With only a month to go until its pandemic-delayed opening, Dubai Expo 2020 has come under fire in Europe, and there is a real possibility that several countries will boycott the five-month long event. The UAE's ongoing detention of activist Ahmed Mansoor has prompted the European Parliament to back a resolution calling on member states not to participate in the event and to suspend the sale and export of surveillance technology to the government in Abu Dhabi.
"The UAE authorities have violated Ahmed Mansoor's rights for more than 10 years with arbitrary arrest and detention, death threats, physical assault, government surveillance and inhumane treatment in custody," said the resolution, which summarised the history of the activist's detention. Citing a UN report, it also mentioned that Mansoor is likely to have been subjected to torture.
In fact, the UAE's entire justification for Mansoor's incarceration was dismissed by the Europeans. Mansoor, it was pointed out, "called for universal and direct elections in the UAE and for the Federal National Council, a government advisory board, to be granted legislative powers; whereas he also administered an online forum called Al-Hiwar al-Emarati (the Emirati Dialogue) which criticised UAE policies."
Wider human rights abuse within the UAE was also mentioned. "There is systematic persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and teachers speaking up on political and human rights issues in the UAE." The parliament stressed that since 2011, Abu Dhabi has intensified its crackdown on freedom of association, assembly and expression.
"Human rights defenders and members of their families are subjected to forced disappearances, prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, judicial harassment and unfair trials, travel bans, physical and digital surveillance, and arbitrary dismissal from work." This is the real-life impact of the crackdown. The plight of several other activists was raised within the resolution along with several policy recommendations apart from the boycott of Dubai Expo 2020 and suspension of the sale and export of surveillance technology.
The European Parliament invited "the international companies sponsoring Expo 2020 Dubai to withdraw their sponsorship and encourages Member States not to participate in the event" in order "to signal their disapproval of the human rights violations in the UAE."