AI Says UAE ‘Deeply Repressive’

AI Says UAE ‘Deeply Repressive’AI Says UAE ‘Deeply Repressive’

The United Arab Emirates has been accused of an “unprecedented clampdown on dissent,” as more than 100 activists have been jailed since 2011 for calling for political transformation, Amnesty International said in a newly released report.

In an 80-page report titled ‘There is no freedom here’: Silencing dissent in the UAE, the NGO blames the ruling theocracy for distracting the eye of foreigners with the glamorous appearance of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while at the same time conducting harsh violations of human rights.

The probe, published ahead of the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, exposes the gap between the public image the UAE tries to present and the harsh reality on the ground.

“Millions of spectators from across the world are expected to tune in to watch the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix this weekend – yet most of them will have little clue about the ugly reality of life for activists in the UAE,” said Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Program, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

The “darker reality” in the UAE is characterized by torture and widespread abuse by authorities – something that has gone largely unnoticed since the start of the series of Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.

“Beneath the glitz, the gloss and the glamour of the facade that the UAE‘s rulers present to the outside world there is a much uglier reality, where activists who dare to challenge the authorities or speak out in favour of greater democracy and government accountability are thrown into jail,” the report reads.

Amnesty alleges that UAE authorities have quietly “mounted an unprecedented clampdown on dissent ”that led to “scores of arrests and detentions; enforced disappearances; torture and other ill-treatment of detainees.” It also resulted in a number of unfair trials, long prison sentences, and the continuing harassment and persecution of activists and their families.