Emirati female prisoner, Maryam Suliman Al-Balushi, has attempted suicide in Al-Wathba prison by cutting a vein in her arm months after she reported being tortured and threatened with rape, International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) said in a statement this week.
— ICFUAE | Int'l. Campaign For Freedom in the UAE (@ICFUAE) March 11, 2020
Al-Balushi’s psychological state deteriorated after she was threatened with facing a new case by the public prosecution office due to her refusal to record confessions which were to be published via official channels, the rights group said.
The rights group also stated Al-Balushi complained of torture, degrading conditions of detention and endemic racism in Abu Dhabi’s prison system in a letter from prison last year.
“We are shocked and upset by these recent developments. If the UAE government is in any way serious about addressing the issue of women’s rights, a good place to start would be to stop the state-sanctioned torture and abuse of female prisoners of conscience pushing them to try to take their own lives.”
In 2018, the Geneva-based International Centre for Justice and Human Rights shared recordings in which Al-Balushi said she and other female detainees held in the Al-Wathba State Security Prison were assaulted by prison guards, according to a report published by Arabi21.
During an interrogation, she said an investigator assaulted her. When she threatened to file a complaint with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), the investigator said MBZ was the one who ordered her to be beaten.
In a series of letters and audio recordings obtained by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR) in 2018, female prisoners in Abu Dhabi complained of torture, degrading conditions of detention and endemic racism in the UAE’s prison system.
Twenty-one-year-old Al-Balushi was arrested on 19 November 2015 and accused of “financing terrorism” following a donation she made to a Syrian family. She was sentenced to five years in prison in February 2017.
This article was updated on 28 October 2022 at 09.30am GMT to replace the picture of Al-Balushi which had been used in error.