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Books | The Guardian ([info]theguardianbook) wrote,
@ 2020-02-24 14:59:00

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As Hay festival opens in the UAE, authors condemn free speech abuses

Stephen Fry, Noam Chomsky and more than 40 NGOs say the country’s support for the event is at odds with its record on human rights

As bestselling authors from Jung Chang to Bernardine Evaristo prepare to gather in Abu Dhabi for the first Hay festival in the United Arab Emirates, leading figures have spoken out against the country’s compromised free speech. Stephen Fry - the festival’s president – has joined more than 40 public figures and organisations castigating its government for “promoting a platform for freedom of expression, while keeping behind bars Emirati citizens and residents who shared their own views and opinions”.

An open letter signed by Fry, Noam Chomsky, and a coalition of more than 40 NGOs including Amnesty and PEN International, is calling on the UAE to use the launch of the festival’s Abu Dhabi branch – which opens on Tuesday – to “demonstrate their respect for the right to freedom of expression by freeing all human rights defenders imprisoned for expressing themselves peacefully online”.

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