Rights group demands stranded national be allowed into Qatar

Rights group demands stranded national be allowed into Qatar
Human Rights Watch says Qatar has an obligation to secure Zayed Al-Marri’s right to movement and access to basic rights. (HRW)
Updated 02 July 2017

Rights group demands stranded national be allowed into Qatar

Rights group demands stranded national be allowed into Qatar

JEDDAH: A Qatari man who is trapped on the Saudi-Qatari border should be given entry into Qatar, a human rights body has demanded.

Zayed Al-Marri, whose Qatari citizenship was revoked more than a decade ago, is stranded on Qatar’s Abu Samra border crossing.

Human Rights Watch said every individual has a right to a nationality and argues that Qatar has an obligation to secure Al-Marri’s right to movement and access to basic rights (food, water and shelter), since he is likely on Qatari territory.

Al-Marri has lived ‘semi-nomadically’ with his family in Saudi Arabia ever since Qatar ended his citizenship.

“I came to Qatar and they said my passport is expired and so now I’m stuck between the Saudi border and the Qatari one,” Al-Marri, who Qatar claims to be a Saudi citizen, told the rights group. “I was feeling terrible. A guy passing through took me to the Qatari border, and I was treated at the clinic. The doctor said I had to be transferred to a hospital inside Doha but the guards wouldn’t let me. They said I don’t have identification and sent [me] back here … I can’t take it anymore, not one minute more,” said Al-Marri.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties with their Gulf neighbor Qatar on June 5, 2017. Consequently, the three Gulf countries ordered all Qatari citizens to leave their territories within 14 days.

Saudi border authorities would not have allowed him to cross the border to Qatar had they believed he held the Saudi citizenship, Al-Marri said.

Al-Marri, who acknowledges Al-Marri as his family name, holds an expired Qatari passport that bears the name Zayed Nasser H. Shafah and rejects Qatari authorities’ claims he is a Saudi named Zayed Nasser H. Al-Mari. Though he shares a similar name with the Saudi passport holder, their birth dates do not match, Al-Marri stated.

According to a family member, Al-Marri was allowed into Doha in June to receive medical treatment after suffering a health issue and was returned to the border zone.

It is not known if Al-Marri is allowed to stay indoors at the border crossing as temperatures this June have reached as high as 49 degrees Celsius.

Al-Marri’s case is not an isolated one. Another family from Al-Gufran clan have also been trapped on the border, between June 13 and 15. The family of eight, including children as young as 5 and a pregnant woman, were forced to wait near the Qatari side of the border for two days without food or water in temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius.

In 2004, six thousand members of Al-Gufran, who Al-Marri belongs, had their Qatari citizenship revoked. According to two representatives of the clan, the action was related to the participation of some members of the clan in a failed coup attempt against then-Emir Hamad Al-Thani a year after he deposed his own father, Khalifa Al-Thani, in 1995.