18-Year-Old Arrested in UAE Crackdown, Travel Bans Imposed & Detainees’ Wives Interrogated
On Wednesday, December 5th, Mohamed Salem al-Zumer was arrested by plain-clothed security men in the United Arab Emirates making him the sixty-fourth detainee in a crackdown against peaceful political reformists.
Al-Zumer is the youngest detainee to date at just eighteen years old. A former media student and known defender of the ‘UAE 5’, al-Zumer is the son of a well known poet in the Emirates and his mother is the sister of Khalid al Sheiba al Nuaimi who was detained on July 16th.
Al-Zumer was arrested on a street in the emirate of Sharjah and escorted to his home. At his house, the plain-clothed security services covered their names when showing their ID cards and presented a search warrant with the simple justification of ‘matter of state security’ printed on it.
The security services searched the house for around one hour, seizing all electronic devices, before taking al-Zumer to an unknown location where he remains.
Further to this, it has emerged that at least nine individuals have been banned from travelling and cannot leave the UAE. These names remained undisclosed due to fears of reprisals in light of the recently passed Cybercrimes Law, which criminalized Emiratis from passing information to both independent journalists and human rights organisations.
Those banned from travelling are either relatives of detainees or known to be sympathetic of their plight. They have not been arrested, charged with a crime or given official reasons for the restrictions on their movement.
This latest arrest and restrictions on freedom of movement come after relatives of detainees have begun to gather at the Supreme Court to demand their loved ones be either put on trial or released. Human rights activists in the UAE have confirmed that after the largest gathering on November 8th, two of the detainees’ wives who had attended were arrested on a charge of ‘attempting to hit a security officer with a car’.
The two individuals were then handcuffed, taken to the Prosecutors’ office in Abu Dhabi and were interrogated between 12pm and 11pm before being released. It is unclear what form the interrogation took but the women involved deny the charges against them and claim the fabricated charges cover up an attempt to intimidate the wives of detainees.
With bank accounts suspended, travel bans spreading, relatives of detainees suffering intimidation and fresh arrests taking place the crackdown is darkening swiftly. The Cybercrime Law demonstrated that authorities are attempting to take all possible measures to silence dissent, rather than dealing openly and reasonably with citizens who are calling for changes in the governance structure.
The authorities should either put the sixty-four detainees on trial immediately or release them. Authorities must cease intimidation of family members. They must stop imposing travel bans, freezing bank accounts and interrogating relatives of those held.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights condemns the continued arrests of peaceful political activists, the restrictions placed on the freedom of movement for detainees’ relatives and the interrogation of detainees’ wives.
We call upon the Emirati authorities to end their continued attacks on the freedom of speech and association, beginning by either putting those held on trial or releasing them.
Emirates Centre for Human Rights 06/12/2012
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