Emirati prisoner of conscience Nasser Bin Ghaith launches hunger strike
The prominent Emirati prisoner of conscience Nasser Bin Ghaith has declared an open-ended hunger strike in protest against his ill-treatment in al-Razeen prison, according to family sources.
On March 29 2017, Bin Ghaith was sentenced to 10 years in prison for tweets that were critical of the Emirati authorities.
Prior to his conviction, the prominent Emirati economist was subjected to an enforced disappearance where he was held for almost a year without charge or access to a lawyer. During this period, Bin Ghaith alleges he was tortured by security officials. Despite Bin Ghaith calling upon them to do so, the UAE authorities refused to open-up an independent investigation into these claims.
This is not the first time Bin Ghaith has gone on hunger strike. Shortly following his sentencing in April of last year, Bin Ghaith endured over 40 days without food in protest against the courts order and in demand of his immediate and unconditional release.
Following this, Bin Ghaith was moved to Al-Razeen prison. The facility, which lies in the desert around 100km outside of Abu Dhabi, is home to scores of political prisoners, and has been dubbed the Guantánamo of the UAE by human rights activists for its degrading conditions and poor treatment of inmates.
In May of last year, al-Razeen inmate Imran Radwan endured almost 60 days on hunger strike after he was subjected to beatings and sexual assault by prison warders. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of prisoner abuse at al-Razeen . Inmates at the facility have alleged that they have been subjected to beatings, been denied access to adequate food and medical care, subject to sleep deprivation, and have been held in solitary confinement.
It is imperative that the Emirati authorities adhere to the UN's standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners which affords basic rights for prisoners such as access to adequate access to medical care, food, and other amenities. Furthermore, the UAE authorities must allow UN working bodies access to al-Razeen prison, a request which they have denied on numerous occasions.
Nasser Bin Ghaith was convicted solely on the basis of exercising his basic right to freedom of speech. ICFUAE reiterates its call for his immediate and unconditional release.
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