United Arab Emirates: UAE-Sisters of imprisoned UAE94 activist subjected to enforced disappearance as State Security Apparatus continues to violate human rights

20.02.15

Update: Asma Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, Maryam Khalifa Al-Suwaidi and Alyaziyah Khalifa Al-Suwaidi have been released on 15 May 2015, after spending three months in an enforced disappearance.

 On 15 February 2015 three sisters were subjected to enforced disappearance and there are serious concerns for their safety. The three women, Asma Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, Maryam Khalifa Al-Suwaidi and Alyaziyah Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, have had no contact with their family since their disappearance and it is feared that they are at risk of ill-treatment and torture.

The three sisters were summoned to the police station in Abu Dhabi by State Security officials for questioning on the afternoon of 15 February. It is believed that they have had no access to a lawyer. At approximately 9pm the following day, their mother received a call from someone saying he was from the “Security Body” and was told that her daughters were fine but said nothing further.

The three sisters have campaigned peacefully on-line for the release of their brother one of the UAE94, Dr. Issa Al-Suwaidi, highlighting also his unfair trial and the human rights violations to which he was subjected at the hands of State authorities. Dr. Issa Al-Suwaidi is a respected academic and was the General Secretary of the Red Crescent in UAE between 1996-1998.

The Gulf Centre for human Rights (GCHR) believes that the enforced disappearance of the three sisters is related to their brother’s human rights activities. Family members of a number of other prisoners convicted following the UAE 94 trial have also been harassed or arrested after they criticized the proceedings and publicized torture allegations made by the defendants. For further information see previous GCHR appeal (https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/455). The GCHR believes that these actions by State authorities constitute a continued attempt to target and punish those striving for the promotion and protection of human rights and their families.

The GCHR urges the authorities in the UAE to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally disclose the whereabouts of and release Asma Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, Maryam Khalifa Al-Suwaidi and Alyaziyah Khalifa Al-Suwaidi,
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of those human rights defenders including those comprising the UAE94, and that of their families while they remain in detention;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”