UAE authorities have detained 36 Emirati citizens for criticising the government since 16 July, including human rights lawyers, according to non-governmental organisation (NGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW).

This brings the total number of arrests of activists to 50 since the authorities began cracking down on dissidents in May 2011, says HRW, which published a list of the people detained.

In July, the UAE’s Public Prosecution issued orders for the arrest of a group with alleged links to foreign political organisations. It said the group “established and ran an organisation which aims to commit crimes against the security and constitution of the country and the basic principles of rule”.

Included among the recent arrests were prominent human rights lawyers Mohamed al-Roken and Mohamed al-Mansoori, while another lawyer, Salim Hamdoon al-Shehhi, was himself detained for representing them, HRW reported.

Dubai police chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan said the activists had links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which he said was plotting to topple the leaders of Gulf states.

The UAE has been quick to clamp down on any signs of anti-state activism in the wake of the Arab uprisings in 2011, which led to the fall of four governments in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.