UAE sentenced Palestinian artist to death for drug possession
The United Arab Emirates has sentenced a Palestinian photographer and curator to death for drug possession. Fidaa Kiwan, a 42-year-old resident of the city of Haifa in northern Israel, maintains her innocence, saying she was framed.
Kiwan has been held in a Dubai jail since last March after a search by Emirati police found half a kilogram of cocaine in her possession. The entertainer, who was in Dubai for work, denied drug dealing and claimed the cocaine was planted in his apartment. After a year in prison, she was sentenced to death on March 30 for the alleged crime.
“We, the family and friends of Fidaa Kiwan, have been stunned twice this week,” Kiwan’s family wrote in a statement on April 6.
“Once when we learned of the death sentence against Fida, and secondly when we saw and read incorrect information that was unfairly disseminated, without investigating the accuracy or truth, or even listening to the story of the family.”
The family added that their daughter had been the victim of “her own kindness and blind trust in people who implicated her in a matter she had no connection to.” A family member also claimed that Kiwan’s confession was obtained through torture.
Kiwan’s family called on senior Israeli officials (the artist is a Palestinian citizen of Israel) and Amnesty International to intervene in the case and push for the conviction to be overturned.
Kiwan, who owns a photography studio in Haifa, is a well-known figure in the local artistic community. Over the years, she has organized dozens of art exhibitions and cultural events in the city, considered a hub of Palestinian art. Kiwan is also known as an outspoken political activist.
On social media, local artists and arts organizations posted messages of support for Kiwan, using the hashtag #FreeFidaaKiwan.
“I know Fidaa, she is a great Palestinian photographer and artist, she is beautiful and resilient and a support system for all who met her,” wrote Ahmad Nasser Eldin, one of the friends of Kiwan, in a Facebook post.
“One thing is certain, he is not a drug trafficker,” continued Nasser Eldin. “Needless to say no one deserves the death penalty even if they find cocaine on them…what a crazy world…the madness of it all.”