Human rights groups tackle Manchester leaders over UAE ties
Letters seen by MEE show Amnesty and HRW petitioning council and Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City to raise issue of rights 'black hole'
Manchester’s political and footballing leaders must use their close commercial ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to urge the Gulf state to end torture, abolish modern slavery and free jailed activists, two leading human rights charities have said.
In two letters, seen exclusively by Middle East Eye, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have used the the forthcoming 197th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre of protesters calling for political reform in the UK to demand Manchester City Council and Manchester City Football Club use their links to the oil-rich Gulf state to call on its leadership to respect human rights.
Manchester has become a key hub for UAE investment in the UK after Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the country’s deputy prime minister, purchased Manchester City in 2008 through the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG).
Since 2008 Mansour has invested more than £1bn ($1.3bn) turning around the club’s fortunes, while Manchester City Council has entered into a $1.3bn joint venture with a firm controlled by ADUG to regenerate the poorer east of city with up to 6,000 new homes.
Both organisations openly boast of these close commercial links with the UAE, a federation of seven emirates dominated by oil-rich Abu Dhabi. However, the UAE has been branded a “black hole” for human rights by campaigners, who say the use of torture by the authorities is “systematic".
In the two separate letters to council leaders and the chairman of Manchester City Football Club, the campaign groups highlight Manchester’s heritage of respect for human rights, but say this should not be “besmirched” by uncritical relations with the UAE.