Doha blocks return of stranded Qatari families at border

Arab Federation for Human Rights condemns Doha

GENEVA¬†20 June 2017: The Arab Federation for Human Rights has expressed its strong condemnation of the Qatari government’s refusal to allow Qatari families, stranded at the Abu Samra border-point for several days, to enter Qatar.

The families, whose passports expired, had left Saudi Arabia on their way to Qatar but stopped at the border. This is seen as a flagrant violation of international human rights conventions by the State of Qatar, it added.

The federation called on the international community and international organisations to intervene quickly and force the Qatari government to open its borders to the families concerned, and to respect the rights of Qatari citizens enshrined in the international conventions, particularly the right of movement and travel provided for in articles 12 and 13, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the rights of families, women and children, said Wam.

Dozens of Qatari families have been stranded at the Abu Samra crossing on the border with Qatar- with their fate hanging in the balance. The families of al-Ghafran of al-Marra tribe, who hold the Qatari passports, live in the eastern part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and some countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States following stripping them of their Qatari nationalities. The families had attempted to return to Qatar but were denied the entry into Qatar.

The Arab Federation for Human Rights explained that the situation of the affected Qataris remains “unknown”, as their fate hangs on the border. Some of them raised questions and appeals on the social networking sites, especially “Twitter” about this critical situation in light of crisis between the Gulf States and Qatar. These families include the elderly and children, and remain without food.

Arbitrary Decisions

A number of stranded Qataris confirmed that they were subjected to the arbitrary decision in 1996, when their nationalities were stripped and got deported to neighbouring countries without documents that would enable them to continue their education or get medical treatment. They described the decision to drop their Qatari nationalities as “invalid.”

The federation noted that one of the outstanding cases recorded by human rights sources, is a Qatari family consisting of a pregnant mother in her eighth month, accompanied by her 7 children and daughters. They are still stuck between the Qatari and Saudi border points after their exit from Saudi Arabia on their way to Qatar, where the authorities blocked their entry.

It referred to the condition of the Qatari citizen, Zayed bin Shafiha al-Ghafrani al-Marri,” who had been denied entry because of the expired passport. The authorities instructed him to stay away from the border-point. When he refused, he was assaulted by the Qatari security squad and had his passport withdrawn by force. Al-Marri sent appeals and messages about the incident on social media to his family in Qatar and told them he would go on a hunger strike in protest.

Activists on the social media networking sites launched # al-Ghafran Families are Stranded at the Borders” in order to support the stranded families because of the violation of their rights by the Qatari government, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Arab Federation for Human Rights “deplores this blatant violation of the rights of Qatari citizens and astonished at the Qatari government’s decision that deprives its citizens of their legal and humanitarian right to enter their country, travel and move anywhere and at any time.”

The procedures taken by the Qatari authorities are illegal and needed to be repealed immediately and without delay because of the negative effects on the stranded citizens, it added.

By Eudore R. Chand