Man City plane protest: Why Amnesty International flew a banner over Etihad Stadium during Liverpool match

ETIHAD STADIUM, MANCHESTER — Amnesty international flew a plane over the Etihad Stadium during Manchester City’s Premier League game against Liverpool on Saturday, November 25.

The aircraft was trailing a banner that read “UAE — free Ahmed Mansoor”.

Amnesty International’s protest was designed to draw attention to the plight of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor.

Here’s what you should know about Mansoor’s situation and why the organisation, a non-governmental group championing human rights, chose to use a game between the Premier League’s top two clubs to get its message across.

MORE: How Man City and Liverpool played out their 1-1 draw

Man City plane protest: Why Amnesty International flew a banner over Etihad Stadium

During the Premier League game between Manchester City and Liverpool on November 25, a plane was spotted flying over the Etihad Stadium trailing a banner that read “UAE — free Ahmed Mansoor”.

It was a planned protest by Amnesty International, a multinational group that defends human rights across the globe.

The stunt was intended to highlight the imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates of Ahmed Mansoor, described by Amnesty International as “a loving husband, father to four sons, poet & activist”.

According to the group, Mansoor was imprisoned for “calling for huma rights reform” in the country.

#FreeAhmed: Who is Ahmed Mansoor?

Ahmed Mansoor is a campaigner who has worked with international organisations to draw attention to alleged human rights abuses in the United Arab Emirates.

In May 2018, the father of four was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of “insulting the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols including its leaders” in relation to his activism, including social media posts.

According to Amnesty International, since his arrest in March 2017, Mansoor has been held in solitary confinement in Abu Dhabi’s Al-Sadr prison.

Mansoor has twice gone on hunger strike in protest against his conditions, which Amnesty International argues are in violation of the UAE’s obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Principle 6 of the Body of Principles, as well as Article 2 of the UAE’s Code of Criminal Procedure.

In September 2022, the organisation restated its call for Mansoor’s immediate and unconditional release.

Why did the Ahmed Mansoor protest take place during Man City vs Liverpool?

Quite simply, City’s well-documented links to Abu Dhabi and its rulers make them an obvious canvas for this sort of public protest.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan acquired City via his Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), a private investment and development company, in 2008.

Mansour’s fortune is derived from the Abu Dhabi Royal family. His brother, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is the President of the United Arab Emirates, where Mansour is Deputy Prime Minister.

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