This statement was originally published on gc4hr.org on 4 May 2019.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) cautiously welcomes the news that imprisoned human rights defender and blogger Ahmed Mansoor may have ended his hunger strike recently, while reiterating calls for his immediate release. He started the hunger strike on 17 March 2019 to protest poor prison conditions and his unfair trial which led to a ten-year prison sentence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for his human rights activities. It is very difficult to get reliable news from the UAE as it is a totally closed country in terms of civic space and all human rights defenders are in prison.
According to information provided by one source to GCHR, Mansoor ended his hunger strike in April, after authorities promised to address his demands. Although visits are not officially banned, his family has not been able to see him regularly in order to find out if he remains on hunger strike or if his health has improved. Mansoor’s mother, whose health is poor, has not been permitted to visit him, but he may possibly be allowed to call her.
Mansoor remains in isolation in Al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi. GCHR received news in early April that Mansoor was being kept in a cell with no bed and no water (not even in the toilet), and that he was held in “terrible conditions”, according to a confidential source. His health was very poor due to the hunger strike and he was moving slowly. The GCHR confirms that his circumstances have not improved and he continues to sleep on the floor of the cell, which has only a small window.
Mansoor, the 2015 Martin Ennals Laureate, and a member of the advisory boards of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, was the last human rights defender openly working in the UAE.
On 29 May 2018, he was sentenced by the State Security Chamber of the Federal Appeal Court to ten years’ imprisonment, followed by three years of surveillance and a fine of 1,000,000 Emirati Dirhams (around USD $270,000). This sentence was upheld on 31 December 2018.
While welcoming the possibility that Mansoor may have ended his hunger strike and that he has received medical attention, GCHR continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release and to ask the authorities to improve the conditions of his imprisonment, including providing him with a bed and ready access to water. GCHR joins Mansoor in sending thanks to all his supporters for shedding light on his hunger strike and helping to improve the conditions of his confinement. Let’s keep up the pressure to help #FreeAhmed!
Diplomats, United Nations or European Union personnel and international observers should be allowed to visit him in prison to find out the truth about his health.
Join GCHR and partners the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), ARTICLE 19, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), CIVICUS, English PEN, FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Front Line Defenders (FLD), IFEX, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Martin Ennals Foundation, PEN International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Visit a Facebook page set up by Ahmed Mansoor’s friends and post messages and photos of support, and tweet to Ahmed Mansoor’s account at @Ahmed_Mansoor using the hashtag #FreeAhmed and to UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister @HHShkMohd, copying your own country’s authorities. Feel free to use the image in this appeal.
Call on the UAE authorities to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Mansoor and other human rights defenders who are imprisoned solely for their peaceful human rights activities;
- Pending release, ensure that Ahmed Mansoor, and other prisoners of conscience are treated in line with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including being provided with proper medical care, sanitary prison conditions and regular family visits; and
- Allow UN experts or international NGOs access to visit Ahmed Mansoor, as well as other human rights defenders detained in Emirati prisons.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Vice-President and Prime Minister
Prime Minister’s Office
PO Box 212000 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Fax: + 97144404433
Letters can be sent via web: https://uaecabinet.ae/en/contact-the-prime-minister(upload a pdf of the letter where it asks for ID)
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Source: MEDIA FEED