"Please do not ignore this cry for help" - New Audio Recording Smuggled out of Al-Wathba Prison
In an audio recording leaked out of Abu Dhabi’s al-Wathba prison, 22-year old Emirati prisoner of conscience, Maryam Al-Balushi says she is in desperate need of help.
"I'm Maryam Suleiman [Al-Balushi]. Many times I asked for help but no one heard. Please do not ignore this cry for help."
Last week, news reached us that she had attempted suicide by cutting a vein in her hand after years of torture, ill-treatment and abuse by prison warders.
Her psychological state seemingly further deteriorated after she was threatened by the public prosecution office with a new charge relating to spreading false information and damaging the reputation of the state due to her refusal to record a confession, according to her testimony. Without a new sentence Ms Al-Balushi is due for release in November.
She is currently serving a five-year sentences in al-Wathba prison on state security charges after making a donation to a Syrian family in need. "I've been in jail since 2015 on the charge of financing terrorism, which I did not", she says in her most recent voice recording.
Sources close to the woman have reported that prison authorities placed her and another inmate, Amina Al-Abdouli, in solitary confinement from 15 February 2020 to at least March 11, 2020, when news of Al-Balushi’s attempted suicide became public. Around the same time, both detainees launched a hunger strike in a bid to protest their continuous mistreatment by al-Wathba warders.
Last year, in a letter from prison, Ms Al-Balushi complained of torture, degrading conditions of detention, and endemic racism. She said that since her detention she has been threatened with rape and subjected to torture, which has included verbal and physical abuse.
“As a result of the torture, my left eye became cross-eyed, and I have constant back pain as a result of the brutal torture I was subjected to by female Nepalese soldiers in the State Security Prison”
In her letter, Maryam went on to speak about the appalling conditions that inmates are forced to endure in UAE’s al-Wathba prison, where detainees are kept in solitary confinement, denied clean drinking water, and served inadequate food resulting in ill-health.
In February 2019, commenting on the cases oft he two women, three United Nations special rapporteurs raised allegations of incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment, the use of forced confessions, dismal prison conditions, and denial of appropriate medical treatment.
“In light of the most recent testimony, we call on the UAE authorities to immediately and transparently investigate these allegations of torture, ill-treatment and inhumane conditions in al-Wathba prison. The authorities can now no longer ignore the mounting evidence against them, which clearly indicates that torture is a systematic practice in the UAE prison system. Surely, the time has come where these allegations can no longer be swept under the carpet."
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