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UAE activist deported to Thailand

A political activist of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on Monday was deported to Thailand after a two-month detention. Ahmed Abdul Khaleq [AlJazeera backgrounder] has called for the rights of the stateless people in the UAE, and was one of the five activists jailed last year [JURIST report] for insulting the state's rulers after participating in a campaign seeking political liberties. Reportedly Abdul Khaleq was being deported to Thailand without any charges [Reuters report] issued against him, and according to him he was being sent merely because of his support for stateless residents of the UAE known as Bidun. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] had criticized [press release] the country, urging it to halt plans to expel Khaleq and immediately release him. In June Abdul Khaleq was given the option to either go in exile or stay for an indefinite time at the al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi. He chose the former. HRW condemned UAE for its attempt to silence all of its political opposition activists and dissidents. The UAE Federal Supreme Court found them guilty of charges under § 176 of the UAE Penal Code for publicly insulting UAE president Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed [official website] and other government officials.

UAE has been widely criticized for its crackdown of political activists. In April Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] and HRW issued [JURIST report] a joint public statement [text, PDF] urging the country to halt the arrests and release political activists. Last July numerous rights groups including HRW, AI, the Arabic Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Front Line Defenders (FLD) [advocacy website] had called [JURIST report] UAE to end the trial against the five activists. In April of last year, HRW urged [JURIST report] UAE to reverse its decision to dissolve the elected board members of the Jurist Association civil rights group and appointed state officials in their stead.

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