Two years on, blaze victims await justice.

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Aug 7 2008

In July 2006, a blaze at a labour camp in Gudaibiya left 16 Indian workers dead. The workers were made to live in a squalid, overcrowded camp, with outrageously poor facilities. Not only were appropriate safety measures ignored, but the windows were sealed shut, limiting the workers' means of escape.

Angered, the 200 surviving workers took to protesting, demanding that their dues be paid and the families of the deceased compensated. But even after a deal was reached between the Ministry of Labour and the employing company was reached, the workers weren't paid even weeks later
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...yet two years on, families of those who lost their lives continue to await justice. The company continues to refuse to pay the families any form of compensation, and no action can be taken by the family's lawyers pending the proceedings of the criminal court. While the owner of the construction company and two Indian supervisors were initially charged with violating labour laws, only one of the supervisors was charged with manslaughter; he has appealed the sentence.

Meanwhile the families, many of whom have lost their sole income provider, continue to suffer.

Another victim, V Subramanyam, came to Bahrain to earn enough money to pay for the weddings of his two daughters, as well as his son's higher education.

He also borrowed heavily to pay for his visa and a ticket, but after his death his wife Periammal told the New Indian Express she was now struggling to earn a living.

With the money she got as aid from the Indian government, she paid off her debt and married off one of her daughters.

She and her other daughter Sarasu were now working in paddy fields.

Most of the families are so illiterate they don't even know what an embassy is, let alone know how to contact Indian Embassy officials in Bahrain for updates.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East