Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A U.S. Fortress Rises in Baghdad: Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World's Largest Embassy

by David Phinney
Special to CorpWatch
October 17th, 2006

John Owen didn’t realize how different his job would be from his last 27 years in construction until he signed on with First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting in November 2005. Working as general foreman, he would be overseeing an army of workers building the largest, most expensive and heavily fortified US embassy in the world. Scheduled to open in 2007, the sprawling complex near the Tigris River will equal Vatican City in size.

Then seven months into the job, he quit.

Not one of the five different US embassy sites he had worked on around the world compared to the mess he describes. Armenia, Bulgaria, Angola, Cameroon and Cambodia all had their share of dictators, violence and economic disruption, but the companies building the embassies were always fair and professional, he says. The Kuwait-based company building the $592-million Baghdad project is the exception. Brutal and inhumane, he says “I’ve never seen a project more fucked up. Every US labor law was broken.”

In the resignation letter last June, Owen told First Kuwaiti and US State Department officials that his managers beat their construction workers, demonstrated little regard for worker safety, and routinely breached security. [MORE]


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