World Bulletin/News Desk
Amnesty International has said that two Emirati Islamists detained in an undisclosed location in the United Arab Emirates could be at risk of "torture or other ill-treatment", and called for their immediate release.
Saleh al-Dhufairi was arrested last week in the northern emirate of Ras al-Khaimah by men who identified themselves as belonging to both state security and local police. A Ras al-Khaimah police spokesman has denied the police were involved.
Dhufairi, general manager of an Islamic organisation, the Holy Koran Foundation, was also detained in March for "provoking strife" after criticising state security services on Twitter.
He is also a member of al-Islah (Reform), a group which is calling for greater adherence to Islamic principles, Amnesty said.
Another Islah member, Salim Sahoo, was arrested in the emirate of Sharjah in April, Amnesty said, and was also being held in an undisclosed location, adding that he was apparently not involved in social media activities.
"The whereabouts of two men arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April remain unknown. They might be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment," the rights group said in a statement dated May 9.
"If both men are held solely for their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression, they should be released immediately and unconditionally," it said.
Officials at the UAE Ministry of Interior were not immediately available to comment.
Human Rights Watch urged UAE authorities to end their arrest campaign against Islamist activists.
"These new arrests are yet another worrying sign of an increased crackdown on voices critical of state policies," Sarah Leah Whitson, the advocacy group's Middle East director, said in a statement.
"Emiratis should be able to talk about reform without fear of being arbitrarily arrested by the security services."
The UAE has been clamping down on Islamists in recent months, concerned they could be emboldened by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in other Arab countries.
The major oil exporter has avoided popular uprisings that have toppled four Arab heads of state since last year, thanks in part to its cradle-to-grave welfare system, but it has shown little tolerance towards dissent in a country where Emiratis form a minority and the vast majority of the eight million population are foreign workers.
The arrests of Sahoo and Dhufairi last month came a few days after reports that Sheikh Sultan al-Qassimi, a cousin of the ruler of Ras al-Khaimah and head of Islah, was taken from his house by armed men.
The UAE last year revoked the citizenship of six Islamists it described as posing a threat to national security. Some of the men demanded greater power for the Federal National Council, an elected body that advises the federal government in Abu Dhabi.
The six men, all members of al-Islah, were detained after refusing to sign a declaration to seek a new nationality within two weeks.Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Mayıs 2012, 10:25