Remains of ALQST Director Alaa Al-Sidiq Should be Repatriated to the Emirates.
(New York, June 20, 2021) –Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) mourns the untimely death of Alaa al-Sidiq, the Executive Director of our partner organization ALQST, a leading U.K.-based advocacy organization for human rights in the Gulf. Al-Sidiq died in a car accident on June 19, 2021 in Oxfordshire, near London, following a dinner to celebrate her 33rd birthday. Al-Sidiq had been living in exile in the United Kingdom since the beginning of 2019. She is the daughter of detained Emirati activist, Muhammed al-Sidiq, whom UAE authorities have imprisoned since 2012 for his peaceful demands for political reform in the country.
"Al-Sidiq was inspired, not defeated, by the injustice experienced by her father, Muhammed al-Sidiq, to seek justice for all of the people of the Gulf region deprived of basic human rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN and a board member of ALQST. "Al-Sidiq's commitment and perseverance are a model for all of us. We are confident the work of ALQST will continue; it is needed now more than ever."
DAWN urged U.K. authorities to investigate the circumstances of the activist's death. Thames Valley Police have put out an urgent appeal for witnesses to the accident, which involved a collision with a second vehicle. According to police, three others were injured in Al-Sidiq's vehicle, as was the driver of the second vehicle. U.K. police should ensure that no foul play was involved in the death of Al-Sidiq, in light of the fact that the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have violently targeted activists in the U.K. and around the world. Dutch police are currently investigating the suspicious death of Artur Ligęska, a former detainee who had been held in the U.A.E. and went on to describe torture and abuse in his Emirati prison; he was found dead in his Amsterdam apartment on May 26, 2021.
"While we have no reason to believe that Al-Sidiq's death was nothing but a tragic accident, we need U.K. authorities to reassure us that no foul play was involved, given the Emirati and Saudi government's record of surveilling, targeting and harassing activists and their families abroad," said Whitson.
DAWN also urged UAE authorities to arrange for the immediate repatriation of Al-SIdiq's body to the UAE so that she can be buried according to Islamic traditions in her hometown and surrounded by her loved ones. DAWN urged the UAE to immediately release Muhammed al-Sidiq, her father, so that he can also attend any funeral that is held for his daughter in the country.
"The very least Emirati authorities could do is to repatriate Al-Sidiq's body and allow her father to leave prison to attend a funeral and properly grieve her loss," said Whitson. "Like so many hundreds of thousands Arab democracy exiles, Alaa Al-Sidiq's exile in the UK was a direct consequence of her government's repression; her death far away from her loved ones is a tragic and sad outcome of Emirati government persecution."
According to Aljazeera, Alaa and her husband sought asylum in Qatar in 2012, and lived there with their relatives. The report added that in 2018, Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said Qatar and the UAE had a dispute in 2015 concerning a female political dissident. Reportedly, the UAE had sent an envoy to Qatar to ask that Qatar's Emir hand her over to Emirati authorities, but Qatar declined the request. According to the same report, Abdullah al-Athbah, the editor in chief of Qatar's al-Arab newspaper, later said Alaa al-Sidiq was the political exile whom the Emiratis had sought to repatriate.
Photo Credits: ALQST for Human Rights