Monday, April 30, 2012

United Arab Emirates: End Arrests; Free Political Activists

Stop Crackdown on Freedom of Expression, Association

April 30, 2012

"(London) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities should immediately and unconditionally release nine political activists held in the context of a widening attack on dissent, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The government should stop threatening to revoke the citizenship of seven of them because of their political activity.

The authorities are holding the men solely on account of their affiliation with a non-violent political group and their peaceful criticism of the government, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said. The nine men belong to the Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), a non-profit organization that advocates greater adherence to Islamic precepts, which has been engaged in peaceful political debate and discussion in the UAE for many years.

“The UAE authorities need to end this wave of arbitrary arrests,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s deputy Middle East and North Africa programme director. “These men, who have not used or advocated violence, are held solely for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression. They are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

The most recent arrest was on April 20, 2012, when plainclothes officials from the UAE Amn al-Dawla (State Security) agency detained the chairman of al-Islah, Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Kayed al-Qasimi. His son, Abdullah Sultan, told Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that his 54-year-old father is being held, apparently without a detention order or charge, in the palace of the ruler of the Ras al-Khaimah emirate, who is his father’s cousin. The ruler has told family members that the basis of the detention relates to a “family matter.”......"

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