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Remove ban and stop racism against Bangladeshi workers

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bangladeshi_workers_in_bahrain_copy.jpgOn 27 May, the Government of Bahrain announced that it will ban migrant workers from Bangladesh country due to an alleged murder of a Bahrain man by a Bangladeshi. FORUM-ASIA has expressed its concern that Bahrain has chosen to condemn an entire population instead of the individual involved the crime. It has urged the government to lift the ban and to put an end to policies which constitute racism and discrimination against Bangladesh migrant workers.

Remove ban and stop racism against Bangladeshi workers

FORUM-ASIA is concerned over the decision of the Bahraini government to issue a blanket ban on Bangladeshi migrant workers. This decision came in the wake of an alleged murder case of a Bahraini man by a Bangladeshi migrant worker over a financial dispute.

The ban, which sent “shockwaves” through more than 90,000 Bangladeshi workers in the country was announced on 27 May. Several Bahraini Parliamentarians called for the expulsion of all Bangladeshi workers currently working in the country.

However, on 1 June, the government withdrew the ban on Bangladeshi residents and their families, including those shifting companies inside Bahrain. The Interior Ministry said that only labourers who applied for a work visa after May 27 would be affected by the new policy.

Despite the recent positive measure to rescind decision on the ban for workers already living in the Bahrain, FORUM-ASIA is appalled that the country intends to punish an entire population, over a single individual’s action.

Moreover, this decision targeting one specific national group smacks of institutionalised racism and is likely to fuel discrimination and racial hatred acts between Bahraini nationals and Bangladeshis migrants. The alleged murder involving a Bahraini and Bangladeshi national should be dealt with according to fair and honest legal proceedings.

This ban is also likely to increase the number of undocumented workers, who are in a very vulnerable position in Bahrain. They face maltreatment, abuse, and blackmail and are also unable to access aid and protection from government authorities, health service providers, and the judicial system.

Meanwhile, echoing the call for Bahrain to remove the ban is Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), a network of civil society organisations which advocates for the rights and well-being of migrant workers and their families in Asia. Read their full statement.

In a statement issued on 2 June, MFA reminds Bahrain that it has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as a number of international conventions which address racial discrimination.

It is also a signatory to the following human rights treaties:

  • International Convention on the Crime of Apartheid
  • Anti-Slavery Convention
  • International Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
  • International Convention on the Rights of the Child
  •  International Labour Convention on the Training and Employment of the Handicapped

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a further international accord that Bahrain has agreed to abide by.

In view of this, FORUM-ASIA urges the government of Bahrain to withdraw the blanket ban on issuing visa for Bangladeshi migrant workers altogether, and to put an end to policies encouraging discrimination and racism.

Moreover, Bahrain ought to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, and effectively protect the rights of the migrant workers.