Al-Ghufran to FIFA: Qatar built World Cup facilities on land forcibly taken away

Published: Updated:

A delegation from al-Ghufran tribe lodged a complaint Monday to the President of the International Football Federation (FIFA) in Zurich against the practices of the Qatari regime against their tribe, demanding Qatar be stripped of the 2022 World Cup.

The tribe’s demands come after the Qatari regime committed serious human rights violations against them and built the facilities for the World Cup on land that was forcibly taken away from the tribe.

In their hand-delivered letter, al-Ghufran tribe revealed that the violations by the Qatari regime did not stop at the illegitimately revoking the citizenship of 6,000 citizens with no legal basis, it also included taking away the tribe’s land by force and exploiting it for the purposes of building the facilities of the 2022 World Cup.

“This is a sensitive tournament [World Cup] followed by considerable gathering of people who come together for the love of the game, honest competition, brotherhood and love and respect among nations; how will Qatar play the role of supplying this when it is so unfair to its own children [citizens],” al-Ghufran added.

“This is a country that harms its own citizens and strips them of their rights and then talks about freedom and democracy. The FIFA system states that country where the World Cup is held must respect and preserve human rights, as per the policies of the UN Human Rights Council. The FIFA is fully committed to organizing its activities based on respecting the human rights at an international level and the UN’s standards for workers.

Al-Ghufran revealed that more than a few lands on which the state built sports facilities for the tournament were taken away by force from the tribe, and that the establishments were built illegally and illegitimately after the owners were kicked off the land and had their citizenship stripped.

“The state resorted to every illegitimate method in dealing with al-Ghufran tribe from deprivation to expulsion from the country to the withdrawal of their official documents to denial of education and healthcare,” added al-Ghufran. The complaint also referred to other practices and serious violations committed against workers working on the construction of sports facilities.

The sons of al-Ghufran tribe demanded that FIFA reject the establishment of the World Cup in Qatar 2022 unless the Government of Qatar restores the Qatari nationality to all those affected from the tribe and returning their land, which were forcibly robbed, to them.

The land now has various facilities built on them including stadiums, other sports facilities, hotels, health centers, hospitals, public transport, among other things. The tribe members also demands compensation using their land.

Al-Ghufran tribe also said that if the Qatari regime was to refuse, the FIFA should refuse to play matches or benefit from such facilities like honorable countries that respect human rights refrain from importing commodities and agricultural products from Israeli agricultural lands built on occupied Palestinian lands; otherwise, they said, the FIFA would become part of the regime’s violations.

They also called on FIFA to force Qatar to employ qualified al-Ghufran tribe members in projects built on their land and to give them a share of the proceeds of the tournament, if they accepted financial settlements to exploit their land.

If the Qatari regime rejects the demands, the moral and humane action for the FIFA would be to strip Qatar from the tournament to refrain from becoming party to the “humanitarian and moral crimes” committed by the Qatari regime.

Al-Ghufran’s call to FIFA comes as part of a wider move by the tribe to recover its rights on the margins of the UN Human Rights Council.

Violations since 1996

On September 17, delegation had met with Chief of Middle East and North Africa Section. UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Mohammad al-Nsour, when the latter received a letter from the tribe summing up the violations that they have faced since 1996.

The letter asked the UN office to stop Qatari authorities’ continuous, systematic discrimination against them, and to protect the tribe’s members, restore their lost rights and to punish the Qatari regime for human rights violations.

The letter also revealed that the authorities are well aware of the violations occurring, “We assure you that the Qatari authorities, ranging from the Emir of Qatar, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the President of the National Committee for Human Rights, senior security officials and dignitaries, are aware of the discrimination members of al-Ghufran clan are subjected to and those senior officials are deeply involved in this crime,” the delegation stated, continuing, “Qatar officials are working to hide his crime from the eyes of international justice and human rights organizations, and the deliberately intimidate those trying from within Qatar to raise complaints to International bodies and human rights organizations.”

Fearing for their lives and their ability to voice their opinions or “demand their rights through the National Human Rights Committee in Doha” due to security personnel tracking and monitoring their actions, which they say they have evidence off, the delegation spoke of the evidence they have of Qatari authorities treating their people with the utmost levels of brutality and monstrosity.

As part of their on-going efforts to reclaim their legitimate rights, on September 21, during a seminar titled ‘Human Rights in Qatar’, the delegation also called on Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to take serious steps in addressing and documenting the human rights violations that were committed against the tribe, and to present them in front of the international community to hold Qatar accountable.

The delegation explained that they only resorted to international organizations after years of being ignored and omitted by their government, the government of Qatar, and after they realized that the Qatari Human Rights Council is in cahoots with the regime.

During said seminar, Gaber Saleh al-Ghufrani, a member of the al-Ghufran tribe, called on the people of Qatar, for support said, “We call on the elders of the honorable al-Thani family and to the generous and righteous people of Qatar and to the al-Murrah tribe, known for their nobility and chivalry. We call on you as your brothers, young and old, elders and children, men and women, inside and outside Qatar, and we appeal to your proud Arab origin after the Qatari government has let us down and accused us of untrue claims and stropped us of our rights.”

He went on to plead his and his tribe’s case to the people of Qatar, “We have been subjected to much injustice and humiliation in our homeland from those who, unfortunately, we thought to be virtuous. We have been discriminated against in the most painful of ways, ones that would shock human consciousness; they have stripped us of our dignity, in way that you know and others that you do not know.”

“We did not choose to go to the United Nations and to the international human rights organizations except after the government of our country closed all ways of appeal and did not engage or listen to our demands that we had submitted to the relevant authorities such as the Ministry of the Interior and the National Human Rights Commission of Qatar,” he said.

Along the same lines, Mohamed Saleh al-Ghofzani called on the National Committee for Human Rights in Qatar to stop turning a blind eye to the regime's violations of the right of al-Ghufran tribe and to document and declare said violations; which he describes to be, violations of all basic international norms, conventions and treaties.

Similarly, Hamad Khaled al-Ghufrani explained that although the Qatari law states that indigenous people who have settled in Qatar since 1940 cannot have their nationality stripped—a law that applies to them, they have had their nationality stripped, faced forced displacement and have had the most basic services taken away from them: Education, healthcare and other public services.

“Even those who suffer from chronic illnesses of other illnesses, including my son who suffers from autism, were left untreated by Qatar,” al-Ghufrani stated.

The OHCHR, which implements the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, “carries out a range of country specific and regional activities to advance the rights of indigenous peoples. It provides support for legislative initiatives and pursues thematic work on issues such as extractive industries and on the rights of isolated indigenous peoples,” as per the OHCHR’s website.

“In addition, the Office assists the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and provides secretariat support to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the organization of its annual sessions.”