10 Feb 2018 - 9:00
Germany asked to raise siege at UN rights body
Berlin: Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), Dr Ali bin Sumaikh al Marri, has called on the German government, as a member of the Human Rights Council, to raise the issue of the serious repercussions of the siege imposed on Qatar at the Council’s next session due to be held by end this month.
This came during Dr Al Marri’s meeting with Head of the Middle East Division at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gerhard Schlaudraff, in the presence of senior officials of the Department of Human Rights and the Middle East Department. Dr Al Marri explained the most important repercussions of the siege and its grave human rights violations, in the absence of any intention by the siege countries to resolve the crisis or to respond to the calls of international human rights organisations for the immediate cessation of the suffering of those affected by it as well as ignoring the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and questioning the credibility and integrity of the Commission.
He told the German official: “As an active member of the Human Rights Council, we expect the German government to raise the issue of the blockade and its humanitarian implications at the UN Human Rights Council in its next session in Geneva at the end of this month.”
He expressed the hope that the German government would raise the issue of serious violations by the siege countries at the European Union and its foreign affairs and human rights committees in the world and it would present the violations during the meetings of the European Union countries with the siege countries and urged them to respect human rights as a priority that precedes any political or economic agreements within the framework of the bilateral relations of those countries with the European Union. “
Dr Al Marri also told the officials of the German Foreign Ministry that the NHRC also intends to send letters and hold meetings with several delegates of the Human Rights Council during the next meeting in Geneva in order to issue a resolution condemning the violations of the siege countries and press for taking into account the conclusions of the report of the technical mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which called for the need to stop the arbitrary and discriminatory measures of the siege countries.
The NHRC Chairman also praised the position of the German government and people on the unjust siege imposed on Qatar since the beginning of the crisis. He pointed out that Germany was one of the first countries to declare a strong and clear position by rejecting the siege and demanded the need to sit at the table for dialogue to resolve the crisis.
He lauded the attention given to the delegation of the NHRC during its visit to Berlin and the keenness of German officials and parliament members to listen to the NHRC report on the latest developments on the repercussions of the siege. He also appreciated the German Foundation for Human Rights’ concern for the repercussions of the crisis and its support for the NHRC’s efforts to stop the violations caused by the siege.
Dr Al Marri stressed the close cooperation between the National Human Rights Committee and the National Human Rights Foundation of Germany and the keenness to strengthen it in the future.
He said that ending the suffering of the victims of the siege is an urgent priority for the NHRC should not be linked to the path of the political solution to the crisis.
During his meeting with representatives of newspapers and media in the German capital of Berlin, Dr Al Marri spoke about the priorities of the NHRC in its efforts that have been underway for eight months since the siege began.
He explained that the committee will not stop its efforts and will not give up its commitments to the families of victims of the siege to defend their rights and follow up all possible legal procedures to redress them noting that the NHRC was surprised by the volume of complaints that flowed since the early hours of its announcement to open a hotline to receive complaints and meet the affected at its headquarters where thousands of Qataris and Gulf citizens who were panicked by the collective punishment measures imposed by the siege countries.
He said that what the siege countries did and had never happened in the history of the peoples of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries even in the Gulf crisis in 2014 where harsh measures have not been taken to punish the peoples of the Gulf under the pretext of political differences with a sisterly and neighbour country.
Dr Al Marri noted that the NHRC continues to receive complaints and coordinates with the Compensation Committee to ensure legal and judicial issues to redress the victims. He added that the Committee has received about 4,000 complaints from those affected since the beginning of the crisis.
In response to a question about why the siege countries prevent the movement of people, Dr Al Marri said that the countries of the blockade resorted to punish citizens with harsh decisions to put pressure on governments
in the hope that these pressures would contribute to stirring up internal unrest in Qatar, but the fact that all the peoples of the Gulf rejected the measures and not only the people of Qatar so these countries rushed to impose strict laws to prevent the mere sympathy with Qatar or to oppose the decision of the siege.
On his vision for resolving the crisis, Dr Al Marri said: “The solution of the crisis begins by lifting the injustice of the victims of the siege immediately and unconditionally, pointing out that the siege countries harmed the people and used them as a pressure card to achieve political ends.
“I told the officials of the human rights institutions of the siege countries that people should not be taken hostage,” he added.
He noted that the siege countries claim that the crisis does not target human rights, but the reports of human rights organisations and the report of the High Commission that visited Qatar all confirmed that the blockade harms citizens and residents.
Speaking to reporters, Dr. Al Marri said: “We are addressing you because you are keen on the truth and you can ask the siege countries’ officials, why do they use the people as a tool to settle political accounts.”
“The violations of the siege countries are not counted since the beginning of the crisis and it suffices to point out that they have enacted a law that criminalises sympathy with Qatar, lawyers and activists were arrested because they sympathised with the Qatari people and objected to the blockade, officials were also punished and dismissed for taking photographs with Qatari officials in international forums, in addition accusation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to bias Qatar, because the report of the Commission condemned the involvement of those States in arbitrary and discriminatory measures and demanded an immediate end to the siege,” he concluded.