Emirates Leaks

International human rights activist: UAE not tolerant 

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Wensel Michalski, director of the International Human Rights Watch in Germany, strongly criticized the United Arab Emirates, stressing that the slogan of tolerance that it adopts is false and unrealistic in light of its restrictions and repression of the opposition.

In an interview with Dutch television Deutsche Welle, Michalski said the UAE is not tolerant and suppress the opposition in the country.

On the UAE’s reputation as a relatively tolerant country, Mikulski said: “that is the reputation they have acquired. But is not true, and that they enjoy such a reputation is completely unjustified. The UAE is not a tolerant state. There are massive violations of human rights, especially when it comes to free speech and freedom of assembly.”

“Those who exercise their rights risk landing in jail. Recently two prominent human rights defenders were sentenced to 10 years in prison: one for criticizing Egypt and the other for speaking out against the general human rights situation in the country. The state is taking severe and brutal action against opponents and critics.”
He also cited Human Rights Watch’s criticism of a 2014 law granting the UAE legal grounds to take actions against critics and opponents.

“The state’s fear of criticism must be extreme so that anyone who dares to criticize the political situation or human rights in the country can be now defamed as a “terrorist” and therefore can face correspondingly harsh punishments,” Michalski said.

“It seems more and more that countries in the region have deliberately blurred laws on the basis of which dissidents can be defamed as ‘terrorists’,” Michalski added.

Michalski also said that human rights organizations tried to exploit the Pope’s visit this week to the UAE to draw attention to the human rights situation in the country while drawing attention to the role of the country as part of the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen.

“The UAE is responsible for many civilian deaths. And we expect the pope not only as the leader of the Catholic Church but also as head of state of the Vatican, to stand up for human rights as stipulated by the United Nations.” Michalski added.

“There have been a plethora of attacks carried out on civilian targets such as hospitals, schools, factories, homes, markets — monstrous incidents where civilians were the targets of rocket attacks,” he said.

“The number of casualties — including children, women, and people who are not soldiers — was so great that one could classify them as war crimes, and we demand that these incidents be investigated. We would also like the pope to address this directly.”

The international rights activist also stressed that the situation of migrant workers in the UAE is very bad because no one can be held accountable for violations against them and there are no consequences if the employer violates his duties, for example, no longer pays or even harasses the workers.

The conditions of domestic workers are very poor, mostly Filipino women, some of them were deliberately tortured. They do not have any chance at all to seek alternative work or return home. They live in almost slave-like conditions. They are not free and cannot leave until they are fired from their jobs.