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Qatar…From Afar: Uncomfortable Questions II

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On Thursday, April 25, 2013, when my dismissal had been finalized, when I had submitted all the necessary documents (e.g. exit clearance form) and surrendered my Qatar ID/Residence Permit (RP), Qatar Foundation ID, passport etc., I was set to leave Friday, May 3, 2013.

Only two things remained: apartment inspection by, and clearance from, the housing department, and getting my passport back from Qatar Academy (QA). The latter was contingent on my RP being cancelled and the Exit Permit being approved and applied for, on my behalf, by QA. (An electronic document, Exit Permit, which when issued, is held by the immigration authorities in their system.)

But my passport never came!

Here’s what happened instead between the day my dismissal was finalized and the day I was jailed on May 1. (The email exchanges were with the administrator facilitating my departure, referred to as PC from here on. I refer to PC as “another administrator” in the post detailing the timeline of my ordeal.)

Thursday, April 25

I schedule the apartment inspection for the morning of Sunday, April 28. (See image below for what it entailed.)

Apartment clearance check list.
Apartment clearance check list.

 

Sunday morning, April 28

The actual “inspection” consists of the housing representative walking in, handing me a piece of paper to sign, and, signature done, walking out!

Monday, April 29

At 11:51 am I fire off an email to PC, inquiring about the cancellation of the RP and status of the Exit Permit, and therefore the status of my passport. I had been promised my passport that day.

At 12:28 pm PC writes back saying, and I quote, “Yes – we anticipate this arriving today – tomorrow latest.”

The day passes and neither do I have my passport nor do I receive any update.

Tuesday, April 30

At 10:02 am I email PC again inquiring after my passport etc. saying that my shipping agent needed them.

At 10:06 am PC writes back with, and I quote again, “Hiya Dorje, / We will have this by 1:00 today.”

As you can see, the response contained no explanation for why it hadn’t arrived the previous day.

1:00 pm comes and goes—no passport, no word!

At 2:12 pm I write a follow-up email saying, and I quote,  “Do you have them? Can I come pick it up?”

At 2:18 pm PC responds: “Hiya, / [named personnel at QA] had gone to pick it up earlier today – I will check if he is back.”

At 2:24 pm I fire off a quick response to that saying, “I tried calling him before I sent you that email but he didn’t answer.”

At 2:33 pm PC responds saying: “I have just spoken with [the same named personnel at QA] – your RP is cancelled in the system but the stamp was forgotten – it can be picked up tomorrow about 2:00. / Sorry about that dorje.” (See image below for the email.)

Final email from PC.
Final email from PC.

Wednesday, May 1

Mid-morning, long before 2 pm, I get a call from Al Rayyan police station. After spending about four hours at the station, I am in jail by mid-afternoon!

The Uncomfortable Questions

The way the apartment inspection took place and the exchanges I had with PC raises a number of uncomfortable questions, as I am sure you can tell. Before I go on to the questions however, I want to reiterate something I stated in the first post in this sub-series: I confess, I don’t necessarily know the answers to these questions, and where answers are provided, they are my own educated guesses.

  1. Why was the inspection so perfunctory? Was it as perfunctory with every other colleague?
  2. Why did PC only respond to my emails and not volunteer information about the status of my passport?
  3. Why did PC keep stalling?
  4. Why would a “stamp” be necessary to cancel a plastic card (Qatar ID/RP)? How would you stamp a plastic card? (See image of the card below.)
Qatar ID/Residence Permit.
Qatar ID/Residence Permit.
  1. Why would a missing “stamp” on an ID card delay the handover of a passport? (I wasn’t getting the card back anyway; the authorities were keeping it.)
  2. Is there a simpler explanation?
    • Could QA have submitted the application for my Exit Permit but, following instructions (from immigration authorities or the police?), held on to my passport (preventing me from leaving the country in preparation for my arrest and jail)? OR
    • Could QA not have submitted the application for my Exit Permit (again following instructions from some authority in anticipation of my arrest) and so did not release my passport?

(If I had to choose between the two, it would be the second one, based solely on the procedure I followed the morning of May 13 in preparation for my departure from the country.)

Unless…the father of the twelve-year old logging the complaint with the Director had already informed the school, as early as April 17, that he would be filing felony charges and that I would be jailed! Then QA would have known all along and wouldn’t have bothered to even apply for the Exit Permit!

If indeed Qatar Academy did know about my impending incarceration, they fed me a load of crap about the status of my passport, which begs the following questions:

  • Why did Qatar Academy go to such extent to hide what they knew?
    • Was it the belief that, because I was Nepalese, no one would care how they treated me and what happened to me? Or
    • Was it the belief that none of this would matter in the end because they had known about (or counted on?) my potentially being locked up for a long time? Or
    • Was it something else entirely that I haven’t considered here?

If, on the other hand, QA did NOT know anything about my impending incarceration, they put me through an interesting charade!

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