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The recent monthly Open house address at the Indian embassy took on the urgent consular and labour issues of Indian nationals in Qatar.

As per the statement issued by Indian Embassy stated that the grievances notified were majorly related to delayed payment of wages, violations of contract in context to terms and conditions.

P Kumaran, Indian Ambassador to Qatar, Dr M Aleem, the third secretary (Labour and Community Welfare) and other concerned officials addressed all the notified complainants. They discussed their issues in detail and assured them that embassy will actively follow-up of their cases with the concerned authorities in Government of Qatar.

The meeting was attended by Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) officials Devis Edakulathur, president; Babu Rajan, vice-president; and Mahesh Gowda, general-secretary along with some other members of the ICBF management committee.

Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) being the apex community association working for welfare of Indian workers too was an active participant of the open house meeting. Devis Edakulathur, president; Babu Rajan, vice-president; and Mahesh Gowda, general-secretary of ICBF were the major participants from ICBF.

Including the recent open house, 13 Open Houses seassions have taken place since January 2017.A total of 83 complaints were received during these Open Houses from which 58 complaints have been resolved while 25 are still under active follow-up by the mission.

A team from embassy has also visited he Central Prison and Deportation Centre last week to enquire about the welfare of detainees from India. The current total of Indian nationals in the Central Prison and Deportation Centre is 168 and 137, respectively.

In the same direction in this month’ open house session embassy issued 72 Emergency Certificates to Indian nationals for their repatriation to India and 16 air tickets to needy Indian nationals for returning back to India.

The embassy had also organised five consular camps in the Salwa, Mesaieed, Al Khor, Dukhan-Zikreet and Al Shamal areas and rendered 154 consular services to Indian nationals, in this month.

Other major issues including supply of foodstuff, transport support, medical assistance and minor assistance to Indian workers in Qatar has been taken care by ICBF. 35 Indian workers have been relieved in January by continued efforts of ICBF.

However, there is still a need for a better coordination and support from the government of Qatar, to design a fast track mechanism for resolving the issues.

As per the 28th Human Rights Watch Report that reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries, this is the right time for Middle East and North African countries to act on the popular demands that have become voice of the youth in the region.

As people today are more aware and exposed to various government systems and mechanisms they expect relative changes for betterment of quality of life, on the humanitarian grounds. They understand their rights well and now are not patient to compromise their rights further. Hence it is important to make necessary changes in the existing regime structures by ensuring that citizens get their due respect, liberty and dignity essential to do it’s over all development overcoming the traditional biases.

The major five reforms that are immediate implementation in the existing MENA regimes include Rights of Women, who are generally have to suffer the most of injustice given the laws that curtail their freedom to make decisions of their life, ranging from dress code to choosing a life partner to moving friendly. They need to experience the equality that women around the world experience. Moreover they must not be treated as a dependent but a strength that have the ability to contribute to country.

MENA women made some advances on nationality issues in 2017. Tunisia repealed a decree that prevented Muslim women – but not men – from registering marriages with non-Muslims; it also passed a landmark law on violence against women, instituting measures to prevent violence, protect survivors, and punish their abusers. In response to Qatari women’s demands to pass nationality onto their children like Qatari men, Qatar pledged to grant residency to children of Qatari women, providing most but not all rights that non-citizen children have.

Notably, Qatar for the first time allowed women in its ‘Shura’ Council which was another change towards providing equal status to women and Saudi has also taken few steps in this direction but there is still a dire need to dismantle the entire system. Governments of the MENA region must take ownership to abolish systemic discrimination in opportunities, divorce, child custody, and inheritance against women giving them equal status and dignity they deserve.

MENA governments nevertheless devoted extensive resources to prosecuting people for their adult, consensual bedroom activities. Young people in the Middle East are well aware that their governments enforce morality but that will no more prove to be successful in covering inefficiency of governments. They need to understand that they cannot impose moral principles and must allow the due liberty to the residents.

MENA government officials jailed people for alleged insults to them or to loosely defined notions of the country’s “reputation,” “national interest,” “culture,” or “religion.” Saudi Arabia went so far as to define “insulting the king,” crown prince, or head of state as a terrorist offense for which the punishment is five to 10 years imprisonment. Bahrain jailed human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab for an “insulting” tweet. Kuwait sentenced a writer to seven years in prison for insulting the state of Qatar. Blocking Doha News in Qatar was another breach of freedom of expression. MENA governments should abolish any law that even uses the word “insult” in its definition of a crime. Limiting freedom of speech is like hampering chances of a country to develop further. The governments need to understand that criticism are required to be accepted and reforms needs to be undertaken for progress.

MENA governments have treated their countries – and sometimes the countries of others – as massive jails, arbitrarily denying people the right to leave or the right to enter. Saudi Arabia has imposed arbitrary travel bans on many Saudis, and detained visiting foreign government officials like Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Yemen President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, while Israel has refused to allow Gazans to exit even for urgent medical treatment or education abroad. Bahrain stripped hundreds of its nationals of their citizenship to punish families of activists. Israel refused entry to people – including Jews – whose political views it doesn’t like, and blocked human rights workers and journalists from accessing Gaza. Governments needs to stop treating their citizens like property to be held on to or disposed at their will and need to act like custodians not bosses.

It is important that these changes are not ignored further as they are already under the vigilance of international organisation demeaning their role in the country and international community. Making these reforms is bound to push progress of the countries and respect in the world.

 

 

GCC Blockade violation of Human Rights

Qatar has been trying its best to keep people unaffected by the ongoing blockade imposed by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It has also been appreciated for the same internationally. But it would be closing eyes to the reality if we deny that it has affected people residing in the country greatly.

The report issued by United National Office of High Commissioner for Human rights (OHCHR), following its November mission testifies the same. The mission held from November 17 to 24 at OHCHR included meetings with some 20 governments, civil societies as well as people affected by the blockade with the objective of understanding the scenario.

A copy of the report issued by OHCHR was sent to the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar (NHCR). As per the declaration made in context to the report by head of NHRC, Ali Bin Smaikh al-Marri yesterday, stated that the report serves as a documented proof that GCC blockade is not just unethical and arbitrary but also illegal as it is clear infringement of the human rights.

He stated that “This report shows without a spec of doubt that these procedures undertaken by blockading countries are not merely diplomatic severing of relations, they are not just an economic boycott,” in fact, “These are unilateral, abusive, arbitrary measures that are impacting citizens and expats in Qatar.”

The disclosures made referring to the OHCHR report clearly suggested the measures taken to impose blockade are much more than a diplomatic tension but a well-planned economic warfare led by Saudi-Arabia. To meet their selfish rivalry they have staked the life of not only Qatari citizens but also expats from various countries residing in Qatar.

People in Doha celebrated the report as a victory of human rights of the people residing in the country as this may prove as an official recognition of injustice that they have experienced for several months, by United Nations institution.

Despite recognition by Amnesty International earlier in June 2017, accusing Gulf States toying with lives of people there have not been paid much heed by the GCC countries. Hopefully this report will bring an end to their arbitrary agendas and the ongoing injustice on the people residing in Qatar.