Vol XXXI NO. 69 Wednesday 28th May 2008 Clampdown 'may fuel hatred' THE decision to ban Bangladeshis from Bahrain will fuel discrimination against the country's expatriate communities, human rights activists warned yesterday.

Some plan to submit a petition to government officials to intervene and reverse the decision, while others say they will take up the issue at an international level. The now-dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights vice-president Nabeel Rajab said the government's decision will create hatred between locals and expatriates. "This collective punishment is a decision that was taken without virtually any research on its impact," said Mr Rajab. "This will definitely have a very bad impact on our country.

"However, we will be working with our international colleagues and taking up the issue with human rights associations and groups.

"I call on my government to revise its decision and correct its mistake before it is too late.

"I have been told by some Bangladeshis that they have been attacked by Bahrainis after the government's decision.

"They can't walk on the streets or go to work because the poor people are being targeted by Bahrainis, who now see them as enemies.

"The government has created a negative and dangerous situation with this decision."

He also said that the terrible incident that caused the ban should be looked at as a crime committed by an individual, regardless of nationality.

Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society regional and international relations director Faisal Fulad said that it would submit an official letter to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nazar Al Baharna today denouncing the ban.

"Only through a law passed through proper channels can a decision of this sort be taken," he said.

"This ban is against the constitution and we will write to Dr Al Baharna and to international human rights groups about the issue. We will do anything in our capacity to reverse the ban.

"Bahrain should start realising that the world is watching it closely now.

"It is a member of the UN Human Rights Council and the ban is in violation of one of the most basic international treaties because it discriminates between nationalities.

"On April 17, Bahrain promised the council to give equal treatment to expatriates.

"The government forgets centuries of hard work by thousands of Bangladeshis and decides to ban them all based on actions of a handful of people.

"Tomorrow they may ban all Indians from Bahrain if one of them brutally murders a citizen."

Migrant Worker's Protection Society (MWPS) action committee head Marietta Dias said an immediate ban on Bangladeshis was unfair and the government should have first issued a warning to the community.

"The decision is not fair to the tens of thousands of law-abiding Bangladeshis who are earning a decent living in Bahrain," she said.

"I was very disappointed when I heard the news and it came as a surprise. They could have at least given the community a warning first.

"People will just panic now and there will be unseen consequences.

"If there is a crime committed by anyone, the matter should go through court."