Breaking the Silence: Activists in London demand an end to torture of female detainees in the UAE
Campaigners gathered outside the Emirati embassy this afternoon in London to call for an end to the mistreatment of female prisoners in the UAE.
Today’s demonstration marked the culmination of a week-long series of actions in London organised by the UK-based rights group, International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE). Launched to coincide in the same week as the UAE celebrated Emirati Women’s Day, ICFUAE’s ‘Breaking the Silence’ campaign aims to draw attention to the plight of a number of female detainees in the UAE who recently complained of systematic practices of torture and abuse in Emirati prisons.
These women's testimonies came to light after a series of letters and audio recordings were smuggled out of Abu Dhabi’s al-Wathba prison earlier this year detailing practices of torture, inhumane conditions and the degrading treatment female prisoners are forced to endure in the UAE.
In one of the letters, 21-year-old prisoner of conscience, Mariam al-Balushi, said that prison security staff had threatened her with rape on numerous occasions and subjected her to verbal and physical abuse.
In another, Amina Abdullahi, 36, said that she had been held in solitary confinement and was forced to sign a false confession under duress during her interrogation period and was beaten on numerous occasions by Emirati security forces.
Full transcripts of these letters, as well as audio recordings from the prisoners in question, can be found here.
At today’s demonstration, a spokesperson for the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE said:
“This week the UAE celebrated ‘Emirati women’s day’. If the regime is in any way serious about addressing the issue of women’s rights, a good place to start would be to stop the state-sanctioned torture and abuse of female prisoners of conscience in the country. Behind the façade of the UAE’s liberal and tolerant image lays a more disconcerting reality where practices such as these have become part and parcel of a deeply flawed legal system. It is imperative that the international community begin to challenge these institutionalised forms of human rights abuses in the country.”