Bahraini, Saudi tyrannies, NATO’s allies

This 23 December 2015 video from India says about itself:

Shocking Torture Video: Saudi Employer Beats Up Indian Workers

In the latest video exposing abuse and torture of Indian domestic workers in the gulf, a Saudi man is seen hitting three men from Kerala with a wooden log.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The rotten foundations of US policy in the Middle East

16 January 2013

Thirteen migrant workers, most if not all of them from Bangladesh, died January 11 in a blaze that tore through an overcrowded labor camp set up in a crumbling building in Manama, the capital of the Gulf sheikdom of Bahrain.

Such incidents are appallingly routine in Bahrain and the other monarchical regimes that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council. Just last May, a fire in another overcrowded labor camp in Manama claimed the lives of 10 other Bangladeshi workers.

Both the Bahraini monarchy and private construction companies have rejected efforts to require improved housing and safety standards in the industry.

The deadly fire in Bahrain came just two days after the beheading of a Sri Lankan domestic worker in Saudi Arabia that provoked worldwide revulsion. Rizana Nafeek, who had lied about her age and left an impoverished family in northeastern Sri Lanka in search of better wages in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to die for the death of an infant for whom she had been forced to care at the age of 17, without either training or experience. Saudi authorities beat a confession out of her that she subsequently recanted, insisting the child had choked while taking a bottle and she had been unable to revive it.

The Saudi monarchy has vehemently rejected international condemnation of the barbaric execution—carried out in violation of international treaties barring capital punishment for alleged crimes committed by minors—calling it an “intervention in its affairs and judicial verdicts.”

Again, this repellant action is by no means an aberration. The Saudi regime executed 79 people by beheading last year and 82 the year before.

According to news reports in the wake of the state murder of Rizana Nafeek, at least 45 Indonesian maids are on death row in Saudi prisons, waiting to be beheaded. There are believed to be Sri Lankan, Filipina, Ethiopian and Indian women domestic workers facing the same fate, but their number is not known.

In many cases, these women have been convicted of murder for defending themselves against violent physical assaults and rape by their employers. In others, women have suffered mental breakdowns after years of abuse and being forced to work 15- and 20-hour days, seven days a week, without breaks, days off or, in many instances, any salary.

Punishment for the severe and often deadly abuse meted out to the 1.5 million female domestic workers in Saudi Arabia is rare. Among the more infamous cases was that of Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, an Indonesian house maid whose Saudi employer cut off her lips with a scissors, burnt her scalp with a hot iron and inflicted multiple stab wounds and broken bones over a protracted period of fiendish abuse. A Saudi court acquitted the employer, claiming there was no evidence of torture. In many other cases, women thrown off of buildings have been listed as suicides.

Underlying these atrocities—both the deadly fires and the beheadings—is a system that amounts to a modern-day form of slavery. Traditional chattel slavery, based on the outright buying and selling of human beings, was abolished in the Saudi kingdom only in 1962.

The new system, rather than relying on the abduction and forced enslavement of sub-Saharan Africans, is fed by a globally integrated capitalist system and its impoverishment of billions of people, particularly in Asia, who are forced to seek work abroad.

These workers fall victim to recruiting agencies that charge exorbitant fees for getting a job, forcing the migrants into indentured servitude when they arrive in Saudi Arabia and the other monarchical Gulf States. Once there, they also fall under the kafala, or sponsorship, system, which endows sponsor-employers with unlimited power over the migrant workers. They commonly seize the workers’ passports, making it impossible for them to return home.

Those who try to quit dangerous and exploitative jobs are not allowed to seek employment elsewhere without their sponsor’s permission, and are generally deported, often without their pay. Unions for these workers are illegal, and wage levels have remained stagnant for two decades, even as the cost of living has climbed rapidly. It is common for employers to “rent” out their workers to others to make a profit.

There are some 15 million of these workers in the Gulf States. They account for over half of the workforce and the overwhelming majority of workers in the private sector. It is they who have built the high-rise towers, luxury palaces and highways of Manama, Dubai and Riyadh, paid for with the oil earnings of the parasitic ruling dynasties.

Their abysmal conditions are no secret. They are acknowledged in the annual country reports issued by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The report on Bahrain states that domestic workers “had to give their identity documents to employers, had little time off, were malnourished, and were subject to verbal and physical abuse, including sexual molestation and rape.” It went on to note that “in numerous cases employers withheld salaries from foreign workers for months or years and refused to grant them permission to leave the country.” This describes a condition of virtual slavery.

The US State Department found similar conditions in Saudi Arabia, where some 8.5 million foreign nationals toil. In both countries, the reports, noted, political parties are banned, torture is commonplace, censorship is enforced, religious minorities (or, in the case of Bahrain, the Shia majority) are brutally suppressed, and political dissidents are murdered and imprisoned.

These reports, however, are for show. They have no impact on US policy in the region, which rests upon the dictatorial regimes in Saudi Arabia, Washington’s key Arab ally, Bahrain, which hosts the American Fifth Fleet, and Qatar, the site of the Pentagon’s Central Command Forward Headquarters and Combined Air Operations Center.

These are the Obama administration’s key allies in fomenting and arming a sectarian civil war in Syria in the name of “human rights” and “democracy” and preparing a war against Iran.

Nothing serves as a more searing indictment of US imperialism’s predatory policy in the Middle East than the conditions of the overwhelmingly migrant and semi-enslaved working class in these countries and the ultra-reactionary and medieval character of the regimes that rule them.

The foundations upon which this imperialist policy rests are utterly rotten and must produce, sooner rather than later, revolutionary explosions.

Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The US Arms Sales to the Regime: here.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern over the continued criminalization of freedom of assembly in Bahrain, as courts continue to pass down prison sentences for charges of protesting at the Pearl Roundabout nearly two years after the February 14 protests.

23 thoughts on “Bahraini, Saudi tyrannies, NATO’s allies

  1. Human rights: violence against women in India; crackdown in Bahrain; insecurity in Central African Republic

    Plenary Session Human rights − 17-01-2013 – 16:54

    Parliament called on Thursday on the Bahraini authorities to stop their violent crackdown against peaceful protestors; condemned sexual violence against women and girls in India and demanded new laws to tackle it; and sounded the alarm at the instability in the Central African Republic following last December’s rebel offensive, in three separate human rights resolutions.

    Human rights situation in Bahrain

    In their resolution on Bahrain, MEPs call on the authorities and security forces to stop using violence against peaceful protestors and demand an independent investigation into all human rights abuses, particularly those involving children. The prosecution, detention and torture of protestors must stop and freedom of expression and assembly, both online and offline, must be guaranteed, they insist.

    The EP urges the Bahraini authorities to follow the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), implement democratic reforms and pursue a national dialogue aimed at reconciliation.

    The House expresses its “strong disapproval” of the EU’s lack of response to the ongoing crackdown in Bahrain and calls for sanctions against the individuals directly responsible for the human rights abuses and for restrictions on EU exports of surveillance technology, tear gas and crowd-control material.


  2. Author:
    Ruben Lomas

    8,000 contract construction workers struck in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, on Sunday 27 January.

    The workers, contracted by the Ministry of Finance and working on building projects including the King Abdullah Financial Centre in Al Aqeeq, were demanding backpay. Some workers said that they were owed wages up to five months in arrears.

    Strikers held a four-hour sit-down in the Al-Aqeeq district of Riyadh. They were also angry at rumours that their contractors planned to demand the SAR2,400 ($639) “expatriate fee”, which contractors are obliged to pay for every foreign worker they employ over the number of Saudi workers, from workers’ wages.

    According to Asia Business, 90% of private sector workers in Saudi Arabia are foreign nationals.


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  8. Bahrain-Denmark military coordination discussed


    Manama, Feb. 11. (BNA) – Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa met here today the Danish Chief of Defence General Peter Bartram and his accompanying delegation, currently on a visit to the kingdom.

    The Commander-in-Chief lauded the outstanding friendly relations bonding the kingdoms of Bahrain and Denmark, praising the steadily-growing bilateral cooperation in all fields, especially regarding the exchange of military expertise.

    Areas of joint military cooperation and coordination were discussed.

    Director of the BDF General Command Major-General Youssef Ahmed Al-Jalahma, Inspector-General Major-General Abdulla Hassan Al-Nuaimi, Director of Planning, Organisation and Technology Rear Admiral Youssef Ahmed Malallah, Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) Commodore Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdulla Al Khalifa and Commander of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 Commodore Aage Buur Jensen attended the meeting.

    W H Q

    BNA 1240 GMT 2014/02/11


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