UAE criticizes Amnesty report on dissent crackdown

AP News
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Posted: Nov 19, 2014 11:08 AM
UAE criticizes Amnesty report on dissent crackdown

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday criticized a new Amnesty International report as "one-sided" and "inaccurate" for describing the country's arrest and prosecution of more than 100 people as an "unprecedented clampdown on dissent."

Amnesty said in its nearly 80-page report released Tuesday that activists who called for reform in 2011 were subjected to ill-treatment and torture. It said confessions made under duress were then used as evidence in "unfair" trials. The report included responses from the UAE government.

In its statement Wednesday, the UAE Foreign Ministry said those arrested were not peaceful activists but people aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood group who tried to topple the ruling system. It said defendants were given due process.

The UAE branded the Muslim Brotherhood and more than 80 other organizations as "terrorist groups" over the weekend.

Included on that list is the Islamist al-Islah group, believed to have ties to the Brotherhood. Nearly 70 defendants with alleged links to al-Islah were convicted in the UAE and given prison sentences ranging from seven to 15 years. They were accused of seeking to seize power.

The UAE, which does not have political parties and is governed by rulers who inherit their power, perceives the Brotherhood and its supporters as a threat due to their political activism.

In the statement carried on the official WAM news agency, the Foreign Ministry said the government acted to protect its national integrity.

The ministry said that the UAE, home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, represents a stable and modernizing society in the midst of violent regional conflicts.

Amnesty International said that beyond the UAE's public image of glitz and glamor is a "much uglier reality" for people who dare to speak out in favor of greater democracy or greater accountability from the country's rulers.