Letter Regarding the Detention of Activist Ahmed Mansoor

Khaldoon Al-Mubarak

Member, New York University Board of Trustees

Chairman, Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority

Cc: Andrew Hamilton

President, New York University

Cc: Al Bloom

Vice-chancellor, New York University Abu Dhabi

Cc: Katherine Fleming

Provost, New York University

Cc: William Berkley

Chair, Board of Trustees, New York University

June 27, 2017

Dear Mr Mubarak,

We, the officers of the NYU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, along with the undersigned faculty and students of New York University, are writing to you in your capacity as a member of the NYU Board of Trustees to express our grave concern about the detention of internationally acclaimed human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor by the UAE authorities on March 19, 2017. We urge you to exert your influence as a board member and as a senior member of the Abu Dhabi government to ensure his immediate release.

Mansoor, who received the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, faces charges that include using social media websites to “publish false information that harms national unity.” On  March 28, 2017, a group of  United Nations (UN) human rights experts called on the UAE government to release him immediately, describing his arrest as a “a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE.” On March 29th, the Middle Eastern Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom “urge[d] the UAE authorities to respect internationally recognized standards of free speech and due process, and to release Mr. Mansour and other prisoners of conscience whose only ‘crime’ has been to express their opinions in a non-violent manner.” On April 20, 2017, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch lauded Mansoor’s “unimpeachable record as a defender of rights and freedoms” and called for his immediate release, since he was arrested solely because of his human rights work and his peaceful criticism of the UAE authorities

As you no doubt know, the UAE authorities have been monitoring and harassing Mansoor for at least six years. In April 2011, UAE authorities detained him as a result of his advocacy of peaceful reform, including having been one of 133 signatories of a petition calling for universal and direct elections in the UAE and for granting the Federal National Council real legislative powers. In November 2011 the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi sentenced Mansoor to three years in prison for allegedly insulting the country’s top officials in a trial which international observers deemed unfair and marred by legal and procedural flaws. Although the UAE president subsequently pardoned Mansoor, the UAE authorities never returned his passport, subjecting him to a de facto travel ban. He has also been subjected to physical assaults, death threats, government surveillance, and a sophisticated spyware attack.

We seek your personal intervention to free Mr. Mansoor because, as a member of NYU’s Board of Trustees, it is your responsibility to “pay particularly close attention to the mission and the obligations to society that are unique to the academic enterprise.” At a bare minimum, these obligations surely include respect for free speech and other fundamental civil liberties. Moreover, the fact that NYU has a campus in Abu Dhabi gives it, and you, a special responsibility to denounce violations of human and civil rights in the UAE. We also note, however, that you serve as chair of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, which provides strategic policy and communications advice to the UAE’s de facto ruler, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. That puts you in a unique position to influence the policies and decisions of the UAE government.

We therefore call on you to use your influence to ensure that Ahmed Mansoor is immediately and unconditionally released from detention and allowed to leave the UAE, travel abroad and return home safely and without harassment, as he sees fit. We further call on you to publicly affirm your belief that all UAE citizens and residents should have the right to express their opinions and advocate for them freely, without threat of harassment, surveillance, detention or prosecution.


Marie Monaco, president, NYU-AAUP

Jim Uleman, vice-president, NYU-AAUP

Molly Nolan, secretary, NYU-AAUP

Anna McCarthy, treasurer, NYU-AAUP

Paula Chakravartty, at-large executive member, NYU-AAUP

Rebecca Karl, at-large executive member, NYU-AAUP

Vincent Renzi, at-large executive member, NYU-AAUP

Andrew Ross, immediate past president, NYU-AAUP

Linda Gordon University Professor of Humanities and History

Zachary Lockman Professor of Middle Eastern Studies

Steven Hahn, Professor of History

Jorge Castaneda, Global Distinguished Professor

Karl Appuhn, Associate Professor of History

Michael Gilsenan, Kriser Professor in Middle Eastern Studies

Philip Alston, Professor of Law

Leslie Peirce Silver Professor of History

Sibylle Fischer, Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese, and, History

Fred Myers, Professor of Anthropology

Avital Ronell, University Professor of the Humanities

Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture & Communication

Thomas Bender, University Prof. of Humanities and Professor of History Emeritus

Angela Zito Associate Professor of Anthropology

Bruce Grant Professor of Anthropology

George Shulman Professor, Gallatin School

Nikhil Singh, Associate Professor of History and SCA

Kristin Ross, Professor of Comparative Literature

John Archer Professor, Department of English

Rossen Djagalov, Assistant Professor of Russian

Barbara Weinstein, Silver Professor of History

Lisa Duggan, Professor of Social & Cultural Analysis

Marita Sturken, Professor of Media, Communications and Culture

Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Professor of Sociology, Gallatin School

Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies

Julie Livingston, Professor of History and SCA

Christine Harrington, Professor of Politics

Begum Adalet, Assistant Professor, Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies

Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology

Monica Kim, Assistant Professor, History

Vasuki Nesiah Assoc. Prof. of Practice, Gallatin School

Peter Nicholls, Professor of English

Fred Cooper, Professor of History

Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture & Communication

Thuy Linh Tu, Associate Professor of Social & Cultural Analysis

Moss Roberts, Professor of East Asian Studies

Robyn d’Avignon Assistant Professor of History

Bertell Ollman Professor, Dept. of Politics

Herrick Chapman Associate Professor of History and French Studies

Theresa Aiello, Associate Professor of Social Work

Cecilia Marquez Assistant Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis

 David Ludden Professor and Chair, Department of History

Edward Ziter Professor of Drama

Michael McCarthy Assistant Professor of Social Work

Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak Professor of History

Jane Malmo, Professor of Drama

Sinclair Thomson Associate Professor of History

Harry Harootunian, Professor Emeritus of History

Greg Grandin Professor of History

Marion Kaplan, Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History,

Jane Burbank Professor of History

Hasia Diner Professor of History

Sinan Antoon Associate Professor, Gallatin

John Shovlin Associate Professor of History

Kristin Horton Associate Professor of Practice, Gallatin

 Hannah Gurman Clinical Associate Professor, Gallatin

Michele Mitchell Associate Professor of History

Laurin Raiken Professor Emeritus, Gallatin

Timothy J Reiss Emeritus Professor of Comparative Literature

Josefina Saldaña-Portillo Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis

Grace Lile Adjunct Professor, Tisch School of Arts

Ann Pellegrini Professor, Performance Studies & Social and Cultural Analysis

Arang Keshavarzian Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Jini Watson Associate Professor, English

Carolyn Dinshaw Silver Professor, Depts. of English and SCA

Michael Shenefelt Clinical Professor, Liberal Studies

Judith Stacey Professor Emerita of Sociology

Barbara Browning Associate Professor, Performance Studies

Nader Uthman Clinical Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Sara Pursley Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Studies

Manu Goswami Associate Professor of History

Nancy Agabian Adjunct Faculty, Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Gary Holden Professor of Social Work

Margaret Satterthwaite Professor of Clinical Law

Emanuela Bianchi, Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature

Emily Apter, Professor of French and Comparative Literature

Shulamith Straussner, Professor of Social Work

Vasuki Nesiah, Assoc. Prof. of Practice, Gallatin School

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Visiting Professor

Liliana Goldin, Professor of Social Work

Rossen Djagalov, Assistant Professor of Russian

John Singler, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics

Stephen Duncombe, Professor, Gallatin School

Laurin Raiken, Professor Emeritus, Gallatin

Steven Lukes, Professor of Sociology

Cristina Beltran, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis

Michael Gilsenan, Kriser Chair in Middle East Studies/Anthropology

Adam Becker, Professor of Classics and Religious Studies

Negar Taymoorzadeh, Adjunct Faculty/PhD Candidate

Greta Scharnweber, Associate Director, Hagop Kevorkian Center

Crystal Parikh, Associate Professor of English and Social and Cultural Analysis

Priscilla Karant, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Professional Studies

Hartry Field, Professor of Philosophy and University Professor

Amir Minsky, Assistant Teaching Professor of History, NYUAD

Gordon Beeferman PhD candidate, adjunct professor

Jerome Murphy Undergraduate Programs Manager, Creative Writing

Michael Leonetti, Former President, International Rescue Committee

Manijeh Moradian Visiting Scholar

Subrina Moorley Administrative Aide

Amita Manghnani Administrator, A/P/A Institute

Tony Wood PhD Candidate, History Department

Josh Fattal, PhD candidate

Ian Alexander, PhD candidate

Natasha Goss, Student, Law

Nantina Vgontzas PhD Candidate

Larissa Kopytoff Graduate student

Christy Thornton, Alumna, GSAS ’15

Shafeka Hashash Alumni

Matthew Shutzer, Doctoral candidate

Isaac Hand, PhD student, History-MEIS

Robert Ascherman, Alumni

Lana Povitz, Postdoctoral Fellow

Kevin Chan, Student

Daria Butler, student

Shawn Paik Student

Romaissaa Benzizoune, Undergrad

Aya Charafeddine, Student

Ellise Bartlett, undergraduate student

Andrea Gordillo Graduate student

Daphne Carr Graduate Student, Music Dept

Schneur Newfield Alumnus

Anne Pasek PhD Student

Maya Wind Graduate student

Emma Shaw Crane Graduate student

Emily Rogers Graduate Student

Ian VanderMeulen PhD student

Clare Busch Graduate student

Rohan Advani student

Saba Naseem student

Saghar Bozorgi Graduate Student

Mone Makkawi Student

Joseba Martinez PhD candidate

Grace Larkin student

Itay Barylka student

Amira Dhanoa, Undergraduate Student

Jennifer Lenow PhD Student

Rose Asaf Student

James McMaster PhD Candidate

Jessica Feldman PhD Candidate

Sarah Sklaw Phd student

Yoav Halperin PhD Candidate

Eric Sturm,  Gallatin Alum ’15

Sheida Dayani PhD candidate

Suneela Mubayi Ph.D. candidate, MEIS

Tessa Rosenberry alumna

Allie Monck student

Jeremy Cohan Graduate student, Instructor

Kendra Prat Student

Shimrit Lee PhD Candidate

Stijn Talloen Talloen, student

Michael Armato Alumnus (PhD, 2006)

Anila Gill PhD Student

Kaitlin Prieto Godoy Alumnae

Benjamin Zinevich Undergraduate

Stephanie Rountree, student

Ximena Ospina Vargas student

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field CAS Class of 2005, GSAS Class of 2007

Tess Derby Student

Katerina Voegtle student

Andrew Miller PhD Student

Laura Honsberger Alumna

Michelle O’Brien PhD Candidate

Daniel Brinkerhoff PhD student in Philosophy

Caroline Bowman PhD Student

Tsering Bista Student

Hannah Barz Student

Aya Charafeddine Student

Arielle Hersh Student

Ayesha Omer PhD Candidate

Meghna Chaudhuri Phd Candidate

Tiana Hayden PhD candidate Anthropology

Marie-Christine Hyland PhD Candidate

Ellis Garey PhD student

Jennifer Varela Graduate Student