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    October 09, 2019

    Ahmed Mansoor is one of the bravest champions of human rights in the United Arab Emirates. Amnesty International calls him a prisoner of conscience - a person in jail for peacefully saying what they believe. © Martin Ennals Foundation

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    This man is in prison. But he shouldn’t be there.

    His name is Ahmed Mansoor. Since 2006, he has been very public about his support of human rights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He used his blog, social media, and interviews with journalists outside of the country to defend human rights. 

    Ahmed Mansoor regularly criticized the government for not always respecting the basic rights of their people. The government didn’t like the criticism. They decided to find him and put him in prison. He knew that could happen because they had already imprisoned over 100 other defenders of human rights. But the threat never silenced him and that’s why he was brave.

    May 15, 2019

    Responding to the UAE Federal Court’s verdict into the case of eight Lebanese men, all Shi’a Muslims, sentencing one to life in prison, two to ten years, and acquitting five others following a trial marred by due process and fair trial concerns, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The absence of basic requirements of a fair trial – such as having access to a lawyer – strips today’s verdict of any reliability or credibility.

    “The eight men were held in solitary confinement for over a year – this in itself can amount to torture. They were also denied access to their lawyers from the beginning of the trial; a number of the men claimed they had been tortured to sign so-called confessions but there have been no investigations into these claims. These details leave us with no confidence in the process that led to the conviction of the three men.

    April 09, 2019

    Responding to the case of Laleh Shahravesh, a British woman who has reportedly been detained in Dubai on defamation charges in relation to a Facebook post in her name which called her ex-husband’s new partner a “horse face”, Devin Kenney, Amnesty International’s Gulf Researcher, said:

    “All charges in this absurd case against Laleh Shahravesh should be dropped.

    “Ms Shahravesh is reportedly being tried under the UAE’s notorious cybercrimes law - one of several laws which unjustifiably smother free speech in the country.

    “The cybercrimes law has been used to silence numerous people in the UAE, including Ahmed Mansoor, the respected Emirati human rights defender jailed for ten years last year for remarks he made online.

    “The Emirati authorities have turned the cybercrimes law into a leading instrument of repression, notably using it against multiple prisoners of conscience during the country’s post-2011 crackdown.”

    February 14, 2019

    A type of Belgian machine gun known to be wielded by a Yemeni militia in the Hodeidah offensive is among the weaponry set to be showcased this weekend at one of the Middle East’s largest arms fairs in Abu Dhabi, Amnesty International said today.

    According to promotional materials for the UAE’s IDEX2019 arms fair, the Minimi will be among the thousands of types of weapons available for sale. Manufactured in Belgium’s Wallonia region by FN Herstal, it is among an array of arms transferred by the Belgian Walloon authorities to the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led coalition in recent years for use in the armed conflict in Yemen.

    An Amnesty International investigation last week documented the same weapon type being used by “The Giants,” a Yemeni militia that is backed and supplied by the UAE but not accountable to any government.

    February 01, 2019

    Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week, Amnesty International highlighted the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in the country and called on Pope Francis to raise with the authorities the cases of jailed human rights defenders. Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The UAE authorities are trying to brand 2019 as the “year of tolerance” and are now seeking to cast the Pope’s visit as proof of their respect for diversity. Does this mean they are ready to reverse their policy of systematic repression of any form of dissent or criticism?

    “Since 2011, the authorities have systematically cracked down on their critics, including activists, judges, lawyers, academics, students and journalists by way of arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearance, torture and other-ill-treatment.

    December 31, 2018

    Responding to today’s decision by the Federal Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to uphold the conviction and 10-year prison term of prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf said:

    “Today’s court decision to uphold Ahmed Mansoor’s conviction and 10-year prison sentence confirms there is no space for free expression in the United Arab Emirates.”

    “Ahmed Mansoor’s only ‘crime’ was to express his peaceful opinions on social media, and it is outrageous that he is being punished with such a heavy prison sentence. This is a final verdict and cannot be appealed. Instead of punishing Ahmed Mansoor for daring to express his opinions, the authorities must ensure his conviction and sentence are quashed and release him immediately and unconditionally.”

    December 20, 2018

    The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must immediately and unconditionally release Dr Nasser bin Ghaith, a prisoner of conscience whose health has deteriorated sharply in recent days, said Amnesty International today.

    Dr Nasser bin Ghaith is serving a 10-year sentence for criticizing the UAE in comments posted on Twitter after a grossly unfair politically motivated trial.

    “News that Dr Nasser bin Ghaith’s health has deteriorated sharply leaving him too weak to stand up and causing him to start losing his eyesight, is deeply alarming. He is a prisoner of conscience and should not even be behind bars let alone serving a ludicrous 10-year sentence based on a deeply flawed trial,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    “Instead of prolonging his suffering the Emirati authorities should order his immediate and unconditional release. Until then, they must ensure he is granted any medical care that he requires.”

    November 26, 2018

    Responding to news that the detained British student Matthew Hedges has received a pardon in the UAE, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

    “This is a huge relief and goes some way to righting a wrong after Matthew’s grossly unfair trial. Now Matthew needs to be speedily released and allowed to return to the UK.

    “Matthew should never have been jailed after such an unfair process, and he should never have been held in the miserable conditions of solitary confinement. A pardon doesn’t make up for this injustice.

    “Today’s news is a tribute to the tireless efforts of Matthew’s wife Daniela, who has bravely pushed the UK Government into taking action.

    “Matthew’s ordeal is a reminder that the UAE is a deeply repressive country which ruthlessly suppresses free speech and peaceful criticism, and we should spare a thought for Emirati prisoners of conscience like Ahmed Mansoor or Mohammed al-Roken who aren’t getting a pardon today.

    November 21, 2018

    British national Matthew Hedges convicted of ‘spying’ in relation to his academic study

    ‘This is clearly an unsound conviction’ - Devin Kenney

    Commenting on news that Matthew Hedges, the British PhD student detained in the United Arab Emirates, has been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of spying, Amnesty International’s UAE researcher, Devin Kenney, said:

    “This is jarring and terrible news.

    “We’ve always had the gravest concerns about this case - from the long period that Matthew Hedges was in detention without access to a lawyer, the supposed confession in detention, and now the ludicrously short trial hearing today.

    “The proceedings against him have been grossly unfair and this is clearly an unsound conviction.

    “Mathew Hedges must be afforded his right to fair trial proceedings; otherwise, the UAE has no right to hold him and he should be released without delay.

    November 19, 2018

    Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand-Prix, which is set to take place between 23 and 25 November, the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must step up to the modern image they want to project and unconditionally release all those who have been detained solely for peacefully criticizing the government.

    “As the world tunes in to watch the final race of the Formula One Grand-Prix season and attend glitzy music concerts, they should know that the UAE authorities have also been racing to silence critics and human rights defenders,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    Since 2011, the UAE authorities have embarked on a ruthless crackdown targeting human rights defenders, judges, lawyers, academics, students and journalists, in their efforts to stamp out dissent in the country. Many have been subjected to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and unfair trials. As a result, critics and dissidents in the UAE are serving lengthy prison sentences simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    October 30, 2018

    ‘Matthew wouldn’t be the first person to be arrested in the UAE on baseless grounds’ - Kate Allen

    Responding to news that Matthew Hedges, the British PhD student detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been released on bail over spying charges made against him earlier this month, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

    “This is obviously good news, but we remain worried that - as with numerous other cases in the UAE in the past - Matthew could still be facing an unfair trial on spurious charges.

    “Matthew wouldn’t be the first person to be arrested in the UAE on baseless grounds.

    “If Matthew has been charged with espionage simply for having conducted academic research into the country’s security services, he should be released immediately. The authorities should also drop all the charges against him.”

    For more information, please contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English):  +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca

    October 05, 2018

    Responding to a European Parliament resolution condemning the harassment, persecution and detention of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in May 2018 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said:

    “The European Parliament has sent a strong message which should propel the international community to step up pressure on the UAE authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Mansoor and other prisoners of conscience. Ahmed Mansoor has been ruthlessly persecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and his unlawful imprisonment is a chilling warning about the dire state of human rights in the UAE.

    “We are particularly concerned about the UAE authorities’ refusal to make details about his case public. It’s only now that we know Ahmed Mansoor has appealed his unlawful conviction and sentencing for the social media posts he made, and that he is allegedly being held in al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi. The authorities must ensure transparency over his appeal and about his whereabouts.

    May 31, 2018

    The jailing of a prominent human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for posts he made on Facebook and Twitter is a devastating blow to freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Ahmed Mansoor was this week sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 1,000,000 Emirati Dirham (approximately USD $270,000) for posts he made on social media.

    “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.

    “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.

    “Ahmed is a prisoner of conscience who has been targeted, tried and sentenced for using Facebook and Twitter to share his thoughts. He should never have been charged in the first place and now he must be released immediately.”

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    April 20, 2017

    (Beirut, 20 April 2017) – Authorities in the United Arab Emirates should immediately release Ahmed Mansoor, an award-winning human rights defender who is facing charges that violate his right to freedom of expression, a coalition of 18 human rights organizations said today, one month after his arrest.

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