Open letter to the Emirati authorities to free human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor on his 50th birthday

This statement was originally published on gc4hr.org on 16 October 2019.

Your Excellency, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan,

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently announced multiple projects promoting pluralism and tolerance both at home and abroad. 2019 has been declared the ‘Year of Tolerance’ and in 2020, Dubai will host the World Expo trade fair, under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’ Upon Dubai’s selection for this exhibition in 2013, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said: “[w]e renew our promise to astonish the world in 2020.” We welcome these public commitments to tolerance and open-mindedness.

It is in this same spirit that we, the undersigned, call upon the UAE government to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, whose life we believe may be at risk following beatings and hunger strikes to protest deplorable and inhumane prison conditions. The Authorities have convicted and imprisoned him solely for his human rights work and for exercising his right to freedom of expression, which is also protected under the UAE’s Constitution. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience.

Before his imprisonment, Mansoor was known as ‘the last human rights defender left in the UAE’ on account of his fearless work to document human rights violations in the country. His willingness to speak out publicly in defence of human rights on his blog, via social media and in interviews with international media was an example to us all. He is also an engineer, a poet, and a father of four. 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.

UAE authorities arrested Mansoor on 20 March 2017 at his home and subjected him to enforced and involuntary disappearance for over six months, with no access to a lawyer and sparse contact with his family, who did not know his exact whereabouts. The authorities held him in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time.

Shortly after his arrest, a group of United Nations human rights experts said that the UAE should release him immediately, describing his arrest as “a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE.” They expressed fear that his arrest “may constitute an act of reprisal for his engagement with UN human rights mechanisms, for the views he expressed on social media, including Twitter.”

A year later, on 29 May 2018, Mansoor was sentenced under 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 received a sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of 1,000,000 UAE Dirhams (US$272,000), three years of probation after completion of his sentence, and confiscation of his electronic devices. On 31 December 2018, the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence.

The UAE’s Government actions against Mansoor have been widely criticised. For instance, on 4 October 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Mansoor’s “harassment, persecution and detention, and calling for his release.” In May 2019, after he ended a month-long hunger strike to protest his unjust conviction and his detention conditions in Al-Sadr prison, a group of UN Special Rapporteurs stated that his conditions of detention “violate[d] basic international human rights standards and risk[ed] taking an irrevocable toll on Mr Mansoor’s health.” In September 2019, Mansoor was severely beaten for continuing his protests 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.

In September 2019, the annual report of the UN Secretary General about reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN mechanisms cited Mansoor’s case. This was the fourth time that the Secretary General had denounced reprisals against him, having previously raised concerns in 2014, 2017 and 2018.

It is a tragedy and a disgrace for the UAE that this Tuesday, on 22 October of the UAE’s ‘Year of Tolerance’, Ahmed Mansoor will turn 50, alone in a prison cell in such deplorable conditions, simply for exercising his fundamental right to free speech and for speaking out against human rights violations.

Mansoor’s imprisonment is part of a larger and growing pattern of repression in the UAE. Since 2011, the authorities have embarked on an unprecedented campaign of repression on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in the country, shrinking the space for peaceful dissent to near-obliteration. Authorities have used privately manufactured technologies, such as those made by NSO Group, for the unlawful targeted surveillance of human rights defenders, including Mansoor, in order to monitor and clamp down on dissent. The authorities have arrested, detained, and prosecuted activists, human rights defenders and other critics of the government, including prominent lawyers, judges and academics, on broad and sweeping national security-related or cybercrime charges and in proceedings that fail to meet international fair trial standards.

The UAE has publicly declared itself a champion of tolerance in the Middle East and the world. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it has an obligation to protect the rights of its citizens and residents. For this reason, we call upon the UAE government to uphold these principles, and to release Ahmed Mansoor without further delay.

Yours sincerely,

    1. A Common Future, Cameroon
    2. Abraham’s Children Foundation, Nigeria
    3. ACAPE BURUNDI
    4. ACAT-Belgium
    5. ACAT-France
    6. ACAT-Germany – Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture
    7. ACAT-Liberia
    8. ACAT-Switzerland
    9. Access Center for Human Rights, France
    10. Access Now
    11. Accountability lab Niger
    12. African Monitoring Observatory on Climate, Waters, Earth, and Cultures (AMOClimWEC), Benin
    13. American Association of University Professors – New York University Chapter
    14. American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
    15. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
    16. Amis des Etrangers au Togo (ADET)
    17. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, Jordan
    18. Amnesty International
    19. Angels in the Field, India
    20. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
    21. ARTICLE 19
    22. Asociación de Tecnología, Educación, Desarrollo, Investigación, Comunicación (TEDIC), Paraguay
    23. Association de defense des libertas individuelles, Tunisia
    24. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
    25. Association for Victims of Torture in UAE, Switzerland
    26. Badhon Manob Unnayan Sangstha, Bangladesh
    27. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    28. Center for Civil Liberties, Ukraine
    29. Center for Innovative and Pragmatic Development Initiative (CIPDI)
    30. Centre d’Appui a l’Education et au Developpement Communautaire (CEDECO), Democratic Republic of the Congo
    31. Centre for Social Mobilization and Sustainable Development, Ghana
    32. Centro de Estudios y apoyo al desarrollo Local, Bolivia
    33. CIVICUS
    34. Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Dominican Republic
    35. Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
    36. Community Initiative for Social Empowerment – CISE Malawi
    37. Community Uplift and Welfare Development-CUWEDE, Uganda
    38. Conacce Chaplains, Colombia
    39. Construisons Ensemble le Monde, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    40. Coordination Maghrébine des Organisations des Droits Humains, Morocco
    41. Daniel Iroegbu Global Health Foundation, Nigeria
    42. Educating Girls and Young Women for Development, Zambia
    43. English PEN
    44. Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM)
    45. European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
    46. FINESTE, Haiti
    47. Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights, Germany
    48. Freedom Forum, Nepal
    49. Freedom Now, Morocco
    50. Front Line Defenders
    51. Fundacion CELTA, Venezuela
    52. Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH), Ecuador
    53. Fundacion TEA Trabajo Educacion Ambiente, Argentina
    54. Future Leaders Network Gambia Chapter, Gambia
    55. Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties, Switzerland
    56. Global Learning for Sustainability, Uganda
    57. Global Participe, Congo
    58. Global Vision     Democratic Republic of the Congo
    59. Global Youth on the Quest for Developmental Networking, Gambia
    60. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
    61. Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), Australia
    62. HOPE Worldwide-Pakistan
    63. Human Rights Defenders Network- ACPDH, Burundi
    64. Human Rights First
    65. Human Rights Foundation
    66. Human Rights Watch
    67. Humena for Human Rights and Civic Engagement, Egypt
    68. Hunger Reduction International, Somalia
    69. IFEX
    70. Innovation for Change – Middle East and North Africa
    71. International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE)
    72. International Center for Supporting Rights and Freedoms, Switzerland
    73. International Centre for Justice and Human Rights, Switzerland
    74. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    75. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    76. International Legal Initiative, Kazakhstan
    77. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    78. International Youth Alliance for Peace, Sri Lanka
    79. Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM)
    80. Jeunesse Assistance, Niger
    81. Justice Acess Point, Uganda
    82. Kaimbu Sex Workers Association, Kenya
    83. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
    84. Legal Clinic Adilet, Kyrgyzstan
    85. Liberia Freedom of Information Coalition
    86. Ligue Burundaise pour les Droits de la Femme
    87. Maharat Foundation, Lebanon
    88. Martin Ennals Foundation
    89. MENA Rights Group
    90. Middle East Studies Association of North America
    91. Most at Risk Populations in Uganda (MARPS)
    92. National Campaing for Sustainable Development, Nepal
    93. National Sudanese Women Association
    94. Norwegian PEN
    95. Omani Association for Human Rights
    96. Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humains (OMDH), Morocco
    97. Pakistan NGOs Forum
    98. Palestinian Center for Communication and Development Strategies, Palestine
    99. Participatory Research Action Network-PRAN, Bangladesh
    100. PEN America
    101. PEN Canada
    102. PEN International
    103. PEN Iraq
    104. Plateforme d’Autonomisation des organisations de jeunesses de Côte d’ivoire (Paojci)
    105. Promo-LEX Association, Moldova
    106. Qurium Media Foundation, Sweden
    107. Reconciliation and Development Agency, Cameroon
    108. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
    109. Resilient Youth for Change, Zambia
    110. Rights Realization Centre
    111. Rise Initiative for Human Advocacy, South Sudan
    112. Rotel Foundation for Social Development, Nigeria
    113. Rukiga Forum for Development (RUFODE), Uganda
    114. Rural Development Foundation, Pakistan
    115. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights
    116. Scholars at Risk
    117. Sentinel for Human Rights
    118. Sierra Leone School Green Clubs
    119. Society for Rural Women and Youth Development, Nigeria
    120. SPEDYA-Africa Togo
    121. Street Children Empowerment Foundation, Ghana
    122. Sukaar Welfare Organization – Pakistan
    123. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
    124. Terres des Jeunes Togo
    125. TRIO Uganda
    126. Tunisian Association For Supporting Minority Rights
    127. Tunisian League of Defending Human Rights
    128. Union des Frères pour Alternatif de Développement Intégré (UFADI), Haiti
    129. Urnammu for Justice and Human Rights, Canada
    130. Veritas Collective Foundation, Pakistan
    131. Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State, Tunisia
    132. Vijana Hope, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    133. Volunteers Welfare for Community Based Care of Zambia
    134. Wales PEN Cymru
    135. Women’s March Global
    136. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    137. Young Men Association, Botswana
    138. Youth Action for Relentless Development Organization, Sierra Leone
    139. Youth Advocacy Nepal
    140. Youth for the Mission – Jamaica
    141. Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana
    142. YOUTHAID-LIBERIA

The post Open letter to the Emirati authorities to free human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor on his 50th birthday appeared first on IFEX.

Source: MEDIA FEED

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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