UN rights campaigners pulls-out of UAE literary fest over activist's detention

UN rights campaigners pulls-out of UAE literary fest over activist's detention
UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson said she will not attend a literary festival in the UAE due to the detention of an activist.
2 min read
15 January, 2019
Mansoor was sentenced to ten years in jail [Getty]
The UN's human rights commissioner has pulled out of a literary festival in Dubai over the detention of Emirati rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, due to take place in March.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson said she would not attend the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature after an open letter to The Guardian from a number of writers, thinkers and politicians calling for the release of Mansoor.

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is attending the event - which is under the patronage Dubai's ruler and the UAE's prime minister - but Stephen Fry and Noam Chomsky signed the letter highlighting Mansoor's case.

He was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2018, for allegedly "defaming the UAE" on social media, and in December he lost his appeal bid.

"Ahmed Mansoor is one of the few openly critical voices in the UAE, and his persecution is another nail in the coffin for human rights activism in the country," said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director in a statement.

"The decision to lock up Ahmed Mansoor for the next 10 years for simply sharing his opinion on social media is what causes the real damage to the UAE's reputation and so-called 'social harmony', not Ahmed Mansoor's peaceful activism."

Robinson has faced criticism for meeting the daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum who was returned to her family by Indian authorities against her will, after fleeing the UAE.

She claimed Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum was "in the loving care of her family", as she was shown eating breakfast with the Maktoums.

The Emirati princess made a desperate plea for international protecion when she fled her home in the UAE in February 2018, where she claims she was held against her will by the Dubai-ruler.