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Special Features
Human Trafficking
Camel Kids
Special Reports  -  2005
Special Reports  -  2003
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UAE Participation

The Shocking Violations of Children's Rights
(Special Reports - 2004)

'Human Trafficking', United Arab Emirates!
'Camel Kids' An Introduction!

The HBO'S REAL SPORTS show in October 2004 was a three month undercover investigation of Child Camel Jockeys in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 'Real Sports' travels to the U.A.E., for a special expanded report called 'Desert Racers' on the perilous lives of camel jockeys where many of the atrocities were documented on hidden camera.

( Bryant Gumbel, one of America's most recognized broadcasters, serves as the anchor for the program which bears his name, 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel'.)

The report alleged that the tiny jockeys who compete in these races are victims of a horrible slave trade. They are beaten, mistreated and, in some cases, sexually abused. They have been kidnapped or sold into slavery as mere infants.

In addition to enduring inhumane living conditions and beatings, the boys are intentionally starved to keep their weight down. Weak from undernourishment, some are maimed or killed while trying to pilot the 1500-pound camels.

Higgs, the independent British photojournalist, captured some of the boys on video for HBO's Real Sports despite a ban on photography at the track.

Higgs visited the UAE this year between May and August. The main camel racing season had ended, but there were still "loads and loads of very young boys at Nad Al Sheba," the Dubai camel track, Higgs said.

He said in an interview that because of the inherent dangers he was able to see inside only one camel camp near Nad Al Sheba -- a camp surrounded by barbed wire and that looked more like a prison camp than a training center, he said.

Some of the most appalling scenes -- children showing off bruises, the chains where the boys are punished, allegations of rape -- were filmed elsewhere in the emirates.

But Higgs said he believes abuses also happen in Dubai, which human rights activists say is the center of the child slave trade.

"It's pretty much countrywide," Higgs said.

And there is no way, he said, that the sheiks who rule the emirates aren't aware of the practice -- or that it is happening without their tacit approval.

"These sheiks have a vise-like grip on power within the emirates," Higgs said. "They know exactly what's going on, and they are involved in anything involved with status. ... And camel racing is an enormous status symbol."

Catherine Turner, a child labor officer for the humanitarian organization Anti-Slavery International, said in an interview that when her group sent a photographer to Dubai in January, underage camel jockeys were "really everywhere to see if you looked in the right places."
(See pictures taken by ASI photographer in Dubai, Click Here.)

Turner said she knows of no links to specific sheiks, but the fact that the child slavery still exists indicates the UAE is not serious about combating the problem.

"The sheiks do enjoy the camel racing; they are linked very closely to it. ... If they chose to put their weight behind it (ending child slavery) that would be very welcome," Turner said.

Anti-Slavery International, in June 2004 released photos that they said were taken in Dubai showing child jockeys; they accused the UAE of keeping the boys in brutal conditions.

Ansar Burney, a Pakistani activist who has campaigned against the practice, said that Abu Dhabi's crown prince contacted him last month after seeing him in a documentary aired on HBO detailing the plight of the young jockeys.

Burney said there are about 5,000 child jockeys in the Emirates and some 40,000 in the region. Children from poor countries are either bought from their parents or kidnapped and brought to the Emirates with fake passports where they are incarcerated in camps.

"These children wake up quite early and work up to 17 hours everyday, they live in private jails and are subjected to slave labor," Burney said.

Many from USA disturbed by the HBO report. I have never seen anything as disturbing as this documentary. Human rights abuse doesn't even come close to describing the acts perpetrated against these children. One comments.

And in retrospect by what some of them saw in UAE, remembers child camel jockeys. Based on the way they saw Arabs treat adult workers from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, they aren't surprised by the allegations of child abuse.

You should have seen the faces of those young Arab boys.  I've seen that look many times when I was walk in' the streets. Silent suffering. You don't forget that look easily.

Those rich bastards sitting there cheering it on and hoarding their human slaves. Made me want to grab my Mossberg and smoke all those evils 'muthafuckas' at point blank range. And to make it worse, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is an United States ally since it has large oil reserves and a key staging ground for American Forces in the Persian Gulf. Another reacted.

I too watched that HBO special, but because of a weak heart had to walk away when one of the boys of only 5 or 6 years old, nonchalantly stated that he had been raped the night before and pulled down his pants to prove it. One scene showed a boy in a hospital recovering from a womb after a fall had slit his stomach completely open.  The Royal Sheikh And The Shaytan

Ansar Burney says the Rulers and Sheikhs of the ruling families own most
of the camel camps. The trafficking of young children for forced labour is one of the fastest growing areas in international crime. 40,000 children used as slave labor in the Middle East and Arabian countries

View more at : 'Camel Kids' An Introduction

Also View  at :       Special Reports  -  2005
Special Reports - 2003


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