Starving for Justice: Campaigners demand release of Ahmed Mansoor
Campaigners gathered outside the Emirati embassy in London yesterday evening to demand the immediate release of Ahmed Mansoor who has been on hunger strike for over five weeks in UAE’s al-Sadr prison.
The award-winning Emirati rights activist is protesting against his poor prison conditions and unfair trial which led to a 10-year prison sentence for his peaceful human rights activities.
It has been reported that since being detained two years ago, Mansoor has been held in solitary confinement in a cell which has no bed, nor access to running water or a shower.
As his strike enters its sixth week, his health is said to be deteriorating rapidly. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights have reported that he is moving slowly and is very weak and that, in recent days, his eyesight has worsened significantly.
Holding banners and posters aloft outside the UAE embassy in London, campaigners called on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mansoor.
“Locked away in isolation with no contact to the outside world, this is the only means he has left to fight for justice. He is dying for a freedom that should never have been taken away in the first place. In reality, all that Ahmed is guilty of is raising awareness of the systematic human rights violations in his country. He must be freed.”, an ICFUAE spokesperson said.
Cat Lucas, from English PEN, added: “We are deeply concerned that award-winning human rights defender and poet Ahmed Mansoor remains on hunger strike in protest at his 10-year prison sentence and the conditions in which he is being held.
We call on the UAE to release him immediately and unconditionally, and urge the government here in the UK to take urgent action on his case."
This is just the latest in a series of actions surrounding Mansoor’s case: since his arrest two years ago, UN experts, the EU parliament, British MPs, and notable figures such as Noam Chomsky and Stephen Fry, have issued calls for his release.
Ahmed Mansoor has a high standing within the human rights community. Over the years he has worked extensively with international rights organisations to raise awareness of human rights abuses in the UAE; 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.