On the 3rd anniversary of “The 3rd of March Petition”:
Democracy and Political Participation are essential human rights.
UAE- 3rd March 2014
Today coincides the third anniversary to what is known as “The Emirati 3rd of March Petition”, in which hundreds of Emirati citizens who have different ideologies demanded their right to political participation and the right to vote for members of the parliament giving it all legislative and regulatory powers.
However, the petition that was sent to the Emirati president has led to having tens of citizens taken to secret prisons where they were tortured, humiliated, treated harshly, and falsely charged and unjustly and unfairly sentenced by people who have power in the country, which is considered a serious violation to the constitution, international law, and human rights. Furthermore, their families, including women and children, were also subjected to arrests as well as limiting their movement and banning them from travel with no just reason, among other violations.
This era will be marked with shame in the history of the UAE and nothing can serve as better proof than what the UN expert on judges and lawyers said in a report after an official visit to the country: the judiciary isn’t independent and is subject to control by the executive authority. The report also stated that the UN had received information and evidence that proves what happened in secret prisons is true, in relation to allegations of torture, and that the public prosecution is controlled by the executive authority bodies. Moreover, there are reports stating that the witnesses’ testimonies were altered during the investigation phase, and authorities were asked to form a committee of international experts to investigate the torture claims.
The 3rd of March Petition was not a heresy the Emirati citizens came up with, but comes in agreement with the international declaration of human rights and the international covenants published by the UN and other international bodies. The petition also comes in agreement with international norms known today in all aspects of life and dictatorship is not accepted anymore and the world is on its way towards getting rid of it and the legitimacy of a government is now measured by the participation of its people in choosing it.
The declaration of human rights links political rights and dignity that will be incomplete with the absence of effective political participation and monitoring of the public money. The prologue of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
“The States Parties to the present Covenant, considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person, recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights.”
The aforementioned International Covenant has also mentioned this right as unrestricted but under certain circumstances in condition that the society would be a democratic one. Article 21 states the right of peaceful assembly and forming associations and syndicates and affiliating to them with no restrictions while Article 25 of the same convent is as follows:
“Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in Article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions: (a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives; (b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors; (c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country,”.
Before the international declaration of human rights, it was reaffirmed on the right to political participation in Article 21 that states:
“(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives; (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
Democracy and political participation have become a natural right for every person in the world. It is one of the pillars of an internationally recognised legitimate regime, and is one of the most important guarantees to separate authorities, the independence of the judiciary, monitoring of the public money, social justice, and fairly distribute the wealth and so on.
The right to political participation is no longer a constitutional right only, but has also become a human right that cannot be given up on and the act of restricting the citizens from practicing these rights is considered a violation. Torturing citizens in secret prisons and violating the public freedoms as well as the citizens’ private lives is due to the absence of the right to political participation.
It is important to mention that this right was recognized by the parents and grandparents of this country while their sons and grandsons are denying it nowadays, when they decided to abide by the prologue of the 1971 constitution:
“And we desire in establishing the regulations of federal ruling in the coming years on the healthy foundations, that are consistent with the reality of the UAE and its capabilities at the present time, and lets the hands of the Union so that it could achieve its goals, and maintain the entity of its members while not contradicting those goals, and prepare the people of the Union at the same time for the life of the constitutional freedom and dignity, while moving forward towards a democratic parliamentary rule with integrated aspects, in an Islamic Arab society free from fear and anxiety,”.
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 any costs. The dignity of a country is the dignity of its people.