Call for UAE HR activist’s freedom

Ahmed Mansoor was the last human rights activist working freely in the United Arab Emirates until a fortnight ago, when security forces stormed his home in the middle of the night. He was arrested and thrown in jail. His crime? Standing up for rights.

 

Ahmed Mansoor was at home when, at midnight on 20 March, twelve members of the state security forces burst in. They searched his house, confiscated his family’s phones and other electronic devices and took Ahmed away with them. Ahmed and his family didn’t know what was going on. His wife and children had no idea where he was for over a week.

The week after his arrest, authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) confirmed that they had charged Ahmed with cyber-crimes and revealed that he is jailed in an Abu Dhabi prison. Ahmed still hasn’t been able to contact his family directly to confirm this.

Ahmed is an award-winning blogger and regularly posts about human rights issues in the UAE on social media. For that, he has been charged with promoting false and shaded information through the Internet and serving agendas aimed at spreading hatred and sectarianism.

This shouldn’t be an offense but the UAE authorities are notorious for unfairly punishing people like Ahmed who speak up for citizens’ rights. Ahmed has committed no crime.

Until his arrest, Ahmed was the last person in the UAE working openly to stand up for human rights in the country. For this, he had endured years of harassment from state officials. Over the years, he has worked closely with Amnesty and the UN to report on the state of rights in the UAE.

Amnesty International says it is appalled by the arrest of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor in the United Arab Emirates, fearing he could be tortured in jail.

The father of four young children was arrested in the middle of the night at his home just a short drive from Dubai International airport.

"Amnesty International is appalled and dismayed at this surprise overnight raid resulting in the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor, a courageous and prominent human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates," said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International's Beirut regional office.

Amnesty said it believed Mr Mansoor was detained for the peaceful expression of his beliefs.

The NGO is calling for Mr Mansoor's immediate release.

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