Qatar deaths

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Far from being based on a single recent article in the Washington Post, as suggested by Qatari government spokesman Saif Al-Thani (Letters, 4 June), allegations of the serious mistreatment of migrant workers in his country can be traced back at least as far as September 2013, when The Guardian started reporting on it (“Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘slaves’”).

His attempts to equate the consequences of Qatar’s notorious kafala employment system, which dictates the terms on which migrant workers may enter the country, with preparations to host the London Olympics in 2012, ring hollow, unless we are to ignore the verdict of the International Trade Union Confederation, that Qatar is “a country without a conscience”, and the view of the Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, that the Gulf state is “an open jail”.

His reference to normal death rates from cardiovascular disease is also a familiar refrain, presupposing that autopsies on the estimated 1,200 migrant workers who have already died since December 2010, mostly diagnosing heart disease, have been adequately conducted.

Finally, the exclusion of hotel and infrastructure building from the “World Cup projects” subheading is also a convenient way to massage the statistics.

James Bruce

Church Street