In the land of the rising sun, a select company of well-to-do citizens has embarked on a deviant sort of ethnic cleansing. No, they do not target human beings, but instead focus their efforts on another defenceless group; the spotted green sea turtle.
Believing that the presence of this turtle in their homes brings wealth and luck, these people have embarked on a voracious hunt for this beleaguered species of turtle. These turtles which usually take decades to attain adulthood are being systematically decimated without the pleasure of living out their natural life. Hunted relentlessly, these passive creatures are no match for the guile of greed.
In countless homes, stuffed and epoxied bodies of juvenile turtles hang lifelessly on entryways. The larger the number of dead turtles, the more affluent the homeowner. Not content with the shrinking supply of turtles around their own land, these murderous individuals have now expanded their search to the further domains of this endangered species, such as in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
In China, the Royal Bengal tiger is a highly sought commodity. Not the live and ferocious animal with spirit and vigour, a natural beauty among predatory beasts with its glorious striped skin and menacing growl. Instead, what is highly prized is a cluster of skin and bones of this distressed animal.
Believing that body parts of the tiger are an aphrodisiac to improved physical relations; the appetite of lots of people has diminished the numbers of this species to an alarming level. Hunted mercilessly by poachers in the Indian subcontinent by men driven by demand and greed, this poor animal ends up in jars and boxes on display shelves in some stalls in the larger towns in China.
Royal Bengal tiger ranks high among those on the endangered list of animal species not expected to avoid extinction beyond the next fifty years. Another unfortunate animal is the African black rhino. Here too, poachers abruptly end this animal’s mortality to steal his horn. The horn is highly prized among some deviates as an aphrodisiac or a symbol of power. Haven’t these people ever heard of Viagra?
Efforts of some African governments to halt this systematic abuse are failing in the face of voracious demands. This nearsighted and often clumsy animal is no match for high-powered rifles or cunning traps that snuff his life out within a matter of seconds. Hastily his horn is dismembered from the rest of his body, while the rest of his lifeless form is left as a rotting carcass for hyenas and vultures.
Now, what about our very own endangered species … the expatriates? Well, the good news is that those expats whose origin is to the West of here have no urgent need to be concerned. The same unfortunately cannot be said of those to the east.
While there is no ethnic cleansing, there exists among some of our arrogant and gluttonous countrymen a sort of ethnic abuse.
Take the case of XYZ Company. Employing mostly those from the subcontinent, this company operates for months without paying salaries to its employees. Contracted by the hundreds at SR800 per month, these unfortunate workers are heaped with the added abuse of cramped living quarters and systematic violations of their contractual rights.
With prices of most essential goods on the rise, these employees who have heavy obligations to family and friends back home have to suffer the indignity of working with delayed salaries or humane benefits. Was it not for the generosity of some of the staff whose offices these poor souls clean, most would end up malnutritional.
At a small chain of gas stations, the Asian employees there look forward to rainy days. It is only then that they get a break from their work routine of 12 hours daily, seven days a week. With nary a day off to look forward to, these suffering souls can only look to the heavens and pray for the skies to burst with showers.
These are but two examples of our very own. Others exist, in different forms and structures. Domestic help is another area. The government has stepped up efforts in recent years to identify and target unscrupulous employers with stiff punishment.
Laws are in the books to protect the rights of such employees. But with most of them with little or no education, they become prey to some dishonest bosses. Rotten employers exist everywhere. Fortunately for every one bad boss, there are thousands of good ones.
Perhaps these unfortunate expats should list themselves among the last of a breed going extinct. Perhaps that would trigger some conscience in the hearts of their employers.
— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena