by Sarah Leah Whitson
"Earlier this month Mayor Rahm Emanuel celebrated the opening of the United
Arab Emirates-Manchester City Field at Haas Park, praising the facilities paid
for and named after the UAE and Manchester City FC, the English soccer club
owned by its ruling family. Chicagoans should not let theUAE’s very public
association with a child and family-friendly project blind them to the realities
of the UAE.
This a country where people who attempt to exercise their right to free
speech and peaceful dissent are likely to find themselves in arbitrary
detention, where lawyers
are harassed and even deported for their efforts to defend peaceful
dissidents, and where migrant workers, who make up about 95 percent of the work
force, face extraordinary exploitation. In the last year the situation has
deteriorated so significantly that on October 26 the European Parliament issued
an urgent resolution
calling on its strategic partner to call a halt to an ongoing campaign of
repression and intimidation against its citizenry.
On October 13, two days after Mayor Emanuel praised the UAE’s contribution to
Chicago, UAE State Security forces arrested Mansoor al-Ahmadi, vice-president of
the UAE Student Union, bringing to 64 the total of peaceful activists locked up
so far this year in this country with a population a lot smaller than
metropolitan Chicago. Worse, the whereabouts of 62 of them is unknown, an
invitation to further abuse of their rights......."