Next Sunday, 25th September, a `birthday party' will be held in St Ann's Square, Manchester, for lawyer, Dr Mohammed al-Roken, who will be 54 years old on the Monday. Unfortunately Mohammed won't be able to make it as he's currently doing ten years in prison for his peaceful human rights activism, including signing a petition calling for democratic reform in the United Arab Emirates, or UAE.
It will be the fifth consecutive birthday that Mohammed has spent in prison and he is not due to be released until he is at least sixty years old. The Manchester Group of Amnesty International has adopted Mohammed as a prisoner of conscience and is holding the `party' to draw attention to his plight, and exposing the close links between Manchester and the human rights abusing UAE.
Manchester City Council has been engaged in a commercial relationship with senior figures in the UAE government, in particular through its stake in the Manchester Life Development Company (MLDC) - a joint venture, ultimately controlled by the Abu Dhabi United Group for Investment and Development (ADUG), which also owns Manchester City Football Club.
Salford MPs, Graham Stringer and Rebecca Long-Bailey, both signed an Amnesty letter last month calling on Manchester City owner Crown Prince Mansour to sort out human rights in the UAE.*
"As a local Amnesty group in Manchester we feel a very strong connection with Mohammed's case" says Manchester Group of Amnesty International chair, Laura Barsby "He has been imprisoned for standing up for the same rights and freedoms that the citizens of Manchester have fought for and upheld over many years. On the occasion of his birthday, we hope that many people in Manchester will join us in calling for him to be released."
In St Ann's Square, the group will be inviting passers-by to be included in a `Freedom for Mohammed' solidarity photo or to sign a petition calling for Mohammed's release. Hopefully a few City supporters who remember that cuddly Thai power abuser, Thaksin Shinawatra, will join the party...
Dr Mohammed al-Roken Birthday Party
Sunday 25th September 1pm-4pm
St Ann's Square, Manchester
*See also previous related Salford Star article: Salford MPs sign letter calling on Manchester City owners to Respect Human Rights – click here
To find out more about the work of the Manchester Group of Amnesty International and this campaign - click here