Jordan condoles death of 13 Pakistanis lost in barn fire

A picture taken on December 2, 2019 shows the remains of a home where several Pakistani farmers were killed in a fire in the town of Shuna in Jordan, some 50 kilometres southwest of the capital Amman. (Photo by AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Jordan condoles death of 13 Pakistanis lost in barn fire

  • The deaths have led to calls for Jordanian government to review workers’ conditions and rights
  • PM Khan thanked Jordanian authorities for their help and cooperation

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Razzaz expressed his condolences over the death of 13 Pakistanis lost in a barn fire Monday.
The fire broke out at 2.08 a.m. (local time) claiming the lives of eight children, four women and a man, Al-Mamlaka TV quoted Iyad Amro, spokesman for the Civil Defense Directorate, as saying.
The deceased had been living in the agricultural structures in Jordan Valley, and early reports indicate that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit.
PM Razzaz has established a committee comprising members of civil defense and interior ministry to look into the cause of the fire, Jordanian government spokesman Amjad Adaileh told Arab News.
“Sincere condolences and sympathies to our Pakistani brothers who died as a result of this painful incident … and our prayers for a speedy recovery to the injured,” Adaileh tweeted.
Hadeel Abdel Aziz, executive director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid in Jordan, told Arab News: “The government continues to disregard clear evidence about the environment of workers and the need to regulate the labor market, especially in the agricultural sector, and to enhance regulation and protection for laborers in this sector.”
“Ignoring the conditions of work for foreign workers, and treating it as unimportant because they’re non-Jordanian, is counterproductive and does more harm to the country,” she said.
Labor Ministry official Bilal Al-Majali said that special set of bylaws will be introduced soon to deal with the working conditions of agriculture workers. He added that major amendments to the Labor Law were currently under works.
“The changes will include the work environment and issues of the health and wellbeing of all workers, including foreign workers,” he told Arab News.
A spokeswoman for the Pakistani Embassy in Amman confirmed that 15,000 Pakistanis live in Jordan. She said the embassy has full faith in the investigative committee that Jordan’s government has established, and awaits its results.
Earlier Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry in Islamabad said in a statement that the victims belonged to the Joya family from Dadu district in Sindh province. The head of the family, Ali Sher Joya, survived the incident. “The family reportedly migrated from Pakistan to Jordan in the 1970s and was associated with the farming profession.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan has also expressed his condolences to the family of the victims. He also thanked the Jordanian authorities for their help and cooperation, the premier’s office said in a statement Monday evening.
The Pakistani Embassy in Amman is in touch with the victims’ relatives in Jordan.
“The ambassador and other senior officials are with the family to provide any urgent assistance. The Jordanian authorities are also extending full cooperation,” the statement said.


Downing of Ukrainian plane breathes new life into Iranian protests

Updated 15 January 2020

Downing of Ukrainian plane breathes new life into Iranian protests

  • As the truth finally emerged about the downing of the plane, protesters’ anger at the US quickly turned against the regime itself

LONDON: Iranian protesters gathered for a third consecutive day at sites across Tehran and other cities to mourn the deaths of 176 people killed in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, and to protest the government’s handling of the incident. What began as an exercise in grief is rapidly turning into an expression of anger.
Iran downed the plane following its missile attacks on US military bases in Iraq. The attacks, revenge for the US killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad, were met with no immediate response from the US.
As the truth finally emerged about the downing of the plane, after days of denial and obfuscation from Tehran, protesters’ anger at the US quickly turned against the regime itself.
This has boiled over into demonstrations at universities and other sites across Tehran and multiple other cities.
Video footage has emerged of protesters tearing down pictures of Soleimani, calling him a murderer, and chanting that the Basij — the domestic militia of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — should “go to hell.”
Protesters at Sharif University in Tehran, where many of those in the downed plane had studied or graduated, have been recorded chanting: “They killed our elites and replaced them with mullahs.”
Videos from within Iran appear to have shown the use of live ammunition and teargas against protesters. The recent scenes stand in stark contrast to those that emerged in the wake of Soleimani’s death. Funerals for him were held in cities across Iran, with people coming out in their thousands to mourn.
Writing for the BBC, Dr. Anisah Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, highlighted the “unprecedented level of unity and popular support” on display during Soleimani’s funeral.
She said this initially appeared to show that “when faced with the external threat of military confrontation, Iranians from different political and economic backgrounds could come together.”
However, Tabrizi added, the regime’s reaction to the downing of the plane made it likely that the unrest that erupted in November and resulted in the deaths of at least 300 people would re-emerge. Footage that continues to surface from protests in Iran appears to confirm this trajectory.
The regime has breathed new life into the public opposition that had been quelled through violence and a near-total internet shutdown.
Dr. Mahsa Rouhi, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the situation is already directly impacting Iranian politics.
The Guardian Council, the body responsible for approving parliamentary candidates, has just disqualified many moderate and reformist candidates who intended to run in February’s elections.
This, Rouhi said, means that hard-line voices are now more likely to dominate the next Parliament.