Mysterious Qatar ‘rights group’ covers its tracks

Numerous social media accounts associated with Voiceless Victims, a mysterious and possibly sinister “human rights” organisation, have been deleted over the last couple of weeks.

Voiceless Victims had approached Amnesty International and other established organisations with a view to cooperating in campaigns against the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar. However, the behaviour of Voiceless Victims gave rise to suspicions that it was actually trying to gather information about activists supporting the migrant workers.

Suspicions grew further when Amnesty discovered that Voiceless Victims was using a bogus office address in France and members of its staff had apparently given themselves fake identities.

Last month, after becoming aware that Amnesty — along with journalists in the US and France — was investigating its odd behaviour, Voiceless Victims shut down its website. Social media accounts linked to Voiceless Victims or its staff also began disappearing and to date at least 12 of them have been deleted, along with some other material.

Voiceless Victims has been unwilling to answer questions about its activities and the deletions might reasonably be interpreted as a sign that it has something to hide.

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Voiceless Victims’ Twitter account

Although Voiceless Victims sought to befriend organisations concerned about workers’ rights in Qatar, its only campaign contribution of any substance was a 73-second video, issued in October 2015, which claimed that “more than 62 workers will die for each game played [in Qatar] during the 2022 World Cup”. With hindsight, the video looks like an attempt by Voiceless Victims to gain recognition as a genuine human rights organisation.

It later claimed in a press release (now deleted) that the video had “reached millions of people all over Europe and the Middle East”, though actual viewing figures, as recorded at the various internet locations where the video is known to have been posted, were slightly less than 11,000.

The video was promoted by a series of social media accounts which I named in a blog post on 4 January. Seven of those which were still in existence at the time of my blog post have since been shut down.

Here is a tally of deleted accounts associated with Voiceless Victims and those that still remain:

Recently deleted (since 4 January blog post)

Luz Bardem (Playbuzz)
Kelly Brennan (YouTube)
@HR_AreNotOption (Twitter)
@bloody_football (Twitter)
@williamsonzak0 (Twitter)
Bloody Football 2022 (Facebook)
Daniel Faulkner (Facebook)
@VoicelessRape (Twitter) — created and deleted in January 2017

Previously deleted

Voiceless Victims website
Voiceless Victims press release
Voiceless Victims (Facebook)
Amelie Lefebvre (Facebook)
Support Qatar Workers (Facebook)
@amelielefebvre0 (Twitter)
Luz Bardem (Facebook)

Not deleted

Luke Hann (LinkedIn)
Amelie Lefebvre (LinkedIn)
@vlvictims (Twitter)
@ISQW2022 (Twitter)
@wilsonjane4911 (Twitter)
@AndrewSven69 (Twitter)
Lisa Loza (Youtube)
Alisha Owen (Vimeo)

Why some of these accounts still survive is a bit of a puzzle, since it might be assumed Voiceless Victims would wish to include them among the deletions. Two of them are the apparently faked LinkedIn profiles of “Luke Hann” and “Amelie Lefebvre”, respectively described as Voiceless Victims’ founder/director and its spokesperson. Another two, @vlvictims and @ISQW2022, are Twitter accounts that Voiceless Victims has publicly acknowledged as owning.

Adding to this puzzle, on 6 January a newly-created Twitter account with the logo used by Voiceless Victims began tweeting about rape in the United States. I wrote a blog post about the new account, @VoicelessRape, on 11 January and it was deleted later that day. Following its deletion I posted a tweet seeking further information about the @VoicelessRape account and 49 minutes later received a reply saying it was “for a high school English project”.

The reply came from Renee Randazzo (@reneedesiree2) who seems to be a real person living in Nevada. Over the next two days I posted three tweets addressed to @reneedesiree2, thanking her for the information and asking for more details about the alleged school project. Confirmation of its existence would have allowed @voicelessrape to be eliminated the Voiceless Victims investigation.

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Unfortunately the only response was to block me from further viewing of the @reneedesiree2 account.

Originally published at al-bab.com.

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: www.al-bab.com. Author of 'Arabs Without God'.

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