UAE strips citizenship from family of political prisoner

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Emirati authorities revoke status of three adult children of man jailed in controversial 'UAE 94' case for attempting to overthrow the state

A file photo of Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (AFP)
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Thursday 10 March 2016 11:52 UTC
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The United Arab Emirates has revoked the citizenship of three Emiratis who are the children of an Islamist political prisoner, a human rights activist told Middle East Eye on Wednesday.

Asma, 29, Doa’a, 25, and Omar, 23, are the children of Mohammed Abdulrazzaq al-Siddiq, who was jailed for 10 years for plotting to overthrow the state, in a controversial 2013 trial of 94 political activists with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The three Emiratis were called to the Migration Department in Sharjah on 7 March, according to a UAE-based rights activist who spoke anonymously to MEE.

They were told to bring their official documents, including a citizenship book, passport, national identification card, medical card, and driving licence.

The activist said a security officer had assured the three that they would come to "no harm" if they attended.

“When they brought the documents the officer told them 'there is a decree to revoke your citizenship and that you are not citizens anymore and should look for a new nationality',” the activist said via email.

“They asked the officer to give them a copy of the decree but he refused and said 'we are not allowed to do so as we are an executive entity only'."

The officer did not tell them why their citizenship was being revoked but said that the decree included other Emiratis who will also have their citizenship stripped.

The UAE Embassy in London did not respond to calls for comment.

Those whose citizenship has been stripped will not be able to gain access to basic services or travel overseas.

“They are left with no identity to prove who they are,” the activist said. “They are now stateless – and for a long time they have also been on a travel ban.”

Without official documents, the three Emiratis will be unlikely to gain permission to visit their father in Abu Dhabi’s al-Razeen prison.

Abdulrazzaq also had his citizenship revoked as part of his punishment for being convicted in the mass trial of Emirati political dissidents known as the "UAE 94".

The vast majority of the UAE 94 defendants were members of the Islah organisation, which has advocated political reform in the UAE – a federation of seven emirates ruled by royal families, with oil-rich Abu Dhabi’s ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan serving as president.

Sixty-nine of the UAE 94 were convicted of sedition in July 2013 and sentenced to serve prison terms of between seven and 15 years.

Human Rights Watch denounced the trial as unfair, and said that allegations of torture by defendants were not investigated properly by authorities.

Authorities responded by saying the judiciary was independent in the UAE, and that a government-sanctioned human rights group had investigated the torture allegations and found them to be false.

Authorities said Islah is a Muslim Brotherhood organisation, although Islah activists have said they are an independent Emirati organisation that shares the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood but has no formal ties to the group.

In November 2014 the UAE banned the Muslim Brotherhood and Islah, among 80 other groups, labelling them terrorists.