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Dying for freedom: Dr Nasser bin Ghaith endures 3 months on hunger strike in UAE jail

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Dying for freedom: Dr Nasser bin Ghaith endures 3 months on hunger strike in UAE jail

The health of the prominent UAE economist and political prisoner, Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith, is said to be in a critical condition as he passes the three-month point of his open-ended hunger strike in an Emirati prison cell.

On 25 Feb 18, bin Ghaith - who is currently serving a 10-year sentence for comments on Twitter - launched an open-ended hunger strike in response to his ill-treatment at UAE’s al-Razeen prison, a maximum-security facility holding predominantly government critics. In recent years, the prison has become notorious for its repressive conditions, with inmates regularly reporting instances of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of warders.

The International Campaign for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR), a Geneva-based NGO, in contact with sources on the ground, confirmed yesterday that bin Ghaith’s strike is still ongoing (although he has begun to take in fluids).

Almost 100 days into his strike, his health, however, is said to be deteriorating rapidly. According to ICJHR, bin Ghaith is now effectively bed-ridden, as he finds it increasingly difficult to walk or sit-down properly.

In retaliation to his strike, Emirati authorities are reported to have subjected the government critic to solitary confinement and denied him all contact with his family.

This is not the first time bin Ghaith has gone on hunger strike. Shortly following his conviction in April of last year, he endured over 40 days without food in protest at his initial conviction.

On March 29, 2017, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for tweets that criticised the Emirati regime’s human rights record. In response, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch launched campaigns demanding his immediate release. 

ICFUAE stand in complete solidarity with Nasser bin Ghaith and reiterate our call for his immediate and unconditional release. Pending this, however, we urgently call upon the Emirati authorities to adhere to the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which affords basic rights for prisoners such as access to adequate access to medical care, food and other amenities. As well as this, the UAE authorities must allow UN working bodies access to al-Razeen prison to inspect conditions - a request which they have denied on numerous occasions.

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