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Reform activist arrested following publication of critical article

UPDATE: Authorities urged to end arrests, free political activists (Human Rights Watch, 30 April 2012)

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 21 April 2012 - ANHRI condemns the continuing crackdown launched by the UAE authorities against reform activists. Most recently, security forces arrested Sheikh Sultan Bin Kayed Al Qassimi, President of the Islah (reform) Association without providing a clear reason or warrant for the arrest.

Police raided his house and arrested him while he was with his family, who confirmed that he did not participate in any activity that would make him a target of the security services.

The arrest of Al Qassimi is the latest in a series of attacks targeting reformers within the UAE by the Commander in Chief of Dubai Police, Dahi Khalfan, who has previously accused activists of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and seeking to overthrow the state.

There are suspicions that the arrest of Al Qassimi is in response to an article he published defending the seven citizens who were stripped of their UAE nationality by the authorities following their call for reform. In his article, Al Qassimi called upon Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, the Emirati President, to reconsider the case of these seven activists, who were arrested in April for refusing to amend their citizenship status and sign a pledge to adopt another nationality. They were told that their presence in the state has become illegal.

It is significant to note that Al Qassimi is one of the elders among the UAE sheikhs and is the cousin of the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, which makes his arrest a clear message that authorities will not tolerate the calls for reform and will suppress it no matter the source.

“The arrest of Al Qassimi and other reformers without charges or a judicial order is the worst kind of repression practiced against activists in the UAE in recent times, and dumping charges on citizens and stripping them of their nationality without a fair trial is the demolition of the basis of any state,” said ANHRI.

ANHRI calls for the release of Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi and other advocates of reform immediately and unconditionally, and appeals on the UAE to respect the rights of citizens to express their opinions and enjoy the right to personal protection and security.

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