Qatar asked the countries participating in the illegal blockade to hold talks to discuss and resolve human rights violations associated with the blockade on Tuesday. The request underscores the fact that the blockade against Qatar arose not from a breakdown in diplomacy, but from a vacuum of diplomacy altogether.
The blockade against Qatar began on June 5, 2017 when four countries abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. The blockade was preceded on May 24 by a cyber attack against the Qatar News Agency, in which fabricated quotes by Qatari Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani were published by Qatar’s state-run news agency. Although the Qatari government quickly disclosed that the Qatar News Agency had been breached, state-owned news agencies in the blockade countries insisted the quotes were factual despite video evidence to the contrary and confirmation of the cyber attack by American officials.
In December 2017, the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights published a report titled “On the impact of the Gulf Crisis on human rights.” The report cites a variety of human rights violations, including:
The instrumentalization of state media against Qatar and suppression of opposition to the blockade.
The restriction of free movement for Qataris living in the blockade countries and vice versa
Separation of families between Qatar and the blockade countries
Impacts on economic and property rights for Qataris with business in the blockade countries and vice versa
Impact on healthcare rights for Qataris seeking treatment in the blockade countries and vice versa
Effect on the right to education for Qataris studying in the blockade countries and vice versa
The Qatari National Human Rights Council has also released several reports overviewing human rights violations associated with the blockade, including the OHCHR’s complaints as well as violations of rights to work, litigation, and performance of religious rituals.