Saturday, June 26, 2004

Indian workers abused in Iraq

This rediff article describes the plight of Indians who've gone to Iraq to work in US military camps.
It is slavery there in the American camp. We are being treated worse than animals," Peter Thomas, a native of Mavelikkara in Kerala, who did odd jobs such as cleaning and laundry works in an American army camp, told

Thomas along with two of his friends Anil Kumar and Justin C Antony reached Kerala this week, after the Indian government intervened to rescue them in the wake of escalating tension and violence in Iraq.

The average monthly salary of an Indian worker in Iraq is $250, including daily overtime of four hours, Thomas pointed out. But the Americans deduct from this salary the cost of our food and accommodation. An Indian worker finally gets only $165 in hand. "I had paid Rs 60,000 to the Kerala travel agent to go to the Gulf. I have been in Iraq for six months now. But I have come back empty-handed without earning much," Thomas said. He said when the Indian workers protested against the 'low salary', many of them were bashed up by their employer Dawood and Partner, a Jordanian firm.

"We lived in dingy cubicles in the makeshift army camp. We never got food on time. Our movements were always restricted. We never got newspapers to read. We were allowed to call our homes only once in a month," Thomas said.

The Iraq returnees claimed that the living and working conditions in the American army camps are miserable and 'labour and human rights violations are the order of the day'.

I suppose there are many worse things happening to Iraqis in Iraq. It's just that my mother lived in Mavelikkara for 4 years. Funny how the consequences of war spread around the world.

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