Stop the Torture: Activists raise case of Emirati female prisoners outside UK Parliament
Campaigners gathered outside the Houses of Parliament this afternoon in a bid to raise awareness to the mistreatment and torture of female political prisoners in the United Arab Emirates.
Today's action, which was organised by the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE), came on the same day as UK government ministers held a meeting with UAE officials in central London.
ICFUAE's 'Break the Silence' campaign, which was launched last week to coincide with Emirati Women's Day, aims to draw attention to the plight of a number female detainees in the UAE who recently revealed that they had been tortured and abused in Emirati prisons.
These testimonies came to light after a series of letters and audio recordings were smuggled out of Abu Dhabi’s al-Wathba prison earlier this year detailing practices of torture, inhumane conditions and the degrading treatment female prisoners are forced to endure in the UAE.
In one of the letters, 21-year-old prisoner of conscience, Mariam al-Balushi, said that prison security staff had threatened her with rape on numerous occasions and subjected her to verbal and physical abuse.
In another, Amina Abdullahi, 36, said that she had been held in solitary confinement and was forced to sign a false confession under duress during her interrogation period and was beaten on numerous occasions by Emirati security forces.
At today's action a spokesperson for ICFUAE said:
“In light of these recent testimonies, it is imperative that the UK government utilise its close relationship with the UAE to put pressure on the authorities to abide by the UN's Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which affords basic rights for inmates such as access to adequate medical care, food and other amenities. The Emirati regime must not be allowed to routinely breach this convention with such apparent impunity. In recent years, ties between the UAE and the UK have gone from strength to strength. All too often, however, this has come at the expense of human rights considerations. This must change. Lucrative trade deals should never come at the behest of our liberal values. The British government must begin to stand up for human rights in the UAE”