A daughter of Dubai’s ruler allegedly fears for her life and is claiming to be held captive by her family, according to a video of the princess. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, 35, can be seen giving details on her alleged detainee situation in one of her secret video messages released by the BBC.
“So I am in a villa,” she says in the video. “I’m a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail. All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window. There’s five policeman outside and two policewomen inside the house. And I can’t even go outside to get any fresh air.”
She says she doesn’t know when she’ll be let go, and what the conditions will be like when she is released.
The video continues with her saying, “Every day I am worried about my safety and my life. I really don’t know if I’m going to survive the situation. The police threatened me that I’ll be in prison my whole life and I’ll never see the sun again … I just want to be free. I don’t know what they’re planning to do with me. I really don’t know. So the situation is getting more desperate every day. I am just really, really tired of this now.”
The video concludes with text from the BBC, stating:
The governments of Dubai and the UAE have failed to respond to requests for comment from the BBC about Latifa’s current condition. They have always said Latifa is safe in the loving care of her family.
NBC News reports that it “has not independently obtained or verified the videos. But a spokesman for the Free Latifa campaign, a group that has long called for her release, confirmed that two of the people behind the drive had shared the videos with the British broadcaster.” The Daily Wire has also not independently verified or obtained the videos.
In 2018, Latifa was caught trying to escape Dubai after planning her getaway for seven years, according to USA Today. The princess had not been heard from since December of 2018 until the most recent videos were released.
In the past, Emirati officials have said that her situation was a family affair, claiming that she has not been held against her will.
Some advocates of human rights not only hope that the newly released video pleas by the princess will assist in her release, but that they will also shed light on the broader human rights abuses in the kingdom that have gone unchecked.
NBC reports that, according to Human Rights Watch, the United Arab Emirates typically imprisons people who criticize officials. There are reportedly hundreds of activists and academics who are serving sentences.
Emirati laws also discriminate against women, migrants and LGBTQ individuals, [Human Rights Watch] says, adding that the families of detained activists are also often harassed by the state security apparatus.
Kenneth Roth is the Executive Director of the New York-based non-profit, nongovernmental human rights organization. On Wednesday, he tweeted a message with a photo of the princess, condemning the country’s actions and mentioning the President of the United States, as well.
“What kind of ally puts his daughter in endless solitary confinement because she wanted to lead an independent life. Pressure mounts on Biden to address the plight of Princess Latifa, detained by her father, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum.”
What kind of ally puts his daughter in endless solitary confinement because she wanted to lead an independent life. Pressure mounts on Biden to address the plight of Princess Latifa, detained by her father, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. https://t.co/VTCVMwXpEA pic.twitter.com/grRDxpmHja
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) February 17, 2021
The UAE has been closely watched more recently as information about human rights violations continues to surface. Hamad al-Shamsi, an Emirati rights activist, said that the record of Saudi Arabia on human rights was “not worse” than the UAE. “The difference is in the PR work and lobbying,” he said.
Last week, The Daily Wire reported that Saudi Arabia released women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathlou after more than 1,000 days in prison. The move came after the Biden administration put pressure on Saudi Arabia to release prisoners.
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