(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has expressed concern about the continued obstructions and obstacles imposed by the Saudi authorities on Qatari citizens and residents who wish to exercise their right to perform their religious rituals.
HE the Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri has written to three United Nations bodies, asking them to take immediate action against the Saudi authorities so that the pilgrims from Qatar could to perform Haj like all Muslims.
The letters were sent to President of the Human Rights Council Vojislav Suc, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Raad and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed.
Dr al-Marri noted that the NHRC is studying all legal procedures to prosecute Saudi Arabia for its flagrant violations of the right to practise religious rites as well as continuing the politicisation of Haj and Umrah and its procrastination in lifting obstacles facing Qatar's pilgrims, stressing that the Saudi authorities are trying to mislead the international community and avoid condemnation.
He warned that the authorities in Saudi Arabia cannot deceive the international organisations and the international community, and they bear responsibility for preventing the pilgrims of Qatar from performing the religious rituals for the second season, affirming that the National Human Rights Committee will spare no effort to hold them accountable in all international forums.
Meanwhile, Dr al-Marri noted that the major international organisations, including the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have condemned in their reports and statements the practices of the Saudi authorities and their flagrant violations of the right to practise religious rites.
The letters explained that the obstacles deliberately put by the Saudi authorities in front of Qatar's citizens and residents wishing to perform Haj constitute a grave violation of the right to worship and to practise the religious rituals stipulated in the international and regional human rights conventions.
The letters also confirmed that with the advent of the Haj season, the ban on direct flights from Qatar to Saudi Arabia continues, as well as the closure of the land border port between the two countries, the non-admission of pilgrims and the closure of the electronic track for the registration of pilgrims.
The Saudi Authorities also prevent financial transfers between the Qatari campaigns and the Saudi Haj agents who are authorised to grant the necessary permits, in addition to preventing the circulation of the Qatari currency in Saudi Arabia and the failure of the Saudi authorities to take account of the damage caused to the owners of the Qatari Haj campaigns and companies and the financial losses resulting from these arbitrary measures.
The letters indicated that, in the response of the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations in Geneva, 'They repeat the same conditions that were previously announced, which were vague and unclear, and did not include any new ones with regard to the removal of obstacles and difficulties for pilgrims from Qatar. In addition, the Saudi response did not answer to what was included by the National Human Rights Committee in its reports on the damage and financial losses incurred by the Qatari Haj campaigns.
The NHRC said in the letters that it considers the procrastination on the Haj issue is an attempt by the authorities in Saudi Arabia to stop any action that can be taken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or any other measures.
The Committee stressed the need to take necessary action with the responsible authorities in Saudi Arabia in order to immediately lift the restrictions and obstacles referred to, through the agreement with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar on clear and specific mechanisms to facilitate Haj procedures for Qatar's citizens and residents, opening the electronic registration of pilgrims from Qatar and granting them visas through the embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in Doha, in addition to opening the border land port between the two countries to take account of humanitarian cases, and residents of low income, as well as the opening of direct airlines from Qatar to Saudi Arabia and vice versa, allowing financial transfers between the campaigns and the Qatari Haj companies and Saudi Haj agents, and allowing the circulation of the Qatari currency in Saudi Arabia.
The NHRC letters added that the delegation of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar visited Saudi Arabia and met the competent authorities there to discuss the lifting of obstacles and difficulties faced by Qatar's pilgrims and the need to take into account the vulnerable groups, especially the elderly, persons with disabilities and low income people. However, the Qatari delegation did not find any solutions to these obstacles from the Saudi side, which responded only by saying that the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar should address official requests through the embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in order to submit these requests to the higher authorities in the Kingdom to decide whether or not to respond.
The letters said that Qatar, represented by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, has responded to that request and sent the official letters immediately, but there was no answer so far, although the pilgrimage season is approaching and the pilgrims should begin Haj arrangements so that they can perform their religious rituals in due course.
The NHRC referred to the statement of Qatar's Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs on June 6 which affirmed that the Saudi authorities continue to impose obstacles and arbitrary measures that single out those living in Qatar in particular out of the rest of the Muslim world, and that the border land port is still closed completely while direct air travel from Doha to Jeddah was also unavailable.