“Enough is Enough”: Activists in London call for the release of political prisoners in UAE.
Campaigners gathered in central London this afternoon to call for the release of the prominent Emirati human rights activists Ahmed Mansoor and Dr Nasser bin Ghaith.
Today’s action, which was organised by the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE), was called in response to recent significant developments concerning both of their cases.
Last month, news emerged that Ahmed Mansoor, originally arrested for his online activities, had finally been brought to trial in the UAE after being arbitrarily detained for over a year in an unknown location. However, little is known past this: it is still not clear what charges he faces, which court is hearing his case, or whether he has access to legal counsel. For now, at least, it seems his trial is to be conducted in secret – well out of view of public scrutiny.
In light of this, activists in London called for transparency from the UAE authorities.
Daniel Peters, a human rights researcher from London, who was at today’s action, stated that Mansoor’s trial must be conducted in line with international law.
He said: “As Ahmed comes to trial in the UAE, it is imperative that court proceedings are conducted in full public view to ensure internationally fair trial standards are upheld.”
Peters went on to say that it is, however, “ridiculous” that Mansoor is even standing trial in the first place, adding that the only thing Ahmed was “guilty” of was his “tireless advocacy work aimed at improving the human rights situation in the UAE.”
As well as raising the case of Mansoor, campaigners also highlighted the plight of Nasser bin Ghaith.
Currently serving a 10-year sentence for Twitter comments criticising the human rights record of the Egyptian government (a key ally of the UAE), bin Ghaith is now two months into an open-ended hunger strike, which he launched in response to the ill-treatment he has been facing at UAE’s al-Razeen prison.
In retaliation, Emirati authorities have subjected bin Ghaith to solitary confinement and denied him all contact with his family.
Sophia, a 28-year-old law graduate from Austria, who was present at today’s demonstration, called on the Emirati regime to “immediately and unconditionally” release the Emirati economist and rights activist, who, she said, was “dying for his freedom.”
Over 50 days into the strike, there are serious concerns about bin Ghaith’s health which, according to rights groups, is feared to have rapidly deteriorated in recent weeks. The Geneva-based International Campaign for Justice and Human Rights, who are in contact with family members, have reported that his is suffering from fatigue, severe hypoglycaemia and high blood pressure.
In light of this, Sophia went on to say that it was the responsibility of human rights campaigners everywhere to raise his case with their respective governments.
Both cases are symptomatic of a wider narrative concerning human rights abuses in the UAE. In recent years, cases of unfair trial procedures, arbitrary detention, and practices torture have become increasingly systematic. It is in this context that the international community must do more to exert pressure on the Emirati authorities to abide by international human rights legislation. A good place to start would be to raise - more fervently - the cases of Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser bin Ghaith.