Qatar: Bad Time For Evil Babylon
Posted by addisethiopia on June 17, 2015
ILO finds Qatar guilty
Geneva-based United Nations agency the ILO (International Labor Organization) today found Qatar guilty of allowing its state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, to violate international and national agreements and institutionalize discrimination. The case was successfully brought against Qatar by the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) (see http://goo.gl/Ka5inH.)
Qatar Airways (QR) is guilty of systemic workplace sex discrimination, including in its past and current work contracts, which allow it to automatically terminate the employment of women cabin crew who become pregnant, as well as in its prohibition on women being dropped off/picked up at/from company premises by a man other than their father, brother or husband.
The Qatari government has breached its international obligations by turning a blind eye to these offences. By allowing QR to behave in this way Qatar has violated ILO Convention 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), which Qatar signed in 1976.
The ILO Tripartite Committee also noted that the contractual bar on employees marrying in the first five years of service – after which they could only marry with company permission – has now been removed from the airline’s contracts, and ‘expresses the firm hope that the Government takes the necessary measures without delay to ensure that all cabin crew members are transferred under the new employment contract so as to be able to get married and change their marital status without the company’s permission’.
It also goes on to state that: ‘the Committee considers that particular attention should be given by the Government so as to encourage the company to provide its employees, including foreign employees, with appropriate complaint mechanisms to ensure that they can obtain redress without being exposed to stigmatisation or reprisals, and without the fear of being deported from the country, in cases of harassment or any other discriminatory behaviours based on the grounds set out in the Convention.’
It also noted, ‘the Government’s reply that various dispute settlement mechanisms are in place to handle complaints of migrant workers … the Government did not provide information on how these procedures can be or have been used by cabin crew, in particular women. The Committee observes that access to such procedures and remedies by cabin crew members, who are migrant workers, may be difficult because of the fear of victimization or reprisals, including dismissal and deportation from the country … given the large number of women in cabin crew staff, the appointment of trained women labour inspectors may be a positive measure’.
For two years the ITF has exposed discrimination and repressive practices at QR, including arbitrary dismissal, surveillance and curfews (see http://goo.gl/MzKq0Y) . Meanwhile the ITUC has challenged Qatar over the appalling treatment of migrant workers there.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented: “This decision is a game changer. A year ago we put Qatar and Qatar Airways in the dock and today it has been proved that we were right to do so. Everything has to change now. QR can no longer deny and evade. The changes made to the rules for staff failed to fool the ILO. Now the airline must make them for real. It’s time to make QR free from fear.
“Ever since we made those rules public we’ve made clear that they had to go. By revealing them we unleashed a torrent of stories of what it is like to work there. We congratulate all those, including those who bravely and secretly spoke to us from inside the airline, those in trade unions, in the wider aviation industry and in the media, who helped us decry these abuses.”
Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, commented: “The attempts to tinker with the rules on pregnancy and marriage made once we brought this case show that Qatar Airways has been shamed into action – and more must come. We, along with everyone who works for the airline, will not rest until it addresses what many of those workers call the ‘climate of fear’ at QR.”
She continued: “The gaze of world opinion is locked on the behaviour of the Qatari government – over Qatar Airways, over its abhorrent treatment of migrant workers, and over the World Cup. In Geneva today Qatar has been proved wanting. We have shown that money doesn’t buy silence. The nation is on trial. It cannot evade its responsibilities. It has to begin to do the right thing.”
How Qatar Used and Abused Its Al Jazeera Journalists
“Al Jazeera’s managers crossed an ethical red line. By attempting to manipulate Egypt’s domestic politics, they were endangering their employees.”
This week, I am back in court in an effort to prove my innocence at a retrial on charges that I was a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, designated a terrorist organization in Egypt since December 2013, and that I sought to harm the country’s reputation and security. I already spent 412 days in detention before my conviction in the first trial was overturned on appeal earlier this year.
The terrorism charges against me and my colleague Baher Mohamed are unfounded and have been widely discredited. The other charges relate to our employment by the Al Jazeera media network, which is owned by the state of Qatar.
Following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, Egypt moved to ban Al Jazeera’s Arabic service in the country, known as Mubasher Misr, because it was perceived as a Qatari-sponsored propaganda mouthpiece for the Brotherhood. I was the bureau chief of the Al Jazeera English service, a separate operation that adhered to higher journalistic standards, which, we assumed, would inoculate us against accusations of bias. We were mistaken.
Now, Baher and I find ourselves once again in the soundproof defendants’ cage, fighting to avoid long prison terms. Our friend and fellow Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, will not be with us. Thanks to his government’s work to win his release, Peter is home in Australia.
At the retrial, we will argue that we continued to work despite the broadcast ban because we believed the English service was exempt and Al Jazeera failed to obtain legal clarification from the Egyptian authorities. If, as a result, there were violations of licensing laws, which in any case would be merely misdemeanors, it is the network’s executives from Qatar who should pay, not us. A final ruling from the Egyptian court could come later this month.
My 18-month ordeal may be close to an end, yet I find myself increasingly angry at how my life and the lives of my family and loved ones have been turned upside down. My anger, however, is not directed primarily at the prosecutor, the judiciary or the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. It is aimed at my employer, Al Jazeera.
The network knowingly antagonized the Egyptian authorities by defying a court-ordered ban on its Arabic-language service. Behind that, I believe, was the desire of the Qatari royal family to meddle in Egypt’s internal affairs. While Al Jazeera’s Doha executives used the Cairo bureau of Al Jazeera English to give their scheme a veneer of international respectability, they made us unwitting pawns in Qatar’s geopolitical game.
Al Jazeera America accused of bias against non-Arabs and women
Shannon High-Bassalik, fired in February after working through half of a three-year contract, said the network’s recently ousted chief executive, Ehab Al Shihabi, left meetings when women were speaking and admitted that he tried to favor an Arab point of view on the air to please Ajam’s Qatar-based ownership.
The troubled news network, an offshoot of the international Al Jazeera network, has reached few viewers in the United States. Through lawsuits and resignations over the past two months, a picture has emerged of a place that has consistently fallen short in its efforts to give Americans a hard-news, unbiased alternative to CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
“As ratings failed to live up to the expectations of management, Al Jazeera openly decided to abandon all pretense of neutrality in favor of putting the Arabic viewpoint front and center, openly demanding that programs be aired that criticized countries such as America, Israel and Egypt,” High-Bassalik’s lawsuit stated.
She said she was told that if abandonment of journalistic integrity led people to regard them as terrorists, “that was an acceptable risk for the company to take”.
High-Bassalik said that Al Shihabi told her that the company should be regarded as Al Jazeera in America, rather than Al Jazeera America.
Al Shihabi was ousted in early May, shortly after another employee sued, alleging he was fired when he complained about a colleague’s antisemitic and sexist behavior. The company’s senior vice-president of newsgathering, head of human resources and communications chief – all non-Arab women – each resigned over a two-week period.
The former documentary chief, who has also worked for CNN, NBC and MSNBC, said she was told that many Arabs believe the September 11 terrorist attacks were staged by the CIA to wage war on Arabs, and that this was a point of view the company should be guided by.
High-Bassalik said that she was told to hire an Arabic woman as a producer even though the person was unqualified and there were several non-Arabs ready for promotion. She claimed that performance ratings for Arabs were systematically upgraded, while non-Arabs saw their ratings go down.
She accused the head of the company’s investigative unit of tweeting that “Israelis are like Hitler”. During coverage of the 2014 conflict in Gaza, she said she was told the mission was to cast Israel as the villain and emphasize the Arab and Muslim point of view.