KEIR RADNEDGE in PORT LOUIS: Workers’ rights activists outside FIFA Congress here in Mauritius were arrested by police and detained for seven hours after starting a peaceful protest over the 2022 World Cup.
The demonstration, not even outside the main gate of the SVICC, involved eight people holding protest banners demanding a revote of the contentious award to Qatar.
The International Trade Union Confederation has grown increasingly impatient with the Qatari authorities over the issue of workers’ rights in the Gulf state.
Local representatives were involved in the protest as well as Gemma Swart, the ITUC’s campaign and communications specialist.
She said: “We were arrested and held in Port Louis police station for seven hours without charge. Our lawyers had advised us that, under local laws, we could hold a peaceful demonstration with up to 11 people and we were below that.
“It appears the local police authorities here have come under heavy pressure from FIFA who do not want to admit to any concerns about workers’ rights in Qatar. We staged a simlar protest in London last week outside the UEFA Congress without any problems.
“The two foreign nationals were released without charge eventually but police seem undecided about our Mauritius colleagues.”
Swart said initially they had all been charged in organising an illegal gathering of more than 12 people without authorisation. They challenged this on the basis than no more than eight people were present on the protest at any one time.