Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Qatar Detains Three Bahraini Boats, 20 Sailors | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Buildings are seen on a coast line in Doha, Qatar June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

Manama- Bahrain’s interior ministry issued a statement on Monday accusing Qatar of illegally seizing three boats with 20 sailors on board, state news agency BNA reported, worsening an already deeply troubled diplomatic situation in the region.

Some of the fishermen detained hold Bahraini citizenships, BNA said.

A security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the boats are fishing ones.

Fishermen on many occasions cross maritime borders among Gulf countries, and the action taken in such cases is to warn the boats exceeding and demand their return within borders for several miles, the source added.

Qatari authorities are intransigent in this regard, the source said.

The security source added that there would be no contact with Doha, adding that Bahrain had not seized any Qatari boats that had entered territorial waters.

Qatari authorities have been holding fishing boats for about eight years, and Bahraini and foreign sailors on board have been detained.

Coast Guard Commander Commodore Alaa Siyadi told BNA the boats were seized over the past three days. The report gave no details on the boats or where they were seized.

Qatar confirmed it detained fishing boats after they entered its territorial waters illegally, and said the sailors will be released soon.

Siyadi said the seizure raised to 15 the number of boats seized, and the number of sailors in Qatari custody to 20, adding that some of the boat seizures date back to 2009, BNA reported.

“All unauthorized fishing boats receive a warning to leave Qatari waters, and if they are non-compliant, they are referred to the competent authorities,” a source at Qatar’s Interior Ministry said.

“The crew will be released within three days, while the ships will be detained until the court makes a decision.”

On that note, the United Nations is being urged to intervene in the al-Ghufran branch of Al-Murrah tribe persecution by Qatar. Many of al-Ghufran family members were left displaced after Doha stripped them of their citizenship.

Members of al-Ghufran branch of the Al-Murrah family 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.

Qatari authorities had revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Taleb bin Lahom bin Shreim and 54 of his relatives, including 18 women and children, because he refused to follow their orders to criticize Saudi Arabia.

The call was made in Geneva by several of the family’s members during a meeting at the United Nations of human rights practitioners from Arab and European countries.

The meeting, entitled “International human Rights associations and the Ghufran Clan Issue” shed light on the conditions the clan have been put under since 1996 in Qatar including the revocation of the citizenship 56 Murrah tribe members last week including the tribal chief.

Members of the tribe appeared before the audience on Monday and shared the stories of their citizenship withdrawal.