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Friday, July 30, 2021

Qatar’s foreign ministry confirms arrest of British charity workers

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Ghimire Gundev and Krishna Upadhyaya of the Global Network for Rights and Development.
Ghimire Gundev and Krishna Upadhyaya of the Global Network for Rights and Development.

Two British human rights advocates who went missing in Doha a week ago were arrested by authorities here for “violating the provisions of the laws of the State of Qatar,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

In a statement, MOFA said that 52-year-old Krishna Upadhyaya and 36-year-old Ghimire Gundev were arrested on Aug. 31 and are being interrogated in a manner “consistent with the principles of human rights enshrined in the Constitution and the laws of the State of Qatar.”

The Qatar government did not provide any details on the specific nature of the offenses the men are alleged to have committed.

The two men, who are of Nepali descent, had been visiting Qatar to write a report on Nepali workers, according to their employer, Norway-based charity Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD).

The men lost communication with GNRD and friends and family last Sunday, after checking out of their hotel and complaining about being followed by plainclothes police officers during their trip.

They never boarded their flight home, and three days later, GNRD released a statement demanding answers from Qatar about their employees’ whereabouts.

‘Paperwork’ problems

In the latest turn of events, GNRD has posted a message from Upadhyaya to his family on its website, as conveyed by a British embassy official who visited the duo last night:

“I am well, I have been well looked after and I will be home soon. We have been arrested due to problems with our paperwork.”

It is not clear why the two men were apprehended and not allowed to reach their families or employer for an entire week because of paperwork issues.

The decision to detain Upadhyaya and Gundev is a rare move by authorities in Qatar, where foreign journalists and rights activists regularly investigate and critically report on the living and working conditions of migrants ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Some activists have expressed concern that the detentions signal a change in the government’s direction.

Others wondered if the men were targeted because of their employer, which appears to have ties to the UAE – a country that is involved in a months-long diplomatic dispute with Qatar.

Some observers have also noted several unusual features of GNRD’s operations. Its social media following appears artificially inflated and its sources of funding remains unclear. While the charity lists several companies as sponsors, there is no online trace of most of these firms.

The exception is a UAE consulting firm owned by a man with the same name as GNRD’s president.

When reached for comment, a UK embassy spokesperson told Doha News that consular assistance is being provided for the two men, but said further information could not be provided.

Thoughts?

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A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I thought we were all supposed to believe that the tensions between Qatar and UAE (and Saudi and Bahrain) were all over and everything was getting back to normal, any day now. I guess not…

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Yep, it’s over, as much as the Cold War is over between Russia and the US.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

if i read the situation correctly.. AD and Doha have passed the point of no return… relationship may never be normalized.. however things are dandy with Riyadh …

filmingindoha
filmingindoha
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

There’s no such thing as point of no return in Arabic politics. Friends yesterday became your mortal enemies today and vice versa. But right now, what was rivalry between AD and Doha for the past several years and was funny to observe (my museum is bigger than yours, my film festival can outspend your film festival, etc.) turned into a nasty behind-the-scenes cold war with the punches being thrown below the belt daily. Who do you think is paying for the “Qatar Is Bad, M’kay?” almost-daily-column in Guardian, Mirror and others?

St Etienne du Gress
St Etienne du Gress
6 years ago
Reply to  filmingindoha

Isn’t that a typical nature of Arab competition? Harmony is not in their vocabulary. The problem is, it is usually the non-Arabs or expats that suffer and you are right, used as baits. Unfortunately, these baits seek for monetary compensation. So, they do not actually mind risking their lives. Unfortunately, Qatar always gets advised badly by whoever are those political hot shots in the country. They often end up destroying their own image from the actions they are advised to do.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

“dandy”?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Interesting, they seem a bit dodgy just like those degrees that Egyptians sell to locals….

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

yes the story covered in the local Arabic papers a few years ago of 13 qatari who had bought forged university degrees from Egypt and were later stripped of the degrees and fired from their jobs… however they were never formally accused of fraud… like the Australian paramedics who worked for Hamad and later it was discovered they had forged several medical certificates… but MIMH i don’t see how these stories are relevant here..

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I’m just agreeing with you, GNRD seems very suspect.

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Interesting read and it seems like GNRD might just be an image consultant for UAE after all; that being said…two wrongs still never make a right. Both UAE and Qatar are guilty of such PR stunts; AJ being a global Qatari image consultant. It is sad to see … two countries which in my opinion have a bright future playing doggy politics and gambling the future of the younger generation away. It’s time .. the leaders of the region get rid of their chauvinistic ideologies and start behaving like the advance countries they claim to be. But if they intend on continuing on this path … one cannot help but to predict a spiraling descend to an abyss which will have no exit.

ngourlay
ngourlay
6 years ago

“I am being held at my own request, as I am completely guilty of all charges. I wish to be kept awake for three days and then have my testicles clipped to a car battery. It is only through this action that I will learn the error of my ways. Yours sincerely, the accused.”

filmingindoha
filmingindoha
6 years ago

These guys were obviously a bait sent to Qatar by the UAE secret services, just to add more ammunition to an ongoing PR war waited against it. Unfortunately, Qataris fell for it. Explanation?

1. GNRD is clearly spy operation / PR outfit financed by Abu Dhabi, masking as the “human rights organisation”. Only thing that organisation ever did before is to issue laughable reports about wonderfulness of human rights in UAE. They are as Norvegian as I am Papua New Guinean

2. Those who sent them knew Qataris will have them arrested, as they’re Nepalis. They also knew that because of their UK passports, another avalanche of negative PR will be unleashed on Qatar worldwide

Qatar and its government services urgently need some PR training, as they’re involved in cold war with powers far more sinister, cunning and organised then they are. These men should’ve just been escorted to the next available plane out of here.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  filmingindoha

I don’t know if what you are saying in points 1 & 2 is true or not, but let’s agree that it is – if they were obviously bait sent to be arrested and make Qatar look bad for arresting ‘human rights inspectors’, why did Qatar fall for it so quickly and so easily?

You are dead right – if you don’t like what journalists/inspectors are getting up to in your country, you escort them to the airport and wish them a safe trip home and hope no one notices.

filmingindoha
filmingindoha
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Why did Qatar fell for it? Who knows. Maybe emotional reaction, as there are two Qatari alleged “spies” in Emirati prison for months now, maybe just naiveté, or could it be that these men were working on something you and I will not ever know?

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

I believe they were looking for a “smoking gun” to officially tie them to AD. I’m 100% confident they went through their laptops and phones, tried to access their bank account and gather any info they can linking them to AD…

As part of the latest GCC meetings to settle the AD/KSA/Bahrain feud with Qatar… It was asked of Qatar to turn down the media heat on Egypt, while and Qatar insisted should also stop using international media outlets to target Qatar… Talks somewhat came to a standstill when each party asked the other to provide objective factual proof of wrong doing..

I don’t think Qatar cares what the world thinks right now, but instead are looking for a way to link these individuals and the GNRD with AD

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Why did Qatar fall for it? Qatar is well known all over the world for managing it’s PR effeciently.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Deepak Babu

I have to agree, as powerful as Al Jazeera media outlets have become, Qatar still falls back when it comes to polishing its image globally.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago
Reply to  filmingindoha

They are not Nepalese, they are British. Many Brits are descended from other races including families of Ghurkhas who fought with British Forces.

filmingindoha
filmingindoha
6 years ago
Reply to  outdoorsboys

Agreed, you’re absolutely right. But I did say that they were a “bait”. We all know, and people who sent them know as well, that Qataris will see these two as Napalis and not as Brits. And take the bait, hook, line and sinker, which they did.

Luciano Salvatore
Luciano Salvatore
6 years ago
Reply to  filmingindoha

You should be directing a movie.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

So it begs the question, why did Qatar deny having detained them in the first place? Was there something the authorities needed to hide?

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I don’t believe they did deny it, they simply did not respond to international media questions. within hours of their detention UK Embassy staffers were contacted and informed of their detention.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Who told you that?

HalfManArmy
HalfManArmy
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

When did Qatar deny that?

You all are the worst kind of people. Just gnawing at the hand that feeds you.

kubaru
kubaru
6 years ago
Reply to  HalfManArmy

‘Hand that feeds you’? It is called work for money. No charity involved. It is a business deal, and if it is honest neither side owes any special gratitude to the other, dear..

HalfManArmy
HalfManArmy
6 years ago
Reply to  kubaru

That idiom doesn’t refer to charity. It’s about any source of income that feeds you and your family.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

GNRD president is an Egyptian based in RAK (next to Dubai) who owns a PR firm!

This is like you being accused of tax evasion by a Nigerian accountant based in the Caymen islands! Give me a break…

The uproar shouldn’t be why they have been detained but why fake fronts like GNRD is allowed to hijack a very serious issues to settle political scores…

I do feel however feel the two gentlemen are somewhat scapegoats caught in the middle of it… Regardless if their or GNRD detaining them any further .. Rightfully or wrongfully is damaging to an already very tarnished image of Qatar…

Ten years from now people won’t remember hat GNRD was or who managed it all they’ll remember is two human right officers were detained…

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

I see online that Israel accused GNRD of being a front way back in 2012. I guess if Israel said that very few people in this part of the world would have been likely to believe them. Israel is now in agreement with people talking about this in Qatar.

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/PA-plans-to-use-human-rights-group-for-espionage

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago

aaahhh….the all famous constitution and the laws of Qatar to justify the detention without representation.

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