Ahmed Mansoor, 'the new face of UAE’s persecution of human rights defenders': HRW

Ahmed Mansoor, 'the new face of UAE’s persecution of human rights defenders': HRW
Arrested in 2017, human rights defender Ahmad Mansour has undergone unfair and inhumane treatments from the UAE's authorities
3 min read
27 January, 2021
Mansoor has been in jail since 2017 [Getty]

Held in solitary confinement since his arrest in March 2017, leading human rights defender in the UAE Ahmed Mansoor has been living in inhumane detention conditions, according to a report published today by two rights organizations.

Entitled "The persecution of Ahmad Mansoor: How the United Arab Emirates silenced its most famous human rights activist", the 30-page Human Rights Watch report aims to describe the realities behind Abu Dhabi's treatment of activists.

Based on statements obtained from a source with direct knowledge of Mansoor's court proceedings and interviews with two former prisoners, it highlighted grave violations about due process and fair trial guarantees, as well as denials of his basic rights as a prisoner.

Mansoor is a 51-year-old Emirati engineer, poet and father of four who had worked for many years who worked as advocated for human rights.

UAE security forces arrested Mansoor during a house raid on 20 March 2017.

In May 2018, the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals' State Security Chamber sentenced Mansoor to 10 years in prison for "insulting the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols, including its leaders" and "publishing false reports and information on social media". This was later approved by the Federal Supreme Court.

Mansoor’s "crimes" can be traced back to a tweet about injustices, participation in international human rights conferences online, and his email exchanges and WhatsApp conversations with international human rights organisations.

He was notably in contact with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Gulf-focused Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), that collaborated on the new report.

"Damning new details reveal just how cruelly the UAE has been treating Ahmed Mansoor, its most celebrated human rights activist, a man who courageously stood up to his abusive government, demanding it respect human rights when very few would dare," said Deputy Middle East director at HRW Michael Page. 

"The UAE authorities’ railroading of Ahmed Mansoor shows their utter contempt for the rule of law and their determination to intimidate its critics into silence by any means necessary."

Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of the GCHR, told The New Arab that the way Mansoor is being treated "clearly reflects the systematic failure of justice as well as the rule of state security as a notoriously repressing institution".

"He has high blood pressure and is not being given medication. I think they just want to harm him because he’s a human rights defender. But he is peaceful, and legitimate," he said.

The report said that for more than a year following his arrest, Mansoor’s family, friends, and colleagues did not know his whereabouts.

After his trial and appeal, Mansoor was kept alone in a tiny cell, without basic necessities or adequate protection.

Authorities continued to deprive him of meaningful contact with others and denied him access to reading materials, a radio, and television.

He went through two hunger strikes, six months apart in 2019, the second being so dangerous that he was granted some calls to his family, a bit of time outside and access to exercise.

The persecution of human rights defenders in the UAE is not new and even systematic.

According to the organization Front Line Defenders, the state has intensified its crackdown on freedom of association, assembly, and expression since 2011 and the rise of Arab springs.

Activists and members of their families are victims of forced disappearance, prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, judicial harassment and unfair trials, travel ban, physical and digital surveillance and arbitrary dismissal from work.

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