Eustace & Gusciora: Silent on Slavery in Qatar

Was it only a week ago when Democrat Assemblymen Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora acknowledged that issues like poverty and funding the Transportation Trust Fund were more important than LGBT vanity tropes?  What a difference a week makes.

Today, legislation sponsored by Eustace and Gusciora will be rushed to the Assembly floor for a vote. This legislation is so important -- more important in fact than tackling child hunger, poverty, foreclosure, the lack of jobs, homelessness, and every other problem facing New Jersey -- that it had to be rushed to the floor without the benefit of public comment.  That is correct.  Public comment was not permitted.  Citizen participation was denied. 

Wow.  Is the LGBT movement really that afraid of public opinion?

The bill is A-3613.  It "prohibits state-sponsored travel to states adopting religious freedom statutes without protection against discrimination."  Now those last four words should give us pause -- and hope.  Pause, because the phrase "without protection against discrimination" is very subjective.  Hope, because by adding that condition, the two Assemblymen appear to be indicating that they would be open to "religious freedom statutes" that address and protect against wanton discrimination. 

We're going to go with hope.  We're going to reach out to Brother Eustace and Brother Gusciora and ask them if we can meet together and jaw a while.  We'll keep you up to date on our progress.

Now for the sad part.  When the members of the New Jersey Assembly take the momentous step of banning travel to places within the United States of America today, here is what they won't be doing.  They won't be banning travel to Qatar.  Why should New Jersey take a stand on Qatar?  Because Qatar is using slave labor to build projects related to the World Cup.

Don't believe us?  This is a headline from the Guardian(U.K.):  "Modern Day Slavery in Focus in Qatar" (March 30, 2016).  From Mother Jones:  "Qatar is treating its World Cup workers like slaves" (May 26, 2015).  From Reuters:  "Qatar complicit in modern slavery" (October 28, 2015).  Here is what Amnesty International had to say about Qatar: 

The authorities arbitrarily restricted the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. A prisoner of conscience was serving a lengthy sentence for writing and reciting poems.

Amnesty just issued a report (March 31, 2016) titled, "Qatar World Cup of Shame."  Here are a few excerpts:

Migrant workers building Khalifa International Stadium in Doha for the 2022 World Cup have suffered systematic abuses, in some cases forced labour... “The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

“Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses.”

...Amnesty International uncovered evidence that the staff of one labour supply company used the threat of penalties to exact work from some migrants such as withholding pay, handing workers over to the police or stopping them from leaving Qatar. This amounts to forced labour under international law.

“Indebted, living in squalid camps in the desert, paid a pittance, the lot of migrant workers contrasts sharply to that of the top-flight footballers who will play in the stadium. All workers want are their rights: to be paid on time, leave the country if need be and be treated with dignity and respect,” said Salil Shetty...

Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system, under which migrant workers cannot change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s (or “sponsor’s”) permission, is at the heart of the threats to make people work... Some of the Nepali workers told Amnesty International they were not even allowed to visit their loved ones after the 2015 April earthquake that devastated their country leaving thousands dead and millions displaced.

My life here is like a prison... a metal worker from India who worked on the Khalifa stadium refurbishment, complained when he was not paid for several months but only received threats from his employer:  “He just shouted abuse at me and said that if I complained again I’d never leave the country. Ever since I have been careful not to complain about my salary or anything else. Of course, if I could I would change jobs or leave Qatar.”

But Assemblymen Eustace and Gusciora are not going to peep about Qatar.  You see, it is easy to pick on Americans living in North Carolina, but not so easy to stand up to the powerful people in New Jersey who represent the State of Qatar. 

We happen to have a copy of the signed contract between this powerful firm and the Embassy of the State of Qatar -- signed last December -- courtesy of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (enforced by the United States Justice Department).  This powerful partnership of lobbyists, political consultants, and public relations specialists receive a retainer of $100,000 a month just for making sure the State of Qatar isn't embarrassed by the likes of Eustace and Gusciora.  Last year, they pocketed as much as $155,000 a month just in consulting fees. 

Among the New Jersey politicians who have accepted money from these folks (and whose names appear on various Foreign Agents Registration Act statements) are Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto, Senator Bob Gordon, Senator Theresa Ruiz, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Assemblyman Jon Wisniewski, Assemblyman "David" Lagana, and Mayor Steven Fulop. There's also a host of county and local elected officials on these statements too, which has to make you wonder.

So go ahead boys.  Make your fashion statement.  Spite your fellow Americans for their religious freedom -- while you cower before the State of Qatar and its slavery and abuse of human rights.  We have no anger for you.  Just pity.

Migrant workers in Qatar helping to construct offices for the 2022 World Cup reportedly haven't been paid after a year of toiling in the desert heat in slum like conditions. Sharan Burrow from the International Trade Union Confederation thinks Qatar should be boycotted until fundamental labor laws are in place.