ICFUAE calls for the release of leading Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, detained for three years
On the three-year anniversary of Ahmed Mansoor’s unjust imprisonment, ICFUAE reiterates its call for his immediate and unconditional release.
Mansoor has been forced to spend the past three years in unlawful solitary confinement in Al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi, a facility that fails to meet UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. He is being held in a 2x2 meter cell with no bed, books or TV. He has not been permitted to leave his cell - not even to go to the canteen - apart from a handful of family visits, and only once has he been allowed outside to the prison’s exercise yard. In protest, he launched two separate hunger strikes in March and September 2019. Consequently, his physical and psychological conditions have significantly deteriorated and he is now no longer able to walk unassisted. We, therefore, consider him to be highly vulnerable amid the Covid-19 outbreak as he would be at grave risk of dying from the disease.
Prior to his arrest in a midnight raid on his home on March 20, 2017, Ahmed Mansoor used to quip that he was “the last man talking” in the UAE, reflecting that over the previous several years the authorities had jailed almost all other Emirati rights activists and their lawyers. For more than a year, Mansoor’s whereabouts were unknown.
He was sentenced to ten years in prison in May 2018 for “defaming the UAE through social media channels” in connection with his criticism of the UAE’s prosecutions of other activists for speech “crimes” and his tweets about rights violations in Egypt and Yemen.
In May 2019, seven UN experts issued a statement urging the UAE authorities to provide Mansoor with medical treatment, improved living conditions and a retrial. The statement noted that his poor prison conditions “including prolonged solitary confinement, may constitute torture” and violated basic human rights standards “which risk taking an irrevocable toll on Mr Mansoor’s health”.
In February this year, more than 60 civil society organisations, writers, and Nobel laureates appealed to the UAE authorities to free detained human rights defenders during the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi. The joint letter was signed by Nobel laureates Wole Soyinka and Ahmed Galai, intellectual Noam Chomsky, British author Stephen Fry, and Egyptian author Ahdaf Soueif.
On the third anniversary of his unjust detention in the UAE, it is imperative that the Emirati authorities heed the calls from around the world and grant Ahmed Mansoor, a poet and father of four, his freedom. For, in reality, all that he is guilty of is standing up for the basic rights of his people.
Ahmed’s case makes it plainly clear that the UAE authorities are prepared to not only take away dissidents’ freedom but also their dignity. His ongoing unlawful detention in solitary confinement is nothing but shameful.
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