Last updated: 30 April, 2012

Rights groups urge release of 9 UAE Islamists

Two rights groups on Monday urged the UAE to release nine activists, including a member of the ruling family of the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, one of seven Emirati states.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities should immediately and unconditionally release nine political activists,” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement.

“The government should stop threatening to revoke the citizenship of seven of them because of their political activity,” the two watchdogs said. They said the men belong to Al-Islah group, close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Among those held is Sheikh Sultan Al-Qassimi, a first cousin of the ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, who heads the local branch of Al-Islah and who was arrested on Friday.

Six others — Ali al-Hammadi, Shahin al-Hosni, Hussein al-Jabri and his brother Hassan al-Jabri, Ibrahim al-Marzouqi, and Sheikh Mohammad al-Sediq — were all arrested on April 9 and their citizenship had been revoked, according to the statement.

On March 26, Ahmed Ghaith al-Suwaidi — whose citizenship was also revoked — and Ahmed al-Zaabi, were also detained. Zaabi’s whereabouts are “not clear,” according to the joint statement.

“Some of the men were among 130 people who signed a petition in March 2011 seeking political reforms in the UAE,” Amnesty and HRW said.

The UAE, a federation of seven emirates, has not seen any of the widespread protests calling for reform that have swept other Arab countries, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman.