Tuesday, February 25, 2003

O.K. Saddam IS an evil dictatorial prick with a human rights abuse record that should get him banged up for the next 200 years. However I wonder if George, Condy, Colon and Donny have paid a cursory glance at the human rights record of some of their friendly Arab "good guys". Maybe not in the same league as our despised Saddam, but hardly admirable practices even in the eyes of the leader of the United World of America desperate for allies to make the World a better and safer place. When George's Crusade is all over let's hope the 3 year old kidnapped Bangladeshi camel jockeys are still alive to enjoy the better, safer World.


"It is absurd to impose on an individual or a society rights that are alien to its beliefs or principles," Saudi Arabia's deputy premier and effective head of state Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz told the U.N. Third Millenium summit in New York on September 6. He warned of "the ramifications of unbridled globalization and its use as an umbrella to violate the sovereignty of states and interfere with their internal affairs under a variety of pretexts, especially from the angle of human rights." The kingdom's fourteen million citizens and six to seven million foreign residents thus continued to be denied a range of basic rights guranteed under international law.

Freedom of expression and association were nonexistent rights, political parties and independent local media were not permitted, and even peaceful anti-government activities remained virtually unthinkable. Infringements on privacy, institutionalized gender discrimination, harsh restrictions on the exercise of religious freedom, and the use of capital and corporal punishment were also major features of the kingdom's human rights record.

Saudi Arabia continued to provide refuge and financial support to Idi Amin, the exiled Ugandan leader whose regime was responsible for a reign of terror that left an estimated 300,00 dead in the 1970s. After fleeing Uganda in 1979, Amin arrived in the kingdom at the invitation of the late King Faisal and reportedly has since been protected by government-paid Saudi guards. A journalist with Uganda's New Vision newspaper interviewed Amin in Jeddah in 1999 and reported that he had moved from his home in the city center "to a more exclusive area...mainly occupied by powerful oil sheikhs."


“This is the worst job in the world. The people of this country – I give them work but they make me a slave”
Jakir. UAE camel jockey. Now aged 8. Abducted at 2 years of age.

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) city of Dubai has a reputation as the glitz capital of the Persian Gulf – where fabulous oil wealth makes everything possible.

Home to the ‘Dubai Cup’ reputedly the world’s richest horse race – the city also hosts another multi billion dollar sporting industry – camel racing – an enterprise built on the backs of the world’s poorest children, some of them abducted and enslaved to work as camel jockeys.

South Asia correspondent Geoff Thompson travels to Dubai to report on the Sport of Sheikhs – It is a story the leaders of this Gulf state didn’t want told.

For wealthy Gulf Arabs, camel racing is a passion – where winning is everything, laws are ignored, and jockey’s lives squandered. The smaller and lighter the jockey – the faster the camel. Since 1993 jockeys under 15 years of age have officially been banned, but trackside, Thompson discovers jockeys as young as 3, children from Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Third World countries. Sold by poverty-stricken parents, they are smuggled to the UAE and traded to camel racing syndicates. Camel riding is a dangerous business where injury and death are common.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of abuse and underage jockeys, UAE authorities remain in denial “It is absolutely impossible….to find a jockey who is below 15 years of age and it will never happen” says Khalsan Khamees, head of the Camel racing Federation.