Mohammed al-Roken: Activists demand release of prominent UAE prisoner of conscience
Campaigners gathered in London yesterday to call for the release of UAE prisoner of conscience Dr Mohamed Al-Roken, as he enters the seventh year of his sentence in Abu Dhabi’s notoriously repressive Al-Razeen prison.
An award-winning academic and former professor of constitutional law, al-Roken notably represented the group of human rights activists (“the UAE 5”), including Ahmed Mansoor, who were convicted and later amnestied for running a website criticising the UAE government.
At today’s demonstration, an ICFUAE spokesperson said:
“Dr Al-Roken is a pre-eminent Emirati human rights lawyer, who dedicated his life to defending those facing human rights violations in the UAE. So long as he sits in prison, a grave injustice continues to stand. We call for his immediate and unconditional release.”
On 2nd July 2013, al-Roken was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi as part of the mass trial of proponents of democratic reform.
This case, which became known as “the UAE 94”, led to the imprisonment of 69 lawyers, judges, academics and students for 7-15 years. Gross violations of fair trial guarantees led the International Commission of Jurists to conclude that the proceedings had fallen “well below international fair trial standards”.
Daniel Peters, a human rights campaigner and independent researcher who was at today’s action, added:
“Dr Al-Roken's detention, trial and sentence are riddled with flagrant breaches of international human rights norms. After his initial arrest on 17th July 2012, he was held in solitary confinement at a secret location. He was denied access to a lawyer and had no right to appeal the verdict. On top of this, he is being held in conditions well below the UNs standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.”
On 11th November 2015, Amnesty International reported that Dr Al-Roken had been subjected to “music torture” at Al-Razeen prison. This involved security guards purposefully blasting propaganda music in his cell at piercing volumes, leading to him losing consciousness due to high blood pressure and exacerbating his ear infection.
Today’s demonstration is just the latest in a series of actions surrounding al-Roken’s case. Earlier this week, the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) renewed calls for his immediate and unconditional release.