JNN 28 April 2011 : Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have confirmed the detention of five activists, accusing them of opposing the governing system and insulting ” Emirati leaders .”
The detained activists had signed a petition demanding constitutional and parliamentary changes, free elections and a more equitable distribution of the country’s oil wealth.
Nearly 130 others were also cosignatories to the petition, which was released last month.
The call coincides with popular anti-government protests in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan as well as revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.
The activists “were held… for being found committing crimes of instigation, breaking laws and perpetrating acts that pose threat to state security, undermining the public order, opposing the government system, and insulting the president, the vice president and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi,” said an English-language statement by UAE Attorney General Salim Saeed Kubaish.
All the five men “were held in preventive custody for investigation,” the statement added.
The detained activists include blogger Ahmed Mansour and economic professor Nasser binGhaith, who is a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of France’s Sorbonne University. Both were arrested in Dubai in early April.
Mansour was arrested after describing a visit by top UAE officials to less wealthy members of the seven-emirate federation as an “economic bribe” and Bin Ghaith’s arrest came after he published an article criticizing what he called the Persian Gulf states’ attempt to avoid political reform by buying off their populaces, Persian Gulf-based websites reported.
The other three detained activists were identified as Fahid Salim Dalk, Hassan Ali Khamis — bothEmiratis — and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, who “does not carry identification papers,” UAE’s official news agency WAM reported on Monday without saying that if any of the five activists in custody have been charged with any crime.
Political activity is severely restricted in the UAE, where there are no official opposition groups and political parties are banned.
Meanwhile, there are reports suggesting that amid growing concerns over a potential uprising in the United Arab Emirates, the Persian Gulf state has decided to recruit Pakistani mercenaries trained by American and British advisors to crackdown on protesters.
The move is part of pre-emptive measures the UAE is taking in the wake of popular revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, informed sources say.
The mercenaries will join UAE army to quell riots and suppress street demonstrations.
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