WISE in Qatar (think again) – thousands slaughtered for a kick-about?
Graham Brown-Martin, who knows the WISE fconference folks well, tweeted about replacing the Louise Bourgeois sculpture of a Spider house in the atrium at the QNCC the venue for this years WISE summit with an elephant in reference to the abuse of migrant labour…
Perhaps Bourgeois' spider might be replaced for an elephant at the QNCC for future gatherings?
Let me call this a ghost elephant, maimed, butchered and slaughtered for one brief moment of supposed glory – a World Cup. Thousands dead, literally slaughtered in the desert, for a kick-about.
I know Qatar, have worked there and been to the WISE conference a few times. WISE started as a worthy idea, bringing people from all over the world to discuss the future of education, as it picked up the tab for those who couldn’t afford to attend. But it began to morph into something different, as dissenting voices began to disappear from the speaking roster, largely complaint administrators and institutionalised suits started to appear and the budget shrank.
Passing the graveyards
Two years ago, I passed the stadiums start to emerge like broken pots from the heat and dust, surrounded by predatory looking cranes. These sites have become the graveyards for thousands of workers, in conditions best described as modern slavery. Holing up in a 5-star hotel, and being feted by an army of staff in a conferences centre for a few days, immunises you from the truth – that this is a place built on greed. How can anyone look out from this air-conditioned bubble and accept the fact that people are literally dying so that others can enjoy men kicking around a ball?
The FIFA crisis has ensnared Qatar, exposing the suggested corruption in its bid. Garcia was stonewalled by the Qataris who refused to co-operate. But the FBI has widened its enquiries, as Blazer and now Warner grass up their colleagues. FIFA is so venal that it is now turns on its own, literally eating itself alive. But that is not my main point. Corruption and money is one thing, deliberately denying thousands of innocent people their basic rights to health, safety and life, knowingly murdering them, is way beyond any moral boundary. And for educators to deliberately flock to Qatar, within sight of these graveyards would be nothing more than blatant hypocrisy.
There are some good people in Qatar but when a state puts spectacle above survival, it’s time to blow the final whistle. The yellow card was played – a possibly corrupt bid. The red card should now be shown for the killing of thousands for entertainment. I call on any of you thinking about attending the WISE Conference this year to think again. It’s a small sacrifice to make for a good cause, to help stop the death of thousands of poor people.