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Health of Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith failing following prolonged hunger strike

Nasser Bin Ghaith speaks to Reuters at his home in Dubai, UAE, on 30 November 2011
Nasser Bin Ghaith speaks to Reuters at his home in Dubai, UAE, on 30 November 2011

REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro

This statement was originally published on gc4hr.org on 9 January 2019.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is concerned about the health of imprisoned human rights defender Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, a prominent academic and economist, who has been on hunger strike for the last couple of months in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Dr. Bin Ghaith is on a liquid-only hunger strike, which he began in November 2018 while detained in Al-Razeen prison. There are varying reports of how long the current hunger strike has lasted, due to a lack of accurate information, but it could be between two and three months. The country is totally closed and it's very difficult to verify information.

However, GCHR received reliable information that Dr. Bin Ghaith is very tired and has chronic symptoms of fatigue and can't even walk or use his feet. He also has difficulties breathing and he has lost a lot of weight.

The administration of Al-Razeen prison continues its ill-treatment of Dr. Bin Ghaith, including by not providing him with his medications.

Dr. Bin Ghaith has continued his partial hunger strike to demand his immediate release following the pardon of British academic Matthew Hedges on 26 November 2018, a week after he was sentenced to life in prison on spying allegations.

Dr. Bin Ghaith, who was sentenced on 29 March 2017 to ten years in prison for critical comments he made online about human rights violations in the UAE and Egypt, has undertaken several previous hunger strikes. On 2 April 2017, he began a hunger strike to protest his sentence, which violated his rights to freedom of expression and fair trial. On 25 February 2018, he began another hunger strike to protest poor conditions in Abu Dhabi's notorious Al-Razeen prison. Al-Razeen is a maximum-security prison in the desert used to hold activists, government critics, and human rights defenders. He ended that hunger strike due to threats from the authorities to restrict visits after news of his protest became known.

GCHR is concerned about the health and well-being of Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, and other detained human rights defenders, who have experienced poor treatment and torture in prison, contrary to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

GCHR calls on the UAE authorities to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, and other human rights defenders who were imprisoned solely for their peaceful human rights activities;

2. Pending release, ensure that Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, and other prisoners of conscience are treated in line with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including being provided with proper medical care; and

3. Allow UN experts or international NGOs access to visit Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, as well as other human rights defenders, who are detained in Emirati prisons.

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