GCC Countries: the meeting of the Subcommittee on Human Rights on the human rights situation in the Arab Peninsula

On Tuesday 19 February 2019, during its monthly meeting, the Subcommittee on Human Rights has organised an exchange of views on the human rights situation in the Arab Peninsula in association with the Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula.

Pier Antonio Panzeri, Chair of the DROI Committee, began the conference by stating that since the beginning of 2019 hundreds of arrests of activists and human rights defenders have occurred throughout the Gulf countries. He highlighted the fact that the situation has become dramatic, and that unsettling news of abuses seem to increase.

Among the main guests there were Matthew Hedges, a British scholar who was arrested and tortured in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on spying allegations, and  Ali Alaswad, a Bahraini politician who had to leave the country and seek in asylum in London after resigning in February 2011 in response to the Governments’ crackdown on peaceful democracy protesters. Alaswad asserted that “Bahrain is slipping into dictatorship” and has called upon the Bahraini government to end violence and discriminations and to release all of the political activists, including Nabeel Rajab. Another speaker was Wafaa al-Yazidi, a Qatari woman who was forced to leave her family after the Bahraini government asked her children to leave Qatar as a result of the political crisis in the Gulf.

However, Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz dominated the conference. She stated that nothing concrete has been done to condemn the people implicated in the death of Khashoggi, by defining him “a victim of the system.” She urged the European Union to bring together all the international organisations and agencies to address this issue. She remarked that human values should prevail over economic interests and pointed out that “war and threats are not a solution, sanctions can be useful. We have to raise our voices to eradicate this evil.”

Among the participants, MEP Charles Goerens said that Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman is falling into the hands of Putin and that Saudi Arabia is not politically isolated at all. MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel reiterated the need to act more strongly and implement military and economic restrictions on Saudi Arabia, while Mr. Panzeri called upon the Saudi Kingdom to change his orientation in dealing with human rights.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes this meeting and the human rights issues raised by the DROI Committee. ECDHR strongly condemns the repressive policies of Saudi Arabia and calls upon the Kingdom to put an end to violence and human rights violations and to put in place more inclusive reforms.


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