The European Parliament voted Thursday to boycott Expo 2020 Dubai and called on international companies sponsoring the global event to withdraw, over concerns regarding the UAE’s human rights record.
The resolution came in protest against alleged human rights violations by Emirati authorities, as the EU parliament called for the quick release of human rights activists Ahmed Mansoor, Mohammed al-Roken, Nasser bin Gaith, as well as other activists imprisoned in the Gulf state.
Roken was arrested in July 2012 and convicted in July 2013 over charges of establishing an organisation and attempting a coup.
Ghaith was arrested in August 2015 and has been in jail since March 2017 for 10 years over tweets that criticised Egypt, one of the UAE’s main regional allies.
Mansoor has been in detention since 2017 on charges of publishing what authorities considered “false information and rumours,” and using social media to “damage the country’s reputation”.
Votes in favour of Thursday’s resolution counted at 383, with 47 against and 259 abstentions.
“In order to signal their disapproval of the human rights violations in the UAE, [the European Parliament] invites the international companies sponsoring Expo 2020 Dubai to withdraw their sponsorship and encourages member states not to participate in the event,” the resolution said.
Other concerns raised were the UAE’s military involvement in Yemen, where Abu Dhabi – along with Saudi Arabia, Iran and others – have been engaged in a proxy war siding with different factions.
“The European Parliament has taken a strong stand today against the brutal dictators of Dubai.
“The UAE monarchy has engaged in a cascade of human rights violations, including widespread abuses against women and war crimes in Yemen.
“The UAE Dubai Expo is organised by a member of the ruling family who himself has been accused of rape,” said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director at Freedom Forward, a lead NGO organiser of the boycott effort.