Supporters of British student Ahmad Zeidan, nicknamed “Zizou” by his friends, have launched an international petition on social media with the aim of targeting 100 thousand signatories who will boycott tourism in the United Arab Emirates until he is released unharmed: https://www.facebook.com/Free-Zizou-733717586758723/timeline/
The #FreeZizouBoycottUAE facebook campaign was recently launched after the British government refused to question the UAE government on why it failed to investigate the mistreatment and torture endured by Ahmad Zeidan in Sharjah Central Jail nor object to discrimination against British citizens when the UAE pardoned all those sentenced in the same case excluding Ahmad.
Ahmad Zeidan from Reading, Berkshire, was arrested in December 2013 in the UAE emirate of Sharjah as a passenger in a car, along with seven other young men.
During eight days of incommunicado detention during which he was hooded and placed into solitary confinement, followed by further terrifying torture tactics by UAE police until he signed a document in Arabic – a language he doesn’t read or write.
During a trial in which he faced a potential death sentence, the document was presented as his ‘confession’, and he was sentenced to nine years for alleged possession of a speck of narcotics valued at US$2 (0.04g). He lost a subsequent appeal, while his allegations of police torture – common in the UAE – were never fully investigated.
Being under 21 years old, the harsh sentence also failed to consider the court clemency he was entitled to as per UAE law as a young student with no prior criminal record.
The leaders of the Emirates recently granted a traditional Eid pardon to hundreds of prisoners across the UAE, including nearly 200 prisoners in Sharjah jail, where Ahmad is held.
The amnesty saw Ahmad’s co-defendants – none of whom are British – released, leaving him the sole remaining defendant from the December 2013 arrests to be still in prison.
It’s now emerged that the Foreign Office refused to support a request by Ahmad for inclusion in the pardon – an apparent contradiction of an official UK policy to request clemency when a miscarriage of justice, such as a forced confession, has occurred.
Speaking to the Press Association, Ahmad said his experience had been “extremely traumatizing, for both me and my family.
It’s taking a toll on me every single day, mentally and physically.”
He added: “The torture at the beginning was one thing, as is the grossly out of proportion nine year prison sentence that I live with every day; it’s now another mountain of pain I have to go through, knowing the UK government is doing nothing.”
He appealed to UK ministers to “get me out of the nightmare I’m going through daily without hope.”
A few years earlier to his arrest, UAE newspapers called Ahmad Zeidan a young hero for saving the life of a child suffocating and trapped in an overheating car.
Today the UAE wants the world to believe this socially responsible young student is a criminal drugs mastermind who deserves no mercy.