[Marxism] Indentured servitude

Louis Proyect 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 
meet again.'"

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/07/international/asia/07INDI.html

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