Posts tagged dissidents
Posts tagged dissidents
(Reuters) - The ruler of an emirate in the United Arab Emirates sought to soothe anger over a crackdown on dissidents in the Gulf Arab country on Thursday, saying the recent detentions were necessary to protect them and the state.
Some 35 dissidents, most of them are Islamists, have been detained by authorities since July 15 when the UAE said it was investigating a foreign-linked group planning “crimes against the security of the state”.
“It is a matter of dealing with the situation not a matter of punishment,” Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qassimi, ruler of the religiously conservative emirate of Sharjah, told a local television channel by phone. “We have a big duty to protect this country.”
“To every mother whose son was held, I tell her… please let us fix the situation… the son made a mistake, you didn’t deal with it, let us do it,” he said. “Please be patient, this is for your own good.”
Activists put the number of those arrested since last year at around 50. Most are from the Emirates but they also include an Omani and stateless residents in the UAE.
The UAE, a federation of seven emirates and a major oil exporter, allows no organized political opposition. It has avoided the political unrest that that has swept the Arab region thanks in part to its cradle-to-grave welfare system.
But it has also moved swiftly against dissidents, stripping citizenship from Islamists whom it deemed a security threat and issuing jail sentences to activists who called for more power for a semi-elected advisory council.
Release of dissidents in Belarus brings EU praise
The EU’s foreign affairs chief, Baroness Ashton, has welcomed the early release of two dissidents in Belarus but urged Minsk to free “all other remaining political prisoners”.
Andrei Sannikov, who ran against President Alexander Lukashenko in the 2010 presidential election, and his aide Dmitry Bondarenko jointly celebrated their release on Sunday.
Opposition activists and Western observers say the election was flawed.
Belarus is under US and EU sanctions.
Another former presidential candidate, Nikolai Statkevich, is among about a dozen dissidents still in jail in Belarus.
Mr Sannikov received a five-year jail sentence last May on charges of organising mass protests that followed the presidential election.
A former top diplomat, he came in second to Mr Lukashenko, who has governed Belarus since 1994 and won the election controversially in a landslide.
Mr Bondarenko was jailed for two years in connection with the mass protests.
Pictured: The pair’s release comes amid Western sanctions on Mr Lukashenko’s government