Five activists arrested in UAE

26 April 2011

Identity of fifth detainee unknown

UAE authorities have arrested a total of five political activists in the wake of a petition calling for a more representative government, according to the state-run Emirates News Agency (Wam). Previous reports had suggested that only four arrests had been made.

Three of those had been detained for being among the 133 signatories of a petition calling for legislative powers and a broader electoral base for the Federal National Council (FNC).

Wam said the activists were detained for “opposing the government” and were being questioned over “perpetrating acts that pose a threat to state security.” Another charge levelled at them was insulting the rulers of Abu Dhabi including crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, said Wam.

The identity of the fifth detainee is not known. Ahmed Mansoor, a member of UAE online political forum Hewar, had been one of the petitioners. His arrest was followed by the detention of another member of the forum, Fahad Salem al-Shehhi, and Nassar bin Ghaith, a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of France’s Sorbonne University. Abdullah al-Shehhi, another signatory, was arrested a shortly after.

The government has also recently removed the elected board of the Jurists Association, which had been one of three organisations that had signed the petition and replaced it with government appointees.

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