Two Years On: ICFUAE statement on the continued detention of Ahmed Mansoor
On the two-year anniversary of his unjust imprisonment, ICFUAE reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of leading Emirati rights activist Ahmed Mansoor.
Mansoor was arrested in the early hours of March 20 2017, and went on to be held for over a year without charge in an unknown location without access to proper legal counsel. In May 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “defaming the UAE through social media channels.” An appeal to overturn this verdict was rejected on 31 December 2018.
Mansoor’s imprisonment has sparked international outrage, with UN experts, rights groups and Parliamentarians pressing for his release. Just this week, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, raised his case in the UK Parliament. Last year the EU Parliament passed a resolution calling for his release. And, in January 2019, prominent figures such as Stephen Fry and Noam Chomsky made the same demand in an open letter to the Guardian, prompting the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, to boycott the Dubai Literature Festival over human rights concerns. With every day that passes, it seems the world is more aware of Ahmed’s plight.
The level of activity surrounding his case is a reflection of the high standing he has within the human rights community. Over the years he has worked extensively with international rights organisations to raise awareness of human rights abuses in the UAE; he is a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and has a seat on the advisory committee at Human Rights Watch. In 2015, he won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
On the second anniversary of his unjust detention in the UAE, it is imperative that the Emirati authorities heed the calls from around the world and release Ahmed Mansoor. If they are in any way serious about making 2019 the Year of Tolerance, they must grant a dissident poet and father of four his freedom. His only crime was to stand up for the basic rights of the oppressed. Ahmed Mansoor’s release is long overdue.