Rights Groups in London Demand the Release of Human Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor
Human rights activists gathered outside the UAE embassy in London today to call on the Emirati authorities to release the prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor who has been imprisoned in the UAE for the last 7 months.
In a demonstration organised by Amnesty International, and attended by the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE, Reporters Without Borders, and English Pen, activists held banners and placards aloft demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Mansoor, a distinguished Emirati human rights activist.
Drewery Drake from Amnesty International explained the reason for today's protest. "We collectively as organisations, and individually, have come out to protest against Mansoor's ongoing and wrongful detention. which appears to amount to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture. We want him to be released immediately and unconditionally, that's our continuing objective."
"We think collectively that the world, the UN and the international community needs to pay more attention to what's happening to people, to human rights defenders like Ahmed Mansoor. For that reason we will continue to protest until he's released and see some sort of justice, and indeed some reparation for wrongful arrest."
Ahmed Mansoor was arrested by UAE authorities on 20 March of this year after 12 plain-clothed Emirati security officials stormed his family home in Abu Dhabi and took him to an unknown location, in an act described by UN human rights experts as a “direct attack” on human rights defenders everywhere.
The prominent rights activist has since been transferred to Al-Sadr prison where he is being held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer as Emirati authorities investigate him on charges of “promoting false and shaded information through the internet and serving agendas aimed at spreading hatred and sectarianism”.
Ahmed Mansoor is an internationally renowned human rights activist with a long and prominent history of speaking out in favour of rights for people in the UAE. He has worked extensively with international rights organisations to raise awareness of human rights violations in the United Arab Emirates. He is a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and has a seat on the advisory committee at Human Rights Watch. In 2015, he won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders.
Mansoor's arrest has been heavily condemned by various international bodies and organisations. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience and, along with Human Rights Watch, have launched international campaigns calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Additionally, earlier this year, a coalition of notable figures and organisations released a joint letter earlier this year calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the Emirati human rights defender. The letter was signed by a number of academics, lawyers, authors and MPs, such as the American linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, British barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, the co leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, and UAE torture survivor David Haigh.
Drewery stressed that Ahmed's case is symptomatic of a wider issue of repression and arbitrary detention perpetrated by the Emirati regime. "Another point to note is the lack of accountability - not only in the case of Ahmed Mansoor, but also Mohammad al-Roken and Nasser bin Ghaith. We're seeing cases emerge from Yemen of individuals detained and deaths in custody under UAE supervision."
The continued detention of Ahmed Mansoor is in violation of international law which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and assembly as well as the right to counsel in the case of arrest. In light of this, it is imperative that governments and international bodies around the world exercise more pressure on the Emirati authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mansoor in line with internationally recognised legal standards