13 Aug 2017 - 2:12
Siege: NHRC receives 3,269 complaints
By Mohammed Osman / The Peninsula
Qatar National Human Right Committee (QNHRC) has received over 3,000 complaints of human rights violations since the current siege of Qatar. The rights body said yesterday it had received a total of 3,269 complaints since the blockade was imposed on June 5.
Only around ten or so days are left for the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah (Haj) and restrictions imposed by Saudi authorities have still not been lifted, said Dr Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri, Chairman of NHRC.
A total of 21,255 people have so far applied to perform Haj this year and the quota strength is only 2,400. The deadline for people travelling by road for Haj is August 21, and for those flying is August 26, but Saudis remain adamant on not lifting the restrictions.
The committee has urged the Saudi authorities to lift all restrictions, open direct flights to Jeddah and open the land route instead of insisting on forcing pilgrims from Qatar to travel through a third country which is hard for the elderly and low-income pilgrims, specially expatriates, said Al Marri, speaking at press meet at the NHRC headquarters.
If these restrictions, which include stopping companies from giving accommodation, food and transportation in Saudi Arabia to Qataris, are not withdrawn the committee will keep seeking support of international human rights organisations to protect the religious rights of the citizens and to end exploitation of Haj for political goals, he added.
Propaganda against Qataris, especially that linking them with terrorism, is endangering their safety, he said, adding that NHRC had received many complaints from Haj operating companies that are facing hardships in running their business. The committee has urged Islamic scholars and related entities to persuade Saudi authorities end measures taken against pilgrims from Qatar.
NHRC recently noted that Saudis have scaled back some measures taken against their citizens living in Qatar, which is a positive development, Al Marri said. They allowed Saudi students studying in Qatar to continue their education, as well as let Saudi businessmen with permanent residency in Qatar stay and run their business.
In another positive development, the Saudis have allowed Qatari students to enter Saudi but UAE and Bahrain continue to stonewall them despite a majority of the students being in UAE universities, said Al Marri. Saudi said it will allow their entry through border checkpoints but no details were given about implementing the decision, leaving it to whims of border officials. The total number of complaints received by the committee from Qatari students affected by the siege are 201 students and majority of them were studying in the UAE (122 students) Saudi Arabia (52) and Bahrain (27). The committee also received complaints of 459 expat workers from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and other Asian countries, who are facing difficult living situation in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to enter Qatar with their Qatari employers. Al Marri also said their problems were discussed with the concerned embassies, but the their case is pending.
However, the authorities did not allow in a similar way to some 984 Qatari businessmen and owners of properties and livestock (Saudi Arabia 607, the UAE 331 and Bahrain 46). At least holders of unified ID numbers should be allowed to enter Saudi to look after their businesses and properties, he said. Violations to the rights of the Qatari investors and owners of properties by the siege countries and their deportation reflect that the investment environment in these countries are not secure, he sad, adding local, international and GCC laws should be respected.
NHRC has noted many violations to the rights of people with disabilities to get treatment, move their necessary equipment.
Al Marri also expressed his disappointment on the silence of Arabic League, Islamic Cooperation Organization and GCC regarding the ongoing violations to the rights of Qatari and other GCC citizens.