Geneva Council condemns Saudi Arabia’s ban on Palestinian refugees from carrying out the pilgrimage

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GENEVA – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties denounced that the Saudi authorities’ unfounded rejection of entry to the Palestinian refugees who are holders of Syrian documents with aim to carry out pilgrimage scheduled for the next month despite fulfilling required conditions and paperwork.

The Geneva Council urges the Saudi government to suspend this action as it denies the Palestinian refugees their right to freedom of worship in flagrant violation of international human rights law norms.

The Geneva Council received numerous complaints from Palestinian refugees who submitted the necessary documentation to obtain a visa to enter the Kingdom in order to perform Hajj. However, the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon refused their applications  without giving any justification. According to complainants, the Palestinian refugees who had fled from Syria to Egypt are similarly became victims of visa denials.

The Geneva Council stresses the need for the Saudi authorities to avoid politicization in administering religious sites and thus obstructing the exercise of the right to worship in places regarded sacred by 1.6 billion Muslims which represents 23% of the world’s population.

We would like to note that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly implements the obstruction policies against Palestinian refugees residing in Jordan, Syria and other countries without any legitimate justification. We would like to alert that the Saudi authorities similarly deprives the opponents by visa denials to prevent their entry to the Saudi territory even to carry out Hajj or Umrah.

The Geneva Council affirms that such practices are in contradiction to the Charter of the United Nations and article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for the right of everyone to freedom of religion and observance.

The exclusion of Palestinian refugees residing in certain Arab countries from performing religious rituals is the violation of article 1 of the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

 

The Geneva Council calls on international organizations and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief to intervene in order to enable all Muslims, including Palestinian refugees, to exercise their religious rights as guaranteed by international law and call to cease any policies of obstructing the enjoyment of fundamental rights and  freedoms as a tool for political pressure.

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