#FreeAlia: Campaigners demand release of cancer-stricken detainee in UAE
Campaigners gathered outside the UAE embassy in London this afternoon to demand the release of a terminally-ill Emirati prisoner of conscience, reportedly subjected to abuse and ill-treatment.
With just months left to live, Alia Abdel Nour is said to be held in a windowless room without ventilation and chained to a hospital bed under armed guard.
Alia was arrested in 2015, disappeared for four months and forced to sign a confession under torture. Two years later, in a trial Human Rights Watch have described as “marred by due process violations”, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of ‘financing terrorism’. Family members have said that evidence for this was based on small donations Alia made to Syrian families at the advent of the country’s revolution in 2011.
A year after her arrest Alia was diagnosed with breast cancer. According to her family, this was left untreated by the authorities, who instead subjected her to abuse and mistreatment.
Displaying a #FreeAlia banner this afternoon outside the UAE embassy in London, campaigners urged the Emirati authorities to release the cancer-stricken detainee:
“It is imperative the UAE authorities heed the call of European Parliamentarians and UN experts and grant Alia early medical release. It is the only civilised thing to do. A dying woman wishes to spend her last days at home, surrounded by her family - is that really too much to ask?
From an unfair trial to the denial of adequate medical care, Alia’s basic human rights have been routinely breached since her arrest nearly four years ago. At the very least, the Emirati authorities must allow her to die at home in dignity.”, an ICFUAE spokesperson said today.
Today’s call follows similar demands by Human Rights Watch, MEPs and UN rights experts, who in recent weeks have urged the UAE authorities to grant the detainee early release on medical grounds.
In an open letter sent this week to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, a coalition of ten members of the European Parliament said:
“In the spirit of the UAE’s 2019 Year of Tolerance, we call on you to use the authority of your office, as the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, to secure the release of Alia Abdel Nour, and pending her release, to unshackle her and allow family members unimpeded access to her.”
Despite growing international pressure, the UAE authorities are yet to make a public statement on Alia’s case.