1,400 migrant workers die in Qatar building World Cup football stadiums: TV documentary

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In this screen grab from a WDR documentary video posted on YouTube, foreign laborers are seen at work at a stadium being built in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. (Benjamin Best Productions GmbH video via YouTube)
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In this screen grab from a WDR documentary video posted on YouTube, foreign laborers are seen at work at a stadium being built in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. (Benjamin Best Productions GmbH video via YouTube)
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This screen grab from a WDR documentary video posted on YouTube shows Nepali construction workers being interviewed at their quarters in Qatar. (Benjamin Best Productions GmbH video via YouTube)
Updated 08 June 2019

1,400 migrant workers die in Qatar building World Cup football stadiums: TV documentary

  • WDR’s investigative documentary, titled “Trapped in Qatar,”  exposed the harrowing plight of workers forced to live in crowded camps without many basic human needs
  • “I can vouch for 150 deaths per year. For me it was difficult to see the pain of the workers,” Katmandu-based journalist says

NEW DELHI: At least 1,400 migrant workers from Nepal have died while helping to build football stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, a shock TV documentary has revealed.

Construction site accidents and squalid living conditions in the Gulf state are claiming around 110 lives every year, according to Nepali government figures.  

And bereaved families of dead workers told German broadcaster WDR that they had received no compensation from Doha for their tragic losses.

WDR’s investigative documentary, titled “Trapped in Qatar,” on Friday exposed the harrowing plight of workers forced to live in crowded camps without many basic human needs.

Despite Nepal’s efforts to discourage its citizens from heading to Qatar for work, many still leave in the hope of finding better-paid jobs.

One Nepali stadia construction worker, Dil Prasad, said: “We are captured, and every day we nourish ourselves on water and bread. Without money we can’t do anything else. Month on month our situation gets worse. I’m not sure how much longer I can do it. I just want to go home. We can’t even call our families in Nepal.”

Dinesh Regimi, a Katmandu-based journalist who spent three years in Qatar as a reporter, said conditions for Nepali workers had not improved since Doha won its bid to stage the prestigious football competition almost a decade ago.

“When I was there few years ago, I saw only suffering of Nepali workers who migrated to that inhospitable country with lots of hope. They were denied a basic salary, their living conditions were very bad and there was always a long queue (of migrant workers) in the Nepali embassy in Doha seeking relief and intervention,” Regimi told Arab News.

He added: “The migrants faced difficulties returning home. Some died while working, some passed away while sleeping. The heat and living conditions claimed many lives. The Qatari government would not conduct any post-mortems on these workers.

“I can vouch for 150 deaths per year. For me it was difficult to see the pain of the workers.”

In 2017, Regimi travelled to Nepal to meet families who had lost loved ones working in Qatar.

Kishore Tamang from the Bara district of Nepal, around 250 km south of the capital Katmandu, went to Qatar in 2015 hoping to earn enough money to pay off family debts. But within a year he was dead, after being killed in a fall from a wall at a new football stadium being built for the World Cup. No compensation was paid to his family.

It was a similar story for the family of Jagat Nepali from the Nuwakot district. Within six months of arriving in Qatar he suffered a cardiac arrest brought on, his relatives said, by the intolerable heat and poor living conditions in the migrant workers’ camp.

A government official from Nepal’s Department of Immigration, told Arab News: “We are aware of the situation in Qatar and the difficulties Nepali workers face there. We try to discourage people from going to such places.”


Google says misinformation campaign used YouTube to target Hong Kong protests

Updated 23 August 2019

Google says misinformation campaign used YouTube to target Hong Kong protests

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Google on Thursday said it disabled a series of YouTube channels that appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The announcement by YouTube’s parent company came after Twitter and Facebook accused the Chinese government of backing a social media campaign to discredit Hong Kong’s protest movement and sow political discord in the city.
Google disabled 210 YouTube channels that it found behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the Hong Kong protests, according to Shane Huntley of the company’s security threat analysis group.
“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter,” Huntley said in an online post.
Twitter and Facebook announced this week that they suspended nearly 1,000 active accounts linked to a coordinated influence campaign. Twitter said it had shut down about 200,000 more before they could inflict any damage.
“These accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said, referring to the active accounts it shut down.
Facebook said some of the posts from accounts it banned compared the protesters in Hong Kong with Daesh group militants, branded them “cockroaches” and alleged they planned to kill people using slingshots.
China has “taken a page from Russia’s playbook” as it uses social media platforms outside the country to wage a disinformation campaign against the protests, according to the non-profit Soufan Center for research, analysis, and strategic dialogue related to global security issues.
“Beijing has deployed a relentless disinformation campaign on Twitter and Facebook powered by unknown numbers of bots, trolls, and so-called ‘sock puppets,’” the center said on its website, referring to fake online identities created for deception.
“China’s behavior will likely grow more aggressive in both the physical and virtual realms, using on-the-ground actions to complement an intensifying cyber campaign characterized by disinformation, deflection, and obfuscation.”

Misused by autocratic regimes
While social media platforms have been tools for people to advocate for rights, justice or freedom in their countries, the services are being turned on them by oppressive governments, according to the Soufan Center.
“Autocratic governments are now using these same platforms to disparage demonstrators, divide protest movements, and confuse sympathetic onlookers,” the center said.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous southern Chinese city and one of the world’s most important financial hubs, is in the grip of an unprecedented political crisis that has seen millions of people take to the streets demanding greater freedoms.
China’s government has publicly largely left the city’s leaders and police force to try and resolve the crisis, but behind the scenes online, Beijing is seeking to sway public opinion about Hong Kong, according to Twitter and Facebook.
“We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change,” Twitter said.
It said it had pulled 936 accounts originating in China that were spreading disinformation.
Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, part of the government’s so-called “Great Firewall” of censorship.
Because of the bans, many of the fake accounts were accessed using “virtual private networks” that give a deceptive picture of the user’s location, Twitter said.
Facebook said it had acted on a tip from Twitter, removing seven pages, three groups and five Facebook accounts that had about 15,500 followers.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government,” Facebook said.