LONDON: The UK Parliament is to launch an investigation into an event held in London by a shadowy “human rights” organization with alleged ties to Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, Arab News has learned.
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR) held a seminar on “The Famine in Yemen” in Westminster on Monday, in a room on the parliamentary estate booked by Chris Williamson MP.
It gathered a number of legal experts, many of whom were critical of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s military campaign in Yemen.
But a video posted of the event has prompted an investigation by officials due to a breach of parliamentary rules, amid wider questions about the neutrality of the AOHR.
The AOHR, despite claiming to work in an “independent and impartial manner,” has organized at least one visit to Doha for British MPs, which was later used as propaganda by Qatar.
It was behind a string of conferences critical of the UAE, one of the Arab states locked in a diplomatic dispute with Doha, and has alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in several Arab countries.
A spokesman for the UK Parliament confirmed that the AOHR event breached rules governing the videoing of events and will be investigated by the Serjeant at Arms, the office responsible for security on the parliamentary estate.
“Permission was not given for this filming to take place, therefore this is a breach of parliamentary rules,” the spokesman told Arab News.
“Filming and photography on the parliamentary estate is subject to regulations. Breaches of the filming and photography rules of the House of Commons will be investigated by the Serjeant at Arms.”
The AOHR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Williamson confirmed that he booked the room for the event to take place, but said he did not attend. It is understood that a representative for the MP was present.
“I was asked by AOHR to book a room for an event in Westminster, which I did. However I was unable to attend. Nevertheless I remain deeply concerned about the ongoing Saudi backed war in Yemen, and will continue to speak out against it,” he told Arab News.
Williamson did not comment on the issue of the event having breached parliamentary rules, nor claims over the alleged partisan nature of the AOHR.
The AOHR last year organized a trip to Doha for a group of British MPs and lawmakers, which was used by Qatar for propaganda purposes.
Doha is in the middle of an ongoing diplomatic dispute with the Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — which in June 2017 imposed a blockade over allegations that Qatar supports extremist groups. Doha denies the charges.
Following last year’s visit to Qatar by a group of British lawmakers, the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) in September claimed that the “British Parliamentary Inquiry Committee” had been “charged by the British Parliament to investigate the violations of the siege imposed on the State of Qatar.”
But no committee of that name exists, and the UK Parliament made no order for such a visit, it was confirmed at the time.
The QNA report — which also referenced a non-existent MP called “J. Morse” — was picked up by several Qatar-based media outlets. Some claimed that the group of politicians had called for the blockade on Qatar to be lifted.
Allegations have also been made that the AOHR has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that it is supported by Qatar.
The AOHR said in November that it was taking the UAE to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over “indiscriminate attacks on civilians” in Yemen.
At the time, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash accused Qatar of being behind the call made to the ICC.
“The Arab Organization for Human Rights with its address in Qatar has filed a media complaint against the UAE to the International Criminal Court,” Gargash wrote on his Twitter account.
“People with knowledge are aware that this move aims to create noise, which is Qatar’s favorite game.”