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Qatar…From Afar: Uncomfortable Questions III

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On May Day 2013, I was imprisoned in Qatar for allegedly insulting Islam during an exchange with three twelve-year-old students at Qatar Academy (QA). The ordeal lasted 11 nights and 12 days.

txts to friends from police station - combined V2 75px resized
Text message I sent to a number of friends..with the typo intact! (As the screen shot was taken in Nepal, to get the correct Doha time, subtract 2 hours 45 min. from the time stamp.)

The following questions relate to what happened that fateful day.

As I have stated in the preceding two posts on this subject, I confess, I don’t necessarily know the answers to these questions, and where answers are provided, they are only educated guesses.

To begin with, the day started with a call from the Police “Captain” on my mobile phone.

Where did he get my number from? Surely, not from a friend of mine, which leaves QA as a possible, but not the only, source!

While I was waiting to be jailed (it turned out!) after my interrogation by the “Captain” and his translator, I had a number of phone conversations and SMS exchanges with friends and QA administrators. The image on the left is one of the SMS’ I sent my friends.

Every single phone conversation I had with the Director started with the Arab staff — the same staff who met me at the station on May 1 and did all the translating on the day of my release — calling me on his mobile phone and then handing it over to the Director.

Why didn’t the Director call me directly? Had he been advised not to do so by Qatar Foundation (QF), the owners of QA? If so, why?

Or, had that been his decision? If so, why? (And yet, he came to see me at the Qatar Foundation Human Resource office the morning of May 13.)

One of the first things the Director asked me was if my passport — held by the school — was actually with me! Why?

None of the other senior administrators got in touch with me.

Why? Had they known all along I’d be jailed and so didn’t feel comfortable? Or, had they also been following QF’s instructions? Or, had it been something else entirely?

The only other administrator who I shall refer to as “PC” in this post as well (just as I do in this post), limited their interactions to text messages. (The only reason for contacting PC was because PC had been THE point of contact!) PC knew that I had limited credit and yet didn’t call even once.

Cool SMS: The response from the Administrator, whose responsibility it was to facilitate my departure from Qatar on May 3, on being told I was being jailed!
Cool SMS: The response from the Administrator, whose responsibility it was to facilitate my departure from Qatar on May 3, on being told I was being jailed!

Why? Had it been a personal decision or was that, again, as per QF’s instructions?

One of the first things I requested of my colleague waiting at the police station that day was to ask an administrator to come down to the station. (None of them would come!)

Instead, I would get assurances from the Director and PC that one from each of the QF legal department and HSSE was headed my way (see image above and to the right). The text message “K it should not be long now dorje” was for the two to show up to the police station.

But neither showed up.

Why? Had that been just a charade, just as with the passport? Or had something else happened?

Had they known (or had they been told?) that I would be incarcerated and there was nothing they could do leading them to make those assurances just to clear their own conscience? Or, just to give me some (false) hope?

Finally, had a colleague of mine texted me saying that he was being jailed, “Ok” wouldn’t have been my response! But that’s me! Regardless, why just “Ok”?

Once again the reason may have everything to do with my being a Nepalese in Qatar. Had I been say a European or North American or from another native English-speaking region of the world, everything could have turned out a little different.

But, I could be wrong!

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  1. This is such a shocking story. It reminds me of something out of Kafka. I plan to read all of it.

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