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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Parents of Villaggio victims demand answers, call for boycott against mall

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The parents of the 13 children killed in the May 28 Villaggio fire are calling for a boycott against the mall until key questions are answered and justice is served.

In an open letter signed by the parents and sent to Doha News, the relatives expressed shock and offense at the prospect of the mall reopening this week:

It is outrageous, hurtful and indefensible that the owners of Villaggio Mall would celebrate there opening of the place where our 13 children died, especially given that we have not heard a thing about the investigation, have not been apprised of any meaningful reforms in the wake of the tragedy, nor received any offers of a just financial settlement.

The owners and operators of Villaggio should not be allowed to go back to “business as usual” without having addressed the needs and concerns of the families they devastated. This is the equivalent of sweeping a crime under the rug and we won’t stand for it.

Meanwhile, despite hopes that Villaggio would open this week, mall management there told Doha News that no official opening date has been set and it is still awaiting clearance from Civil Defense.

In response to the boycott, one manager of a group of shops said:

It’s not a Villaggio versus victims standoff. This is not really about rich Qataris not being to buy Louis Vuitton. It’s about people like Filipinos desperate to start work again so that their families here and back home can live a normal life again. Unpaid leave is not really much fun.

The parents, asserting that the “mall should stand as a monument to greed, not a tourist attraction,” said they would also work to inform the global community about the potential hazards awaiting shoppers at Villaggio.

The letter concludes by asking the Qatar government to open a dialogue:

We are grateful to His Highness the Crown Prince not only for visiting us after the tragedy but for committing the resources of the Qatari government to seeking justice.

That starts today. Keep this mall closed. Speak to the families. Give us the means to rebuild.

Here’s the full letter:

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala

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