Free Salim Alaradi Campaign
Urgent Update – April 21st 2016
Amnesty Calls on Obama to Raise Human Rights in GCC and Canadian Salim Alaradi
Canadian Citizen Detained in United Arab Emirates for 603Days
Today Amnesty International issued a press release calling on President Obama not to turn a blind eye to abuses across Gulf States including the UAE. This was followed by a letter sent to President Obama calling on him to put human rights at the heart of his agenda at his meeting with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
“President Obama’s trip offers a crucial opportunity for him to demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights and prove to the world that the US government will not sacrifice human rights in favour of US geopolitical and business interests,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
The letter included a summary of human rights abuses in each country and lists Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi and American Eldarats as a case of concern in the UAE.
In a Fox News article published yesterday Brian Dooley, a Director at Human Rights First, calls on Obama to act at the GCC Summit.
“The American Eldarats are due to receive the verdict on their sham trial in the UAE on May 30. On Thursday Obama should call on the Emirati leaders to release them unconditionally and immediately.”
This follows a recent publication of the 2015 US Department of State Country Human Rights Report which documented details of arbitrary detainment and torture in the UAE, specifically documenting the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detainment opinion associated with Alaradi. The Human Rights report listed arrests without charge, incommunicado detentions, and lengthy pre-trial detentions in the top most significant human rights problems in the UAE, all of which Alaradi has been subjected to.
Yesterday, Marwa Alaradi has published a new op-ed in the Huffington Post titled ‘My Father’s Tragedy And a New Hope For the UAE’.
“My initial focus was singular: to get my father out of the UAE prison and back home. But it didn’t take long for us to see that my father’s case had much wider implications, particularly for the global fight against human rights violations in the UAE,” says Marwa.
UAE Civil Society and Media Begins to Speak Out
“So it was to our surprise when we realized recently that, for the first time in a long time, the UAE’s civil society was beginning to become active on the issue. A prominent UAE figure who is believed to be a close advisor to the Crown Prince, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, tweeted that the evidence in the case of my father and the two Americans is weak. This surprised a lot of experts who’d long written off the country’s highly regulated civil sphere.”
“Since my father’s last hearing in March, we noticed that the UAE press, along with media from the wider Gulf region, began printing stories about the case. To our delight, they didn’t refer to him as a “terrorist,” but as a “hero” who actively supported the people of Libya through philanthropy during the Arab Spring days.”
A Catalyst for UAE Human Rights Reform
“We’re hopeful, but not deluded. The Emirati SSA is known for getting its way. Nonetheless, the UAE is also a country that cares a lot about its global reputation and relationships. My father’s case has become an outlet for frustrated voices both inside and outside of the country. Criticisms of the SSA are being amplified, and there’s no doubt that the country’s highest level of governance is trying to figure out how to respond. For decades the UAE has been introducing judicial, political, and economic reforms; maybe my family’s tragedy, our 600-day campaign and my father’s freedom will be a catalyst for human rights reforms, SSA reforms and for the UAE government to do the right thing.”
Marwa’s article follows a New York Times article on Sunday that discusses the case of the two Americans in Alaradi’s case ‘Families of Americans Held by Allies Say U.S. Is Keeping Its Gloves On.’
Nicholas McGeehan, a researcher at Human Rights Watch who has followed the cases of Westerners imprisoned in the Persian Gulf, said many of the families of the detainees faced a dilemma. The United States, as well as Britain and Canada, often advises families not to speak out because “private diplomacy is preferred,” he said.
“The concern we have is whether these countries are prioritizing their citizens’ interests, or their own strategic and business interests,” he added.
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