Emirates Writers Union rejects foreign intervention

WAM ABU DHABI, 8th March 2013 (WAM) — The Emirates Writers Union has issued a statement rejecting the intervention of foreign civil society organisations in the case of those accused to have joined what is known as the ‘secret organisation’.

The Union, the statement says, supports the efforts of similar local civil organisations because they know better about the country’s affairs and are more keen to protect its interests. It praises the high degree of transparency shown at the first court session, held last Monday, which heard the case, dubbed by local media as “the secret organisation case”. The Union rejects the violations of two members of the defence team, it says.

“The guarantees made to the accused, among many others, fair trial, reflects clearly that the UAE exercises the rule of law since it gives everyone his rights even if he or she is accused or convicted. When the UAE announced the court session publicly, it intended to show respect for law as it does not hide or fears anything,” the statement says.

The Union praised the good spirit shown during the court session, especially between Counsellor Falah Al Hagiri, Chairman of the Court, and the accused. It showed that all are citizens, even though their legal status differs, the statement says.

The statement notes that the defence were able to perform their legal duties, something that cannot be denied by the Union, even though their clients intended to contest the evidence put forward by the public prosecution. It added that, although this is part of the defence’s duty, the Union feels that the defence had exceeded their limits when they accused the Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union of having described the members of the secret organisation as “corrupts”.

The statement added that there was no evidence of such a term having been used.

It added that the defence has also exceeded its permissible mandate when it called for a silencing of the press – a request, the statement said, shows the defence does not understand the duty and function of the press, which is to cover the events either by word or photograph. It added that “This is a blatant breach of freedom of press.” The Union asks in its statement whether the defence’s request to arraign the Chairman of Emirates Writers Union was an attempt to scare him and other writers or whether it was meant as a message to the community not to denounce the acts of those who attempt to divide people.

It added that the defence should have focused on the defence of the accused instead of distracting public opinion, as well as paying attention to the court. The Union, the statement says, rejects any attempt to eclipse or silence the press, especially it did had not gone beyond its role.

Despite of all the above, the statement says, the Union recognises the court’s full right to respond to some demands of the defendants and to reject others. It supports the request of defendants to have access to papers and pens because the Union stands with the freedom of expression, and the demand from the point of view of the Union is a normal one.

The Union also supports the request from one of the accused, Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al Rukn, that a psychiatrist should be provided for another one of the accused, Ahmed Ghaith Al Suwaidi. Al Rukn said, “he is not the person I know”. The contradiction in the statements of Al Suwaidi was noted as he was clearly in a volatile state.

Al Suwaidi called for provision of protection to himself and his family, and denied before the court the charges against him. He said he is against the organisation and called for disbanding it.

The Emirates Writers Union reiterated the rejection of intervention in the freedom of press and had joined with other civil society organisations in the UAE, including the Journalists Association and the Emirates Association for Human Rights, whose efforts, its statement said, are sufficient and adequate compared to the efforts of other external organisations.