A Kenyan security guard in Qatar, Malcolm Bidali, has been in detention for the last two weeks after he was arrested for writing about the plight of migrant workers in the country.
A Qatari government official confirmed the arrest saying Bidali ““was taken into custody and placed under investigation for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations” on May 5.
“The individual retains all his rights under the law. All procedures of the investigation are being carried out in accordance with Qatari law,” the official added, without sharing information on the exact charges he faces.
Bidali had written a blog using a pseudonym, Noah, where he highlighted a series of labour rights issues including working conditions, long working hours, unsuitable accommodation and work conditions as well as issues with wages.
Bidali recently made an online presentation to civil society groups on the state of migrant workers in Qatar. The security guard who moved to the country in 2016 shared experiences from his workplace.
A spokesperson with Migrants-Org where Bidali blogged about the issues said “he was keen to help other workers in distress, especially during the pandemic”.
“After a few conversations, we realized he had a really strong voice and had taken the effort to educate himself on many things, including the laws of the country,” the spokesperson added.
“He then started writing about his experiences living and working in Qatar, and it always was constructive and had suggestions on how to improve things.
“His pieces were very well received. It also brought about some positive changes to their accommodation.”
Through his Twitter account @noaharticulates, Bidali shares various content highlighting the issues employees face in the country, with direct reference to GSS Certis International, where he works and the government.
“We are aware that one of our employees has been detained by the authorities. Any questions regarding his detention should be referred to the authorities,” the company told Al Jazeera in an email.
The Kenyan Embassy in Qatar confirmed knowledge of the arrest, but said that the Qatari government had offered no other information regarding since his arrest.
“We were informed that he has been arrested by state security services,” Joel Mwanzia, labour attache at the Kenyan embassy in Doha said.
“Since that notification sometime last week, we have not been briefed on what action has been taken against him or if he has been produced in court.”
Since the news of his arrest last week, Migrant-Rights.org, FairSquare, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre have released a joint statement calling on Qatari authorities to release him.
Today, 240 Qatar Foundation community members sent a letter to Her Excellency Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani asking for assistance in demanding the whereabouts and details of charges faced by @NoahArticulates, a security guard, blogger, and labor activist pic.twitter.com/BhpGO9KnUs
— Ngoc Nguyen (@ngoctriangle) May 19, 2021