FOUR unemployed Bahrainis have pledged to sleep rough for days in protest if authorities don't meet their demands. The university graduates are demanding jobs in governmental organisations, saying they are fully qualified to take up any position offered. The men, who began their vigil at 7am and slept rough outside the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), Juffair, last night, have also vowed to continue protesting until their voices are heard. Degree Hassan Abdulkareem, 23, Hammed Ali Ebrahim, 28, and Hani Abdulla, 26 - who have all graduated with bachelor's degree in physical education - told the GDN yesterday that CSB officials dismissed their complaints. A fourth Bahraini, known only as Ali who had graduated with a bachelor's in accounting, was not present when the GDN visited the men's camp site yesterday but is understood he participated in the day-long protest and would sleep rough with the rest of the men.
“Officials from the bureau refused to meet us initially alleging we approached them in an illegal manner,” said Mr Abdulla.
“Later in the day, one of the Human Resources Department senior officials met us but he argued that we should leave the premises or send an official letter asking for a job.”
“But we have repeatedly sent such letters over the past two years with no response, so we had no choice but to organise a sit-in.”
The men initially faced trouble from police officers who tried to remove them from the premises because they didn’t have permission to stage a protest.
However, after hours of negotiations, the officers agreed to be their mediators with the bureau.
“We earlier asked for permission from the Interior Ministry but they refused because our protest wasn’t for a few hours – we plan to extend it until someone listens to us,” said Mr Abdulla.
“So in the morning, we faced trouble from officers but after speaking to them, they agreed to help us and one officer went into the building demanding someone speak to us.”
The men, who have part-time jobs, are now demanding authorities to secure jobs for them in government bodies, saying they would accept any position that is in line with their qualifications.
“We don’t say we should be hired by the Education Ministry but any of the other governmental bodies can take us in because there are many positions that can be filled by people with our qualifications,” said Mr Abdulla.
“We will not move until someone gives us a job or at least assures us a job even if we have to wait for a few months.
“Earlier, an order was sent by His Majesty King Hamad that all ministries should open their doors to unemployed Bahrainis in order to solve the unemployment crisis,” he explained.
“I just want to know what happened to that? Have ministries conveniently gone deaf?”
It is understood that more than 200 Bahraini men and women, who have graduated with a degree in physical education, are currently jobless.
The men spoke of their ordeal to the GDN, adding that their lives are at a standstill until they receive the needed financial support a job can provide.
“Both my parents have died so I completely depend on the little income I make from part-time jobs,” said Mr Abdulkareem, who graduated from Bahrain University two years ago.
“I don’t know how I have survived for a year-and-a-half.”
Mr Ebrahim, who also graduated from Bahrain University, said he hoped to make a living for himself and settle down but those dreams have been crushed without a stable job.
“I earn BD150 a month from part-time jobs. What can I do with that?” he asked.
“I dream of settling down and having a career and as I get older, my chances of getting a stable job diminish.”
Mr Abdulla, who is married and lives at his parents’ house, says the income he receives from working as a security guard is not sufficient to survive.
“We barely scrape through every month and it’s disappointing to know this is my fate because I studied hard and I got a degree from Kuwait hoping that I would start a career.”
“Why is the number of unemployed graduates in Bahrain so high?”
Meanwhile, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights called on authorities to immediately tackle the issue of unemployment in the country.
“Bahrain’s constitution declares that it is the duty of the government to provide jobs for its citizens in any field available,” said Society president Mohammed Al Maskati.
“It has to provide sufficient jobs with adequate wages for those who have graduated and spent out of their own pockets to pay for their degrees in hope of landing a good job.
“Unfortunately in Bahrain, the percentage of unemployment is rising and its victims suffer from daily financial problems,” he explained.
“We will always support the unemployed and the peaceful efforts they exert to pressurise the government to listen to them.”