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Sheikh Khalifa, was denied re-entry to Qatar after a vacation in Kuwait in 1996, and told that his citizenship had been withdrawn.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.

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 9 min 5 sec ago

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.