This video says about itself:
Human Rights Abuse in the United Arab Emirates on BBC World News
5 November 2012
Rori Donaghy discusses ongoing human rights abuse in the UAE on BBC World News.
By Solomon Hughes in Britain:
How a Tory ex-foreign minister is sheikhing it up with new despot pal
Friday 3rd July 2015
SOLOMON HUGHES casts a hawkish eye over Falcon and Associates, a lobby group for Dubai’s violent, repressive regime
FORMER Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson resigned from that post in 2014 and promptly stepped into a new job doing PR for a repressive Middle Eastern government.
Robertson, who was responsible for the Middle East and counterterrorism in his ministerial post, also stood down as MP for Faversham at May’s general election.
He is now head of the London office and director of international relations for “Falcon and Associates.”
Falcon now acts as a general PR and business promotion officer for Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates. Falcon and Associates “works to positively influence the conversation about Dubai and the UAE as a place of opportunity for business, culture and lifestyle.”
This is how the conversation should really go: Dubai is an absolute monarchy with no democratic rights and a bad reputation for abusing foreign workers who build and service the city state. In May, just as Robertson’s appointment was announced, Amnesty International’s human rights expert tried to address a conference on mistreatment of workers in Dubai, but the sheikh’s police put him on a flight straight back out of the country, without explanation.
So just as a former British government minister is taking a job with the sheikhdom, a human rights advocate is being kicked out of the country.
The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), which regulates the “revolving door” between government and business, approved Robertson’s new job. They noted “the UK government overtly supported Dubai’s bid for Expo 2020 — a bid that Falcon and Associates was at the core of,” but said that Robertson was not personally involved in that support, so this was no problem.
Falcon and Associates reflects the archaic politics of Dubai — even the title sounds like a cross between a management consultancy and an episode of Game of Thrones. Falcon is a family affair. The top directors include John Ferguson, who is also the Emir of Dubai’s “bloodstock adviser” — his expert on buying racehorses — and Ahmad Abdullah Al Sheikh, the “media escort of His Highness the Ruler of Dubai.”
Another top Falcon director, Giselle Pettyfer, was previously head of “comms” for the International Olympic Committee.
While Dubai gave up on a 2020 Olympic bid, the Sheikhdom’s Olympic ambitions might still be in play.
The letter from Acoba says Robertson’s new job “will involve heading the London office, with frequent travel to Dubai. You will have particular responsibility for international relations, with particular emphasis on potential investors; sports and major events strategy, including Expo 2020; and special projects as they arise.”
Robertson’s post-ministerial job shows one of the contradictions of Parliament: Robertson owes his job to democracy. He would not be getting money from the sheikhs without the experience and contacts he developed as a minister in a democratically elected government. But the first place he turned for cash when he left office is a repressive autocracy.
Turning to the sheikhs for cash shows how little this ex-minister feels for the democratic system behind his career.
This video says about itself:
Always wanted to get up close to a tiger? You need to watch this first!
27 November 2014
United States reality TV personality Kim Kardashian got criticism for participating in a publicity stunt of the human rights violating absolute monarchy Bahrain.
More recently, Kim’s sister and fellow reality TV personality Khloé Kardashian went to a country, not so far from Bahrain, which is also a human rights violating absolute monarchy: Dubai.
In Dubai, the situation for animals, especially for big cats, seems to be not really better.
From Wildlife Extra:
Khloe Kardashian causes outrage for selfie with tiger cub in Dubai
Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian has been condemned by wildlife charities for being the latest celebrity in the disappointing trend of taking wild animal selfies (click here to see the image). Khloe then posted the image on her instagram account.
For the photograph Khloe was cuddling a tiger cub, which, says the conservation charity World Animal Protection, probably would have had its “canine teeth and claws removed – a process which causes them great pain,” so that it was safe for tourists to handle. “These ‘once in a lifetime’ photos mean a lifetime of misery for the animal involved,” it said in a statement
More tigers live in captivity today than in the wild. It’s estimated that the number of captive tigers in the United States alone is at least 5,000 – far more than the 3,200 left in the wild globally. Many of these captive tigers are kept not by accredited sanctuaries or zoos but by private owners.
Tourists are often unaware of the cruelty tigers suffer for these tourist attractions. That’s why we recently launched the next step in our ‘Before they book’ campaign, to expose the hidden suffering that lies behind posing with tigers for holiday snaps. Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, Programme Manager for Wildlife in the Asia-Pacific region, said:
“We’re disappointed to see yet another celebrity posing with a wild animal. Tigers belong in the wild, where their needs can be fully met – not in captivity for use as entertainment or photo props.
“While interacting with tigers may seem harmless, people posing with wildlife don’t realize that a ‘once in a lifetime’ photo for them means a lifetime of misery for the animal. To be used for entertainment, tigers are forcibly removed from their mothers as cubs, trained to perform, and often suffer for the rest of their lives in captivity.
“Tigers are also highly unpredictable, and tourists around the world have been mauled or attacked when posing or interacting with these animals, underlining that show-business is no career for a wild animal.
“To people like Khloe Kardashian who love animals, our message is simple: see them in the wild.”
Global research shows that 50% of people who pay for a wild animal experience, do so because they love animals. But we know that if these animal lovers were aware of the abuse that takes place at wildlife tourist attractions and parks, they would never take part.
Help us end animal abuse
You can help the charity end the suffering that goes on behind the scenes at animal attractions around the world. Join our Before you Book campaign and share our video.
This 2012 video is called Saudi Human Rights Violations Pt 1.
This video is the sequel.
From Human Rights Watch:
EU: Seek Release of Gulf Activists
May 22, 2015
(Brussels) – EU High Representative Federica Mogherini should publicly urge Gulf countries to release immediately and unconditionally activists detained for exercising their rights, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to her today. The letter was sent ahead of a Gulf Cooperation Council-EU ministerial meeting in Doha on May 24, 2015.
The GCC countries’ crackdown on freedom of expression and association has resulted in the imprisonment of many activists and dissidents. Member countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
“Despite the EU’s oft-stated commitment to human rights, it hasn’t so much thrown its weight behind advocates of human rights in the Gulf as nervously wagged its finger,” said Lotte Leicht, EU director. “The EU should take inspiration from the courage of detained GCC activists, and call for their immediate release.”
In June 2014, EU foreign ministers pledged to “intensify” the EU’s “political and material support to human rights defenders and step up its efforts against all forms of reprisals.” Human Rights Watch urged the EU to translate this commitment into concrete action and policy demands that go beyond mere expressions of support for those unfairly imprisoned.
Hundreds of dissidents, political activists, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and bloggers have been imprisoned across the Gulf region, often for nothing more than exercising their rights to free expression and association. Many were convicted after unfair trials and allegations of torture in pretrial detention. GCC governments have responded to growing citizen use of social media by resorting to repressive laws and in some cases by enacting new, more draconian ones, in the name of national security.
In Bahrain, the rights situation continues to deteriorate. Some EU member states and Members of the European Parliament have called for the immediate and unconditional release of the prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab. But the EU has yet to make a specific call for his release or that of 13 other high-profile activists – including two EU citizens, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja of Denmark and Khalil Al-Halwachi of Sweden. All are serving life or other long sentences on charges that relate solely to their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association.
The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a counterterrorism regulation in 2014 that designates certain groups as terrorist organizations and contains other provisions that proscribe acts such as “calling for atheist thought,” “throw[ing] away loyalty to the country’s rulers,” “contact or correspondence with any groups, currents [of thought], or individuals hostile to the kingdom,” and participating in or calling for protests or demonstrations.
In the United Arab Emirates, which claims to be a world leader in combating extremist ideologies, the human rights lawyers Mohamed al-Roken and Mohamed al-Mansoori and 67 other defendants were convicted in 2013 of attempting to overthrow the state and sentenced to prison in a mass trial. The trial was undermined by due process violations and credible allegations that some defendants were tortured. A 2014 counterterrorism law includes death sentences for offenses used to prosecute peaceful critics of the government and people the authorities consider opposed to Islamic principles.
Five of the six GCC member countries have also ratified the November 2012 GCC Security Agreement, which includes a vaguely worded article that would suppress “interference in the domestic affairs” of other GCC countries. That provision could be used to criminalize criticism of GCC countries or rulers. Another provision provides for sharing citizens’ and residents’ personal data between GCC states at the discretion of GCC Interior Ministry officials.
When adopting the EU’s Strategic Framework for Human Rights and Democracy in June 2012, EU foreign ministers pledged that the EU will continue “to throw its full weight behind advocates of liberty, democracy and human rights throughout the world.”
“If the EU excludes its major trading partners in the oil-rich Gulf states from its oft-stated commitment to human rights, it will rightly be accused of hypocrisy,” Leicht said. “A weak EU response to Gulf states’ crackdowns on dissent isn’t going to help promote long-term stability in the Gulf.”
This video says about itself:
(New York, February 10, 2015) – Serious concerns about workers’ rights have not been resolved for a high-profile project in Abu Dhabi that will host branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and a campus of New York University (NYU). These institutions should make their continued engagement with the Saadiyat Island project contingent on the developers’ commitment to more serious enforcement of worker protections and the compensation of workers who suffered abuses, including those arbitrarily deported after they went on strike.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Tunisian novel wins ‘Arabic Booker’ in Abu Dhabi despite UAE ban
M Lynx Qualey
Wednesday 6 May 2015 17.29 BST
A Tunisian university administrator has won the International prize for Arabic fiction (IPAF) for his debut novel, The Italian, at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ capital city. Shukri al-Mabkhout’s award comes just a week after his publishers learned from an Abu Dhabi bookshop that the novel was banned from bookshops across the Emirates.
The Italian is the eighth winner of the $50,000 (£33,000) prize known as the “Arabic Booker”. While the award is funded by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, its longlist, shortlist and winner are decided by a panel of independent judges, this year chaired by Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti.
Even before the announcement, there was wide interest in al-Mabkhout’s historical novel, whose protagonist is nicknamed “the Italian” for his slick good looks. The novel is set in Tunisia during the tumultuous crossover between Habib Bourguiba’s 30-year rule (1957-1987) and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 24 years in power (1987-2011) and follows the central character’s political and romantic adventures while also critically examining Tunisia under two dictatorships.
When it was released last year, 53-year-old al-Mabkhout’s novel came as something of a shock to the Tunisian literary community. Al-Mabkhout is current president of the country’s University of Manouba and a well-known cultural figure, respected for his translations, literary criticism, and a weekly newspaper column, but his arrival as a novelist had not been expected. After the initial surprise, his debut received an enthusiastic reception, last month winning Tunisia’s top literary prize.
Al-Mabkhout said in an email interview with IPAF organisers that he was inspired by the backlash that came after the 2010-2011 Tunisian uprising that ousted Ben Ali.
“In a short period of time, we experienced what is equivalent to many years’ worth of unbelievable confusion and changes,” the novelist wrote. He could have addressed his feelings in a newspaper column, he said, but instead it was the novel form, “with its ability to grasp the contradictions, conflicts, changes, and hesitations,” that drew him in. This year he plans to publish a second novel as well as a collection of poems.
IPAF judging chair Mourid Barghouti said The Italian “brilliantly depicts the unrest both of the small world of its characters and the larger one of the nation”. Although it’s about Tunisian society, he said, “the book may also surprise many of its Arab readers who may recognise aspects of their societies in its pages”.
This recognition is perhaps what led to its banning in the Emirates, although no official reason has been given. Last week, al-Mabkhout’s publisher found out from Maktabet al Jamea (University Bookshop) in Abu Dhabi that the “authorities informed him it’s banned and that he therefore can’t stock it,” according to Sherif Joseph Rizk, the Cairo manager of Dar al-Tanweer, the book’s publisher.
Rizk said that Dar al-Tanweer did bring copies to the Abu Dhabi international book fair, which opens on Thursday, saying that “the fairs always get more lenient procedures”. IPAF organisers also issued a statement that copies would be available at the fair and that, “As a prize, we promote literature across borders but cannot influence the availability of our titles.”
Rizk wasn’t sure why the book was being singled out. Other books on the shortlist also cross traditional red lines, particularly Syrian novelist Lina Hawyan Elhassan’s Diamonds and Women, which has a number of sex scenes.
Thus far, Rizk said, al-Mabkhout’s novel remained available elsewhere. “We sold it in Riyadh. Now of course that’s threatened.”
An ebook version isn’t yet out, but Rizk said one should be available soon through Diwan Bookstores.
An eventual English translation is more or less guaranteed by the IPAF, the highest-profile Arabic novel prize. Six of the previous seven winners are already available in English. The most recent is Saud al-Sanoussi’s The Bamboo Stalk, published at the end of last month. English rights to last year’s winner, Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, have been picked up by Oneworld, and it is tentatively scheduled for a 2016 release.
A comment at the Guardian site on this:
Don’t suppose George Orwell‘s ever topped the bestseller list in UAE, then?
This video says about itself:
The Stream – UAE bloggers on trial for speaking out online
10 October 2011
As five pro-reform bloggers face a prolonged trial for criticising the government of the United Arab Emirates, what is the future of democracy in that country?
The Stream speaks with Dr. Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, professor of political science at Emirates University and Thabet Al-Qaissieh, an Emirati blogger.
From telesUR TV in Venezuela:
The former prime minister has earned up to $150m since leaving office by advising the UAE and numerous other governments. A new report released Sunday has revealed questionable details about Tony Blair’s contracts with the Colombian government. According to revelations by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, the Colombian government hired Mr. Blair to advise it on how it will spend US$3 billion earned in mining deals. However, Colombia is not paying for Blair‘s contract, which is funded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Colombian government has admitted the UAE is funding the consultancy, “to support the implementation” of the new rules on how money from mining deals is distributed in Colombia. The contract was agreed after Colombia introduced a law in 2011 under which fees and royalties from the mining industry were sent back to central government. Before, about 80 percent of such mining “royalties” were kept by local and regional administrative authorities. It is not clear if Mr Blair had any involvement in the framing of the new legislation, as his work with the Colombian government began in 2009 as an adviser to Mr Santos. In 2014, the Colombian government began efforts to increase commercial ties and investments with the UAE, and after Sunday’s revelations the Santos administration defended its contract with Blair.
However, Colombia’s chief senior prosecutor Fanny Gonzalez has sent a letter to the Colombian presidency demanding explanations on the contracts, and sources from the Prosecutor’s Office told magazine Semana that they are preparing an investigation on the contracts and Blair’s firm. Blair is also the official Middle East envoy for the Madrid Quartet trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a group made up by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia. This has raised questions about a possible conflict of interest. Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, explained to The Telegraph that the UAE has specific interests in the region which could conflict with resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue. “The UAE is supposed to be a leading donor government on the issue of Gaza and the West Bank, so what does Tony Blair put first, his role as Quartet envoy or his role as a businessman when dealing with them?,” he asked.
The Telegraph also revealed that Blair would be quitting his role as the Quartet envoy in the following weeks, after the newspaper revealed his ties with the UAE. Through his company Tony Blair Associates (TBA), the former prime minister has received between US$75 million and US$150 million since he left Downing Street, providing consultancy to numerous governments.
This video from Britain says about itself:
For almost 40 years, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has been exposing, challenging and impeding the international arms trade. In recognition of this work, CAAT was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2012. This short documentary was produced during the week of the awards by Take Part Media on behalf of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:
There’s more than one trillion euros per year of business in the arms industry. It is a lucrative market which is still growing because of the ISIS conflict, especially in the Middle East. And right there, in Abu Dhabi, this week is the biggest arms fair in the world. Correspondent Sander van Hoorn visited the exhibition and saw that in the fight against ISIS there are certain trends. …
No soldier wants to be interviewed. …
Euphemistic language abounds. “Ordnance” is the word used for everything which explodes. And some Dutch entrepreneurs tried to convince me that it’s actually not ‘arms industry’, but ‘defense industry’.
Canadian soldier killed by friendly fire in Iraq: here.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented a motion to parliament Tuesday endorsing the extension of Canadian military operations in Iraq for a further twelve months, and their expansion into Syria: here.
U.S. ADOPTS NEW ISIS STRATEGY IN IRAQ “In a major shift of focus in the battle against the Islamic State, the Obama administration is planning to establish a new military base in Anbar Province and send 400 American military trainers to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi.” [NYT]
President Obama ended the G7 summit in Bavaria Monday with a press conference where he took several questions on the deepening crisis in the Middle East and North Africa, and dropped hints of an impending US escalation of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS): here.
The Pentagon is preparing to develop a network of new US military bases in strategic areas of Iraq, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday: here.
The US war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will require a “generational” and “trans-regional” commitment of US forces, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said Tuesday, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. According to Dempsey, the threat of ISIS requires sustained US military pressure not just in Iraq and Syria but in the Sinai peninsula, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere: here.