The Anniversary the United Arab Emirates Wants You to Ignore

Mohamed al-Mansoori United Arab Emirates

Dr. Mohamed al-Mansoori is among those detained for political dissent in the UAE (Photo Credit: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images).

There’s an anniversary this week in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that its government wants the world to ignore.

The country has the reputation as being the “welcoming and open” Middle Eastern country, and the government works hard to burnish that image around the world. UAE political reformers know better, and a year ago, a trial of 94 government critics exposed the reality that dissent is muzzled and political freedom severely limited.

On July 2, 2013, after an unfair mass trial known as “UAE 94,” reform advocates and government critics were convicted on vaguely worded national security charges. None of the men were given the right to appeal the court verdict, in contravention of international human rights law.

Among the 94 were Dr. Mohammed al-Roken, human rights lawyer; Dr. Mohammed al-Mansoori, physicist and science teacher; Hussain Ali Alnajjar al-Hammadi and former teacher Saleh Mohammed al-Dhufairi, who were given 10-year imprisonment sentences by the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi.

Mohammed al-Roken’s license to practice law was revoked and Hussain Ali Alnajjar al-Hammadi’s educational consultancy company, Manarat Company, ordered closed.

The prison authorities have for several months withheld sanitary items such as soap and shampoo, and the prisoners have not been able to buy these, or food and water, as the prison store has been closed.

The harassment of the activists is not limited to their convictions and the attacks on their livelihoods.

A recent report indicates that some of the prisoners are being ill-treated by prison guards in al-Razeen Prison. Prison guards frequently raid cells, beat prisoners and have confiscated their belongings, including their clothes, toiletries and notebooks.

At least one prisoner has been beaten for questioning guards about the raids and refusing to give up his clothes. He was put in solitary confinement with no water and inadequate food, and denied visits from his family.

The prison authorities have for several months withheld sanitary items such as soap and shampoo, and the prisoners have not been able to buy these, or food and water, as the prison store has been closed.

Meal sizes have been reduced – some prisoners have lost so much weight that at least two collapsed around April 26. The windows throughout the wards are being bricked up, leaving no natural light.

The goal of the activists is to bring more light to UAE’s political culture. There are no formal political parties permitted, and political dissent is not readily tolerated. But the activists there are facing a wave of repression, and they want the world to know they are resisting.

Amnesty International, in turn, wants the activists to know they do not stand alone in their fight for freedom.

If the UAE government wants to show a true image of an “open and welcoming” country in the Middle East, it must release these prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally and respect freedom of expression for all.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

One thought on “The Anniversary the United Arab Emirates Wants You to Ignore

  1. I have no idea why the government wants it the world to ignore when the country has an anniversary. However, there are also some political issues that other countries are not aware of. One thing for sure, it must be very great for the country to show a true image.