Qatar expelling and blacklisting Baha’is could indicate pattern of religious cleansing

Evanston, Illinois, UNITED STATES

Washington, D.C., April 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Baha’i International Community (BIC) is extremely concerned by systematic attempts over many years by Qatari authorities to blacklist and deport Baha’is from Qatar.

A prominent Baha’i, Omid Seioshansian, who was born in Qatar, is the latest to be blacklisted in Qatar. Certain authorities in the country have suggested that unspecified criminal and national security charges have prompted these expulsions. The baseless charges, which have been leveled without evidence, could carry severe penalties in Qatar’s judicial system.

Once blacklisted, Baha’is are expelled from the country and are permanently refused reentry—even to visit. In one instance, the spouse of a Qatari Baha’i was denied residency, and consequently the couple’s entire family was forced to leave the country. Residency permits of non-Qatari Baha’is have also been denied, or not renewed, despite their employers or sponsors supporting them to remain in the country.

What links all those being deported—who come from various professional and national backgrounds—has been their Baha’i belief. This bears a striking resemblance to types of persecution Baha’is have faced in Iran and Yemen. Most of those facing blacklisting and deportation were born and raised in Qatar and have known no other home, some coming from families whose presence in that land stretches back multiple generations, predating the independence of the state of Qatar itself. 

“This pattern of deportation is tantamount to religious cleansing—if it continues, an entire religious community could be erased in a few years,” said Bani Dugal, the BIC’s Principal Representative to the United Nations.

The Baha’i community of Qatar and the BIC have previously raised these cases with Qatari officials and Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee. The authorities have alleged without evidence to UN Special Rapporteurs and diplomats, who had raised concerns, that these cases are unrelated to each other and had each been a national security concern. 

In March, the lack of any improvement in the situation obliged the BIC to raise the matter before the Human Rights Council. Qatar was asked to bring an end to this pattern of blatant discrimination and uphold its human rights commitments.

Despite these efforts, which have been exerted over a number of years, and despite the eyes of the world turning to Qatar ahead of the World Cup next year, the Qatari authorities have now escalated the situation further by blacklisting Omid Seioshanseian to expel him from the country. Mr. Seioshanseian, whose family has resided in Qatar for generations, knows no other home. From this instance, it seems that the Qatari authorities’ strategy now includes targeting Baha’i leadership.

“Charging innocent individuals of vague national security crimes, without proof, runs counter to Qatar’s binding human rights commitments and diminishes its standing in the eyes of the world, the international community, and Qatar’s own ‘National Vision 2030’,” said Ms. Dugal.

“The Baha’i International Community is saddened that the State of Qatar has chosen to expel members of a community that has peacefully coexisted in and contributed to the progress of the country and well-being of its people for generations,” added Ms. Dugal. “Qatar must surely understand how such actions undermine its own social cohesion, its reputation in the international community, and its development as a nation. We are confident that the authorities will reverse this trajectory at the earliest opportunity.”


For more information, contact Diane Ala’i in Geneva at +41 22 798 5400 (office) or +41 78 60 40 100 (mobile), or Bani Dugal in New York at +1 (212) 803-2500 (office) or +1 (914) 329-3020 (mobile)