UN calls Qatar neighbours’ demand to close Jazeera ‘unacceptable attack’

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UNITED NATIONS, July 1 (APP): The United Nations human right chief has voiced outrage over Persian Gulf countries’ demand to shut down Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, describing it as “an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion.”
The closure of the broadcaster, along with the London-based The New Arab (al-Araby al-Jadeed), is one of 13 wide-ranging demands placed on Doha by Saudi Arabia and its allies for the price of lifting an almost month-long blockade on Qatar.
The four countries “Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain
and Egypt” have given Qatar a 10-day deadline for agreeing to the demands, ending on July 4.
A spokesperson for High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told a
press conference in Geneva that “whether or not you watch it, like it, or agree with its editorial standpoints, Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English channels are legitimate, and have many millions of viewers.”
Spokesman Rupert Colville added that “the demand that they be
summarily closed down is, in our view, an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion.”
The Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) said the dispute has been “taken to a new level” with the inclusion of some fundamental rights and freedoms in the list of demands.
“To insist that such channels be shut down is extraordinary,
unprecedented and clearly unreasonable,” Colville stated.
If Qatar were to comply, the move would “open a Pandora’s Box of
powerful individual States or groups of States seriously undermining the right to freedom of expression and opinion in other States, as well as in their own,” he added.
The High Commissioner reiterated his call that all five Governments
solve the ongoing matter in a calm, reasonable and lawful manner that does not impact on their own human rights, or those of other countries.