UN Report Condemns Hatred Campaigns by the Siege Countries against Qatar

UN Report Condemns Hatred Campaigns by the Siege Countries against Qatar

UN report condemns the hatred campaigns by the siege countries against Qatar and its citizens.
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President of the QNHRC Dr Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri

The report of the OHCHR Technical Mission Team on the impact of the Gulf crisis on human rights has criticized the media exploitation of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the action taken by the four countries to launch a campaign of hatred against everything related to Qatar. The hatred campaign has extended to impose sanctions on anyone sympathetic to Qatar, or sympathizes with Qatari’s.

The Technical Mission Team issued its first UN report following their visit to Qatar from November 17 to 24, where they met representatives of 20 governmental and non-governmental organizations and interviewed 40 individuals to get a better understanding of their situation as victims of the blockade.

During a press conference, held at the headquarters of the NHRC, President of the QNHRC, President of the QNHRC Dr Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri welcomed the report of the OHCHR Technical Mission Team on the impact of the Gulf crisis on human rights. He also reviewed the main issues discussed in the report and the conclusion reached.

Dr Al Marri made several recommendations, urging the government of Qatar not engage in dialogue before lifting the siege or redressing the victims.

He also urged the government to refer the report in supporting complaints before the World Trade Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and UNESCO. As well, raise the issue at international and regional forums, UN organization including the UN General Assembly to lift the unjust blockade.

According to Marri, the OHCHR had requested a visit to the countries imposing the blockade before issuing the report, but never received a reply.

Highlights of the report of the technical mission team of the OHCHR

Most media professionals the Mission met described the instrumentalization of foreign media networks by the authorities of KSA and UAE, particularly to convey anti-Qatar and anti-Qatari editorial lines. Most interlocutors were of the view that this media and social media campaign was premeditated and organized to “generate a general feeling of hostility and hatred towards Qatar”.

The Mission was informed that at least 1,120 press articles and some 600 anti-Qatar caricatures were published in KSA, UAE and Bahrain between June and October 2017, which has been documented by media professionals and the NHRC. Such material included accusations of Qatar’s support to terrorism, calls for a regime change or a coup d’état, attacks against leading figures and symbols of Qatar, as well as appeals for attacks on, and murder of Qataris. For instance, a Saudi tweeter with five million followers has been issuing “religious opinions” calling for the killing of the Emir of Qatar. Another Saudi tweeter warned he could send one million Yemeni suicide bombers to Qatar.

Entertainment programmes have also been used to air anti-Qatar messages. For example, Rotana media company produced songs by popular artists stigmatizing Qatar (“Qulo la Qatar”- “Tell Qatar”, and “Sanoalem Qatar”- “We will teach Qatar”) and well-known television series on MBC and Rotana channels (“Selfie” and “Garabeb Sood”) conveyed negative messages on Qatar, which have been regularly and widely broadcast.

The Governments of KSA, UAE and Bahrain announced, via their respective news agencies, that any individuals within their jurisdiction expressing empathy vis-à-vis Qatar would be subjected to criminal sanctions in the form of hefty fines and/or detention. A group of editors-in-chief of Qatari newspapers met by the team stated that an Adviser to the Royal Court in KSA, reportedly, was orchestrating the media campaign against Qatar, referring to the mobilization of a “social media army”. They also alleged that person had been urging people, via tweeter, to denounce individuals supporting Qatar or Qataris through a hotline number, which had reportedly generated 800 calls.

The effect of this media campaign may amount to a form of incitement. It has also undoubtedly created anxiety among many people in KSA, UAE and Bahrain who have had close family, amical or commercial ties with Qataris. Most journalists met by the team referred to the fear this situation has instilled among their colleagues and friends in KSA, UAE and Bahrain. Several interlocutors further noted they would be contacted by relatives and friends in KSA through non-KSA phone numbers for fear of being tracked.

The Governments of KSA, UAE and Bahrain have suspended the circulation and broadcasting of all Qatari and Qatar-based media and, as satellite diffusion cannot be controlled, they prohibited commercial entities (such as hotels) to offer access to such media (namely Al Jazeera, BEIN Sports and associated channels). The case of Al Jazeera is emblematic as the closure of this broadcaster and affiliate stations remains one of the requirements set by the Quartet to restore diplomatic ties with Qatar.

All interlocutors met by the team stated that the Government of Qatar had clearly instructed all Qataris, Qatari based institutions, companies and media not to criticize the citizens of KSA, UAE and Bahrain. The Qatari and Qatar-based media met by the team, including Al Jazeera, all declared they had encouraged their staff members from the Quartet countries to remain in Doha.

The editor-in-chief of Al Raya Qatari newspaper a daily newspaper, noted that 50 to 60 per cent of his journalists were Egyptians and that while all had left Qatar after the call of their Government on its citizens to come home, 40 per cent of them had returned to Qatar after obtaining formal approval from the Egyptian authorities. Al Jazeera reported that only three of their 26 journalists from KSA had left while its 349 Egyptian and three Bahraini employees had continued to work for the broadcaster.  

 

Source: DCMF + NHRC

All rights reserved, Doha Centre for Media Freedom 2017

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