Hunger Strike begins by those detained in UAE crackdown
It is has emerged today that three of the fifty-one detainees in the UAE have begun a hunger strike in protest at their continued incarceration, which they view as being illegal due to the fact detainees have been denied family visitation, access to legal counsel or been subjected to any of the legal processes as set out by the constitution.
Those hunger striking include the prominent human rights lawyers, Dr. Mohamed al Roken and Dr. Mohamed al Mansoori, with the former having been detained in Dubai on July 17th and the latter in Ras al Khaimah on July 16th as well as Khalid al Shiba al Nuaimi, a retired army colonel who was formerly the director of moral guidance in the Ministry of Defence, who was arrested on July 16th in Sharjah.
Since their detention, along with the remaining forty-eight detainees, none have been granted access to family visitation, legal counsel or been subjected to the agreed UAE legal processes.
In recent days we have seen the ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qassimi, and the ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qassimi, speak about the wave of arrests in the UAE.
Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qassimi said, ‘”To every mother whose son was held, I tell her… please let us fix the situation… the son made a mistake, you didn’t deal with it, let us do it”. This translates as arbitrary detention at an unknown location for an indeterminate amount of time.
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qassimi stated, “Reform means building the country, not destroying it.” Again, this has translated to Emirati citizens as ‘shut up or go to jail’.
In both statements each ruler alluded to the fact the detainees were compromising national security, a common tactic used by the hereditary, autocratic rulers of the UAE. The fact is, the reforms that have been called for by an ever growing number of Emiratis have been for the Federal National Council (FNC) to possess full jurisdiction over the law-making process with the body being elected by universal suffrage.
Amnesty International have expressed concern that arbitrary arrest leads to torture and the Emirates Centre for Human Rights is deeply concerned for the detainees’ welfare given the fact families are being denied visitation as their loved ones are being held at unknown locations.
Indeed, the West has remained silent as the crackdown deepens. Human Rights Watch wrote to the British Foreign Minister, William Hague, and the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, asking for them to uphold the noble values espoused since the inception of the Arab Spring by applying them to all who seek democracy. There has been a deafening silence from both administrations.
As we see two of the most prominent human rights lawyers in the UAE and a retired army colonel begin a hunger strike, the Emirates Centre for Human Rights calls on the international community to condemn the draconian response to legitimate citizen desires and demand that detainees are treated humanely.
We call on the UAE authorities to grant access to families, allow legal counsel to be sought independently without intimidation of lawyers and for those held to have their locations disclosed immediately.
Emirates Centre for Human Rights 13/8/12
Notes to Editor:
1. ECHR is committed to monitoring the state of human rights, freedoms and democracy in the United Arab Emirates.
2. For further information please contact Rori Donaghy on: 07850062105 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org