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6 Okt 2021

Kenneth Rubangakene, African Arguments

The UAE government tortured me because of my skin colour

In the early hours of 24 June, I was sleeping in my room in Abu Dhabi when the police burst through the door...

The police forced entry into our apartments. They used stun guns and beat and shackled our hands and feet.  They then forced us into vehicles before taking us to jail. We were miles from anywhere, in the middle of the desert. No one else knew where we were.

My arrest was part of a wider effort to detain 800 Black Africans. The experience of others is equally disturbing. Female workers reported that they were sexually harassed during their arrests and accused of prostitution. The jailors said Emirati authorities intended to “clean” the streets of Abu Dhabi of Black Africans. Men and women, some of them pregnant were chained up for weeks. We were denied medical attention, legal representation and beaten while being “questioned”...

The UAE has, on paper, recently engaged in labour reforms to grant greater protection to migrants... After being illegally deported, many of our jobs were re-advertised, but Black applicants would not be accepted. The crackdown from the UAE’s government was therefore not unexpected, though the severity surprised even those of us who lived with regular abuse.