Slave labour in Bush’s ‘new’ Iraq

This video says about itself:

This is a music-video of OFWs picketing the US and Philippine consulates in Hong Kong to protest the trafficking and forced labor of 51 Filipinos to build the US embassy in Iraq.

By Adam Ashton – McClatchy Newspapers in the USA:

U.S. subcontractor confined more than 1,000 foreign workers in Iraq warehouses

BAGHDAD — About 1,000 Asian men who were hired by a Kuwaiti subcontractor to the U.S. military have been confined for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work.

Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor to KBR, the Texas firm formerly known as [part of Dick Cheney‘s] Halliburton, hired the men, who are from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. On Tuesday, they staged a march outside their compound to protest their living conditions.

“It’s really dirty,” a Sri Lankan man told McClatchy Newspapers, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he still wants to work for Najlaa. “For all of us, there are about 12 toilets and about 10 bathrooms. The food – it’s three half-liter (1 pint) bottles of water a day. Bread, cheese and jam for breakfast. Lunch is a small piece of meat, potato and rice. Dinner is rice and dal, but it’s not dal,” he said, referring to the Indian lentil dish. …

The laborers said they paid middlemen more than $2,000 to get to Iraq for jobs that they were told would earn them $600 to $800 a month. Some of the men took out loans to cover the fees.

“They promised us the moon and stars,” said Davidson Peters, 42, a Sri Lankan. “While we are here, wives have left their husbands and children have been shut out of their schools” because money for the families has dried up.

The men live in three warehouses with long rows of bunk beds crammed tightly together. Reporters who tried to get a better glimpse inside were ushered away by armed guards.

The conditions in which the men have been held appear to violate guidelines the U.S. military handed down in 2006 that urged contractors to deter human trafficking to the war zone by shunning recruiters that charged excessive fees. The guidelines also defined “minimum acceptable” living spaces – 50 square feet per person – and required companies to fulfill the pledges they made to employees in contracts.

A U.S. military spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq referred questions to KBR. The spokesman said that the American military wasn’t aware of the warehouses until McClatchy and the Times of London began asking questions about it on Monday.

Some of the men who’ve been living in the warehouses said that KBR representatives visited the site two weeks ago. They said Najlaa held their passports until the KBR inspection, which Najlaa officials denied. Seizing passports is a violation of the U.S. military’s 2006 instructions to contractors.

Iraq’s Foreign Laborers: Disillusioned and Disliked: here.

Security agreements mean Iraq occupation will continue to 2012 and beyond: here.

Obama, Iraq, Kennedy, and Vietnam: here.

Kurds in N. Iraq receive arms from Bulgaria: here.

7 thoughts on “Slave labour in Bush’s ‘new’ Iraq

  1. US soldier faces hearing in 2007 deaths of Iraqis

    12/3/2008, 12:48 p.m. PST

    The Associated Press

    VILSECK, Germany (AP) — A military court heard conflicting testimony Wednesday about whether a U.S. Army sergeant helped kill four Iraqis who were bound, blindfolded, shot and dumped in a Baghdad canal last year.

    One witness said he saw Sgt. Joseph P. Mayo and two other soldiers — Sgt. Michael P. Leahy Jr. and Sgt. John E. Hatley — standing behind the four Iraqis facing the canal and saw them fire their weapons. But other witnesses said they saw no one shot or didn’t know if Mayo was even present.

    The Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury to assess the charges against Mayo and decide whether to refer him for a court-martial, was adjourned and will resume again Thursday. A decision is not expected this week.

    The first soldier called to testify Wednesday, Sgt. Daniel Evoy, told the court he saw the three men with the four Iraqis — on their knees and facing the canal — and that he saw Leahy fire the first shot, then a detainee “slump to the ground.”

    Evoy said he told his driver “I can’t believe they shot them.”

    Evoy told the Army judge that both Mayo and Hatley told him earlier that evening they planned to kill the four Iraqis.

    “We didn’t believe them,” Evoy testified. “We thought we’d just let them go.”

    Under questioning by Mayo’s civilian lawyer, Evoy’s driver, Spc. Justin Lamanna, said he remembered little about the event, including Evoy’s comments.

    But he told the court he was “60 percent sure” Mayo, Hatley and Leahy were there.

    Spc. Jonathan Shaffer, the machine gunner in Mayo’s Humvee, testified that he did not see Mayo at all, but added he was facing the other way.

    “I did not see Mayo shooting the detainees. I have no evidence of Mayo shooting,” Shaffer testified. He also denied Evoy’s claims that Mayo asked everyone to keep quiet about the incident.

    Mayo, 27, is charged with one count each of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and obstruction of justice in the spring 2007 incident. He is the sixth of seven soldiers implicated in the case to face a judge and could receive a life sentence without parole if convicted.

    Mayo was implicated by other soldiers who were on the patrol. All soldiers involved were with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, which is now part of the Germany-based 172nd Infantry Brigade.


  2. US army deserter applies for asylum in Germany

    By PATRICK McGROARTY – Associated Press | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    BERLIN — A U.S. soldier who deserted after serving in Iraq declared Tuesday he has applied for asylum in Germany.

    Army Spc. AndrDe Shepherd said he deserted from his unit’s Katterbach base in April 2007 after returning from a six-month deployment in Iraq, where he was a mechanic working on Apache attack helicopters in Tikrit.

    “We went to war basically for nothing,” Shepherd, of Cleveland, Ohio, told The Associated Press. “There’s no way I would go back for a second tour with the information that I have since received.”

    Shepherd has been staying with friends in southern Germany since going AWOL and working odd jobs to support himself.

    Germany should grant him asylum, Shepherd said, because of its strong opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

    “The Germany government already declared the war illegal in 2005,” Shepherd said.

    The Interior Ministry, which oversees migration and asylum, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

    Shepherd applied for asylum last week, said Tim Huber, director of the Germany-based Military Counseling Network, a group that has been assisting him.

    U.S. Army Europe spokesman Bruce Anderson confirmed that Shepherd served in the Army’s 12th combat aviation brigade but would not comment on the asylum application.

    Shepherd’s bid for asylum follows that of U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy Hinzman, who in September won a last-minute stay of deportation from Canada after a judge there ruled he could remain while awaiting a decision on whether he could appeal a deportation order.

    Hinzman faces charges in the United States of fleeing to avoid duty in Iraq. He had served a tour in Afghanistan during his three years in the Army, but has argued that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal.


  3. US soldiers re-enlisting because of poor economy

    By JOHN MILBURN and STEPHEN MANNING, Associated Press Writers John Milburn And Stephen Manning, Associated Press Writers – Tue Dec 2, 6:12 pm ET

    FORT RILEY, Kan. – Sgt. Ryan Nyhus spent 14 months patrolling the deadly streets of Baghdad, where five members of his platoon were shot and one died. As bad as that was, he would rather go back there than take his chances in this brutal job market.

    Nyhus re-enlisted last Wednesday, and in so doing joined the growing ranks of those choosing to stay in the U.S. military because of the bleak economy.


  4. Thursday, December 4, 2008

    Warehoused Asian workers in Iraq will be sent home

    By Adam Ashton | McClatchy Newspapers

    BAGHDAD — Asian men who’ve been living in warehouses near the Baghdad airport while awaiting promised jobs with a military subcontractor now are in line to be sent home, and they’re still not sure how they’ll be paid for their time in Iraq.

    Tensions simmered throughout the week at a compound where about 1,000 men from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka spoke out against their treatment by Najlaa International Catering Services, the Kuwaiti company that hired them for work in Iraq.

    Jobs didn’t materialize for the men, who’ve spent one to three months living in three pale blue warehouses packed with bunk beds along an airport side road.

    Najlaa officials broke up a protest outside the warehouses Tuesday by pledging to pay the men. Marwan Rizk, the company’s chief executive, told McClatchy that it would repatriate the workers and give them salaries for their time in the country.

    Manoj Kodithuwakku, 28, a Sri Lankan living in one of the warehouses, said he and others were still waiting to be paid.

    “It’s very difficult for us to believe them after everything,” he said.

    Most of the men don’t want to return to their countries yet. Most of them paid middlemen about $2,000 to link them up with work and get them to Iraq. Many, including Kodithuwakku, will owe on loans they took out to pay those fees.

    Kodithuwakku said that the wages he’d earn at a Sri Lankan hotel, his job before he came to Iraq, wouldn’t help him pay down that debt.

    “It will be only sufficient for survival,” he said.

    Those fears contributed to a hectic scene Wednesday, when the men in the warehouses reportedly staged another raucous protest. At one point, Iraqi police fired over their heads to end the revolt, Kodithuwakku said.

    About 400 were taken on buses to the airport Wednesday to board planes for Dubai, a hub for flights in and out of Iraq. Flights weren’t available, however, and the men were returned to the warehouses.

    Kodithuwakku said that about 160 were asked to get on buses again Thursday night, but they were holding out for stronger guarantees that Najlaa would pay them.

    Najlaa is a subcontractor to KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary that provides a range of services for the U.S. military in Iraq.

    Rizk told McClatchy this week that the company had encountered unspecified obstacles to its contracts in Iraq that delayed the jobs it anticipated giving the men. He said Najlaa took care of the men’s basic health and safety needs, though the workers have complained about poor food and inadequate restrooms.

    Spokesmen for the Multi-National Forces-Iraq have declined several requests for comment about the warehouses this week.

    (Ashton reports for The Modesto (Calif.) Bee)


  5. Posted by: “frankofbos” frankofbos
    Sat Dec 6, 2008 11:49 pm (PST)
    A Republican senator slams President Bush’s ‘stay the course’ Iraq
    policy on this date, calling it “absurd. It may even be criminal”.
    Also a “superb” Seattle prosecutor is let go by the Bush Justice
    Department; he says he heard the administration was upset that he
    didn’t aggressively pursue legal action against Democrats. Also, a
    couple of related Bushisms.

    Today’s category: Betraying Justice, Bushisms, Iraq


  6. SOFA So Disastrous
    [T]he 29 Sadrists, holding placards and chanting anti-occupation slogans inside parliament, represented the sentiments of most of the Iraqi people, who were not even shown a copy of the pacts before parliament approved them.

    Iraqis v. SOFA
    “The vast majority of Iraqis are against it,” Ali al-Fadhily, an independent correspondent living in Baghdad, told Truthout. “But those in power realize that it is the US existence in Iraq that keeps them in power, and so they [were] keen on signing it as soon as possible regardless of its conflict with the interests of Iraq and its people.”

    Muslim Scholars: Puppert Politicians Sold Out Iraq
    The vote yesterday was enough to assure the Iraqi people that the members who voted for the Convention has sold the people of Iraq to the occupier, but thank to God the sale was invalid, because they sold what they do not possess.

    US: Blackwater Used Grenades on unarmed Iraqis
    “None of the victims of this shooting was armed. None of them was an insurgent.”


  7. Pingback: United States’ war contractors’ slave labour | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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