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Emirati political rights trouble HRW

May 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 11 (UPI) -- There is a worrying crackdown in the United Arab Emirate against groups critical of the government's policies, said a director at Human Rights Watch.

The rights organization said nearly a dozen members of the Islamic Reforms and Social Guidance Association have been arrested since March. Sources close to the Islamic organization said most were arrested for affiliation with the group, said to be highly critical of state policy.

Director of Middle East operations for HRW Sarah Leah Whitson, in a statement from Beirut, said the arrests suggest tolerance for dissent in the country is diminishing.

"U.A.E. security forces are raiding the homes of citizens and carrying them away apparently simply because they belong to an association critical of the government," she said in a statement.

Members of the Islamic association signed a petition last year calling for democratic reforms.

"These actions are reflective of a government that does not respect the rights of its citizens to freedom of association and expression," Whitson said.

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