UK MPs seek end to Qatar blockade
November 30 2017 08:52 PM
Peter Bottomley
Peter Bottomley, one of the MPs who supported the Early Day Motion, had served as minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s

By Anthony Harwood/London

*'Siege violates Qatari citizens' rights'
*EDM moved in House of Commons

 A former government minister is among 10 British politicians who have formally registered their disapproval of the Saudi-led blockade and its impact on human rights in Qatar.
As the dispute between Doha and the quartet led by Saudi Arabia enters its sixth month, the members of parliament have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) protesting about the treatment of Qatari citizens.
The MPs protested about how families have been split up, education denied, freedom of the press threatened and rights to perform Haj blocked.
Entitled ‘Qatar Blockade and Effect on Human Rights’, the EDM was put forward in the House of Commons by Labour MP, Grahame Morris.
It was supported by two other Labour MPs, Dan Carden and Jim Cunningham, as well as the former Conservative minister, Peter Bottomley, and a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, Jim Shannon.
Bottomley served as minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.
The DUP is currently supporting the Conservative Party to keep Theresa May in power at the head of a minority government.
The EDM is also signed by six Scottish Nationalist Party MPs, Ronnie Cowan, Martyn Day, Chris Law, Tommy Sheppard and Christopher Stephens.
According to parliamentary rules EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons.
But, with more than 1,200 being tabled each year, there is only enough time to properly debate a handful of them.
Instead they are used as a vehicle for MPs to show support for a particular cause or issue.
This EDM urges the British government to ‘call on the quartet to lift the blockade on Qatar and ease current restrictions on the personal rights of residents and citizens’.
It also says it:
*is concerned by the blockade’s impact on Qatari residents and citizens, with many facing issues of family separation, restrictions on rights to education and religious pilgrimage and restrictions to personal finances and freedom of the press;
*is concerned at the lack of progress towards détente between Qatar and the quartet;
*supports the Kuwaiti mediation and calls on the British government to urge further progress towards a negotiated settlement.
Earlier this year Morris, MP for Eassington, was part of an eight-member British parliamentary delegation which travelled to Qatar to assess the impact of the blockade and hear testimonies from those affected.
He said at the time: "We met various individuals whose religious, educational rights were violated. Also many people cannot make property transactions or continue medical treatments due to the ongoing blockade."
He went on: "On my first visit to Qatar, I have learnt this is a wonderful country and its value should be protected.
"The blockade has greatly affected the rights of people and the ties between families. We will do our utmost to lift it."
Following the start of the blockade on June 5, the National Human Rights Committee received 4,000 complaints from people adversely affected by the siege, which has impacted on 13,000 people living in the region.

Last updated: November 30 2017 08:57 PM

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