“If you are watching this video, then I am either dead or in captivity,” said the 33 year old princess Latifa on the video that her friends helped smuggle out of Dubai before her audacious run for freedom in February this year. At the end she hopes something positive would emerge even if she failed to escape from Dubai, a escape she had planned for seven years.
The smuggled video can be watched here:
On the eve of the BBC 2 documentary telecast on Thursday evening at prime time in the UK, a UAE spokesperson issued a statement saying that princess Latifa was with her family and was doing ‘excellent’. But the statement failed to allay the fears of her friends, among them Tiina Johanna Jauhiainen, the Finnish fitness trainer of the princess, who was with her when she was abducted, 30 Kms off the Goa coast allegedly by Indian Coast Guards. “I hope she is still alive,” says the trainer in the documentary through her tears.
The princess has not been seen since her abduction. Nor has her older sister Shamsa, one of her 30 siblings, who escaped from a Surrey mansion in England in 2000 but was drugged and abducted from Cambridge and flown back to Dubai within two months. The British police officer who sought to investigate the abduction and visit Dubai was denied permission and the case was closed.
Did Indian Coast Guards violate international law by abducting the princess from international water? The yacht they stormed was commanded by a French ex-Naval officer and had an international crew. And the clamour for an independent probe by the United Nations is expected to grow following the latest documentay. BBC and Australia 60 minutes programme on Channel 9 had earlier this year aired the curious case and played portions from the smuggled video.
The Guernica Group in a statement issued in London said, “ The true position is that Sheikha Latifa has not been heard from for some nine-months, and it is not merely a coincidence that on the eve of a BBC documentary into her disappearance, and credible allegations, supported by eye witness and other evidence of the involvement of UAE and Indian authorities into events that have been described as an unlawful military intervention in international waters, a statement has been issued.”
“Regrettably, it offers no explanation as to why she felt compelled to release a lengthy video begging for help, why individuals who helped her in her plight were arbitrarily detained and tortured for their involvement in her escape, nor do they offer any explanation as to why she has remained hidden from the view of the public, but also from her friends since her detention in international waters off the coast of Goa by the Indian Coastguards and naval forces of the United Arab Emirates,” the statement goes on to add.
Both India and the UAE have refused to engage “in the investigation conducted by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance or to the requests for information by Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International,” it has alleged.
The Guernica Group is an international initiative that brings together lawyers, investigators and other professionals who work to bring perpetrators of international crimes and grave human rights violations to justice.
The Group takes its name from the bombing of the town of Guernica in 1937 by German and Italian warplanes killing 1,600 civilians, mostly women and children, the crime immortalized by Pablo Picasso’s painting, Guernica.