Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Human Rights Watch objects to UAE crackdown

HRW issued two items on its website today about the detention of three UAE democracy advocates.

Foreign Institutions Should Condemn Crackdown
NYU, Louvre, Guggenheim Silent on Arrests of Activists

International public institutions opening branches on Saadiyat Island should send a clear message to Emirate authorities that they strongly condemn the United Arab Emirate's attack on rights advocates, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Guggenheim, New York University (NYU), and the French Museum Agency (Agence France-Museums, responsible for the Louvre Abu Dhabi) should urge the immediate release of three activists detained since April 8, 2011, in what appears to be a politically motivated campaign of intimidation against political reformers, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the institutions.

Letter to NYU, the Guggenheim Foundation, and Agence France-Museums Regarding the Arrest of Ahmed Mansoor

As institutions that have invested a great deal in the United Arab Emirates, in particular a vision to lead the region's development as a free society that appreciates art and education and celebrates artists and academics, the Guggenheim, New York University and French Museum Agency have a responsibility to condemn publicly this outrageous attacks on activists. These institutions need to do so not only because those targeted include an artist and an academic, but because they are leading voices for freedom in their country. We know that your institutions are well placed to condemn such politically motivated arrests; for instance, Richard Armstrong and the Guggenheim Museum recently launched a petition demanding that the Chinese government release Ai WeiWei.

While the three detained activists may not have the renown or standing of Mr. WeiWei, in the context of the UAE, their principled stand for freedom is no less a threat to the UAE government than Mr. WeiWei's to the Chinese. And of course, the role of your institutions in the UAE is far more significant and prominent.

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