Martin Ennals Award defenders call for release of Ahmed Mansoor
Martin Ennals Award defenders called for the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders, including their fellow award-winners, topped by prominent Emirati activist Ahmed Mansoor.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, we the undersigned, winners of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, are calling for the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders around the world, who are at tremendous risk due to the coronavirus," the defenders said in a joint statement.
"We add our voices to the calls of international leaders, of hundreds of civil society organisations and thousands of mobilized citizens, to grant clemency towards vulnerable prisoners during this health crisis, including our fellow award-winners who are imprisoned for their defense of human rights," the statement continued.
Ahmed Mansoor is an internationally acclaimed human rights campaigner, who won the Martin Ennals Award in 2015. He is a member of both the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.
Emirati security forces arrested him on 20 March 2017 in a midnight raid on his home and forcibly disappeared him for over a year until resurfacing for his trial in May 2018. He was sentenced to ten years in prison on spurious charges of using social media to publish “false information” to “incite sectarian strife and hatred” and “harm the reputation of the state”. Shockingly, he has spent all his detention in solitary confinement in a cell lacking even the most fundamental essentials, such as a mattress to sleep on and access to a shower. These conditions as well as a recent hunger strike have left him very weak and, according to sources inside the prison, he is now unable to stand up unassisted.
In recent weeks, numerous health authorities and human rights organisations have denounced the risks of COVID-19 for prisoners held in unsanitary conditions. Ahmed Mansoor's susceptibility to the disease is particularly high given his dire health, the lack of access to medical care, and poor hygiene conditions. He should be released with immediate effect.