August 16, 2016
Manchester’s political and footballing leaders must use their close commercial ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to urge the Gulf state to end torture, abolish modern slavery and free jailed activists, two leading human rights charities have said.
In two letters, seen exclusively by Middle East Eye, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have used the the forthcoming 197th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre of protesters calling for political reform in the UK to demand Manchester City Council and Manchester City Football Club use their links to the oil-rich Gulf state to call on its leadership to respect human rights.
This letter to the two council leaders goes on to call for the UAE to investigate allegations of torture, to allow the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture access to the country, to repeal laws that allow for the physical chastisement of women, desist from arbitrarily deporting workers who demand their right to strike and to release human rights defenders, including Mohamed al-Roken, a lawyer sentenced to 10 years in jail for voicing dissent.
The letter reads: “The United Arab Emirates is currently a place where people risk their liberty by making their voices heard and by speaking out, including against human rights violations. It is a country where modern forms of slavery can still flourish on account of its leaders’ refusal to enact and enforce laws, where laws and policies make women – UAE citizens as well as foreign residents – highly vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, and where people who criticise its rulers or express a desire for even modest democratic reforms are labelled terrorists, subjected to unfair trials, and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.”