On the 197th anniversary of the Manchester Peterloo Masacre (16th August 1819), when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000 – 80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation, killing 15 of them, residents of Manchester, including leading human rights lawyers from GCN, have written to the deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (which now enjoys a close partnership with the city of Manchester / MCFC), asking them to prioritise the case of Mohammed al-Roken and others like him who have been imprisoned solely for exercising their right to speak freely about the manner in which they are governed.
The letter [copy below] has been signed by leading Manchester individuals including Pete Weatherby QC, Mark George QC, Lucy Mair, Benjamin Williams, Andrew Byles, Nina Grahame, Andy Fitzpatrick, Mikhil Karnik, Vijay Jagadesham and Kate Stone from GCN, other Manchester-based human rights lawyers, and others including local MPs Andrew Twynne MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Graham Stringer MP and Angela Rayner MP, several local Councillors and leading academics. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wrote a joint letter to Manchester City FC in April 2016 in which they outlined similar concerns.
GCN’s Pete Weatherby QC said:
“Manchester City FC are effectively owned by the Abu Dhabi regime and Manchester City Council has developed strong financial links with the Abu Dhabi (UAE) government. The UAE has a very poor Human Rights record highlighted by this campaign which seeks to use the close links between the city and Abu Dhabi as leverage to get pro-democracy detainees released and seek substantial improvements in the human rights situation more generally, particularly in respect to women’s rights and the rights of migrant workers. Manchester has a proud history of campaigning for basic freedoms and opposing oppression."
"On the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, where nearly 200 years has passed since innocent protesters were killed in Manchester for seeking to speak freely about the manner in which they were governed, many Manchester citizens are saddened to know that other countries like UAE with which Manchester has fostered such strong connections are still unwilling to uphold such basic human rights. This campaign does not seek to sever the links with UAE which bring obvious economic advantages to the city but it calls on the council and football club to remember the strong traditions in Manchester against slavery and racism and for democratic accountability as illustrated by the Peterloo massacre and the birth of the suffragette movement, and use their links to highlight significant human rights abuses in the UAE to effect real change.”
12.4.16 Amnesty International / Human Rights Watch letter to MCFC [copy below]