Slave labour in Afghanistan

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Afghanistan: ‘Slave-like’ conditions at Swedish army base revealed

Monday 09 January 2012

Kitchen staff at Sweden’s military base in Afghanistan have been working in “slave-like conditions,” a Swedish newspaper has revealed.

Swedish Colonel Anders Loefberg blew the whistle at the weekend, telling the Expressen paper that staff had even been forced to pay to get a job at the Mazar-i-Sharif base.

Col Loefberg said the predominantly Indian and Nepalese workers were subjected to “inhuman conditions.

“It makes me livid,” he said.

“As a Swede you get outraged over all the injustices and we look at this type of exploitation very seriously.”

The firm subcontracted to feed the Swedish troops, Swiss outfit Supreme, has as yet refused to give any guarantees on compensation for the super-exploited staff.

It has sought to pass the buck to a recruitment agency allegedly based in India, which reportedly forced the staff to hand over up to eight months’ wages in order to get a job at the base.

9 thoughts on “Slave labour in Afghanistan

  1. Pingback: US torture and false imprisonment in Afghanistan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. This is really pathetic for the Swedish government. These workers have their own family they need to feed back home. They work for a living with very limited resources, deprived of the social humane conditions they deserve. Just because they come from impoverished countries does not mean they should get treated like animals. We’re living in the twenty-first century but signs of imperialism and racism has still not ended. I agree with what Thomas Hobbes says, Man is naturally evil and corrupt.


    • Hi Stargaze, thanks for your comment!

      I agree with everything in it. Except with the last sentence. I would not say that the Indian and Swiss war profiteer corporation bosses and Swedish top brass officers responsible for this exploitation are representative for “Man” as a whole. I do not think that, already on the moment those people were born as little babies, it was already inevitable that they would become “evil and corrupt”.

      I’d rather suppose that they became evil and corrupt while climbing the ladders of the top down hierarchy of an army fighting a cruel, indeed “imperialist” war in Afghanistan; and the top down hierarchies of corporations profiting from that war.

      Quite some United States soldiers who would probably have never hurt anyone if they would not have been sent to Afghanistan, Iraq etc.. commited unspeakably cruel acts against civilians once overseas.

      So, we should try to stop those wars and the economic and social system profiting from them.


      • In understand your point. It’s corruption that is our enemy. The realization that one is out of the boundaries of authority (although they are quite wrong) provokes them to use their power for mistreating others who are socially or economically powerless. Money is not the cause, it is the mindset of the people.


  3. Hi Stargaze, thanks again for commenting. I agree that money in itself is not the cause. The cause is the social context of social and economic inequality, and of war (in Afghanistan). That context influences people’s mindsets.


  4. Exodus to danger, despair

    Daniel George, TNN | Jan 24, 2012, 07.41AM IST

    CHENNAI: With the UAE yet to recover from the debt crisis in Dubai and the global economic downturn, workers from India are now headed to Afghanistan via the Gulf.

    Hundreds of young men arrived in Chennai over the past two weeks to attend interviews for jobs in Afghanistan. An estimated 60,000 Indians lost their jobs in the Gulf due to the recession. Emigration officials said Indians were choosing to work in Afghanistan despite the dangers involved in the reconstruction process of the war-ravaged country.

    “Even if their salaries are low, their American employers ensure that they are paid, unlike in the Gulf where some companies failed to pay their workers,” one official said. Protector of emigrants D Jai Shankar said his office in Chennai had issued only 600 emigration clearances to applicants seeking to go to the UAE over the past three years. He said some of these applicants could had ended up in Afghanistan but thousands of others have been sent illegally to that country.

    Agents based in Mumbai, who account for the most recruits to Afghanistan from India, hire workers mostly from Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi. These agents say they have sent over 50,000 workers to Afghanistan in the past two years. Human rights activists say many recruiting firms cheat job aspirants making them believe they are being employed by companies in the Gulf and then packing them off to Afghanistan and Iraq after they arrive in the UAE.

    Immigration officials familiar with the racket said employers in Dubai sent applicants proper residence visas complete with the Indian Embassy authentication. They said the free visa regime between Dubai and Afghanistan had made it difficult to keep track of how many Indians were travelling to Afghanistan. There is no visa or exit stamp for travel between Dubai and Afghanistan. “It is similar to the agreement between Indian and Bhutan,” an official said.

    Syed Mustafa, a recruiting agent, said candidates are aware that they were going to Afghanistan. “They are told during the interview that they would be going to Afghanistan on a UAE visa,” he said. “They are aware of the risks. Most of them work in military camps run by the US. Indian labour is cheap and Indians work hard. They take up jobs as cooks, assistants and labourers and are well looked after by the US.”

    Mustafa said delayed salaries, rising inflation and an uncertain future in the Gulf were forcing Indian workers to work in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Applicants are offered jobs in Afghanistan as mechanical engineers, geotechnical engineers, lab technicians, general mechanics and supervisors.

    Most are from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab, where job opportunities are few. But Bernard Sami, director of Arunodhaya Migrant Initiative, a Chennai-based organisation that helps Indians in distress in the Gulf, said, “This is trafficking and smuggling of migrant workers to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am surprised that the Indian government cannot put a stop to this.”

    John Verghese, from Pathanamthitta in Kerala, who is going to work as a technician in Afghanistan, said, “I used to work in Kuwait for a few years but there was a problem with salaries being delayed. It is much better in Afghanistan. I have a cousin who has assured me that that I will be safe. Since I have to look after my elderly parents and sister I have no choice but to take the risk.”


  5. Cheated and stranded in a war-torn land

    TNN | Jan 24, 2012, 07.42AM IST

    CHENNAI: Subhash Dev returned home to Rajasthan after he lost his job in Dubai in 2008. A year later, he ran out of money. Subash borrowed Rs 1.5 lakh to pay an agent to find a job in Afghanistan, one of the poorest and most dangerous countries.

    He was promised a job in a military base for a monthly salary of Rs 30,000, but found himself locked up in a house in Kabul for a month with 67 other Indians most of whom were also laid off from jobs in the Gulf. After two months they were sent home by the Indian embassy officials. Indian diplomats say Gurdwara Karte Parwan, Kabul’s most famous Sikh shrine, has come to the rescue of Indian workers abondoned by uns c r u p u l o u s agents. The workers have to pay a fine of $5 a day for overstaying their visa and are left with no money. The gurdwara shelters them till the Indian embassy makes arrangements for them to return home.

    The embassy in Kabul has in the past three years sent back over 300 Indians who had been living at the shrine, said an Indian diplomat. The Indian authorities have asked the Afghanistan government to exercise caution in granting visas for potential Indian workers in Afghanistan by checking on their employment status, in particular for those coming to Afghanistan from the Gulf countries.

    The grim situation in the Gulf, which is still reeling from the effects of the global recession, is the main reason for Indian workers now going to countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, experts say. Bernard Sami of Arunodaya Migrant Initiative said many Indians work as cooks, sweepers, laundrymen and barbers for US military personnel. “When they are hired, they are promised a good salary. But they come face-to-face with reality once they land in the barb-wired compounds of US camps and are forced to survive in subhuman conditions,” he said.

    They are poor men who are enticed by contractors working for the US army and their sub-contractors in Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi by promises of an opportunity to work in Dubai for a monthly salary of more than $1,500 but once they land in Afghanistan, they are forced to work for $350 per month or even less and have to toil for over 14 hours a day.

    The workers are moved from Dubai to Afghanistan on US military planes or chartered aircraft without any immigration procedure in gross violation of international travel laws.


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

  7. Pingback: German militarist propaganda film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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