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Tougher punishments for hate crimes urged

HUMAN rights activists have demanded tougher punishments for hate crimes against expatriates.

They say the growing number of attacks are intended to spread panic among Bahrain's foreign communities in an attempt to drive them out of the country.

Several thousand people are understood to have already left Bahrain as a result of the unrest, said founder and president of the newly-formed Mabade'a Society for Human Rights Abdulla Doseri.

"We are concerned with the spate of attacks against poor workers which have made it more clear and obvious that these protesters are pressuring the government by targeting expatriates," he said.

"Expatriates have the same rights like us citizens and they should not be discriminated against.

"But since they are a vulnerable group, they are targeted so that they leave the country."

Mr Doseri, who is also a member of Bahrain National Institution for Human Rights, said according to Indian Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar 5,000 families left Bahrain during the first week of last year's anti-government protests.

Many expatriates were attacked or were forced to flee their homes and relocate to other areas in search of safety or seek refuge in their embassies.

Two expatriates also died in a series of explosions in Gudaibiya and Adliya on November 5.

"I have no qualms in saying that the government and parliament failed to introduce or implement tough laws that deal with such hate crimes," said Mr Doseri.

Members of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society visited Pakistani Tasleem Gul Khan in hospital and described the attack against him as a "terrorist act".

Condemned

"The society condemns these terrorist acts by radical groups against expatriate workers," it said.

"They are endangering lives of others, particularly Asian labourers."

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report documented a total of 58 attacks against Pakistanis, 18 against Bangladeshis, 11 against Indians and one against a Filipina.

Three Bangladeshis and an Indian were also killed during anti-government protests in separate incidents.



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