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Khalifa, was denied re-entry to Qatar after a vacation in Kuwait in 1996, and told that his citizenship had been withdrawn.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

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

A Palestinian man facing Israeli soldiers waves a national flag during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, near the town of Tulkarm on June 5, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2020

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

  • Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause

AMMAN: Leading Palestinian and Arab figures have used the 53rd anniversary of Naksa — the displacement and occupation of Arab territories that followed Israel’s victory in the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — to highlight political mistakes made during and after the conflict.

Adnan Abu-Odeh, political adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and King Abdullah II, told Arab News that Arab countries and the Palestinian leadership had failed to understand the goals of Zionism.

“Governments that participated in the war were naive, expecting a repeat of the 1956 Sinai invasion when the US ordered an Israeli withdrawal. This was followed by the mistaken belief that we could liberate the land using guerrilla warfare," he said.

Anees Sweidan, director-general of foreign relations in the PLO, told Arab News that the Palestinian cause is undergoing a complicated phase where political opportunities are limited.

“The US bias towards Israel and absence of unity has put the Palestinian movement in a difficult situation. It is harder to generate external support and the financial crunch is causing much suffering despite the fact that we have made important accomplishments in the UN and Europe.”

Abdalqader Husseini, chairperson of the Faisal Husseini Foundation, said that the opportunities the anniversary offers should not be ignored.

“We need to realize that this is an illegal occupation that continues to dig deeper and escalate every day to the degree that the international community has lost interest and world conscience has become numb to Israeli practices. We in Jerusalem have not normalized with the occupiers and we have not accepted the new situation as an inescapable reality that we must accept.”

Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause.

“We went to Madrid with hope, the Palestinian leadership went to Oslo with optimism that they could reach a phased solution that would lead to statehood. As we remember this Naksa, we must revisit the path that has allowed the occupying entity to steal our land and cause havoc to our people without any deterrence from the international community," he said.

They (Palestinian youth) personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of PASSIA thinktank

Nibal Thawabteh, director of the Bir Zeit University’s Media Development Center, said the biggest mistake since 1967 was focusing on politics and avoiding community development.

"We don’t have a strong sense of citizenship, some have become accustomed to religious Islam. We need to work more on the citizenship.”

Ahmad Awad, director of the Amman-based Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said there is a lack of acknowledgment of the reasons behind the Arab loss.

“Political, economic and cultural factors caused our loss, and we feel that most Arab countries have not learned this lesson. Instead of learning, we are going backwards, failing to defend their existential rights, shifting to isolationism as well as cultural and economic regression in our region."

Instead of looking backward, some Palestinians wanted to look forward.

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of the PASSIA thinktank in Jerusalem, said that Palestinian youth who never felt the shock of the 1967 defeat but have seen the exposure of Arab regimes in the face of the "deal of the century" will prevail.

“They personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Lily Habash, a Exeter University political science graduate, told Arab News that things look different on the ground.

“The world is changing and Israel uses geopolitical and regional changes to its advantage,” she said.

Dangers today encourage despair but Palestinians will be steadfast in the long term, she added.

“Some say we need a savior to get us out of this dilemma but I believe we need to trust in ourselves and work on all fronts.”