11 June 2017
On June 5 of this year, Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and a number of other countries have cut off diplomatic ties with the State of Qatar and closed all land, sea and air ports to and from it. The three countries ordered Qatari nationals to leave their territories within 14 days, and prevented their citizens from traveling, living and passing through Qatar, and demanded that their nationals’ return, salinizing penalties against any citizen who does not comply.
At the same time, the authorities of the three countries issued resolutions criminalizing any objection to their official positions and showing any act of sympathy toward Qatar. They considered that expressing sympathy, inclination or favoritism toward Qatar, whether through social media or any other spoken or written means, a crime punishable by imprisonment of up to 15 years and a fine of not less than 500,000 dirhams, for example in the UAE.
In the face of the above, the signatory human rights organizations in this statement express their deep concern over the social, economic and civil repercussions that such decisions can inflict on the peoples of the region as a whole, not just the Qatari people. More than 11,000 citizens from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE live In Qatar, a large number of Qataris also live in these countries lose their jobs, violating the right of movement by land, sea and air blockade on the citizens of Qatar as well as the confiscation of the right of expression.
Due to the recent measures taken by the Gulf States, many civil rights have been violated, such as the right to education by expelling many university students and disrupting the education of other students, without obtaining any guarantees or alternatives. Migrant workers, particularly those employed by Qataris to take care of their properties in Saudi Arabia, will find themselves stranded and at risk as a result of these decisions.
The human rights organizations note that such political decisions do not take into consideration the interrelationships between these countries which are part of the GCC. Consequently, their repercussions include families and their interdependence. There are many marriages between Qatari nationals on the one hand and Saudis, Emiratis or Bahrainis on the other hand, and they will be obliged to stay away from each other under this decisions, where children will be the ones most affected.
While the human rights organizations refuse to comment on the essence of this emerging crisis among these countries, as it is political first and foremost, they also refuse to be used by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE to reinforce their long record of suppressing the freedom of their people in expressing their opinion. The human rights organizations view these sanctions against anyone who dares to object to these decisions, merely another attempt to silence any criticism, a violation of international law and human rights standards implied by in all countries of the world.
Based on all this, the human rights organizations demand the authorities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to immediately stop all measures violating human rights principles where they have caused serious harm to the people, citizens and residents of these countries. They also call upon the three countries to immediately put an end to its resolutions criminalizing any act of expressing of opinion, especially as these states and also the State of Qatar are required to address the already existing human rights challenges in their countries, rather than endorsing further deterioration.
The signatory human rights organizations call in this statement upon the international community to act immediately to put pressure on these countries to take into account the basic human rights principles in dealing with political issues and disputes, rather than seeking to price disputes more and more as some of their positions have showed. The organizations consider that the lack of response from the international community to this dispute will encourage these countries to pursue their methods of restricting public freedoms, especially since the situation preceding these decisions has witnessed an increase in the repression levels in many of these countries.
• Bahrain Human Rights Forum
• The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)
• SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
• Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR)