Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jordan Journals: abuse in Irbid

Sunday, June 26, 2011

abuse in Irbid

It seems that Qualified Industrial Zones are law unto themselves. There have been many stories over the years about abuse in the factories set up there to take advantage of the Free Trade Agreement between Jordan and the USA. There are thousands of Sri Lankan, Bangldeshi and Chinese women who are slave labour in these factories owned by foreigners. Hardly any Jordanians work in these places as the wages are so low.

Recently a USA human rights organisation wrote a report on the sexual abuse in one particular factory. http://www.globallabourrights.org/ They have just visited Jordan and liaised with the Family Protection Department (the police department which specialises in sexual offences) and one brave Bangladeshi woman made a statement and identified the alleged offender and he was arrested but, unfortunately, the prosecutor set him free two days later. I am hoping that he will face the charge. Of course he is innocent until proven guilty and the charge of rape is a very difficult to prosecute especially where there is no forensic evidence.

Whatever comes of this case I hope the Jordanian authorities will take a closer interest in the rights of these foreign workers in Jordan who are used and abused seemingly at will. Of course the revenue that is brought in to Jordan is large so there may be hesitation in pushing forward an inquiry. Pressure should be put on the Ministry of Labour and the companies that use these goods like Walmart, Land's End and Gap.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Piece of Poetry

... what more needs to be said?

A Poem by Fadwa Tuqan

I sit down to write...

But, what it is that I can write?

That it is worth to say 'my homeland'

'My people'

'My people'

Will it be that I can protect my people with words?

Will it be that with words I will save my people?

By chance perhaps is it not absolutely ridicule, for me to sit, today, to write?

That the bullet cries out, and silences the penalty.

Not hardly that it should, the penalty does not have to keep silent,

It must simply say that Palestine during the last thousand and six hundred years was not waiting as an empty and vacated property.

"A piece of poetry inspired by fact. These words, written in another form, had been found in the agenda of a Palestinian guerrilla who died in 1967."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Goodbye Jordan Journals

Having moved to the UK five months ago I stopped contributing to Jordan Journals as I felt I would not be up on what is going on in Jordan. Thanks to the internet I follow Jordanian news in the Jordan Times, blogs and emails from friends but the personal connection has gone. The blog seems to have run its course and it has been fun. T

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dear Blog goodbye

Hmmmmm ... havn't blogged since February! Something must be amiss. What with changes here and changes there, diversions, illusions, collusions and calamitous conundrums ... yet unanswered.

And it all boils down to a little five letter word that puts fear into the hearts of men in the holy land: peace!

Thus ends this blog ... until further notice ... which may take a little while longer of rest upon the wind ...

Peace be with you all


Friday, February 19, 2010

In reply to an Editorial in the Jordan Times

Not wishing to take the name of the Lord in vain, I couldn’t help but exclaim a huge 'Oh my lord, what are you thinking Mr Editorial' – when I read your thoughts on developing and pushing tourism at the Baptism site.

Whoever wrote that piece of misinformation, should take a few steps back and reflect on the course of action that has been taken and is being pushed in the name of tourism development. First of all, we need to remember that this is a religious site, special to so many people of many beliefs, not to mention historians, archaeologists and the Jordanian public at large - this is not Vegas!

As such, the existing visitor’s centre and accompanying shops/restaurants/facilities are more than adequate for the needs of tourists. If they would like to spend the night, a simple ten minute drive up the road will give a superb choice of hotels to use. Another beautiful drive through pristine landscape will give a choice of some charming hotels at much lower rates in Madaba, thus supporting the local community. And within thirty minutes they are back in Amman … so why the need for more hotels - those notorious water wasters?

The point being because of the natural beauty and spiritual significance of this very special place, it should not be developed. People come here to get away from modern development. As it is, the huge number of churches being built is questionable – couldn’t we just have had one international church for all the faithful?

The thought of walking in the footprints of prophets, of bonding with the surrounding landscape of earth, sand, water, stone and vegetation untouched by consumerist demands is what I look for at this site and I know this is what ‘the tourist’ wants too – a unique experience. Touristic buildings will take away the one treasure and special feature of this site ----its natural landscape and the fact that it is not developed. I don’t see how a church can place “tremendous strain on the present infrastructure” as claimed in the editorial, after all 25,000 people do not descend on the place all in one day! The work that is needed is simple and already in place – good site management – ie people focused!

And I don’t like predictions …. so all those hundred of thousands of people making their way to Jordan will only come if they are encouraged … so why encourage them? People know their own religion, this place will speak for itself, if only we can maintain its sanctity.

Real estate developers and proponents of infrastructural development have an unfair say in forcing change on a society trying to keep up. And while we are at it, it is not the infrastructure at tourism sites that needs to be considered, rather the way they are administered, maintained and managed, again people focused. It is a simple question of understanding that buildings need people to run them properly. How many times have I gone to tourism sites, found a lovely piece of ‘infrastructure’ with no information inside them, and a bored and embarrassed guard who cannot even hand out a leaflet about the site being visited, due to inter-departmental squabbles about who does what and when.

And finally, “with few other resources”, concludes the editorial, the writer proceeds to put the horse before the cart by focusing on the tourist. I would have thought that all that money assigned to infrastructural development, would be better spent on developing training and opportunities for Jordanians in the tourism industry. That would be a much wiser decision indeed.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Citadel

My fellow blogger, J, has alerted us again to the development of the citadel for tourists. I find it a dilemma which isn’t new to tourism or to Jordan.

My husband had been involved in the International Hotel Association for the past 20 years and we faithfully went to their annual meetings. One debate that was ongoing among this group was the development of national sites, be they natural or man-made, as opposed to protecting them. Jordan is loaded in both natural wonders and historical places which are a part of its rich history. We could opt to close Petra to visitors in order to protect it. Then what? We could do the same for Jerash, Wadi Rum, and the ruins in Karak and Madaba. Then we lose a thriving tourism industry that gives jobs to people and hard currency to the country. Obviously protecting sites is not the absolute answer. Careless exploitation is not the answer either. Responsible development should take place and in most cases it is responsible or at least we hope so.

To be honest I haven’t followed the proposed plans for the Citadel, which by the way is one of my favorite places. I am not a museum enthusiast but I find the little museum there excellent. I have always found the openness and emptiness there soothing. At sunset the call to prayer reverberating up to the mountaintop from mosques all over Amman is a memorable experience. I do hope that whatever the plans are for the Citadel they are respectful of the site and its history both in architecture and function. Places that are too dangerous, unstable, or precious to develop should be cordoned off and forbidden to tourists. There should be no investment at a national site that reflect personal vested interest like the small Starbucks Coffee shop we saw inside the walls of the Forbidden City in China! Thanks J for the reminder. Maybe we can trigger some valuable discussion about the Citadel.


definition of cauldron - a situation of tension and stress

All hail the law that place thought and freedom of expression - one of the five pillars of democracy – inside a witch’s cauldron. Shudder the thought!

As Robert Burns said in his poem, "Here's a Health to them that's Awa'":

Here's a health to them that's awa;
Here's a health to Tammie, the Norlan' laddie,
That lives at the lug o' the law!

Here's freedom to them that would read,
Here's freedom to them that would write,

There's none ever fear'd that the truth should be heard,
But they whom the truth would indict.


Note: interesting debate on the above issue over at http://www.7iber.com/