One is so used to hearing about ineffectual diplomats in Bangladeshi embassies all over the world that it is a welcome surprise to hear that there might be exceptions. Ruhul Amin seems to be one. Here is an ambassador to a gulf state who has voiced his concern about the health and safety of Bangladeshi workers in the state of Bahrain, and spoken directly of the conditions they face in many Bahraini companies:worked to the point of exhaustion, beatings and injuries resulting in death.
In addition he has set up an open house and free clinic where workers can come and get basic medical assistance. The open house has clearly enhanced the emabssy’s understanding of the problems affecting Bangladeshi workers in Bahrain where “worrying death rates” amongst Bangladeshi workers have recently been noticed. Even then Nurul Amin says that it is very difficult for workers to come to the clinic because they are required to work seven days a week. They can only get away for an hour or so, and then there is the question of having money to get to the embassy given Bahrain’s poor public transport system.
Amin has also had to deal with trafficking:
We had a few cases of workers who are victims of trafficking, victims of dishonest employers, who issued a work permit and after one or two months of the workers’ arrival they (employers) closed down their “fake company”, throwing the workers onto the streets.
The workers then are branded illegal, the employers sometimes destroy their passports, sometimes even they don’t give them their passports and they have no employment. They have become so called free visa workers. And when you are illegal, you have no papers, and are easy to exploit.
Some are working only for food and are not paid salary.
We have listened to them but the company which recruited them does not exist, where do we go?
We advised them to go back to Bangladesh, but they have come here after spending almost BD2,000 - that means they have sold their land, they have borrowed money. Now, when they go back, lenders will demand money. They are fugitives from their country and slaves in this country.