There have been concerns about the limitation of the freedom of speech in Qatar over the last few months. As a result, a human rights group raised the alarm last week and called on the Qatari government to respect the human rights of the citizens. The human rights watchdog was concerned that the government was limiting its citizens’ freedom of speech and right to assemble peacefully.
The human rights group noted that every citizen has a right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. These are fundamental rights that are observed in all democratic nations. As a result, the Qatari government violated its citizens’ rights by enacting repressive policies to stop the protestors from gathering to oppose the discriminatory election policies announced last month.
These infamous election laws sparked protests in Qatar because they are discriminatory against some groups in the country. The laws are discriminatory because they curtail the rights of some groups to vote despite voting being one of the fundamental human rights. Additionally, the rights of these groups to have a representative in the Shura Council have been annulled. This council is the country’s legislative body.
According to these new laws, only naturalized citizens with Qatari grandfathers who were born in the Gulf States and those who acquired citizenship by birth will be allowed to vote in the October elections. Additionally, candidates for various elective positions must be citizens having original Qatari nationality.
Therefore, immigrants and migrant workers have been discriminated against by these new election policies. Similarly, the Bidoon community and nomadic tribes who do not have the original Qatari nationality have been left out.
The human rights group called on the government to respect the citizens’ right to free speech. They also recommended that the election laws be amended to eliminate discriminatory articles and prevent the marginalization of any group of citizens. They noted that women, Bidoon community members, resident migrants, and migrant workers are marginalized groups in Qatar.
The human rights watchdog cited multiple reports of violation of the rights of protestors. They alleged that Qatari security forces stormed the homes of those protesting and arrested some because they expressed their opinions. This was a violation of their freedom of free speech and expression.
The country’s Ministry of Interior indicated that seven individuals would be prosecuted for spreading false news on social media through its official Facebook page. The ministry’s Facebook post also alleged that those individuals incited tribal and racial strife through their social media posts.
As a result, the human rights group called on the Qatari government to release the detained persons who were arrested during the protests. The government was also urged to safeguard its citizens’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
These incidents have raised concerns regarding the Qatari government’s intentional moves to curtail the basic freedoms of its citizens. Besides enacting discriminatory election laws, they proceeded to arrest protestors who opposed those laws, raising concerns about the country’s respect for human rights.