Tolerance Narrative Sham: United Arab Emirates | Mirage News
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates are using Expo 2020 Dubai to promote an open public image that contradicts the government’s efforts to prevent scrutiny of its systemic human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today . Expo 2020 is a premier global cultural event based on the free exchange of ideas.
National critics are regularly arrested and, since at least 2015, UAE authorities have ignored or denied requests for access to the country from UN experts, human rights researchers, academics and journalists. reviews. The government’s pervasive national surveillance has led to widespread self-censorship by UAE residents and UAE-based institutions; and government obstruction, censorship and possible surveillance of the media.
“Dozens of peaceful critics of the United Arab Emirates have been arrested, brought to blatantly unfair trials and sentenced to many years in prison simply for trying to express their views on governance and human rights,” he said. said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. . “Expo 2020 is a new opportunity for the UAE to falsely portray itself on the world stage as open, tolerant and respectful of rights while closing off the space for politics, public discourse and activism.”
Expo 2020 will be held from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, with the theme “Connecting minds, creating the future”. The Bureau International des Expositions, the intergovernmental organization overseeing the Dubai Expo 2020, said the theme is “based on the belief that bringing the world together can catalyze an exchange of new perspectives.” The event was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This event, like other expensive entertainment, cultural, sporting and educational events before it, is designed to promote a public relations image of the UAE as an open, progressive and tolerant country while its abusive authorities forcefully ban all peaceful criticism and dissent. , Human Rights Watch said. At the beginning of last month, the European Parliament urged states not to participate in the Expo, citing human rights violations, the imprisonment of activists and the government’s use of spyware to target critics.
Since 2011, the UAE authorities have carried out a sustained attack on freedom of expression and association, stop and continue hundreds of lawyers, judges, teachers, students and activists, and close the main civil society associations and the offices of foreign organizations, effectively crushing any space for dissent. The United Arab Emirates have also introduced new laws and amended the already repressive ones to further suppress freedom of expression in order to more easily eradicate dissent.
Local news sites, many of which are state owned or controlled, censor themselves in accordance with government regulations and unofficial red lines. Foreign journalists and academics say their organizations can censor themselves for fear of entry denial or deportation.
The government has also blocked UN experts, human rights researchers and others from examining its human rights record on the ground. Since 2014, when the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Judicial Independence visited the United Arab Emirates and issued a damning report criticizing the country’s lack of judicial independence, the government has rejected most visit requests. United Nations human rights experts.
Major international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have also faced increased restrictions on their ability to visit and engage with government officials on human rights issues. Staff from both organizations were denied access to high-profile prisons and trials, and ultimately entry into the country. Authorities in the UAE rarely responded to requests for information or meetings from either organization.
And since at least 2011, UAE authorities have also barred entry to academics, writers, artists and journalists, some for their criticism of the mistreatment of migrant workers by the UAE, and others often without. no justification.
The UAE has embarked on a decades-long effort to whitewash its reputation on the international stage. These efforts were made explicit in the Soft power strategy 2017, which includes the culture of “cultural and media diplomacy” as a central pillar and has the stated aim of “establishing [the UAE’s] reputation as a modern and tolerant country welcoming all the peoples of the world.
Expo 2020 is the latest in a long list of investments in ambitious cultural and educational projects that aim to achieve this goal, Human Rights Watch said. Others include the acquisition of the Louvre, the outposts of Guggenheim and New York University, making Dubai a luxury tourist destination and hosting global cultural events such as the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi and the upcoming World Expo in Dubai.
While major international academic and cultural institutions first established a presence in the UAE with the promise of serving the public good by promoting “ideas, discourse and critical thinking”, they have have remained silent since in the face of the growing repression of fundamental rights. They operate in the United Arab Emirates even at to the detriment of academic freedom and the right to freedom of expression in their own spaces.