On National Poetry Day, release Emirati poet Ahmed Mansoor
Today, on National Poetry Day, we urge for the release of the distinguished poet and leading human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor. Reliable sources have confirmed that Mansoor re-launched his hunger strikes in early September in protest against his inhumane treatment while in solitary confinement at al-Sadr prison. His health is now in serious jeopardy and his release vital.
Mansoor launched this second hunger strike approximately three weeks ago in response to a severe beating by prison warders in reprisal for his protests against his ongoing unjust detention. According to sources inside the prison, this has left visible marks on his face.
The resultant weight loss has further exacerbated existing health problems that have emerged from his mistreatment in prison, as well as from his previous hunger strike that began on March 17 this year and lasted nearly six weeks, leaving him “very weak.”
Mansoor, a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and recipient of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, was arbitrarily detained in March 2017 and held in an unknown location without access to legal counsel. He was eventually sentenced in May 2018 to ten years for “defaming the UAE through social media channels.”
Mansoor has received support from prominent international figures such as Noam Chomsky and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, and in May 2019 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture condemned “the poor conditions of his detention in the United Arab Emirates, including prolonged solitary confinement,” indicating that these conditions “may constitute torture.” In spite of this, the UAE continues to treat Mansoor with utter disregard for his health and humanity.
On National Poetry Day, instead of celebrating the written and spoken word, the UAE continues to silence those who celebrate freedom of expression. The plight of Ahmed Mansoor is a continued reminder that, despite its manufactured reputation as a nation of ‘tolerance’, the UAE is in fact a ruthless regime that extinguishes anything it deems to be dissent.
Jamal Khashoggi’s senseless murder this time last year was a prescient warning of an increasing erosion of democratic freedoms in the Gulf - as Ahmed Mansoor’s health rapidly declines, now more than ever it is imperative that the international community pressures the Emirati government to immediately and unconditionally release him lest he suffer the same fate.
Pending this, we urge the Emirati authorities to abide by the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners in their treatment of Mansoor, and all prisoners, which guarantees the provision of medical care and sanitary prison conditions.
- For more information or comment, please contact the ICFUAE team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07979 6666 98.