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UAE: Attacks on human rights defender Mr Ahmed Mansoor and ongoing smear campaign against him
On 17 September 2012, prominent human rights defender Mr Ahmed Mansoor was physically attacked at Ajman University hours after participating via video link in a side-event at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
This is the second targeted attack on Ahmed Mansoor at the university within a week. Ahmed Mansoor is a blogger who has been active in demanding political reform in the UAE.
On 17 September, at approximately 7.45 pm, Ahmed Mansoor sustained injuries to the head, neck and hands when he was attacked by a tall, well-built man wearing a traditional white robe at Ajman University, where he is enrolled as a student. The assailant pulled Ahmed Mansoor to the ground by the neck and proceeded to deliver a series of blows to the head. The attacker fled the scene when passers-by heard the human rights defender's cries for help. Ahmed Mansoor attempted to chase the assailant, but his path was obstructed by another individual. Both individuals made their getaway in a car, which was parked in the same location as the car of the individual who carried out the previous attack six days earlier.
After visiting the doctor and obtaining a medical report, Ahmed Mansoor reported the incident at a police station in Ajman. During the attack, one part of the assailant's robe, which is similar to a tie, fell off, and the human rights defender brought this to the police station.
Earlier on 17 September 2012, Ahmed Mansoor had participated via video link in a side-event entitled “Waging War on Human Rights: Ongoing Crackdown in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia” at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
On 11 September 2012, Ahmed Mansoor was attacked at Ajman University. The human rights defender, who sustained bruising to the arm, knees and foot during the attack, later reported the attack at Al-Humaidiah Police Center in Ajman.
Over the past few weeks, Ahmed Mansoor has also been the target of a smear campaign led by the administrators of a prominent pro-government Twitter account which has focused on his cooperation with international NGOs and his participation in the side-event. The smear campaign depicts him as a traitor who is collaborating with Iran who should be hung from a lamppost.
Ahmed Mansoor and four other UAE human rights defenders, widely known as the “UAE 5”, were charged in June 2011 with publicly insulting the country’s top officials, after they posted statements which did no more than criticize government policy or political leaders. Ahmed Mansoor was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison before being released following a presidential amnesty marking the UAE national day in November 2011.
Human rights defenders in the UAE face grave risks as they try to carry out their work in a hostile environment. Those criticising government policies or exposing human rights violations are often considered security threats and are regularly targeted by government agencies, including the police and other security services, which play a major role in the suppression of the work of human rights defenders. The smear campaign launched against Ahmed Mansoor is part of a consistent crackdown on human rights defenders, pro-reform activists and their family members, of whom 61 are currently detained.
Front Line Defenders condemns the attack on Ahmed Mansoor and is deeply concerned for his physical and psychological security. Given the history of harassment and intimidation, Front Line Defenders believes that the attack may be motivated by Ahmed Mansoor's legitimate activities in the defence of human rights.