Rights Groups Urge UAE to Free Dozens of Activists

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

International human rights groups urged the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to release dozens of activists jailed for plotting to overthrow the government, denouncing their trial as "grossly unfair."

The call came on the second anniversary of the start of a mass trial that concluded in July 2013 with the sentencing of 69 activists to up to 15 years each in jail.

They were convicted by the Federal Supreme Court for their links to the al-Islah Society, viewed as the UAE branch of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Thirteen rights watchdogs, including Amnesty International, on Tuesday called on the UAE to "release immediately and unconditionally all those imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association following this grossly unfair trial."

They also urged the release of others "who remain detained or imprisoned for publicizing concerns about it."

They urged the UAE authorities to promptly and impartially investigate "allegations of torture and other ill-treatment that the individuals were subjected to prior to and following their trial."

The trial was the largest in the history of the UAE, which avoided the widespread popular protests that swept other Arab states, although authorities have cracked down on dissent and calls for democratic reform.

UAE state media had criticized Arab Spring uprisings and repeatedly lashed out at foreign criticism of the trial that saw lawyers, professors and students jailed.

Scores more were later arrested and tried in UAE courts.

"The organizations call on the UAE government, which currently is a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, to adhere to its obligations to uphold human rights at home, including respecting the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and to freedom of association and peaceful assembly," the rights groups said.

The watchdogs also included the International Federation for Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders.

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