27 June 2017
A coalition of 18 notable figures and 8 organisations released today a joint letter calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the prominent Emirati human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor al-Shehhi.
The letter has been signed by a number of academics, lawyers, authors and MPs, such as the American linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, British barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, the co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, and UAE torture survivor David Haigh. A number of organisations including Citizen Lab, Index on Censorship, and PEN International have also signed the document. A full list of signatories can be found below.
This constitutes the latest action in a much wider climate of international condemnation and protest concerning the detention of Ahmed Mansoor, who was arrested by UAE authorities on 20 March after 12 plain clothed Emirati security officials stormed his family home in Abu Dhabi and took him to an unknown location, in an act described by UN human rights experts as a “direct attack” on human rights defenders everywhere.
The prominent rights activist has since been transferred to Al-Sadr prison where he is being held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer as Emirati authorities investigate him on charges of “promoting false and shaded information through the internet and serving agendas aimed at spreading hatred and sectarianism”. Amnesty International considers Mansoor a prisoner of conscience and have subsequently launched an online campaign calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Ahmed Mansoor is an internationally renowned human rights activist with a long and prominent history of speaking out in favour of rights for people in the UAE. He has worked extensively with international rights organisations to raise awareness of human rights violations in the United Arab Emirates. He is a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and has a seat on the advisory committee at Human Rights Watch. In 2015, he won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders.
In recent years, the UAE authorities have intensified their suppression of public criticism and dissent by using surveillance technologies and vague cybercrime laws to arrest activists, journalists, and anybody speaking out against these abuses. In the face of mounting international criticism of the UAE, the UK government has yet to make any substantive comments on its human rights record. Campaigners claim that this should be a pertinent issue for parliament to discuss when considering the UK's close diplomatic and economic ties with the Emirati state.
Campaigners at the ICFUAE will mark 100 days of Mansoor's detention in the United Arab Emirates by holding a vigil outside the UAE embassy in London this evening. Activists will also use this occasion to deliver the joint letter to the UAE ambassador calling for the human rights defender's immediate and unconditional release.
Read the letter here