A group of students from the College of Oslo in Norway has launched a campaign for imprisoned academic and economist Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith under the name "Students for Nasser bin Ghaith" to raise awareness and revive Dr. Nasser's case.
The student group consists of students from the Master's Program in Human Rights Theory and Practice at the College of Oslo, run by the Norwegian Center for Human Rights. As part of this program, students conduct and develop campaigns for vulnerable scholars. The student group has chosen Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith to advocate for.
The student group states that their choice of Dr. bin Ghaith was made for several reasons, firstly because the arrest of Dr. Nasser is a violation of freedom of expression and academic freedom, and secondly because bin Ghaith has an outstanding academic career that has made him very well known, being the first Emirati to serve as a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of Paris-Sorbonne College. He mainly researched in the field of international business law and specialized in economic blocs. This makes his case interesting for them as students.
The group added in statements to the Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center that as students they believe that freedom of opinion and expression are of great value in academia and that those who work in academia need special protection from violations, and that Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith has shown a lot of courage. He has publicly challenged the authoritarian government for human rights violations. Especially in a country that controls free speech, he is a role model for them.
Nevertheless, the student group believes that Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith received much less social media attention than other detainees during his arrest and trial, and that attention to his case has decreased since then.
According to the group, Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith does not receive much media coverage, support, or recognition from the international community, which is why the students chose him to revive his case and bring more attention to his suffering.
The group points out that they are very concerned about Dr. Nasser's health condition and that the main goal of their campaign is to provide Bin Ghaith with proper medical care and access to vital medications that are being withheld from him by the UAE authorities, as information received by the group indicates that his health has deteriorated and he is unable to stand up at times.
The group said that it interviewed Nora Sveaass, a Norwegian psychiatrist on torture and its psychological consequences, to inquire with her about the psychological damage that could be inflicted on Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith if he is detained indefinitely, even after he has served his full sentence, as is the case with other detainees of conscience.
Dr. Sveaass confirmed to the group that telling a person that he may never be released is a dangerous form of torture that causes despair and has serious negative effects on the prisoner's health, so the group recognized the importance of putting pressure on the UAE authorities to treat Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith humanely in prison.
As for the group's activities in support of Dr. Bin Ghaith, the group has set up an account on Twitter and Instagram under the ID @cares4binghaith to cover the lack in social media and media about the case of Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith.
The group will also release a video to raise awareness about the case of Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith and the abuses he is facing in prison and encourage others to advocate for him. In addition, the group plans to create a Wikipedia page about bin Ghaith.
The group also plans to reach out to embassies and Paris-Sorbonne University, which remained silent about Bin Ghaith's arrest, and to urge universities, student associations, and Paris-Sorbonne University partners to respond to Dr. Bin Ghaith's case.
After the end of this semester, the group hopes that Scholars at Risk will continue its work, and thus plans to draft a letter to propose the nomination of Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith for the Sakharov Prize, and is looking for important connections to initiatives that can help bin Nasser in the long term.
It is noteworthy that the most prominent students participating in the campaign are: Helene Holm-Glad, Francesca Faggiano, Lorenzo Bossi and Samantha Nolle, as well as other students from the master's program at the University of Oslo, which is one of the top 100 universities in the world and whose postgraduate programs are supported and sponsored by major international companies.