The Prime Minister should put human rights and international law at the centre of her talks with Saudi Arabia’s government this week, regarding the whole region she is visiting.
Numerous human rights organisations, including the UNHRC and Amnesty International, have documented the dictatorial Saudi monarchy’s shocking human rights record.
The Saudi-led coalition bombing in Yemen, backed by the British government, has left thousands dead, 21 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and three million refugees uprooted from their homes.
Yemen urgently needs a ceasefire, a political settlement, and food aid, not more bombing. British-made weapons are being used in a war which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.
Britain must halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia immediately, throw its weight behind a ceasefire resolution at the United Nations and back a full and genuinely independent investigation of the evidence of war crimes in Yemen.
As it stands, the British-Saudi relationship is damaging to the people of Saudi Arabia, Britain and the wider Middle East, and helping to export insecurity to the rest of the world.
Unless the Prime Minister challenges the Saudi regime over its abuses this week, it will be clear she is ready to sacrifice human rights and security on the altar of the arms trade.
However, it is on of Saudi Arabia’s neighbours – The UAE – and in particular Ahmed Mansoor I want to speak about. He was the last human rights activist working freely in the United Arab Emirates – until a fortnight ago, when security forces stormed his home in the middle of the night. He was arrested and thrown in jail. His crime? Standing up for rights.
Ahmed Mansoor was at home when, at midnight on 20 March, twelve members of the state security forces burst in. They searched his house, confiscated his family’s phones and other electronic devices – and took Ahmed away with them. Ahmed and his family didn’t know what was going on. His wife and children had no idea where he was for over a week.
The week after his arrest, authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) confirmed that they had charged Ahmed with ‘cybercrimes’ and revealed that he is jailed in an Abu Dhabi prison. Ahmed still hasn’t been able to contact his family directly to confirm this.
Ahmed is an award-winning blogger and regularly posts about human rights issues in the UAE on social media. For that, he has been charged with ‘promoting false and shaded information through the Internet and serving agendas aimed at spreading hatred and sectarianism’.
This shouldn’t be an offense – but the UAE authorities are notorious for unfairly punishing people like Ahmed who speak up for citizens’ rights. Ahmed has committed no crime. Call for his freedom now.
Stand with Ahmed – call for his release by signing this petition.
Until his arrest, Ahmed was the last person in the UAE working openly to stand up for human rights in the country. For this, he had endured years of harassment from state officials. Over the years, he has worked closely with Amnesty and the UN to report on the state of rights in the UAE. We need to ensure that his voice isn’t silenced.