DUBAI (Reuters) - A woman with terminal cancer who was serving a 10-year prison sentence in the United Arab Emirates has died in jail, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday, two months after the United Nations called for her release on medical grounds.
United Nations human rights experts in February called on UAE authorities to release Alia Abdulnoor to live her final days at home and said they were concerned about reports that she was suffering degrading treatment, including being chained to a bed under armed guard.
Abdulnoor was sentenced in 2017 to ten years in prison after being convicted of charges including financing terrorist groups. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after her arrest in 2015.
“Family members said they believe her arrest was connected to small donations she made to Syrian families in 2011 at the outset of the Syrian uprising,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement earlier this year.
HRW confirmed to Reuters reports on Saturday of her death on social media platforms and Arabic language media.
UAE authorities denied accusations made by rights groups and the family of Abdulnoor that she was denied adequate medical care and regular contact with relatives.
A spokesman of the UAE public prosecutor, cited by the state-run news agency WAM, said she died while receiving treatment in the oncology department of the Tawam hospital, in the city of Al Ain, east of the capital Abu Dhabi.
“Her relatives were allowed to visit her and stay with her there as long as they wished,” he said.
According to the HRW report, hospital authorities said Abdulnoor was refusing cancer treatment. Her family said she was forced to sign a document refusing treatment.
The UAE prosecutor said Abdulnoor two years ago refused to take the prescribed treatment for the tumour and she had observed a hunger strike on several occasions while in detention.
Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky