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Article

4 Jun 2021

Author:
Maya Gebeilly, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Gulf: Migrants increasingly use social media to highlight labour abuse; arrest of activist & security guard Malcolm Bidali shows risks

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"Kenyan worker's arrest shows power, and peril, of online advocacy," 3 Jun 2021

"It kind of makes me feel like Batman or Superman. You can say the things you want to say, with your own voice and your own style," said Bidali...

[he] had been using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under the pen name "Noah Articulates" to complain about cramped living quarters, low wages and working outside in summer...

Three days after his interview… Bidali was arrested by Qatari authorities and put into solitary confinement.

He was released on June 2, but Qatar has upheld the charges against him...

His case highlights both the growing power of social media when wielded by migrant worker activists in the Gulf and the risk of backlash...

During the coronavirus pandemic, domestic workers in the Gulf took to TikTok to creatively protest long hours, low wages, the confiscation of their passports and phones…

Others used Twitter to demand overdue end-of-service wages from a UAE-based engineering company...

Still others use social media to link up with advocacy groups, like the Sandigan Kuwait Domestic Workers Association...

Migrant workers who don't have internet access but need urgent help use a hybrid approach, throwing an SOS note to a neighbour who then contacts Sandigan through Facebook or Whatsapp.

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