Modern Slavery on US Soil

Letters to Michael Edison:

"I found only a handful of statesiders who would acknowledge the degree of abuse that existed, let alone do anything about it." -Phil Kaplan, former human rights advocate for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa (Saipan, 92-95)

"The problem is that the Administration does not seem to comprehend that the Marianas is the United States. It is not a foreign country. The failure of the Administration to enforce federal laws has led to a climate conducive to worker abuse and to some sense within the Marianas that the federal laws will not be applied." -Senator Frank Murkowski (AK)

The entrance to one of the many "garment shops" found in Saipan. Notice the barbed wire and the guard house on the right.

Greetings! My name is Michael Edison and I lived and worked in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 1997-98. I haven't seen the kind of human rights abuses I found there since living in South Africa during 1984-85, during the peak of apartheid. They are real, and are evident to anyone visiting the island. The abuses here include forced prostitution, indentured servitude, work without pay, sweat shops, containment of workers, etc. What is striking is that this is a US Commonwealth where federal laws and jurisdiction should apply. However, the local government here is the most corrupt I have witnessed and does support these practices whether directly or indirectly. The complacency of the US government is appalling, to say the least.

In reference to the many abuses, I've provided the following links:

Chicago Tribune Article. Recent news about the sweatshops operating in Saipan.

Request for help from the US government. This link contains supporting evidence of some basic human rights abuses and should dispel any myth about this "being a better place than a foreigners country of origin".

Workers Protest Labor Abuses

This is an article on the Rising Abuse found on the Northern Mariana Islands published in the Washington Post on March 30, 1998.

Value of Human Life. Excerpt of a letter written to a friend.

Letter emailed to Senator Frank Murkowski (AK) explaining the situation here and some personal recommendations.

Reply from Senator Frank Murkowski (AK) "the Marianas is the United States. It is not a foreign country."

"Isn't it interesting that the US recently attacked Yugoslavia for "humanitarian" concerns, yet, within in its own borders lies "a dirty little secret"? -Michael Edison

About the author: Michael Edison has taught US History, World History, Culture, and Language. He has lived and worked among the Yu'pik Eskimos, Athabaskan Indians, Chammoro and Carolinian Islanders, South Africans, and South American peoples. Michael considers himself a freeman, a champion of truth and freedom.

Michael's Home Page: