31 Jul 2017 - 19:21
NHRC submits complaints on Saudi restrictions on Qatari Hajj pilgrims
Doha: The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) said it has sent a letter to the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief on the obstacles placed by Saudi authorities in front of Qatari citizens and residents of Qatar who want to do hajj rituals, adding that it sent similar letters to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Arab League in order to explain the violations related to the right to practicing religious rituals.
In a statement issued Monday, the committee said the letters relied on the cases that the it monitored, starting with violations against Qatar's umra pilgrims in Ramadan until the challenges facing state entities to finalize procedures for Qatar's hajj pilgrims.
NHRC stressed in the letters that the Saudi authorities imposed a number of hurdles that made it difficult for Qatar's pilgrims by limiting them to reach the holy sites through two airports only and on connection flights besides the lack of a clear mechanism for financial transfers and not cooperating with the concerned entities in Qatar to finalize hajj procedures by imposing more red tape measures.
The committee said that the complaints it submitted to international platforms on the repercussions of the siege on human rights and the humanitarian conditions of GCC citizens took place in line with its powers according to the Paris Principles that were endorsed by the United Nations. It added that the aim of the complaints is to lift the restrictions placed in front of Qatar's pilgrims rather than the internationalization of the holy sites' issue as claimed by Saudi officials.
NHRC said there is a major legal distinction between the internationalization of human rights violations due to the siege and the internationalization of the issue of the holy sites, which was never mentioned in any NHRC letter or statement.
The committee denounced the outcomes of the recent meeting of the foreign ministers of siege countries in Manama, particularly those related to the right to carrying out religious rituals, saying that while Gulf peoples and international rights groups were looking forward to easing the suffering of the siege victims, the world was astonished by the insistence of the siege countries to keep the violations and threaten more.
The foreign ministers of siege countries tried to evade their moral, legal and religious responsibilities towards the victims of the siege, including pilgrims, by coming up with excuses and relying on futile legal interpretations to justify the violations.
In addition, NHRC said the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umra declined to communicate with the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs in Qatar to ensure the safety of pilgrims and facilitate the performance of hajj on the grounds of the matter being in the hands of senior authorities in the kingdom.
NHRC added that the Saudi ministry refrained from providing any guarantees for the safety of Qatar's pilgrims as concerns grow for their security in light of the incitement and hate speech by Saudi government media and the rest of the siege countries against the citizens and residents of Qatar, who have lost faith in performing hajj safely.
The committee said it monitors all the incitement speech, which is circulated as part of the hurdles placed by the Saudi authorities against Qatar's pilgrims, in blatant disregard of the calls of human rights organizations not to "politicize" the hajj, and to provide assurances and facilitations for Qatar's pilgrims.
NHRC also pointed to the official Saudi media's accusation of Qatar that it targeted Mecca, saying that such acts increase the fears of Qatar's citizens and residents from threats and harassment that they may encounter were they to go to the holy sites.
The committee stressed that it intends to continue to present the violations of the right to practicing religious rituals at all international and regional rights platforms, calling in this regard on Saudi authorities to remove all obstacles and to facilitate the performance of hajj for Qatar's citizens and residents.