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European Union legislators urge UAE to free imprisoned human rights activists

The European Union (EU) has urged the United Arab Emirates to release several human rights activists. This resolution was passed by the UN on Thursday 16th September 2021 requesting the immediate release of these activists, as it violated legal rights.

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The EU parliament condemned the actions of the UAE and demanded the release of dissidents imprisoned in the country. Namely, the release of Ahmad Mansoor, Nasser bin Ghaith, and Mohammed al-Roken. The parliament wants their “unconditioned release” but also the release of other Emirati political activists that have been held. In order to get their point across, the UN has stated that it will boycott next month’s Dubai Expo to “signal their disapproval”. The statement also highlighted that since 2011, the UAE has intensified “its crackdown on freedom of association, assembly, and expression”. The resolution also expressed their disdain by stating “in order to signal their disapproval of the human rights violations in the UAE, (the European Parliament) invites the international companies sponsoring Expo 2020 Dubai to withdraw their sponsorship and encourages member states not to participate in the event”. 

Ahmad Mansoor was arrested in 2017 after an unfair trial in which he was accused of “spreading false and misleading information over the internet, through agendas aimed at disseminating antipathy and sectarianism”. However, this charge was brought solely on the opinions he shared on his social media. He was convicted to 10 years in prison, fined one million UAE Dirhams, and will be under surveillance up to three years after his release. According to some letters published online in July, the clear mistreatment he faced in prison was apparent as well.

Mohammed al-Roken is a university professor and human rights lawyer who was arrested in 2012 over “establishing an organization seeking to bring about the government’s overthrow”, or more simply for being a “prisoner of conscience”. He was convicted of 10 years in prison as well. 

Moreover, Nasser bin Ghaith is an economist as well as human rights defender who was arrested in 2015 over tweets criticising Egypt. He was sentenced to 10 years for posting on social media in a critical way by UAE authorities. This resolution for their release was approved by the majority; it won the votes of 383 legislators

It is clear that action was needed against the violation of human rights being conducted by the UAE as the human rights activists have been treated very harshly in prison. Hopefully, this media attention draws light on this subject and brings forth positive changes to UAE aws. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Melbourne to come out of lockdown after 262 days

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The city of Melbourne, Australia will come out of lockdown this Friday after reaching a vaccination rate of  70%. This Australian city has spent time under the Covid-19 lockdown more than any city in the world, totaling 262 days.  

The lockdown will end five days earlier than was anticipated due to the high vaccination rate. The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews made the announcement on Sunday, stating “as of 11.59 pm Thursday there will be no lockdown, no restrictions on leaving home and no curfew.” This is the city’s sixth lockdown which is ending after 73 days, due to the goal of 70% of people over 16 being double-dosed being reached.

According to Victoria’s reports, there were 1,838 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths in the city on Sunday so people will not be able to visit regional Victoria even after the lockdown restrictions are lifted. This lifting of lockdown means “ten visitors, including dependents, will be able to visit a home each day. Outdoor gatherings will increase to 15 people. Up to 20 fully vaccinated people will be allowed inside at hospitality venues with 50 outside, subject to density limits.” Moreover, schools will open physically, at least on a part time basis as well as some traveling restrictions being lifted.

Melbourne will also ease even more restrictions when 80% of the population is vaccinated. As Andrew said “today is a day where every Victorian should be proud,” adding “it is absolutely amazing to be this closely aligned to New South Wales. To be only just a couple of weeks behind NSW, when we know and understand just how much extra vaccine went there, is a credit to every single Victorian.” In fact, he also said that “I don’t think it will stop at 90 percent. There is not a ceiling, I think it will creep beyond that and maybe get to 92 percent, 93 percent, 94 percent even. But every jab, every person, every percentage point that is fully vaccinated, that is literally tens of thousands of people less getting sick and finishing up needing hospitalization.”

It is great to see a country coping with Covid-19 in a proper way. It was a combined effort of public and health officials that helped Melbourne finally come out of lockdown. Hopefully, other countries will also see such success in vaccination rates so Covid-19 can successfully be controlled.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Peak Australian Islamic body cancels online discussion with Taliban guest speakers

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A now-cancelled online event organised by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) was advertising a ‘stellar panel of speakers’ of which two of the speakers are members of the Taliban. The event planned to discuss the future of Afghanistan following the Taliban’s swift takeover “whether we are in favour or against recent developments.” Less than 24 hours after the news broke, AFIC cancelled the event with President Dr Rateb Jneid claiming they were not seeking to “legitimise any group or to offend any group.” Its Chief Executive Keysar Trad also claimed they do not wish to “create any angst for anybody” but said the event was to “obtain assurances about the rights of minorities and women and to also dissuade and discourage any young people from going to that region.” 

Nonetheless, the scheduling of the event garnered condemnation from all levels and political stripes of the Australian government, with the New South Wales (NSW) premier Dominic Perrottet and Multiculturalism Minister Natalie Ward jointly stating that “we join Muslim community leaders in NSW, and especially Afghan community leaders, in condemning events of this kind” with the opposing Labor party’s police and counter-terrorism MP Walt Secord branding the event “a road map to radicalisation.” The conservative federal MP Phillip Thompson described the Taliban as “vile and barbaric” for the inhumane rule and their opposition to equal education for women and girls. Before parliament, Mr Thompson served in the military and was severely injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and said the event would upset war veterans

Beyond the politicians, the event angered activists like refugee advocate Sitarah Mohammadi, who fled Taliban rule in the 1990s with her family due to them being a part of the Hazara minority, who are heavily persecuted by the Sunni Taliban. When the Taliban took over and regained control over Afghanistan this year, no other group felt in danger as much as the Hazaras did. To people like Sitara, giving the Taliban a platform is “completely inappropriate” especially with the memories of the Taliban’s torture from the 1990s still fresh in Hazara communities.

The two Taliban speakers for the event were Suhail Shaheen and Sayed Abdul Basir Sabiri. Doha-based Shaheen has not ruled out returning to harsh punishments such as stonings and public executions and was named as the Taliban’s representative to the United Nations while Sabiri is a senior Taliban member.

The Taliban’s struggle for global recognition and diplomatic relations with Western countries is still unsuccessful. Yet the fact that some Western Muslim leaders are open to hosting them on a panel discussion and using the Taliban’s official name the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ in their advertising shows that withdrawing military forces is not the end of the war. The new frontier in tackling such extremism is now in the disinformation space and c