Thousands of expatriate workers evicted in Qatar's capital ahead of World Cup

News Network
October 29, 2022

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Doha, Oct 29: Qatar has emptied apartment blocks housing thousands of foreign workers in the centre of the capital Doha where visiting soccer fans will stay during the World Cup, workers who were evicted from their homes told Reuters.

They said more than a dozen buildings had been evacuated and shut down by authorities, forcing the mainly Asian and African workers to seek what shelter they could - including bedding down on the pavement outside one of their former homes.

The move comes less than four weeks before the Nov. 20 start of the global soccer tournament which has drawn intense international scrutiny of Qatar's treatment of foreign workers and its restrictive social laws.

At one building which residents said housed 1,200 people in Doha's Al Mansoura district, authorities told people at about 8 pm on Wednesday they had just two hours to leave.

Municipal officials returned around 10.30 pm, forced everyone out and locked the doors to the building, they said. Some men had not been able to return in time to collect their belongings.

"We don't have anywhere to go," one man told Reuters the next day as he prepared to sleep out for a second night with around 10 other men, some of them shirtless in the autumn heat and humidity of the Gulf Arab state.

He, and most other workers who spoke to Reuters, declined to give their names or personal details for fear of reprisals from the authorities or employers.

Nearby, five men were loading a mattress and a small fridge into the back of a pickup truck. They said they had found a room in Sumaysimah, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Doha.

A Qatari government official said the evictions are unrelated to the World Cup and were designed "in line with ongoing comprehensive and long-term plans to re-organise areas of Doha."

"All have since been rehoused in safe and appropriate accommodation," the official said, adding that requests to vacate "would have been conducted with proper notice."

World soccer's governing body FIFA did not respond to a request for comment and Qatar's World Cup organisers directed inquiries to the government.

"Deliberate ghetto-isation"

Around 85% of Qatar's three million population are foreign workers. Many of those evicted work as drivers, day labourers or have contracts with companies but are responsible for their own accommodation - unlike those working for major construction firms who live in camps housing tens of thousands of people.

One worker said the evictions targeted single men, while foreign workers with families were unaffected.

A Reuters reporter saw more than a dozen buildings where residents said people had been evicted. Some buildings had their electricity switched off.

Most were in neighbourhoods where the government has rented buildings for World Cup fan accommodation. The organisers' website lists buildings in Al Mansoura and other districts where flats are advertised for between $240 and $426 per night.

The Qatari official said municipal authorities have been enforcing a 2010 Qatari law which prohibits "workers' camps within family residential areas" - a designation encompassing most of central Doha - and gives them the power to move people out.

Some of the evicted workers said they hoped to find places to live amid purpose-built workers' accommodation in and around the industrial zone on Doha's southwestern outskirts or in outlying cities, a long commute from their jobs.

The evictions "keep Qatar's glitzy and wealthy facade in place without publicly acknowledging the cheap labour that makes it possible," said Vani Saraswathi, Director of Projects at Migrant-Rights.org, which campaigns for foreign workers in the Middle East.

"This is deliberate ghetto-isation at the best of times. But evictions with barely any notice are inhumane beyond comprehension."

Some workers said they had experienced serial evictions.

One said he was forced to change buildings in Al Mansoura at the end of September, only to be moved on 11 days later with no prior notice, along with some 400 others. "In one minute, we had to move," he said.

Mohammed, a driver from Bangladesh, said he had lived in the same neighbourhood for 14 years until Wednesday, when the municipality told him he had 48 hours to leave the villa he shared with 38 other people.

He said labourers who built up the infrastructure for Qatar to host the World Cup were being pushed aside as the tournament approaches.

"Who made the stadiums? Who made the roads? Who made everything? Bengalis, Pakistanis. People like us. Now they are making us all go outside." 

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News Network
March 1,2024

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A far-right Israeli minister has hailed the regime's soldiers who killed more than 100 Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“We must give complete support to our heroic fighters operating in Gaza, who acted excellently against a Gazan mob that tried to harm them,” Itamar Ben-Gvir, the so-called “national security” minister, said in a statement on Thursday.

He also reiterated his demand to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza, claiming that it “endangers” Israeli soldiers.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid near al-Nabulsi roundabout in Gaza City, killing at least 112 people and injuring hundreds of others.

The latest massacre of Palestinians by Israeli forces has been met with strong condemnation from different states and international organizations. 

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani slammed the "barbaric attack", noting that "The shame of supporting and remaining silent towards the mass killing and genocide of Palestinians by the criminal Zionist regime will be evident on the foreheads of the false champions of human rights in the United States and  Europe."

Israel waged its genocidal war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian Hamas resistance group carried out Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the usurping entity in retaliation for its intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

Since the start of the offensive, the Tel Aviv regime has killed 30,035 Palestinians and injured 70,457 others.

The Tel Aviv regime has also imposed a “complete siege” on the territory, cutting off fuel, electricity, food and water to the more than two million Palestinians living there.

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News Network
February 27,2024

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, February 27, put a complete ban on Patanjali Ayurved from advertising its products and cautioned the firm from making any statements to media.

A bench of justices Hima Kohli and A Amanullah issued a notice to Patanjali Ayurved and its managing director, asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them.

“The entire country is taken for a ride! You wait for two years when the Acts says this (misleading advertisements) is prohibited,” Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah told Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, and ordered the Centre to file an affidavit explaining the steps it has taken to ensure compliance.

Coming down heavily on Patanjali, Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah said, “You had the courage and guts to come up with this advertisement after the order of this Court! And then you come up with this advertisement. Permanent relief, what do you mean by permanent relief? Is it a cure? We are going to pass a very, very strict order.”

The top court issued the band while hearing a plea of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), alleging a smear campaign by Ramdev, founder of Patanjali, against the vaccination drive and modern medicines.

On November 21 last year, the counsel representing the company had assured the apex court that henceforth there shall not be any violation of law, especially relating to advertising or branding of products, and no casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy of Patanjali products or against any system of medicine will be released to the media in any form.

The apex court had then cautioned the company, co-founded by Ramdev and dealing in herbal products, against making “false” and “misleading” claims in advertisements about its medicines as cure of several diseases.

“All such false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved have to stop immediately. The Court will take any such infraction very seriously, and the Court will also consider imposing costs to the extent of Rs. 1 crores on every product regarding which a false claim is made that it can “cure” a particular disease,” Justice Amanullah orally said.

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News Network
February 23,2024

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Bengaluru, Feb 23: The opposition BJP and JD(S) staged a protest against the Congress government in Karnataka over passing of resolutions against Narendra Modi-led administration’s step motherly treatment, which rocked the Legislative Assembly proceedings on Friday, forcing adjournments.

The Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the Assembly, meanwhile, at its meeting Chaired by Speaker U T Khader decided to extend the session by a day to Monday, which was otherwise scheduled to conclude today, for passage of the finance bill and Chief Minister’s reply to discussion on the Budget.

The Opposition demanded that the government withdraw the resolutions.

Leader of Opposition R Ashoka even read out a “counter resolution” condemning the resolutions moved and passed by the government on Thursday as “false, imaginary and politically motivated”, and accused the government of blaming the Centre to hide its failures.

As the opposition’s resolution was read without following due procedures and without the consent of the Speaker, it was not considered or put to vote.

The state government had on Thursday moved and ensured passage of resolutions urging the union government to make sure that no injustice is done to the state in allocation of financial resources, and to frame a legislation regarding fixation of MSP for all crops of farmers.

As the House met for the day on Friday, BJP and JD(S) members trooped into the well of the House.

Ashoka said resolutions were brought against the central government all of a sudden and unilaterally, without bringing it to their notice or discussing it at the BAC meeting; it was also not mentioned in the agenda.

“Why did the government bring the resolution in a hush hush manner, despite having a majority in the House? They could have mentioned it in the agenda and introduced the resolution openly as per procedure and we too would have put forward our stand and objections against the resolutions.

Assembly and its rules have been insulted,” he said while demanding that the resolutions be withdrawn.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H K Patil, who had moved the resolution on Thursday, defended the government’s action and said the resolution was passed keeping the interest of Karnataka and its people in mind. It was against the injustice meted out to the state and was with facts and figures.

“We had moved the resolution and it was brought by the large number of members of this House. It is the unanimous voice of the people of Karnataka and I condemn the opposition’s objections to this unanimous voice of seven crore people of the state,” he said.

Noting that the government doesn’t need opposition’s consent to bring any resolution in the interest of the people of the state, Patil said resolutions have been moved and passed as per law and there is no question of withdrawing it. “You (opposition) introspect whether you are for Karnataka’s interest or want to do politics.” This elicited a sharp reaction from Ashoka, who asked what Congress MPs from Karnataka were doing in the Parliament, instead of raising the issue there, to which Minister Krishna Byre Gowda retorted by saying that BJP’s 25 MPs in Lok Sabha from the State never raised any issue in the interest of the state. This led to heated arguments between both sides.

Former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the Congress which ruled the country for about 55 years in 75 years of independent India, had kept the devolution of funds to states at 20 per cent for a long time; it took 30 years to raise it to 30 per cent after protests and struggle by several states.

The UPA government for 10 years did not heed to the demand of raising it to 40 per cent, but the Modi government soon after coming to power raised it to 42 per cent.

This led to a strong counter from the Congress side, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for some time.

As the House met again, BJP continued to protest from the well of the House, even as Minister Krinsha Byre Gowda requested them to allow the proceedings to go on normally.

To this, Ashoka said, they will withdraw the protest if the government withdraws the resolution.

The state government wants confrontation with the Centre, he further claimed. “If you (govt) don’t want to withdraw your resolution, the chair should allow us to move a resolution in favour of the central government, and let’s discuss it.” With both sides refusing to budge and BJP-JD(S) continuing to protest from the well of the House, the Speaker tried to transact some business amid sloganeering by opposition members.

Amidst the din, the Speaker allowed tabling of certain reports and passage of two bills without any discussion. Even as the Speaker was putting the bills to vote for its passage, Ashoka read out the opposition’s counter resolution, which was neither considered by the Chair, nor it was put to vote.

As the chaos continued, the Speaker adjourned the House to Monday. 

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