Friday, May 15, 2009

Candid camera - the Sheikh shows his character

We don't often get to see the savagry of the upper classes. Mostly, they are cloaked in media with robes of bright and mysterious light. Yet any time of the day or night, turn on the TV and find examples of the lower classes' savagry: crime dramas. The character of the elites are protected by their anonymity and their ownership of media itself.

Sometimes though - things get out.

This is definitely a story the UAE did not want to surface. However, it is as unfair to paint all elites as this brutal; mostly their hands are clean because they have other foot soldiers and pawns to carry out their atrocities.

As unpleasant as this video is, there are much worse stories from Gaza, the Congo and around the world. How about a crime drama telling the story of an Indian farmer who became a serf of Monsanto, whose crop failed and he committed suicide? There are thousands of examples of those - growing by the day in more and more countries.

Suppose for a minute that the TV fare on tonight had 10 different dramatisations of corporate/elite crime and human rights violations? Plenty of diversity for crimes: starvation, bombing, poisoning, torture, orphans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Wouldn't there be some great story lines in those subjects? I think some might even support a mini-series. I have a feeling that right about now, this is a highly marketable approach to TV programming.

So I am grateful for having this video and story in the public eye, and for Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE for baring his ugly elite soul to the world. We don't often get to see the real handiwork of the big dogs at the top so honestly reproduced for public consumption. Really gave me a wake up call.

Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE
has tortured a business partner.

Emirati authorities have reportedly arrested the Abu Dhabi Prince who was caught on camera while sadistically torturing an Afghan man.

The world reacted in horror to recently-exposed footage that showed Sheikh Issa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, son of the late UAE president and brother of the Abu Dhabi crown prince, ruthlessly torturing an Afghan grain dealer who had allegedly cheated in a business deal.

The victim was beaten with wooden planks with nails protruding from them, after which the prince poured salt on his bleeding wounds.

The video also shows the prince setting fire to the victim’s genitals, giving him electric shocks with a cattle prod, ramming desert sand into his mouth, and firing bullets around him with an automatic rifle.

The video caused uproar among human rights organizations and prompted Abu Dhabi prosecutors to detain Sheikh Issa on Tuesday to further investigate into the incident.

According to a statement by the UAE Judicial Department, “all documents, related to the recently broadcast video, depicting the ill-treatment of an individual have been referred to the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution Office.”

If the case goes to trial, it would be the first time that a member of the ruling family in the United Arab Emirates faces criminal charges in a court of law.

Torture allegations against Sheikh Issa came to light a year ago when his former business associate, Bassam Nabulsi, sued the sheik for millions of dollars and submitted the video tapes to a US federal court in Houston.

In his suit, Nabulsi also charged Issa and other members of the ruling family with false imprisonment and with torturing him in an attempt to get the tapes back after Nabulsi’s business relations with Issa soured.

The UAE, the world’s third-largest oil exporter, has been grappling with its human rights image after facing severe criticism from humanitarian organizations.

More than 80 percent of the UAE population consists of foreigners, most of whom come from the Indian subcontinent.

A torrent of human rights reports have revealed that laborers are largely subjected to extreme conditions. Many are housed in shanty camps and are forced to work long hours in the scorching desert climate. Employers often retain their passports.
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