Cuba intimidates dissidents

The Ladies in White, human-rights campaigners in Cuba, are getting a hard time from the government, a reader notes. Other letter topics: the old days in Dubai, Syria, Salman Rushdie, and nuclear reactors.

Cuba's dissident Ladies in White symbolise protests movements worldwide, a reader notes. Franklin Reyes / AP
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I found The road trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, as it looked in 1972 (March 17) to be very interesting.

From February to September of 1969 I was stationed in Sharjah, as a very young British soldier-tradesman.

I remember the drive from Sharjah to Dubai: follow the well-worn ruts in the sand, turn left at the big pile of oil drums, turn right at the big heap of tyres, etc. Eventually you reached Dubai Creek to board a dhow for a day's sea fishing.

I also remember how surprised I was, at a time when there were few paved roads in Dubai, to see a roundabout being constructed, with a wonderful clock tower at its centre but no roads for it to service! If there are any photographs to show this most memorable time, I hope you will publish them.

Bob Stone, UK

Assad's cruelty alienates Russia

Bashar Al Assad's cruelty has left even his friends wordless; now they too are calling for a ceasefire (Russia warms to ceasefire in Syria, March 20).

I hope he will hear the world's cries, otherwise he is leading his country into a situation like that of Libya or of Afghanistan.

A stone-hearted man like Mr Assad is capable of cruelties even cold-blooded America can't do.

Dr Najath Manzil Ahmed, Abu Dhabi

The killing of innocent Syrian civilians seems to be never- ending.

And for what? To maintain the status quo and keep Bashar Al Assad in power?

Russia and China, by blocking the proposed United Nations action, served only their own selfish interests, and ignoring the plight of the people.

I was in Syria not too long ago and saw the poverty and hardship suffered by the general population; all the wealth seems to be with a minute part of the population. Bashar Al Assad must go.

David, Australia

Can Al Qaeda still derail Yemen?

Thank you for the comment article From protests to politics, a new way forward for Yemen (March 19).

I liked the article's cautious optimism about the Yemeni election and the possibilities it has created.

But I worry about Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and that it may have enough power to derail Yemen's Arab Spring process.

Turan Kayaoglu, Doha

Cuban opposition faces trouble

Your news story about the Ladies in White (Cuba corrals Lady dissidents, March 20) reminds me that even where it is OK to campaign for the release of political prisoners, marching beyond the authorised route tolerated by the authorities may lead to trouble.

Cuban intellectuals, social commentators and relatives of activists arrested in 2003 have become more vocal ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's visit next week, and the authorities have responded accordingly.

The Obama administration should be careful about recognising opposition groups in Cuba.

But I would be glad if people worldwide did not have to struggle so much for human rights, justice and an end to jail time for people who simply criticise government oppression.

Ali Sedat Budak, Abu Dhabi

Rushdie ignores limit to freedom

Salman Rushdie has still not learnt his lesson, even so many years after writing a book that hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims.

As his speech at this week's India Today conclave shows, he is extremely intolerant of people who do not approve of his concept of free speech.

Freedom of speech should not extend to showing utter disrespect to faith and reviling religious figures people hold in high esteem.

Good writers usually promote peace, love, harmony in the society. They try to highlight the good things of religions, so as to establish good relations between groups.

Rushdie certainly owes an apology to Muslims.

Muneer Ahmad, Abu Dhabi

Molten slat offers an alternative

I refer to Scarce water resources will drive life-and-death politics (March 19).

Any country or region that must invest in power generation and is considering coal-fired or nuclear installations will have to site them near a large source of fresh water.

These plants need significant quantities of water to cool the useless, low-temperature waste heat produced from their steam turbines.

But "molten salt" reactor technology uses gas turbines to drive the electricity generators. The "waste" heat from these turbines is quite hot and can produce potable water from desalination plants free of charge.

Colin Megson, UK