Saleh Al Marri speaks during the seminar held on the fringe of the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Image Credit: Supplied

Geneva: Members of Al Ghofran family have accused Qatari authorities of launching “a systematic repression and injustice campaign” against their tribe, according to a report by the Arab Federation for Human Rights.

In a call to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the family members urged the rights watchdog to urgently intervene and support their struggle to restore their rights in Qatar.

During a seminar held on the fringe of the 36th session of the UNHRC, Mohammad and Saleh Al Marri, two members of Al Ghofran family showcased the tragedy of their situation.

“I came here full of hope to make the voice of an oppressed tribe heard,” Mohammad Al Marri said. “My tribe has been suffering from injustice and repression and the Qatari regime has denied it from its legitimate rights,” he said.

The Qatari authorities have reportedly revoked the nationality and expelled many of Al Ghofran family.

“More than 6,000 of my family members have been displaced, excluded and exiled,” Al Marri confirmed in a statement by the Arab Federation for Human Rights.

He also challenged the Qatari authorities’ claim that the nationalities were revoked since the tribe members already held another nationality.

“These all are lies… The fact is we are part of the bigger Al Murrah tribe which was not in good terms with the Qatari regime,” he said.

Al Ghofran family is a well-known branch of Al Murrah tribe, which straddles the border between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The tribe members constitute 60 per cent of the Qatari population, according to recent census.

Al Murrah tribe leaders have spoken out about the oppression they have suffered under the reign of the current Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, and his father Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.

In 1995, Shaikh Hamad seized the power from his father Shaikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani in a coup, openly and strongly rejected by the Al Ghofran family leaders.

“Since then we are suffering arbitrary policies which include dismissing from work, denying our rights to buy houses and doing any business. More than 6,000 of our members have been displaced, excluded and exiled,” Al Marri complained.

“Whenever human rights organizations raised the issue, these arbitrary policies were extended to affect all Al Murrah tribe”, he added.

“A few days ago, we heard that the Qatari authorities have revoked the nationality of Shaikh Talib Bin Lahom Al Sheram Al Marri, the leader Al Murrah tribe, and other 55 of the his family members and other sons and daughters of the tribe, confiscated their assets and dismissed many of them from their jobs,” said Saleh Al Marri. Such actions were deplored by AFHR as a violation of civil rights and inhumane acts.

Saleh Al Marri hoped that human rights organizations will no longer ignore their family’s cause which he described as “clear example of all kinds of injustice”.

He and his brother pledged that their family members will not rest till their legitimate citizenship rights and illegally confiscated assets are restored.

“We have been patient for many years... Our patience has now run out,” they warned, hoping that they could rely on the UN as last resort to bring about speedy justice.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut all diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing terrorism and cozying up to Iran.

The quartet said the boycott of Qatar stemmed from “the harm caused by irresponsible Doha actions through its support, financing and harboring of terrorist elements.”

Despite an attempt by the Emir of Kuwait to mediate between his feuding allies, Qatar has repeatedly ignored quartet efforts and flaunted its closer ties with Iran, which has been sowing chaos and violence in the Mideast region, supporting militias such as the Al Houthis of Yemen and the Hezbollah of Lebanon.