Posts Tagged ‘Mohamed Al-Roken’

The Emirates: not a Paradise for Human Rights Defenders

April 29, 2015

y, Director of the Human Rights Defenders Program at Human Rights First, wrote a good peace in the Huffington Post about the Emirates which he recently visited : “Trouble in Paradise: How U.S. Ally UAE Crushes Dissent” (28 April 2015). Here some excerpts:
PRINCE SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN
Backed by an impressively lavish lobbying and PR machine — more expensive than any other middle eastern country — the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is eager to show that it’s a safe and stable business environment, and a dependable U.S. military ally….Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Defense Secretary Carter in Washington last Monday to discuss, according to him, “new steps to enhance the already deep security between the U.S. and the UAE.”

Sheikh Mohammed ..is also head of the feared state security system and in recent months, the attacks on dissidents have intensified. In November 2014 the UAE cabinet announced a list of 83 “terrorist organizations.” (these included two American NGOs: the Council on Islamic-American Relations and the Muslim American Society.}

Previously tolerated local civil society organizations have been disbanded, including the Association of Teachers and the Association of Jurists, whose former head, Dr. Mohammed al Roken, is now in prison after being convicted in a mass unfair trial in 2013. Only a tiny handful of dissidents are currently in the country and out of jail including Ahmed Mansoor, just announced as a Final Nominee for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award 2015. Nearly all peaceful dissent in the UAE is silenced, both on and offline. Abuse of migrant workers’ rights persists, and no labor union is allowed to exist to protect them.

Meeting me in secret this week in the UAE, human rights activists told me there is now a zero tolerance policy for peaceful criticism of the Emirati regime. “It’s got so much worse in the last few years,” said one. “Ten years ago arrests without warrants or disappearances happened but they were rare. Now they’re common.” Even relatives of political prisoners have been targeted in recent months, some hit with arbitrary travel bans that prevent them from leaving the country.

They blame Sheikh Mohammed’s state security for tampering with official government files holding their ID and other information. They said that dates of birth have been changed so that adults are officially registered as children, or other details modified, making it impossible for them to get drivers licenses and other essential documents. This administrative harassment has sent people into an endless bureaucratic loop, preventing them from getting or renewing passports, applying for school, opening bank accounts, and generally operating normal lives. The denial of a security clearance amounts to a denial of a job. Many activists are unable to support themselves financially, some are sleeping rough.

It’s a soft repression but very effective,” one activist told me. “State security basically runs the country, no matter who the official government is. It’s unaccountable, omnipotent, and scares everyone.

Three sisters who were summoned to a police station in Abu Dhabi in mid-February have not been heard from since. The three women are sisters of Issa Khalifa al-Suwaidi, a political prisoner who is serving 10 years in jail. …Crushing dissent in the UAE is typically done in the name of anti-terrorism.

When they meet next month, President Obama should look beyond UAE’s fancy PR campaign and ask Sheikh Mohammed why peaceful critics are in jail, why their lawyers are intimidated from representing them and their witnesses harassed, and why the UAE thinks the best way to fight terrorism is with repression.

Trouble in Paradise: How U.S. Ally UAE Crushes Dissent | Brian Dooley.

Multiple Exposure: Front Line’s video programme for Human Rights Defenders

March 22, 2014


This blog wants keep you informed of what happens to human rights defenders and on what they do to protect the rights of others. I have also a special interest in the power of images in this area.  So, I draw your attention to “Multiple Exposure”  a monthly video magazine broadcast by Front Line Defenders, now in its 5th episode. Segments in the series will offer a behind-the-scenes peek at the difficulty of carrying out human rights work in different countries; more information about trends and political developments that directly impact human rights; and profiles of individual human rights defenders at risk.

Episode 5 covers the finalists of the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders

Pakistan: SAWERA – Recipient of the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk
SAWERA was selected from a total of 110 nominees from 51 countries on the basis of the NGO’s exceptional courage in defending the rights of women and girls in a region where groups working on these issues face extreme risks.
Bangladesh: Adilur Rahman Khan- Finalist of the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award
Adilur Rahman Khan is the Secretary of Odhikar, a human rights organisation founded in 1994 to raise awareness of human rights abuses and to create a vibrant democratic system through election monitoring.

Kenya: Lydia Mukami – Finalist of the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award
Lydia Mukami is the chair of the Mwea Foundation, a grass-roots organisation of rice farmers in the Mwea constituency of Kirinyaga county, in the Central Province of Kenya.

Belarus: Ales Bialiatski – Finalist of the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award
In a country where almost all independent critical voices have been silenced, Ales Bialiatski is one of the few people prepared to champion civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law.

Honduras: Berta Caceres – Finalist of the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award
Berta Caceres is a Lenca indigenous woman who has been on the front lines defending the territory and the rights of the indigenous Lenca people for the last 20 years.

United Arab Emirates: Dr Mohamed Al Roken – Finalist of the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award
Dr Mohamed Al Roken is a leading lawyer and human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates. Despite official hostility and restrictive laws designed to curtail human rights activities, Mohamed has remained a champion of the rule of law and respect for universal human rights.

Multiple Exposure | Front Line.

Number of human rights defenders in detention in Emirates reaches 77

January 7, 2013

On 26 October 2012 I referred in this blog to the controversy raised by a Arab blogger about the status of Human Rights Defenders in the Emirates (UAE) who were described as being in fact intolerant islamists. No enlightening comments were received, so I have to concluded that the attack was a politically motivated defense of government policy. That is this policy is far from HRD friendly is brought home again by a recent press release from the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) which claims that the number of human rights defenders and activists in detention has now reached 77 as the crackdown continues.

On 14 December 2012 an Egyptian journalist was arrested and three Egyptian doctors were arrested four days later (reportedly bringing the total number of Egyptian activists in detention in the UAE to 11).

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights GCHR has issued previous appeals concerning the deteriorating situation in the UAE  (http://gc4hr.org/news/index/country/2). It is reported that approximately 200 people who are supporters or relatives of human rights defenders and activists are being prohibited from travelling.  For many of them it is only when they have attempted to leave the UAE, often having purchased tickets in advance, that they are informed of this restriction on their freedom of movement.

It is feared that more interrogations and arrest will take place in the near future.Some of the detained human rights defenders have had their detention extended, including prominent human rights lawyers Dr. Mohamed Al-Mansoori and Dr. Mohamed Al-Roken, who had their detention extended on 2 January 2013. It is reported that these extensions are granted as officials have, to date, failed to gather evidence to prosecute those detained. The GCHR call for urgent action, see:

Urgent Action: UAE- Number of human rights defenders & activists in detention reaches 77 as brutal crackdown continues.