Bahrain render Kenya’s athletes homeless

Published on 26/02/2009

By Feverpitch Reporter

The Bahrain Athletics Association (BAA) is being accused of practising ‘modern slavery’ by taking advantage of loopholes in United Nations (UN) Convention laws to leave a number of young Kenyan-born runners stateless. Already, five athletes granted Resident Status by the oil rich Gulf State face an uncertain future with allegations Bahrain is withholding their passports and denying them travel visas.

They are listed as Saleh Marzooq Bakheet (born Simon Mbuthia), Ishaq Isaak Abedeen (Isaac Waweru), Dawood Sultan Khamis (Dominic Kiprono), Majjid Saleh Basheer (Ronald Kipchumba) and Sajjad Juma Yaqoob.

Documents availed to FeverPitch by Athletics Kenya (AK) have four other junior runners who cannot be named because their cases are still under review.

Departed on sunday

The quartet, all secondary school students from the North Rift, departed last Sunday for Bahrain aboard Qatar Airways flight ETKT 157 in the company of a renowned coach who was in the national team’s technical bench for last year’s World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

“Once they qualify, they represent Bahrain at major championships. The four have been entered in the Asian Cross-Country Championships on March 1 (Sunday),” AK chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, told FeverPitch.

“Those who do not qualify are thrown away and become stranded because they cannot represent Bahrain or be accepted back here since we do not have dual citizenship agreements,” the official charged.

The four juniors (three men and a female) have return tickets that give the expected date of arrival back to the country aboard the same flight as June 25.

Promise money

“That period (four months) gives BAA a chance to gauge if the runners can meet their expectations. Our coaches lure junior runners from their parents with promise of money and we shall take stern action against them.”

He added: “We can intervene in cases of senior runners (over 20 years) who are covered under the convention but we can do nothing for juniors. This is modern slavery,” Kiplagat said.

The UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and that of Competing for Adopted Countries (that gives a three-year period before one is allowed to compete for adopted nation) apply only to senior athletes.

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