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Written by HRDs and Journalists
UAE- Number of those detained by security force reaches 51 as crackdown continues
Beirut, 02 August 2012- Human rights defenders and activists continue to be targeted by state security forces (Amn al-Dawla) in the UAE. Following a series of arrests in recent days, the number of those detained has now reached 51 and it is feared that more arrests may be made.
Over recent few days fifteen activists have been detained including Khalid Al-Yammahi, Saif Mohamed Al-Etr, Ahmed Saqer Al-Suwaidi, Hassan Mohammed Al-Hammadi , Najeeb Ahmed Amiri, Bader Abdulrahman Al-Hammadi, Fouad Al-Hammadi, and Ahmed Saif Al-Mutari.
Around 37 human rights defenders and activists have been held in incommunicado detention, since the 16 July 2012 and the following days, some of whom are members of the Reform and Social Guidance Association (Al-Islah) a non-violent group engaged in peaceful political debate in the UAE. They were arrested following a statement made by the Public Prosecutor in Abu Dhabi on 15 July 2012, in which he announced that a group of people would be investigated for plotting “crimes against state security”, “opposing the UAE constitution and ruling system”, and having ties to "foreign organizations and agendas”. (See GCHR appeal dated 17 July 2012 for further information http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/198)
Three prominent human rights lawyers are among those detained, these are-Dr Mohamed Abdullah Al-Roken, who has provided legal assistance to Al-Islah members detained without charge since March and served as a defence lawyer in the case of the five activists known as the UAE 5 who were imprisoned for eight months and tried in 2011 after allegedly posting statements on an internet forum critical of UAE government policy and leaders; Dr Mohamed Al-Mansoori the deputy chairman of Al-Islah and a former president of the Jurists’ Association, who was dismissed from his position as a legal advisor to the government in January 2010 after he gave a television interview in which he criticized restrictions on freedom of speech in the country and lawyer Salem Al-Shehhi who has been arrested when he went to the State Security Prosecutor to ask about his clients (including Dr Al-Roken, Dr Al-Mansori and some other detainees).
No charges have reportedly been brought against any of the detainees and there is serious concern expressed that they are at risk of torture and ill treatment while in detention.
The situation for human rights activists in the UAE is deteriorating rapidly and urgent action is required to protect them. On 24 July 2012 former judge Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi who has repeatedly called for reform in the UAE was sentenced to twelve months in prison (for further information see GCHR appeal dated 24 July 2012 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/203).
The GCHR believes that the arrests and on-going detention of the 54 human rights defenders and activists are directly related to their peaceful human rights activities and the legitimate exercise of their rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly. The GCHR together with Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders, Al Karama, and the Index on Censorship sent a joint letter to the UK foreign secretary William Hague, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on July 31 urging them to speak out regarding the unprecedented UAE crackdown on peaceful critics.
The GCHR urges the authorities in UAE to:
- Immediately release the 51 human rights activists who have been arrested since 16 July 2012;
- Immediately disclose the whereabouts of the 51 detainees and grant them immediate access to their families and lawyers;
- Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of the 54 detainees;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
Please write immediately in English or in Arabic:
• To express your concern about the arrest of the 51 human rights defenders and demanding their immediate release;
• To urge the authorities in the UAE to immediately stop targeting of human rights defenders;
• To express your concern and refusal to the severe suppression of the legitimate rights such as freedom of expression, assembly, and association by the UAE authorities of its citizens, in particular the activists.
Please Send Appeals now TO:
Vice-President and Prime Minister
H.H. Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum
Office of the Prime Minister
Fax: +971 4 3531974
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
H.H. Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Fax: +971 2 4414938
Minister of Foreign Affairs
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahya
Fax: +971 2 4447766
Minister of Justice
His Excellency Dr. Hadef Jawa'an Al-Dhaheri
Minister of Justice
United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 2 681 5155
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.