Qataris detained at border trying to return home


Sun, 25 Jun 2017 - 04:01 GMT

Zayed bin Shafa in the desert -Qatari without Identification Official Twitter Account

Zayed bin Shafa in the desert -Qatari without Identification Official Twitter Account

CAIRO – 25 June 2017: On June 19, Qatari security forces detained a Qatari citizen at the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and forcibly revoked his passport. The Qatari citizen, Zayed bin Shafea al-Ghafrani, is stranded in the hot desert after leaving Saudi Arabia and denied access to his own country by his government.

According to Al-Weeam, a Saudi Arabian newspaper, al-Ghafrani was prevented from entering Qatar because his passport was expired. Al-Ghafrani had no other option but to leave Saudi Arabia as the 14 day notice to Qatari nationals to leave the kingdom after relations were severed between Qatar and several Arab and Gulf states was announced on May 24.

Following the incident on Saturday, Qatari opposition leader Khalid Al-Haill denounced the Qatari government and its leader.

On his Twitter account, Al-Haill said “A National Committee for Human Rights? You should be ashamed of yourself, a Qatari citizen is stranded at the border sleeping on the ground and you talk about human rights?”

In another Tweet, Al-Haill adds: “You bring mercenaries like al-Qaradawi and expel Qataris, like Zayed and Mona al-Sulaiti?”

Al-Haill posted a photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and tweeted “They speak about ‘sovereignty’ and then they put the image of this monkey next to the ruler. Which is better, the bosom of the Gulf or the guardian of the monkey? If Qatar is a sovereign country, then defend it and expel this monkey and his army.”

Zayed bin Shafa is not the first case. Earlier in June, the Qatari government denied access of several Qatari families into the country. The families were stuck between the Saudi-Qatari borders in a difficult situation.

The families included a family with 7 children headed by a pregnant mother in her eighth month. The family was stuck between the two borders after leaving Saudi Arabia.

Human Rights Activists:
Human rights activists in Qatar launched a Twitter hashtag that translates to “families of forgiveness stuck at the borders” to support these families and to shed light on the harsh situations these families are going through.

They also created a Twitter account titled “Qatari without Identification.” The account posts updates on the status of stranded families after communicating with them and shares videos of the families and individuals. In addition, the account denounces the Qatari government’s practices and exposes how Qatari officials are not fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.

The families of stranded citizens communicated with the head of the National Committee for Human Rights in Qatar, who ignored their demands and did not take any step to assist the suffering families.

Furthermore, according to Okaz newspaper, the Gulf Association for Rights and Freedoms called on the United Nations High commissioner for Human Rights , Zeid bin Ra’ad, to intervene and force the Qatari government to return these families to their country. The Association also called on the High commissioner to force Qatar to respect international conventions on human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and freedom of movement.

History of Qatar human rights violations
The Amnesty International annual report for 2016/2017 on Qatar revealed that the Qatari authorities continue to restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The report explains that Qatari authorities do not permit the existence of independent political parties and only permit worker associations for Qatari citizens. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) also confirmed increased restrictions on freedom of speech and expression in Qatar.

The HRW reports that in 2016, the Qatari authorities closed down an independent news website and detained and interrogated journalists who had attempted to report on migrant workers’ living and working conditions.

Both Amnesty International and the HRW reported that Qatar faced international criticism for violations against migrant workers refurbishing the Khalifa International Stadium and surrounding Aspire zone sporting complex for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In May 2015, BBC reported that a BBC team was arrested in Qatar while investigating claims that 1,200 workers died building the stadiums in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

The Washington Post published a graphic comparing the number of deaths during construction for other international sporting competitions, including the Beijing Olympics and the Brazil World Cup - with the 1,200 said to have died already in Qatar.

The number of deaths was first published in 2013 by the International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC) in a report titled “The Case against Qatar.”

The ITUC built its estimation on two facts; the first is the number of deaths per year among workers from Nepal and India who count more than 400 deaths a year and account fo 60 percent of the estimated migrant workers in Qatar. This means that the number of deaths among migrant workers is higher than 400 annually.

The second part is the fact that the assumption is built on the expected number of deaths, not only in building the stadium, but also subways, hotels, airport, roads, the new sewerage system in central Doha and 20 skyscrapers.

These infrastructure programs in Qatar are scheduled around the delivery date of the World Cup in Qatar, according to the ITUC report. This fact increases the opportunity of death during implementing these construction projects.

Amnesty International and HRW reported violations and discrimination against women in both law and practice. Both organizations reported that Qatari courts imposed new death sentences, but no executions were reported.

In 2016, the Gulf Center for Human Rights issued a report that examines the lack of civil society space and human rights violations in Qatar.

The report highlighted the need to expand the ability of civil society to address the current human rights concerns and sustain the environment for civil society engagement. The report’s findings show that the human rights priorities in Qatar are migrant workers’ rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression and access to justice.



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