Defying threats and intimidation, in a statement to Detained in Dubai, Finnish national Tiina Jauhiainen recounts her role in the escape of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum from the UAE, and the terrifying events that followed when their boat was attacked by a joint Indian-Emirati military raid. Assaulted, detained, threatened with death, and forced to record a false “confession”, Tiina was only released after being warned that she would not be safe “anywhere in the world" if she dared to speak out.
“Sheikh Mohammed is one of the most powerful people in the world and he can get you anywhere in the world and bring you back”, with these chilling words from an Emirati official, Tiina Jauhiainen was released after two weeks in UAE custody.
In a statement to Detained in Dubai, Tiina recounted her role in the escape of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makroum, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE; and the terrifying events that followed.
Tiina accompanied Latifa aboard the yacht of French-American former naval intelligence officer Hervé Jaubert, to help the Dubai princess escape alleged ‘years of abuse’ suffered at the hands of her father. Latifa recorded a video before leaving the UAE in which she says that she and her elder sister, Sheikha Shamsa, had been assaulted, tortured, threatened, detained, and forcibly drugged for years at a time ever since Latifa was 16 years old.
Tiina says, “I have known Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum since around 2010, first as fitness trainer then as her closest friend. Latifa is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister and vice president of the UAE.
“As Latifa’s closest friend I know the horrors of what she has suffered in the UAE at the hands of the ruling family and in particular her father.
“This was Latifa’s second attempt to leave the country and live a free life. Latifa was desperate to leave the country we did so on the 24 the February2018.” Their plan was to sail for India, and then fly to the United States where Latifa would apply for asylum; but on March 4th, these plans came to a violent end.
“On Sunday 4th March 2018 as night fell we what were off the coast of Goa, India when we were attacked by Indian secret service and military, including the Indian Coast Guard.” Tina said, “Around 15 men came onboard fully masked, in armoured black clothing, with machine guns and laser sights. They used what was some kind of gas that filled the boat was smoke. It was the most terrifying experience of my life, The Indian men had their laser sights on me and Latifa and they were telling me they would shoot me and kill me. I was thrown against the floor, stood on and found myself next to a pool of blood. At this point I thought they had killed Hervé and I thought I was next. They told me again and again that they would kill me and held me on the edge of the boat, threatening to shoot me. We were cuffed and forced to lie down.”
Herve Jaubert has stated that at least 5 warships, replete with cannons and missiles, 2 military planes, and a helicopter were mobilised in the raid on Nostromo, making it a significant joint military operation by UAE and Indian forces against an American-flagged vessel sailing in international waters with no legal justification. By strict legal definition, this constitutes an act of war.
Jaubert reported that UAE officials told him that Nostromo had been commandeered, and all those onboard were abducted and detained, not for committing any crimes, but because helping Latifa escape was a ‘violation of Islamic Law’. The UAE’s stance, as communicated to Jaubert, was that it was forbidden Islamically for Latifa to leave her father’s custody, and that they regarded his attempt to help her escape as tantamount to kidnapping. Latifa’s own desire to be free, however, could not have been made clearer. Tiina recalls, “Latifa was screaming at the Indian men that she was claiming political asylum. They dragged her away as I heard her say, ‘I won’t go back to the UAE, just kill me now’; I haven’t seen my friend Latifa since.”
Everyone on board Nostromo was taken, blindfolded and handcuffed, back to the UAE, where they were interrogated for two weeks. “I was regularly told that I was facing the death penalty; that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum had make it clear to ‘get Tiina’. I was frightened then and am now. The whole time, I thought that we would be killed.”
Eventually, Tiina and Herve were forced to record “confessions”, the content of which was provided entirely by the UAE authorities. Tiina says, “We were told that if we did not do so we would never leave and faced the death penalty. We were instructed what to say and I was instructed to shower, change clothes and brush my hair. Then they made us sign a document in Arabic, I do not know what it said.”
Soon thereafter, both Tiina and Herve were released; but before Tiina was allowed to leave, she says, the authorities warned her to keep quiet. “They said ‘Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is one of the most powerful people in the world and he can kidnap you from anywhere, as you have seen. He can get you anywhere he wants’. Since I got home, UAE secret service has phoned me to remind me of the document I signed and to check on me, they have tried to get me to go back to Dubai.”
Now home in Finland, Tiina is still traumatised, afraid, and worried about her friend Latifa. “I am fearful for my life I believe Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum would think nothing of killing all of us. I am fearful for the life of Latifa, Hervé and the crew of Nostromo. However, what happened to us has to be spoken about. Dubai is not safe for anyone.”
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, was contacted by Latifa and Hervé from aboard Nostromo, and was instructed to work on their behalf. Stirling was the last person to speak with Latifa in a harrowing phone call just as the attack on the boat began. “The actions of the UAE and India against Nostromo, its crew and passengers, was a belligerent and hostile act well beyond the pale of the law. Nostromo is a US registered vessel that falls under American jurisdiction; it is, in short, legally considered United States territory. No one aboard the ship had committed a crime, as was subsequently conceded by UAE authorities themselves, and they were sailing legally with all documentation in order.
“Clearly the justification Emirati officials offered Herve about their actions is deeply troubling. The UAE acted as if their own cultural norms and religious beliefs supersede their international legal obligations and the rule of law; and that they have the right to impose their interpretation of Islamic Law against free citizens of foreign countries in international waters. Latifa has the right to live wherever she chooses, and any restrictions on her freedom of movement violates International Law; particularly when she claims to have suffered severe abuse in the UAE.
We have submitted a formal complaint with the United Nations regarding the actions of the UAE and India, and we call for an independent investigation into the events surrounding Latifa’s escape, the attack on Nostromo, and the abductions of Herve Jaubert, Tiina Jauhiainen, and the three Filipino crew members. In addition, we request the immediate release of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum from UAE custody, and her delivery to a safe jurisdiction where she can live freely and pursue legal recourse for the alleged abuse she has suffered.”
David Haigh, Stirling’s partner, said in a statement, “The magnitude of what Dubai, the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and India appear to have done is unprecedented. The level of flagrant disregard for International law and Human rights on such a mammoth scale is a world first. The Illegal hijacking of a US vessel and the torture and kidnap of its passengers breaches all of the international human rights instruments that the UAE signed up to at the United Nations.
We now know that while the UAEs was using PR agencies such as Pall Mall communications to suggest to the world this was not Sheikha Latifa, Whilst Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum was pretending to the world all was well and smiling at international women’s day events and whilst the UAE was seeking to confuse the world by parading a different Sheikha Latifa around, whilst ordering a crackdown on reporting the Latifa story in the UAE press. His own daughter, and an American citizen, a Finnish citizen and three crew members of a US registered boat were, seemingly on his instruction suffering the worst abuses of their human rights possible - kidnap and torture at gunpoint.
I urge all the former English judges sitting in the UAE courts under Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum to resign. It is no longer acceptable for Sir Jeremy Cooke, Sir David Steel and Sir Andrew Smith to personally profit from English laws reputation to prop up this tortious regime.
I urge all international companies around the world to consider their base and investment in the UAE until such time that Latifa is released and human rights respected.
This is the undoing of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and unless he resigns it is the undoing of Dubai.”
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