Over 700 Indian workers killed in Qatar World Cup construction

This 2013 video is called Qatar World Cup: the migrant workers forced to work for no pay | Guardian Investigations.

Another video which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

German filmmaker imprisoned for exposing dire Qatar World Cup worker conditions

16 Oct 2013

Toiling in terrible conditions, no salaries for months, passports confiscated by employers — that’s the horrendous reality for migrant workers helping with preparations for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, as revealed by German filmmaker, Peter Giesel.

He and his cameraman were detained and imprisoned after they tried to investigate the story. The two went to Qatar following the publication of a report in the Guardian, claiming that workers are enduring appalling labor abuses.

Giesel said that they were arrested in their hotel rooms on October 3 and taken to police headquarters. There, all their equipment was impounded, and police then took the filmmakers to the State Security prison in the suburbs of Doha.

RT exclusively interviewed filmmaker Peter Giesel to find out about their experiences, and what they witnessed while covering the issue in Doha.

“We were there, in those separate cells, in [sic] the total of 21 hours. We were treated quite well, we got good food, to be honest, but the bad thing about those 21 hours was that we weren’t allowed a single phone call: not to our embassy, not to our families, no one was there to tell us what the charge was really, so we were kind of desperate in there, not having any contact with the outside world,” Giesel stressed.

Prior to their confinement, he and his cameraman met with migrant workers who told them about their plight.

One of the men interviewed worked for 12 years as an accommodation specialist, but, as Giesel indicated to RT, “ironically, his accommodation itself doesn’t even have a fan.”

The man hasn’t been getting his salary and bonuses for a number of years, and his main difficulty is to fight a case against his boss and his firm: the employer took his passport from him, and the 35-year-old worker hasn’t made the money necessary to return home, “the devilish circle”, as Peter Giesel put it to RT.

Another group of guys — there were four of them — weren’t paid for seven months in a row and were trying to file a case when Giesel met them.

As the filmmaker explained, one of the main issues surrounding migrant workers is that they are employed under the so-called kafala system, which is “a law basically stating that every migrant worker that comes into Qatar has to find his own personal sponsor meaning his boss, the firm or corporation he’s working for.”

“And that sponsor has to take care of him legally and medically, but obviously, most of the sponsors take their passports away from the migrant workers. That puts maybe tens of thousands of them in a miserable situation. They can’t make any money to go home, so they’re trapped down there.”

Moreover, migrant employees can’t rely on outside forces such as their countries’ embassies, according to Giesel.

“I had a chance to sneak into the Nepalese embassy and do my recordings down there. It seems to be some kind of chaos: the bureaucracy not only in the embassies, but also in the Qatari system might be too overwhelming for those 1.4 million migrant workers to be treated fairly,

Despite the disastrous situation, Giesel is certain that the World Cup in Doha won’t be canceled, as “there’s just too much money involved in it. There are sponsorships, contracts ready, most of them signed already, there’s big political money, there’s big infrastructural money. Right now, there are billions spent down there in Doha to put up the streets, to put up new shopping malls, to put up new stadiums indeed.”

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

More than 500 Indian workers have died in Qatar since 2012, figures show

As Qatar construction boom gathers pace ahead of 2022 World Cup, Indian government confirms scale of death toll

Owen Gibson, chief sports correspondent

Tuesday 18 February 2014 17.33 GMT

More than 500 Indian migrant workers have died in Qatar since January 2012, revealing for the first time the shocking scale of death toll among those building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

Official figures confirmed by the Indian embassy in Doha reveal that 237 Indians working in Qatar died in 2012 and 241 in 2013. A further 24 Indians have died in January 2014.

These come after the Guardian revealed last month that 185 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar in 2013, taking the total from that country to at least 382 over two years.

Human rights groups and politicians said the figures meant Fifa could not “look the other way”, and should be leading demands for Qatar to improve conditions for the estimated 1.2 million migrant workers fuelling a huge construction boom.

The figures from the Indian embassy show that 233 Indian migrants died in 2010 and 239 in 2011, taking the total over four years to 974. Since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in December 2010, there have been 717 recorded Indian deaths.

However, the Indian embassy did not provide further details on who those individuals were, their cause of death or where they worked. But analysis of the lists of dead Nepalese workers showed that more than two-thirds died of sudden heart failure or workplace accidents.

Nicholas McGeehan, a Gulf researcher for Human Rights Watch, said: “These figures for Indian deaths are a horrendous confirmation that it isn’t just Nepalese workers who are dying in Qatar.”

Jim Murphy, the shadow international development secretary, said: “Preparations for the 2022 World Cup cannot go on like this – the trickle of worrying reports from the construction sites of Qatar has become a torrent.

Some of the practices we know are taking place in Qatar amount to forced labour, and there are widespread concerns that the death toll could reach well into the thousands if nothing is done.”

Last week, a hearing at the European parliament heard from human rights groups, Fifa and other interested parties after a resolution was passed last year calling for action on the issue as construction of 2022 World Cup venues begins in earnest.

Despite the Qatar 2022 organising committee implementing a new charter relating to construction on its stadiums and the ministry of labour highlighting an expanded inspection programme, human rights groups and trade unions have repeated their call for structural change in the face of hundreds of deaths.

In November, Amnesty warned in a damning report that workers were enduring 12-hour days in sweltering conditions and living in squalid, overcrowded accommodation.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has warned that up to 4,000 workers may die before a ball is kicked in 2022 without meaningful reform of the kafala system, which ties workers to their employers, and stringent control of the myriad construction companies and subcontractors involved.

The ITUC, which has campaigned consistently for better rights for migrant workers across the Gulf, has called the publication of the charter a sham because it does not deal with structural problems created by the kafala system.

Many workers arrive in Qatar already heavily in debt, having paid huge sums to middle men to secure contracts in the fast growing Gulf state.

A senior executive at one of Qatar’s largest banks told a conference in Bahrain last month that the Gulf state would spend £123bn on infrastructure projects in the next four years alone. The hosting of the World Cup is an integral part of Qatar’s unprecedented 2030 National Vision building project.

There are an estimated 1.2 million migrant workers in Qatar. Those from India make up 22% of the total, with a similar proportion from Pakistan. Around 16% are from Nepal, 13% from Iran, 11% from the Philippines, 8% from Egypt and 8% from Sri Lanka.

Law firm DLA Piper has been engaged to prepare a report on all issues surrounding Qatar’s use of migrant labour, which is expected to be published next month.

But human rights groups have maintained that Qatar must prove it is serious about reforming its labour laws. Amnesty’s James Lynch, who wrote last year’s report, called on the Qatari and Indian authorities to provide more detail on the circumstances of the deaths.

“This issue is not restricted to one country of origin,” said Lynch. “It is critical that the Qatari government works urgently with the governments of migrant workers’ countries of origin to investigate the main causes of migrant workers’ deaths and develops a transparent plan to address these, particularly where deaths relate to industrial accidents, work conditions and access to healthcare.”

Fifa has asked Qatar to provide evidence of meaningful progress in reforming labour law but the president of world football’s governing body, Sepp Blatter, has said its status as hosts is not under threat.

Murphy, who will travel to Nepal and Qatar in the coming weeks, said: “Fifa cannot simply look the other way. Football’s governing body should be leading demands for change, not dragging its feet.”

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