Kenyan Who Wrote About Plight of Migrant Workers Detained in Qatar Ahead of World Cup

Supporters say Qatari security forces detained Malcolm Bidali and have not provided information on his whereabouts

Al Rayyan Stadium in Qatar
General view of the construction at Al Rayyan Stadium in Qatar in 2019.
FIFA/FIFA via Getty

A coalition of human rights groups including Amnesty International claims Qatari security forces have detained Kenyan security guard Malcolm Bidali for publishing stories about the plight of migrant laborers who are working in the country ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Thousands of workers from countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died over the last decade while building Qatar’s 2022 World Cup facilities. Bidali recently made a presentation to civil society groups about the conditions that migrant workers face in Qatar. Also a blogger and activist, Bidali was arrested and is under investigation by the government. Authorities have not yet disclosed his whereabouts, according to Amnesty International.

“It has now been more than a week since anyone heard from Malcolm, and we are extremely concerned for his well-being, and that he may have been detained in reprisal for his legitimate human rights work,” per the organization. “Despite our repeated requests to the Qatari authorities, we are still in the dark as to Malcolm’s location and the exact reason for his detention. We urge the authorities to disclose Malcolm’s whereabouts, and ensure he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment.”

Responding to The Associated Press, the Qatari government described Bidali, 28, as being “taken into custody and placed under investigation for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations.”

“The individual retains all his rights under the law. All procedures of the investigation are being carried out in accordance with Qatari law,” a government official told The Guardian.

Written under the pseudonym “Noah,” Bidali’s articles do not paint the Gulf state in a very favorable light and detail up to 10 men making low wages living in a single room.

“While residents enjoy some freedom of private discussion, security forces reportedly monitor personal communications and non-citizens often self-censor to avoid jeopardizing their work and residency status,” according to Washington-based group Freedom House. “Social media users can face criminal penalties for posting politically sensitive content.”

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