Qatari father, son 'forcibly disappeared' in Saudi Arabia: NHRC

Qatar's National Human Rights Committee says whereabouts of man, 70, and teenage son are unknown after August 18 arrest.

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    Qatar has said the blockade is an attack on its sovereignty [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
    Qatar has said the blockade is an attack on its sovereignty [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

    A 70-year-old Qatari man and his teenage son have been forcibly disappeared in Saudi Arabia three days after entering the kingdom on a family permit, according to Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).

    In a statement on Wednesday, the NHRC said the whereabouts of Ali Nasser Ali Jarallah and his 17-year-old son, Abdulhadi, remain unknown following their arrest in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province on August 18.

    "The National Human Rights Committee condemns the enforced disappearance of the Qatari citizen and his son, which violates their rights to liberty and security," the committee said, calling for their immediate release.

    The NHRC "holds Saudi Arabia fully responsible for the life and safety of the Qatari citizens and calls upon the Saudi authorities to disclose their fate and release them immediately", it said.

    There was no immediate comment by Saudi authorities. Al Jazeera reached out to the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

    Two-year blockade

    Qatar has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia after the kingdom along with fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and Egypt severed its ties with Doha in June 2017. 

    The quartet also imposed a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar, accusing it of meddling in regional affairs and supporting "terrorism". It issued a list of demands, including the shutting down of Al Jazeera.

    Doha has vehemently denied the allegations and rejected the demands, saying the blockade is an attack on its sovereignty.

    As part of the moves against Doha, Qatari families and students were abruptly expelled and banned from the blockading countries, in which previously, as citizens of a GCC member state, they were allowed to freely travel to and reside.

    Qatari investors and businesspeople in these countries have also reported millions of dollars of losses as a result of the blockade.

    Last year, the NHRC said several citizens had disappeared in Saudi Arabia since the start of the blockade. Some of them have since been released, while the fate of others remains unknown.

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    A Qatari official who spoke to Al Jazeera on the condition of anonymity said on Thursday that Qatari citizens wishing to visit Saudi Arabia for humanitarian reasons can call an official phone number made available by the kingdom in order to obtain a "humanitarian case number".

    This would then allow them to enter the country at a port of entry - as happened with Jarallah and his son.

    "Saudi Arabia has unfortunately been entrapping Qatari citizens who might want to visit Saudi Arabia for family reasons in order to pressure the Qatari government and weaken its image in their eyes," Elham Bader al-Sada, a Qatari journalist and political analyst, told Al Jazeera.

    "Qatari citizens should be aware that the Saudi government cannot be trusted at all as it has become a rogue state bent on kidnapping innocent citizens only to settle political scores with their government," she added.

    Echoing al-Sada's sentiments, Jaber Nasser al-Marri, the managing editor of Qatari daily Al Arab, argued that Saudi Arabia's moves were an act of "revenge against the people of Qatar because they stood by their leadership.

    "Since the beginning of the blockade, the Saudis have tried to instigate the Qatari tribes against the ruling family, but when they failed to do so they resorted to these kind of despicable and inhumane tactics," he told Al Jazeera.

    Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @ali_reports

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News