Mindanao Times

UAE revokes citizenshi­p of dissidents’ families: HRW

- Agence France-Presse

HUMAN Rights Watch on Sunday accused the United Arab Emirates of taking punitive measures against relatives of dissidents, including revoking their citizenshi­ps and banning them from travel.

The government of the oil-rich Gulf state has revoked the citizenshi­p of 19 relatives of two dissidents and at least 30 relatives of six dissidents are barred from leaving the country, the rights group said in a report.

“UAE authoritie­s, in their determinat­ion to crush dissent, have allowed their state security apparatus to use its near-unchecked power to continuall­y punish the families of activists, both detained and living abroad,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.

“The authoritie­s should cease these vindictive attacks, which amount to collective punishment,” he added.

HRW said it documented cases of harassment involving the relatives of eight dissidents, some of whom are serving long-term jail sentences in the Emirates while the others have fled the country and live abroad.

“Between 2013 and 2019, the relatives of all eight dissidents faced restrictio­ns on their access to jobs and higher education,” and were prevented from renewing their identity documents, HRW said.

The New York-based rights watchdog did not name the dissidents and UAE authoritie­s were not immediatel­y available for comment.

“None of the restrictio­ns had a clear legal basis, and none of the targeted relatives have been able to get an official government or judicial document mandating the action. Nor have they been able to appeal,” said HRW.

Since 2011, UAE authoritie­s began “a sustained assault on freedom of expression and associatio­n”, arresting and jailing hundreds of lawyers, judges, teachers and activists, HRW said.

“The most egregious abuses are arbitrary detentions, enforced disappeara­nces, and torture,” it added.

The UAE, a wealthy Gulf state, is composed of seven emirates governed by different ruling families under the umbrella of a federal government.

It presents itself as an open country and even has a “Ministry of Tolerance” and a “Ministry of Happiness”.

“The UAE’s police state not only punishes those who peacefully dissent, but harasses and abuses even those related to them, with their intoleranc­e for criticism reaching comical proportion­s,” Page said.

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