Thursday, October 27, 2005

While KBR looks the other way, subcontracters employ slave labor

The Chicago Tribune ran a series of articles earlier in the month on where Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root gets all those Asian laborers that run the mess halls and supply chains for our war in Iraq. They have tapped into a long existing pipeline for the trafficking of human beings. Peasants are lured out of largely rural Asian countries like Nepal with promises of nice jobs that don't exist, and then coerced into dangerous and underpaid labor. Previously this pipeline supplied workers for Middle Eastern countries; now it supplies the Iraq war with bodies.

The reporter from the trib story was on Fresh Air today. (The Fresh Air links to the wrong audio file from the page on the KBR story. Here is the correct link.) Like any good reporter, he begins with the story of a few individuals, in this case twelve men from Nepal who were promised jobs in a five star Jordanian hotel, but found themselves in Iraq with no way to get home. KBR and its subcontracter didn't bother to provide them with protection: slave labor is too cheap to be worth it. The twelve men were captured by the insurgent army Ansar al-Islam and executed. The video of the execution made its way back to Nepal, where the young men's mothers could watch it.

KBR employs about 35,000 third party nationals through more than 200 subcontractors. This page at the Trib site focuses on their complicity in the trade in human beings.

Angry yet? US Citizens can contact their senators, representative, and president. It would be nice to influence Halliburton in some way, but, despite being major world power centers, large corporations like Halliburton are not directly accountable to the public for their actions. This is their website. If anyone can find an address to send mail to, let me know.

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