On the night of March 4th, 2018, there was an unprecedented international incident when a significant Indian and UAE military force converged, and carried out an unprovoked attack on a small, American pleasure yacht off the coast of Goa, India. This force consisting of at least two state-of-the-art ships of Indian Coast Guard, several hundred men, including an elite commando unit and a detachment of the UAE armed and state security forces, helicopters and planes were sent to illegally capture and kidnap one young woman.
On that night, Indian commandos boarded the yacht Nostromo, savagely beat and tortured the crew and the captain of the ship, and dragged the woman away, cold-heartedly and illegally ignoring her desperate pleas for asylum. That they did this even when they knew they were blatantly violating international law when they attacked an American ship in international waters speaks of the power of the man they indirectly served. That man is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the unelected and despotic ruler of Dubai, and the woman whose dream of freedom was brutally and violently crushed that night was her daughter, Princess Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum. And we need to save her.
“They told me that your father told us to beat you until we kill you. That’s his orders. Your father’s orders. Your father, the ruler of Dubai, that’s what he said.”
She was desperately trying to escape her gilded cage, where she, like so many other women, would have been forever considered a child, a mere possession of men, instead of an adult capable of her own choices. A place where she, like her older sister, was imprisoned, abused and tortured on the orders of her father for trying to escape before. A place where she is once again detained against her will, most likely drugged and mistreated, or worse. This place is Dubai in the 21st Century, a city selling itself as a modern, tolerant and safe, where the glittering facade of gleaming skyscrapers and opulent shopping malls, and corporations like the Emirates Airlines, hides beneath itself the rotting core of human rights violations, corruption and ever-present police state.
Latifa had been planning her bid for freedom for years. A part of her plan included making video recordings in case her plan failed. One of the several recordings she made is a long video chronicling her harrowing experiences and her dreams for a brighter future, and by doing so she delivers a scathing denouncement of the hypocrisy of her father, her extended family, and her society. It is only because of this video, and another longer, yet unreleased one, that she might yet have hope, and that her traveling companions were released from captivity. Also, this time Latifa had surrounded herself with trusted friends and advisors who believed in her, and in the universal right to a free life. We at Detained in Dubai are honored and humbled to be among those that Latifa trusted with her freedom and her life.
By now millions around the world have heard her story, but should you be yet unfamiliar with it you should take the time to watch the video she made, on which you will witness a courageous young woman of unyielding spirit taking control of her own destiny. You might also want to read the press statement Human Rights Watch and the press statement of the Guernica Group regarding UN request about the case to UAE and India.
You can also read about her, and the events that led to our involvement, in more detail on the campaign’s website, www.FreeLatifa.com. There you can find, among other things, the testimonies of Latifa’s best friend and companion, Tiina Jauhiainen and the captain of the yacht, Hervé Jaubert. You can find the timeline of events there, from her daring bid for freedom to the illegal attack on Nostromo, and what we at Detained in Dubai have done to help her since we received her emergency message. You will also be able to read, watch or listen to the majority of the press coverage on Latifa, and watch regular video updates from us at Detained in Dubai on the progress of the fight to free Latifa. Finally, on one day in hopefully the not too distant future, we hope we will be able to present you with a video of Latifa greeting all of us who helped to save her. A video on which we hope will show this kind, animal loving vegan free and happy at last, and where she will be able to tell all of us what she is going to do with the rest of her life.
Princess Latifa asked for our help, and like her friends on Nostromo, we will not let her down. We are fully committed to fighting for her freedom in the courts of law, and before governmental and international organizations such as the United Nations. We also want to tell the story of Latifa’s bravery and selflessness to the whole world, for she truly is an inspiration to all of us. She wanted to make her story be known in the event she would not succeed in her escape. We are making sure her story will be heard everywhere.
Who we are
Detained in Dubai is a not-for-profit NGO formed to assist people who have become victims of injustice in the United Arab Emirates, our team have been helping thousands of victims of injustice for some ten years. We are acting on a wholly voluntary basis to help Princess Latifa, as are our partners, staff, and many volunteers.
We have appointed leading international human rights barrister Toby Cadman of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers to head the legal team and act on behalf of Princess Latifa, Tiina and Hervé in seeking justice.
We thank you for your support. Let’s make some noise.
Radha Stirling & David Haigh