Qatar arrests World Cup workers who protested going months without pay
Qatar recently arrested at least 60 foreign workers who protested going months without pay and deported some of them, an advocacy group said, just three
months before Doha hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The move comes as Qatar faces intense international scrutiny over its labor practices ahead of the tournament. Like other Gulf Arab nations, Qatar heavily
relies on foreign labor. The workers’ protest a week ago — and Qatar’s reaction to it — could further fuel the concern.
The head of a labor consultancy investigating the incident said the detentions cast new doubt on Qatar’s pledges to improve the treatment of workers. “Is this
really the reality coming out?” asked Mustafa Qadri, executive director of the group, Equidem Research.
In a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday night, Qatar’s government acknowledged that “a number of protesters were detained for breaching public
safety laws.” It declined to offer any information about the arrests or any deportations.
Video footage posted online showed some 60 workers angry about their salaries protesting on Aug. 14 outside of the Doha offices of Al Bandary International
Group, a conglomerate that includes construction, real estate, hotels, food service and other ventures. Some of those demonstrating hadn’t received their
salaries for as many as seven months, Equidem said.
The protesters blocked an intersection on Doha’s C Ring Road in front of the Al Shoumoukh Tower. The footage matched known details of the street, including
it having several massive portraits of Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, looking down on passers-by.
Al Bandary International Group, which is privately owned, did not respond to requests for comment and a telephone number registered in its name did not
connect on multiple attempts to call it.
The Qatari government acknowledged that the firm hadn’t paid salaries and that its Labor Ministry would pay “all delayed salaries and benefits” to those
“The company was already under investigation by the authorities for nonpayment of wages before the incident, and now further action is being taken after a
deadline to settle outstanding salary payments was missed,” the government said.
Qadri said police later arrested the protesters and held them in a detention center where some described being in a stifling heat without air conditioning.
Doha’s temperature this week reached around 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit).