Its been eight years, 4 months and 10 days since Emirati Islamic education teacher, Jamal Al Hammadi, was last seen before he forcibly disappeared under unknown circumstances, perhaps forever.
Although the story of his forced disappearance, which is the longest for an Emirati detainee, is different, there is not much information about him on the internet, and perhaps there is hardly any picture of him.
In this report, prepared by Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre (EDAC), we try to answer the main open questions: Who is Jamal Al-Hammadi? What is his story? Why is he still hidden?
Jamal Al Hammadi, an Emirati national, grew up in the city of Khor Fakkan in the Emirate of Sharjah, graduated from UAE University with a major in Islamic Studies and lives a quiet life as a teacher of Islamic Education in the city.
Al Hammadi was arrested on the day of the 9/11 events by armed forces affiliated with the UAE's State Security Apparatus (SSA) in a campaign of arrests launched by the SSA against people of Islamic orientation.
Al-Hammadi was held in secret prisons for 4 years without charge or trial, during which he was subjected to the worst forms of physical and psychological torture for which SSA prisons are known. The United Nations Working Group at Arbitrary Detention issued a decision on May 26, 2005, calling his detention arbitrary.
Instead of being released, he was transferred to a prison in Fujairah and tried on the basis of alleged evidence from confessions elicited from another detainee under torture, leaving Al Hammadi to wander back and forth between SSA prisons for 8 years until he was released in 2009.
A year after his release, Al-Hammadi thought his problem was over when his family was surprised by more than 20 armed SSA people who stormed the house and arrested him again. A year and a half after his arrest, the authorities released him, apologized for holding him without charge, and gave him back his former job as a teacher of Islamic education.
After his release from his second detention, Al Hammadi tried to return to his normal life despite the restrictions imposed by the authorities. He married and had a son and went to Umrah after obtaining a permit from the SSA after he was prevented him from getting a passport.
But his attempts to return to his normal life face a new obstacle, as Emirati authorities this time arrested his younger brother Fouad on charges of belonging to al-Islah, a non-violent, legally registered Islamist political movement that the UAE banned as "terrorist" in 2014 in response to upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.
Jamal agreed with his brother's lawyer to be one of the witnesses for the denial, planning that his testimony would be based on the facts of his torture inside SSA prisons, but he did not know he would pay a heavy price for his intention to do so.
A week before the alleged testimony, specifically on April 20, 2013, while Jamal was on his way back to his home in the city of Khor Fakkan from a medical center where his mother was being treated, Jamal disappeared.
Hours later, his family and wife noticed his disappearance, and they repeatedly tried to contact him, but his phone was switched off. His family's concern grew, especially after news broke that an SSA black Jeep had arrested a person in the town of Khor-Fakkan. The family contacted the police, who denied knowing their son's whereabouts.
The next day, Jamal's father went to the "Madam" police station to report his son's disappearance, but the police gave him no clear answers and asked him to take Jamal's car. A few months after Jamal's disappearance, anonymous messages arrived at his wife's house saying that he was fighting in Syria and that he would contact them soon, but that never happened.
After 7 months, Jamal's story took a new turn when the Emirati website "24.ae", which is close to the Emirati authorities, announced that Jamal had been killed in Syria, citing allegedly reliable sources. Jamal's family completely rejected this story, especially since the aforementioned website was the only source to announce his death, and that Jamal has not spoken to anyone on the phone since his disappearance.
The family's refusal to this story had annoyed the UAE authorities, and finally, the SSA contacted his father for the first time since Jamal's disappearance to tell him that his son had been killed in Syria, and that the file had been closed, followed by a call from a high-ranking official in the Emirate of Sharjah who asked his father to start receiving mourners for his son, “who was martyred in Syria, but the father refused to do so unless he sees his son’s body.
On February 5, 2014, Jamal's family was able to confirm that the authorities' narration was fabricated, as former detainees told them that they had seen Jamal in one of the secret prisons of the SSA, and that the conditions of his detention were difficult and appalling.
The former detainees did not specify the exact time of seeing him, but it was most likely before November 2013, when the 24.ae announced his death, because after that incident the family did not obtain any new information about Jamal.
On April 20, 2021 it will mark nine years since Jamal disappeared without anyone knowing exactly what happened to him, but all indications lead to the fact that the UAE authorities liquidated him outside the framework of the law, and used the story of Syria as a way to cover up its crime.
It seems that the UAE authorities wanted to send a message to all the former opinion detainees, that talking about violations in Emirati prisons has a very high price, and they have unfortunately been able to achieve part of this goal, as many former detainees are still afraid to talk about what happened to them, fearing that their fate would be similar to Jamal’s.
Also, linking Jamal to Syria and the jihadists, although he did not have such tendencies, made many human rights organizations avoid talking about him, but the truth is that Jamal paid the price for a testimony that he did not do in the first place, and now he is paying, or perhaps he has paid the price for his desire to defend his brother.