A human rights group has called on the UK authorities to investigate the circumstances of a prominent Emirati dissident’s death in a car crash in Oxfordshire.
Alaa al-Siddiq, 33, executive director of the UK-based ALQST, a non-profit organisation that advocates greater freedoms and human rights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the wider Gulf region, died in an automobile collision on Saturday following a dinner to celebrate her 33rd birthday.
Al-Siddiq had been living in exile in the United Kingdom since the beginning of 2019. She is the daughter of detained Emirati activist, Muhammed al-Siddiq, whom UAE authorities have imprisoned since 2012 for his peaceful demands for political reform in the country.
“Al-Siddiq was inspired, not defeated, by the injustice experienced by her father, Muhammed al-Siddiq, to seek justice for all of the people of the Gulf region deprived of basic human rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN and a board member of ALQST. “Al-Siddiq’s commitment and perseverance are a model for all of us. We are confident the work of ALQST will continue; it is needed now more than ever.”
Thames Valley Police have put out an urgent appeal for witnesses to the accident, which involved a collision with a second vehicle. According to police, three others were injured in Al-Sidiq’s vehicle, as was the driver of the second vehicle.
Thames Valley Police said: “The incident occurred yesterday (19/6) at about 8.20pm at the junction of the A361 and the B4437 south of Shipton-under-Wychwood. A black BMW 118 and a black Land Rover Freelander were involved in a collision with each other.
“Sadly, a 33-year-old woman, who was a passenger in the rear seat of the BMW, was declared dead at the scene. Two other adults and a child, all of whom were in the BMW, were injured and taken to hospital for treatment. A passenger in the Land Rover was also taken to hospital after sustaining injuries. Neither of the drivers were hurt.”
Investigating officer, PC Darren Baker of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Tragically, this incident has resulted in the death of a woman, as well as causing injuries to a number of others. I would like to hear from anybody who was travelling in the area at the time and saw the cars involved, or who may have a dash-cam recording which could assist our investigation.
“If you have any details which you think could be relevant, please call 101, quoting reference number 43210270109, or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Meanwhile, DAWN said U.K. police should ensure that no foul play was involved in the death of Al-Siddiq in light of the fact that the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have violently targeted activists in the U.K. and around the world.
“While we have no reason to believe that Al-Siddiq’s death was nothing but a tragic accident, we need U.K. authorities to reassure us that no foul play was involved, given the Emirati and Saudi government’s record of surveilling, targeting and harassing activists and their families abroad,” said Whitson.
DAWN also urged UAE authorities to arrange for the immediate repatriation of Al-Siddiq’s body to the UAE so that she can be buried according to Islamic traditions in her hometown and surrounded by her loved ones.
DAWN also urged the UAE to immediately release Muhammed al-Siddiq, her father, so that he can also attend any funeral that is held for his daughter in the country.
“The very least Emirati authorities could do is to repatriate Al-Siddiq’s body and allow her father to leave prison to attend a funeral and properly grieve her loss,” said Whitson. “Like so many hundreds of thousands Arab democracy exiles, Alaa Al-Siddiq’s exile in the UK was a direct consequence of her government’s repression; her death far away from her loved ones is a tragic and sad outcome of Emirati government persecution.”