A Canadian delegation currently visiting Doha has said Qatar is being besieged and that its consequences constitute a flagrant violation of human rights across various fields.
The spokesman for the delegation, Ferry de Kerckhove, told a press conference on Tuesday that he was “deeply concerned about the suffering of the people of Qatar, the blockading countries and the citizens of other Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states” due to measures taken by the siege nations against Qatar - whose implications affect the rights of people in terms of trade, economy, mobility, family reunification, education and the performance of religious rites.Last updated: February 28 2018 01:05 AM
The delegation is visiting Doha until Wednesday to review the impact of the siege – in terms of human rights and the humanitarian situation - on the affected citizens and residents of Qatar as well as citizens of the other GCC countries.
The visit also aims to establish strategic and distinguished co-operation between Qatari and Canadian institutions in various fields. The delegation consists of personalities from civil society, former ambassadors, military personnel, researchers in international relations and strategic research centres at Canadian universities.
"I am very sad about the situation and relations between Qatar and the siege countries. I was ambassador to Tehran 40 years ago when the GCC was established. We were talking about the future of this new entity, but what we see today is sad," de Kerckhove said, adding that relations have been disrupted, trade and the economy have been damaged and people’s rights have been violated, instead of co-operation and interdependence strengthening among the GCC countries.
He praised Qatar's handling of the crisis as it did not respond to the abuse and did not expel the citizens of the siege countries from its territory. He also stressed that the delegation appreciates the will of the Qatari people to reduce the tension caused by this crisis.
He called for the fulfilment of the rights of those affected by the crisis, noting that all should play their role in this regard, especially Qatari civil society organisations, which he said were very mature. "We have evidence that Qatar, its generosity, its flexibility and its handling of the crisis, did not respond to the measures taken by the four countries of the blockade and did not expel its citizens. The region now needs stability, not more tensions," he said.
The head of the Canadian delegation called for quick decisions to end the Gulf crisis immediately and avoid its negative repercussions, especially on human rights, to restore Gulf relations as they were before, in order to stabilise the region and the world and promote peace and security. The only way to do so was to work with the international community.
He noted that political differences are always present among countries, but that people should not suffer because of them. He also pointed out that the delegation - while in Qatar - listened to many shocking stories resulting from the siege, calling on all concerned to fulfil the commitments related to human rights in order to strengthen them. The blockading countries also faced difficulties resulting from the blockade and were affected in many aspects, he observed, stressing the need for a quick solution to the crisis.
The report of the visit would be published and circulated among the Canadian community and international organisations concerned. Also, a copy of it would be sent to the Canadian government for its consideration, which he said should raise the matter at the next session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. A related post on the Marsal Qatar Twitter page said de Kerckhove also noted that they will press the Canadian government to take up with the issue with the US government, which is a key element in any effort to resolve the GCC crisis.
He noted that the delegation was able, during the visit, to gather information about the humanitarian violations resulting from the blockade in education, health and mobility, prevention of the performance of rituals and the visit of holy sites. He pointed out that this information provides a clear view of the situation, adding that the report would be objectively prepared without prejudice to any party regarding this important human rights issue.
De Kerchkove noted that during this visit, the Canadian delegation felt the confidence of the Qatari people and that they had emerged victorious, as if nothing had happened.
Asked if the delegation had received an invitation to visit the siege nations, he said that had not happened yet. In a related matter, he noted that the siege countries had denied the report of the United Nations on the human rights violations that had resulted from the blockade and described the report as being full of mistakes.
"Some see the siege of Qatar as an economic war, but from the point of view of human rights, it is a detention of the people and their families as hostages. This is one of the definitions of the blockade, and it is disturbing," he said.
“Our message is to end the crisis immediately, especially in terms of its humanitarian dimension, without ignoring other aspects, including economic ones. For example, many countries have economic relations with the countries of the blockade, but they must realise the suffering of people and fulfil their human rights obligations. Rights must be met regardless of whether the state is rich or poor," he added.
The delegation also invited His Highness the Emir to visit Canada and explain his country's experience in facing the situation in order to serve as an inspiration for the Canadian people, according to Marsal Qatar.