Dear Andy Burnham, name a street in Manchester after Ahmed Mansoor

Andy Burnham
Mayor of Greater Manchester
Manchester, UK
[email protected]

31 May 2018

Dear Mayor Burnham,

The undersigned organisations are writing to you to request your support for the release of the award-winning Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, sentenced this week to ten years in prison for his human rights activism. We believe that this will be facilitated by raising awareness of his case by naming a street after him in Manchester.

Ahmed Mansoor is a pro-democracy and human rights campaigner who has publicly expressed criticism of serious human rights violations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Mansoor was sentenced to ten years in prison by the State Security Court in Abu Dhabi on 29 May 2018 for “insulting the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols”, including its leaders, as well as of “seeking to damage the relationship of the UAE with its neighbours by publishing false reports and information on social media.”

Mansoor is the 2015 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) Advisory Board and Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Advisory Committee. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, who should be immediately and unconditionally released. There are concerns that Mansoor has been tortured in pre-trial detention that lasted more than one year.

On 20 March 2017, about a dozen Emirati security officers arrested him at his home in

Ajman in the early hours of the morning. The UAE’s official news agency, WAM, claimed that Mansoor had been arrested on the orders of the Public Prosecution for Cybercrimes,

detained pending further investigation, and that he was accused of using social media websites to: “publish false information and rumours;” “promote [a] sectarian and hate-incited agenda;” and “publish false and misleading information that harms national unity and social harmony and damages the country’s reputation.”

Human rights groups are banned in the UAE and people in the UAE who speak out about human rights abuses are at serious risk of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture and other ill-treatment. Many such people are serving long prison terms or have felt they have no choice but to leave the country.

Before his arrest, Mansoor was the last remaining human rights defender in the UAE who had been in a position to criticise the authorities’ human rights record publicly.

As you are aware, Manchester City Council has developed close commercial links with senior figures in the UAE government, via its stake in the Manchester Life Development Company (MLDC), a joint venture ultimately controlled by the Abu Dhabi United Group for Investment and Development (ADUG). ADUG is owned and controlled by the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, whose chair is Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the de facto ruler of the UAE. In addition, Manchester City FC is owned by the deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

While Abu Dhabi’s investments may have brought financial benefits to Manchester, this should not preclude criticism of human rights violations in UAE – violations which are starkly at odds with the values and principles that Greater Manchester celebrates as part of its heritage. In recent years, Senior members of Manchester City Council have celebrated Manchester’s long history of standing up for a range of rights-related causes, including the anti-slavery movement, votes for women, and pro-democracy demonstrations in Manchester in 1819. But they have apparently shied away from criticising human rights violations by the UAE and Abu Dhabi authorities with whom their commercial partners are linked.

We support the local residents who are part of the “Ahmed Mansoor Street” campaign, who argued it would be “a fitting honour to bestow upon an individual who embodies so many of the qualities that the city and the wider region celebrates as a key part of its history.”

As the first directly-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester you are in a unique position to show leadership on this issue. In your manifesto for the Mayoralty you referred to Greater Manchester as “the home of radical forward thinking” and expressed your desire to make it “a beacon of social justice for the country.” Your public support for a street named after Ahmed Mansoor, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release, would demonstrate your commitment to this heritage and these ideals.


  1. Adil Soz
  2. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
  5. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
  6. Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias América Latina y el Caribe (AMARC ALC)
  7. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
  8. Bytes For All
  9. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  10. Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
  12. European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
  13. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  14. Freedom Forum, Nepal
  15. Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka
  16. Front Line Defenders
  17. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  18. Human Rights Watch
  19. Index on Censorship
  20. International Press Centre, Nigeria
  21. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  22. Maharat Foundation
  23. Martin Ennals Foundation
  24. National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)
  25. Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
  26. PEN Canada
  27. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  28. South East Europe Media Organization
  29. Syrian Centre For Media And Freedom Of Expression
  30. Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State, Tunisia
  31. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Note to supporters and media: The street-naming campaign event will take place on 01 June 2018 at 2pm on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter.

Join us! Email your message or Tweet using the hashtag #FreeAhmed to the following:

UAE Authorities:

International voices call on UAE to release Ahmed Mansoor

Ahmed Mansoor has been detained for 100 days.

Ahmed Mansoor has been detained for 100 days.

Vice-President and Prime Minister
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum
Prime Minister’s Office
PO Box: 212000
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 4 330 4044

27th June 2017

RE: Urgent Appeal

Your Highness,

On the 100th day since the detention of Mr. Ahmed Mansoor, we, the undersigned, would like to express our deepest concern for his current detainment and appeal to the United Arab Emirates government for Mr. Mansoor’s immediate and unconditional release.

According to our information, Ahmed Mansoor was arrested in his home in Dubai in the early hours of 20 March 2017, as ordered by the Public Prosecution for Cybercrimes. He is being investigated on charges of “promoting false and shaded information through the Internet and serving agendas aimed at spreading hatred and sectarianism”. Mr Mansoor is an internationally respected human rights campaigner, the winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015 and a member of both the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. These charges relate solely to his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and therefore we consider him a prisoner of conscience.

The official statement by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) of 29th March 2017 states that “he has the freedom to hire a lawyer and that his family has full access to the place of confinement and is allowed to visit him”. However, we have received news that Mr. Mansoor currently has no lawyer representing him and that his family have only been allowed one visit, on 3 April 2017. We are also concerned to hear allegations that he is being held in solitary confinement. These practices are not only in violation of international human rights law but also contravene the UAE Penal Code, including Federal Law No. 43 of 1992 on Regulating Penal Institutions.

In a joint statement published on 28 March 2017 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, various bodies condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr. Mansoor. Signatories included the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, on Enforced Disappearances, and the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst; on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye; and on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Mr. Maina Kiai. Furthermore, they called on the government “to respect the right of everyone to freedom of opinion and expression, including on social media and the internet.” The EU Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights followed with a statement by its chair, Pier Antonio Panzeri, who affirmed that “all charges against [Ahmed Mansoor] should be dropped, as they appear to be motivated only by his legitimate and peaceful human rights work. Equally, his and his family’s total security and integrity should be guaranteed by the authorities and all his confiscated possessions be returned.”

We therefore call on the UAE government, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to adhere to its obligations to uphold human rights at home, including respecting the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

We urge the UAE authorities to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Ahmed Mansoor;
  2. Pending his release, ensure that he is granted access to a lawyer and family visits and that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
  3. End all other forms of arbitrary punishment towards Ahmed Mansoor such as the travel ban against him, which violates his right to liberty of movement;
  4. Sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
  5. Comply with the international human rights instruments and protect the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The continuing detention of such a high-profile and internationally respected human rights campaigner is extremely damaging to the UAE government’s reputation abroad. Therefore, we urge you to address this issue without delay.

Yours Faithfully,

Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR)

COJEP International

Detained in Dubai

Index on Censorship

International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE)

International Center for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR)

Martin Ennals Awards Foundation

PEN International

Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Andrew Byles, Garden Court North Chambers

Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland

Noam Chomsky, Professor

Ron Deibert, Director of the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Jonathan Emmett, Author

Andy Fitzpatrick, Barrister, Garden Court North Chambers, Manchester

Councillor David Haigh, Solicitor, UAE torture survivor, Former MD of Leeds United Football Club

Chris Haughton, Author and illustrator

Miles Kenyon, Communications Officer, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion

Michael Mansfield, QC

Bill Marczak, Senior Researcher, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Fadi Al Qadi, Human Rights, Civil Society, Advocacy and Media Expert

Chris Riddell, Author, Illustrator and Political Cartoonist at the Observer

Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith

Dr. David Wearing, School of Oriental and African Studies

Pete Weatherby, QC Garden Court North Chambers, Manchester

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