KATHMANDU- Family members of two human rights defenders who have ‘disappeared’ in Qatar have appealed to the Gulf regime for their early release.
Human rights researcher Krishna Upadhyaya and photographer Ghimire Gundev, ethnic Nepalis who hold British citizenship, have gone missing from Sunday, said Global Network For Rights And Development, a Norwegian INGO working for both human rights and development. The GNRD had hired them to investigate conditions of migrant workers at constructing facilities for Qatar ’s 2022 World Cup.
“We have every right to know on what charges they are being held,” said Krishna’s sister Mina Upadhyaya, who also works with a rights organisation in Kathmandu.
“The Qatar i government should either come up with a clear explanation or release them immediately.”
Qatar has been criticised for poor working conditions of its labourers at its World Cup sites. There are an estimated 450,000 Nepalis in the tiny kingdom. The Guardian, a British newspaper, last year reported that about 4,000 labourers could die by the time the construction completed in 2022.
Upadhyaya and Ghimire were supposed to depart from Qatar to their workplaces on August 31 but never boarded the plane. The last message was received by a colleague, saying they were being followed by plainclothesmen, which gave the GNRD a lead to suspect their possible abduction and disappearance.
“GNRD holds Qatar i authorities responsible for the security and safety of its kidnapped employees and it will pursue through international set-ups and the International Law, all those who are responsible for this offence,” read a GNRD statement.
Krishna had observed Egypt election this June as an international observer. After a stint as a journalist in early 90’s, he started a career in human rights.
He worked in rights organisations such as INHURED International, Amnesty International and Informal Sector Service Centre in Nepal and the Anti-Slavery International, based in London. Currently, he had been working on his PhD thesis on the Tharu community during the conflict.
Gundev has worked for various media outlets from across the globe. He was a member of a cultural troupe, who performed at national theatre in Nepal before migrating to the UK some 15 years ago.
“This is ridiculous,” said his nephew Utsav Luitel, about Qatar ’s act. Qatar is a signatory to various international conventions including the ILO convention on the abolition of forced labour and enforced disappearances.
Luitel said he has been corresponding with the GNRD and communicating with all his relatives and friends.
The families on Monday requested the National Human Rights Commission to find the whereabouts of their relatives. The commission has sought the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Nepal.
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