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Oman- Human rights defenders targeted as crackdown continues

2012-06-12

Beirut, 12 June, 2012 -- The crackdown against human rights defenders in Oman is continuing. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that human rights defenders including, writers, journalists, bloggers, and poets, have been targeted by the authorities in a wave of recent arrests. Those arrested have recently called for reforms, the promotion of human rights and the release of detained human rights defenders.

On 11 June 2012 a group of human rights defenders organized a protest, which had taken place over three successive days, in front of the General Police Headquarters in the capital of Muscat. Their principal demand was the release of all detained human rights defenders in Oman. 

Security forces and anti-riot have reportedly arrested all protesters, which according to some reports amounts to the arrest of  22 human rights defenders. They have been taken to Samail Central Prison, located approximately 90 km from Muscat. Some of the names of those confirmed to have been arrested are:

1. Saeed Sultan Al-Hashemy (Writer, who was kidnapped and tortured in 2011)

2. Basma Al-Rajehy (Radio presenter and broadcaster, who was also kidnapped and tortured in 2011)

3. Basma Al Keumy (Lawyer)

4. Badr Al-Jabery (Writer and blogger who was selected during 2011 protests to form

     the Association for Reform )

5. Nasir Saleh Al-Gailany (Journalist)

6. Mahmood Hamad (A well-know Omani poet)

7. Khalid Al-Nawfaly (Activist)

8. Abdallah Al-Badi, (Blogger who was shot in the 2011 protests)

9. Khalid Al-Jabery (Activist)

10. Mukhtar Al-Hanaei (Journalist who works for Al-Zaman newspaper)

11. Omar Al-Khorousy (Brother of Hamad Al-Khorousy- the poet who was

      detained previously)

12. Fahad Al-Khorousy (Blogger)

12. Yehia Al Khorousy (Hamad Al-Khorousy's brother)

14. Fatma Al-Bousaeedi (Blogger)

15. Samaa Essa (Writer and literary figure)

16. Mona Al-Gahoury (Activist)

17. Abdullah Al-Gailany ( Activist participated in the 2011 protest)

 18. Moamen Al-Rashedy (14 years old)

19. A correspondent working for Reuters who has reportedly been taken to another place after his working id was taken from him.

On 8 June 2012 security forces arrested writers and bloggers Hamad Al-Kourosi, Ali Al-Saadi, Ali Al-Haji, Hassan Al-Ruqayshi, Hamod Al-Rashidi and Nabhan Al-Hanashi. All six are currently being held at the General Police Headquarters in the capital of Muscat and it is believed that they will be charged with incitement.

On 5 June 2012 human rights defenders Isaac Al-Agbary and Kalfan Al-Badwawi were also arrested and detained by Omani authorities.

The arrests of the human rights defenders follow a statement made on 4 June 2012 by the Omani Public Prosecutor in which he threatened that legal proceedings would be brought against human rights defenders who continue to exercise their freedom of expression by calling for reforms, respect for human rights and the release of detained human rights defenders including Ismael Al-Mikbaly.

These latest arrests come in the context of a crackdown against human rights defenders by the authorities. On 4 June 2012 human rights defenders Habibah Al-Hinaee, Ismael Al-Mikbaly, and Yacob Al-Khorousy were arrested by security forces as they were on their way to cover an oil workers’ strike.  (See GCHR appeal dated 5 June 2012: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/157)

Habibah Al-Hinaee and Yacob Al-Khorousy were charged with incitement and released that evening under the condition that they remain in the areas in which they reside. Ismael Al-Mikbaly’s detention was extended by seven days and he continues to be held at the General Police Headquarters in Muscat charged with the same offence.

The GCHR expresses concern at the recent arrests and believes that the human rights defenders have been arrested and detained solely as a result of their peaceful human rights activities and the legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) urges the authorities in Oman to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release all the aforementioned human rights defenders as GCHR believes that they have been detained solely as a result of their legitimate human rights work;

2. Drop all charges against all the aforementioned human rights defenders;  

3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all the aforementioned human rights defenders,
 while they remain in detention;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.

 Please write immediately in English, Arabic, or your own language to:

1. Urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all the detained human rights defenders in Oman and to ensure that they are protected from torture or other ill-treatment and given immediate access to their family, lawyer and any medical attention they may need;

2. Call for all the charges against the human rights defenders to immediately and unconditionally be dropped as they are being targeted solely for peacefully exercising their legitimate right to do their human rights work;

 Please Send Appeals now TO:

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id

Head of State, Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Finance Minister

Diwan of the Royal Court

The Palace

Muscat 113

Sultanate of Oman

Fax: +968 24 735 375

 

His Excellency Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal bin Said Al Busaidi

Minister of the Interior

Ministry of Interior

PO Box 127

Ruwi 112

Muscat

Sultanate of Oman

 

 Mr Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Riyami

Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

P.O.Box 29, Postal Code: 103

Bareq A' Shati

Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Fax: +968 24648801

Email: enquiry@nhrc.om

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.