait en moyenne chaque semaine au Liban de causes non naturelles.

Les mauvais traitements infligés par les agents recruteurs, le non-paiement du salaire, la séquestration sur le lieu de travail, le refus d'accorder un jour de congé hebdomadaire, le travail forcé et les violences verbales et physiques sont les plaintes les plus fréquentes adressées par les employées de maison étrangères à leurs ambassades.

Dimanche, sur le parking de l’USJ, des femmes et hommes népalais, congolais, sri-lankais, éthiopiens, en dansant, en chantant, en souriant, voulaient simplement rappeler au Liban que "nous ne sommes pas des esclaves, nous sommes tous des humains, c'est la pauvreté qui nous a emmenés ici".

Pour mémoire
Droit des travailleuses domestiques au Liban : huit ONG appellent les autorités à agir

Victime, l’employée de maison est enfermée ; ses bourreaux, eux, sont bel et bien libres

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We are all 'abeed ( عبيد ) of Allah

An interesting new campaign that started in March 2012. You can have your different view points on it but it is worth checking out.

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Fb page

The Arabic words "abeed" عبيد, "abd"عبد , and "abdah" عبدة (slaves) are commonly used in reference to the Black race. This is a horrible racial slur that degrades a group of people based on a hurtful past of systematic and heart-breaking enslavement.

On the other hand, the word "abeed" is used beautifully in the Quran by Allah to refer to His worshippers. In chapter 50 (Suratul Qaf) , verse 29 Allah says:
"...وَمَا أَنَا بِظَلَّامٍ لِّلْعَبِيدِ"
"...and I am not unjust to My slaves"

This word "abeed" is a term that encompasses all of those who strive to worship Allah, an honorable way of life. Instead, some use this word to marginalize and insult others, stripping the word of its beauty and dignity.

Lets BREAK THE LINK BETWEEN "Abeed" and the black race. Let's ALL strive to be 'abeed to the One whom we dedicate our lives to. Let's claim that "I am an 'abd" because "We are all 'abeed of Allah". 

«ديغ ديغ وان دولار»

استفاقت ريتا من نومها باكراً كالعادة، أزاحت ثقل الإرهاق عنها بعد معاناة صعبة وطويلة مع النعاس، حملت جسدها الصغير إلى حمام طوله مترين وعرضه مترين وربع في الغرفة التي تسكن فيها مع زوجها، غسلت وجهها الداكن بماءٍ باردة، تمنت لو كانت الماء التي تنزل أسخن من ذلك، لكن المسح والكنس لا يأتيان بالماء الساخن، بل فتات خبز هنا، وفتات خبز في بنغلادش لأهلها هناك.




لم أكن سكراناً في الليلة الماضية، لكني ترنحت وتخبطت يميناً ويساراً بينما كنت متجهاً نحو الباب كي أفتحه لمن كان يطرقه في تلك الساعة المبكرة. كانت هي، ريتا، متوقعةً أن تفتح لها والدتي، وليس ذلك الشاب المترنح الذي يكاد أن يقع أرضاً من النعاس. سألتني: «ماما هون؟»، استدرت نحو داخل المنزل باحثاً عن أمي، قلت لها: «لا، بتكون صارت جاي»، فدخلت وخلعت معطفها الرخيص، بدأت بعملها ككل يوم، سخرة من أجل حفنة من النقود.
«الشغل مش عيب»، نعم، ليس «العيب» بالعمل نفسه، بل بالمعاملة التي تتلقاها في المنازل وعلى الطرقات. العنصري يتميز عن غيره بأنه «خواجة» بالفطرة، يعتبر نفسه أعلى قدراً وقيمة من عاملات المنازل.
العنصرية، وما أدراك ما العنصرية، خاصةً في لبنان، ريتا تمشي على الطريق بينما يتبارى الشباب فيما بينهم على من يأتي بعبارة أكثر إهانةً ويرميها عليها. هل يحق لإبن البلد ما لا يحق لغيره؟ هل يحق له بأن يهين ريتا أو غيرها من العاملات والعمال الأجانب بتلك الطريقة؟ السؤال الأهم: هل يعلم ابن البلد بأن في سريلانكا لا يحترمون من يأتي للعمل في سويسرا الشرق بسبب سوء سمعة اللبنانيين هناك جراء المعاملة التي يعاملون بها؟
تعود ريتا إلى تابوتها لتموت فيه قبل أن تبعث حية مجدداً في الصباح التالي، تقتلها المعاملة السيئة، يقتلها نظام الوكيل، هي تقتل نفسها وتبقي جسدها ينتقل من بيت إلى بيت يجمع قوتها اليومي، بعيداً عن بلدها، هنا في بلاد الأرز الخضراء، تأتي لتموت.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Discussing the Sponsorship System


This Tuesday, May 8th, we are inviting Kathleen Hamill, activist and lawyer, to our ARM meeting at 8 PM in Nasawiya to have an informal discussion on the sponsorship system in Lebanon. Kathleen will focus her talk on sponsorship system reforms, prospects, and challenges. The discussion will also extend to a few other issues as well (for example concerning maximizing the reach/impact of the upcoming release of UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery's report on Lebanon, etc...)

Let your friends who are interested in the sponsorship system and how to move beyond it know about this.

See you then.

LEBANESE LAÏQUE PRIDE III


في ٦ ايار ٢٠١٢٬، ستتواصل مسيرة العلمانيين نحو المواطنة للسنة الثالثة على التوالي... أيدوها، ادعموها، ساعدوها، شاركوا في نجاحها!! فالمبادرات على هذا النحو هي نادرة جدا في  بلدنا... لنحلم سوياً في التغيير ونعمل سوياً للتغيير... ونتذكر جملة مارك تواين : 
" لم يعلموا أنّه مستحيل، فقاموا به "
المسيرة ستدعم هذا العام:

١- اعتماد قانون مدني موحّد للأحوال الشخصيّة.
٢- اقرار مشروع قانون حماية المرأة من العنف الاسري بالصيغة التي قدمتها جمعية "كفى" والتي تنص على تجريم الاغتصاب الزوجي من دون التشويهات التي ادخلتها اللجنة النيابية على مسودة القانون.
٣- الغاء المادة 522 من قانون العقوبات اللبناني، التي تُسقط الملاحقة عن المغتصب اذا تزوج الضحية.
٤-تعديل قانون الجنسية لاعطاء المرأة اللبنانية حقّها بمنح جنسيتها لاولادها وزوجها.
٥- اقرار مشروع قانون حرية الاعمال السينمائية والاعمال المصورة الذي اطلقته مؤسسة مهارات ومرصد الرقابة.
٦- سحب مشروع قانون تنظيم الاعلام الالكتروني الذي تقدّم به وزير الاعلام.

سيتم التجمع أمام حديقة الصنائع في الحمراء في تمام الساعة الرابعة مساءً لنتجه بعدها سوياَ الى عين المريسة. تنتهي المسيرة بهايد بارك على الكورنيش، نلتقي فيه لتعبروا عن رأيكم بالسؤال التالي في مدة لا تتجاوز الدقيقة الواحدة: "كيف ممكن انت تغير/ي لبنان؟" 
الهايد بارك هو مساحتنا المفتوحة لممارسة حرية التعبير ولتعزيز ثقافة الحوار وقبول الاخر ونبذ العنف.
...أتمنى أن أراكم يوم الاحد


On May 6th 2012, we will continue the secular march towards citizenship for the third consecutive year... endorse it, support it, help it, participate in its success!! Initiatives as such are so rare in our country... Let us dream together of change and work together for change... and remember Mark Twain's words: 

"They did not know it was impossible so they did it"

The Laïque Pride will demonstrate this year in support of:

1- Enacting a unified Civil Code for the Personal Status Law.
2- Passing the Law for Protection of Women from Family Violence submitted by KAFA to the Lebanese parliament. We denounce the parliamentary committee distortions to the law draft and demand the full adoption of Kafa’s original draft that included criminalizing marital rape.
3- Abolishing article 522 of the penal law, which drops charges against a rapist if he marries his victim.
4- Amending the nationality law for the full right of Lebanese women to grant their nationality to their children and spouses.
5- Passing the Draft Law Prohibiting the Pre-Censorship on Cinema and Theatre launched by Maharat Foundation and Marsad Al-Raqaba.
6- Withdrawing the draft law Lebanese Internet Regulation Act (LIRA) proposed by the Lebanese Ministry of Information.

The gathering will take place at 4 PM in front of Sanayeh garden in Hamra and we will head together to Ain El Mraisse. The march will end with a Speaker’s Corner at the corniche, where you are invited to speak for up to one minute each answering the following question: "How would you change Lebanon?"
It will be an open citizen space dedicated to the practice of free speech, fearless listening, non-violence, mutual respect and tolerance.

I hope to see you on Sunday...

LEBANESE LAÏQUE PRIDE III     مسيرة العلمانين  نحو المواطنة
Sunday May 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM              الأحد  ٦  ايار   ٢٠١  في الساعة ٤:٠٠   مساءً 
from Sanayeh to Ain El Mraisse           من حديقة الصنائع  الى كورنيش عين المريسة



Nothing will change if we don't change,
لا شيء يتغير إذا نحن لم ن(ت)غير

عمال لا عبيد

بيروت الملونة والمتنوعة هي بيروت الأجمل تجوبها قبائل اسيوية أفريقية بكرنفال يختزل ألوان الطيف الأنساني بتقاليد لطالما توفر لها سلطة عظيمة في التاريخ وحازت ولا تزال على إهتمام أشهر الباحثين. وبيروت الملونة خارج إطار القومية والدين والعرق ليست ترفاً نعمل على الوصول اليه ولكنها حاجة كي نستحق حقيقتنا البشرية.
يا عمال لبنان الأجانب، شكراً لأنني أحسست بالامس أني لست غريباً في بلادي



قطر تعتزم الغاء نظام الكفيل واقامة هيئة منتخبة لحماية حقوق العمال

We should move the games to Lebanon.

أعلنت قطر عن نيتها الغاء نظام الكفالة المثير للجدل المطبق على الوافدين الى اراضيها, اضافة الى السماح باقامة هيئة منتخبة مستقلة لحماية حقوق العمال, وذلك فيما تستعد البلاد لاستضافة كاس العام لكرة القدم في 2022.

ونقلت صحيفة العرب القطرية عن وكيل وزارة العمل القطرية حسين الملا قوله انه سيتم تعويض ذلك بعقد مبرم بين العامل وصاحب العمل، واشار في هذا الصدد الى ان لفظ كفيل سبب لهم الكثير من المشاكل في المنظمات الدولية.

وكانت منظمات دولية عدة دعت الى الغاء نظام الكفيل المعتمد في دول الخليج والذي يفرض على كل عامل وافد ان يكون له كفيل محلي, معتبرة انه يضع الموظف تحت رحمة كفيله.

الى ذلك, اعلن الملا عن توجه لقيام لجنة عمالية منتخبة ومستقلة للدفاع عن حقوق العمال بغض النظر عن جنسيتهم, وذلك تزامنا مع الاعلان ايضا عن خطة لتوظيف مليون عامل استعدادا لاحتضان كاس العالم.

واشار الى ان اللجنة التي ستكون بمثابة نقابة واحدة لجميع قطاعات العمل, يجب ان تتكون من القطريين حيث ان الاجنبي يحق له الانتخاب دون الحق في الترشح لمجلس الادارة. واضاف ان عمل هذه اللجنة سيكون بعيدا عن وصاية وزارة العمل ويمكن لها حتى الانتقال الى الشركات للوقوف على الظروف المهنية للعمال، كما انها مخولة تلقي شكاوى العمال والدفاع عن حقوقهم.

واضاف انه تمت مناقشة هذا المشروع في مجلس الوزراء وحول الى مجلس الشورى، والان بصدد انتظار الموافقة الاميرية عليه. واعلن الملا انه تم انجاز المشروع بالاستعانة بخبراء من منظمة العمل العربية ومنظمة العمل الدولية وبعض النقابات العمالية الخليجية.

ويبلغ عدد سكان قطر حوالى 1,7 مليون نسمة بحسب تقديرات متطابقة, الا ان عدد المواطنين لا يتجاوز 300 الف نسمة.

عيّدوا أيار في نيسان