Egypt repatriates citizens stuck in Qatar

Violators of Qatar’s health rules will face up to three years in jail. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 14 June 2020

Egypt repatriates citizens stuck in Qatar

  • Special flights laid on by government to travel via Omani capital Muscat

CAIRO: The Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation has started operating special flights via the Omani capital Muscat to bring back Egyptian citizens stranded in Qatar.
The ministry said in a statement that Egyptians stuck in Qatar would be repatriated via a company from Doha to Muscat, from whence they would be flown to Cairo International Airport by EgyptAir and Air Cairo.
The move came amid pressure to help citizens stranded in the Gulf state, over fears raised by its handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The ministry affirmed in its statement that it would include Egyptians whose visas had expired, and those who wished to return to Egypt due to COVID-19.
According to the statement, 18 flights will be operated by EgyptAir and Air Cairo to bring back around 3,000 Egyptians.
Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Expatriates Affairs Nabila Makram said in a press statement that Egypt would treat all its citizens equally in repatriating them.
“That’s why we are dealing with the issue of Egyptian expats stranded in Qatar with full seriousness and consideration,” Makram said.
“There is a plan currently in action to repatriate Egyptians stranded there in cooperation with some friendly countries, which will receive the Egyptian expats, and then they will return to Egypt via Egyptian airliners. All the details will be announced as soon as such procedures are complete,” said Makram.
EgyptAir Holding Chairman and CEO Roshdy Zakaria said in a statement that EgyptAir carriers had been awaiting an official decision to evacuate Egyptians stuck in Qatar, with questions previously over whether it would be via Oman, Jordan, or Kuwait.
“We previously evacuated a number of expats who were stuck in Oman. The Egyptian flag carrier air fleet is ready to repatriate any Egyptian citizen from anywhere in the world,” Zakaria said.

The situation in Qatar is catastrophic. Every day we read in the international press about the coronavirus outbreak there.

Hussein Nagah, Translator and writer

 “Discounts on local or international flight tickets are still being studied. All details will be announced soon after the studies are complete,” he added, stressing that the national flag carrier fleet was ready to resume flights immediately upon state approval.
Videos had been circulating on social media sites of hundreds of Egyptian workers in Qatar, calling on the authorities to allow them to return.
The videos were posted following allegations that Cairo had refused to bring them back.
Translator and writer Hussein Nagah told Arab News: “The situation in Qatar is catastrophic. Every day we read in the international press about the coronavirus outbreak there. Newspapers have reported that thousands of Indians in Qatar want to leave due to the outbreak of the coronavirus among Asian workers, resulting from the government’s negligence at the beginning of the crisis.”
Nagah added: “A report by the US TV network CBS News revealed weeks ago that Qatar had become the epicenter of the pandemic in workers’ camps (in the region).”
He also suggested that the Qatari authorities “hide many details and do not reveal the locations of infections.”
Civil aviation authorities in Egypt announced a halt in civil flights to and from Egyptian airports on March 19.
The decision exempted certain cases from suspension, including air freight, medical flights, domestic flights and charter flights to allow tourists to return to their countries of origin.

Iran denounced for torture, abuse of prisoners, and unfair trials

Updated 16 min 21 sec ago

Iran denounced for torture, abuse of prisoners, and unfair trials

  • HRW calls on Tehran to investigate excessive use of force against civilians during November 2019 protests.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed Iran’s use of torture and abuse to extract forced confessions from prisoners detained during anti-government protests, and appealed to Tehran to ensure defendants received fair trials.

In a statement issued by the group on Friday, HRW also condemned Tehran’s use of “vaguely defined” charges against detainees, and their heavily restricted access to proper legal counsel.

Amnesty International reported that at least 304 demonstrators were killed, and many thousands more detained, in November 2019 when economic protests in Iran morphed into widespread anti-regime demonstrations. HRW said security forces used “excessive force” and “mass arrest of protestors” to suppress the protests.

Some of those arrested in November 2019, as well as protestors from previous years, now face the “vaguely defined national security charge” of “sowing corruption on earth,” a crime that can carry the death penalty.

These defendants, however, have been denied access to a fair legal process.

HRW’s statement said: “Defendants have had restricted access to lawyers and alleged that the authorities tortured or abused them to produce coerced confessions.”

Tara Sepehri Far, a researcher on Iran at HRW, said: “Iran’s version of ‘accountability’ is apparently sentencing people involved in protests in unfair trials rather than investigating the overwhelming evidence of security forces’ excessive use of force and the death of hundreds of protestors who were shot dead.”

She added: “The judiciary should immediately repeal the recent death sentences and guarantee a fair trial to those who are facing allegations of recognizable crimes.”

Iran’s Supreme Court recently upheld the death sentences of three young men who participated in the November protests on charges of “taking part in destruction and burning, aimed at countering the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Lawyers for the young protestors said their requests to read the indictments and charge sheets were denied, and that they had not been allowed to submit a defense on behalf of their clients.

“Fair trial and due process are essential for anyone accused of a crime, but in cases that carry the death penalty, their lack can lead to grave and irreversible injustice,” Sepehri Far said. 

“Executing people who took their frustrations over corrupt and unaccountable government officials to the street only adds insult to injury for those being crushed by the deteriorating economic situation.”

Iran has a dismal reputation globally for human rights and is infamous for the cruel treatment political prisoners and protestors receive in the country. HRW said Tehran’s tight control of public spaces has only become more severe as “as broad US sanctions impact Iranians’ access to health and essential medicines.”