A rights group reported [press release] on Monday that two lawyers who are being detained by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have started a hunger strike to demonstrate against their allegedly illegal detentions. The UK-based Emirates Centre for Human Rights (ECHR) [advocacy website] declared that two prominent human rights lawyers, Dr. Mohamed al Roken and Dr. Mohamed al Mansoor, as well as a retired army colonel, Khalid al Shiba al Nuaimi, began the hunger strike to protest their supposedly political imprisonment. The UAE has increased its scrutiny of political activists in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings, accusing many activists of jeopardizing national security [AP report]. In its press release, the ECHR urged the international community to take action against the UAE for imprisoning political and human rights activists:
As we see two of the most prominent human rights lawyers in the UAE and a retired army colonel begin a hunger strike, the Emirates Centre for Human Rights calls on the international community to condemn the draconian response to legitimate citizen desires and demand that detainees are treated humanely.The ECHR also called on the government of the UAE to grant the detainees access to their families and legal counsel.
Hunger strikes [JURIST news archive] have become a common protest tactic recently for prisoners in the Middle East. Last week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Israel [JURIST report] to investigate the alleged mistreatment of two Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike. In June, a Bahraini doctor who was imprisoned for allegedly participating in an anti-government activity went on hunger strike to protest his sentence [JURIST report]. Earlier in June, the UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories called on Israel [JURIST report] to release two Palestinian detainees who had been on hunger strike for several weeks. In May, an incarcerated Bahraini human rights activist ended his hunger strike [JURIST report] because he felt he had raised awareness of the imprisonment of political activists.