A group of Emirati intellectuals have issued a statement denouncing the detention and torture of political activists, while calling for democratic reforms to allow citizens the right to political participation.
The statement has been issued to commemorate the third anniversary of apetition that was sent to the country’s rulers in March 2011, which called for democratic reform and sparked a crackdown against peaceful political activists.
The authors, who have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals by the authorities, say that this crackdown will “be marked with shame in the history of the UAE” referencing a recent report by the United Nations (UN) that called for an investigation into torture and described the judiciary as being under the executive’s control.
They explain that the March 2011 petition called for the UAE to meet international human rights standards and implement democratic reforms, saying that the “legitimacy of a government is now measured by the participation of its people in choosing it”.
Although authorities have attempted to silence calls for reform the authors say this will not dampen their spirit: “Emiratis will continue to work toward achieving their full citizenship and dignity, for themselves and the coming generations after them. These demands will continue at all costs. The dignity of a country is the dignity of its people.”
Authorities responded to the petition by arresting and prosecuting its supporters, which has led to more than 100 activists being put in prison and left the UAE with one of the highest per capita rates of political prisoners in the world.
The trials of political prisoners have been roundly criticised as lacking due process and authorities have failed to properly investigate any of the credibleallegations of torture made by political prisoners.
The crackdown has steadily expanded to include the targeting of individuals who use social media websites to criticise authorities and barring families of political activists from leaving the country.
While authorities in the UAE have publicly committed to protecting and promoting human rights, by signing the UN Convention Against Torture and through election to the UN Human Rights Council, they have failed to turn these promises into action.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights calls on authorities in the UAE to engage with citizens who call for political reform and end their crackdown against activists by respecting the human rights of all its citizens.
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