Saturday, May 02, 2009

When will the U.S. speak up on human-rights abuses in oil sheikhdoms?

may 2, 2009
 
first there was johann hari's harrowing tale of life in dubai recently (posted here). now this from abu dhabi.
 
ah, so much peace! i wonder why the love people aren't subject to this sort of peace.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Brahma

Click on this link to see the savage torture by a UAE sheikh:

first shown last week by ABC News

 

May 2, 2009 NYT

Videotape Complicates U.S. Deal With Emirates

By ROBERT F. WORTH

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A gruesome videotape showing a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family torturing an Afghan grain merchant has begun casting a lurid new light on allegations of human rights abuses in a city-state better known for skyscrapers and global finance.

The 45-minute videotape shows Sheik Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, assisted by uniformed police officers, torturing the merchant with whips, cattle prods and a wooden plank with a protruding nail, and finally driving over him with an S.U.V.

The videotape — first shown last week by ABC News — has provoked outrage from members of Congress, who said it could add fuel to lawmakers' reservations about a pending civilian nuclear agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, the seven-member federation on the Persian Gulf to which Abu Dhabi belongs.

The controversy comes at a delicate time for the oil-rich Emirates, whose reputation for tolerance and soaring financial success has already been tarnished in recent months by a collapsing real estate boom and a crackdown on the foreign news media. Web sites with links to the torture tape have been blocked in the Emirates, in violation of the Emirates' own policies. No local news media reported on it until the Abu Dhabi government issued a short statement on Wednesday condemning the acts shown on the video.

Still, outrage has been quietly growing among citizens of the Emirates, where the prestige of the ruling family is important to political stability.

"They've put a lot of political capital into this nuclear deal; they have to push it through," said Christopher M. Davidson, a scholar who has written extensively on the Emirates. "But to do so, they may have to sacrifice one of their own, and that will damage the myth of the ruling family."

The videotape, made in 2004, emerged in a separate lawsuit filed by Bassam Nabulsi, a former business partner of Sheik Issa. Mr. Nabulsi, an American citizen from Houston, claims he was later tortured by Emirates police officers after he refused to hand over the videotape.

The tape was made by Mr. Nabulsi's brother on orders from Sheik Issa, who liked to film torture sessions and watch them later in his palace, said Anthony G. Buzbee, Mr. Nabulsi's lawyer.

The man being tortured in the video is Mohammed Shah Poor, an Afghan grain merchant who Sheik Issa believed had cheated him, Mr. Buzbee said. Mr. Poor was gravely injured but survived, Mr. Buzbee said.

ABC News reported that the Abu Dhabi authorities had acknowledged Sheik Issa's role in the torture, and that they had said it was "not part of a pattern of behavior."

Last year, another member of the ruling family, Falah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was convicted by a Swiss court of beating an American man with a belt in a Geneva hotel bar in 2003.

Under the pending nuclear agreement, the United States would share expertise, technology and fuel in exchange for a promise by the Emirates to abide by international safeguards and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The United States has already signed agreements with India, Egypt and Morocco, and is planning nuclear pacts with other states in the Middle East.

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