Female prisoners on hunger strike over torture and ill-treatment
Prisoners of conscience Amina al-Abdouli and Maryam al-Balushi have been on hunger strike for the past two weeks in protest against their torture and ill-treatment at the hands of prison warders, sources reveal.
Ms. Al-Abdouli was arrested without a warrant on 19 November 2015, and taken to a secret location for seven and a half months before being taken to Al-Wathba prison, where both women are currently held. Ms. Al- Abdouli was formally charged with “inciting hatred against the State and disturbing public order; undermining the reputation of the State institutions and publishing false information to endanger the State’s relations with its allies” and tried before the Federal Supreme court which considered the tweets (which were about the death of her father in Syria) a terrorist offense on the basis of Federal Law No. 7 of 2014 on Terrorism Crimes. On 31 October 2016, Ms. Al-Abdouli was sentenced to 5 years in Al-Wathba prison.
While held at an undisclosed location, Ms. Al-Abdouli alleges that she was kept in a narrow room with no windows and was interrogated by male security guards who insulted and threatened her that she would lose the custody of her children and her relatives would be arrested. She was stripped naked, handcuffed, her feet bound, blindfolded and sleep deprived for hours at a time. On a number of occasions a guard beat her on the face, head and body. The guard ordered her to insult her family especially her dead father and when she refused, he beat her more.
Ms. Al-Abdouli has been on several hunger strikes before to protest against her treatment, lasting up to three weeks in length.
During the third month of detention, she began to lose vision in her left eye due to repeated beatings. They forced her to sign a confession, without allowing her to read its contents while threatening to continue the beatings if she did not comply.
Similarly, Maryam Al-Balushi, a 21-year-old student in the College of Technology in the city of Kulba, was accused of “financing terrorism” for her donation to a Syrian family. While being detained in a secret detention center, Ms. Al-Balushi was beaten and threatened with rape. In prison, she lived under constant surveillance, with cameras placed in her bathroom specifically to humiliate her. She was also denied a family visit even when her mother traveled long distance to see her. In response to the torture, she went on multiple hunger strikes to demand an investigation.
Last year, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment sent an Urgent Appeal (ARE 2/2019) to the Government of the UAE. The appeal concerns the torture and ill treatment faced by female detainees Amina Al-Abdouli, Maryam Al-Balushi, and Alia Abdulnour, who has since died of cancer after suffering severe medical negligence in Al-Wathba prison. The Urgent Appeal called for UAE authorities to investigate and report on these cases, to hold the perpetrators accountable, and to provide factual and legal grounds regarding the detention of these women. However, non of the mentioned concerns have been addressed by the Emirati authorities.