New York University links to UAE dictatorship


This 18 September 2017 Gulf Human Rights Committee video says about itself:

Short film about human rights abuses by the government of the UAE against democracy activists, foreign businessmen, and their families.

By Josh Varlin in the USA:

New York University faculty defends academic freedom against NYU’s ties to UAE

8 December 2018

Dozens of New York University faculty gathered December 3 in a forum to voice their concerns over the NYU administration’s response to the case of Matthew Hedges, a British academic who was imprisoned for months in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on trumped-up charges. Despite an open letter —presently signed by 224 faculty, staff and PhD students—demanding NYU President Andrew Hamilton condemn Hedges’s arrest and take measures to secure academic freedom, NYU continues to cover for the UAE government.

Given NYU’s role in the UAE, where it has a degree-granting campus in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), the silence of the administration amounts to complicity. The UAE gave $50 million to the construction of the NYUAD campus, and a high-ranking member of the UAE government sits on the NYU Board of Trustees. His fellow board members are an ignominious group of New York City multimillionaires and billionaires, including several who sit on the boards of imperialist think tanks like the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

After an international outcry, including the NYU faculty letter, Hedges was hastily pardoned and allowed to the leave the UAE. He has since explained to the Telegraph that after he was sentenced, he was interrogated yet again, prompting suicidal ideation. While he was imprisoned, his captors administered both tranquilizers and stimulants to him without proper medical supervision, leaving Hedges suffering from withdrawal symptoms in the UK.

At the faculty forum, titled “NYU, UAE, & Academic Freedom”, three faculty members who had experience with NYUAD and the UAE government spoke, followed by contributions from the floor. The common theme was that academic freedom was anything but sacrosanct in both the UAE and at NYUAD, and that the NYU administration is fully aware yet continues to claim otherwise.

The first of the main speakers was Lauren Minsky, assistant professor of history, who taught at NYUAD from its opening in 2010 until this year. She was followed by Andrew Ross, professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and director of American Studies, who was barred from the UAE in 2015 due to his research on labor conditions in the country. Arang Keshavarzian, associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies, was the last of the main speakers. Keshavarzian was denied a security clearance by the UAE last year and was therefore unable to teach in the country.

While the arrest of Hedges was a nodal point in the attacks on academic freedom by the UAE, it was hardly the first time academics had been harassed for their work by the federation of sheikdoms. Minsky provided a timeline of the sordid NYU-UAE “partnership”, including how NYU walked back on promises of academic freedom shortly after the campus began operations by creating a facile distinction between academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Minsky described how, after her arrival in the UAE, she noticed how the boxes containing her research materials had been opened and everything was in disarray. “They had clearly gone through everything”, she noted. Some of her husband’s English- and Hebrew-language books were confiscated. She described extensive “direct harassment of faculty teaching at NYU Abu Dhabi”, Minsky noted that she was followed for hours in her car—with her infant on board—by an unmarked vehicle that she believes was associated with the regime’s security services.

Harassment has only escalated over the past couple of years, Minsky told the meeting, with the campus suddenly declared a “public space” by the government. All public events that people unaffiliated with NYU could attend had to be approved. “From my perspective, it’s almost like the [UAE] government is taking over the institution, and I don’t say that lightly”, she explained.

Ross emphasized that genuine academic freedom extends to speech that is critical of university administrations and extends beyond the walls of the university. “One of the duties or obligations of our profession’s members is to share our knowledge and opinions with the public”, he said.

The secrecy around the Memorandum of Understanding between NYU and the UAE—which has never been made public—was the “original sin” of NYUAD he said: “The ‘original sin’ of non-transparency determined the character of these operations from there on. … That original sin has made it all the more likely that something very, very bad will happen sooner rather than later at NYU Abu Dhabi. And in my mind that’s almost a certainty.”

Ross also noted that this was hardly exclusive to NYUAD, referencing how Israeli law now prohibits entry to members of pro-Palestinian groups, including groups with an organizational presence at NYU. Thus, it isn’t legally possible for all NYU students to study at NYU Tel Aviv, something also noted by a subsequent student speaker of Palestinian origin.

Keshavarzian stressed that the UAE was an absolutist monarchy from its founding in 1971 through to NYU’s decision to construct a liberal arts college in the country, and remains so today. However, the UAE’s authoritarianism made NYUAD possible, including the brutal exploitation of labor to construct the campus. “NYU entered into this arrangement because of the UAE’s illiberal system, not despite it”, Keshavarzian explained.

Regarding the denial of his security clearance in 2017, Keshavarzian asked: “Was I denied entry because I was born in Iran and I was asked to identify myself as a Shiite Muslim, or was I denied entry because of what I teach, research or write? I do not know, and allegedly the UAE government won’t tell NYU. … If it was the former, then it is a simple case of discrimination based on my ethnicity; if it is the later, it is a simple and gross violation of academic freedom.”

The general response of the NYU administration to faculty having their academic freedom and democratic rights restricted by the UAE was to sweep it under the rug. Keshavarzian noted that most of the communication with him regarding his security clearance denial came in the form of phone calls rather than e-mails, and that Hamilton “has never once picked up the telephone to talk to me, or Mohamad [Bazzi, another professor denied a security clearance by the UAE in 2017].”

The three speakers were followed by contributions from the floor. While the faculty had invited members of the administration, including Hamilton and Provost Katherine Fleming, they did not attend.

Toward the end of the discussion, John Archer, a professor of English and one of the organizers behind the open letter to Hamilton, proposed a motion that was amended and then supported overwhelmingly in a resolution that called on the NYU administration to “uphold the principles of academic freedom at NYU’s global sites and protect anyone who has experienced explicit threats to their academic freedom and personal safety” and to make public NYU’s Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE.

The resolution proposed a monitoring committee of faculty, staff and students. independent of the NYU administration, to oversee these demands and to create a secure whistleblowing website that would air “concerns about threats to or violations of academic freedom, violations of policies regarding labor, and the like” by the UAE government.

A representative of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality addressed the meeting at the end and stressed how the UAE is cracking down on academic freedom during its bloody intervention in Yemen and how attacks on democratic rights are taking place internationally—including the repression of the French “yellow vest” protests and the attacks on immigrants at the US-Mexico border. If democratic rights are to be defended at NYU and elsewhere, it must be based on an international strategy oriented to the working class, he stressed.

The IYSSE at NYU will discuss these issues at its next meeting, “NYU Administration Backs the UAE: The Way Forward to Defend Academic Freedom”, which will be on Tuesday, December 11 , at 6:30 p.m. in room 910 of the Kimmel Center at NYU. Faculty, students, staff and others seeking a socialist strategy to defend democratic rights are invited to attend.

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British Conservatives soft on UAE human rights violations


British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May shakes hands with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of UAE member state Abu Dhabi in 2017

This photo shows British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May shaking hands with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) member state Abu Dhabi in 2017.

The UAE participates in the bloody war by Saudi Arabia on the people of Yemen. There are UAE torture jails for imprisoned Yemenis. Like Saudi Arabia and other Saudi coalition states, eg Bahrain, the UAE wages its war on Yemen with, eg, British weapons.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain:

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Tories put relations with UAE above welfare of its citizens, says wife of jailed academic

THE British government is putting its relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before the welfare of one of its citizens, the wife of a jailed academic charged today.

Daniela Tejada condemned the Foreign Office over its handling of the case of British citizen Matthew Hedges, who has been locked up for life in the UAE over allegations of spying.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who met the UAE British ambassador today, said he had threatened the UAE with “serious diplomatic consequences” if Mr Hedges is not freed as there is “absolutely no evidence” to support the charge.

But Ms Tejada said Britain had “failed” to take a strong position from the start.

She said: “I was under the impression they were putting their interests with the UAE above a British citizen’s rightful freedom and his welfare. They were stepping on eggshells instead of taking a firm stance.

“I believe that they should have taken a firmer stance from the beginning, if not publicly then through their private representations.”

Ms Tejada added that she believes Britain should stop at nothing to free the “innocent” Mr Hedges, who was imprisoned on “completely fabricated” evidence.

Mr Hedges, a Middle Eastern studies specialist at Durham University, was arrested at Dubai Airport in May and has been held in solitary confinement since. His family claims his “mental and physical health seriously deteriorated” while in confinement.

A Foreign Office spokesman did not say what form any possible diplomatic consequences could take other than that a number of options are available.

Will the British Conservative government seriously consider the option of stopping to sell the UAE autocracy British weapons for the disastrous war in Yemen? And stopping to train UAE army officers in Britain? And stopping to train UAE torturers? I hope so, but I don’t count on it.

British government inaction ends in life sentence for PhD student in UAE: here.

UAE: call on Grand Prix drivers and fans to tweet support for jailed student Matthew Hedges: here.

UPDATE: Spy charges: UAE gives Matthew Hedges a presidential pardon. British academic, who was accused of spying on behalf of his government, to be freed as part of a national day amnesty: here.

Academics at New York University condemned the life sentence handed down to British academic Matthew Hedges by the United Arab Emirates for supposed espionage in an open letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton. While Hedges has since been granted clemency following international outrage, his case underscores the contempt with which the UAE government—with which New York University has deep ties—views academic freedom: here.

Dutch army helps UAE war on Yemen


This November 2017 video says about itself:

150 children die every day in Yemen as Saudi Arabia has implemented a vicious bombing campaign and has blockaded the country from land, air, and sea. 7 million people are threatened by famine leading many organizations to say that what is happening in Yemen has the makings of a ‘genocide’.

From Stop wapenhandel (Stop the arms trade) in the Netherlands:

UAE army elite unit involved in war in Yemen comes to train in the Netherlands

June 26, 2018 – The Presidential Guard of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a military elite unit that plays an important role in the war in Yemen, will participate next week in the Non-Conventional Threat (NCT) Europe event in Vught.(1) This event is organized in collaboration with the Dutch armed forces and takes place at its National CBRN Training Center.(2)

Stop Wapenhandel finds it incomprehensible that an army unit which participates in a war in which human rights are brutally violated is welcome in the Netherlands for military training.

The UAE‘s Presidential Guard is not just any army unit: it is the leading unit in the war that the Emirates are waging in Yemen as part of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. According to the United Nations and human rights organizations, this coalition is committing war crimes on a large scale, eg, by bombing hospitals.

The humanitarian situation for the citizens of Yemen is disastrous, partly due to a sea blockade that leads to the first necessities of life and relief goods being unable to reach the country. Oxfam Novib warned earlier this month that millions of people in Yemen are threatened by food shortages and contagious diseases. The war cost the lives of more than 10,000 people, mainly ordinary citizens. For this reason, the Dutch government pursues a cautious arms export policy for countries involved in the war in Yemen.(3) A seriously cautious policy should also apply to training of soldiers who play an important role in this war.

Notes:

(1) The NCT Europe event focuses on training for reactions and protections against the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. The event will be opened by Inspector-General of the Armed Forces (IGK) Lieutenant General Hans van Griensven. In addition to training and lectures, there is a trade fair with various military and security companies. The organization of NCT Europe is in the hands of the Leiden IB Consultancy, which collaborates with the Ministry of Defense.

(2) It is not the first time that Defense has gone wrong in this way. In 2016, the Commander of the Naval Forces invited Saudi Arabia, the driving force behind the war in Yemen, to participate in the MAST arms fair in Amsterdam. In response to parliamentary questions, then Minister Hennis merely said that “bilateral contacts with the Saudi Arabian Navy” are independent of a restrictive arms export policy. The Dutch Socialist Party last week discussed the participation of the Presidential Guard in the Vught training in a parliamentary debate. Minister Blok would reply to this by letter.

(3) The Dutch government pursues a cautious arms export policy for countries involved in the war in Yemen, but refuses to proceed to a full arms embargo. For example, the export of SOTAS military communication systems for tanks to Saudi Arabia produced by Thales Netherlands is not completely stopped. The Abrams tanks in question are frequently used in Yemen. The government also issued a new permit last month for the export of radar equipment for a frigate for the Egyptian navy, despite the participation of this navy in the sea blockade of Yemen.

UAE occupiers’ sexual torture of Yemenis


This video from the USA says about itself:

Yemenis Accuse UAE Officers of Sexual Torture Inside Secret Prisons

21 June 2018

A new investigation has uncovered rampant sexual violence against Yemeni prisoners held in prisons run by the United Arab Emirates in Yemen.

The Associated Press reports that in March, 15 officers lined up the prisoners in the southern city of Aden and ordered them to undress before searching their anal cavities, claiming they were looking for contraband cell phones. The prisoners screamed and cried and those who resisted were beaten and threatened by dogs.

Hundreds of prisoners reportedly suffered similar abuse. A Pentagon spokesman quoted in the piece said the allegations were not substantiated. The UAE is a key ally of the United States and has partnered with Saudi Arabia in its military assault on Yemen.

UAE human rights activist gets ten years imprisonment


Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 30 April 2018:

In the United Arab Emirates, human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor has been sentenced to a ten-year prison sentence. He also has to pay an around 250,000 euros fine.

Mansoor has been locked up for more than a year; he was removed from his bed in March last year and has since been detained at an unknown location. International human rights organizations have condemned his detention widely and claim that he was arrested because of his criticism of the government and because of his contacts with human rights organizations. …

Human Rights Watch says in a first reaction that the verdict shows that the country can not deal with “even the mildest criticism by a real reformer”.

Torture

Human rights organizations wrote in a joint statement in March that they have indications that Mansoor was isolated in a cell all this time. He is said to also have been exposed to other forms of torture. Contact with his family was barely facilitated and the authorities did not allow him to have his own lawyer. Two lawyers from Ireland who were engaged by the organizations were misguided in the United Arab Emirates, so a meeting did not happen.