Ex-migrant workers shudder at thought of Gulf predators
KATHMANDU, Jan 23: Nita Tamang from Sindhupalchowk district worked in Bahrain for two years. When she came back to Nepal three years ago, Rs 10,000 was all she had earned.
Apart from the amount, Tamang had brought back something else, too, with her – a harrowing experience of abuse and exploitation, which she, however, “treasures as it keeps inspiring her to work hard in her own land!”
“After returning home, I have started my own small business. I have not been able to really scale it up so far. Nonetheless, I will never think of leaving the country again for overseas job,” said Tamang, who owns a fancy stall at popular ‘Rudra Market’ in Kalanki chowk.
Her master and mistress in Bahrain were not really bad people, but there is sort of slave culture in that place and Nepali girls are subjected to extreme exploitation and abuse, says 25-year-old Tamang.
Buncha Maya Lama from Dhadhing district had to go through even terrible time when she was in Kuwait. Currently living under care of Maiti Nepal, Lama not only returned penniless but also she was made pregnant.
“I stayed in Kuwait for nine months. There was no single day I had sound sleep,” said Lama who came back to Nepal eight months ago carrying a 5-day-old baby. “Compared to Kuwait, life in Nepal is like living in heaven,” said Lama.
In a survey conducted by UN-WOMEN in 15 districts representing five development regions, an overwhelming majority of women migrant workers who have returned back from the Gulf have said that they would not like to go for overseas job again even if they could earn Rs 8,500 a month in Nepal.
Among 708 women migrant workers interviewed by UN-WOMEN, 603 said that they would stay in Nepal if they could earn just Rs 8,500 a month.
The recently publicized study stresses on creating employment at home to stop forced labor migration.
According to Sharu Joshi, program specialist at UN-WOMAN, during the study conducted last year, there was hardly any woman who did not share bitter experience of her stay abroad. “A very few women go for foreign employment through legal process. When so, majority of our women are bound to suffer,” Joshi said.
As per the data of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), while 29,713 males made it to the Middle East in six months (from April to September 2013), only 2,246 women left Nepal for the same reason.
Even though fewer females hunt for overseas jobs as compared to their male counterparts, the disparity in the data is actually due to the government failure to curb entry of women to the region through illegal channels.
“If we consider the number of women reaching the Middle East through illegal channels, there would be little difference in the number of the male and female migrant workers,” she added.
It is estimated that only 6 percent of women land in the Gulf with proper legal documents and arrangements. “The rest land there illegally and find themselves in a big trouble,” Joshi said.
Given lack of employment opportunities at home and a very low pay scale, a lot of Nepalis, men and women, opt for overseas job through both legal as well as illegal means for just a few extra bucks -notwithstanding rampant exploitation, abuse and even threats to life in the region notorious for overseas workers.
Insofar as the government is concerned, it is not even able to properly educate the people about the risk involved in opting for such work in the Gulf region – not to mention its failure to create enough employment opportunities at home.
Director General of DoFE, Rabindra Mohan Bhattarai said, “We have not been able to educate the people effectively. Despite much effort to make people aware about the legal aspects and working conditions in the Gulf, people continued to be cheated by agents and manpower agencies,” said Bhattarai.
In a bid to better regulate foreign migration sector, the DoFE has registered 400 agents. Trusted by the government, the agents are supposed to process employment offers for the overseas job seekers. “We are in process of widening the number of agents and make it even more effective,” said Bhattrai.
However, according to Shrestha, though the government’s attempt toward the registration of authentic agents is noteworthy, there are around 60,000 agents countrywide and more effective and integrated programs are needed to displace the unregistered agents.
“Good coordination between the line ministries and departments and integrated efforts of all the stakeholders alone can improve this sector. We have to deal with the issue more seriously and in more focused manner,” she said.
Meanwhile, likes of Tamang and Lama said that they may consider foreign employment if the government can guarantee that they would not be abused or exploited, they, nevertheless, concluded that “working and earning well in our own land would be far more rewarding”.
Most women returning from Gulf face mental disorder
Over 80 percent of women back from the Gulf received by Maiti Nepal face mental disorder, according to chairperson of the organization Anuradha Koirala.
Some of them recuperate after general counseling while others have to be hospitalized. Shelter assistant in-charge at Maiti Nepal Binita Shrestha said that the organization receives five women from the Gulf in average a month and three of them need serious psychological treatment.
“The reason behind the mental disorder by all of them is almost identical. They land in the Gulf unaware of their legal status. Then they realize that their agent had misled them and that they would not get the promised salary. On top of that they are treated in most inhuman manner by their employers,” said Shrestha.
“By the time they manage to free themselves from their workplace and come back to Nepal, they are so badly disturbed that they are hardly in condition to be positive toward life,” she added.
In a recent case, Maiti Nepal sent a woman back from Qatar to a mental hospital in Patan for treatment. She is now back to the shelter home after staying in the hospital for 12 days.
“Her case was very serious. She was so much traumatized that she could not speak properly and had trouble remembering her own name. Now she is feeling much better after the treatment,” said Shrestha.
From Scientific American:
Shark Species Thought to Be Extinct Found in Fish Market [Slide Show]
After more than a century, the smoothtooth blacktip shark has been rediscovered
By David Shiffman
After his 1902 trip to Yemen, scholar and naturalist Wilhelm Hein returned with a variety of plants and animals, which he donated to the Vienna Museum. One of these specimens, a shark, sat unnoticed for more than 80 years. In 1985 it was identified as the first (and only known) specimen of Carcharhinus leiodon, the smoothtooth blacktip shark. Because no others had ever been found by scientists, Alec Moore, regional vice chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group’s Indian Ocean group, says that “some suspected it might be extinct or not a valid species.”
In 2008, during a Shark Conservation Society research expedition to Kuwait’s sharq fish market (the name is a coincidence, it means east in Arabic), Moore says that “amongst the many species of whaler shark was one which looked very similar, but different, to a couple of other species.” Later analysis revealed that although this specimen was more than 3,000 kilometers from where Hein caught his, this was a smoothtooth blacktip, the first new individual seen by scientists in over a century.
These sharks are currently considered “Vulnerable” to extinction by on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, an assessment that was made before their rediscovery by Dr. Moore and his team. More recent studies in fish markets throughout the region have located 47 additional smoothtooth blacktip sharks, greatly increasing what scientists know about this species with and reported in a 2013 paper in Marine & Freshwater Research. The new study included some of the first data on how large smoothtooth blacktips can grow, how many pups they can bear and their habitat usage as well as other information needed for an effective conservation and management plan in the future.
Shopping for species
Fish market surveys of the kind that resulted in the rediscovery of the smoothtooth blacktip are an increasingly common research tool that offers many advantages over traditional scientific field sampling. Julia Spaet, a researcher at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, says that “the resources dedicated by a fleet of fishermen will always outmatch any scientific efforts to assess abundances. In other words, the fishing industry is more efficient at finding sharks where there are not much left.”
These surveys are hard work. Researchers have to arrive before dawn, before the boats come in to land their catches. The species of interest have to be identified, counted, measured and sampled before they are sold to customers. When further study is required, researchers need to purchase the fishes themselves. This whole process can be, for lack of a technical term, disgusting. Moore says he “once made the mistake of climbing into a skip [waste bin] to sample a load of rays that had been festering in the sun; the response of my gastrointestinal tract to this was, as an understatement, memorably unfavorable.”
Surveys also offer challenges not faced by scientists who do field surveys, such as gaining fishermen’s trust. Moore says that “although sometimes bemused by what we are doing, they are generally very tolerant of weird foreigners poking around, and we’ve met some incredibly generous, funny and helpful people—we’ve even been given breakfast.”
Researchers have made many discoveries relevant to the conservation of threatened shark and ray species by studying the catches in fish markets in Kuwait, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Rima Jabado, a PhD student at United Arab Emirates University, was contacted by a fisherman who found an unusual looking shark, which resulted in the first scientific record of a sand tiger shark in United Arab Emirates waters. Jabado also found species with local legal protections for sale in markets, such as whale sharks and green sawfish, which she says shows “some species should be protected and managed locally and that there is a clear need for better enforcement of some of the current legislation.” Spaet agrees, noting that “in Saudi Arabia shark fishing is prohibited by law, yet we still find large numbers of sharks landed at the markets every day.”
In the meantime Moore has some advice for any shark-o-philes going on vacation: “Always go to the fish market with a camera, especially in tropical countries where there is little data—there is always the chance that you could find something new. Even if you don’t, fish markets in the early morning are amazing—lively places with real character and great food.”
This video says about itself:
Amid chants of ‘peace’ and ‘peaceful’ pro-democracy demonstrations in Kuwait, Friday, March 11, 2011. Stateless nomadic Kuwaitis, born and raised in Kuwait, are protesting for the right to citizenship after Friday Jummah (congregation) prayers let out of the mosques, in a ‘day of rage’ protests across the Gulf, in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
From Associated Press:
Kuwait upholds sentence for Twitter ‘insults’
Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 | 12:15 a.m.
A rights activist in Kuwait says an appeals court has upheld a 10-year prison sentence against a social media commentator for posts considered offensive to Islam and the rulers of fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Monday’s ruling highlights the escalating crackdowns in the Gulf on perceived online dissent and the deepening cooperation among Gulf nations, fearing political challenges inspired by the Arab Spring.
Activist Nawaf al-Handel says the appeals court refused to lower the June 2012 sentence against Hamad al-Naqi.
Al-Naqi, a Shiite, claims his Twitter account was hacked.
- Kuwait ditatorship’s LGBTQ persecution (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Kuwaiti blogger jail sentence upheld (bbc.co.uk)
- Kuwaiti blogger faces 10 years in jail for ‘insulting’ tweets (theguardian.com)
- Kuwait: 10 Years for Twitter Comments (hrw.org)
- Kuwait Court Upholds 10-year Sentence for Offensive Tweets (theepochtimes.com)
- Jordan king abuse case postponed in Kuwait (gulfnews.com)
This video is called Kuwaiti Stateless (Bedoon) are beaten, arrested.
Kuwaiti Police Humiliate Arrested Migrants: here.
Kuwait upholds 10-year prison sentence for Twitter ‘insults’: here.
As if oppressing human rights activists, workers, women, doctors, athletes, photographers, poets, etc. etc. in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are not already enough …
From Gulf News:
Homosexuals ‘to be barred from entering Kuwait‘
Medical screening tests to be used to reinforce decision
By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Published: 14:55 October 7, 2013
Manama: The routine clinical screening of expatriates coming into the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) might be also used to “detect” homosexuals, a senior Kuwaiti official has said.
A central committee tasked with the status of expatriates will look into the proposal when it convenes on November 11, Yousuf Mindkar, the director of public health at the Kuwaiti health ministry, has said.
“Health centres conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries,” he said. “However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Rai on Monday.
The top-level bureaucrats of the Kuwaiti absolute monarchy seem to be ignorant about the World Health Organisation having stopped its classification of being gay as a “disease” already 23 years ago.
USA: Catholics push back against the firing of gay teachers at Catholic schools: here.
Christian students condemn gay classmates for ‘unpatriotic’ rainbow flag at US university: here.
- Kuwait MPs urged to ratify GCC security treaty (gulfnews.com)
- Egypt sends message to Kuwait after ‘criticism’ (worldbulletin.net)
- Kuwait To Conduct “Homosexuality Tests” To Stop Gay People From Entering Country (joemygod.blogspot.com)
- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman Have Introduced Medical Testing on Visitors to Detect Homosexual People and Stop Them from Coming Into Their Countries (blackchristiannews.com)
- LGBTQ rights: Kuwait to ‘detect’ gays, prevent them from entering country – reports (blogs.montrealgazette.com)
- Doctors will use clinical screening to ‘detect’ gays and ‘bar’ them from entering Kuwait (pinknews.co.uk)
- Kuwait Develops “Gaydar” To Bar Homosexuals From Country (classwarfareexists.com)
- Lie Detector, Bomb Detector…’gay’ Detector! (shootthescribe.wordpress.com)
Hard line Rightist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan will visit various absolute monarchies in the Middle East.
Abe’s visit is for other purposes as well. Seemingly, it is not bad enough for the people of monarchies like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to have torture, birdshot and lethal teargas. If things depend on the Japanese government, they are to have Fukushima-style disasters as well.
From AFP news agency:
Friday, August 23, 2013, 14:29
Tokyo: The prime minister of energy-poor Japan heads to the oil-rich Middle East this weekend in his latest push to promote nuclear technology exports, a spokesman said today, despite growing problems at the crippled Fukushima plant.
“Qatar and Kuwait have shown interest in Japan’s nuclear safety technology,” said an official at the foreign ministry.
“They don’t necessarily plan to build a nuclear plant themselves, but their neighbouring countries do,” the official said.
Japan has continued to push its atomic expertise as an important export, despite the 2011 catastrophe at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where multiple meltdowns cast a pall of radiation over a swathe of the country’s northeast.
An already-lengthy list of problems in the clean-up got longer this week when around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water was found to have seeped from one of the 1,000-odd storage tanks on the site.
Workers looking for other leaks yesterday identified two more radiation hotspots near the containers, although plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) says they were dry and it cannot yet explain where they came from.
While the atomic catastrophe has put a crimp on Japan’s own nuclear power generation, with all but two of the country’s 50 reactors shut down, the government has been keen to push exports of its technology as part of efforts to boost infrastructure exports to USD 350 billion a year by 2020.
Abe, a supporter of nuclear power, visited Turkey in May as part of a wider Middle Eastern tour, signing a long-awaited deal to build a sprawling nuclear power plant on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, in a milestone for the Japanese nuclear industry.
The agreement came a day after Japan signed a nuclear cooperation deal with the United Arab Emirates.
The foreign ministry official brushed aside suggestions that the latest setback at Fukushima might put a dampener on talks during the upcoming trip, saying the government does not expect them to have “any impact”.
The nuclear shutdown in Japan has also increased the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, of which the Middle East is an important source.
Japan’s nuclear watchdog has said the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is facing a new “emergency” caused by a build-up of radioactive groundwater: here.
(Reuters) – The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant failed to properly monitor storages tanks holding dangerously contaminated water that have sprung leaks and are a source of international concern, the country’s nuclear regulator said on Friday: here.
Fukushima leaks not properly monitored: here.
More tanks at embattled Fukushima plant may have leaks: here.
New radiation readings suggest more Fukushima tank leaks: here.
The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant has admitted it may need outside assistance after confirming two new “hot spots” of radiation within the facility: here.
Radiation spreading from Japan’s crippled Fukushima plant threatens to derail Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to revive nuclear power and deliver the lower energy prices needed to power his economic reforms: here.
Commentary: Japanese gov’t has to shoulder responsibilities over toxic water leakage in Fukushima: here.
PR-first approach turns Fukushima safety into a farce: here.
Please credit and share this article with others using this link:http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/365959/pr-first-approach-turns-fukushima-safety-into-a-farce. View our policies at http://goo.gl/9HgTd and http://goo.gl/ou6Ip. © Post Publishing PCL. All rights reserved.
Victims in Fukushima accuse gov’t for neglecting aid: here.
The News From Fukushima Just Gets Worse, and the Japanese Public Wants Answers: here.
- #australia #Uranium moratorium needed as #Fukushima falls apart @SenatorLudlam (tonyserve.wordpress.com)
- New Hot Spots Found at Japan’s Fukushima Plant (voanews.com)
- Japan nuclear agency concerned about more Fukushima leaks (reuters.com)
- International Alarms Go Up as Fukushima Alert Level Raised (rinf.com)
Instead, the Abe administration tries to undermine the pro-peace parts of the Japanese constitution, in order to boost militarism, no matter how much that will cost the ailing Japanese economy.
Instead, the Abe administration honours World War II criminals.
Instead, the Abe administration cuddles up to the absolute monarchies in the Arab Gulf region. They want to coöperate with them in
wars … oh so sorry, I forgot that I am supposed to use the euphemism “security”.
From Bernama news agency in Malaysia:
Japan To Launch Security Talks With 3 Persian Gulf States
TOKYO, Aug 16 — The Japanese government plans to launch bilateral security dialogue with Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar in a bid to ensure stable supply of crude oil and other fossil fuels, informed sources told Japan’s Jiji Press Thursday.
Japan is expected to reach agreements with the three Persian Gulf nations when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits them as part of a Middle East tour starting Aug 24, the sources said.
The security dialogue will involve foreign policy and defence officials.
Sea lane safety in the Persian Gulf is essential for Japan as the country depends on the Middle East for some 80 pct of its oil imports and 30 pct of its liquefied natural gas imports.
Bahrain: “Rebel” protests challenge regime’s crackdown: here.
- Japanese government honours war criminals (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Right-wing Japan challenging postwar order, experts warn (wantchinatimes.com)
- Bahrain dictatorship and David Cameron (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Abe no remorse over Japan’s wartime aggression against Asian neighbours (rightways.wordpress.com)
- Bahrain Cracks Down On Pro-Democracy Protesters (mintpressnews.com)
- Bahrain protests: Will the house of Khalifa fall like a house of cards? (rt.com)
- Alarming signs of Japan’s rearmament (nzweek.com)
- Japan worships notorious shrine generating tensions 68 years after end of World War II (rightways.wordpress.com)
July 13 2013
Jahra Pools Reserve (JPR) is a small fenced wetland reserve just off the Arabian Gulf coastline to the north of Kuwait City. Previously the pools were formed from a sewage outfall, but more recently a water network has been provided and this has allowed the pools to remain filled since the end of 2012.
As a result, JPR is one of the better locations to now visit all year round as there are always birds to be seen. More importantly the stable water supply has allowed many species to breed in late Spring including; Ferruginous Duck (1st for Kuwait and a Near Threatened species), Mallard (I know that is not generally something to get excited about), Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, White-tailed Lapwing and probably Little Ringed Plover.
Here is a Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) with it’s grown youngster.
Little Grebe adult and juvenile
And a female Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) possibly away from it’s nest.
Female Little Ringed Plover
As temperatures increase unbearingly, summer and the month of July is generally not the most productive time to look for birds. But birders will know that you only find birds if you make the time to go and look for them. This July we were fortunate to have two rarities turn up at JPR. The first was the 4th record of Masked Wagtail (Motacilla alba personata) for Kuwait, a really striking form of White Wagtail that is still considered a sub-species of White Wagtail.
Following hot on the heals of the Masked Wagtail, was another Kuwait rarity; two 1st year Black-winged Kites (Elanus caeruleus) that have now stayed at JPR for almost a week – whereas the Wagtail is long gone.
August is normally the start of the Autumn migration, but some species start off earlier and already in July we have had a smattering of early arrivals – mostly in the form of waders like Greenshank, Common and Spotted Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpipers and this Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), also Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), and the impressive Near Threatened Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa). Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) and Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) numbers are slowly starting to increase.
A few migratory birds of colour have also start appearing and we welcome hearing the Blue-cheeked Bee Eaters (Merops persicus) calling overhead as they announce their arrival.
Black-headed Wagtails (Motacilla flava feldegg) is the first Yellow Wagtail sub-species to arrive, and surprisingly a heavily moulting Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola) was also seen.
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is a winter visitor, so a summer occurrence is considered pretty scarce.
On my last visit, I was surprised to find a small bat flying around in daylight, but it soon found a place to roost in the reedbeds, although it was surprisingly hard to find after it had landed. It is a Kuhl’s Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlii).
Finally, when birding gets a little slow, I turn my attention to Dragonflies, although I don’t have any reference books to identify them – they are still great photographic subjects, even with a big piece of glass on the front of the camera.
As we move to the end of July we look forward to another exciting time in Kuwait birding – Autumn migration and the possibility of discovering another new species for Kuwait!
- Avocet in flight Upton Warren NR (abbeybirder.wordpress.com)
- Black-winged stilts hatch at Ghadira (timesofmalta.com)
- Pied wagtail (theworldofbirds.wordpress.com)
- April (treshnishwildlifelog.wordpress.com)
- Rutland Water Visit June 29th 2013 (abbeybirder.wordpress.com)
- Elephant hawk earring. (blashfordlakes.wordpress.com)
- Ejja nroddulhom salib! : FIRST BLACK-WINGED STILT CHICKS HATCH AT GĦADIRA – BIRDLIFE – TMI (andrewazzopardi.org)
- Good spoon-billed sandpiper news (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Beauty In The Eye Of The Birder (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
This video is called Censorship hits Kuwait’s Music Scene – BBC Report.
From the Irish Times in Ireland:
Kuwaiti court gives woman 11 years in jail for insulting emir via Twitter
State’s ruler described as “immune and inviolable” in constitution
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 23:41
A Kuwaiti court sentenced a woman teacher to a total of 11 years in jail yesterday for insulting the emir, inciting regime change and insulting a religious sect via Twitter, two sources close to the case said.
Huda al-Ajmi (37), is the first woman known to have been convicted for criticising the US-allied Gulf Arab state’s ruler, described as “immune and inviolable” in the constitution.
Kuwait has penalised several Twitter users in recent months for slurs against the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.
The sources said the court had given Ajmi two consecutive five-year terms for insulting the emir and one year for insulting an unspecified religious sect. “This is the highest sentence of its kind in these kinds of cases,” one source said.
Dutch news agency ANP reports that Ms al-Ajmi was not only sentenced to jail, but to forced labour as well.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Ms. Ajami had said she was innocent of the charges, contesting that she doesn’t have a Twitter account and that someone must have impersonated her, according to Kuwaiti lawyer Mohammed al Humidi, who is also the director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights.
From the BBC:
Kuwait has punished several Twitter users in recent months for insulting its ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, who is described as “immune and inviolable” in the constitution.
In May, an appeals court overturned a five-year sentence for prominent opposition figure Mussallam al-Barrak who was convicted of “undermining” the ruling emir, says his defence lawyer.
The former MP was arrested over remarks he made at a rally in October, urging the emir to avoid “autocratic” rule in Kuwait. Mr Barrak was handed the sentence in April, but later freed on bail.
His trial prompted angry protests and clashes between activists and police.
There has been a recent clampdown in Kuwait, with activists and MPs being charged with insulting the emir through comments posted on social networking sites such as Twitter.
Kuwait: Three ex-MPs jailed 3 years for insults to emir: here.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Monday 10 June 2013
Saudi Arabia: A woman was killed on Sunday and part of the Indonesian consulate set on fire during a riot by 8,000 workers desperate to sort out their immigration status.
The crowd gathered to sort out their papers following a crackdown by Saudi authorities and were angered by long waits.
By Michael Pope:
May 12 2013
There are often quiet times in between coastal birding, especially during low-tide when the sea appears to fade away in the shimmering distance.
However, if you look more closely on the mud flats during low tide, you will find some interesting species and for this post these are inter-tidal Mudskippers; a fascinating species in their own right that are adapted for terrestrial environments and an amphibious life that is almost unrivaled.
In Kuwait, we have 3 species of inter-tidal Mudskippers and in this year I have been fortunate to find and photograph all 3. These gobies are amphibious air-breathers that live predominantly on inter-tidal mud flats and prove that fish can indeed walk.
The most common and largest is Boleophthalmus dussumieri. ‘Boleophthalmus’ depicts the capability of these fishs to rapidly raise their eyes above the level of their orbits, as if they were ejected out of their orbits
Periophthalmus waltoni (Walton’s Mudskipper) is smaller, but found together with dussumieri. I found that males in all species can be quite territorial and aggressive when defending their hole. ‘Periophthalmus’ refers to the wide visual field of these species
The last and one that took me the longest to find is Scartelaos tenuis (Slender Mudskipper); ‘Scartelaos’ probably refers to the typical tail-stand of males during courtship.
If you would like to learn more about this fascinating family, you can find all the information you need on http://www.mudskipper.it/index.html
- Just a Little Guy (maerose22.wordpress.com)
- Wildlife Ross River (tusindogtyve.wordpress.com)
- Sea Turtle Hatchlings Inspire Flipperbot (bloggerheadseaturtle.wordpress.com)
- Japan’s Emperor contributes to fish encyclopedia (tokyotimes.com)
- Flipperbot Intends To Save Turtles By Crawling Like Them (ubergizmo.com)
- Natural Habitat (maerose22.wordpress.com)
- Get close to nature when taking a trip to Langkawi (langkawicoral.com)
This video is called BBC Report About Kuwait Stateless (Bedoon).
By Jean Shaoul:
Kuwait cracks down on political dissent
20 April 2013
A Kuwaiti court sentenced the main opposition leader and former legislator Mussallam al-Barrak to five years in prison this week for insulting Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the 83-year-old ruler of Kuwait.
The severity of the sentence, an attempt to silence political dissent, testifies to the extreme fragility of the political situation in [the] oil-rich Gulf state and the determination of its ruling family to hang on to power and wealth at all costs.
Al-Barrak was detained in October for “undermining the status of the Emir” after addressing a mass rally of thousands of protesters outside parliament in Kuwait City, angry at the emir’s plan to change the election law. He said, “We will not allow you, your highness, to take Kuwait into the abyss of autocracy.”
“We no longer fear your prisons and your riot batons,” he added.
The police broke up the demonstration with batons, tear gas and pellet guns. They arrested three former legislators, including al-Barrak, and brought them to court, blindfolded and with their heads shaven. The emir moved swiftly to ban gatherings of 20 or more people without prior permission.
Al-Barrak’s lawyer, Abdullah al-Ahmad, said that he will appeal the decision that “violated the legal procedures and for failing to provide the defence team with sufficient guarantees.”
Since October, more than 35 other people have been charged with insulting the emir, with at least six people, including three former opposition legislators, convicted on the same charge. Although in February, five opposition activists were acquitted of insulting the emir on Twitter, one of them, Rashid al-Enzi, was sentenced to two years in jail in January in a different case.
Last week, Kuwait was reported to be considering a media law that could issue fines of up to £1 million for insulting the ruling family on the Internet and social media.
The government put its special forces on alert and increased police patrols, fearing a protest march after the court ruling.
A recent meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) pledged to support its members against mass revolutionary movements that toppled Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Mubarak, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pushing Kuwait to crackdown on its Islamist and liberal opponents.
There is rising opposition to the Al-Sabah family’s corrupt and dictatorial rule. The sheikdom has little popular support and is dependent on US backing. Sandwiched between more powerful neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, Kuwait is one of Washington’s allies in the oil- and gas-rich region. It is home to several major US military bases and acted as the launching pad for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
Kuwait, along with the other Gulf monarchies, provides the crucial Sunni axis against Shi’ite Iran and its allies: Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iraq’s powerful Shi’ite parties, which the US views as a regional threat. At the same time, the sheikhdom sent troops to Bahrain in 2011 along with the rest of the GCC to crush all protests before they could spread to other Gulf States.
Ostensibly more liberal than the rest of the Gulf states in that it allows political parties, does not enforce a strict Islamic dress code for women, and has a National Assembly, this parliament is entirely cosmetic and subordinate to the Al-Sabah family. The emir appoints the prime minister, a member of his family, and members of the cabinet, who are largely made up of the Al-Sabah family. He has the power to dissolve parliament, which he has done almost every year since taking the throne in 2006, whenever it has sought to challenge his ministers and their corruption.
When in February 2012, new elections resulted in a 70 percent majority for a loose opposition coalition of various Islamist groups, tribal candidates and secular nationalists who threatened to call the interior minister to account for alleged corruption, the Kuwaiti ruler suspended it, apparently at Saudi Arabia’s behest.
He then leant on the constitutional court to dissolve the parliament, which it did in June last year, declaring that the elections had been invalid.
This prompted mass demonstrations calling for parliament’s reinstatement, a constitutional monarchy, a prime minister appointed by parliament, and democracy. While similar calls in the United Arab Emirates resulted in the jailing of several activists for five months in 2011, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah promised fresh elections in December but changed the voting system in order to ensure a more pliable parliament.
The opposition parties and youth activists were infuriated, leading to mass demonstrations last October and November, the largest ever seen in Kuwait, where the ruling family became the focus.
The opposition boycotted the elections. With many Kuwaitis distrustful of both the government and the Islamist groups—some of whom backed the brutal suppression of the Bahraini demonstrations in 2011—just 40 percent of those eligible cast their vote in December last year, down from 60 percent the previous February.
The electorate is a small one. Only 1 million of Kuwait’s 3.3 million residents are citizens. A considerable number of its Arab residents are bidoons, without papers or stateless, despite having lived there for generations, denied access to decent jobs and state benefits. Most are migrant workers from the Arab world and South Asia.
Despite its large oil revenues, Kuwait’s economy has been badly affected by the global financial crisis. According to the International Monetary Fund, growth is expected be just 1.8 percent in 2013, down from 6.6 percent in 2012. At least 20,000 Kuwaiti citizens are unemployed and the number is increasing every year, with young graduates particularly badly affected.
The Al-Sabah family, like its counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is trying to weaken support for the opposition by blaming Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood for fomenting strife through its sister party in Kuwait and seeking to overthrow the regime.
Washington, keenly aware of the rotten foundations upon which its allies sit, has along with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on Kuwait to respect freedom of expression. It fears that by cracking down on all dissent, the venal mafia that rules the tiny oil state will fuel the opposition it seeks to quell.
- Kuwait opposition politician slams ‘bullying’ (aljazeera.com)
- Kuwait ex-MP jailed for emir insult (bbc.co.uk)
- HRW urges Kuwait to drop charges of ‘offending emir’ (dailystar.com.lb)
- Kuwaiti opposition leader jailed for insulting emir (panarmenian.net)
- Kuwait opposition leader jailed for 5 years over ‘insults’ (dailystar.com.lb)
- Special Forces raid diwaniya … miss Barrak (arabtimesonline.com)
- Kuwaiti police teargas opposition protest (worldbulletin.net)
- Kuwaiti politician jailed for insulting emir: lawyer (en.trend.az)