May 29, 2013

Raids on Gulf Migrants

In the past few weeks, 200,000 undocumented immigrants were deported from Saudi. Arrested in raids, left to sleep in the open air, piled in front of migration offices, and shown every kind of discrimination and abuse, those immigrants continue to be deported by the country that is home to King Abdullah’s Interfaith Dialogue Center.
Simultaneously, Kuwait follows its “big sister,” deporting hundreds in the past few weeks. Pictures of those migrants are taken without their permission, while policemen pose proudly as they fulfill their national duties. Racism is a living legacy in the Gulf, softened by Western powers and overlooked by media that would prefer to cover the story of a handsome man being deported from Saudi rather than those of the tens of thousands deported.
Below are pictures collected from the few reports available.
Mohammed is an undocumented Yemeni in Saudi Arabia showing his severe workplace injury. Source: Yemen Times.
In the western Yemeni town of Haradh, on the border with Saudi Arabia, Ethiopian migrants sleep out in the open near a transit center where they wait to be repatriated. Source: Reuters.
Hundreds have been arrested and deported during recent Kuwaiti raids on undocumented migrants. Source: Alaan.

A screenshot of a report published on 22 May 2013 by Kuwait’s English newspaper Kuwait Times. The newspaper uses the verb “nets” to describe these arrests, dehumanizing the migrants. The security officers drag arrested migrants, reflecting how society applauds these forces and their actions.

The same newspaper adopts the interior ministry’s rhetoric, calling undocumented migrants “violators.” The picture shows racial profiling in action in Kuwait as security forces are allowed to ask anyone for their identification cards
– Kuwait has deported over 1,200 individuals for violating traffic rules in the past month. Kuwaitis are sick of traffic, so their parliament members are proposing a change of working hours. Restrictions on giving non-Kuwaitis drivers’ licenses are increasing. Deporting traffic violators is now a law.
– At healthcare facilities, Kuwait has designated specific hours for migrants and Kuwaitis. I guess it is easy for a Kuwaiti to wait in line with other Kuwaitis, just not with migrants because they are too many and “annoying”!
– Arab intellectuals speak of Gulf money interfering in the post-uprising political reality in revolting countries. They speak of feeding Syria’s civil war, political Islam, and sectarianism. They need to speak of deportations of Arab workers, Africans, and many South Asians. They need to speak about those deported now while remembering the tens of thousands of Palestinians deported overnight after the second Gulf War or the Arab Shia deported overnight from the Gulf after the Bahraini uprising.
– Western academia should understand that the Gulf is the backbone of global capitalism, just the way they care to analyze and warn us about the implications of the rising Asian capitalism.
– Attention given to certain issues in the region should be questioned. This is one of the most shielded regions, with petrol, armies, and enough money to run media outlets and soften NGOs.
– If this was another world, or at least the world that existed two decades ago, we would be marching against racism in the Gulf the way people marched against apartheid in South Africa.

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