Tag Archives: UAE
United Arab Emirates state security officers have subjected detainees to systematic mistreatment, including torture, say hand-written letters from detainees smuggled out of jails, Alkarama, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The groups obtained twenty-two statements written by some of the ninety-four people on trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. The mistreatment described in the letters is consistent with other allegations of torture at UAE state security facilities, and indicates that torture is a systematic practice at these facilities.
The statements describe conditions in pre-trial detention in varying levels of detail. Several detainees describe mistreatment that clearly meets the definition of torture as outlined in article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the UAE ratified in July 2012.
“I was beaten with a plastic tube all over my body,” one detainee said. “I was tied to a chair and threatened with electrocution if I didn’t talk. I was insulted and humiliated.”
“The UAE’s judicial system will lose all credibility if these allegations are swept under the carpet while the government’s critics are put behind bars,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless the government investigates and takes action, it will be hard to avoid concluding that torture is routine practice in the UAE.”
Refusing to collude with the FBI and resisting enlistment into the agency’s army of informants and agent provocateurs is proving to carry hefty consequences. The most recent case of Yonas Fikre is the latest in a string of punitive prosecutions that demonstrate the US government’s eagerness to punish Muslims for their unwillingness to become the devils’ advocates.
Yonas Fikre, an American Muslim now residing in Sweden, was tortured in the United Arab Emirates at the behest of the US government shortly after refusing to become an informant for the FBI.
On 1 May, less than three weeks after Fikre’s allegations were made public, the Justice Department charged Fikre, his brother, Dawit Woldehawariat, and a third man, Abrehaile Haile, with conspiring to hide $75.000 worth of money transfers to the UAE and Sudan from the government, all in violation of federal reporting requirements for large international financial transactions. Woldehawariat, Fikre’s brother, was also charged with failing to file a tax return in 2009 and 2010. There are no allegations of terrorism associated with the charges.
After being stranded abroad by being placed on the No-fly List, Yonas was ominously ‘warned’ by a US official about a possible lack of co-operation during an initial courtship to endear his services: ‘The time to help yourself is now‘ the missive ended. Shortly after that, he was abducted and tortured.
Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations who has been working with Fikre, informed Mother Jones that the federal charges were retaliation for Fikre’s refusal to cooperate with the FBI.
‘It is disappointing but not surprising that the FBI is retaliating against Yonas by filing specious charges against him after they promised to make his life difficult after he refused to become their informant. While FBI agents lied to Yonas about many things, in this case, it seems that they have kept their word.’
Thomas Nelson, Fikre’s Portland, Oregon-based lawyer, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he was unaware of the charges against his client. But Abbas said he’s been in touch with Nelson since then and the two are working together to decide what to do next.
Yonas Fikre candidly discusses the FBI’s failed attempt to recruit him as an agent provocateur, followed by the chillingly account of his subsequent arrest and torture in the UEA after the agency placed him on the no-fly-list, barring him from returning to the US. The details of his ordeal and evidence strongly suggest that Emirati intelligence arrested and tortured Fikre not only with the knowledge of the FBI but at their behest.
Last June, while Yonas Fikre was visiting the United Arab Emirates, the Muslim and United States Citizen from Portland, Oregon was suddenly arrested and detained by Emirati security forces. For the next three months, Fikre claims, he was repeatedly interrogated and tortured. Fikre says he was beaten on the soles of his feet, kicked and punched, and held in stress positions while interrogators demanded he “cooperate” and barked questions that were eerily similar to those posed to him not long before by FBI agents and other American officials who had requested a meeting with him.
Fikre had been visiting family in Khartoum, Sudan, when, in April 2010, the officials got in touch with him. He agreed to meet with them, but ultimately balked at cooperating with FBI questioning without a lawyer present and he rebuffed a request to become an informant. Pressing him to cooperate, the agents told him he was on the no-fly list and could not return home unless he aided the bureau, Fikre says. The following week he received an email from one of the US officials; it arrived from a State Department address:
“Thanks for meeting with us last week in Sudan. While we hope to get your side of the issues we keep hearing about, the choice is yours to make. The time to help yourself is now.”
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