Brussels-based human rights group calls for end of sanctions against Qatar to alleviate suffering of ordinary people


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 24 July 2017| 29 Shawaal 1438

A European human rights organisation has called on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to end their blockade against Qatar and help alleviate the suffering of citizens on disputing sides.

A 16-member delegation from the Brussels-based Alliance for Freedom and Dignity, AFD, travelled to Doha to investigate and document the humanitarian impact on ordinary citizens resulting from the blockade imposed on Qatar on June 5.

The group said during a press conference on Sunday that it met many of the victims in Qatar including women and children who are unable to reunite with their fathers because they are citizens of the blockading countries.

The group particularly decried the blockading countries “separating families” and “denying students of receiving their diplomas or do their exams” because they are citizens of Qatar.

Abdelmajid Mrari, the director of AFD’s Middle East region, said his group has reached out to all of the countries involved in the crisis in order to investigate the suffering of ordinary people in the region.

Mrari said that only National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in Qatar responded positively to their inquiries and invited his delegation to Doha to investigate the situation on the ground.

He said Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain did not respond either way to AFD’s inquiries and requests to visit their countries.

Asked by Al Jazeera if AFD’s final report might be viewed as one-sided or biased since the group only visited Doha and not the other countries, Mrari said his group had tried its best to reach out to the blockading countries but to no avail.

“They cannot accuse us of bias or one-sidedness when they have not afforded us the opportunity to hear their side,” he said.

AFD’s final report will be presented to the UN’s Human Rights Council and the European Parliament for recommendations on how to resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Dr Francois Deroche, a French medical doctor and a member of the delegation, told Al Jazeera that he documented six cases of autistic children whose fathers are citizens of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE and are left in the care of their Qatari mothers alone.

“It is inhumane to subject children with such medical condition to such treatment,” Deroche said.

Francois Burgat, a French political scientist and the director of research at the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim World, told Al Jazeera that the reason many European countries did not rush to take the side of Saudi Arabia and the UAE was because they can see that these countries are not what they present themselves to be especially when it comes to their “anti-terrorism” claims.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut off their political and economic ties with Qatar. They also imposed a sea, land and air blockade on the country, accusing it of supporting “extremists” in the region. Qatar strongly denied the allegation.

Source – Al Jazeera