[Marxism] Indentured servitude
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 7 07:46:35 MDT 2004
NY Times, May 7, 2004
Indian Contract Workers in Iraq Complain of Exploitation
By DAVID ROHDE
VELICHAKKALA, India, May 5 — Last summer an agent for an Indian
recruitment company offered what seemed like the chance of a lifetime to
Abdul Aziz Hamid and his younger brother Shahjahan.
For an $1,800 fee, the recruiter promised to get the two young south
Indian men jobs as butchers on a military base in Kuwait for two years,
they said. With salaries of $385 a month, a small fortune by Indian
standards, they would join more than three million Indians already
working in the Persian Gulf and enriching their families back home.
They mortgaged a relative's house and land, paid the fee and flew to
Kuwait in August with two of their friends. What they say they
encountered when they got there landed on the front pages of Indian
newspapers this week, with one headline declaring "Indians Abused in
Iraq" in "U.S. Slave Camps."
Within days, the brothers said, they and their friends found themselves
on an American military base in northern Iraq working for a Saudi
subcontractor of Kellogg, Brown & Root, or KBR, a subsidiary of
Halliburton. They said their supervisor, who had taken their passports
in Kuwait, told them they were obligated to work on the base for six
months and could not leave.
Working alongside 200 other laborers, from India, the Philippines and
Sri Lanka, they first cleaned American latrines and then washed American
dishes, the brothers said. Their pay was roughly $150 a month, they
said, less than half of what the recruiter had promised.
"We were in hell," said Shahjahan, who returned here with his brother
last week. "I told my wife over the phone, `If God wills us, we will
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