UAE: Global call for release of prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must immediately end the unlawful imprisonment of Ahmed Mansoor, said more than 100 organizations including Amnesty International, in an open letter to President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan published today.

Amnesty International has launched a global week of action from 16 to 23 October to campaign for the release of Ahmed Mansoor, who is serving an unjust 10-year prison term for his peaceful human rights work, ahead of his 50th birthday on 22 October.

“Ahmed Mansoor’s continued imprisonment is unspeakably cruel and unjust. The injustice he has suffered has been compounded by his recent beating, ill-treatment, prolonged periods in solitary confinement and dire detention conditions. It’s high time for the authorities in the UAE to bring his appalling ordeal to an end and order his immediate and unconditional release,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

“Ahmed Mansoor is behind bars because of his brave work as a human rights defender. Speaking out about human rights violations is not a crime. If the UAE authorities really want to show the world they are a country of tolerance and are serious about reform, then they need to stop glossing over their appalling human rights record with high profile events such as the 2020 World Expo fair and take concrete action – and take concrete action including releasing Ahmed Mansoor and allowing him to celebrate his 50th birthday as a free man.”

Ahmed Mansoor is behind bars because of his brave work as a human rights defender. Speaking out about human rights violations is not a crime
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International

Ahmed Mansoor was arrested at his home on 20 March 2017 and was held at an unknown location for over six months. He was denied access to a lawyer, had little contact with his family and has been held in solitary confinement.

On 29 May 2018, he was convicted on the vague charges of "insulting the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols, including its leaders”, "publishing false information to damage the UAE’s reputation abroad” and “portraying the UAE as a lawless land”.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and given a fine of 1,000,000 UAE Dirhams (US$272,000), as well as facing three years of probation upon his release. His conviction was upheld on appeal in December 2018.

In May 2019, Ahmed Mansoor went on a month-long hunger strike to protest his unjust conviction and his detention conditions in al-Sadr prison.

In September 2019, Mansoor was severely beaten for continuing his complaints and he undertook yet another hunger strike. Nevertheless, he continues to be held in an isolation cell with no running water or bed and is not permitted to leave his cell except for family visits.

Ahmed Mansoor is known for his brave work documenting human rights violations in the country. He is on the advisory boards of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Human Rights Watch and was awarded the 2015 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

A series of protests and events calling for the release of Ahmed Mansoor on his 50th birthday will be taking place including in London, Brussels, Melbourne, New York, Toronto and Washington DC - with social media campaigning using the #FreeAhmed hashtag:

London:
Date: 19 Saturday 2019

Protest (3-4 PM): United Arab Emirates Embassy, 1-2 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EE

Panel discussion (5-6:30 PM): Amnesty International UK, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA

Toronto protest:

Date: 22 October 2019, 12-1 EDT

Place: Consulate General of the United Arab Emirates, 160 Bloor St E #1404, Toronto, ON M4W 1B9

New York City protest:

Date: 22 October 2019, 12-3 EDT

Place: Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, East 47th Street, New York

Washington, DC protest:

Date: 22 October 2019, 12-1 EDT

Place: Emirates Embassy at 3522 International Ct NW #100

Brussels protest :

Date: 22 October 2019, 2:30-3:30 CEST

Place: United Arab Emirates Embassy, 86 Franklin Rooseveltlaan, 1000 Brussels