We had the Majlis yesterday, that hugely empowered Omani democratic institution, simply doing what they were told and parroting the view of HE The Foreign Ministry Undersecretary. And the GCC, dominated as it is by that paragon of human rights Saudi Arabia. And now good old Essa Al Zedjali, Omani intellectual supremo, wanna be furniture dealer to the Wave and the Blue City, and leader of that throbbing organ of the Establishment that is The Times of Oman.
All weighing in on the US State Dept. report naming Oman as ‘not doing enough’ on human trafficking and thus still Tier 3. And it not being fair. For those of you new to the blog, I posted on this last year, and still stand by all that was said back then, except I was wrong that a bit of window dressing would be enough to get back to Tier 2. Those State Dept officials really do have integrity.
Guys. You are really doing yourselves, His Majesty, and your country, a huge dis-service. You come across like spoilt kids who have clearly failed an exam, yet waste your time blaming everything but your own poor performance.
1/ The report is a report to the US Senate, not to you, written by US State Dept officials. The officials actually have a statutory duty to, er, tell the truth. If they don’t, it’s a US Federal offense. They are not politicians that can lie and cheat ad hoc, like Bush, Cheney and Rice et al. They have jobs and pensions that rely on not breaking the law. That’s why they tend to ignore the obvious fact that, politically, it would have been much better to pretend your workshops, and the decree and the … ummm, ummm, oh, I remember, the fantastic leaflets for illiterate workers, were actually effective. Wake up. You have done 9/10 of fcuk al. And you have done so because it suits your purposes.
2/ The report does not have an opinion on the absolute scale of the Human Trafficking problem. It does not matter that that Thailand has more prostitutes than Oman. Or that the UAE’s prostitutes are better looking and more expensive than Oman’s. Or that your murder rate is (apparently) very low by world standards. Or that the UAE deports and imprisons striking labourers more than you do. It has nothing to do with it.
3/ You may pontificate that you have a culture than respects all human rights, based on Islam, and the deep rooted Omani values and traditions, yada yada yada. But, lets face it guys. There are huge improvements that could and should be made. Accepting that its totally OK to have tens of thousands of untrained workers wearing flipflops and a cotton shirt, up 6 stories high on unsafe scaffolding, working 12 hrs a day, 7 days a week in the Omani summer, earning around $150 a month, with no right to unionise or even change employer, is a bit arrogant and exploitative. It’s not OK. You have to something about it.
4/ Your deep rooted culture extends back to the days when you were colonial masters in East Africa. You were apparently very Islamic, cultural respect for the rights of individuals, etc etc whilst at the same time you were shipping off the locals to Europe and the Americas for a quick buck. Did anyone mention slavers? Please don’t. We don’t like to talk about that part of our history.
5/ Pointing the finger back at the USA, with its Cuban ex-judicial prisons, water boarding horrors, etc etc, is not the point. We all know that. And trust me, those same bureaucrats in the State Dept would be the first to agree with you. You have to take the higher ground.
6/ Democracy, US not, etc etc. Err. Guys. Maybe stay away from this one. You aren’t a democracy, and don’t want to be one. Which is great. But sort of defeats your arguments here.
7/ That its all about Political pressure (ie Iran). Bollocks. If they were being political they would have let you move to Tier 2 watch list. Or if they wanted to be tough, suspended that Free Trade deal that’s making so much money for a select few Omani Businessmen [Methanol, anyone?]. etc etc.
8/ It’s a well known fact that many, many Omani men regularly go to Thailand to have lots of sex with prostitutes. Many of those prostitutes are underage, many of them are sex slaves. Some of them children. Are you doing anything about that? At all? No.
Guys, the bottom line is you haven’t really done anything meaningful to stop the occasional human trafficking that is in Oman, nor have you done anything to address the HUGE problems you have with the grey zone of human trafficking that are the 100s of thousands of asian and subcontinent workers [labourers, housemaids, semi-skilled workers] who are not uncommonly in Oman treated as almost subhuman, and have been for decades, and continue to be. Nor have you done anything to stop people being trafficked across to the UAE. Nor anything about your domestic sex tourists.
I have seen several comments reported, from HE, The Majlis, and Essa etc that:(quote)
the faulty report doesn’t tell the truth,
does not reflect the true facts
contains a number of fallacies and inaccuracies
Is inaccurate and misleading allegations
But no-where does any of the published vitriol state 1 fact in the report that is incorrect, nor a single allegation that is shown to be untrue. Not 1. Gee, I wonder why? My previous post quotes the report in full. And on re-reading it 10 times I fail to detect any of the above false facts. Instead this all comes across as just the tantrum of a toddler who doesn’t get its own way.
The report is harsh perhaps. Judgemental, definitely. But false and inaccurate? WHERE? And if it is so false, why, sue them! Sue the US State Dept! Why, its international liable! They have independent courts world reknowned for dealing very lucratively with such things. Lobby congress to haul those officials up before a congressional or Senate committee!!! (OK, not as tough an ordeal as the incisive questioning and in-depth investigative powers of the mighty Omani Majlis, I know, but, still...)
Here’s the first part of Essa’s Viewpoint below. The rest is missing from the online version, as half-way through cuts to something (maybe from an earlier Viewpoint I guess) on Iran. Typical.
But, this bit I found especially hilarious:
The US State Department has this habit of surprising us all with its dubious annual reports prepared by amateurs, agents and unsuccessful researchers who generalise, report and reach conclusions based on mere imagination and inaccurate information from ill-informed sources on issues covered by their reports.Goodness. That sounds like exactly the qualities one needs to work at the Times of Oman! Careful Essa, you might be missing out on some good potential employees there! Oh, except they’re not Indians whom you can pay a minimum wage, keep their passports, stop them working anywhere else, and tell them exactly what to do because they are so afraid of getting sent back to India… I take that back.
This whole affair is one of the things that really pisses me off about this generally wonderful country. A total inability to take constructive criticism. Everything is officially perfect, all the time. No learning. No acceptance of mistakes and lessons to be learned. Nothing to be improved. Everything that is wrong someone else’s fault. Usually America, or Israel, or … anyone but ourselves. Government officials acting like they are HM, like they too are somehow totally above criticism, even when their mistakes are totally obvious.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, this attitude pervades the culture.
Exam too hard? Bad exam. Caught cheating in school? Ignore it, its OK, its not really cheatig, and I'm sure you had good reasons.
No fish? Rubbish, there’s plenty of fish.
No cement? It’s those pesky Asian blackmarketers.
Maid accusing her employer of rape or being beaten? Little lying slut, deport her.
Prostitutes in Ruwi, with an Omani sponsor and baksheesh to the authorities? Nope, don’t exist, because we haven’t found any.
Denial, denial, denial.
Grrrr. Do you think I need a holiday?
US reports imaginary, misleading
Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali
Sunday, June 15, 2008 12:26:30 AM Oman Time
I WAS shocked like all other Omani citizens by the fabricated US State Department report on human trafficking in the world, which included the Sultanate, for the second time in a row, as one of the countries not making enough efforts to eradicate this global menace.
The US State Department has this habit of surprising us all with its dubious annual reports prepared by amateurs, agents and unsuccessful researchers who generalise, report and reach conclusions based on mere imagination and inaccurate information from ill-informed sources on issues covered by their reports.
No doubt, everyone knows that the US claims to be a democratic country but does not practise what it preaches — real democracy. I wonder how on earth has the US assumed the role of a ‘judge on the whole world’ without being authorised to do the same? In this self-assuming role the US now levels accusations against whatever state it wants to, being, at the same time, biased in favour of other countries.
The US has been using such tactics as a tool as and when it deems necessary in order to exert political pressure on countries not upholding its interests in their respective regions. I was further astonished at the US claims of spreading democracy in the world as it so blatantly continues to ignore the basic principles of democracy by rejecting even a discussion by anyone on the crimes it commits against humanity.
(the rant continues even more in the print copy, but this electronic version stops here. Dragon)