First Published: 2017-06-16

Qatar says Saudi-led siege 'harsher than the Berlin Wall'
Chairman of Qatar's national human rights committee says measures imposed by Saudi government, its collaborators amounts to collective punishment.
Middle East Online

Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri

DOHA - A Qatari official accused Saudi Arabia and its allies Friday of imposing a "siege" on his country with sanctions he said were having a more devastating effect than the Berlin Wall.

Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, chairman of Qatar's national human rights committee, said the measures amounted to collective punishment and cited one case of a mother being separated from her baby.

The recent decision by several countries to cut ties with Qatar was trampling on the rights of citizens from the entire region, he said.

"This siege and these measures have led to what is called collective punishment," Marri told reporters in Geneva in Arabic through a translator, calling on the international community to intervene.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced earlier this month the suspension of all ties to Qatar. They accused it of state support for extremist groups and denounced its political proximity to Shiite Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations.

Among other measures, the four states gave all Qatari citizens 14 days to leave their countries and ordered home their own citizens living in Qatar.

This had led to "gross violations of human rights", Marri said, pointing out that every Qatari family had at least one member living in other countries in the region.

These measures "are harsher than the Berlin Wall that separated families", he added.

His committee had so far received 1,064 complaints for a vast range of rights violations, from both Qataris and citizens of the other countries involved, he said.

He pointed to new laws issued by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE threatening between five and 15 years in prison for any of their citizens "who shows sympathy to the state of Qatar".

In one case, he said, a Qatari woman was ordered to leave the UAE where she lived with her husband and infant. When she arrived at the airport however, she was told she could not take her baby, who had Emirati citizenship, with her.

Thousands of students studying abroad had also been affected, he said. He cited the case of one woman from Qatar who was in her last year studying at a university in UAE who had been forced to leave.

"She has lost four years of study," he said.

Merri said his committee was urging Saudi Arabia and its allies to lift their sanctions, and was calling on the international community to pressure them to do so.

He called on UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who has already expressed alarm at the measures, to send a delegation to Qatar to see the impact of the sanctions firsthand.

Merri also urged Qatar to "immediately move internationally to ensure the end of this siege, by going to the Security Council or other UN mechanisms."

 

Lebanese army launches anti-IS offensive on Syria border

Turkey slams 'arrogant' German reaction to Erdogan poll call

Police confirm Finland 'terror attack'

UN demands access to Yemen ports

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

Russia doubts IS claim of stabbing attack in northern city

Spain hunts suspects as IS claims attack

Aid project helps Syria refugees feel at home in Jordan

Low-cost attacks a new reality for Europeans

Forces of Libya's Haftar say commander wanted by ICC in detention

Yemen rebels urged to free political commentator

Iranian footballer breaks silence over ban for playing Israelis

Erdogan meddles in German politics

IS fighters almost encircled in Syrian desert

For Israel, White House ties trump neo-Nazis and antisemitism

Israel freezes implementation of settlement law

Saudi Arabia installing cranes at Yemen ports

13 dead, 100 injured in two Spanish seaside city attacks

Iran reform leader ends hunger strike

Van ploughs through pedestrians in Barcelona terror attack

13 killed in Barcelona van attack

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over ‘incitement’

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last ‘decades’

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before year’s end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ‘Gulen links’

Iran’s Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to ‘organise’ NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties