Persecuted Qatari tribe renew protests in Geneva

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Sheikha Moza did not leave the building until the demonstration was over. (File/AFP)
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The protesters had gathered outside the conference (Supplied)
Updated 06 March 2019

Persecuted Qatari tribe renew protests in Geneva

  • Activists were distributing leaflets to delegates which highlighted their plight
  • Qatari regime was offended by the demonstration

JEDDAH:  Members of a Qatari family persecuted by the regime in Doha renewed their protests on Tuesday at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva.
For more than 20 years the Al-Ghufrans have been systematically stripped of their citizenship, suffered discrimination and forced displacement, and been denied basic health, education and social services.
The Al-Ghufrans are part of the Al-Murrah tribe, supporters of Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the former emir of Qatar who was deposed in 1995 in a coup by his son, Sheikh Hamad. The family have been persecuted since then.
“These violations that started in 1996 are still ongoing,” said Dr. Ali Al-Marri, a delegation leader. “They are mainly committed by the Qatari Ministry of Interior and the alleged private Human Rights Committee.”
He stressed the seriousness of the violations, which “contradict the International Convention of Human Rights and all the international human-rights pacts,” and added: “Depriving the tribe members of their nationality in such an unprecedented manner comes as the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and the rest of the UN and international organizations are stepping up their efforts to counter statelessness.”
Another protester, Sheikh Rashid Al-Omra, said: “The tribe has always been a main part of the Qatari social tissue. What they endured under Hamad’s rule was systematic and a result of them standing by his father, Sheikh Khalifa, during the coup.”
He accused the Hamad regime, through the Ministry of Interior, of violating the rights of tribe members in a number of ways: “They followed them as they headed to pray, broke into their homes and dragged them to police stations in front of their wives and children. These practices contradict basic religious rules, and Arab and social traditions.”
Saleh Al-Hamran, a former personal guard to Sheikh Khalifa, was denied re-entry to Qatar after a vacation in Kuwait in 1996, and told that his citizenship had been withdrawn.
He asked international human rights organizations for help to be reunited with his family. 
“The nationalities of 27 members of Al-Hamran family have been withdrawn for no reason,” he said. “I am ready to stand trial in Qatar before world public opinion if I am found to have committed any crime.”
Naser Al-Manee Al-Ghufrani told how he lost his job and home and was forced into exile after the withdrawal of his nationality.
“My nationality was withdrawn while I was in Abu Dhabi in 1996,” he said. “I consulted the Qatari Embassy, where I was informed of the decision. After our passports expired, were could not go anywhere. We were not able to provide treatment for our father or find jobs, to have a decent life.”
Earlier, the tribe staged a protest outside the Geneva International Conference Center as it hosted a conference attended by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Sheikh Hamad’s wife. The protesters distributed leaflets illustrating their persecution, to the irritation of Qatari regime officials inside.
They told of the tribe’s suffering and condemned the failure of Qatar’s National Committee for Human Rights to comply with the “Paris Principles” that regulate the independence of national human-rights institutions. They called upon the global community and international rights organizations to support their cause.
“This can be achieved by holding those responsible for our suffering accountable, compensating us financially and morally, in addition to protecting our children in the face of any attempt to dissuade them from claiming their rights in front of international organizations and the public,” the delegation said in its leaflet.
Sheikha Moza and her party refused to leave the building until the protesters dispersed. 
The conference was organized by Silatech, a Qatari initiative that seeks to create jobs for young Arabs. The Al-Ghufran protesters drew attention to the irony of the Qatari government helping young people find employment while denying those same rights to its own indigenous people.

Trump says fresh US sanctions on Iran will target supreme leader, foreign minister

Updated 28 min 45 sec ago

Trump says fresh US sanctions on Iran will target supreme leader, foreign minister

  • Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of drone attack
  • Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.

Trump initially told reporters the sanctions, which will target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office, were in response to Tehran's downing of a US drone last week. Tehran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

The US will also blacklist Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets as part of expanded sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin told reporters Zarif would be added to an economic sanctions list "later this week," adding that eight top military commanders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards have now also been blacklisted.

The US has also blamed Iran for attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman. Iran, in turn, has denied that it is to blame.

Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump’s administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Trump has said he would be open to talks with Iranian leaders, but Tehran has rejected such an offer unless Washington drops the sanctions.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets. In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilizing activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.