Human Rights Abuses Plague Qatar Airways as New Service Begins at Boston's Logan Airport: The Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere Calls for a Boycott of Qatar Airways

Mar 08, 2016, 08:00 ET from Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere

BOSTON, March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On March 16, Qatar Airways, an airline owned by the State of Qatar, an oil-rich dictatorship in the Persian Gulf, begins daily service from Boston's Logan Airport to Doha, Qatar. Every week approximately 29 migrant workers will die – total deaths are estimated to be 4,000 – building the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer facilities in Doha because of deplorable working conditions. Thousands more will suffer other horrifying abuses as workers across business sectors have no protections, and can be legally held in indentured servitude.

The expansion of the State of Qatar's commercial enterprises, including state-owned Qatar Airways, reflects the smoke and mirror tactics used by the Qatari government to hide the inhumane treatment of its most vulnerable workers.  The de facto marketing arm of the state, Qatar Airways, is expanding rapidly across the globe and touts itself as "luxurious" and "world-class," while at the same time masking egregious human rights abuses being committed within the country.

The Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere (AWARE), a nonprofit organization working to bring international attention to policies and business tactics that harm workers' rights, calls on Bostonians and all Americans who consider traveling on Qatar Airways to ask themselves: "Do I want to do business with a company and a nation that oppresses human rights?" AWARE will be leading an international campaign using the hashtag, #boycottQatar, as Qatar Airways launches this new service.

Qatar Airways has, itself, abused its employees who work under the careful watch of the Qatari government. In Doha, the airline mandates that its employees live in company housing with strict curfews and where their personal lives are monitored, and bans workers from marrying without its permission. Female employees who become pregnant can be terminated. Women also must adhere to strict grooming policies, including weight limits, a throwback to an era when age and sex discrimination were the norm.

All workers in Qatar are prohibited from unionizing or protesting. Domestic laborers are excluded from the country's labor laws, even as they face outrageous sexual and physical abuses; are forced into 100-hour+ work weeks; and are held against their will with their passports confiscated by employers. All legal migrant workers in Qatar are tied to a sponsorship system, which effectively allows employers to deny migrants their exit visas. Workers often complain they are denied wages and are forced to live in unsanitary housing.  The LGBT community in the state lacks any protection, as being homosexual is illegal there. Journalists who have attempted to report on these egregious human rights abuses were illegally detained and questioned last year. 

We agree with the senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren: America's business partnerships depend on the integrity of "whether workers around the globe are treated humanely." AWARE questions whether the United States should be doing business with nations like Qatar that regularly and egregiously oppress human rights.

Headed by social justice advocate Mike Lux, AWARE has a specific focus on the rights of oppressed workers. "While we work to change government policy in the U.S., consumers can speak now with their wallets and make travel choices other than Qatar Airways," said Lux. "Don't fly with governments and airlines that have blood on their hands."

It is imperative the local Massachusetts government and citizens of Boston are made aware of Qatar and Qatar Airways' litany of abuses against workers, including the airline's own employees, women and those in the LGBT community. All Americans should demand transparency and basic human rights for people everywhere, especially from those we allow to do business in our country.

To learn more or to help start the conversation, visit:   @Alliance4Wrkrs  #boycottQatar

Jesse Brown at (443) 961-4833 or

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SOURCE Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere