Every year, thousands of Nepali laborers migrate to the Middle East and Gulf for better paying opportunities. Unfortunately, very few actually get what they hoped for or what they were promised. Many are either severely abused their employers-physically, mentally and in case of women workers sexual abuse is high, or are forced to work under horrible conditions, and denied proper pay.
Reports of Nepali workers suffering in a far away land has become a sad fixture in Nepali media. At the Tribhuvan International Airport, almost everyday you can find someone weeping for lost family member or loved one and waiting for their body to arrive. This video, from Guardian is especially painful and exposes the bitter truth behind tall promises made to Nepali workers.
Amar Bahadur Bam is one name on the long list of Nepali workers living a bad dream in the Middle East. He is currently on Dubai death row.
In 2003, notorious Mumbai gang wars came ashore in Dubai. Sharad Shetty, Indian businessman, was murdered in a health club. Close confidant of gangster Dawood Ibrahim, Shetty had number of businesses in Dubai. He assailants were believed to be Chota Rajan-Ibrahim's arch rival's men.
Amar Bahadur Bam was accused and convicted of driving the gateway car, allowing the murderers to escape; and sentenced to death.
He has consistently pleaded his innocence. When a group of men from his village visited him in prison, he accused the Dubai authorities of using torture to extract a confession. He also said the language barrier-he does not speak or understand English or Arabic, hurt his defense. Two men who were convicted of the murder, Karansingh Mansingh, 30, Manoj Mudanna Kotian, 32, sent a letter to Dubai authorities saying that Mr. Bam had no role in planning or carrying out the attack. He drove the gate-away car without knowing what was going on. But that letter was ignored and was not included in Mr. Bam's defense.
For couple of years after his arrest and conviction, his family had no knowledge of his plight. Mr. Bam had left his village-in Darchula, mere weeks after getting married. He was looking for a job in India, and then made his way to Dubai.Now that his situation had been made public, his father and wife have expressed hope that one day he will be released.
Unlike incidents in the past where the Government was slow in taking steps to protect workers, this time Nepali government is much more responsive. Mr. Bam's wife met with President Dr. Yadav and the Prime Minister and urged them to secure his release. Human rights and migrant rights community in Nepal has gathered around the Bam family and are actively supporting the cause.
At this stage, because of all the political confusion in Nepal and the elections commotion, this case may very well be pushed back into the back pages. It is up to the people to make sure that Mr. Bam is not forgotten.
If you would like to get updates on the case, please visit this post at Nepali citizen journalism site MeroReport. Save Amar Bahadur campaign also has a Facebook page, where you can leave comments, messages in show of support and solidarity.
There are hundreds of Nepalis and other foreign nationals working in Dubai. The purpose of this campaign is not to shame Dubai or ridicule their system; but to highlight Mr Bam's situation and to ask the concerned authorities to re-examine his case and ensure that justice is served.
- by Bhumika Ghimire (@bhumikaghimire)
Parsippany, New Jersey
Image via Istockphoto/Microsoft