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European lawmakers are also calling for a boycott of the Expo 2020 World Expo in Dubai over alleged human rights violations in the Gulf state.
European Union lawmakers have urged the United Arab Emirates to release several prominent human rights activists and other “peaceful dissidents” imprisoned in the country.
In a forcefully worded resolution passed on Thursday, the EU parliament condemned alleged human rights violations in the wealthy Gulf state and demanded the “immediate” and unconditional release of Ahmed Mansoor, Mohammed al-Roken and Nasser bin Ghaith.
The resolution was passed by a large majority and received the support of 383 lawmakers. Only 47 lawmakers opposed the text, while 259 abstained.
Mansoor, 52, was arrested in 2017 and later convicted up to 10 years in prison on charges of publishing false information and “insulting the status and prestige of the UAE”, including in posts on social media platforms.
International human rights group Amnesty International has labeled the activist, who has reportedly been held in solitary confinement since his arrest, as a “prisoner of conscience”.
Al-Smoking, a human rights lawyer, is also considered a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty.
The 58-year-old is currently serving a 10-year sentence after he was found guilty of attempting to overthrow the government in a mass trial in July 2013, in which dozens of other suspects were convicted.
Bin Ghaith, an economist and academic, was also jailed for 10 years in March 2017 over a series of social media posts deemed critical of UAE authorities.
Call for Expo boycott
The EU Parliament resolution called for the release of “all other human rights defenders, political activists and peaceful dissidents” detained in the country.
It urged EU Member States to Expo 2020 World’s Fair in Dubai, “to express their disapproval of the human rights violations in the UAE”, and recommends that they “withdraw their sponsorship”.
Expo 2020 is scheduled to kick off on October 1, after a year-long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the health crisis, officials have adhered to a pre-pandemic target of 25 million total visitors to pass through the gates of the Expo, more than twice the size of the UAE’s roughly 10 million residents.
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