End the Torture: Activists raise case of female prisoners of conscience in UAE
Activists protested in central London this afternoon in a bid to raise awareness to the plight of female political prisoners in the UAE.
Today’s action, organised by the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE), was called in response to a recent testimony from a female prisoner citing rampant torture and abuse at Abu Dhabi’s al-Watbha prison.
In an audio recording smuggled out of the facility, Maryiam al-Balushi, 21, said that since her arrest in 2015, she had been severely beaten, threatened with rape and denied access to adequate medical treatment.
During one interrogation session, she claimed that a female security officer laughed off her suggestion of filing a torture complaint with the de-facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed Bin Zayed – with the response that it was the Crown Prince himself who had ordered her beatings.
Al-Balushi said that ill-treatment and torture was rife in al-Wathbha prison, with female inmates regularly beaten by warders - and suicides among the prisoner population increasingly commonplace.
Citing the level of media coverage around the UAE’s recent pardon of the UK student Matthew Hedges, Lyndon Peters, a human rights researcher, said today that more attention must now be focused on other cases of human rights abuses in the UAE:
“As we celebrate the release of Matthew Hedges, it is important people are aware that there are so many other cases of injustice in the UAE.
Maryiam al-Balushi did not receive a pardon, she remains trapped in an unbearable situation. The British government must speak up for her, as they did for Matthew.”
A spokesman for the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE added:
“Myriam al-Balushi’s revelations are yet a further demonstration of the deep flaws that lie at heart of the Emirati legal system, where practices of torture and a lack of due process have become increasingly systematic in recent years.
International pressure needs to be exerted on the UAE authorities to adhere to the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which affords basic rights for inmates such as access to adequate medical care, food and other amenities.”
Listen to Maryiam al-Balushi’s testimony here: