Kuwait, like most Middle Eastern oil nations, imports hundreds of thousands of workers from Asia to handle the dirty work associated with life in modern societies. These workers have no rights since they are non-citizens, and are trapped in a country in which western ideas of civil liberties are not always accepted as the norm. Recently, due to rising inflation, many Bangladesh workers attempted to protest only to be met with the full force of the Kuwait government which does not enjoy anyone daring to oppose those in power. Nearly 170 Bangladesh workers who recently returned home complained they had been beaten and expelled after taking part in a labor protest in Kuwait. Over the past few days more than 1,000 Bangladeshis have been deported and most probably hundreds of others will meet that fate.
Problems arose when hundreds of Asian foreign workers in Kuwait staged demonstrations and went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions. Mohammad Ilyas, who was one of those deported, said: “The army beat us mercilessly while breaking up the protest and also in detention camps.” A major complaint of Asian workers is their employees deduct housing, medical, and meal costs from their wages. The foreign worker must accept what the employer claims is the cost of their meals or housing or medical expenses. In a word, take it or leave it. And, when Kuwaitis say, “leave” they mean the country.