Qaṭar: Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience

19.09.21

Authorities continue to detain 21 Qatari citizens who participated in the recent peaceful protests that took place in Qatar against a recently-issued law regulating the Shura Council elections, according to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR).

Laws that discriminate between citizens

On 29 July 2021, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, ratified Law No. (6) of 2021 regarding the procedures for the election of the Shura Council. Also on 29 July 2021, the Emir of Qatar ratified Law No. (7) of 2021 regarding the formation of the Shura Council and its competencies. In addition, the Emir issued Decree No. (37) of 2021 defining the 30 electoral districts of the Shura Council and defining the regions of each, where one member is elected for each electoral district.

These two laws (6) and (7) and the decree attached to them established blatant discrimination between Qatari citizens, and denied a large group of them the right to run for office or the right to vote, or both, and completely marginalised other groups in society.

For more information on this, see GCHR’s appeal of 13 August 2021: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2809

Unprecedented popular protests

The promulgation of these laws was followed by mass protests in Qatar, especially by members of the Al-Murra tribe, large numbers of whom were denied the right to run for office, vote, or both. Monday, 09 August 2021 was a busy day in contemporary Qatari history, as it witnessed a peaceful gathering by protesters from the Al-Murra tribe, during which they demanded the Shura Council elections law be overturned, the right to full citizenship, respect for freedom of expression, and the promotion of social justice among citizens. The protests have continued since then.

The security forces made several attempts to break up the sit-in, which continued in the following days. They stormed the homes of some members of this tribe, and arrested dozens of them who led the protests and participated in them.

Names of detainees who are prisoners of conscience

Reliable local sources confirmed to GCHR that the number of detainees from this tribe has exceeded 50 detainees. Many have been released, after being forced to sign written pledges not to demonstrate again. The same sources confirmed that 21 detainees whose names were included in the list below are still in detention at the State Security Bureau or in police stations. The authorities denied them access to their families or to a lawyer.

No.

Name

Date of arrest

1

Dr. Hazzaa bin Ali Abu Shraydeh Al-Marri

10 August 2021

2

Dr. Rashid bin Ali Abu Shraydeh Al-Marri

10 August 2021

3

Saeed Al Dajran Al-Marri

11 August 2021

4

Jaber Abu Shaqla

11 August 2021

5

Abdullah Al Alyan

13 August 2021

6

Mohammed Al-Mankhis

13 August 2021

7

Broadcaster Ahmed Al-Shamri

14 August 2021

8

Hamad Al Swaihit

15 August 2021

9

Ali Al-Azab

18 August 2021

10

Salem Al Mana

18 August 2021

11

Mohammad bin Jaber Al-Zabadani Al-Marri

20 August 2021

12

Jaber Al-Akeed

22 August 2021

13

Dr. Abdullah Al-Salem

27 August 2021

14

Salem Alqour

27 August 2021

15

Hamad bin Ayedh bin Khajim Al-Marri

28 August 2021

16

Turki Al Marri

02 September 2021

17

Hazzaa bin Salem Abu Shraydeh Al-Marri

04 September 2021

18

Mansour Al Naqdan

05 September 2021

19

Hamad Rashid Al-Marri

05 September 2021

20

Poet Saleh Al Nusheira

05 September 2021

21

Poet Ali bin Rashid Al Subaih Al-Marri

05 September 2021

The lawyer Dr. Hazzaa bin Ali Al-Marri played a prominent role in leading these protests and calling for participation in them. He appeared in several recordings, in one of which he made an appeal to the Emir of Qatar, in which he said, “We will demand our rights and dignity in this country and from within the country, even if we are destined to die in prison." Dr. Hazzaa uses his Twitter account to publish his frank words and opinions on what is happening in Qatar. On 28 July 2021, he tweeted  the following, "Since the constitution was published in the Official Gazette and we are waiting for the constitutional institutions to be completed, it has been delayed for more than 15 years, and the Constitutional Court has been delayed and delayed again with it." Accurate information received by GCHR confirmed that the protests continued and designated his home, located in the Al-Muaither area, and the surrounding area, 16.5 kilometres from the capital Doha, as the headquarters of their gatherings, where they reiterated their previous demands and demanded the immediate release of all detainees.

Deletion of the name of a female candidate and the withdrawal of a candidate from the elections

On 02 October 2021, the first elections for the Shura Council, consisting of 54 seats, will take place, according to the discriminatory laws mentioned above. The Supervisory Committee of the Shura Council elections in Qatar announced on 15 September 2021 that 294 candidates distributed over 30 constituencies representing different parts of the country had registered in the preliminary election lists. Reports received by GCHR confirmed that some candidates were forced to withdraw due to pressure from influential government forces, and that others had their names removed from the candidates' registry.

On 15 September 2021, a woman citizen, Mubaraka Al-Marri, published the following tweet on her Twitter account, "My brothers and sisters in constituency (16) my name has been removed without my knowledge and without notifying me of any appeal, and without my waiver. I will refer to the Elections Committee to clarify the reasons for exclusion."

This occurred at a time when a large number of citizens stressed on Twitter that these elections are a sham and do not represent the people in Qatar. Citizen Mohammed Al-Marri wrote a tweet about these elections, which included the following, "The establishment of the Qatari Shura Council and the mechanism for joining all its members, whether by appointment or ‘elections,’ have nothing to do with democracy, and the reason is that the Shura Council elections candidates and voters are chosen by the government without the slightest principles of justice and equality, not even the public interest!!!"

Recommendations

Once again, GCHR deplores the actions of the security authorities in Qatar who have been targeting and arresting citizens only for expressing their opinions in violation of the three laws issued by the Emir of the country related to the Shura Council, and for organising peaceful gatherings. GCHR calls on the Qatari government to immediately release all detainees in connection with the recent peaceful protests, and to protect public freedoms, especially freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.

The Qatari government should amend the three laws to ensure that they do not promote any discrimination between citizens of Qatar, or marginalise different groups of society, especially women, migrant workers and resident migrants, as well as the Bedoon community.

A country that will host the FIFA World Cup competitions (FIFA 2022) cannot discriminate against its citizens and various residents, and continue to violate public freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful demonstration.