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Authorities detain 13 activists, including prominent lawyers

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - Beirut, July 18, 2012 - United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have intensified a crackdown on peaceful political activists with the arrest on July 16, 2012, of 13 activists affiliated with the Islamist group al-Islah, Human Rights Watch said today.

Since late March, authorities have arrested at least 25 members of the Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), a nonviolent political association advocating greater adherence to Islamic precepts. Two prominent human rights lawyers, Mohammed al-Roken and Mohammed Mansoori, are among those arrested recently. A July 15 statement by the UAE's official news agency said Attorney General Salem Sa'eed Kubaish had ordered the arrest and investigation of “a group of people for establishing and managing an organization with the aim of committing crimes that harm state security.” The statement also accused the group of having connections with “foreign organizations and outside agendas” and promised to “expose the dimensions of the conspiracy.”

“The only conspiracy that Emiratis should worry about is that of the government to stamp out any and every semblance of dissent,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Just how many Emiratis does the government intend to jail for expressing political opinions?”

Authorities should end this crackdown immediately, and release all activists detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association, Human Rights Watch said.

In addition to al-Roken and Mansoori, local activists identified those recently detained as al-Roken's son Rashed al-Roken, and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Hajjari, as well as Khaled al-Sheiba, Omran al-Radhwan, Khalifa al-Nu'aimi, Abd al-Rahman al-Hadidi, Rashed Omran al-Shamsi, Ibrahim al-Yassi, Essa Al-Sari, Abd al-Rahman al-Nu'aimi, and Hussein al-Najjar. All are active members of al-Islah, and authorities appear to have arrested them solely for their ties to the group. Family members and local activists told Human Rights Watch that authorities released Abd al-Rahman al-Nu'aimi later on July 16, but that they did not know the whereabouts of the other men or whether any had been charged.

Read the full press release
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