Jailed Emiratis on hunger strike for alleged mistreatment: activist

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 05, 2013 4:08 AM

DUBAI (Reuters) - Eighteen jailed United Arab Emirates nationals are on hunger strike in protest at what they say is ill-treatment following their conviction of plotting to overthrow the government, an activist said on Thursday.

The activist source, who is close to the families of those detained, said at least two of the detainees had to be hospitalized.

"They are living on dates, water and juice only," the activist source told Reuters, adding that some of them have been on strike since July 31.

"They were forced to go on hunger strike to protest against the numerous violations of their rights as prisoners and against what seems to be deliberate mistreatment," he said.

A UAE court in July convicted and jailed 61 Emiratis of plotting a coup at a trial analysts said reflected official mistrust of Islamist groups following the Arab Spring uprisings.

They were among 94 detained in a crackdown on Islamists in the past year amid heightened worries among officials about a spillover of unrest in other Arab countries.

Amnesty International, which said three of the 18 on hunger strike had collapsed between August 21-28, has urged action to protect the detainees.

"They have complained of beatings by prison guards and restrictions placed on family visits. They have complained of light deprivation and say that prison authorities turn off the air conditioning in high temperatures," it said, urging people to write to the authorities about the hunger strikers.

UAE officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy and Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Alison Williams)