Target: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum , Vice President and Prime Minister
Goal: Release poet and journalist from prison and drop the politically-motivated charges laid against him.
A Jordanian journalist and poet based in the United Arab Emirates has been arrested and charged based on Facebook posts he made. Tayseer al-Najjar is accused of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, collaborating with Qatar, and insulting the UAE and its leaders based on Facebook posts he made in 2014. These posts criticized the destruction of tunnels into Gaza by the Egyptian Army and the Israeli Defense Force. He has largely been held in solitary confinement and while he has been able to contact his family, he has been denied proper access to medical treatment.
Since 2011, authorities in the UAE have taken an increasingly restrictive stances on freedom of expression, freedom of press, and human rights activism. This has resulted in the arrest and prosecution of more than 100 journalists, human rights advocates, lawyers, judges, and academics. Charges are often spuriously tied into national security and cybercrime and the resulting trials do not meet international fair trial standards. Convictions are often based on coerced confessions, which are used even when defendants recant. There have been multiple reports of security services engaging in torture, ill treatment, and other violations of basic human rights. Sign our petition and demand the release of Tayseer al-Najjar, and ask that all charges against him be dropped.
Your Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum,
I was alarmed to hear of the continued detention of Tayseer al-Najjar, who has been detained since December 2015. I urge you to immediately clarify what charges he faces, or release him unconditionally and drop all proceedings against him. Furthermore, I implore you to do everything in your power to ensure that Tayseer Al Najjar has access to both legal representation and medical treatment as are his rights under international law.
I believe the continued detention of Tayseer al-Najjar undermines the international reputation of the UAE and calls into question your country’s commitment to respecting human rights. Furthermore, his detention promotes rather than silences the critics of your nation, and does much to legitimize them. I implore you to protect freedom of speech and expression in the UAE.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Abdullah al-Muhairi