Mr. Chairman; Mohame Jamel, President of AOHR; distinguish speakers; ladies and gentlemen
I would like to thank the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK for organizing this event and inviting me.
My name is Mohamed Elaradi. I had a long journey to be here with you, to share a humanitarian ordeal many Libyan families, including mine, have had to go through for the last nine months. I am not just family of a victim but I was one of the victims. I will forever be grateful to God that I was released but I continue to suffer because I know first-hand of what is happening to those still unjustly detained in the UAE including my brother Salim Alaradi.
I must admit that the 23 years, I lived in the United Arab Emirates, have been the best years of my life, had it not been for the last 120 days where I went through a bitter experience.
Salim and I are both entrepreneurs, with Batchelor degree in civil engineering. Salim holds a Master’s degree in business Administration. We are partners in an international appliances company that we built from scratch and established in the UAE. The UAE has been a country that both Salim and I valued and we worked very hard to contribute to its growth.
The experience I am going to share with you today, may be shocking for those who lived or visited the UAE. No disrespect is meant, rather I hope to draw attention to UAE’s wise people and bring to light the tragedy, horror and bitter experience that so many people including myself have went through, and what my brother Salim, Issa, Kamal and his son Mohammad, Moath, Adel and others of various nationalities and local Emiratis continue to go through. I do not believe that many good people of the UAE are aware of this, and I don’t believe they would accept it.
I was kidnapped on August 28, 2014 by a number of Emirati Nationals dressed in civil clothing, who claimed to be officials of the UAE State Security. At first they searched my home and then my office in Dubai and confiscated many items without a warrant including phones, computers, and various electronics and documents. They never explained to me the purpose of the search nor the reason for the detainment, as a matter of fact to date, I do not know why I was forcibly kidnapped and detained.
After the search I was handcuffed and blind folded and placed in in a highly secured black car and transferred to a secret prison after a long drive from Dubai. This is the start of a very scary experience that has changed my life forever.
This was the start of four months of enforced kidnapping, interrogation, continuous torture, sleep deprivation, denied the rights of animals, let alone humans.
I was interrogated, threatened and tortured by UAE State Security agents in ways that I would never have imagined possible; especially for a country like the UAE that seeks to always present itself in the best of light.
When I asked for my rights I was told that I was in a place where rights do not exist, I have no rights here, no one can help me and that I will wish death upon myself. They were truly honest in their threat as there were many times that I wished to die from the extreme cruel and despicable methods of torture that the UAE State Security agents enjoyed subjecting me to.
Unfortunately I do not know the reasons, to date, for my enforced kidnapping and detainment by the UAE State Security, From August 28th, to the date I was deported and until today I have never been offered the reasons for any of these decisions. What I do know is that a great injustice was done to me. The clearest evidence of my innocence is that I was never charged and I was never brought in front of the courts and prosecution. The UAE secret prisons are filled with innocent people including my brother Salim.
I was interrogated for nine days straight while standing, without sleep, with the exception of small breaks to eat. I was blindfolded and handcuffed. I was forced to carry weights while being beaten. The hours and days of interrogation where extremely long and harsh – please do not ask me how I tolerated it. They left me for 21 nights sleeping on the concrete floor. They would use water boarding techniques by drenching me with water and placing me under a cold air condition while sitting in an electric chair until I would shake from extreme cold temperatures and the fear of electrocution.
My brother Salim and the other Libyan businessmen, those released and those still detained, have never broken any laws in the UAE. We take pride that our business that still operates today in the UAE operates legitimately and within the law.
We are both (Salim and Mohamed) have not directly or indirectly been involved in any politics in the UAE or in Libya. Our cases are far from being isolated. This information collection practice is very characteristic of the UAE State Security. There are many documented and undocumented cases of foreigners and Emirates who have been subjected to such tactics and violations. The UAE State Security operates outside any judicial or legal oversight allowing them to conduct such practices without accountability.
Most, if not all, people who have went through this experience in the UAE remain silent once they are released and live their lives trying to cope with the impacts and the shock of the experience. I am no different – but I have chosen to take this risk of testifying and speaking out about these secret prisons functioning outside of the UAE law in order to win the release of the other Libyans businessman detainees including my brother Salim.
I have shared with you my account of physical torture, sleep deprivation, enforced kidnapping and lack of access to my family and lawyers. However, none of this impact me anywhere near a certain memory that I cannot forget. I think of it and cry each day and night. This is the memory of the creams of my brother Salim while being tortured.
While most of what I will share with you is focused on my brother Salim, everything equally applies to all the Libyan businessmen; who have been illegally detained. I appeal to all those who are committed to human rights to work towards freeing all those who have been unjustly detained.
Salim, is a Libyan-born Canadian citizen. He has a beautiful family – 4 daughters and one son Mohamed who is with us today. His wife and children have not seen him for over 350 days.
During this initial period Mohamed and Salim were both held in an undisclosed location. In January 2015 Salim was relocated to Al-Wathba Prison in Abu Dhabi. Since then his wife, Aliya, was allowed to visit him once and has received only two phone calls. During the visit an officer stood near them within ear shot and was listening to their conversation. It is also very clear that the two phone calls were monitored.
“I must mention that his wife noticed burns on his hand when she visted him”.
I am very concerned about my brother Salim’s health. Salim suffers from serious health conditions, some pre-existent and others due to prison conditions. He has high blood pressure, asthma, high cholesterol and vul/ne/ra/bilities due to an open-heart surgery. Salim has had major weight loss, eye infection and bronchitis. Our most serious concern is that he has developed worse conditions in his back related to the disks in his spine, from sleeping on the concrete floor for months.
Salim’s most basic human rights have been violated.
- He was held in in/communi/cado detention for four months,
- he has not been provided with legal representation – let alone legal representation of his own choice,
- he has not been provided adequate access to his family,
- and he has been denied adequate medical care.
Salim’s detainment is renewed every 30 days, without due process. At no time, during those renewals, has any evidence been presented, nor any allegations been formally made.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch quickly investigated, and issued reports confirming that the detainment is enforced disappearance and arbitrary under international law.
Human rights organizations and media have reported that their arrest are politically motivated to increase pressure on Libyan government bodies not supported by the UAE.
The case of Salim and the others is unfortunately a reflection of the political conflict in Libya where the UAE supports one side of the conflict over the other. Bashir Alshabah, one of those released in December, described the Libyan businessmen detained, as simply as,POWs, “Prisoners of War”
Every nation has an obligation to encourage other nations to respect international laws and norms.
The United Kingdom is a country whose profound commitment to human rights has always been recognized by the international community. It is with the knowledge of this commitment that today I raise with you; Salim’s case and that of the other Libyan detainees.
The international community must stand up against this situation. I hope the UAE rulers will put an end to these secret prisons and give justice to those whose rights have been violated.
I thank you for your attention and for the opportunity to share with you; the better experience that I went through and many other human beings still suffering today in UAE, including my other brother Salim Alaradi.