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Qatar World Cup toll: ‘Hundreds’ of Indian migrant workers dead in two years

RT | February 17, 2014

More than 450 Indian migrant workers in Qatar have died in the last two years, media revealed on Monday. Another upcoming report will show that 400 Nepalese have lost their lives scrambling to get the Gulf state ready for the 2022 World cup.

At least 237 Indian migrants lost their lives in Qatar in 2012 and another 218 in 2013 up to December 5, AFP reported on Monday, citing figures received via a Right to Information request filed at the Indian embassy in Qatar.

On average, 20 Indian migrants die per month in Qatar. August last year was the most deadly month on record, with 27 fatalities being reported.

The Indian embassy did not provide information regarding the causes of death or where they occurred. It also declined to disclose any correspondence between the diplomatic mission and the Indian government regarding the treatment of its nationals in the Gulf state.

Meanwhile, figures set to be released later this week say that 400 Nepalese workers have died at building sites since construction for the World Cup 2022 got underway in 2010, the Guardian reports. The Guardian did not state when the deaths occurred, but said that the Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee, a respected human rights organization, which reached its figure using official sources in Doha, would release more information in the coming days.

There were 500,000 Indians estimated to be in Qatar at the end of 2012 – roughly 26 percent of Qatar’s population. Nepalese workers comprise approximately 20 percent of Qatar’s migrant workforce and 16 percent of the total population. The total death toll stemming from the country’s World Cup scramble could in fact be higher, as other migrant groups are also present in the country.

As of January 2012, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans together accounted for 14 percent of the emirate’s population, according to US State Department figures.

On February 11, Qatar issued detailed guidelines intended to protect the country’s massive expatriate community from exploitation and stem the intensified international criticism on its human rights record.

Activists, however, believe the number of dead could swell to 4,000 by the time the 2022 World Cup kicks off.

On Thursday, FIFA said there was little it could do to alleviate the slave labor conditions migrants are toiling under in the country.

According to German paper Die Welt, however, a source identified as a “senior FIFA employee” said moving the World Cup to another country is “a serious option” despite public claims to the contrary. Last July, Theo Zwanziger, a current member of FIFA’s executive committee, said the decision to award Qatar the 2022 event was a “blatant mistake.”

In September, The United Nations condemned Qatar for failing to comply with an international convention banning the use of forced labor.

February 17, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tide Begins to Turn against FIFA in Rio de Janeiro

By Brian Mier | CEPR Americas Blog | August 15, 2013

After two months of protests that started over price gouging in public transportation and spread to a variety of issues spanning the political spectrum, positive results are beginning to be seen in Rio de Janeiro, where governor Sérgio Cabral, once touted in the New York Times as a possible 2014 presidential candidate is now so unpopular that socialist former mayoral candidate Marcelo Freixo said that he doesn’t think he could even get elected as a condominium residents association secretary.

During the last week a series of measures was announced that seem to show a turning of the tide against the hegemony wielded by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the Rio de Janeiro state and municipal governments over local residents.

First, after spending over $500 million rehabbing the structurally sound Maracana stadium – its third multi-million rehab in a dozen years – the plan to privatize and sell it off to a group of cronies for a fraction of that value has been stalled. The landmark status for the neighboring high school and Indigenous museum buildings has been upheld by the court system, so they can no longer be destroyed to create a parking garage. Furthermore, the federal government has blocked destruction of the public swimming pool and athletic track that made up part of the stadium compound. According to the privatization agreement, these are deal killers. The original plan was to surround the stadium with parking garages and luxury shops for the white, middle-class patrons who would now be the only ones able to easily afford ticket prices.  The consortium that was poised to take over management of the stadium announced that it was going to back out, then changed its mind but still hasn’t closed a deal. It appears that the new, expensive ticket prices are keeping fans away and this might prove to be a deciding factor in blocking privatization.

Meanwhile, last Friday, the mayor’s office announced that after years of  protests and construction of an alternative participatory development plan by local residents together with social movements and the Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro planning department, it will no longer raze the neighborhood of Vila Autódromo, which was originally marked for destruction in order to “beautify” the neighborhood for the upcoming “mega-events.” Since 2008, the mayor’s office has evicted tens of thousands of people, but it is hoped that this too will mark a turning point against a government that, until its popularity plummeted last month, felt like it could do whatever it wanted.

The much hailed program for setting up police stations in favelas that were previously controlled by drug trafficking organizations and paramilitary militias, called UPP, is also coming under fire. Drug trafficking gangs continue to operate within the pacified favelas, albeit without carrying machine guns around on the street, and a recent study shows that disappearances of residents has increased by over 50 percent in favelas after the UPP Units have been put in place. The disappearance of a construction worker and father of four, last seen being forced into a UPP Police car in front of his house in Rocinha, has turned into a national issue, as people are holding up signs all over the country during protests asking, “Where is Amarildo?”

Across the nation, people are rising up against the planned “state of exception” that FIFA demands take place for two months before and after the World Cup in 2014, coded into Brazilian law as part of the “General Law of the World Cup” of June 5, 2012. This “state of exception” will enable the government to bypass public bidding laws, provide tax abatement on all official FIFA-sponsored products and hire private foreign security forces to replace the local police protecting players and FIFA officials. In accordance with the Brazilian constitution of 1989, a “state of exception” can only be called in cases of war or natural disasters, making the FIFA law technically illegal. But popular and legal challenges to the Brazilian general “Law of the Cup” are mounting. During the World Cup in South Africa FIFA was able to leave the country with $2.4 billion in profits, while South Africans were left footing the maintenance bill for “white elephant” stadiums in towns with no major sports teams. It will be interesting to see how much FIFA is able to get away with this time around, especially since 2014 is an election year in Brazil.

Brian Mier is a geographer and freelance journalist who lives in Brazil and works as a policy analyst at the Centro de Direitos Econômicos e Sociais. He has a podcast, focused on news reported in the Brazilian alternative media, at http://progressivebrazil.tumblr.com/

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Brazilian police clash with Confederations Cup protesters

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Brazilian police block protesters from entering Maracana soccer stadium in Rio on June 16, 2013
Press TV – June 17, 2013

Brazilian police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of about 3,000 people protesting outside Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium before a Confederation Cup soccer game.

The rally took place on Sunday in protest against the vast sums of public money spent on the organization of the tournament.

The protesters also opposed the huge cost of preparations to host next year’s World Cup, which is expected to reach USD 15 billion (about 11 billion euros).

“I don’t care about the World Cup – I want health and education!” shouted the protesters.

Initially, police stood in line as a barricade outside of the stadium.

However, as the crowd of protesters tried to pass the blockade riot police charged towards the group.

On June 15, police clashed with protesters in a similar demonstration during the opening of the Confederations Cup in the capital, Brasilia.

The clashes ended with 39 people injured after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

June 17, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment