US group vows to defend Qatari journalists on siege ‘terror list’
Chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri yesterday discussed with PEN America the issue of Qatari journalists, media professionals and writers whose names have been mentioned on the list of those accused of supporting terrorism, published by the siege countries.
Al-Marri discussed the topic with James Tager, senior manager of Free Expression programmes at PEN America.
The organisation, which works to advance literature, defend free expression, and foster international literary fellowship, expressed its willingness to co-ordinate with NHRC to defend the accused and work to get the charges lifted and alleviate the moral impact the charges have caused.
Al-Marri praised the supportive stance PEN America has taken and its efforts to protect them from the consequences of the siege Qatar is currently facing.
He called on the organisation to further support and continue its path with American and international media organisations to expose the violations against Qatari journalists, media professionals, citizens, as well as intensify international efforts to prevent their recurrence in future.
During the meeting, al-Marri provided a detailed list for the different illegal practices and violations of human rights committed by the siege countries, including violating the right to freedom of opinion and expression and threats to Qatari journalists, residents as well as journalists from citizens of the blockading countries.
The NHRC chairman briefed PEN America official on documented violations of human rights that affected 103 journalists and media personalities who were subjected to pressure and harassment.
He referred to the siege countries’ harassment of Qatari television channels and newspapers and preventing them from the right to carry out their professional duties inside the siege countries, in addition to the distortion campaigns against Al Jazeera and other channels and newspapers.
On Wednesday, al-Marri called on the Human Rights First to support the international efforts of human rights organisations, in order to exert more pressure on the siege countries to bring justice to the victims of the blockade.
Al-Marri held a meeting with Director of Human Rights Promotion Neil Hicks in the framework of his current visit to the United States to mobilise further international human rights support against human rights violations committed by the siege countries.
He also presented Hicks with a detailed report on the effects and repercussions of the unjust and inhuman siege on the Qatari people and citizens of the Gulf Co-operation Council states for more than 100 days, which has resulted in depriving thousands of people and families in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain of their basic human rights, primarily the right to movement, education, health, and family reunion.
Dr al-Marri underlined that the NHRC is determined to continue its international efforts until the siege is lifted completely, adding that the committee is continuing its judicial and legal moves against the siege countries in order to compensate the Qatari victims, and the citizens of the siege countries affected by the blockade.