Wife of imprisoned Qatari royal tells of suffering of children at hands of regime
JEDDAH: Asma Al-Rayyan, the wife of Sheikh Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Thani, an imprisoned member of the Qatari royal family, on Thursday told how their children have suffered and been deprived of their rights. She said her family was targeted for revenge by the regime in Doha as a result of family feuds and long-standing hostilities.
She listed a series of violations she said have been committed in revenge against the family by the regime of Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. These include depriving the children of basic rights such as education, health care and proper housing. She accused the ruler of paying lip service in public to human rights and justice while subjecting her children to extreme hardship after imprisoning their father and freezing his assets.
Al-Rayyan, a German national, married Sheikh Talal in 2007. He is the eldest son of Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Hamad, one of the founders of Qatar, who died in exile in Saudi Arabia in 2008.
Speaking at the Geneva Press Club, while the United Nations Human Rights Council meets at the UN headquarters in the Swiss city, she said: “The suffering of my family, including the four children of Sheikh Talal, started with the death of my father-in-law, who also served as health minister in Qatar.”
There was a long-standing hostility within the royal family towards Sheikh Abdul Aziz, Al-Rayyan said, which has endured during the reigns of former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa and his son, Tamim. In revenge, Talal was imprisoned during the rule of both Hamad and Tamim, and is currently serving a 22-year sentence, imposed in 2013, after he was convicted of passing bad checks.
Al-Rayyan said that the suffering of Talal’s children — Al-Anoud, Al-Joharah, Abdullah and Ahmed — began after he was imprisoned, with demands that his debts be repaid.
“Revenge was not limited to imprisoning the children’s father, but extended to putting us under enormous pressure,” she said. “We were forced to leave our house and were taken to a house that is not fit for human habitation, in a deserted area, with temperatures reaching 50°C, which exposed the young children to diseases, requiring them to get cortisone treatments for long periods.”
Al-Rayyan said that she has documented her family’s suffering, with photographic and video evidence. She asked the Qatari authorities to move the family to another house, but was told that there is no reason to do so this was refused. She said Tamim’s regime has left her and the children destitute, with no money to find alternative accommodation on their own. The children suffered gravely and have been deprived of their basic human rights, she added, while Tamim’s regime attempted to force Talal to sign papers giving up his right to a position in the government.
The only person in Qatar allowed to make decisions is Tamim, Al-Rayyan said, who can strip anyone, even royals, of their rights. “No court can do anything about it,” she added.
Al-Rayyan said that Talal was framed and imprisoned because he had demanded improvements to human rights in Qatar. She added that the world must be told how Tamim “established his state on human rights while taking revenge on young children after imprisoning their father in retaliation.”
Meanwhile, also at the Geneva Press Club, Sudanese nanny Sahar Abul Baki Al-Sheikh told how she suffered at the hands of the regime in Doha for no other reason than she was looking after the children of Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim, who had fallen out of favor after publicly voicing his political views.
She said that she was harshly penalized by Tamim’s regime in 2017 after letting the children use her phone to speak to their father, who was abroad at the time. Security officers visited the palace to gather information, then later lured her out of the residence by saying that she had to collect a package from her employer.