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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Mohammed Al Roken Dubai’

UAE mass trial of 94 Islamist activists

Posted by 7starsdubai on March 4, 2013


UAE mass trial 94 march 2013 The trial is due to begin in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of 94  activists accused of plotting to seize power in the Gulf state.

The suspects include judges, lawyers, academics and student leaders. Human rights groups say the trial is deeply flawed and have called it a “mockery of justice”.

Continue reading original Source BBC

Further Report Financial Times

 

 

 

HUMAN Rights Watch UAE: Ensure Fair Trial of 94 Political Activists

(Beirut) – original source Human Rights Watch .  The trial of 94 Emirati citizens accused of crimes against national security on March 4, 2013, raises serious fair trial concerns, including limited access to lawyers and withholding of key documents concerning the charges and evidence against them, Human Rights Watch said today. The detainees include two prominent human rights lawyers, Mohammed al-Roken and Mohammed al-Mansoori, as well as judges, teachers, and student leaders, at least 10 of whom are women. Several defendents have alleged that they were subjected to ill-treatment in detention, Human Rights Watch said.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Attorney General Salem Saeed Kubaish released a statement on January 27, 2013, alleging that the 94 “launched, established, and ran an organization seeking to oppose the basic principles of the UAE system of governance and to seize power.” But as of February 27, the authorities had not released to lawyers the identities of all 94 detainees, documents setting out the charges against them, or the evidence on which these charges are based. Authorities have held 64 detainees whose identities are known at undisclosed locations for periods of up to a year and denied them legal assistance until late February. The decision to prosecute the case before the Federal Supreme Court under state security procedures deprives those being tried of the right to appeal, Human Rights Watch said.

“Defense lawyers cannot possibly defend their clients adequately without seeing the documents setting out the evidence against them,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “It appears that UAE authorities will drag scores of citizens through a shamelessly unfair judicial process that makes a mockery of justice.”

Local activists in contact with family members of the detainees told Human Rights Watch that authorities finally allowed some defendants to meet separately with defense lawyers on February 20 and 21, and February 25, 26, and 27. These meetings took place at the office of the state security prosecutor in Abu Dhabi, the families said, with a representative of the prosecutor’s office listening in to the conversations. The reported circumstances of the meetings violated the confidentiality of conversations between lawyers and their clients.

Family members of five of the detainees told Human Rights Watch that their detained family members had told them about ill-treatment in detention, including prolonged solitary confinement, 24-hour bright fluorescent lighting, inadequate heating, forced wearing of hoods whenever they were outside their cells – including while being escorted to the bathroom or interrogation rooms – and persistent insults from prison guards. As Human Rights Watch has previously documented, a son of one of the detainees, who was at a court hearing to extend their detention on September 6, 2012, reported that they appeared disheveled, disoriented, and distressed. Two of the detainees appeared barely able to walk, one appeared unable to follow the proceedings, and another told the judge that he was weak because he had been given sleeping pills.

The specific whereabouts of the 64 detainees, who have ties to a peaceful Islamist group, al-Islah, remain unknown, prompting concern for their well-being. Al-Islah has been a legally recognized organization in the UAE since 1974. Human Rights Watch has previously documented how lawyers employed by the only Emirati law firm currently offering legal assistance to the detainees have themselves been arrested, deported, and intimidated.

Though most of the defendants were arrested between May and July 2012, local activists told Human Rights Watch that authorities only began allowing family visits in November. Currently, detainees are allowed to call family members twice a week for a maximum of three minutes per phone call. The calls are monitored by state security officers, who immediately disconnect the calls if the detainee or family member attempts to discuss his or her case or location.

Since November authorities also have allowed family members to meet all detainees in person once a month for a maximum of 30 minutes at the office of the state security prosecutor in Abu Dhabi, but only with a representative from the prosecutor’s office in the room.

Though details of the charges remain unknown, based on the attorney general’s January 27 statement it appears authorities will charge the activists with violating article 180 of the penal code, which mandates up to 15 years in prison for anyone who has “set up, established, organized, or run an association or organized body or branch of an organization that seeks to subvert the ruling regime of the country or to promote this through use of force or otherwise.” The same article provides for up to five years in prison for members of such organizations.

Family members of the detainees told Human Rights Watch that authorities froze all bank accounts and assets of detainees following their arrest as well as accounts and assets of their spouses and underage children, in many cases leaving them in difficult financial circumstances. Human Rights Watch has seen a copy of a signed order from the UAE attorney general dated October 25, 2012, ordering all money and assets of 23 of the detainees frozen as well as those of their wives and underage children.

Authorities told defense lawyers in late February that they will permit two family members of each male defendant and one family member of each female defendant to attend the March 4 court session, though in order to enter the sessions each visitor must hand over a copy of each of the following documents: his or her ID card, a personal photo, phone numbers, a proof of relationship with the detainee, and a copy of his or her car registration. The requirement to provide phone numbers, photographs, and car registrations heightens concerns that the authorities will use the trial as a means of gathering data on friends and families of those accused in an arbitrary interference of their right to privacy, Human Rights Watch said.

Previous trials of activists in the UAE have consistently demonstrated serious due process flaws. Following the 2011 trial of five prominent activists who had signed a petition calling for more democracy in the UAE, known as the UAE5, a coalition of five human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch issued a report showing that “flagrant due process flaws” had essentially denied the five men the right to a fair trial. Among the flaws were the prosecutors’ refusal to hand over to defense lawyers all the documents setting out the charges and evidence against them, denial of confidential meetings between defendants and their lawyers, and persistent unequal treatment of the defense and prosecution.

Article 13 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to which the UAE is a state party, states that “[e]veryone has a right to a fair trial that affords adequate guarantees before a competent, independent and impartial court…” Article 16 mandates that in the course of an investigation and trial every defendant should enjoy minimum guarantees, including the right to be informed promptly of the charges, adequate time and facilities to prepare a legal defense, and the right to communicate confidentially and freely with lawyers.

“Trying these men and women before the Federal Supreme Court adds fair trial concerns to already established serious human rights violations underlying this case, including arbitrary detention and ill-treatment,” Whitson said.

Posted in Human Rights Activst UAE, Mohammed Al Roken, Nasser bin Ghaith, UAE 94 islamist mass trial | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on UAE mass trial of 94 Islamist activists

Mohammed Al Roken Uae Human Rights lawyer detained

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 18, 2012


Reveal Activist’s Whereabouts; Investigate Torture Allegations

On September 10, 2012, Human Rights Watch wrote to President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to say that the UAE’s accession to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on July 19 was a positive step.

“The allegations of torture and the enforced disappearance of Ahmed al-Suweidi are matters of grave concern and exhibit increasingly brutal tactics by the UAE’s State Security apparatus,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The UAE’s allies in the West should not remain silent in the face of such serious international crimes.”

Al-Suweidi, whose situation recently came to light, is one of 60 civil society activists and human rights defenders whom UAE authorities are holding without charge following their peaceful calls for political reform. They include two prominent lawyers, Mohamed al-Roken and Mohamed al-Mansoori. The condition of the other detainees is also a cause of concern after reports from people who saw them at a September 6 hearing to extend the detention of six of them, the groups said.

Dr.Mohammed Al-Roken, UAE citizen founding member of Bridging the Gulf foundation for human security in the Gulf region (http://www.bridgingthegulf.org/), member of Amnesty International and a former head of the Emirati Lawyers’ Association, has always been fervent supporter of democracy and spreading of a culture of tolerance and human rights in the Arab Gulf region. Recently he represented a small group of Emirati citizens who called for governmental reform in UAE near the start of the region’s Arab Spring protests. Some of his clients were consequently arrested and convicted earlier this year with national security offenses.

http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/news/uae-crackdown-on-islamist-group-intensifies

Attorney General Salem Saeed Kubaish accused the group of having links to “foreign organizations and outside agendas” and “opposing the U.A.E. constitution and ruling system.”

Leading Emirati human rights lawyer Dr Mohammed Al Roken was detained this week amid a harsh crackdown on anti-government critics in United Arab Emirates, sparking condemnation from international rights organizations, international media even the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12363&LangID=E

see also the UN calls on United Arab Emirates to guarantee protection of rights defenders:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=42492&Cr=Human+Rights&Cr1=

It is unclear whether Mr. Roken, 50 years old, is considered part of this group under investigation or has been charged with a crime. Security forces detained Mr. Roken as he drove to a local Dubai police station seeking information about his son and son-in-law, who had also been arrested, according to Amnesty and Human Rights Watch:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/18/uae-crackdown-islamist-group-intensifies

http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/uae-human-rights-lawyers-among-13-detained-crackdown-intensifies-2012-07-18

http://en.alkarama.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=973:uae-at-least-14-activists-detained-in-aggressive-crackdown&catid=38:communiqu&Itemid=107

This is not the first time Dr Al Roken has been subjected to persecution; in 2008 the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders expressed concern at the treatment of Mohamed al-Roken:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/uae-human-rights-lawyers-among-13-detained-crackdown-intensifies-2012-07-18

U.A.E. security sources, declined to discuss details of his detention , though requests made by leading international media including the Wall street journal:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444097904577535121065522322.html?mod=googlenews_ws

They were told that Dr. Roken’s arrest was ordered by the national security department from the capital Abu Dhabi.

Dr Mohamed Al Roken received  Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders for 2012

This year, the award ceremony will be held at the Geneva International Conference Center (CICG) on 7 December 2012.

Posted in dr mohammed al roken human rights lawyer, Human Rights Activst UAE, Human Rights Dubai, Torture UAE | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Mohammed Al Roken Uae Human Rights lawyer detained

VIP Dubai – From the Archive – Rapid Change, Emphasis on Business Overshadow Concerns on Rights

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 20, 2009



original source Washington Post May 2007

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Mohammed al-Roken is perhaps the most prominent human rights activist in Dubai. That distinction has cost him. He was arrested twice. The government forced him out of his job as a professor, canceled his public lectures and banned him from writing in newspapers. Nine months ago, his passport was seized, barring him from traveling abroad.

That’s not the tough part, the lawyer said. Far more difficult is the loneliness that comes with political work in a brashly exuberant city-state that prides itself on having no politics. “An activist might be praised, might be congratulated for his work, might be clandestinely supported, but there will be no uproar if something happens to him,” Roken said.

Roken, a tall, bearded Emirati whose few softly spoken words belie a steely determination, is trying to create a political movement in the world’s biggest boomtown where virtually everything — from the import of cheap, often mistreated labor to the prevalence of English — is dictated by the logic of capital. Yet on the margins of Dubai’s culture of superlatives, with double-digit growth the norm and unbridled optimism a mantra, politics are timidly, fitfully but gradually coalescing in a place where notions of borders, citizenship and rights have become murkier.

“This is an apolitical city, but it will probably not stay that way for too long,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of political science at Emirates University. He added: “Politics brings out the good and the bad.”

In a region beset by war and crises, Dubai sits like an oasis of confidence along the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf. If Cairo was the Arab world’s ideological capital in the 1950s and ’60s, and Beirut its cultural capital until the Lebanese civil war erupted in 1975, then Dubai is now its economic capital, drawing legions of the Arab world’s best and brightest from the malaise of their own countries. It has posted growth higher than China and India, with per capita income greater than Singapore. It has reaped the windfall of the region’s oil wealth, despite having scant reserves of its own. Its leaders, a modernized tribal dynasty, style themselves as corporate executives running Dubai Inc

“This is the nature of things here, the nature of the beast. Dubai has a focus. Unlike all other cities, it has a focus and it’s clear, perhaps clearer than it’s ever been: economics, stay the course, our business is business, our business is growth,” Abdulla said.

But with that growth have come pressing issues that no other Arab locale has had to confront so quickly. Its own citizens have become a tiny minority in a city where English, not Arabic, is the lingua franca. In the heart of one of the world’s most socially conservative regions, prostitution and alcohol are rife.

Tens of thousands of newcomers arrive in the city each month, joining hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, many of whom toil with few rights and at little more than subsistence wages. Their cause has become one rallying point.

‘No Civil Society Here’

“Get out of the house,” Sharla Musabih, a 46-year-old activist, pleaded into her cellphone on a recent day. On the other end was a Filipina married to an abusive Egyptian man, Musabih said. “Go to the hospital, then come to me.”

“This is every day,” Musabih said after hanging up the phone. “Every day.”

In a city of spectacles, Musabih stands out, an occasionally lonely activist trying to forge protections and safeguards for migrants. Born in Bainbridge Island, Wash., she has lived here for 24 years with her Emirati husband and six children. She has an exuberant touch: Her hands are in perpetual motion, and the woman on the other end of the phone is “Sweetie.” “Excuse me, honey,” she beckons to a waitress, grabbing her hand in both of hers. “I’m dying for a latte.”

Her first case as an activist was an incident of domestic violence she followed in 1991. Since then, she has taken on more of those cases, as well as of children working as camel jockeys, domestic servants mistreated by their employers and women forced into prostitution.

In 2001, she set up Dubai’s only shelter, the City of Hope, a two-story villa where two dozen women are staying. As part of her work, she said she has had to run a gantlet of harassment from lower-level police to angry husbands. A criminal case was filed against her — politically motivated, in her view — and she counts death threats among her workplace hazards. Years later, she still awaits recognition from the government that would bestow legitimacy in her endless tussles with the legal system.

“You run around like the Tasmanian devil and try to have a very big smile,” Musabih said, her face framed in a brown veil.

But she added, with a slight edge to her voice, “I’m not an outsider pointing a finger. I’m an insider.”

The challenges are many: She is one of the very few activists not only in Dubai, but also in the six other sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates. In Dubai, the vast influx of migrant workers is testing a court system never equipped for a city with more than 170 nationalities; workers complain about unpaid salaries, dangerous conditions and an ever-present threat to deport them if they protest. One especially intricate case Musabih has taken: a Pakistani woman entangled in a custody fight who faced everything from a travel ban to a passport stolen by a vindictive husband.

“They’re new at this,” she said of the government. “There’s a good intention, but a lack of experience.”

Her assistant, Seher Mir, 27, was blunter. “There’s absolutely no civil society here. There are no [nongovernmental organizations] here, people don’t understand what human rights are. Human rights, women’s rights, when you mention it to people, they say it’s not my problem.”

City in Transition

In recent years, Dubai has attracted attention for its ambition. It has built or is building the tallest skyscraper, the largest shopping mall and the biggest artificial island. “Once again history is created,” reads a billboard promoting the Dubai World Trade Center. There is little that might be called traditionally Arab in its commercialized ambience or cityscape of manicured roundabouts and 14-lane avenues lined with mimosa trees and purple periwinkles, save the street names: Sheikh Zayed Road, or Khalid Bin Walid Street.

Divisions lurk in the background: between expatriates, for instance, and Emiratis, and between Emiratis who trace their origins to the Arabian Peninsula or Iran. But Dubai lacks the poverty of Egypt, the sectarianism of Iraq or Lebanon or the divisions of Jordan, a country still unreconciled with its Palestinian majority. Dubai feels transient, enticing many of its residents with the promise of money or a climate more socially liberal than in neighboring countries.

“Things are not deeply or well established because of the mood of transition. People come and make money and go,” said Suleiman Hattlan, editor in chief of Forbes Arabia in Dubai. “They are interested in either the sun or business.”

Added Yassar Jarrar, executive dean of the Dubai School of Government: “You would struggle to start a political movement here.”

But that sense of depoliticized space conceals a simmering backlash in Dubai among Emiratis who are a tiny minority in their own city and who are often bewildered by the pace of change in a country that, within some of their lifetimes, once relied on pearl diving and fishing. Like Musabih, who tries to instill a legal culture of human rights in an unaccustomed court system, some Emirati activists such as Roken are trying to understand how to safeguard their identities from the encroachment of a globalized culture.

Abdullah, the political scientist, described it as a mix of pride in what Dubai represents and fear at the costs it entails.

“There is hardly anybody in the city who doesn’t feel a bit of fear inside him, a fear of losing it all at a time when we have it all,” he said. “Do you call it alienation? It’s much beyond that. We live in the best of times and, in some ways, the worst of times.”

For Roken, the challenge of alienation is an unusual one. He wants to embolden citizens — a distinct minority — to raise their voices against an authoritarian government he says caters to expatriates, the majority. The government provides Emiratis with generous housing loans, pays for schooling and ensures free health care. But Roken is more unsettled by the intangibles: entering a mall where virtually everyone is a foreigner, beaches populated by swimmers in dress he considers immodest, and wine-tasting parties at luxury hotels. Only a more democratic polity, albeit entrusted to a minority, can stanch what he sees as Dubai’s more flagrant excesses.

“The majority sets the rules of the game,” the 44-year-old lawyer said. “If we keep ourselves passive, the identity, the culture will fade away very quickly. Activism is a way of protecting our identity and our culture, in a positive way.”

“A one-voice society has been tried in other countries and failed,” he said. “We shouldn’t repeat other people’s failures.”

As a way of adding voices, Roken has pushed for a more aggressive role by professional unions, often the arena of activism in the Arab world. But he said the government has imposed restrictions on their work. The government has canceled activities, including his own talks; security forces, he said, sometimes vet the names of participants in conferences abroad.

“The space for freedom has become smaller and smaller,” said Mohammed al-Mansoori, who heads the Jurists Association.

Like Roken and others, Mansoori laments the loss of what he says was an intimacy with the ruling families a generation ago. Since the 1980s, he said, the clans that run the Emirates have increasingly assumed the trappings of power, distancing themselves from those they govern. As the traditional society fades, Mansoori has pushed for a more modern alternative: an independent judiciary, human rights and labor laws consistent with international standards and freer elections.

Among his pursuits: ways to protect the country’s identity.

“Nobody wants to listen,” he said.

Mansoori, 49, fled to London last July after a disagreement with a government official he says was politically motivated. It followed several official warnings, he said, to stop speaking to foreign media about topics from Musabih’s shelter to wildcat strikes to the rights of children of Emirati mothers. He plans to return, with a British lawyer, in coming weeks.

“It’s normal to be nervous,” he said. “But I’ve prepared myself to face anything.”

He paused on the phone for a moment, with a hint of unease. “We’ll see.”

Posted in Dubai | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on VIP Dubai – From the Archive – Rapid Change, Emphasis on Business Overshadow Concerns on Rights

 
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