According to a media report, three months before the start of the soccer World Cup, 60 migrant workers were arrested in Qatar after protests against unpaid salaries and some were deported. The US news agency AP reported on Monday, citing the London-based advocacy group Equidem Research, the Qatari government and an interview with a person affected. Equidem director Mustafa Kadri told the AP the arrests cast new doubts on Qatar’s previous commitments to improve the situation for migrant workers.
The rich emirate on the Gulf is repeatedly criticized for systematic human rights violations and the exploitation of migrants. The government has denied the allegations and is citing pro-worker reforms. According to human rights organizations, around two million migrant workers live in Qatar. They come primarily from poor countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal or India. The World Cup in Qatar starts on November 20th and runs until December 18th.
The Qatari government told the AP that “a number of protesters” had been arrested. They violated “public safety laws.” The government did not give details of the arrests or deportations.
A video had previously surfaced of dozens of workers demonstrating on the street in front of an office building in downtown Doha. According to the AP, this is a seat of the conglomerate Bandary International, which is active in the construction, real estate and hotel sectors, among other things. The group did not comment when asked.
Some of the protesters have not been paid for up to seven months, according to Equidem, the AP reported. The Qatari government acknowledged that the company failed to pay salaries. The Department of Labor will pay “all delayed salaries and benefits.” The company had therefore already been investigated beforehand.