Monday, March 13, 2006

First in what?!


A year ago Al-Rai Al-Aam reported that “First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting” (FKTC) was awarded to work on building the new US Embassy in Baghdad, a $592 project (Link).
This year David Phinney reports that FKTC mis-treats the labour in iraq & recruited them deceivingly (Link), nothing reported to deny this, yet.

After doing some internet search on the company, I found out that in 2003 FKTC ranked 5th in hiring Filipinos in Kuwait (Link), over ranked by 4 labour recruiting agencies (maids, babysitters, cooks, drivers …etc).
In addition, this year FKTC is planning 840 housing units & other public buildings in Jaber Al-Ahmad City project (Link).

Please, if you know anything related to this company’s “scandal” in Baghdad, or a possible one in Kuwait, share it so people will know the truth.
A lot of foreign labour problems are unheard of in Kuwait, since most of us are indulged in our own lives & business. Careless of what foreign labour (mainly Asians) are going through.

22 comments:

Khobiz said...

interesting stuff dude...
good job

EXzombie said...

بدور و اقولك شنو بيطلعلي

Shurouq said...

Very informative, iDip, as always.
Thank you.

NuNu™ said...

واو حبيت الصورة

Bu 6ubar said...

Shame on us.

iDip said...

khobiz & shurouq,
:)

ExZombie,
أنت دوما في الطليعة

nunu,
حبب الله خلقه فيج

bu 6ubar,
:(

بومريوم said...

لى صديق فلبينى"لا يروح بالكم بعيد الريال عمره الف و متزوج و عنده عيال"عايش القصه هذى
كان يقول لى و أنا مو مصدق..معقول فى بشر جذى؟
الكثير من أصدقائه ماتو و هم يحلمون بالعمل بالكويت
و النهايه كانت بغداد

Hashemy said...

met2aleq daiman idip ya36ek el 3afya dear :)

Trina Flowers said...

Investigate who the principals are and you will know why there are no principles!

Talisman said...

fake bastards..you all treat your house help like trash..and you should..they are asian monkeys.work them to death i say.

iDip said...

بومريوم
ربنا عالظالم!

Hashemy,
الله يعافيك :)
وحمدالله عالسلامة

Trina Flowers,
any updates about your case?

Trina Flowers said...

UPDATES:

"special investigation" by kuwait authorities into my illegal arrest and deportation (they admitted there was NO arrest warrant)

US state dept talked to ministry of social affairs and labor to find out why the ministry violated their own laws

US embassy in kuwait kept out of loop since some are corrupt

certain members of US Congress investigating among ohers who for now must remain anonymous

comparisons being drawn between my case and Muneerah Ali al-Tarrah's case

all the updates the lawyers will allow me to divulge at this time

Trina Flowers said...

talisman,

it's certainly understandable why you have your profile blocked with comments like that!

it's a shame you feel that way.

it's amazing you would write it (even though in a democratic society I would defend your right to do so even while I find your words offensive)

what makes you think "Asians are monkeys and should be worked to death?"

how do you feel about those people that would say the same of you?

M-Redux said...

OMG Kuwait is like L.A. in the 80's...sick sick sick

Trina Flowers said...

alexis,

kuwait is worse than the US was during slavery; what's really sick about it is the americans that are also involved.

Trina Flowers said...

idip,

congrats and let me thank you for shedding light on the labor issues in kuwait. hope you aren't threatened like kuwaiti femme and forced to delete parts of your blog.

for more on the issue, read on...


Mr Glatz,

I never refused to provide my passport to the Kuwait authorities; in fact, they never even asked for it! By the way, is that passport still valid since I never reported it lost?

Again, I wasn't an illegal alien without a sponsor; I had one who kept breaking Kuwait law using his wasta (personal influence) and other techniques and at the same time denied me due process within the law.

I am not surprised the Kuwait authorities have no record of the other items that were stolen from me (your list is incomplete). However, there are witnesses.
When ALL my stolen property has been recovered let me know and I'll inform you where to send it.

Many of the women who were illegally imprisoned as I was, wrote their stories and I smuggled them out of Central Prison; I'd like to know who in the State Department to send them to. Even though international law provides that we were suppose to have access to pen and paper; we weren't. (Two pens I smuggled out of Salmiya CID Jail and Talha Prison were taken from me at Central Prison.) We wrote our stories on the wrappers of the god awful drink boxes we rarely got.

Also, since we were forced to "perform certain tasks" illegally I'd like to know who we report this information to also. For instance, one such task involved handling human feces without protective gear. Other tasks involved violating prisoners religious beliefs. In fact, when I strongly objected and refused to perform one of those tasks first, ALL 26 of my cellmates were punished. When they stood by me, then the entire prison population was punished.

I have contact information for ALL the women.

We also were not provided our meds, toothbrushes or any other hygiene products including Kotex (nothing like sleeping quite literally on top of one another) and have 12 of them bleeding all over you! Then we were threatened we would be beaten if we did not cut our fingernails to the quick. The guards cited we had to do it since we were all filthy. (The guards made us sit on the floor as they stood over us with a baton in their hands hovering inches above our heads and forced us each one in turn with the same nail clippers without being sterilized to cut our nails to the quick.) Yes, we bled and shared our blood! When I pointed out the fact we had no toilet paper, soap or other necessary products to clean with, I got a smirk and shrug!

One of my fellow inmates had been imprisoned illegally for more than a year during my time because she refused to marry her sponsor's mentally and physically challenged son and they would not provide her plane ticket! One was imprisoned for talking to a guest at her sponsor's home. One was imprisoned for refusing to have sex with her sponsor (she was actually lucky all her sponsor did was have her illegally imprisoned since many of the others end up raped, beaten, and even killed especially for their internal organs)!

The last 20 days of my tenure in Kuwait made one hell of an ending to my book and I do want to thank you for that since you made much of it possible. Part of my dedication page in the book is to you and other State Department employees.

Before I close, how is the case with Muneerah Ali al-Tarrah going? A couple of days before I was illegally arrested, imprionsed and denied all my legal rights, I wrote Mesa, Arizona and told them she would pull a runner. I was proved correct. Some comparisons are getting all the more interesting. If the US authorities are really interested in seeking justice for Todd DeGain they should contact Switzerland.

Trina Flowers

c: blind copies

"Glatz, Charles L" wrote:
Dear Ms. Flowers:

Thank you for your e-mail and your wishes.

If you want any Department of State records, you can file a Freedom of Information request with the Department. The information to do so is on the Department’s website at http://foia.state.gov/foiareq/foialetter.asp

Issuance of the replacement United States passport with which you were deported from Kuwait was approved by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs on consultation with the Department concerning your situation of being a deportable alien, clearly identified as an American citizen, but refusing to provide the Kuwaiti authorities with your American passport.

I am unaware of any Government of Kuwait investigation concerning your deportation as an illegal alien without a sponsor. We have had no further communication with the Kuwaiti authorities about you.

The only items that we have received from the Kuwaiti authorities are a small silver ring with some semi-precious stones and KD 2.70. The Kuwaiti authorities have no record of the other items you alleged were taken from you by the Kuwaiti authorities – two gold toe rings, 1 green plastic glass, 1 gray lighter with “New York” on it, 2 newspapers (Arab Times and Kuwait Times), 1 pair of Oakley sunglasses, 1 bra, 1 long underwear, and 1 red lighter. If you provide an address in the United States to which we can mail the ring and the KD 2.70, we will do so.

Sincerely,

Charles Glatz
Consul – U.S. Embassy Kuwait

From: Trina Flowers
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 3:27 AM
To: Glatz, Charles L
Subject: bogus passport

Mr Glatz,

I spoke (recorded and witnesses listening on extensions) with the State Department yesterday and it seems there is no record of my "new passport" (the one used to illegally deport me). I would like the official documentation as to my "lost passport" that I NEVER reported.

I have used the "new passport" as identification in federal, state, city and county offices as well as private businesses (i.e., rather lengthy paper trail). After all, I wasn't allowed to even leave Kuwait with my purse, much less any of my other personal property or ID!

How is the "special investigation" into my case going? The Kuwaitis admitted my arrest and deportation were illegal; seems there was no arrest warrant! Also, state called the ministry of social affairs and labor to inquire why the Kuwaitis did NOT follow their own laws. He was referred to your co-conspirator al-Awadi!

Imagine my shock at reading the State Department's human rights report in Kuwait and the lies in it especially where Americans have been concerned!

Furthermore, has any more of my stolen property been returned?

I sincerely hope your plans to be a stay at home dad you told me about in our meeting in August 2004 are proceeding as expected.


Trina Flowers

c: blind copies

Talisman said...

trina are you that drunk kuwaiti lady that ran over a guy and ran away?

Trina Flowers said...

talisman,

I am Trina Flowers an American (born and bred) not Muneerah Ali al-Tarrah a dual national (Kuwaiti and American). I do NOT drive drunk and I've never run over anyone anywhere. Perhaps you have me confused with the 2 Kuwaiti
brothers in Colorado who used their VW as a weapon and hit 3 Americans?

Trina Flowers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
iDip said...

Sorry Trina Flowers, I had to delete you latest comment,

Because anyone can visit the blog you qouted in your -deleted- comment and read your comment there, by visiting this link (here).

Participations & comments are always welcomed here, but if you want to refer to another post on another blog, you can link to it, instead of quoting the whole post.

Trina Flowers said...

idip,

my apologies and thanks.

Trina Flowers said...

I want to thank Jamie Etheridge, managing editor of the Kuwait Times for the following article about human trafficking in Kuwait published in the Christian Science Monitor and inform her, her article is being used in other venues as supporting evidence of the numerous human rights atrocities taking place in Kuwait.

I did a search of the Kuwait Times' archives to see if this article was published there; I did not find it there; however, it was also published by CBS news and is available on other databases as well.

* Stranded Workers: For today's story about illegal trafficking - and abuse - of workers in the Persian Gulf states, reporter Jamie Etheridge had no problem finding subjects to interview (page 13). "All I had to
do was call up the labor attache for the Philippine Embassy. He didn't have to hunt them down. There are dozens in the hallways trying to get home at any given time. The same is true of the Pakistani and Indonesian embassies," she says.

"The challenge is getting people to open up. If they're still working, they worry that if they talk to you they'll get fired," she says.

How big is the problem? The Emir of Kuwait is allowing some governments to use his private aircraft to send home workers who have fled their local sponsors. "He's flying back 200 to 300 women at a time. That's
happened at least twice in the past year I've been in Kuwait,"
says Jamie, who is managing editor of the Kuwait Times.


Headline: Gulf region's newest pipeline: human trafficking
Byline: Jamie Etheridge Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
Date: 07/19/2005

(KUWAIT CITY)When Judy left her home on the southern coast of the
Philippines this spring, it was her first trip abroad and her first time on an airplane.
She was excited, nervous, and sad all at once.

Like many young Filipina women before her, awaiting her in Kuwait was the promise of a good job and enough money to support her family and save for school. She was to become a nanny and tutor to a young boy.

But on her first day working for the Kuwaiti family for whom she had been hired by a recruiting office in Mindanao, Philippines, her excitement quickly turned to fear.

Her new 'Mama' - what Asian maids in the Gulf call their female
sponsors - told her, " 'I don't like you, you are ugly,' " says Judy, who didn't give her last name, in an interview at the Philippine labor attache's office in Kuwait. "I didn't understand what was going on. I just wanted to cry."

Work began at 5 a.m. and ended at midnight. "I washed clothes, cleaned the floors, scrubbed toilets and sinks and bathrooms. And just kept doing that over and over again," she says. "All this and no food, no rest."

One day she waited until her sponsor was out, then packed a bag, and escaped to the Philippine Embassy joining hundreds of other Filipina women who have run away from their Kuwaiti employers to seek sanctuary at the Overseas' Workers' Administration at the embassy.

Unable to leave until her sponsor pays her back wages because she
cannot afford to buy a plane ticket home, Judy and the other women spend their days sitting in the embassy, unable to get another job and unable to go home.

Thousands of men, women, and children, most of them from Asia, will be trafficked to the Gulf this year to live as what the US State Department calls "modern day slaves." Most won't know until they get here what lies in store for them and hundreds will, like Judy, flee their employers, suffer physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, and go home empty-handed.

The trafficking trap

In June the US State Department listed Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) among 14 countries that do little or nothing to stop human trafficking. Washington lowered all four to its Tier 3 category, which could eventually lead to economic sanctions if these countries do not act to stem the flow of trafficking across their borders.

The State Department says that 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and
children worldwide are victims of trafficking - the recruitment,
transportation, or harboring of people by means of threat, force,
coercion, fraud, or deception for the purpose of exploitation and
forced labor.

There are no raw numbers on how many of these trafficked persons - who can end up being maids, factory workers, camel jockeys, or prostitutes - come to the Middle East. But the Gulf boasts one of the highest populations of expatriate labor forces in the world, with more than 10
million. In Kuwait, there is an average of one maid for every two
Kuwaitis and in the UAE, 1.6 million people, or 80 percent of the total population, are expatriate workers.

Washington accuses the Arab Gulf states of failing to "comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and not making significant efforts to do so." The US lambastes Kuwait and its neighbors for failing to "take significant steps to address
trafficking, particularly efforts to prosecute trafficking crimes and protect victims."

The thousands of Bangladeshi, Filipino, Indonesian, Sri Lankan, and other Asian women and men who seek sanctuary at their embassies across the region each week see little improvement in their conditions.

Earlier this year a Kuwaiti sponsor brought more than 1,000 Pakistani laborers under false pretenses. According to the Pakistani Embassy in Kuwait, the men paid the recruiter several thousand rupees only to arrive in Kuwait and find no job, no place to live, no work or residence visas, and no chance of earning back the money they spent to
get here.

Recruiting scams are all too common. Trafficking victims say nationals from their home countries, as well as embassy officials and local citizens, often conspire to "recruit" hundreds of laborers, in exchange
for a fee. Too often, such recruits find themselves homeless, jobless, and seeking sanctuary in their embassies or being arrested and deported.

'Modern day slaves'

Marie, another young Filipina interviewed for this story, can barely hold back the tears as she tells her story. "I dreamed I wanted to go abroad to support my family ... and when I came to Kuwait I thought my dream came true but when I reached my employer they were at first nice
but then they kicked me and hit me," she says.

Like Judy, Marie eventually ran away. "I had a chance to escape and I went to the police station and an officer took me to the hospital." With the help of Philippine counselors, she filed a case against her sponsor for mistreatment and a court awarded her 500 Kuwait dinars ($1,712). But she has yet to receive the money.

In neighboring Saudi Arabia, a nongovernmental human rights watchdog, the National Human Rights Association, says that it has received about 2,000 complaints of abuse since it was established last year.

The State Department, in its annual trafficking report, says, "Saudi Arabia is a destination for men and women from South and East Asia and East Africa trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation, and for
children from Yemen, Afghanistan, and Africa trafficking for forced
begging."

A spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Minister denounced the US report. "We are surprised by the contents of the report, and we disagree with most of what has been mentioned," Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Kabeer told Reuters. "The rules and regulations of Saudi Arabia
prohibit exploitation and trafficking of people. Our religion also does not accept this," he said.

The fight against trafficking

In the trafficking report, the US outlines specifically what measures it expects countries identified as the worst offenders to undertake in order to improve the situation. Speaking via videoconferencing at the
US Embassy in Kuwait on June 22, James Miller, senior adviser to the secretary of State and director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, called on the government to combat its problems with "modern day slavery" by raising public awareness, improving labor laws to protect victims, and prosecuting offenders.

As most locals will acknowledge, the lifestyle of Gulfies (nationals from any of the Arab Gulf states) is built on a foundation of foreign labor. Most citizens' households - including high-ranking government
officials, human rights advocates, as well as labor activists - have at least one and often several servants including a driver, cook, and maid.

Some young women who are brought here to be trapped into domestic
servitude and often abused see no way out of their situation other than suicide. Instances of young Asian maids killing themselves by hanging or jumping off high buildings are a regular occurrence.

But for those able to escape, like 18-year-old Sittie Leng, there is
hope they'll eventually return home.

Ms. Leng flips her long hair across her shoulders. "Household chores are not meant for me," she says.

After signing a contract in Mindanao and arriving in Kuwait, she switched employers three times in four months. In the last house, she was made a babysitter and that suited her better. But after one month, she grew worried when she saw her employers beating the three maids.

"Shouting, hitting, beating, kicking, using the wood to hit. I was scared that maybe they would hit me next. The maids had black marks all over their bodies. Our employer is like a devil and that house is like a hell - a hell house."

The four of them eventually fled together. Now Leng thinks only of
going home. "I want to study nursing," she says.

When asked what she'll tell other Filipinas who think of coming to the Gulf to work, she laughs and shakes her head: "Beware," she says.