Doha 26 August 2017 (QNA)
Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) called on Saudi authorities to immediately end all the measures and restrictions they have enforced on citizens and residents of the State of Qatar.
They also called on Saudi authorities not to use Holy sites as a means for political pressure.
Report released by NHRC on violations of the right to religious practice in result of the lack of cooperation of Saudi institutions and Saudi media campaign spreading hatred among Saudi citizens not only an act of inciting violence among Saudi citizens against their brothers in the State of Qatar. but also a clear violation to all international laws in this regard.
The committee said that it conducted the report on the violations committed by Saudi authorities in obstructing the Qatari society in practicing Haj and Umrah. The report has documented all violations occurred due to the measures taken by the siege countries.
It also covers obstacles faced by those Qataris who went for Umrah during Ramadan as well as those wanted to perform pilgrimage this year. The report contains grievances of Haj trips organisors and the financial losses faced by them.
The committee stressed for compensation to individuals, businesses and all institutions operating for the Haj as their economic interests in the Qatar and Saudi Arabia were severely affected.
NHRC report contains references of international agreements and accords related to the right to practicing religion.
The committee also called for addressing smear campaigns, the inciting of violence and racial discrimination made by newspapers in addition to official and semi-official media outlets.
Other recommendations included having the international community support the right of those who want to perform the Haj, applying constant pressure on Saudi authorities to allow access for the Haj and guarantee the safety of those who go, and working hard on lifting the siege enforced on the State of Qatar.
The committee also called on the United Nations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to issue an urgent statement clarifying their position to global and Islamic public opinion regarding this topic in particular.
The committee noted that manipulating religious sentiments and preventing large numbers of Muslims from carrying out the Haj could lead to hostile feelings towards those who barred them.
The committee also called on the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to communicate with the Saudi government and prepare a report on the material and emotional damage the pilgrims and companies Qatar suffered, and to present it to the Human Rights Council to take the necessary steps in that regard.
The committee called on parliaments in the Islamic world to put the issue of politicizing the Haj on its agenda to evaluate it and take a clear stance from the obstacles mentioned in the report, aimed to prevent Qatari pilgrims from performing the Haj.
The committee said that it will send the report to 600 rights institutions, media organizations as well as all the parliaments around the world.
It will also address the UN Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.
The committee also requested a meeting on freedom of religion.
It will also hand the report to UN committees charged with combatting all forms of racial discrimination, promoting human rights and people with disabilities.
It will also address the Human Rights Council through procedure 1503.
The report will also be presented to regional organizations such as the EU, African Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab League.
The report also discussed the impact of the surprise factor of the decisions made lately by the Saudi government and its claim that it was a result of mediation.
The committee stressed in that regard that the Saudi decisions were late, and came to put an end to the flood of criticism directed at the kingdom for politicizing the Haj and the impact that has had on its reputation.
The committee noted that it documented a request made by the Saudi authorities to all Qataris who entered through the Salwa crossing to sign a paper to acknowledge that they came to perform the Haj.
The reality was, the committee said, that a large portion of those who passed, came to check on their families and to provide them with financial help.
The committee also noted in its report that the Saudi government did not officially issue its latest decision, which would have clarified the mechanism and guaranteed the safety of pilgrims from the State of Qatar.
It noted that Saudi Arabia still rejects coordinating with the Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in that regard.
The committee said it took that as a signal that Saudi authorities reject that cooperation.
They highlighted that there wasn’t a Saudi consulate in Doha that looks after Haj-related issues.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia rejected establishing a special representative for that regard.
The report stated that Saudi Arabia still consider Haj as a gesture which can be given or not given to whoever it wants, adding that Saudi Arabia is not dealing with this matter as a basic human right.
The report also stressed that the committee is following all the detouring attempts of the Saudi government concerning pilgrims from Qatar.
The report concluded that Saudi Arabia violated by its decisions many basics and human rights laws, which are the basics of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it is considered by its simplicity and wide authentication as international custom.
The report warned in this context, that Saudi Arabia violated clearly a number of articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as other articles of the Arab Charter of Human Rights and the GCC Human Rights Declaration and other international declarations and charters.
Qatar authorities has also real apprehension about the safety and security of its citizens, because of the unprecedented hate and incitement speech, and because of the racial Saudi decisions against residents, as well as the absence of illustrative details concerning this matter, and based on all this, the committee for the Haj and Umrah issued a statement in which it apologized for not conducting the Haj for 2017, listing its arguments for this decision.
The report also included a statement of NHRC president Ali bin Sumaikh al-Marri, in which he said that they defend the right of Qataris and residents to visit holy places, and this is not politicization, it is a defense to human right, and who is putting costly material and moral obstacles is exploiting these holy places.
The NHRC’s report reviewed the series of violations the siege countries have committed since June 5.
It included the closing of Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia, which will have a big impact on residents with limited income if they were allowed to perform Haj.
There was also the closure of airspace and marine territories for Qatari airlines and navigation.
All trade and movement, including that of individuals were prohibited as well.
Siege countries also made threats and ordered its citizens residing in the State of Qatar to leave.
It also prohibited its citizens from travelling to Qatar, in addition to expelling all Qatari citizens residing there.
The report highlighted that the measures taken by siege countries took place at the beginning of Ramadan, which usually sees a heavy movement by the Qatari society towards holy sites in Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah.
They noted that the measures did not exclude those who wanted to visit the holy sites, with many being treated in a humiliating way, which carried a hint of racism.
With the time for performing the fifth pillar of Islam approaching, these measures remained in a clear violation to the right of citizens of the State of Qatar and its Muslim residents who want to perform the Haj.
The report then discussed the committee’s communication with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs which noted that the total number of people who applied to perform the Haj this year was 21,000. A total of 2,400 were approved, in addition to official missions.
The committee said that it continues to receive visits from those impacted by the decisions of the siege countries in terms of religious practice.
The report noted that the NHRC has a large number of complaints related to the violations right to religious practice, and the economic and emotional effects the violations have left.
The NHRC noted that the losses of Qatari companies operating for the Haj was at the tens of millions of Qatari riyals, due to discriminatory procedures adopted by Saudi authorities.
The committee said that eight Haj companies were suffering from losses worth QR30mn.
That’s in addition to the losses of offices specialized in facilitating the procedures for pilgrims seeking to obtain visas as well as airline and hotel tickets.
The committee said that the losses and damages have affected the entire Qatari society, due to the surprising nature of the measures which came without a timetable or schedule to cause the maximum damage possible.
The committee also documented dozens of cases of pilgrims being kicked out from holy sites in a humiliating manner.
There were also cases of cancelled hotel reservations in a discriminatory manner against Qatari citizens and residents.
Another obstacle the NHRC said was that Saudi decision to prohibit Qatari citizens residing abroad from travelling directly to Makkah or Madina for the Haj. Instead, they have to come to Doha first.
In addition to the economic burden and emotional distress this causes, it also shows Saudi Arabia is using those obstacles as a means of pressuring its political rivals.
The report noted that even if a citizen or resident of Qatar overcomes all those obstacles, they might still be met with violence due to the Saudi media campaign inciting violence.
Social media pages of people close to the government of Saudi Arabia also incite violence against people, just because they are citizens or residents of Qatar.
The committee said that it has data which suggests that there is a network for inciting violence in all siege countries that coordinates its work and rhetoric.
One of the most horrific acts this network has done was by the call for terrorist attacks in Qatar by famous media personalities known for their close ties with the current Egyptian regime.
They also called for destabilizing the country’s security and for investors to leave.
The report noted that the fact that Egyptian authorities did not open an investigation with those personalities for their remarks, signals that the Egyptian regime is involved in making those remarks.
The report also noted that NHRC documented cases of the siege countries using children in the violence-inciting rhetoric in GCC television shows directed at the GCC’s public opinion.
Other media personalities broadcast news, articles, and tweets on Qatar’s intention to target Saudi Arabia.
This caused citizens and residents of Qatar to feel threatened as they might be accused of terrorism or other acts that are being propagated systematically. This forced some to avoid performing the Haj this year.