News State Victoria News Protest against migrant ‘slave labour’ in Qatar.

Protest against migrant ‘slave labour’ in Qatar.

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Protesters have marched through the southern Australian city of Melbourne, demanding an end to the alleged ill-treatment of South Asian migrant workers in Qatar.

Many of the demonstrators were from Melbourne’s Nepalese community.

An estimated 400,000 Nepalese work in Qatar, many helping to build stadia and other infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The protesters claim atrocious employment conditions have led to the deaths of more than 70 Nepalese workers in the Gulf state this year.

They allege migrants are forced to work in searing heat without access to drinking water, often go unpaid for months and have their passports confiscated to stop them leaving the country.

“This shows slavery exists in the world and we have to say this is not acceptable,” said Raju Sakya, one of the protest organisers.

He called on the Nepalese government, FIFA and the international community to stand up to Qatari authorities on the issue.

“The Nepalese government has the responsibility to protect the human rights of their people, no matter where they are,” Mr Sakya said.

The conditions faced by labourers from Nepal, India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries in Qatar were highlighted earlier this year by US-based NGO Human Rights Watch.

It warned the 2022 World Cup threatens to be “a crucible of exploitation and misery” for migrant workers.

Those attending the Melbourne rally included the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Ged Kearney.

She said Australia’s football team – the Socceroos – could help put pressure on the Qatari government.

“We need them to say ‘no, we will not play in stadia built on the back of slave labour. We will not go until people have dignity building these stadia’.”

The Melbourne protest followed similar demonstrations in the United States, United Kingdom and Sydney.

Activists plan to ratchet up their campaign with a rally in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on November 1.