September 7, 2014


Yuvraj Ghimire: 'If they don't want to respect human rights, they should not hold these events'

By Pete Pattisson

Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev said they were being followed by
police in Qatar before they disappeared. Photograph: GNRD/AP
Relatives of the two British human rights researchers who are believed to have been detained in Qatar have questioned the right of the Gulf emirate to host the 2022 World Cup.

"If Qatar wants to organise the World Cup, it should respect the human rights of people. If they don't want to respect human rights, they should not hold these events," said Yuvraj Ghimire, the younger brother of one of the men, Krishna Upadhyaya.

"In my opinion they have been detained because they were working for the rights of labourers in Qatar. We have seen the situation of the people who work there; almost every day a Nepali dies. The Qatar government does not want this disclosed."
Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev went missing on Sunday 31 August as they prepared to leave their hotel in Doha and fly home, but they never boarded the plane. The men, who are British citizens of Nepalese extraction, were visiting Qatar to investigate the treatment of Nepalese migrant workers.
Shyam Ghimire, the older brother of Gundev, added: "In my personal view, if the Qatari authorities act like this, they don't have the right to organise the World Cup. We strongly oppose this. It's a very difficult time for us. We demand the Qatari authorities release them as soon as possible, without any conditions."
However, almost six days after the two men went missing, the Qatari government has still not made a public statement about their whereabouts. The Qatar embassy in London has yet to respond to requests for information. The Global Network for Rights and Development, a human rights organisation based in Norway which employs the men, has said they have received a "very polite and diplomatic" response from Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking for more details to "help get back your communication with them."
Evgenia Kondrakhina, chief executive of GNRD said: "We stated that Qatar holds responsibility over the safety of both disappeared persons and request them to take immediate actions and disclose all information on [their] whereabouts… we continue our active position to reach all concerned authorities requesting for urgent actions."
GNRD's call for a prompt response from Qatar has been echoed byAmnesty International. "The Qatari authorities must urgently reveal the fate and whereabouts of these two men and dispel the growing fears that they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment," said Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North AfricaProgramme.

Qatar's human rights record has come under increasing scrutiny as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, following a Guardian report last year that revealed widespread death and maltreatment of migrant workers helping ready the country for the tournament. According to Qatar's own figures, 882 migrant workers from India and Nepal died in the country in 2012 and 2013.

Dorje Gurung, a Nepalese teacher in Qatar, who was imprisoned for 12 days in May 2013, after a 12-year-old student accused him of insulting Islam, believes the men are likely to be held without any form of information or support.
"If their situation's like mine… I had no clue what was going on. It was unnerving. They don't tell you anything. Nothing," said Gurung. "I was not given any information or support. No witnesses, lawyers or representation, and not even a translator when I went before a judge. I have very little faith in Qatar's justice system."
However, Qatar's record on detention is considered to be better than some other countries in the region.
The Foreign Office said, "We are aware of two British nationals who have been detained by the Qatari authorities. We have requested urgent consular access."


Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev were investigating the Gulf state's controversial treatment of Nepalese workers

By Pete Pattisson
Two British human rights activists have "disappeared'"in Qatar while investigating the treatment of the country's migrant workforce. The Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), which employs the men, has not heard from them for more than four days and fears that they may have been detained.

Krishna Upadhyaya, 52, and Ghimire Gundev, 36, arrived in Qatar on 27 August to research a forthcoming report on the working and living conditions of Nepalese migrant workers in the Gulf emirate. Qatar's treatment of its migrant workers has drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.
On the evening of Saturday August 30, Upadhyaya sent an urgent text to a friend in Norway saying, "I am being followed by the police here. Looks like they will give me troubles now."
Evgenia Kondrakhina, chief executive of GNRD, a human rights and development organisation based in Norway, said that despite repeated attempts to contact the Qatari authorities, "we have not received any response from any Qatari, officially or unofficially."
The last contact GNRD had with the two men was on the morning of Sunday 31 August as they prepared to leave their hotel for the airport. According to GNRD, after checking out, they chose to remain in the reception because they felt too unsafe to leave the hotel premises.
Upadhyaya had apparently, "expressed alarm at the number of police in the vicinity, and noticed undercover authorities who came extremely close to him whenever he spoke on the phone". The airline they were due to fly with confirmed they did not board the plane.
Kondrakhina said: "GNRD holds the Qatari authorities responsible for their safety. In the event that its employees are subjected to any kind of physical or psychological harm, GNRD is prepared to take all necessary legal action."
Upadhyaya, who is from Nepal, is an experienced human rights researcher and worked for Anti-Slavery International for almost 12 years.

Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, said of Upadhyaya: "He's animated by a profound commitment to social justice, which has most explicitly been expressed through his work in the struggle for democracy in Nepal and against the forced labour and enslavement of vulnerable workers across the world."
Upadhyaya's wife, Sarita Poudyal, who lives in London, said: "I'm feeling very sad. The Qataris need to send him back as soon as possible and we need to know the reason why this has happened.
"I think they don't want the news about the way they treat migrant workers to reach the outside world."