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ECHR | Emirates Center for Human Rights

ECHR | Emirates Center for Human Rights

Testimony from the mother of Mohamed al-Zumer: allegations of torture

HomePublicationTestimony from the mother of Mohamed al-Zumer: allegations of tortureTestimony from the mother of Mohamed al-Zumer: allegations of torture

Testimony from the mother of Mohamed al-Zumer: allegations of torture


The case of Mohamed al-Zumer:

Testimony from his mother Amal


“On Friday, 13th May 2013, after 5 months and 10 days of waiting, we (the family of Mohamed al-Zumer) were able to meet the director of the State Security Prosecution.

“He (the director) allowed us to meet with Mohamed al-Zumer, who is 19-years-old. The meeting was in the State Security Prosecution building in Abu Dhabi. Mohamed came to us wearing traditional Emirati clothes. He was surprised when he saw me (his mother) and his brothers. He started to greet and hug us and was clearly in disbelief that he was with us. He did not look normal, he could not focus and frequently held his hand as if he was feeling pain but when we asked him if he was hurt he said “no it’s okay”. The meeting lasted for 2.5 hours.

“My sisters were with us and the State Security Officers were also present throughout. After the meeting he was taken back to the black car he had arrived in. After that a senior official with the State Security Prosecution told me: “Mohamed’s file has been with the Dead of the State Security Prosecution since February (2013).”

He (the senior official) claimed that we had not been asking about or following up about Mohamed. We said that was a lie and told him we come every week but are told by officers that they “do not know his name”. These officers always tell us they will call if they find him but they have never called us.

“When we asked why they have not called and told us about Mohamed’s case the senior official gave vague answers saying the director of State Security Prosecution was supposed to call. He said that on the Sunday there was to be a meeting with the director where we could ask about Mohamed’s case.

“On Sunday, May 19th 2013, we had a meeting with the director of the State Security Prosecution. He claimed that Mohamed al-Zumer has a Twitter account that he used to endanger the security of the state and insult the rulers of the UAE. He (the director of State Security Prosecution) started to get very aggressive when he was talking to us. My son, Abdullah, was with me and asked the director several questions. He (the director) could not answer these questions and angrily said: “go and study law before you discuss this matter with me”. When Abdullah asked the director why Mohamed is still in solitary confinement the director responded: “I have nothing to do with this issue”. Then he immediately left the room.

“On Thursday, May 23rd 2013, I was with my uncle in Kuwait and after evening prayer I received a call from the UAE. There was no phone number but I could tell it was a private call from Abu Dhabi. When I answered it was Mohamed. There were loud voices in the background. He (Mohamed) told us he had been moved to al-Sader prison and was being held with people due to be deported from the country.

“List of violations told to me by Mohamed:

  1. In the first few days of his detention Mohamed was beaten on his head during interrogations and, on one occasion, he fainted after ten minutes of being beaten.
  2. During an interrogation after one week of detention Mohamed said officers shouted at him and threatened him. He fainted again, losing consciousness and woke up in hospital.
  3. Mohamed was held in a very cold room with fluorescent lighting on him 24 hours per day.
  4. Mohamed was denied phone-calls and access to books. So, he started a hunger strike for 3 days. Officers threatened him with further beatings and torture if he did not stop his hunger strike. He continued. They allowed him to call us and gave him the Qur’an to read. He used the same strategy again and again to get phone-calls to me.
  5. Mohamed was put in a cell with a very high temperature for one week. In it he had to stand up due to the heat on the floor and could not sit down. Mohamed lost consciousness after standing for as long as he could but would immediately wake due to the heat of the floor. He would then continue to stand for as long as he could manage.
  6. Mohamed was not allowed to go to the toilet unless he removed all his clothes, except for a small towel.
  7. Mohamed was interrogated for hours on end after being deprived of sleep for long periods. As such, he did not understand the questions he was being asked as he was so disoriented.

“At the beginning of his detention in al-Sader prison Mohamed was subjected to the same rules as other prisoners; this meant he was allowed to get clothes and receive money to buy things from a small shop. He was able to buy food, books, toothpaste and other things. Visitation was permitted three times per week and was open to family and friends.

“3 days before the verdict was due in the UAE 94 case all those involved in that trial, as well as those held for related reasons, went missing. We did not know where they were. Visitation was blocked to all. We started to look for Mohamed. We went to the office of the State Security Prosecution but were not allowed to meet the director as before. The senior official we had previously met came and told us he had no information about this issue. We couldn’t reach Mohamed for the next four days.

“The situation became like this in al-Sader prison when Mohamed al-Zumer and Saud Kulaib (another prisoner) were separated from the other prisoners. We were not allowed to send letters to them or bring them their belongings. They had no books to read either. Visitation was only allowed for immediate family. This kind of treatment was only reserved for the people from al-Islah in the prison.

Some of the female officers we encountered at the State Security Prosecution were very rude to us. Prison officers promised to sort out all the issues I speak of here but until now they have done nothing.”

This statement was given to the Emirates Centre for Human Rights on September 14th 2013 via email and confirmed in a phone call with Amal al-Zumer on September 16th 2013.

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