Manchester campaigners 'name street' after jailed Emirati activist
Campaigners in Manchester, UK held a "street renaming" ceremony for a jailed Emirati activist on Friday, to highlight the case of Ahmed Mansoor and also the city's close links with the UAE government.
Activists raised a banner saying "Ahmed Mansoor Street" in Manchester, to pressure the city's council to bring up the case of the blogger who was sentenced to a decade in jail by UAE authorities this week.
The protest took place on Thomas Street, in the city's fashionable Northern Quarter district.
Mansoor has been in jail since March 2017 on trumped up charges of "promoting sectarianism" with family having little or no contact with the activist since his detention a year ago.
UAE media reported on 30 March that Mansoor had been sentenced to ten years in jail, given a 1 million UAE dirham fine ($272,000), and will be on probation for two years when he is eventually freed.
Human Rights Watch called his detention "a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE".
Supporters of Mansoor in the UK have asked Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to help secure the release of the free-speech activist.
The campaigners believe one way that could help is for Burnham to name a street after the 2015 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders laureate.
"As the first directly-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester you are in a unique position to show leadership on this issue," a letter by Mansoor's supporters to Burnham stated.
"Your public support for a street named after Ahmed Mansoor - and calling for his immediate and unconditional release - would demonstrate your commitment to this heritage and these ideals."
Manchester has deep ties with the Gulf state, including companies and investment groups tied to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the de-facto ruler of the UAE.
One of the city's biggest football clubs, Manchester City, is also owned by leading Emirati royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Scores of Emirati human rights activists have been jailed since 2011 and the UAE remains one of the "least free" countries in the Middle East region.