Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the Skyline International Foundation. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.
Ten members of parliament from various European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom have called on governments of the Middle East to release prisoners of conscience, where thousands of political prisoners are held in countries such as Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
The petition, published by the Danish Parliament website, was launched by Skyline International, a Sweden-based human rights organization. It reads, “We, the undersigned members of parliaments, call on our governments and the European Union to pressure governments in the Middle East to release political prisoners whose lives are at risk following the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.”
The petition noted that tens of thousands of political prisoners are held in the Middle East, such as award-winning Ahmad Mansour, a prominent UAE human rights activist, sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Lujeen Alhathloul, a Saudi-women rights activist.
The petition welcomed the announcement of Bahrain of issuing a decree pardoning 901 prisoners and Iran’s release of 85,000 inmates over the outbreak of COVID-19 and Egypt’s releasing 15 political prisoners.
Skyline International noted that tens of thousands of political prisoners are still in jail in these countries, calling for their immediate release.
“The conditions of prisoners in the Middle East raise serious concerns. Leaked photos have shown hundreds of them stockpiled on top of each other in Egypt. While in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, prisoners get no family visits and they rarely get to see their lawyers. Not only this, prisoners have passed away in Egyptian and Saudi prisoners due to the lack of medical care and many infectious skin diseases have spread among them,” Skyline international continued as saying.
The petition called for:
“Releasing all political prisoners in the Middle East in light of the spread of the novel Coronavirus. Providing political prisoners with the needed protection and medical care to make sure their lives are valued equally.
Ending the policy of detaining people and activists in the Middle East over their political opinions. Sharing information and data about the spread of Coronavirus in prisons in the Middle East in a transparent manner.”
Baroness Meacher (British House of Lords)
David Alton (British House of Lords)
Margrete Auken (Member of the European Parliament)
Salima Yenbou (Member of the European Parliament)
Thomas Hammarberg (Swedish MP)
Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett (British House of Lords)
Janet Daby MP (British House of Commons)
Rasmus Nordqvist (Member of the Danish Parliament)
Håkan Svenneling (Member of Parliament, Swedish Left Party)
Yasmine Posio (Members of Parliament, Swedish Left Party)