Video: Ahmed Mansoor held in “medieval conditions”, says ex-prisoner
A former inmate has spoken out about Ahmed Mansoor’s detention conditions, describing them as ‘medieval’ and constituting a form of psychological torture.
Speaking from outside the UAE, the recently-released prisoner who was jailed alongside Mansoor in al-Sadr prison, told the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) that the prominent Emirati rights activist was being held in solitary confinement, in a small darkened cell with no bed or access to running water.
He said the cells in the al-Sadr’s isolation ward, where Mansoor is being held, are 4 x 4 meters wide, with a small window that only allows around three hours of sunlight a day. As the cell lights are too abrasive, detainees request them to be off most of the time - so spend most time in total darkness. He added that many of the prisoners in the ward, some of whom have been there 20 years, do not receive medical care.
The former prisoner, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that, up until recently, Mansoor had only been allowed to leave his cell for family visits, and was the only prisoner in the ward not permitted to go to the canteen, receiving meals in his cell instead.
But he said this changed after Mansoor engaged in a month-long hunger strike for better conditions. Following media attention and subsequent case interventions from various embassies and EU representatives, his conditions marginally improved: he was allowed to go outside for the first time, a right usually denied to prisoners in the isolation ward.
The UN recently said that Mansoor’s detention conditions in al-Sadr prison ‘may constitute torture.’ The UAE authorities refuted this, describing the claims as ‘false and unsubstantiated’.
Ahmed Mansoor is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for “defaming the UAE through social media channels.”
“ICFUAE reiterates its calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Mansoor. Pending this, however, we urge the Emirati authorities to treat him in line with the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which guarantees the provision of medical care and sanitary prison conditions. To ensure this, it is imperative that international NGOs be allowed access to al-Sadr prison to visit Mansoor. In reality, all that Ahmed is guilty of is raising awareness of the systematic human rights violations in his country. He must be released. “