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Manna from heaven for immigrant workers

On June 28, 2007

Finally, the moment of reckoning arrives for hundreds of immigrant labour toiling in Bahrain. The days of untold hardships in the hands of cruel sponsors and employers and living in anonymity would soon become a thing of the past. They can be legal workers of Bahrain, shedding the dreaded tag of ‘illegal’.

Amnesty is the magical wand that can drive all their blues away.
The government has asked employers and workers to legalise their stay by August. It is expected that hundred of workers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh would avail the amnesty.

The Minister of Labour, Dr. Majeed Mohsen Al Alawi has been quoted saying to newspapers that amnesty will start from August and last for six months.

That brings to focus the utter lack of communication about amnesty to whom it matters the most, and for whom it is meant – the domestic workers. Ignorance and failure of information reaching them is a grey area. The need of the hour is to spread the word and take the message to them, now.

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab suggested that the authorities should distribute pamphlets and information material to the workers to create awareness about the proposed amnesty. Information should reach the workers, come what may, if the noble intentions of amnesty were to bear fruit.

“The workers should have proper information on the general amnesty for illegals by the Ministry of Labour. Domestic workers who have limited access to the outside world should be the target audience of the authorities.”

Embassies and social clubs belonging to the Indian sub continent were reportedly outlining plans to make the workers get to know about the proposal.

Air India had already announced that it would help expatriates during the six month amnesty. “We have always been at the forefront in helping stranded Indian expatriates whenever required,” the airline’s regional director, Gulf, Middle East and Africa, F. J. Vaz said.

There are hundreds who come chasing their dreams in Gulf and return empty handed, dinarless and worse, mentally and physically bruised. This is a golden opportunity for all of them to avoid this bitter humiliation and begin life afresh .

S S Grewal

(Word document of the post)