UAE security forces arrested Mr al-Qasimi, the president of the Islah association, on Friday 20 April 2012, without showing an arrest warrant or informing him of any charges against him. He was transferred to the ruler's house in Ras al-Khaimah, and was held in isolation from the outside world. His family has so far been unable to find out the reasons for his detention.
Mr al-Qasimi, who is the cousin of the ruler of the Ras al-Khaimah emirate, is one of the most prominent reformers in the country and one of the most important figures to be arrested in the UAE since the country was established in 1971.
The arrest of Mr al-Qasimi is part of an escalating crackdown by security forces, which started with withdrawing citizenships, arbitrary arrests, and forced disappearances of human rights defenders. Reformers in the Emirates consider this arrest a threatening message to any reformer: if security forces can arrest one of the Sheikhs, they will not refrain from prosecuting and punishing ordinary citizens.
It seems that the security forces were irritated by a letter that Mr al-Qasimi sent to the rulers of the UAE, headed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, demanding reforms and the reinstating of the citizenships of the seven Emirati citizens who had their citizenships withdrawn. He indicated that "The times have changed and the UAE is not on another planet. The wall of fear has been broken. The Emirati people are no longer backward and are aware of their rights". He demanded that "Emirati civil life be freed from the domination of the security authorities".
Mr al-Qasimi has been struggling peacefully for many years for civil and political rights in the UAE as part of the Islah association, which he heads. The members of the association have been subjected to a large campaign of prosecutions and systematic repression by the security forces. Many have been removed from their government positions, some of which were high ranking. They were removed from educational, army and security positions through forced retirement or sacking.
Alkarama has previously raised, on 12 October 2004, the case of 20 people who were arrested and detained under terrorism charges, but were in fact prosecuted because they belonged to this peaceful movement. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued opinion 14/2005 on 26 MAY 2005 condemning this arrest, and reminding the UAE of article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The detainees were later released after many years of detention without any legal proceedings.
|< Prev||Next >|