Human Rights Groups call on Harper to intervene in case of Canadian held in UAE

Globe & Mail: Groups call on Harper to intervene in case of Canadian held in UAE


The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Office of the Prime Minister

80 Wellington Street

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2


July 31st 2015


Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned, Canadian national organizations, are calling upon you to use the full power of your office to intervene on behalf of Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi, who has been unlawfully detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since August 2014 without charge. It is vital that Canada demand that he be released unless he is charged immediately with a recognizable criminal offence and brought promptly to trial in fair proceedings. Your intervention is critical in ensuring that Mr. Alaradi’s human rights will be respected and upheld.

Mr. Alaradi is the husband of Canadian citizen Zaghuwan Aliya and the father of five Canadian children: Marwa 17, Nur 14, Mohamed 12, Rayhana 7, and Yasmin 3.

Mr. Alaradi travelled to and from the UAE since 1992 and currently operates Hommer International, a global competitor in home appliances. He has lived in the UAE without restrictions for many years and was a law-abiding resident. On August 28, 2014 Mr. Alaradi was arrested without charge from a hotel during a family vacation in Dubai. He has been arbitrarily detained since that time by the UAE Security Services, without any charges.  He is currently being held at the Wathba Abu Dhabi Prison.

Mr. Alaradi’s situation is urgent. He has a number of pre-existing medical conditions prior to his detention that have increased in severity as a direct result of the detention, along with new medical complaints caused by his detention. In addition to asthma, high cholesterol and vulnerabilities due to an open-heart surgery, he has developed new conditions in his back, major weight loss, eye infection and bronchitis.  Canadian authorities have informed the family that they are seriously concerned about his health after seeing him in a recent visit.

As you are well aware, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no one may be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or imprisonment. In addition, international human rights standards require that detainees be charged, tried promptly and afforded a fair trial.

Mr. Alaradi’s basic human rights have been violated for almost a year now. There is no legal basis for his detention – he has been not been charged with any recognizable criminal or other offence. UAE lawyers have been unable or prevented from representing Mr. Alaradi due to a lack of accusations and charges and that Mr. Alaradi is currently detained outside of the legal system.

We are now calling upon you, Prime Minister, to take prompt and meaningful action.

We live in a country whose profound commitment to human rights has always been recognized by the international community. It is with the knowledge of and pride in this commitment that we raise Mr. Alaradi’s case with you. We have every expectation that you will remain true to our proud legacy.

Prime Minister, we ask that you intervene vigorously on behalf of Salim’s wife, Zaghuwan, and their five young children. As Canadians, they have every expectation that you will recognize this case as a travesty of justice and do everything in your power to ensure that his rights are fully protected.


Amnesty International, Alex Neve, Secretary General
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (Coalition of 43 organizations), Monia Mazigh, National Coordinator
Libyan Canadian Community Organization, Alaa Abushwereb, President
Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Alia Hogben, Executive Director
CODEPINK, Medea Benjamin, co-founder
Canadian Muslim Forum, Sameer Zuberi, LL.B., Board Member
Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director

The Honourable, Lynne Yelich, Minsiter of State, Foreign Affairs and Consular
Paul Dewar, Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs
Brian Masse, Official Opposition, MP, Windsor West
Marc Garneau, Liberal Foreign Critic

The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti: Canadian detained in UAE without charge since August



“My father is a Canadian citizen.  He is a good man.  A good father.  A deserves to come back home.” - Marwa Alaradi

It was a festive weekend for many Canadian Muslims — as the holy month of Ramadan came to a close, and family members gathered to celebrate … and break fast.

But one family, in Windsor, Ontario, was missing an important member — Salim Alaradi is a Canadian-Libyan citizen … a husband, and a father of five.

Salim Alaradi’s family says that for nearly a year now, he has been detained, far away from home, in the United Arab Emirates, or UAE.

The family was on vacation in Dubai, last August.  And that’s the last time that 17-year-old Marwa Alaradi saw her father.

Marwa Alaradi joined us from Windsor.

The Current requested an interview with the UAE’s Ambassador to Canada. He was unavailable.

We also contacted Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and received a statement which reads:

“We are aware of a Canadian citizen detained in the United Arab Emirates. Consular services are being provided to the Canadian citizen. Consular officials are in contact with the individual’s family as well as local authorities in the United Arab Emirates. To protect the privacy of the individual concerned, further details on this case cannot be released.”

​Salim Alaradi isn’t the only person with Libyan citizenship being held in the UAE. For more, we were joined by Drewery Dyke. He is a UAE and Gulf researcher with Amnesty International. He was in London, England.

EMASC Media Article - Statement by Libyan Nationals Released from UAE Prison

New human rights scandal in Emirates prisons: Libyans Businessmen have been subjected to brutal torture

A group of Libyan businessmen released recently from the UAE prisons issued a statement in which they emphasized their exposure to the worst forms of torture during their detention in UAE secret prisons.

In their statement, they demanded the release of the remaining Libyan businessmen detained by the United Arab Emirates, and to solve this problem calmly and diplomatically.

They appealed to “the elders of the UAE,” who do not accept injustice and oppression, to intervene for their release, after more than 320 days in detention, without any charge.

They noted in their statement that Libyan officials bear the legal and national responsibility for the release of the remaining businessmen forcibly detainees in the UAE.

The statement accused the UAE authorities for psychological, physical and moral impacts, resulting from suffering exposed during the detention in which the remaining families of those detained continue to suffer from due to “unjust, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment.”

They called on all local and international human rights organizations, and all those concerned with human rights, to intervene for the immediate and unconditional release of all Libyan businessmen forcibly detained in the UAE.

A report by the US State Department criticized the human rights situation in the UAE and criticized the prisons and the deplorable conditions in which unlawful arbitrary detention is practiced by the authorities without providing detainees a fair trial. In an issued statement it was said that the report demonstrated that the government detained people without charge or judicial due process. The Interior Ministry detained foreigners arbitrary in some cases. Authorities restricted the detainees’ access to lawyers and family members.

It was noted in the US State Department report issued earlier this month that the UAE government has imposed, in the wake of the Arab Spring, restrictions on the activities of organizations and individuals claiming that they have relationships with the UAE Reform Movement, and arrested dozens of Emiratis and residents on political grounds.

It is worth mentioning that Human Rights Watch said in its 2015 World Report that the United Arab Emirates authorities in 2014 severely restricted the right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, and launched a crackdown on dissidents and anyone considered a threat to national security. The authorities have also failed to investigate credible allegations that security forces arbitrarily arrested and tortured opposition.

Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa, has said that the United Arab Emirates advertises itself as a beacon of tolerance in the region, but the facts reveal worse reality that includes the disrespect for the principles of human rights and those who advocate for them. It is incumbent upon governments and institutions seeking to develop closer ties with the United Arab Emirates to take a closer look at the recent track record. - Windsor family wants their father home as Ramadan ends

As the period of Ramadan comes to an end, Muslim families come together to celebrate the end of the fast, but one Windsor family’s celebration is hampered by the absence of their father and husband.

Seventeen-year-old Marwa Alaradi said she has not seen her father Salim, a Libyan-born Canadian citizen, since Aug. 28 when she went to sleep. After midnight Aug. 29, he left their family’s hotel room while on vacation in Dubai after security services in the United Arab Emirates asked to speak with him. He did not return.

Initially UAE officials denied having her father in custody. Alaradi and her mother Aliya contacted the Canadian Embassy in the UAE as well as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for assistance in finding Salim.

“It was hard since the beginning,” said Alaradi. “We never knew what was happening to my father.”

The family remained in Dubai to help assist the two organizations with the investigation. They had moved to the region so Salim, 46, and his brother Mohamad could work on their home appliances business.

Eventually, due to concerns for their family’s safety and because they were unable to get as involved in the case in the UAE, not being Emirate citizens, the family moved to Windsor approximately three months ago. A month later, Alaradi started a petition asking for her father’s release.

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“We decided to come back alone and work on my father’s case and try to get my father back home and hopefully come to our home and stay here,” said Alaradi, who attends Académie Ste. Cécile here in Windsor.

Through the work of both Amnesty International and HRW, Alaradi was able to confirm her father had been detained through what is called ‘enforced disappearance and arbitrary under international law.’

Enforced disappearance is, according to Amnesty International, when a person is taken from the street or their home by state officials who then deny taking the person or ‘refuse to say where they are’. It is considered a crime under international law.

The UAE eventually did confirm Salim was one of at least 10 men arrested between Aug. 13 and Sept. 3, which also included Salim’s brother Mohamad. Mohamad and three others were released four months later, while Salim was still detained.

In order to protect her two youngest siblings, now four and seven, Alaradi and Aliya told them their father had gone on a business trip. She said she believed the truth would shock them. She said her eldest brother, 13, did eventually find out and understands where his father is and his situation.

Drewery Dyke, a Middle East researcher with Amnesty International, said these aren’t the first detainments to occur and said countries are not making their nationals aware they need to be careful of what they say, post online or who they associate with as it could put them in danger in foreign countries.

“There is a now, not emerging, but a set pattern of violations and flaws in the administration of justice in that country,” said Dyke.

Authorities have yet to press any charges against Salim, making it more difficult for the family to help in his release as lawyers have been unable to take the case due to no legal action being taken against him.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has also confirmed they are aware of a ‘Canadian citizen detained in the United Arab Emirates’ and are providing consular services to the citizen. François Lasalle, media spokesperson for the department, said they could not provide any additional details due to privacy concerns for the citizen.

However, Dyke said with Salim’s detainment almost reaching a year, this stance is not enough.

“I think we need to hear from the Canadian (government) . . . a little bit more detail,” said Dyke. “Did the Embassy say ‘Can we meet with him and meet with him in private?’ Did they ask that or did they not ask that? . . . I think these sort of things need to be looked at.”

“This has all the hallmarks of injustice all over it and that’s something that we have to fight against.”

Alaradi said the Canadian Embassy in the UAE has worked with the family from the beginning, but in the 11 months of his detainment, representatives have only been able to visit him three times and each visit has been supervised.

In a media release by Amnesty International, it was stated they believed Salim was ‘tortured and otherwise ill-treated.’ Dyke said this also is due to accounts from the four released, including Mohamad. During their meetings with him, authorities from the Canadian Embassy also noted burns on Salim’s hands and significant weight loss.

Aliya also was able to visit Salim once, again supervised. When she noticed the burns, she said he had told her they were from laundry.

There is also cause for concern because Salim has several pre-existing medical conditions including asthma, cholesterol, back issues and has had open-heart surgery, all of which could be made worse if he is kept in his current living conditions.

After months of hearing what was happening to her father, Alaradi decided she needed to do more and set up a website, the petition and several social media pages to raise awareness about her father’s situation.

“Although I’m only 17, I’m trying to do my best and fight for my father,” said Alaradi.

Alaradi, her cousin and her sister Nur, 15, also travelled to Ottawa last month to speak with several elected officials, including Windsor West MP Brian Masse.

“They were very professional in the way they approached this and they understand that we only have a limited oversight, or influence in this matter because it’s a separate foreign country and it has its own system,” said Masse. “She’s been an inspiration for sure because it can be very frustrating to go through these situations.”

In response to the family’s visit, Masse wrote a letter to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE, asking him to consider the pardon Aliya has requested.

“We have written to try to back the family up that this should be something they could deal with in making sure they understand that it is affecting the family quite significantly,” said Masse.

If she could speak with him, Alaradi said she would tell him his family is working hard to bring him home.

“Stay strong and be confident in yourself.”

Click here for the original article.

Windsor Star - Canadian Muslim spending Ramadan in Emirati prison without charge

WINDSOR, ON. JUNE 3, 2015. --  Nur Alaradi, Aliya Zaghuwan (mom), Mohammed Alaradi and Marwa Alaradi (left to right) are photographed at the Windsor Star in Windsor on Wednesday, June 3, 2015.                (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE/The Windsor Star) ORG XMIT: POS1506032045440779
WINDSOR, ON. JUNE 3, 2015. — Nur Alaradi, Aliya Zaghuwan (mom), Mohammed Alaradi and Marwa Alaradi (left to right) are photographed at the Windsor Star in Windsor on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE/The Windsor Star) ORG XMIT: POS1506032045440779

The holy month of Ramadan has been a sacred occasion for fasting Muslims since AD622, but for one Windsor family, this year’s holiday is tarnished with despair.

For the first time, 17-year-old Marwa Alaradi and her four younger siblings are passing Ramadan without their father Salim, who has been detained in the United Arab Emiratessince his arbitrary arrest last August during a family vacation in Dubai.

“This month is very important to us,” said Marwa, whose campaign for Salim’s freedom has reached Canadian government officials and now United Nations representatives. “It’s so hard. We spend this time together as a family every year, but now it’s just not the same without our father.”

The Libyan-born Canadian citizen has been severely tortured and denied access to legal representation and communication with his family for more than 10 months. No charges have been laid.

The family moved from Vancouver to Dubai years ago so Salim and his brother Mohamad could run a home appliances business. Neither of the men have any political involvement in Libya or the UAE, but they were separately detained on the same day and jailed with eight other Libyans.

After four months, Emirati authorities released Mohamad and three others without explanation. Mohamad told Salim’s wife Zaghuwan about the extensive physical and psychological torture he endured while detained in a solitary concrete cell.

Zaghuwan and her children left Dubai out of fear for their safety and moved to Windsor where they have relatives.

From across the globe, Marwa is fighting tirelessly for her father’s freedom.

The Grade 11 student set up a website, online petition and social media channels to spread the word of Salim’s unlawful detention.

She flew to Ottawa in June with her cousin Abdussalam and sister Nur to seek help from several elected officials, including MPs Kristy Duncan, Linda Duncan, Joe Comartin and Brian Masse.

They also met with the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, the executive director of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and staff of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

“Everyone told us they’re concerned about my father’s case and they’re working hard,” said Marwa. “They said they’re doing their best to get him released.”

Masse and his staff took action by writing a letter to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE.

“We wrote the Sheikh about the case, with regard to the holy month of Ramadan basically asking for some movement on the case and hoping there can be some type of empathy to resolving this situation favourably for the family,” said Masse, the Windsor West MP.

He says he has yet to receive a response, but will keep the family updated.

The following week, Salim’s other brother Abdelrazag travelled from Libya to Geneva to speak at a United Nations Human Rights Council side event, where a panel of rights organizations discussed the ongoing repression in the UAE.

“Our family appreciates any effort made to date on behalf of Salim,” Abdelrazag told the panel. “But his medical condition is worsening, his health is in jeopardy, and he is still not home with his children. This ordeal needs to be resolved urgently.”

His speech followed a presentation by Gabriela Knaul, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges. Knaul spoke to the assembled delegates about herreport on the UAE, highlighting her serious concerns about the hundreds of recent reports of torture and violations of free trials.

Marwa was unable to attend due to school exams, but she appeared on a large screen in a Windsor Star video that was filmed for an earlier story.

“When the video played, people’s eyes were transfixed on the screen. It just gave such a human element to the discussion,” said Drewery Dyke, a Middle East researcher with Amnesty International who also spoke during the panel.

“This case fits a much, much wider overall pattern of human rights violations in the UAE.”

Abdelrazag also thought the video was very impactful, and is impressed with Marwa’s efforts.

“She is shy, but she is being brave for her father. I’m very proud of her,” he told The Star. “The children have spent hundreds of days without their father. The whole family is left in limbo.”

The Windsor Star sent numerous emails to Libyan and Emirati officials that went unanswered or bounced back. Calls during office hours went unanswered.

The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement to The Windsor Star in June that acknowledged a Canadian citizen is detained in the UAE, and said consular services are being provided.

The Alaradi family approached several UN human rights bodies including the Working Group of Arbitrary Detention to have an opinion issued on the case.

“It will be interesting to see what the UAE does once it is issued,” said Dyke, who is doubtful that the passing of Ramadan will have any influence on Salim’s potential release.

“I hate to say this — I really do — but I would be frankly surprised to see any substantive movement from the Emirati authorities on this case anytime soon, based on their history. I’m hoping somehow this one will be different.”

Click here for the original article.

Canadian Teenager Pleads for Release of Father Detained in UAE

Vice News Canada
Hilary Beaumont
June 10, 2015

The 17-year-old daughter of a Canadian citizen detained in the United Arab Emirates without charge was in Ottawa Tuesday asking members of parliament to advocate for his release.

Marwa Alaradi says her dad, Salim Alaradi, who was born in Libya and holds dual Libyan and Canadian citizenship, has been detained for more than 280 days and has been tortured.

Fed up with waiting for his release, the teenager, who lives in Windsor, Ontario with her family, created a blog, started a petition and recorded a YouTube video to tell her story.

The last time she saw her father was in a hotel room when her family was vacationing in Dubai. Her dad and uncle ran a home appliance business in the UAE.

Around midnight on August 28, 2014 she says someone from the security service called their room from the reception desk and asked her father to come downstairs for a few minutes to answer some questions.

Her mom insisted on going down to the lobby with him because she felt something was wrong.

“That was the last time we ever saw him,” Marwa Alaradi told VICE News. “They took him and they never told us the reason why.”

About 10 days before that, her uncle Mohamed Alaradi had been questioned by security officers and then released.

“He told us they were tortured and regularly interrogated without them telling them why they were here,” said Marwa. “They never told them the reason why. They released my uncle and they never told him why they took him.”

Officers arrested Mohamed the same day they arrested Salim, and held the brothers together, Marwa said.

Mohamed told her family they were initially held in a military base where they could hear heavy air traffic. He told the family they were interrogated for 24 hours at a time, made to stand in stress positions and beaten. They were asked questions about affiliations to Libyan politicians, Mohamed said.

“They interrogated him regularly and they basically asked questions about politics, but they were never involved in politics, they just focused on their business,” Marwa said.

After four months, the UAE released Mohamed but continued to hold Salim. Around that time, Marwa’s mother was allowed to visit Salim in prison.

“When my mom went to visit my father, they were supervised, they weren’t alone, someone was standing there,” Marwa told VICE News. “And my mom noticed a burn mark on my father’s hand.”

Marwa said her mom asked him what it was from and he said it was from the laundry. Her mother said he appeared to have lost weight.

Marwa’s family is in touch with the Canadian authorities, who are giving them regular updates on Salim’s well being.

But the big mystery is why the UAE continues to hold Salim without charging him.

Marwa’s family says he has no direct political affiliations.

Salim supported the Libyan revolution “like millions of Libyans,” according to Marwa’s blog.

“He supported opposition groups that toppled Colonel Mu’ammer al-Gaddafi. The world was in support of the revolution.”

According to the family’s website, Salim wasn’t in Libya during the revolution and did not actively participate in the process, although one of his brothers, Abdelrazag Alaradi, was politically active in the revolution and was appointed to the National Transitional Council, which helped Libya transition to a democratically elected government.

Related: Former Inmates at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison Describe Being Tortured and Teargassed

Around the same time Marwa’s father and uncle were detained, the UAE swept up eight other Libyans between August and September 2014, according to Amnesty International.

In October, Reuters reported 10 Libyan citizens, including Mohamed and Salim Alaradi, and six Emirates were arrested between August and September. Reuters cited an anonymous source who said “the individuals were being held in connection with financing terrorism and facilitating arms shipments to militants.”

Tensions have ramped up between the UAE and Libya since the Libyan revolution. In November, the UAE listed the Muslim Brotherhood — a group that has gained political strength in Libya since 2012 — and local affiliates inside the UAE as terrorist groups. Reuters reported UAE officials also locked up Islamists who formed a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Canada’s ties with the UAE are becoming increasingly cozy in an effort to boost trade.

Amnesty International researcher Drewery Dyke told VICE News he had interviewed another Libyan who said UAE officials detained and tortured him before releasing him. Dyke told VICE News the name of the detainee, but did not want him named publicly because the man’s family are still in the UAE and could be in danger.

In that case, Dyke said the man told him he’d been blindfolded and taken to what “seemed to be an air base” where he was held for 21 days. Then he said he was moved somewhere else where he was interrogated about a political movement in Libya.

Dyke said one line of questioning, according to the Libyan detainee, was about al-Islah, a group that’s affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Libyan detainee told the Amnesty researcher he was punched and beaten. “Many parts of his body were blue from bruising,” Dyke said, recounting what the anonymous detainee told him.

“Salim Alaradi is not alone — a large number of people have been tortured [in the UAE],” Dyke said. “There is a much much wider pattern of repression that’s going on in the UAE. …Salim’s family are microcosms of it all.”

Dyke said he hasn’t been in touch with UAE officials.

VICE News sent emails to UAE officials, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that bounced back. The emails that didn’t bounce went unanswered. Repeated calls to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs during office hours went unanswered. The Canadian embassy in Abu Dhabi did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

François Lasalle, an Ottawa-based spokesperson for the Canadian government, confirmed to VICE News that Salim is being detained in the UAE, and that consular officials are in touch with both his family and officials in the UAE. The Canadian government would not provide further details and would not comment on the allegations of torture by Salim’s family, citing privacy concerns.

Marwa said the Canadian embassy told the family Salim had been transferred to the Al Wathba prison in Abu Dhabi.

“The Canadian embassy stood with us since the beginning,” Marwa said. “Whenever they had updates about my father they would directly call us and tell us.”

She hopes that speaking to media and members of parliament will put pressure on the UAE to release her father.

For the original article click here.

Windsor teen fighting for father’s freedom

Windsor Star
Jesselyn Cook
Jun 07, 2015

Marwa Alaradi has not seen or spoken to her father in 285 days.

The heartbroken teen clings to the last memory she has of her family together, just hours before her father Salim was arbitrarily arrested in the United Arab Emirates last August. He has been detained and severely tortured without charge ever since.

Marwa fondly remembers sitting in a cafe with her parents and four younger siblings during their visit to a resort in Dubai, where they were living at the time. They were sipping hot chocolates and eating desserts, she recalls, but the details have already started to slip away. It was her 17th birthday.

That evening, Marwa headed upstairs to her hotel room and went to sleep, unaware that her life would change overnight. She awoke hours later to her mother Zaghuwan Aliya calling her name, and knew that something was wrong.

Her father had been taken.

The hotel reception had called Salim down to the lobby at midnight, and said UAE Security Services needed to speak with him for a few minutes. He never returned.

“They just took him,” said Marwa. “He did nothing wrong. He is a good man and everyone respects him.”

Marwa and Aliya contacted the Canadian Embassy immediately, but UAE officials initially denied having Salim, who is a Libyan-born Canadian citizen.

The family remained in Dubai for months to assist with investigations conducted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Aliya told her youngest children, now three, seven, and 12, that their father had gone away on an urgent business trip, because she feared the truth would devastate them.

“It was hard, because whenever we wanted to discuss it, we either waited until they were asleep, or went to a room and closed the door,” said Marwa.

After two months and 11 days without answers, Aliya got a call from Salim, but he did not sound like himself.

“I am OK, I am alive,” he told his wife. “I don’t know where I am.”

Salim did not answer any questions; he would only repeat that he was fine and ask about his children. The family believes UAE officials were with him during the call.

Canadian Embassy authorities were allowed to meet with Salim after about three months. They were not allowed to ask questions, just confirm his identity and Canadian nationality. They noticed burn marks on his hands, and significant weight loss.

Marwa and her family left Dubai in March out of fear for their safety, and moved to Windsor where they have friends and relatives. She attends Ste. Cécile high school with her 15-year-old sister Nur.

“Now it’s just me and myself. That’s it,” she said. “I have to show my mom that I’m strong and I can deal with it. I don’t want to put more pressure on her.”

The Grade 11 student has stepped up to become a caregiver for her siblings, a supporter for her mother, and a crusader for her father’s freedom.

She will be travelling to Ottawa on Tuesday to discuss the situation with several MPs, including Windsor West MP Brian Masse. She requested to meet with Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin as well, but it has not been confirmed.

“He’s my role model,” Marwa said of her father. “He inspires me, and has always wanted to provide us with the best life he could,” she added, wiping tears from her eyes.

Her favourite memories with her dad are playing tennis and swimming together, just the two of them.

“Sometimes I don’t know what to do,” she said. “Sometimes I just cry.”

Since August 2014, at least 10 Libyans including Salim and his brother Mohamad have been detained in the UAE without charge or access to legal representation, according to reports from Amnesty International and HRW.

“The context is that the UAE is engaged in a very aggressive crackdown on Islamist groups,” explained Nicholas McGeehan, the UAE researcher for HRW.

“There’s a very clear pattern whereby people with actual links or perceived links to political Islamist groups are rounded off the street and just disappear into custody,” he said.

Marwa describes her father as a family man first and a businessman second. Her family moved from Vancouver to Dubai years ago where Salim and Mohamad ran an international home appliances business together. Neither of them have any political involvement in Libya or the UAE.

Their other brother Abdelrazag lives in Libya and was appointed to the National Transitional Council, which was responsible for helping Libya work toward a democratically elected government. He is also a former MP for the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood.

The Middle East Eye reported that in a post on his comment page, Abdelrazag condemned the arrests and asked the UAE government to release all of the arrested Libyans. He also suggested that his brothers were being penalized due to their relationship with him.

“Unfortunately the rule of law is not really adhered to in the UAE,” said McGeehan. “These men effectively disappeared.”

He and others at HRW have seen a leaked copy of a letter sent from the Libyan ambassador in the UAE, Aref al-Nayed, to the Libyan Foreign Affairs Ministry in Tripoli. The message, sent in September 2014, allegedly confirms the detention of Salim and Mohamad, despite previous denial.

Mohamad and three others were unexpectedly released in December and deported to Turkey for reasons unknown.

“You have a state security apparatus which is arresting people on a whim,” said McGeehan. “It’s not clear what the basis for the arrests are, and so it’s not really clear what the basis for the releases are either.”

Mohamad, who currently lives in Qatar, contacted Aliya after he was released. He told her about the alleged physical and psychological torture he endured while detained.

UAE officials blindfolded and interrogated him for hours, and even days at a time. He was beaten if he started to fall asleep, sometimes to the extent that he could no longer walk.

His skin was burned, and he was drenched in freezing water then forced to stand in front of an air conditioning machine. He was lied to and told that his mother was dying, and that his daughter would be raped if he did not comply with their demands.

Mohamad was restricted to solitary confinement in a concrete cell while detained and did not see his brother, but suspects he has been subjected to the same methods of torture, or worse.

“Salim and indeed many others are victims in a wide-ranging, comprehensive scenario in which the overall human rights situation in the UAE has plummeted,” said Drewery Dyke, a Middle East researcher with Amnesty International.

“In the past several years the Emirate authorities have detained large numbers of people (without charges) and held them for extremely prolonged periods,” he noted. “We have treated these cases as enforced disappearances under international law.”

McGeehan and Dyke believe the Canadian government should take immediate action for the release of its detained citizens in the UAE, where more than 40,000 Canadians live and work.

In response to a request for information from The Windsor Star, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that acknowledged a Canadian citizen is detained in the UAE, and said consular services are being provided.

Media relations spokesperson François Lasalle said further details could not be released due to privacy concerns.

“The onus is on the Canadians to stand up for their citizens. If enough was being done, Salim would already be free,” said McGeehan.

“Actions like Marwa’s are really useful,” he added, referring to the girl’s activism through the website she created, her online petition, and social media channels.

“The only way something is going to happen is if people domestically and locally create a noise about this.”

If she could somehow get a message to her father, Marwa knows what she would say:

“Be strong.”

For the original article click here.