Eyewitness Report: Discriminatory Treatment of Iranian Passengers at Doha Airport in Qatar
A Qatar Airways passenger told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he and other Iranian passengers were exposed to discriminatory treatment at Doha Airport in December 2012. “Last December, a group of Iranian passengers had to spend between 12 to 20 hours at Doha Airport in Qatar. The passengers had received 24-hour temporary visas (STPC) and had made hotel reservations through travel agencies or directly through Qatar Airways offices in Tehran, as instructed by Qatar Airlines. Upon entry into Doha Airport, however, airport authorities refused to allow the group of Iranian passengers to be transferred to hotels, despite prior arrangements and against international laws. The reason for the refusal was cited as a new directive by Qatar’s Immigration Office, which stipulates that Iranian passengers must re-apply for permission in order to be transferred to hotels.”
After waiting for hours to receive permission to be transferred to a hotel and the eventual refusal, the passengers were transferred back to the transit area and they had to wait there for their next flight, some for hours, according to the eyewitness. “According to the requirements announced by the Qatar Foreign Ministry, individuals holding hotel reservation confirmations along with a 24-hour visa (STPC) do not need to receive additional entry permission from the Immigration Office. This problem has stemmed from political issues, and according to the airline staff, it is a new requirement for Iranian, Syrian, an Jordanian passengers only since early December 2012. However, during the time we were at Qatar Airport, which varied between 8 and 24 hours, only Iranian and Syrian passengers faced this clear discrimination. [Normally,] for passengers who have a layover of between 8 and 24 hours and have not received an STPC visa ahead of time, temporary visas are issued at the airport, and for about $30, they can be transferred to hotels. It was the same way for Iranians in prior weeks,” the eyewitness told the Campaign.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran regrets this treatment by Qatar Airlines, and demands accountability, respect of the passengers’ dignity, and an end to the described treatment in neglecting Iranian passengers’ basic rights during travel, and will pursue the matter through correspondence with the Qatar Embassy in Washington, D.C.
“We believe this political and discriminatory treatment by Qatar Airways and the Qatar Foreign Ministry is a violation of their obligations and contracts with Qatar Airways and its passengers. It is also a big insult to Iranian citizens,” the eyewitness added. “Additionally,” he claimed, “this political and discriminatory treatment is a clear violation of international laws and agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which prohibits governments and individuals from any racial, ethnic, and national discrimination.”
“The Iranian passengers demand a formal apology from the Qatar Government for their insulting and discriminatory treatment, a written apology from the Qatar Airways Offices to the Iranian passengers, and a commitment to refraining from violating their commitments and displaying discriminatory, political, and unprofessional conduct in providing air travel services to Iranian passengers,” said the eyewitness.