Exploitation of Nepal’s Migrant Workers

Nepal migrant workers

Families of migrant workers in Morang district, Nepal, 2011, who were interviewed by Amnesty International.

 “Migrant workers from Nepal and other countries are like cattle in Kuwait.  Actually, cattle are probably more expensive than migrant workers there.  No one cares whether we die or are killed. Our lives have no value.” –N.R., domestic worker from Ilam district, Nepal

Anyone who has waited for a flight at Kathmandu, Nepal’s international airport has seen the large groups of men and women quietly lining up to board flights for Qatar or Malaysia, many appearing nervous, clutching only their papers or a small bag of belongings.

But the men and women boarding these flights have reason to be nervous. While some Nepalese migrant workers arrive in the destination country and earn decent wages, others end up in forced labor or exploitative conditions.

These are some of the estimated 25,000 people a month who leave Nepal for work abroad to escape poverty and unemployment at home and to send remittances back to their families in Nepal.

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Crackdown in Malaysia

By Jeanne Marie Stumpf, Malaysian Country Specialist for Amnesty USA

As a current member of the UN Human Rights Council, the Malaysian government should be setting an example to other nations and promoting human rights. Instead they appear to be suppressing them, in the worst campaign of repression we’ve seen in the country for years.

malaysia protests

Protesters are met with excessive force by police on 9 July rally (c)Mohd Fazrul Hasnor/Demotix

A peaceful rally addressing election reform in Kuala Lumpur resulted in mass arrests on July 9th.  All of the 1,667 people detained on the day of the march were later released, but days earlier the Malaysian government arrested around 40 people including six members of the Socialist Party.

The detainees, including Socialist Party MP Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj are being held under an Emergency Ordinance at an undisclosed location.   Others arrested before the rally, most for possession of illegal materials such as rally t-shirts, could be imprisoned for up to five years and fined for having exercised their right to peaceful expression and assembly.

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If I can blog, why can't he?

I can sit in my ergonomic chair as I type, comforted not only by the lower back support, but by the knowledge that whatever I type here will not get me thrown into the local jail. But others are not so lucky…..

…they don’t have an ergonomic chair. 

Yeah, maybe Raja Petra, Malaysian political commentator for the blog Malaysia Today, doesn’t have an ergonomic chair by his computer. But that’s not biggest denial of human rights he has suffered as a journalist.

Raja was detained in September, his second time in prison for blogging. His “devious” crime? He wrote of wrongdoing by Malaysian goverment officials. But they arrested him under the “Internal Security Act,” saying he threatened public security and caused racial tension by posting blog entries that ridiculed Islam.

The courts, recognizing his detention was unjust, ruled to release him today. But the law does not say he cannot be rearrested. And the government can appeal the ruling, landing him back in a prison where–I am sure–the chairs are not ergonomic.

Raja should have the same rights I do, under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to freedom of opinion and information.  But he doesn’t, and instead waits in prison while they decide his fate.

There might not even be *a* chair in there

There might not even be *a* chair in there

He’s what I’m thinking about this morning.