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Three women 'disappeared' by UAE security services in Abu Dhabi

A UK-based human rights group says three women are being held at an unknown location by Emirati security services in Abu Dhabi
Saudi Arabia's Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (centre) with the UAE's Mohammed bin Zayed (AFP)

Three Emirati women have disappeared after being summoned for questioning by security services in the UAE, according to a human rights group.

Asma Khalifa al-Suwaidi, Mariam Khalifa al-Suwaidi and Alyazia Khalifa al-Suwaidi have not been seen since being summoned by security services in Abu Dhabi at 4pm (1200 GMT) on Sunday.

Translation: Urgent: In a dangerous development the Emirati security apparatus arrests three female Emiratis yesterday 4pm at an unknown location. 
#AbuDhabi #Thecrimeofarresting3Emiratifemales

The Emirates Centre for Human Rights (ECHR), a UK-based lobby group, said the three women are all sisters of Issa Khalifa al-Suwaidi, a former director of the Abu Dhabi Educational Zone who was sentenced to serve a 10-year prison sentence in 2013 on charges of sedition.

Issa Khalifa al-Suwaidi was jailed along with 68 others accused of attempting to overthrow the UAE government in a highly controversial trial criticised by human rights groups as unfair and violating fair trial norms. Defendants, many of who were members of local Muslim Brotherhood affiliate al-Islah, said they were convicted on the basis of peacefully calling for democratic reform in the al-Nahyan family-ruled UAE.

Authorities denied allegations of torture against those held in what became known as the “UAE 94” trial, which referenced the number of defendants in the case. Prosecutors said the 94 opposed “the basic principles of the UAE system of governance” and were a threat to national security, sentencing 69 defendents to prison terms of between seven and 15 years.

The ECHR described the detention of the three women in Abu Dhabi as “arbitrary” and said it was “in violation with Emirati traditions and law”.

The arrests “are done in the context of violations committed against the families of prisoners in order to pressure prisoners and their families to stop demanding their legal rights or talking about the violations committed against them,” the ECHR said in a statement released on Monday, which included a call for the three women to be immediately released.

Emirati authorities have not commented on the reported detention of the three women.

On social media a Twitter account affiliated with the Islah organisation decried a lack of “chivalry” on behalf of Emirati security services and promised to make the detentions a “scandal”.

Translation: A second day passes after the #Thecrimeofarresting3Emiratifemales and those who are unjust did not release [them]. They have little chivalry because they see in front of them a silent people. But the free people of the Emirates will not be silent.

Translation: This is a promise from us to you who committed #Thecrimeofarresting3Emiratifemales that we shall make it a well-known scandal that will expose the falseness of your slogans which you keep repeating in international forums.

Translation: The redlines shall remain red and we shall not take it lightly #thefreewomenoftheemirates are the first of those redlines which anybody with self-respect will not give up on. #Thecrimeofarresting3Emiratifemales

Nasser bin Ghaith, an Emirati economist who was briefly jailed in 2011 for signing a petition calling for democracy in the UAE, took to Twitter as well and appeared to call for authorities to uphold Arab traditions in “being kind to women”.

Translation: One of the old virtues of Arabs is being kind to women and steering clear of people’s honour during disputes. O, how we need that today.

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