ICFUAE statement on the death of Alia Abdel Nour
We are deeply saddened by the news of Alia Abdel Nour’s passing in UAE’s Tawam hospital and outraged that she had to endure so much needless suffering caused by the deliberate medical negligence of the Emirati authorities.
Alia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 shortly after being arrested for allegedly financing ‘terrorism’. In a case described by Human Rights Watch as ‘marred with due process violations’, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The prosecution’s evidence for her conviction was based on charitable donations Alia had made to Syrian refugees during the country’s civil war.
She was held in al-Wathba prison, where she was denied urgent medical care to treat her cancer. Family members have said that she was forced to sign a document stating that she refused chemotherapy.
On top of this, Alia was subjected to torture and inhumane and degrading treatment by prison warders. According to testimonies smuggled out of al-Wathba prison, she was hit, kicked and tied up on multiple occasions.
In January 2019, she was transferred to Tawam hospital, where she was kept in isolation, in a room with no windows and no ventilation. Her family was not permitted regular visits.
On numerous occasions, her family appealed for her early release on medical grounds - something which is permitted under Emirati law. Earlier this year, UN experts and European Parliamentarians echoed this demand and urged the UAE authorities to allow Alia to spend her final days at home in dignity, surrounded by her family.
Instead, however, Alia passed away on Saturday 4 May, chained to a hospital bed under armed guard.
The Emirati regime’s complete disregard for human dignity is utterly disgraceful. The UAE have marked 2019 as ‘The Year of Tolerance’, yet no tolerance was extended to Alia as she lay dying in inhumane conditions. Nor was it extended to her family who were repeatedly denied access to her hospital room.
Alia’s story, while shocking, is not an isolated incident. In recent years, numerous cases that pertain to systematic human rights abuses have been documented in the country. Alia’s death must serve as a wake-up call to the international community to start holding the UAE authorities accountable for their actions.