London activists commemorate passing of Alia Abdel Nour
Campaigners gathered in central London yesterday evening to commemorate the life of an Emirati prisoner of conscience who passed away earlier this month after being denied urgent medical care by the UAE authorities.
On 4 May, Alia Abdel Nour, 42, died in UAE’s Tawam hospital after losing her battle to breast cancer, which resurfaced shortly after her arrest in 2015. Up until her death, she did not receive adequate medical care to treat her illness and was reportedly forced to sign a document stating that she had refused chemotherapy.
Activists marked Alia’s passing by sharing her story with the general public while handing out red roses to passers-by. In particular, campaigners drew attention to the fact that the UAE had repeatedly ignored calls from the UN, EU and rights groups to permit the detainee early release on medical grounds, something which is permitted under Emirati law.
“We are shocked and appalled by the cruel and needless suffering Alia and her family had to endure. She should have been allowed home to spend her last days in the care of her family. Instead, she passed away in the company of armed security guards who kept her chained to her hospital bed even while she was fighting for her last breath.
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.”, an ICFUAE spokesperson said last night.
This is just the latest in a series of actions surrounding Alia’s case. Shortly following her death, the European Union released a statement condemning the UAE authorities for ignoring international calls to release the cancer-stricken detainee. The UN has also called for an urgent investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
In a case described by Human Rights Watch as ‘marred by due process violations’, Abdel Nour was serving a 10-year prison term on charges of financing terrorism. Family members said that her conviction related to small donations she made to Syrian families affected by the country’s civil war.