28 December 2018

Mary Robinson, an all-too-willing dupe

Princess Latifa and Mary Robinson

Almost a year ago Dubai's Princess Latifa was forcibly abducted from a yacht off the coast of India while trying to escape from her despotic father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler and the UAE’s prime minister.

We know she was trying to escape because she made a video (below) stating her intention, and explaining her reasons. She had already made several unsuccessful escape bids.

Nothing was heard from her after her abduction from the yacht, and a number of human rights organisations expressed fears for her safety and demanded proof that she was still alive and in good health.

The suspicion was that she either been killed or was being held prisoner by her family.

Then, a few days ago, photos appeared in the mainstream media of Latifa apparently having lunch with the former Irish president, Mary Robinson.

"Photos show the two women smiling", ran the sub-heading in many newspapers. But in fact the photos do not show the two women smiling. They show Mary Robinson smiling. The princess doesn't look happy at all. In fact she looks very uncomfortable. Her body language is that of a person under extreme duress.

What we're looking at here, in my opinion, is a prisoner who has been drugged and forced to take part in a charade designed to deter or sidestep any investigation into her well-being.

Mrs Robinson was quoted as saying that the princess was receiving psychiatric care, and that: “She’s a very likeable young woman but clearly troubled, clearly needs the medical care that she’s receiving.”

Really, Mary? You diagnosed the princess's condition during your brief meeting, did you? And you concluded that she's receiving the medical care she needs - from the people who are holding her captive and who tortured her following her previous escape bids?

You are correct in saying that she is troubled. But you're using the word "troubled" in the sense of someone with pre-existing psychiatric issues. And that's not what the evidence suggests here.

What the evidence suggests is that this woman is "troubled" because she is being held against her will, tortured and drugged by her father and his team of highly-paid private doctors.

Your willingness to accept the Sheik's account of what's going on here is mind-bogglingly naïve - unless you have motives we don't know about. This young woman has made numerous escape attempts, and she has been brought back by force each time, and punished each time.

Your complicity in attempting to justify her forced captivity by portraying her as "troubled" and in need of psychiatric care is absolutely appalling.

You are either a profoundly gullible woman, or you are being rewarded in some way to endorse this "diagnosis". In your statement to the media today you said: "I undertook the visit and made an assessment, not a judgement, based on personal witness, in good faith and to the best of my ability."

There is no difference, in this context, between an assessment and a judgement. Whatever your motives were, you have allowed yourself to be used as a pawn in a PR exercise by the leader of a brutal, repressive regime. This is a country that enforces severe punishments - from public flogging, imprisonment and even the death sentence - for "crimes" like apostasy, homosexuality and adultery.

This young woman has no previous history of mental illness. In the video she made before her last escape attempt, she is perfectly lucid, articulate and coherent. If she had the appearance of a drugged-up psychiatric patient when you saw her, didn't it occur to you to wonder whether that might have been because she had been forcibly administered drugs to keep her confused, docile and compliant?

You are an educated woman, a former Irish president, and former UN high commissioner for human rights, and yet you can't recognise a person who is being oppressed, physically and mentally abused and held prisoner even when they are paraded in front of you? Apparently - going by your own accunt of the meeting - you didn't even demand to speak with her in private.

The whole thing - and especially your behavior - can only be described as bizarre. Meanwhile, all the evidence suggests that Princess Latifa is still being held against her will.