Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lebanon racism: Photo exhibition addresses prejudice

Nisreen Kaj's work on BBC:)

Lebanon is known for its religious diversity, but many are not aware of the country's range of ethnicities - with some people not accepting that difference races can also be Lebanese.

Many Africans, Asians and people of mixed race face racism, from people assuming they are domestic workers to police harassment - with no discrimination law to protect them.

Lebanese Nigerian Nisreen Kaj - who features in this report - was involved in an exhibition addressing these issues with family photographs of mixed race Lebanese families dating back to the 1970s.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The testimony of Rushna, elder sister Devi. 

I came to work in Madam Lamia’s house on 12th September 2008. I got a salary of $125 per month for the first three years. I wanted to go home to Bangladesh my 3-year contract ended but Madam Lamia said that …(?) was closed in Bangladesh so I couldn’t go. So I didn’t go home.

I used to work cleaning two houses and it was really too tiring for me so I asked for a raise in my salary; then they started paying me $150. But it was very tiring cleaning two houses so I told Madam that I didn’t want to work in two houses. Hearing this, Madam along with her daughter, physically assaulted me and started to give me less food and I wasn’t allowed to eat at the table nor sit down to eat - I had to eat my food straight from the oven while I was standing. They wanted me to work in both the houses. They said if I didn’t agree then they would force my younger sister to work (she came to Lebanon in 2011 to work for Madame Lamia’s sister-in-law). They gave me $150 per month for two years and Madam used to send the money home for me and provided me with the code number and 500LL to call home to give them the code number.

I worked for almost five years for such a little money. Then, again, I wanted to go home but Madam didn’t allow me. Two of my family members died within this period; my relatives called Madam from Bangladesh, but she didn’t allow me to go home. She would ask what my relatives were calling for - if was bad news, she’d tell them I was out so that I couldn’t talk to them. She informed me of the deaths; I cried a lot but could not go home. Two months later, I again demanded to be allowed to go home but she verbally abused me. She did not give me a single day off in those six years of my service and I never left the house alone. I kept on requesting her to let me go home.

I bought a gold chain and a pair of earrings with my own salary (worth $490) with the help of Madam and her daughter. After that I kept my jewellery with Madam as I trusted her as my owner. I had also brought a gold chain, two pairs of earrings and a nose pin with me from Bangladesh which are all with Madam.

Madam didn’t give me my salary for 5 months (June 2014 - Nov 2014) - $900. My jewellery and unpaid salary are all with Madam. She told me she would give me everything – jewellery, money and ticket home. She told me this on Wednesday, December 3rd, at 5 pm in the afternoon.

I brought my younger sister Devi to work in the home of Madam’s sister-in-law (Madam Ellen) who was very sick. She came to Lebanon on 2nd July 2011. Madam Ellen knew that we were sisters. Madam Lamia brought Madam Ellen to her house and from then on we all used to stay together. Madam Ellen was sick and used to go to the toilet in her bed - we two sisters used to clean it up.

Many times Madam Ellen bit me and my sister and pulled our hair – but we never said anything as we were really helpless. We didn’t have anything in Bangladesh and we needed money. But Madam Ellen was a nice lady; she only became violent towards us when she was very sick. Madam Lamia’s daughter, Grace, got married and from then on we had to work in her house as well – in total we had to work for three families. It was really tiring and we were sad – yet we worked hard and we didn’t have anything bad in our mind. 

Suddenly, Madam Ellen died and then Madam Lamia wanted my younger sister to transfer to a different house. But she told them her husband was in Lebanon and she wanted to go to him and requested a ‘Tanezol’, which was done. Her husband contacted Madam Lamia and wanted to know when they would they drop her off. Later Madam Lamia’s son, Dimitri, took her to her husband. Before she left, Madam Lamia checked all of her bags thoroughly.

Thereafter, she had no contact with the family nor with me. Then 4 months later, suddenly, the police went to their house and took her and her husband to the Barbar Khazin Police Station. They said she had taken money from Madame Lamia’s house and they brutally beat us and her husband. Haidar beat us up so much that my brother-in-law fell unconscious and I wet my pants. My sister told them she didn’t have any money. But still the police beat us. Then she lied and said that she had taken the money. She lied to save her husband and me. But truly she didn’t take any money. Before I was taken to the police, Madame Lamia told me to say my sister took the money and that if I did that, she would buy my ticket home. Truly, neither of us stole anything.

After they beat us up a lot they finally put us in jail - my husband, my sister Ema and I. This is my story in a foreign land. I hope that what happened to me never happens to anyone else.

We have now been in Barbar Khazin prison for about 6 months and only attended one hearing the day before Christmas. Here we sit, innocent, with no lawyer and no one to help us. We request the following in order for justice to be done:

For myself:

1. Immediate repatriation to Bangladesh. I have been asking Madame Lamia to send me back for the last 4 years. Before I was in Barbar Khazin prison, I was in prison in her house.
2. Payment of $900 owing to me for June-Nov 2014.
3. Payment for the period I have sat in prison earning nothing, unjustly accused by Madame Lamia. I have four children at home to feed.
4. For the Judge to order Madame Lamia to return my gold necklace, and two pairs of gold earrings.
5. The police must return my gold necklace, nose-ring and earrings.

For my younger sister:

1. Release from prison so she and her husband can continue their work in Lebanon.
2. The return of her earrings, necklace, and nose-ring and her telephone which the police took.
3. For the judge to order Madame Lamia to pay for each month her and her husband are in prison unjustly accused.

Translated from Bengali to English by Dr. Badrul Munir Sohel, MD MSc PhD, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lydia's going home

Thanks to all your generous and fast contributions, we have reached our $955 goal. All extra donations will be given to Lydia to help support her children in Kenya. Also, we have added a short video to the fundraising campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQMW9KYzeZw

Read about all Lydia's story here.
Thank you once more!

Friday, May 22, 2015

رسالة من اثنا عشر جمعية ومنظمة محلية ودولية لمدير عام الامن العام اللبناني

رسالة من اثنا عشر جمعية ومنظمة محلية ودولية لمدير عام الامن العام اللبناني طالبة منح الاقامة للعاملة الأجنبية رنوكا وعائلتها:

سعادة مدير عام الأمن العام اللبناني اللواء عباس ابراهيم المحترم،

اقترب موعد استحقاق البت بمصير العاملة الأجنبية رنوكا ارنغاني وعائلتها. تعمل رنوكا منذ ما يقارب 15 عاما في لبنان بشكل قانوني هي وزوجها وقد كانا عقدا قرانهما في سرلنكا قبل مجيئهما الى لبنان.

ومنذ 14 عاما رزقهما الله طفلة، ومنذ ذلك الحين شكلت هذة الطفلة سوزانا حافز رنوكا وجكديش زوجها للعمل بجهد وتفان دون ان يتجرأا يوما على خرق اي من القوانين اللبنانية، فكانا يعتبران انفسهما عاملان محميان بالقانون اللبناني وخاضعان له. وحرصا على تأمين كافة مستلزمات الحياة الكريمة لابنتهما كي لا تكون يوما عبئا على المجتمع اللبناني. فتابعت الفتاة دراستها طول هذه الفترة في مدرسة خاصة على نفقة والديها. ونجحت الفتاة، واقتربت من تحقيق حلمها وحلم والديها اللذي يشبه حلم اي والدين يطمحان بمستقبل مزهر لأولادهم.

كل من عرف رنوكا أوجكديش أو سوزانا، شهد لاخلاصهم لعملهم وللبنان وحبهم له وانطواءهم تحت قوانينه وانظمته، و لم تشأ رنوكا و عائلتها أن تتحدى يوما الادارة اللبنانية أو المديرية العامة للامن العام. وحتى لجوءها لجمعية انسان ولجأت مستغيثة، والتزمت انسان بمساندتها لوضوح وضعها واندراجه ضمن الأصول والقوانين المرعية الاجراء في لبنان.

أوقف الأمن العام اللبناني رنوكا وجكديش بتاريخ 8 نيسان 2015 وأعاد وأطلق سراحهما بتاريخ 22 نيسان 2015 بعد أن ابلغهما بضرورة مراجعة دوائر الامن العام خلال فترة لا تتخطى الشهر لمعرفة القرار النهائي المتعلق بتجديد اقامتهما مع ابنتهما في لبنان.

سعادة المدير العام، ناتي بكتابنا هذا قبل أيام من حضور رنوكا وعائلتها الى الأمن العام لمعرفة مصيرها. وكان المجتمع اللبناني والعربي والدولي من بعثات دبلوماسية ومنظمات دولية ومحلية واعلامين وحقوقيين وقانونيين، تابعوا عن كثب المراحل التي اجتازها ملف هذة العائلة. ليس فقط لما يحمل من معان انسانية بل أيضا لاننا جميعنا في لبنان ومعنا المجتمع الدولي متعطشون لمبادرة من الادارة اللبنانية تعطينا الأمل من جديد، أن الساطة ان سلطت فهي تسلط لحماية الضعفاء أولا والقوة ان حكمت، حكمت لحماية من هم أكثر عرضة لفقدان حقوقهم وان الأمل بمجتمع أكثر عدالة وسلطة قوية تراعي الحقوق البسيطة والأساسية للبشر، ما زال موجودا. فبيدكم أن تعيدوا ثقتنا بالدولة وبانسانية اداراتها وبحكمة قيادييها. ان لقراركم الباتت بقضية هذه العائلة رمزية كبرى مما قد يحمل من رسائل قد ترفع بوطننا الى مستوى اسمى من التقدم والحداثة ومراعاة حقوق الانسان ومعايره الدولية وقدسية العائلة والأمومة والبنوة.

سعادة مدير عام اللامن العام شكرا اذا قرأتم، وشكرا اذا عدلتم، فبيدكم اليوم كثيرا تقدموه للبنان و للمجتمع الانساني بعدلكم مع رنوكا، جكديش وسوسانا.

مؤسس ومدير جمعية انسان دفاعا عن حقوق الانسان،
شارل جورج نصرالله

لائحة الموقعين على الكتاب:
- جمعية انسان
- الشبكة العربية لحقوق المهاجرين 
- حركة مناهضة العنصرية
- مركز جماعة المهاجرين(Migrant Community Center) 
- منظمة كفى عنف واستغلال 
- منتدى المهاجرين في اسيا (Migrant Forum in Asia) 
- مجموعة الأبحاث والتدريب للعمل التنموي
- منظمة التعاون والاغاثة العالمية
- مركز بيتنا
- راهبات الفرسيسكانيات مرسلات مريم
- مركز تمكين للدعم والمساندة "الأردن"
- Kanglungan Center Foundation

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Urgent- Support Lydia to Go Home

FIRST JOB - SAIDA

Lydia’s first job was in a big house owned by a Lebanese woman. After the first few months which were 'fine' and only included 18 hours of work per day with Lydia locked inside, the woman started getting Lydia men to sleep with her for money that the Lebanese woman would take. One after the other. On daily basis, sometimes twice a day.

She would tell her: 'You came here to work. This is the work.'

Lydia needs to leave Lebanon and go home. ASAP.

Link of her story on Indiegogo.

'Thank you for being Lebanese.'

Gass Kodsy on facebook.

***

On Hamra street, some Syrians established stores and restaurants — including Damascus' famous Al-Farouk restaurant that relocated to Beirut earlier this year — and EXCLUSIVELY EMPLOY SYRIANS, INCLUDING CHEFS, WAITERS, MANAGERS , FLORISTS AND CLEANERS.
let's ask LBC's news reporters , isn't this RACISM ? or is he called RACIST only the Lebanese who calls to stop the Syrian employment to protect the Lebanese work force ?????
مطاعم ومؤسسات سورية تغزو شارع الحمرا ومنها مطعم " الفاروق " السوري الذي انتقل من دمشق الى بيروت منذ سنة تقريبا.. اما صاحب المطعم فهو يوظّف السوريين حصريا , من طبّاخين, اداريين , عمّال نظافة وتنسيق الزهور
والسؤال لمحرّري الاخبار في قناة الال بي سي عن تعريف العنصرية ؟ هل هو عنصري كل لبناني يدعو الى حماية اليد العاملة اللبنانية من غزو العمالة السورية ؟؟؟؟ وما رأيهم بهذه العيّنة من المستمثرين السوريين في لبنان الذين لا يوظفون الا سوريين؟
ان لم يكن ذلك عنصرية فهو احتلال منظّم للبلد من قبل السوريين وتهجير ابنائه بالتكافل والتعاون مع السلطات السياسية في لبنان التي لم تقدم للبلد ولاهله سوى الفساد والتبعية للخارج

-DO NOT BUY FROM ANY SYRIAN STORE ,
-DO NOT BUY FROM ANY LEBANESE STORE IF HE EMPLOYS SYRIANS INSTEAD OF LEBANESE
-DO NOT TAKE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT UNLESS YOU MAKE SURE THAT THE DRIVER IS LEBANESE AND CARRIES A PUBLIC DRIVING LICENSE
-CREATE A SUPPORTIVE ENVIREONMENT AROUND YOU , PARENTS , RELATIVES AND ASK THEM TO JOIN YOU AND FOLLOW THESE THESE INSTRUCTION MENTIONED ABOVE

-- لا تشتري من اي محل ومؤسسة سورية في لبنا
-قاطع كل مؤسسة لبنانية استبدلت موظفيها اللبنانيين بسوريين ( وسننشر اسماء كل هذه المؤسسات تباعاً كما وردتنا من الوطنيين اللبنانيين )
-بلّغ عن كل مؤسسة تخطت نسبة العمالة الاجنبية فيها ال 10% حسب ما يسمح به القانون
-لا تستعمل النقل العام الا بعد ان تتأكد من لبنانية السائق ومن رخصة السوق العمومية التي يحملها وحده اللبناني ولا يحق للسوري او اي اجنبي اخر بها

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Read This

هل يطبق القانون على كافة الجنسيات: الأميركية، الأوروبية، الأسترالية، الإفريقية، إلخ؟ أو يطبق على بعض الجنسيات 
هل يطبق القانون على اللبنانيين المهاجرين في الخارج، أو حاملي الجنسيات الأخرى، أو اللبنانيين الذين لديهم علاقة مع الأجانب في الخارج أو في داخل لبنان؟

مثلاً؟


Monday, May 18, 2015

Arrested for reporting on Qatar's World Cup labourers



Instead of actually improving its treatment of labourers, Qatar is pouring money into fixing its reputation for allowing these unacceptable living standards to persist... (and in the same spirit, inviting foreign journalists to report on labour conditions and then arresting them for doing so)

Full piece on BBC

Saturday, May 16, 2015

كيف هيك؟

أتعهد أنه ليس لعاملتي أي علاقة زواج أو ارتباط من أي نوع في لبنان
Legal Agenda

 

خلال شهر تشرين الاول من العام 2014، تلقى كتاب العدل من وزارة العدل تعميما بشأن التعهد الذي يفترض بصاحب العمل توقيعه لديهم في اطار الحصول على اقامة للعاملة أو تجديدها. وبموجبه، يطلب من صاحب العمل أن يتعهد تجاه المديرية العامة بعدم وجود "أي علاقة زواج أو ارتباط من أي نوع كان تربط العاملة (...) باي شخص عربي او أجنبي مقيم على الاراضي اللبنانية". كما يتعهد أنه "في حال تبين لاحقا وجود اي علاقة زواج حصلت بعددخول العاملة مراجعة الامن العام بعد تأمين تذكرة سفر بغية ترحيلها الى بلدها". وقد تم توجيه التعميم بناء على طلب من الميدرية العامة للأمن العام. وهذا التعهد يستدعي ملاحظات عدة:

أولاً، أنه يأتي استكمالا لقرار سبق للمديرية العامة للأمن العام واتخذته في نهاية العام الفائت يقضي برفض تجديد اقامات أولاد العاملات في الخدمة المنزليةالمقيمين في لبنان[1]. بل هو استكمال لاجراءات التمييز ضد عاملات المنازل بهدف حرمانهن من أي حياة عاطفية أو عائلية. فبخلاف المستخدمين الأجانب من الفئة الأولى أو الثانية، تمنع عاملة المنزل (الفئة الرابعة) من استقدام عائلتها. وها هي تُمنع بموجب هذا التعهد عن انشاء أي عائلة أو اقامة أي علاقة حميمية أو علاقة صداقة في لبنان. فاذا حصل ذلك، وجب ترحيلها فورا. وكأنما المطلوب أن تبقى العاملة مقطوعة من شجرة، ومجرّدة من أي سند.

ثانيا، ان أخطر ما يأتيه هذا التعهد يتمثل عمليا في تكليف أصحاب العمل (الكفلاء) بالتحرّي على حياة العاملات الشخصية واستباحتها. وهو تحر يتطلب اجراء استقصاءات تتجاوز مجرد الاطلاع على السجلات الرسمية العائدة للعاملة والتي تفيد فيما إذا كان الفرد متزوجا أم لا. فالمطلوب هو التأكد من أنها "ليست على ارتباط بأي شخص عربي أو أجنبي على الأراضي اللبنانية". وللتوصل الى معلومة كهذه، لا بد من تحويل حياة العاملة الخاصة الى شأن من شؤون أصحاب العمل، بحيث يكون لهم حق في الاطلاع عليها بل واجب القيام بذلك. وبهذا تكون المديرية العامة للأمن العام تشرع سلوكيات التلصص وخرق خصوصية العاملات مثل التدقيق في هواتفهن ورسائلهن ومكالمتهن ومعرفة أماكن تمضية اجازتهن..الخ. وعليه، وبعدما أدى أصحاب الأمن دور أعوان الأمن في التبليغ عن أي فرار، ها هم يكلّفون بدور جديد قوامه تبليغ الأمن عن أي مستجدّ في الحياة الخاصة للعاملات لديهم، مع ما يستتبع ذلك من تعزيز لسلطتهم وامتيازاتهم. فما تطلبه المديرية العامة للامن العام من أصحاب العمل هو التحري عن حياة العاملة الشخصية منذ لحظة وصولها الى لبنان وطوال اقامتها فيه، وأن يبادر فور توفر معلومات لديه باقامتها لعلاقة عاطفية من أي نوع كانت الى "مراجعة الأمن العام بعد تأمين تذكرة سفر بغية ترحيلها الى بلدها". ومجرّد قراءة هذا التعهد

ثالثا، في قراءة متأنية للتعهد، فانه يظهر بمثابة تحذير لأصحاب العمل بامكانية ترحيل العاملات المستقدمات للعمل لديهم، اذا أقمن علاقات زواج أو علاقات حميمية. ومن هذه الزاوية، لا يقتصر التكليف المعطى لهم على التلصّص، انما يصل الى حد اتخاذ الاجراءات والاحتياطات الكفيلة بمنع حصول هذه العلاقات. وهذا ما يفتح الباب أمام آليات المنع المباشر، ومن أبرزها طبعا مزيد من التضييق على حرية العاملات في التنقل.

رابعا، أن تأتي مبادرة من هذا النوع عن الأمن العام أمر مكروه طبعا. لكن أن يرسل التعميم من خلال وزارة العدل وأن يعمد كتاب العدل (وكلهم حقوقيون) على تطبيقه، فهذا أمر يؤشر الى الدرك الذي وصل اليه الخطاب الحقوقي في لبنان، أقله فيما يتصل بالفئات المهمشة.

وفي موازاة هذا الواقع، تستمر السلطة بالتغنّي بالجهود التي تقوم بها في سبيل تعزيز حقوق العاملات في الخدمة المنزلية. آخر هذه التصريحات جاء في بيان لوزير العمل سجعان قزي، تنديدا بإنشاء نقابة لعمال وعاملات الخدمة المنزلية. ويضيف الوزير في حديث له لبرنامج "عالم الصباح" في 2 أيار 2015، أن "الحماية بتصير بإجراءات مش بإدخال العاملات باللعبة السياسية والطبقية. هيدا أمر ما بصير طالما أنا وزير"[2]. لكن عن أي حماية وعن أي اجراءات يتحدث هذا الوزير؟

نشر في العدد الثامن والعشرين من مجلة المفكرة القانونية

Adam and Mimi

In the past year, we've been touring Lebanon and meeting with young children in more than 35 schools to organize debates and discussions on issues of anti-discrimination, lives and cultures of migrant workers, stereotypes and why we should and how to move past them, etc... That is the part we enjoy most about our work:)

This is the Adam and Mimi interactive and educational toolkit which was devised by ILO for the PROWD project. We have been using it as the main tool in work with children. It includes 6 animated books: 3 books for Mimi travelling to Ethiopia, Sri Lanka & Philippines in addition to 3 books for Adam travelling to Bangladesh, Nepal & Madagascar. It also includes a board game whereby a class can collectively test the information they learned about the geography, culture and history from the stories they've read through playing the game together.

Good news is we still have a few games left so it is not too late!
We continue scheduling sessions in schools, public and private, and we are happy to visit yours too:) Just give us a call and we'll be there in a week!




في العام الماضي، لقد قمنا بجولة في لبنان واجتمعنا مع العديد من الاطفال في أكثر من 35 مدرسة لتنظيم لمناقشات حول قضايا مكافحة التمييز، حياة وثقافات العاملات والعمال الأجانب، الأحكام المسبقة وتأثيراتها وكيفية التصدّي لها، الخ ...هذا هو الجزء الذي نستمتع به اكثر في عملنا!

هذه هي مجموعة أدوات آدم وميمي التفاعلية والتعليمية التي وضعتها منظمة العمل الدولية لمشروع في بيروت. لقد تم استخدامها كأداة اساسية في زياراتنا للمدارس. تشمل هذه المجموعة 6 كتب رسوم حيوية: 3 قصص تسافر فيها ميمي إلى إثيوبيا وسريلانكا والفيلبين بالإضافة إلى 3 قصص يسافر فيها آدم إلى بنغلاديش ونيبال ومدغشقر. كما تتضمن العدّة لعبة تعليمية يمكن للصف استخدامها كإختبار جماعي للمعلومات التي تعلموها عن تلك البلدان من خلال القصص التي قد قرأوها.

الخبر السار هو انه لا يزال لدينا عدد قليل من مجموعات ادم وميمي واننا لا زلنا نواصل اعطاء الجلسات في المدارس الرسمية والخاصة، وسنكون سعداء بزيارة مدرستكم أيضا"smile emoticon تواصلوا معنا عبر ارسال رسالة على صفحتنا لنحدد أول لقاء معكم!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Beirut’s First Pay-What-You-Want Restaurant Is Bringing Sri Lanka to Lebanon



Ignored migrant communities are finally starting to be recognised for what they are: residents of this country with plenty to offer it! Our Migrant Community Center- Lebanon has been making similar efforts, and will soon start adding some menu items to some of your favorite restaurants!

On Munchies

****

When it comes to foreign cuisine, Lebanon is stuck somewhere in the 1970s, as if the only things worth eating were fettuccine Alfredo, steak frites, guacamole, and sweet and sour chicken.

This is particularly disappointing given its substantial and diverse population of foreign nationals. The country is home to around 250,000 migrant domestic workers, for example, most of whom hail from African, South Asian, and Southeast Asian nations like Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. It’s hard not to connect their culinary underrepresentation to the widespread racism against non-Western migrant workers in Lebanon, whom NGOs report suffer routine physical, emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of their employers.
While we have a long way to go in undoing the racism against non-western migrant workers in Lebanon, one cramped restaurant in a trendy Beirut neighborhood is using food to help with the cause.

In one of the quieter alleyways that break off from the mayhem of bar-crowded Armenia Street in Mar Mikhael, Mótto opened the doors to its small dining hall in the summer of 2014.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

[MEDIA GUIDELINES] Writing about Migrants: Are you part of the problem or the solution?

On Migrant Rights

The narrative on migration – globally, but more so in the Arab world – is polarised. On the one hand are perceived cultural, security, and economic threats to the native population.Fears of diluted cultural and religious values and misplaced blame for high crime and unemployment rates justify exercising excessive control over migrants.

On the other is the vilification of the destination states, and in the case of GCC the individual kafeels.

These narratives are reflected in the way local media reports on the issues. Even the campaigns and reportage with the best of intentions tend to either marginalise the migrant or demonise the kafeel.

The truth is lost between the extremities, unavailable for the constructive dialogue necessary to address the relevant issues faced by both countries: low human resources but high need in destination states, and vast human resources but abject poverty in sending countries.

In this piece, Migrant-Rights.org highlights best practices and basic guidelines for reporting on migrant issues .

***

"THEY COME HERE BECAUSE IT IS BETTER THAN WHERE THEY COME FROM. YOU CAN'T EXPECT THE SAME TREATMENT AS NATIONALS, AFTER ALL YOU ARE TEMPORARY HERE."
Key to reporting on migrant rights is recognizing that migrant rights is first and foremost about human rights. The issues within may be specific to the group, but must be located within the wider discourse of human rights.

Thus, reporting should not concede to the denial of rights based on nationality.

While nationals are afforded specific rights based on citizenship (to own property, exercise their franchise, etc), basic human rights applies to every single person, and cannot be withheld on basis of nationality. 

There are 30 basic human rights as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
, to which all GCC states are signatories. While reporting on migrant rights, it is important to be aware of these rights. It is almost always the violation of these rights that one speaks of, and so it doesn't matter which country or whose laws - these have to be protected.
"RESTRICTING DOMESTIC WORKERS' MOBILITY PROTECTS THEM AND THEIR EMPLOYER.

THE EXIT PERMIT PROTECTS THE INTERESTS OF THE COMPANY OR KAFEEL. IF THE MIGRANT WORKER IS FREE TO LEAVE, HE CAN EASILY COMMIT FRAUD AND GET AWAY WITH IT."
While this may in some instances be true, it violates a key human right (UDHR Article 13):

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
“HE IS AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT BECAUSE HE HAS LEFT HIS EMPLOYER/KAFEEL, SO IT’S OK TO BE HELD BY THE POLICE.”

However, given the nature of the work permit in the GCC, it is important to probe intoreasons why a person might be 'undocumented/irregular,'

First, while a person might do something illegal, it is incorrect to refer to him as an illegal migrant. He might become undocumented or an irregular worker, but that again is often for reasons beyond his control. 

“SHE IS PART OF OUR FAMILY. SHE WORKS AND LIVES AND EATS WITH US, WHY AN OFF DAY?”
(UDHR Article 24) Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

While these are some of the most common issues highlighted, the problem extends far beyond this list.

Especially as a code of ethics and press associations are not common in the GCC, individual journalists covering human rights and migrants’ issues should examine resources outside the region (see sidebar).

PANOS along with the United Nations Alliance of Civilization has released a comprehensive terms of use: Media-friendly Glossary on Migration.
Challenges, fact checking and access to data

Accurate and up-to-date data on migration to the GCC is hard to find.

While national statistics may reveal data on influx of labour, they are rarely categorised nationality-wise.

Official comments on the issue are also hard to come by, and are restricted to generic press statements.

In countries of destination, contacting the local diplomatic missions is the best bet.

However, there is a wealth of information available in countries of origin, especially those in South Asia.

See our networks page for these resources.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nasri Atallah Draws a Smile

'Last night I witnessed something more troubling than anything I’ve seen in a while. I was standing outside Vyvans on Armenia Street in Mar Mikhael with my girlfriend and some friends catching up. I heard a loud thud behind me. At first, as I had my back turned to the street, I imagined someone had tripped drunkenly and fallen on their face. This would not be an odd occurrence in Mar Mikhael. But then I saw a look of horror on my friend’s faces. When I turned around I realized that a drunk Monday night reveller had kicked a Syrian shoeshine boy's box halfway across the sidewalk and shoved the kid himself to the floor (I knew he was Syrian because we’d spoken beforehand). The kid had been reclining on the drunken scum’s parked and unattended car, and when the scum came back from his night out, he got a barrage of expletives for it.

Since, by the time we realized what was happening, the aggressor was already in his friend’s car, and the car was starting to pull out of its spot, our first reaction was to let it go, and look to see if the kid was hurt. As we stepped closer to the situation, the drunken scum started hurling insults at the kid again. Then he started opening his door, visibly ready for round two. At this point I walked up to his open window and his whiskey breath and simply said: 'drive away'. His machismo couldn’t withstand being told what to do, so he clambered out. He was shorter than I expected, or I was taller than he expected, but either way, he saw it as a challenge. “Am I supposed to be afraid because you’re a tall asshole?”. I stayed calm, which any of my friends will tell you doesn’t come easily to me. His eyes were bloodshot, his beard greying. He must have been about 35. He looked mean. The kind of person who regularly hurts those he can. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through every part of me. I was shaking, but determined to stay level-headed.

“Get in your car and drive away please”. I was mindful to always stay in between him and the kid behind me, lest he attempt another kick in his direction. The calmness must have confused him. He got in the car and swore at me again as they drove away. I turned to the kid, put my arm around him and said to never listen to anyone who talks down to him. In that moment, I felt happy we’d been there to come between the testosterone-fuelled anger of a frustrated excuse for a human being and the misery of a kid on the sidewalks of Beirut. I’m not telling this story to come off as somehow valiant. I’m writing this because for a moment I hesitated to get involved. And that moment of hesitation should not exist. It is not a choice to get involved when we see injustice, bigotry or violence. It is a duty. Your only option. Always stand up for those who are being treated unjustly. Both you and they will sleep better at night.'

Link

Monday, May 11, 2015

أتعهد أنه ليس لعاملتي أي علاقة زواج أو ارتباط من أي نوع في لبنان

دولة الكوارث

***

في غضون هذا العام، تلقى كتاب العدل من وزارة العدل تعميما بشأن التعهد الذي يفترضبصاحب العمل توقيعه لديهم في اطار الحصول على اقامة للعاملة أو تجديدها. وبموجبه، يطلب من صاحب العمل أن يتعهد تجاه المديرية العامة بعدم وجود "أي علاقة زواج أو ارتباط من أي نوع كان تربط العاملة (...) باي شخص عربي او أجنبي مقيم على الاراضي اللبنانية". كما يتعهد أنه "في حال تبين لاحقا وجود اي علاقة زواج حصلت بعددخول العاملة مراجعة الامن العام بعد تأمين تذكرة سفر بغية ترحيلها الى بلدها". وقد تم توجيه التعميم بناء على طلب من الميدرية العامة للأمن العام. وهذا التعهد يستدعي ملاحظات عدة:

أولاً، أنه يأتي استكمالا لقرار سبق للمديرية العامة للأمن العام واتخذته في نهاية العام الفائت يقضي برفض تجديد اقامات أولاد العاملات في الخدمة المنزلية المقيمين في لبنان[1]. بل هو استكمال لاجراءات التمييز ضد عاملات المنازل بهدف حرمانهن من أي حياة عاطفية أو عائلية. فبخلاف المستخدمين الأجانب من الفئة الأولى أو الثانية، تمنع عاملة المنزل (الفئة الرابعة) من استقدام عائلتها. وها هي تُمنع بموجب هذا التعهد عن انشاء أي عائلة أو اقامة أي علاقة حميمية أو علاقة صداقة في لبنان. فاذا حصل ذلك، وجب ترحيلها فورا. وكأنما المطلوب أن تبقى العاملة مقطوعة من شجرة، ومجرّدة من أي سند.

ثانيا، ان أخطر ما يأتيه هذا التعهد يتمثل عمليا في تكليف أصحاب العمل (الكفلاء) بالتحرّي على حياة العاملات الشخصية واستباحتها. وهو تحر يتطلب اجراء استقصاءات تتجاوز مجرد الاطلاع على السجلات الرسمية العائدة للعاملة والتي تفيد فيما إذا كان الفرد متزوجا أم لا. فالمطلوب هو التأكد من أنها "ليست على ارتباط بأي شخص عربي أو أجنبي على الأراضي اللبنانية". وللتوصل الى معلومة كهذه، لا بد من تحويل حياة العاملة الخاصة الى شأن من شؤون أصحاب العمل، بحيث يكون لهم حق في الاطلاع عليها بل واجب القيام بذلك. وبهذا تكون المديرية العامة للأمن العام تشرع سلوكيات التلصص وخرق خصوصية العاملات مثل التدقيق في هواتفهن ورسائلهن ومكالمتهن ومعرفة أماكن تمضية اجازتهن..الخ. وعليه، وبعدما أدى أصحاب الأمن دور أعوان الأمن في التبليغ عن أي فرار، ها هم يكلّفون بدور جديد قوامه تبليغ الأمن عن أي مستجدّ في الحياة الخاصة للعاملات لديهم، مع ما يستتبع ذلك من تعزيز لسلطتهم وامتيازاتهم. فما تطلبه المديرية العامة للامن العام من أصحاب العمل هو التحري عن حياة العاملة الشخصية منذ لحظة وصولها الى لبنان وطوال اقامتها فيه، وأن يبادر فور توفر معلومات لديه باقامتها لعلاقة عاطفية من أي نوع كانت الى "مراجعة الأمن العام بعد تأمين تذكرة سفر بغية ترحيلها الى بلدها". ومجرّد قراءة هذا التعهد

ثالثا، في قراءة متأنية للتعهد، فانه يظهر بمثابة تحذير لأصحاب العمل بامكانية ترحيل العاملات المستقدمات للعمل لديهم، اذا أقمن علاقات زواج أو علاقات حميمية. ومن هذه الزاوية، لا يقتصر التكليف المعطى لهم على التلصّص، انما يصل الى حد اتخاذ الاجراءات والاحتياطات الكفيلة بمنع حصول هذه العلاقات. وهذا ما يفتح الباب أمام آليات المنع المباشر، ومن أبرزها طبعا مزيد من التضييق على حرية العاملات في التنقل.

رابعا، أن تأتي مبادرة من هذا النوع عن الأمن العام أمر مكروه طبعا. لكن أن يرسل التعميم من خلال وزارة العدل وأن يعمد كتاب العدل (وكلهم حقوقيون) على تطبيقه، فهذا أمر يؤشر الى الدرك الذي وصل اليه الخطاب الحقوقي في لبنان، أقله فيما يتصل بالفئات المهمشة.

وفي موازاة هذا الواقع، تستمر السلطة بالتغنّي بالجهود التي تقوم بها في سبيل تعزيز حقوق العاملات في الخدمة المنزلية. آخر هذه التصريحات جاء في بيان لوزير العمل سجعان قزي، تنديدا بإنشاء نقابة لعمال وعاملات الخدمة المنزلية. ويضيف الوزير في حديث له لبرنامج "عالم الصباح" في 2 أيار 2015، أن "الحماية بتصير بإجراءات مش بإدخال العاملات باللعبة السياسية والطبقية. هيدا أمر ما بصير طالما أنا وزير"[2]. لكن عن أي حماية وعن أي اجراءات يتحدث هذا الوزير؟

Testimony of Helen

'Prison was the last place I ever imagined I would find my self. I always imagined how painful it would be for anyone, how cruel it would be to be separated from society. And well it is the worst place anyone could end up. Somehow I don't really understand how an employer would find pleasure to punish a foreigner in the prison. Prison! Mine did. I couldn't stay with them for another year after my contract ended and so that was reason enough to pin on an accusation.

It was supposed to be my happiest day. I was finally going home after finishing my contract but it never happened; instead I found myself handcuffed and being led to a cell on accusation that I had stolen my employers' ring That was heartbreaking after giving the the best services I could ever do for anyone for 2 years.

Things did not end in the cell, I was later taken to prison and thats when my life started falling apart, I got depressed i was an alleged criminal and the truth to my eyes I was in what i once dreaded.  life was difficult I didn't know how to adjust, this was not my place, I didn't know anyone and worst of all I didn't know any word of Arabic. It was all English and that was an added disadvantage. One of those cold days I was informed that I had my first court hearing, I was filled with hopes that after all there was the law that would prove me innocent and lead to my going home little did i know that it was the beginning of other hopeless days. I forgot that i was a foreigner infact I always thought it wouldnt matter, I thought that justice would never be evaded due to racial different but here the fact hit me, I was indeed the foreigner that didn't have a right to justice and this became even clear as days went on.

I never had a lawyer. Anyway, where could I get one my consulate said openly he didn't want to help, the Caritas on the other hand had nothing to offer except never ending promises that they would help but never to be fulfilled. Sometimes I would look at the Arabs in the prison and how their organisation worked hard to make sure that they we served right while on our side the foreigners were simply neglected, how else could you explain those girls and women who were stuck there for two or more years and didn't even have a clue what life had for them.

I went for several court hearings that brought no fruit. I was never given the chance to have my say. after a few months my hearing was changed to Tripoli and here things became even more difficult, I was called every week I saw different judges each time and every time brought another next time reasons were I didn't know Arabic, my accuser did not come, the consulate didn't come sometimes I went sat in the court and never had a session and these are mostly the days when my employer or her lawyer never showed up.

The moment the truth sunk in my head that I would stay until my employer said it was enough, I accepted my situation no matter how hard it was. I had no one to count on. I would die there or live there like all other foreigners. I decided to leave everything to God. He never judges us according to our race or what country we came from.

After 11 months, more than 15 court hearings and 7 different judges,  God worked His way. I am out now but my life will never be the same again, my dreams may never come to a fulfillment, my documents and salary were denied to me. I can't seem to move on, I am afraid of life and mostly my heart still cries for those I found and left there, those women whose children wait for everyday but never to see them, those young girls like me whose life came to a stand still, just because they don't belong to that country, just because they don't have anyone to fight for their rights- if they even have any. I wish could erase all these memories but somehow I cant but God is all powerful. He will one day bring justice for His people.'

Helen, KENYA

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lebanon's Migrant Domestic Workers Union is a Slim Hope for Change



"No weekly day off. Long work hours. Low pay. All of this is tolerated as long as there is no sexual or physical abuse. There is a recurring pattern of condoning abuse in degrees."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lebanon’s long march toward migrant worker rights

Migrant domestic workers exist at the mercy of the kafala system - in which they are sponsored by, and beholden to, their Lebanese employers, and are explicitly excluded from Lebanese labour laws

On Middle East Eye

On Sunday, 3 May, a Workers’ Day parade and festival were held here in Beirut. The events were led by the newly inaugurated Domestic Workers’ Union that seeks, among other things, to represent the interests of more than a quarter of a million female migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. The union’s formation earlier this year was rejected by the Lebanese Labour Ministry.

The ostensible reason for holding the celebration on a Sunday rather than on 1 May, International Workers’ Day, was to maximise the number of participants. The problem, however, is that many household employees in Lebanon don’t get a single day off - hence the utility of a union dedicated to fighting for this and other rights.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Workers' Day 2015!




Photos for Ali Alloush

LBCI News-مسيرة عاملات المنازل: نقابتنا حقّنا

عاملات أجنبيات في زي بلادهن يحتفلن في بيروت

تحية إلى العاملات الأجنبيات في لبنان والعالم العربي، اللواتي يتعرضن لانتهاكات عدة تبدأ من العنف المنزلي والاعتداء الجن وصولاً إلى الاستعباد، نتيجة ثغرات نظامي العمل والكفالة.

#beautiful

نحن عاملات أيضاً

"هل أنتِ عزباء؟"
لم تكن الدولة اللبنانية حاضرة في تظاهرة العاملات الأجنبيات إلا من خلال أجهزتها الأمنية. ولم يقف عناصر الدرك على مسافة بعيدة من العاملات هذه المرة. بل كانوا قريبين جداً. فأحدهم كان لا يبعد أكثر من خطوتين عن إحدى العاملات، واستغل الفرصة ليسألها عن دوام عملها، وما إذا كانت عزباء. أما رفاقه فقد مارسوا سلطتهم في دفع المتظاهرين واستعجالهم السير مع امتداد الطريق. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Two Indian Friends in Lebanon

This testimony was shared with the Anti-Racism Movement last week.

***

I am an Indian girl, who has light skin, light hair and light eyes recently me and my friend (who is also Indian but with with dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes) visited Lebanon on holiday as tourists. I was astounded by the difference in treatment we both received. India also has a lot of problems with racism, but somehow I have never seen such outright racism.

Racism exists everywhere in all of us, in varying degrees, I totally get that. However, the kind of discrimination my companion faced bordered on cruelty to the point where we cut our trip short. You must be wondering why am I reporting this and not here, well the reason is because the instance left her so upset that I do not ever want to bring it up again.

Everywhere we went in people with give her demeaning looks , one time a teenage boy called her ‘blacky’, or refer to her as Sri Lanka, like ‘hey Sri Lanka’ (even though we are both Indian and not Sri Lankan). One time when we were shopping and these people around our age (we are in our early 20’s) came up to us and asked where we are from, when I said I’m Indian they said "But how can you be Indian? You are white.” (which is ignorant because India is a very diverse place in terms of ethnic heritage as well). Then they went and asked us about our professions. At this point my companion replied that she is a model. Their mouths fell open, and one of the girls actually said this :“You are so ugly and dark, how can you be?”

It was like a slap in the face for both of us. My friend told her she was racist and we walked away. It was awful, I don’t think I will be returning. This is especially surprising to me because I did my undergraduate degree in America where I had lots of Lebanese friends at my university who never once displayed racism.