Dear UK Authors: An Open Letter on Why You Should Speak Out ahead of the Emirates Festival of Literature
24 February 2017
For the attention of:
Jeffrey Archer, Luigi Bonomi, Richard Byrne, Tom Callaghan, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Andrew Davies, Robert Davies, Jill Dawson, Marie Dullaghan, Martin Edwards, Abi Elphinstone, Mark Fiddes, Michael Foreman, Peter Frankopan, Michael Freeman, Patrick Gale, Frank Gardner, Anthony Geffen, Sabrina Ghayour, Bryony Gordon, Candy Gourlay, Emily Grossman, Peter F. Hamilton, Francis Hardinge, Lucy Hawking, Nadiya Hussain, Bettany Hughes, Julia Johnson, Nisha Katona, Vaseem Khan, Raymond Khoury, Christina Lamb, Tanya Landman, Jonathan Lloyd, Rabai Khalil Al Madhoun, Jo Marchant, Sarah McIntyre, Andy Miller, Ben Miller, Kei Miller, Sue Moorcroft, Tamsyn Murray, James Naughtie, Sarah Outen, Smriti Prasadam-Halls, Philip Reeve, Jon Ronson, Simon Scarrow, Anthony Seldon, Francesca Simon, Andy Stanton, Keith Stuart, Andy Thompson, Alan Titchmarsh, Piers Torday, Robert Twigger, Eleanor Updale, Eve White.
Dear UK Authors,
On March 3-11, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns to Dubai. The Festival claims to be the “Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word”. Before attending, we encourage you to consider the context in which this “celebration” is taking place.
The festival is sponsored by Emirates Airline, a business that is wholly owned by the Dubai Government, a part of the UAE. Since 2011 the UAE government have arbitrarily detained hundreds of UAE citizens for peacefully campaigning for greater human rights and democratic reform within the country. Human rights organisations,including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, have documented regular cases of enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment perpetrated by UAE security forces. Freedoms of speech and the press are severely restricted. Women face constant discrimination. The law openly promotes homophobia and is heavily prejudiced against female rape victims. Migrant workers are systematically exploited and endure working conditions that have been described as “close to slavery”.
While UK citizens are accustomed to writing and speaking freely and criticising their government as they see fit, UAE citizens are routinely persecuted for exercising these same rights. So we ask that you use your appearance at the festival as an opportunity to speak out on their behalf.
The International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE) urges you to take a stand and speak out clearly in favour of human rights and free speech in the UAE.
Please consider raising awareness by tweeting or writing about the lack of human rights in the UAE on your personal blog or social media page.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org more information.
The International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates
“The root cause of so much of the violence in the region is despair. Human rights are being violated on a daily basis and nobody in the outside world seems to care.”
Ahmed Mansour – Human Rights Campaigner