Middle East

Disabled Omani man goes on hunger strike in UAE’s Wathba Prison

A disabled Omani man, who has been kept behind bars in the United Arab Emirates for several years, has reportedly gone on hunger strike in a show of protest at his ordeal.

Emirati dissident Abdullah al-Taweel wrote in a post published on his Twitter page that “the mother of Abdullah al-Shamsi has received information that his son’s health has deteriorated in prison following his decision to go on hunger strike.”

“We have already confirmed that Shamsi has contracted coronavirus. Demonstrate solidarity with his … mother through your writings and feelings,” Taweel added.

Earlier, the Omani newspaper Atheer reported that the Federal Supreme Court in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, had issued a life imprisonment sentence against the young Omani citizen on May 6, nearly two years after his arrest and imprisonment.

The report noted that Shamsi, 21, has been held at al-Wathba Prison in Abu Dhabi since August 2018.

Shamsi was arrested after Emirati Arabic-language al-Bayan newspaper alleged in July 2017 that he had cooperated with Qataris to traffic drugs.

The Omani prosecution denied the report, saying the document published by the newspaper was fraudulent. His family filed a report to the police, but to no avail.

His family did not know he was detained by UAE state security forces until a month after his arrest.

Shamsi was harshly investigated and forced into confessing to establishing a spy cell on behalf of Qatar – a charge he has denied in court.

On May 28, the young Omani citizen tested positive for coronavirus at Wathba Prison. He has since been isolated with approximately 30 other people in a separate cell block amid reports that the virus has been spreading in the prison.

His mother posted a tweet days later in which she said, “Pray for Abdullah al-Shamsi who is now in isolation in al-Wathba Prison … May Allah heal you, my son.”

His mother has been campaigning for the young man’s release and pleading with Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq for help.

According to Omani activists, Shamsi is mentally ill and he also suffers from ailments, including an autoimmune disease.

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