Freedom of Expression: Activists Jailed for Criticizing Government

Samer Muscati, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, speaks to Reuters about the conviction of five political activists outside the federal supreme court in Abu Dhabi, November 27, 2011.

The Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates has sentenced five political activists to prison for publicly criticizing the country’s leaders.

The defendants were arrested in April for making various comments, and they appeared in court several times, mostly behind closed doors.

Prominent blogger Ahmed Mansour received the longest sentence – three years.  He faced additional charges of inciting others to break the law, advocating an election boycott and promoting demonstrations. The other men received two-year jail terms.

Rights groups described the trial as unfair, saying the defendants were forbidden to review the evidence and charges against them.

The five have been reported on a hunger strike and did not attend their sentencing.

Samer Muscati from Human Rights Watch described the outcome as disappointing. “It’s really unfortunate what happened today and I think it really brings into disrepute the criminal justice system in the UAE,” Muscati stated.

Noemie Crottaz from the Geneva-based human rights group Alkarama also was in Abu Dhabi for the sentencing. “It’s a shame for the country that things are going this way,” Crottaz said. “And I think we’ll be seeing that the situation for freedom of expression may be getting worse as a reaction to the Arab Spring.”

The UAE has largely avoided anti-government protests seen in other parts of the Middle East, and many analysts believe the court’s decision on Sunday was meant to signal that the government will not tolerate any type of political dissent.

Dozens of government supporters, including 29-year-old Thabet Al-Qaissieh, were rallying outside the courtroom when the verdict was announced. “Two frequent comments I heard today were: ‘justice has been served’ and ‘we expect the president to pardon them very soon,'” he said.

Earlier this year, the UAE sent troops to neighboring Bahrain to help quell pro-democracy demonstrations that brought the island kingdom to a standstill.

Advertisements

Activist, Unplugged from the Matrix. Action for Freedom!

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Freedom of Expression, Government Control, Human Rights
One comment on “Freedom of Expression: Activists Jailed for Criticizing Government
  1. hilde2008 says:

    Sean I also fought for the freedom of expression and democracy because it seems imperative for social justice. Nice to meet you, friend. my English is not very good. just say that I am with those who think like you. A warm embrace

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. You have full control over the frequency of emails you receive, and you can unsubscribe at any time. We will NOT share your email address with anyone, ever!

Join 738 other followers

Member of The Internet Defense LeagueBloggers' Rights at EFF
%d bloggers like this: