Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sleepless in Muscat, RIP

I received the sad news late this evening of the passing of Ali Mehdi, known to most of you as Sleepless in Muscat. Ali was without a doubt, Oman's most prolific blogger. He was also an aspiring poet who self-published two books of poetry, and a frequent columnist in The Week and online on the Times of Oman website. He posted frequently on Oman Forum as well. As a blogger, he contributed to a dazzling number of blogs in addition to his own many blogs. He was also the founder of the Oman Community Blog.

Ali's last post on his blog was on May 3rd. It was a poem called Passion's Death.. He fell ill shortly after and was admitted to hospital into Intensive Care where he remained till his passing earlier today. He was 29.

Deepest condolences to his family; our prayers are with them in this difficult time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tier three, again

For the second year running, Oman has earned a place amongst the fabulous glitterati of Tier three on the US Dept of State Human Trafficking report. The only entities surprised by this are the ministry in charge of fixing it, and perhaps the courts. The media coverage and press release from the Ministry of Foreign affairs was so shocking, that if I were in charge I would haul up the Minister and departmental heads of the ROP and Courts and demand an explanation.

You can read the report here. One can and should question if the US is a good country to be evaluating the human rights of other nations (Git-mo Abu Gharib, etc...) but the observations in the report are a totally accurate analysis of the current Human rights situation in Oman.

I, personally, am ashamed and embarrassed, because I thought Oman was actually going to DO SOMETHING about human trafficking, instead of throwing a few conferences, issuing a decree which was never enforced and distributing a printed leaflet to illiterate labourers. How hard would it be to actually run an aggressive sting programme to bust companies and individuals who deny their employees their basic human rights? Follow that up with some aggressive prosecutions, some crippling fines, and jail time for the CEO's and sponsors convicted of sexual trafficking, Physical abuse, Non payment of Wages, and withholding Passports. Then publish their pictures in the paper. Front page. Next, set up a small shelter for Victims of human rights violations, as well as local victims of marital violence.

Congratulations one and all. This is certainly a proud moment for our glorious nation.