When forced deportations are considered forced deportations

It is funny how the forced deportation and exile of Cuban dissidents and prisoners of conscience to Spain was hailed as a magnanimous act, but when any other dictatorship other than the Castro dictatorship does it, it is considered an effort to silence opposition:

UAE turns to deportation to silence regime’s critics

Gulf state tries to send activist to remote Comoros Islands, then offers him Thailand


The United Arab Emirates is trying to deport an activist to a country he has never set foot in, with a human rights group accusing the oil-rich state of increasingly wielding its power to grant or deny citizenship as a tool to crush any Arab Spring-style uprising.

While revolts have gripped many countries in the Middle East, the Gulf states have largely managed to escape the protests as their people enjoy the rewards of oil wealth, with well-paid state employment and benefits.

Still, there have been some signs of dissent, but these were dealt with in a swift and quiet crackdown. Members of the “UAE 5” group spent eight months in jail last year after signing a petition with more than 100 academics and other activists calling for universal suffrage. Several non-governmental organisations were dismantled. Now it seems the UAE is employing another tool to deal with dissenters. Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, one of the UAE 5 who was again detained without charge two weeks ago, called his family yesterday to tell them he was being deported to Thailand. The activist and blogger was initially told he would be sent to the Comoros Islands, off the coast of Madagascar.

3 thoughts on “When forced deportations are considered forced deportations”

  1. Asombra, te la comistes!!! I thought the same thing as soon as I saw the picture.

  2. Meh, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for “dissidents” of someplace like the UAE, given what they themselves are like:

    In the sleek Emirates Tower Hotel, I meet Sultan al-Qassemi. He’s a 31-year-old Emirati columnist for the Dubai press and private art collector, with a reputation for being a contrarian liberal, advocating gradual reform. He is wearing Western clothes – blue jeans and a Ralph Lauren shirt – and speaks incredibly fast, turning himself into a manic whirr of arguments.

    “People here are turning into lazy, overweight babies!” he exclaims. “The nanny state has gone too far. We don’t do anything for ourselves! Why don’t any of us work for the private sector? Why can’t a mother and father look after their own child?” And yet, when I try to bring up the system of slavery that built Dubai, he looks angry. “People should give us credit,” he insists. “We are the most tolerant people in the world. Dubai is the only truly international city in the world. Everyone who comes here is treated with respect.”

    I pause, and think of the vast camps in Sonapur, just a few miles away. Does he even know they exist? He looks irritated. “You know, if there are 30 or 40 cases [of worker abuse] a year, that sounds like a lot but when you think about how many people are here…” Thirty or 40? This abuse is endemic to the system, I say. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands.

    Sultan is furious. He splutters: “You don’t think Mexicans are treated badly in New York City? And how long did it take Britain to treat people well? I could come to London and write about the homeless people on Oxford Street and make your city sound like a terrible place, too! The workers here can leave any time they want! Any Indian can leave, any Asian can leave!”

    But they can’t, I point out. Their passports are taken away, and their wages are withheld. “Well, I feel bad if that happens, and anybody who does that should be punished. But their embassies should help them.” They try. But why do you forbid the workers – with force – from going on strike against lousy employers? “Thank God we don’t allow that!” he exclaims. “Strikes are in-convenient! They go on the street – we’re not having that. We won’t be like France. Imagine a country where they the workers can just stop whenever they want!” So what should the workers do when they are cheated and lied to? “Quit. Leave the country.”

    I sigh. Sultan is seething now. “People in the West are always complaining about us,” he says. Suddenly, he adopts a mock-whiny voice and says, in imitation of these disgusting critics: “Why don’t you treat animals better? Why don’t you have better shampoo advertising? Why don’t you treat labourers better?” It’s a revealing order: animals, shampoo, then workers.

    Cuban freedom-fighters these people ain’t. Just abusive slavers who want a little more indulgence from their own masters.

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