ALEXANDRE GUIRAUD-COINTREAU WRITES – Two German journalists were detained recently by Qatar authorities for investigating the plight of the country’s migrant workers. Filmmaker Peter Giesel and cameraman Robin Ahne were on a follow up investigation for The Guardian, which had previously claimed such laborers faced a form of modern-day slavery. The two were held for 27 hours before being released.
More than a million laborers have been brought into Qatar to help get the country’s infrastructure ready to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As reported in the Huffington Post, an international labor organization has claimed that thousands of such workers could die during such construction, something officialdom — as reported by Arabian Business — denies.
“If some foreign media maligns the image of Qatar and spreads malicious propaganda, it is like crossing the red line,” said one such official, Hussain Al Mulla, an undersecretary at the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. “So there is a need to investigate and bring the truth before the world.”
The broadcasters were released only after their relatives contacted the German embassy in Qatar. When released, the journalists said they’d been told officials were worried their interviews could spark a riot among workers. “And that’s why we got detained and put in jail.” Though the pair said they were treated well, their equipment was confiscated for allegedly filming without government permission, and some footage was manipulated or erased.
Though riots did not take place, the report by Giesel mentioned that they saw the Nepalese embassy crowded with workers trying to attain their documents, so it seems some unrest had occurred. Even so, both Giesel and Ahne were invited back to Qatar. Let’s hope next time the lack of transparency will not be a barrier to finding the truth.