Marathon runner calls for the release of Ahmed Mansoor
Today, 25 January 2020, ICFUAE activist ran the Lea Valley half marathon in London to demand the release of the world renowned human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in the UAE. The initiative aims to raise awareness of Ahmed’s unfair imprisonment and his abysmal prison conditions.
This initiative forms a part of the larger movement in support of Ahmed Mansoor. In October, an open letter calling for him to be released was signed by 142 organisations worldwide. Most recently (in January), ICFUAE held a vigil outside of the UAE’s embassy in London, in which a letter outlining a list of human rights-based new year’s resolutions were delivered.
One of the world’s most prominent human rights defenders, Ahmed Mansoor, continues to be arbitrarily detained in the Al Sadir prison for daring to speak out against the Emirati government. Mansoor’s work primarily focused on raising awareness of human rights violations within the UAE and the wider region. His knowledge was internationally renowned through his position as a member of the Gulf Centre of Human Rights, and his seat on the advisory committee at Human Rights Watch. His achievements within his field were internationally recognised in 2015 when he won the prestigious Marin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
Mansoor was arrested in the early hours of March 20 2017, and, without being presented with a warrant, taken to an undisclosed location where he was held for an entire year in incommunicado detention. His only “crime” was tweeting critically of the government’s human rights abuses, for which he was charged with “publish[ing] false information to damage [the] UAE’s reputation abroad” and was ultimately sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Mansoor has continued to suffer during his imprisonment. He is being detained in the solitary ward of Al-Sadir prison in a 2x2 meter cell. He is forced to sleep on the floor, as he has no mattress. He is denied any opportunity to leave his cell except for family visits, which are granted only very irregularly. On 7 May 2019, a group of UN Special Rapporteurs stated that his conditions of detention “violate basic international human rights standards and risk-taking an irrevocable toll on Mr Mansoor’s health.”
Prior to his arrest, Mansoor was known as the last person within the UAE who dared to speak out against the Emirati government – and to some, he was the last hope within the country. Mansoor’s arrest forms part of the UAE’s larger repression on free speech and political dissidence.
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