Manchester Amnesty International has urged the city council to speak up for a human rights activist.
The activist, Ahmed Mansoor is currently being held in custody in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr Mansoor is being held at an unknown location after security officials raided the apartment he shares with his family.
Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of the activist, who is without legal representation and may be at risk of torture.
Laura Barsby, chair of Manchester Amnesty International, said: “The Manchester group was devastated to hear about the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor. Ahmed has worked tirelessly to defend human rights in the UAE against incredible odds”, she said.
Barsby added that Mr Mansoor was the last remaining link “to help us understand the human rights situation in the country. We are very concerned about his welfare”.
Manchester City Council is engaged in a close commercial relationship with senior figures in the UAE government.
Now Amnesty is calling on the council to use its influence with the UAE government to stand up for Mansoor and other human rights activists.
Manchester Amnesty International will lead a protest at 6.30pm on Monday 27 March in Albert Square, in front of the town hall. Local councillors and MPs are invited to attend.
It is thought that Mr Mansoor’s arrest is linked to a couple of things. Firstly, a series of tweets he made calling for the release of Emirati human rights defender Osama Al-Najjar. Secondly, a letter he signed calling for the release of all prisoners in the Middle East.
Mr Mansoor won the Laureate Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders 2015. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.
Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International’s regional office in Beirut, said: “Amnesty International is appalled and dismayed at this surprise overnight raid resulting in the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor, a courageous and prominent human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates.
“We believe Ahmed Mansoor was detained for the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs, and we call for his immediate and unconditional release”.
Members of Manchester Amnesty International will be available for interview at Albert Square on Monday night.
Photo Credit: Richard Hopkins