Qatar recently arrested at least 60 foreign workers who protested that they had not been paid for months. An interest group says some have left. The World Cup will be held in the oil country in three months.
The protest took place on 14 August. Video footage posted online shows about 60 workers angry about their salaries demonstrating on the sidewalk outside the offices of Al Bandary International Group, a conglomerate that includes construction, real estate, hotels and restaurants. Equidem, a labor rights agency investigating the case, said some protesters had not been paid for seven months.
In a statement to The Associated Press (AP) last night, the Qatari government acknowledged that “a number of protesters have been arrested for violating public security laws.” Qatar refuses to provide information about the arrests or possible deportation.
The head of Equidem says the arrests cast doubt on Qatar’s commitments to improve the treatment of workers. “Is this the real reality?” asks CEO Mustafa Kadri. He says police arrested and detained protesters in a detention center, where some described being in stifling heat without air conditioning. The temperature in Doha last week was about 41 degrees.
Like other Arab Gulf states, Qatar relies heavily on foreign labour, especially since stadiums and hotels were recently built for the World Cup. Internationally, there has been much criticism of how the state treats migrant workers.
According to the Associated Press, Al-Bandari International Group could not be reached for comment. The Qatari government acknowledges that the company did not pay salaries and that the Ministry of Labor will pay “all salaries and deferred benefits” to those affected. The government said: “The authorities have previously investigated the company over the non-payment of wages for this incident, and further measures are now being taken after the deadline for paying the outstanding salaries has passed.”
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