Qaṭar: Targeting of a peaceful gathering; A ‘National Campaign for Travel-Banned Citizens’ established
On 13 July 2022, a number of human rights activists, including Qatari human rights defender Abdullah Al-Maliki, organised a peaceful gathering that began at two o’clock in the afternoon in the popular Marienplatz square in Munich, Germany. The meeting demanded respect for the civil and human rights of citizens, the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, the abolition of arbitrary travel bans that the State Security Apparatus has consistently issued, an end to corruption in state facilities, and a prosperous and democratic future in the country.
The gathering, which was also attended by a number of German citizens, continued until seven in the evening. The gathering was subjected to repeated attacks by groups of more than 15 Qatari citizens who, according to reliable local sources, were mobilised by the State Security Apparatus and sent to Germany to carry out a specific mission of sabotaging this peaceful activity that calls for freedom and justice in Qatar.
The main participant in the Gathering, Al-Maliki gave the following account to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR): “These blatant attacks confirm that the government of Qatar seeks to stifle public freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, not only inside Qatar but also outside.” He added, “While I fully condemn these repressive practices, and do not doubt that the State Security Apparatus is behind them, I declare that we will continue our peaceful practices without hesitation until achieving our goals."
It is worth noting that Al-Maliki faces a show trial that began on 12 April 2022 and is monitored by the GCHR, as it lacked the minimum international standards for fair trial and legal procedures, and is related only to his peaceful human rights activities. The State Security Apparatus, which has control over the judiciary, demands the application of Article 130 of the Qatari Penal Code, which includes the death penalty.
The GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the attacks carried out by this suspected group, and calls on all European governments to grant human rights defender Abdullah Al-Maliki and his colleagues the full protection they desperately need.
Furthermore, on 12 July 2022, the “National Campaign for Travel-Banned Citizens” was announced in Qatar. It includes a number of citizens who have been arbitrarily prevented from travelling for many years.
In their first session, the meeting elected citizen Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Thani as director of the campaign, citizen Abdullah bin Ahmed Bu Matar Al-Mohannadi as its general coordinator, citizen Saud bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Thanias coordinator of international relations, and citizen Issa Mardi Juhaim Al-Shammari as media coordinator.
The campaign aims to abolish the travel ban issued against them, fully rehabilitate them as good citizens who did not commit any violation whatsoever and secure compensation for all the damages they and their families sustained.
The participants decided to use social media to clarify the injustice they suffered, share news of their peaceful activities and communicate with human rights organisations and international mechanisms, including those of the United Nations, until their just demands are achieved.
On 13 March 2022, the GCHR published an appeal that included details of their cases, cases of other citizens, and the grave violations they were all subjected to.
While the GCHR welcomes the establishment of this important campaign, it calls on all international mechanisms, including those of the United Nations, to intervene and put pressure on the Qatari government to bring justice to the victims of these grave violations, grant them their right to freedom of movement and compensate them for all their material losses and moral suffering.