Few days has passed since the Qatar Gate. The super rich sheikdom has allegedly bribed high ranking FIFA officials to win their votes to host FIFA World Cup in 2022. But the real scandal is a silent one lurking behind the scenes on daily basis. And that is the human cost of hosting the World Cup. Around 4000 workers will die to put on the extravagant event. When the Guardian Newspaper first shattered the pristine image of the country by breaking the story of Qatar’s World Cup Slaves, PRESS TV’s Johnny Miller decides to go to Doha to investigate how these deaths are occurring. There he is faced with tens of thousands of workers living is squalid, slave-like conditions and they are being worked to death. This is PRESS TV’s investigative exposé of this untold story of extreme violation of human rights.
(Workers at construction sites)
In Qatar 4000 thousand workers will die to put on the 2022 Football world cup. On this week’s Infocus we expose how they are dying.
(Worst conditions/bed rooms/toilets)
Slave like conditions, sleeping 15 to a room, its not hard to find evidence of serious human rights abuses in Qatar. We end up in in the Minister of Labour’s office demanding action is taking.
(Guardian newspaper headline? Me driving in car)
In late 2013, the Guardian newspaper broke the story of Qatar’s world cup slaves. Tens of thousands of workers are living in squalid accommodation; slave like conditions; dozens being worked to death every month. When I was asked to go to the country myself, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what I could add to this story. But not long after landing I found myself shocked at the extent of the suffering. What is happening in Qatar remains an untold story. The true extent of exploitation mis-understood by the world.
(Industrial area. Tractors, accommodation blocks, washing lines outside)
The story begins in Doha’s aptly named, Industrial Area. It is a dusty, ramshackle place. Packed full with machinery and the homes of migrant labourers.
(Inside Kenyan camp. Secret filming)
Workers are scared to speak to journalists. If they do they’ll be sacked and sent home. A reality we were soon to find out the hard way.
But for some, hopelessness outways the fear. On street 26, we randomly chose a gate to walk through. We were ushered into a room where it would be safe to talk.
(WE CANT SHOW ANY OF THESE GUYS FACES. BLUR WHEN NECESSARY)
Open sewage flows up from the toilets. There is no running water. The Air conditioner hardly works. It can get up to 55 degrees Celsius in summer.
Abrahim, not his real name and his friends are construction workers, toiling for 10 hours a day, 6 sometimes 7 days a week, on building sites, in factories or in the fierce heat on the side of the road.
(Al Sadd towers promo video. Then CEO talking)
The Al Sadd building, typical of Doha, boasts luxury apartments, a 5 star hotel, offices and a recreation centre. The CEO boasts of their admirable employment policy.
TC IN : 0'38"
TC OUT : 1'22"
We are particularly concerned about our Qatari employees.
I claim that every individual can focus on what he wants from his career. Does he want to dedicate himself to justice? To making money? Does he want to be an engineer or a doctor? In anycase he can choose. His personal life must be in harmony with his professional life.
The list of grievances, human rights abuses and the breaking of Qatari law seem endless but for me the most shocking revelation was yet to come.
Abrahim, show me his contract.
His basic salary is stated to be 1100 Rials, about $300 US dollars a month. It says he will be provided with decent accommodation, food money and a ticket home after the two years period.
And that is how someone becomes a slave in the 21st century. Abrahim and his friends took out huge loans to be able to come to Qatar. They took the loans on the basis of the money they would be making on the first contract. Now that salary has almost been halved they don’t have enough money to send back to their families and to pay the loans. Arbrahim has been here for nearly two years and hasn’t been able to pay back any of the loan. He has no choice but to work with no end ever in sight.
(showing us wooden board – DSC 0027)
Abraham like many of the workers are developing searious health problems. He shows us a wooden board he needs to sleep to ease the pain in his back.
Across the Doha’s Industrial Area, the problems are the same. In many places we are mobbed by workers, who felt safe enough to talk in their rooms. They pleaded with us to help.
(Shots of skyscrapers)
A half hours drive away, is the Doha, that Qatar likes the world to see. A stunning array of skyscrapers which have spring from the desert in recent years. Qatar, fabulously wealthy due to the world’s third largest oil reserves, comprises of only 300 000 citizens, the richest per capita in the world. The other 1.7 milion people in the country are migrants, Indians, Neapalese, Sri Lanka, Bangaldeshi and African brought in to build and service the country.
Huge construction works continue, increasingly geared towards the World Cup in 2022. Stadiums, hotels and infrastructure means are continuous supply of labour is needed.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in the Guardian’s report are that 4000 workers will die in putting on what is essentially a football tournament.
(Secret filming inside hospital)
Inside the hospital, we were taken from room to room to see if anyone would give us an interview. The answer was always the same. No. The government refused us and everyone else was scared. They would be sacked or deported just for talking to us. There is a culture of fear in this country.
We secretly recorded one health worker. We cannot show the footage and have changed his face for his protection.
(WE CANT SHOW THIS GUY FACE OR OFFICE AND WE HAVE TO ALTER HIS VOICE. PERHAPS USE FREEZE FRAME OF SOMEWHERE IN THE HOSPITAL)
(Workers in hospital shots)
There are not enough hospitals for the workers. The government are building more but we are told these will not be nearly enough. Hard labour 6 or 7 days a week takes its toll on the human body.
Back in the industrial area, we spoke to a doctor looking after workers. Once again he refused to speak on camera.
The only figures of deaths come from the embassies of the workers. The Nepalese ambassador was recently sent home after he realised the figures and compared Qatar to an open jail. On average a worker is dying every day.
(Words on screen. There is a shot of the National Human rights commission headquarters.)
The National Human rights Commission, effectively a Government agency recently stated.
"If we look at the numbers of Qataris who died ... of natural causes ... over the past two years, we see that numbers of deaths among the Indian community are normal."
"Clearly any one death in Qatar or anywhere else is one death too many –
"We are working to understand the causes of these deaths – as these statistics could include a range of circumstances including natural causes, and road safety incidents, as well as a smaller number of workplace incidents."
If proper research is done on why workers are dying this doctor believes progress can be made.
(Harbour area, towers, arabs buying luxury sports cars, white people walking or taking buggies on board walks.)
Qatar is currently constructing a huge artificial island of the shore of Doha. It is already home to the countries super rich and wealthy foreign expats who live in often palatial homes. The boardwalks are lined with luxury brands. Rich Arabs buy their sports cars. Western holiday makers bask in the sun.
Working in their shadows, an army of cleaners keep the streets clean. They work for Averda, the largest waste management company is the Middle East and North Africa. They were very happy to speak to us.
Our boss is from Kerala, India. He takes part of salary. If we are paid three thousand. There will be one thousand for us, one thousand for him and one thousand for the company. That’s why he doesn’t want us to leave.
I’d like to do anything else but not this. That’s the problem with this supply company, he can do whatever he wants with us. His name is Kumra Kumra.
Although the Qatari government must take the ultimatum responsibility for the exploitation in their country, brokers, middle men, usually from the same countries as the workers themselves are amongst the most to blame.
We are the slaves of the company. He chooses everything; when we go home, in one month, two months. It’s only in this moment when he will give us our passports.
(Good shots of them blurred in their beds. ONCE AGAIN BLUR FACES)
They invited us back to where they lived, in the Industrial Area. Their housing arrangements were familiar. They work 12 hours a day, plus two hours transit, seven days a week. They struggle to stay healthy.
We only eat rice everyday. Morning, rice, lunch, rice, night, rice. What can we do?
One man shows me his feet. He clearly needs treatment and time off work.
I can’t find any day off. If I don’t go to work they will cut my salary. It’s because of the heat, my work shoes and being outside all day, everyday. If I had one day off I come rest and fix them.
(Business card of guy called Kumha Kumha)
They show me the business card of their broker. The man who has effectively trafficked them and is keeping them as slaves. They told us that one of them had refused to work and gone to the authorities and that the police were looking for Mr Kumra Kumra. If they are. They have yet to find him.
A stones throw away, we dropping in on the Kenyans we had visited days before. Abraham’s friend Thomas was sitting on his bed disconsolate. Today, without warning he was called into the company office.
(ONCE AGAIN CANT SHOW FOOTAGE AND MUST CHANGE VOICE. PERHAPS FREEZE FRAME OF INDUSTRIAL AREA IN THE EVENING)
In the industrial area we spoke to a foreman of one of the company’s, although better off than those under him he says he is being exploited as well. Once again we have changed is voice to protect his identity.
We then found out first hand what happens when workers talk to journalists. While interviewing one of Abraham’s friends there was a knock at the door.
I need a minute.
Maybe he’s coming here to make problems for you. You have to go. Maximum ten minutes maybe he’s here. He is still in Doha now.
Someone had called the company and told them we were here. We made a quick exit.
(Shots of Abrahim)
The next day Abraham called us. Someone had denounced him. One of the workers, perhaps to carry favour with the bosses had told them Abraham had talked to us. They called him into the office and sacked him. They were sending him home. At least they were paying the air ticket. The day before he told us why that was an even worse scenario than staying.
We gave him money and offered our apologies. What else could we do?
(Shots of Thomas on bed like when he was talking to us)
His friend Thomas, who the day before had refused to sign a new contract cutting his wages further, told us that upon consideration he eventually gave in and signed. The alternative was even worse. Being kicked out on the street with no plane ticket home.
(Fade out. Fade in)
(Me walking into building)
A major problem in Qatar is that workers are too scared to go to the authorities. Everyone else is too scared to speak up. We were told that by taking this evidence to the government we risked being deported or barred from entering the country again.
(Shots of Labour Ministry. FREEZE FRAME WHILE SECRET AUDIO)
After wandering through the Ministry of Labour asking to speak to people, I was somehow able to walk into the Labour Minsters office and speak to the man himself. I secretly recorded the conversation
The Minister then got on the phone and instructed one of his subordinates to take my documents, listen to my evidence and to do something about it.
(Shots of Kenyan place again)
Back in London I called contacts at the camps we visited like Abrahams. A few days after we left Qatar, representatives from the companys went round to the accommodation blocks and started to fix ACs and paint rooms. More improvements have been promised. Even a basketball court. The Minister was true to his word.
(Shots of Qatar, construction)
Clearly the, Qatari government is taking some action to improve working conditions. But the extreme level of exploitation is clearly not matched by their will. The culture of fear remains making it almost impossible for complaints to reach the authorities. If a western journalist spending two weeks in the country can find reams of evidence, why can’t the authorities find it themselves?
The shocking truth is that in Qatar, hundreds of workers continue to die needlessly each year. And thousands more continue to cry out for help unable to be heard.