The European Parliament on Tuesday heard, for the first time, "horrific testimonies" by two of the victims of the unjust blockade imposed on Qatar and three others who have also been victims of violations of human rights by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.
Those who gave testimonies are Qatari national Dr Wafaa Yazidi, a victim of family disintegration; Qatari student Jawahar Mohamed al-Meer, who was expelled from Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi (the UAE); as well as Khadija Genghis, the fiancée of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated inside the consulate of his country in Istanbul (Turkey); Briton Matthew Hedges, who was jailed in Abu Dhabi and sentenced to life imprisonment before his subsequent release after the British authorities intervened; along with Ali al-Aswad, a member of the Bahraini parliament sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment.
The five victims testifying at the historic public session of the European Parliament, which attracted a strong presence of European Parliament members and the international media, criticised the violations of human rights by the blockading countries, especially those involving the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain:
They described the positions of the European Union (EU) and Western countries in general about the violations that affect them as negative and futile, blaming the governments of those States for being silent due to political interests or, at best, issuing official condemnations, which did not deter the blockading States from stopping their violations.
Dr Wafaa Yazidi and Jawahar Mohamed al-Meer
The victims of the blockade called on the governments of the EU states and the European Parliament members to adopt stronger and more effective positions to stop the grave human rights violations affecting citizens and residents in Qatar since its imposition, as well as the violations against many citizens held in the UAE, Saudi and Bahraini prisons.
Dr Yazidi, one of the victims, spoke before the European Parliament about her suffering, which is part of the suffering of thousands of mothers since the blockade began. She is a divorced Qatari woman and her children are Bahraini. They can no longer speak to their family members in Bahrain, she said. The blockading countries have introduced laws that prevent the show of sympathy with Qataris, even within the same family.
She noted that the blockade has dispersed families, in addition to the prevention of Haj and Umrah by the Saudi authorities.
Dr Yazidi appealed to all European parliamentarians, especially women, to support them and others like them, especially as they are not responsible for political differences.
Also speaking at the session was al-Meer about her suffering after being expelled from Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi, despite her academic superiority, on the pretext of severing political relations with Qatar. She expressed confidence that she will find those who would listen to her and that the European Parliament can do something to stop the suffering of thousands of victims like her.
Genghis, Khashoggi's fiancee, has been suffering since the assassination and regretted that Western governments and heads of states did not take any action. She called for the punishment of those involved in the heinous crime through a clear and transparent legal process.
British academic Hedges, who was held in UAE jails, called for Abu Dhabi to be classified an unsafe environment for international students. He recounted his suffering and threats during his detention there.
Al-Aswad, the Bahraini detainee sentenced by Manama to life imprisonment in absentia, called on the European Parliament and the international community to act and pressure the Bahraini government to shoulder its responsibility towards human rights activists.
"Unfortunately, we have not seen the support of the international community, which we have demanded so much, and our allies have not taken their responsibilities and have not put Bahrain in front of its responsibilities. It is now heading towards dictatorship instead of the alleged constitutional monarchy," he said.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights Antonio Panzeri stressed the commitment of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to defend human rights issues in countries around the world, including victims of human rights violations resulting from the Gulf crisis. He pointed out that the European Parliament would spare no effort to lift the blockade imposed on Qatar.
Panzeri also noted that the European Parliament will not allow Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman to erase the assassination of Khashoggi, no matter how he tried to market himself in international capitals and foreign visits, because there is a fact to be revealed.
The hearings were heated and transparent in which a number of MEPs called for a halt to the arming of Saudi Arabia for human rights violations. They pointed out that the European Parliament had voted three times to prevent the sale of weapons, but some governments were still making deals with the Saudi regime.
The MEPs stressed the need to move forward to stop the violations by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen, and those resulting from the blockade of Qatar, warning that human rights was a universal principle and must be defended everywhere.
Also, they warned that Europe will bear the consequences of violations resulting from the blockade of Qatar if it did not move to put an end to it, adding that the repercussions of this blockade are not sufficiently discussed within the European Parliament.
Additionally, the MEPs stressed their commitment to go further in the face of Saudi and UAE violations after a resolution that classifies Saudi Arabia as a country accused of supporting terrorism and money laundering. Other MEPs said Saudi intelligence was involved in the September 11 attacks. A member of the European Parliament asked how would have another country that did not own oil, and which had been proven to be involved in these events, been dealt with.
Chairperson of the delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula Michele Alliot-Marie said holding a hearing for victims of human rights violations resulting from the Gulf crisis came after a visit to the headquarters of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in Doha, where she met with HE the Chairman of the NHRC Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, who expressed hope that the victims will be able to speak before the European Parliament about the repercussions of the violations resulting from the blockade of Qatar.
She added that the European Parliament is always discussing human rights issues in the Gulf region, including the Yemen crisis, because that is an important factor, and part of its tasks, especially with respect to the protection of human rights.
Meanwhile, president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani held a meeting with Khadija Genghis. Panzeri confirmed during a press conference the commitment of the European Parliament to follow up on the investigation into the assassination of Khashoggi until the circumstances of this heinous crime are revealed.